Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Saying Yes to Adventure

We've hardly had time to catch our breath lately. The start of school meant the start of dance classes, piano, full-time work, and barely enough time to just be in the moment. After the first week, we settled nicely into the routine and it didn't feel so hard. Granted, the house is a mess and dinner has been a mish-mash of whatever is in the fridge and quick. I had forgotten what the hustle and bustle of working and tending to the family is like. I don't love it, but I see how, for right now, it's what we need. 

The frenetic energy of our days means that in the evenings and weekends I try to be as present for the kids as possible. The connections with the kids is important because their time with me has been cut so much. Getting just a little bit of undivided time makes everything else go smoother. 

This past weekend we found ourselves with a day that had no plans. We decided to head out the door and to a new park/lake. The kids played a little bit on the playground and Mark and I had some time to breathe without the background noise of bickering siblings. We wandered around the lake and the kids threw rocks in the water. Naomi took off her shoes at every chance, preferring to ground herself on the shore line with bare toes. 


This lake has paddle boats that you can rent and we spent time on the dock watching the young workers try out the rescue jet ski and maneuver all the paddle boats into the water. I spotted something swimming in the water and it turned out to be a baby snapping turtle. It found it's way to the loading dock and Naomi went right down and snatched it up. This little visitor was a bright spot of the day and we spent time passing it around and sharing it with other lake visitors. We found a quieter spot with more protection and let it go. All of the kids wanted to keep it. I kinda did too, but how do you tend to a snapping turtle when it gets bigger??


Mia begged to take out a paddle boat. With five of us we weren't sure we could do it, plus, we anticipated it costing more money that we wanted to spend. But, once the offices opened, we realized they had a couple boats that would work for us and it only cost $9. So, we went for it. Mark and I paddled and the kids enjoyed the views. 
It was one of those times that saying YES to a plea for adventure really paid off. There was no bickering, no grouchiness. Just all of us out on the water, chatting, laughing, telling stories of Loch Ness creatures. 


We ended up heading to lunch, ice cream, and a pinball arcade after. 
We didn't want the magic of the day to end. 
We have some more adventures planned in the weekends coming up and I'm so excited to get to spend more time with just the 5 of us. 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sharing Project Life

In mid-July I realized that I was taking less and less photos and feeling way too much pressure to get a layout done every week. I was knee deep in a quilt project that I was loving and spending less time in the craft room too. Then I had a grand realization that when my family looks back at our Project Life book, they aren't going to wonder what happened on the Thursday in the 2nd week of July. They just want to see themselves and our stories. So I gave myself permission to back off slightly. Now don't get me wrong, I love Project Life. But, I'm also wise enough to know that when life gets busy something's gotta give. 

For this spread I printed anything in my feed that told the story of the last few weeks in July. Journaling cards and labels help tell the stories. Really, that's all you need. 


When in doubt, pick orange as your color focus for the week. I can never tire of orange!
On this side: the summer slip and slide, my favorite zucchini cake, a trip to the zoo, basting with the best ladies in the world, and Mia's first solo Pokemon tournament. I had to take the photo of her on the sly because it's totally "not cool" to take pictures of your 9 year old unless she can ham it up for the camera.


On this side: A new haircut for me and an unplanned haircut for a certain 4 year old, the Denver County Fair, mean-mugging at the Rapid's game, and a quiet moment at our public library.


Tucked in between this week are two 12x12 photos that Mark took. I had intended to cut them down and fit them into the Design A protectors, but when I opened them they were just so pretty! 


This photo so perfectly captures the kid's spirits! Naomi is headstrong and stubborn, Mia is a performer and dreamer, and Hollis is our little reserved boy. Love it.



Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Climbing Squares Mini Quilt


School starts back in session today which means I'm back at work. We spent the last two weeks of summer cramming in all of our favorite activities and the craft room has been quieter than I would like. I did manage to start a top secret project that I can't wait to share. I also was asked to make and angel quilt for the @schnitzelandboominiswap found on Instagram. My partner said she like greens and blues and when going through my stash these fabrics jumped out at me.
The pattern is called Climbing Squares and can be found in vol. 9 of Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks. I made four of the blocks and put them together for a quilt that measured just over 24x24.
  
What I learned: Big, bold fabrics are fun to work with, but lining them up is nearly impossible. I wanted the waves to be seamless, but it started to drive me crazy and so ended up not worrying about it. Lining up the patterns in fabric will be something I continue to work on!



I decided to use a binding technique dubbed Magic Binding that creates a little flange of fabric with the binding. It added a nice frame around the wild prints!


 I did a meandering wave in the quilting to match the wave in the Alison Glass fabric. 


I love adding a strip of color to solid backs. It makes the quilting pop and ties the whole quilt together. 


I don't always label my quilts, but using printable iron on paper works perfectly for a wall hanging that won't get a lot of wash in the laundry. 


Friday, July 25, 2014

Sharing Project Life

This week you can find me at Everyday Rituals sharing how I used their July kit to make this week's Project Life. They have a great freebie right now of some "Camptacular" cards that would look great with any photos! I added in a few cards from the Kiwi and Seafoam kits too. 

Here's the whole week:


For the second year in a row, we woke all the kids early to go see hot-air balloons take off from a local park. It ended up being a bust of a morning with a lot of crankiness and not enough appreciation of what we were seeing. It happens when you wake kids after a late night up and we tried to make the most of the day.
The following morning we left the kids with a sitter and hiked Mount Sanitas with friends. It was beautiful and felt so good to tackle this huge goal for me.


On this side of the week I have other pictures from the week including our new praying mantis pet, Mia's new love of Pokemon, and a coffee date with friends.


One of our big outings this week was a trip to our local nature and science museum. I didn't take a lot of photos, but this one of Hollis in his astronaut costume perfectly captured the day! They love being able to roams the halls of the museum and touch everything!
We ended the trip with a stop at Voodoo doughnuts!



You can find out more about Project Life here

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Craft Closet Re-do

There is a really good reason that this blog doesn't cover house decor and design. I'm pitiful at it. There are spaces that I've tried to do up pretty, but it's just not something I'm very good at. My craft room is no exception. When we moved into this house over 3 years ago, I was thrilled to have a dedicated space for me to work in. I quickly realized that the space had absolutely no storage. I worked around it creating piles, plastic bins, and a mess that would move and shuffle around depending on what I was working on.

Here's where I get real. Get ready to Pinterest this one, folks.


It just wasn't working in a way that really helped me be creative. I started to feel like I was drowning in stuff. It was paralyzing and made it hard to create. 
So Mark and I crunched numbers and decided to call in help. We had used a local branch of the Closet and Storage Concepts company in our townhome and were always so excited by what they came up with. The same designer, Michelle, came out, listened to me ramble, and didn't even balk when I showed her the space. She saw a vision for the whole room and was eager to help. We had her draw up plans and then decided that for now all we could financially handle was the closet space. I'm hoping to get more done in this room at a later date because her ideas were amazing. I felt like she really understood what I needed to make this my dream space.

This is what the closet looked like after install. 


The amount of storage space was amazing. I had shelves and drawers and could finally put things somewhere! I probably sat in front of the empty closet for a good hour trying to decide where to put things and where to get started. Part of me wanted to throw everything out and leave these looking so neatly empty!

Here is the work in progress:


It's not done, but I've already been way more productive over the last month than in a really long time. It feels good to have space to move around and set places for everything. Mia has claimed the bottom drawer as her own and her crafty projects are being kept there. I ended up need to buy new fabric bins to fit into the smaller spaces. These are from IKEA. The kid's scrapbooks fit all along the bottom so they can pull them out whenever they want. For now my quilting stuff is on the left side of the closet and the Project Life stuff is on the right. The drawers have all my various supplies, bigger yardage of fabrics, quilt kits, and mailing supplies. The first empty space above the drawers is where I'm currently keeping incoming fabric until it can get filed away by color.
We have a long way to go to make the whole space into my dream space, but already I'm feeling a difference.
I'm hoping to share some of the wall space and inspiration wall soon!

As much as I wish it were, this post is not sponsored. I just really like the company and would highly recommend them for your storage needs. If you are in Colorado, ask for Michelle. She's wonderful!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Sharing Project Life

I've adopted an easy-going approach to working on my Project Life over the past few weeks. I'm not worrying about getting a spread done over the course of one week. Instead, I'm printing a couple of times a week until I have enough photos to get a spread done. It's working for this time of year, when I've got my hands full of other crafts and chores. 

This week's spread closes out the first book of 2014. I've found that around July is when the book starts to get too heavy to carry around and it feels full. I've got the second book ready to go. 
It seemed fitting to close this half with 4th of July pictures. 
I used the Kiwi kit and cards from the Seasons kit this week. The colors are a bit all over the place, but I don't mind. I like the overall brightness of it!


For the first half, I chose pictures from my sister's visit. We spent time crawdad fishing with the kids and even got an almost kid-free day of thrifting and fabric store shopping. 
I love when she comes to visit and the house fills with the sounds of cousins running around everywhere. 


My niece, Aniyah, stayed with us through the weekend for the 4th of July. Mia and Aniyah have always been close and so it was good to have them together. For the 4th we spent the morning at our town's Symphony in the Park celebration. The afternoon was spent relaxing and waiting out a rainstorm. In the evening we went to watch the fireworks from the parking lot of Mia's dance studio. They always provide glow sticks for the kids and lots of space to ride scooters, play catch with koosh balls, and have a front row spot for the fireworks. Naomi fell asleep during the show and it got pretty cold, but it was a fun night. 
The cards from the Seasons kit are an easy way to signify what holiday it is without going too over the top with embellishments.


You can find out more about Project Life here

Monday, July 14, 2014

Summer Slow Down



The kids are in no hurry to get out the door on our mornings off from summer camp and planned outings. They live in last night's PJs or yesterday's dirty clothes. It's a good reminder to slow down, to let them battle it out, play, and see where the day takes us. It can be a headache too because the noise can get loud way before 8AM. There are tears, negotiations, and a super controlling big sister to dictate how the game should be played. I tend to busy myself with chores and crafts all in an effort to stay out of the line of fire. If I stay out of the way, they figure out a way to make the play work and I get a few things done. 

It's all part of summer and as I get older I realize why my mom kicked us out of the house for most of the days. I'm pretty sure it was the only thing that kept her sane amid all the bickering and loud play. I realize how fortunate my kids are that three days a week they we all get a break in the form of summer camp. My siblings and I didn't have that and instead spent the days torturing each other and terrorizing the neighborhood. There are fond memories that come with summer because of the freeness of our days. I miss that for my kids, but also feel torn between this want to give them space and the fear that comes with letting them go too far out of sight. I'm working on setting boundaries for all of us that give them the space to play free and don't make me too worried for them.

I am grateful for these slower mornings because they remind me to listen to them. If I slow down too, I can see that they don't need (or want) a full schedule, planned activities, or much direction from me. They just want the time to explore and live in this moment of summer.
It's liberating and I'll take it.