Thursday, January 30, 2014

horizontal striped curtains

I can say PHEW about all of this now. (Has anyone else noticed that I get bitten by the craft bug every winter/busy season?)

Isn't it amazing how if you really want something bad enough, you will do anything to get it? Even if it involves 6 weeks of time, a TON of acrylic paint bottles (64 to be exact), sore muscles and knees, and pull-out-your-hair patience??

Since we have lived in this house (6 years total), we have had some "nice" curtains. At least I think they were nice 20 or 30 years ago. They were straight out of the 80s. Complete with string-pull and everything. We have a huge window in the corner, as well as our sliding door. There is also another window in the room, so they all needed the same curtains.

Not the best "before" picture, but you can see what they looked like. (Not shown is the ugly wooden/oak molding around the sliding door. We have painted/replaced all the "wood" molding to be white but hadn't done it here yet. Once I made the change it looked SO much better!)

Figuring out new curtains in this room never sounded fun. Until it suddenly DID sound like fun. I knew what I wanted - horizontal striped curtains. I love the look of black and white but knew those colors would clash with my living room. I looked at every imaginable site on the internet and could NOT find what I wanted. I even looked for fabric but I didn't love any of it, and considering I would need SIX panels that were 50x84 inches, that was pricey. I finally discovered these panels, from Crate and Barrel...
Alston Ivory/Grey Curtain Panels

and fell in LOVE. Until I saw that they were $99 per panel! $700 after tax and shipping. For curtains!

Finally I found some tutorials that told me I could paint the stripes on myself. Um, no thanks. But I came back to those tutorials a few days later after I was feeling out of other options, and after reading for a while, made the insane decision to go for it. After all I really really wanted these curtains!

I made my way to Ikea, where I purchased 3 sets of panels ($25 for 2, by the way...unless you count the fact that in their "as is" section they had some in opened packages for $17 for 2- score!). Total cost of curtains - under $75. I like the grommet look. Then I found the rods for $12 each.

The problem with the curtains was that they were hemmed to 96 inches. So I hung them up, marked them, and then sewed the bottom. Mind you, each step of that process took a few DAYS, so this could have been much faster if I was in a different stage of life.

Next was the math part. Enter Spencer. I knew I wanted the stripes to be about 8 1/2 to 9 inches thick. He helped me figure out the most accurate measurements to keep it equal but also how to keep it how I wanted it in my mind. I made a template, measured each panel, and made pencil marks down the sides of the panels.

The next day was the tedious step of using a piece of wood to draw the pencil lines. The material was quite soft and movable so it was hard to get the lines to match up. Then came the taping. Taping is always the worst part of painting in my opinion. I also had to remember to tape on the "right" side of the line depending on if it was a painted stripe or a white stripe. I marked the not-to-paint stripes with extra tape so I didn't accidentally mess up.

What I did next is what made the stripes so perfectly straight. Mod Podge. I sealed the edges of the masking tape with Mod Podge (dries clear) so that no paint would bleed underneath. It worked almost flawlessly (don't look too close, or you will see a few places where I messed up), but it really made a huge difference in the lines.

Everyone that wrote tutorials about this used different types of paint. I decided to use acrylic paint bottles mixed with textile medium so that the painted sections wouldn't crack. The textile medium supposedly makes the curtains washable (even though I hope to never have to wash them). And it keeps the paint from (for the most part) bleeding through the material. My base color was "Pebble" and then I added a few bottles of different grays to move the shade away from being too brown.

I painted for 3 entire afternoons (over 2 1/2 weeks). One upside to this horrible drought is that the weather has been glorious. 75 degrees and sunny most days. It took WAY more paint than I was initially expecting - about 4 times more. And...because I used acrylic paint tubes and mixed them to get this taupe/greige color I was going for, I had to make sure to re-buy all the same paints the next two times I needed to paint. But after 3 (and sometimes 4) coats, they are done and I LOVE them! Not sure I can say yet that it was worth it, but I am proud that it cost under $200. And it makes the room feel big. And the color is just what I wanted.

I love the feeling of accomplishment. And the fact that I am done!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

A new phase

(I am posting this from the bathroom, watching my two littles splash and play in the tub...)

I feel like the first many years of our marriage revolved around planning our babies. Once one was born we knew we had some time before the next but soon enough we were figuring out when another would join. It seemed like most things we got to look forward to revolved around births. And with babies, we throw ourselves into that crazy realm of babyhood and it takes forever to slowly crawl out from the depths of the chaos, just to start all over again.

We are done having kids (which makes me sad, because Sadie is at the age when I usually start thinking about having another...). And 4 kids is a lot. They are a big responsibility. They take up a lot of my time. But in terms of having another tiny human, that phase of life is over.

Here are the top 10 things I am looking forward to in the foreseeable future:

1. Raising the kids. Obviously I have been "raising" a couple of my kids for longer than the others. But I feel like we are entering the phase of life where I have to be on my game. I am up for it, and I can't wait. Junior high (yikes) and high school are coming, dating is coming in just 6 years (!), driving is coming, college, missions, etc. Emma will be gone in 8 1/2 years! What on earth!?

2. Planning our dream house. I don't know if we will live here forever, though it is quite likely. My goal in the next year or two is to decide if we turn our current house into our dream house. (Assuming this is that house) I am excited to make it just how we want it, with extra bedrooms for guests and future in-laws and grandkids. But sooner than that I want more space for my kids to have friends over whenever they want. I want my house to be their gathering place as much as possible. These things are important to me, things I think about all the time. We need more space...someday. Right now I just dream about it, but soon it will need to become reality.

3. Events. I hated high school. I wasn't really super involved, and I want my kids to enjoy it more than I did. I am excited for sports events, for church events/dances, for things that should be enjoyable and fun for them. They already do some sports and piano but I look forward to all the rest of the chaos that will clutter our calendar and make life that much more interesting.

4. Traveling. I have this weird habit - if I am watching TV or overhear something about a place, and I don't know where it is, I immediately look it up on google maps. I would love to drive (sans kids, mind you) across the country, exploring the far corners of North America. With just a map in my hand. And Spencer driving, so I could look around. I am fascinated by geography.
I also want to explore certain parts of Europe - the south of France and all of Italy, for example. But I would be just as happy driving through Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina (the one part of the country I haven't yet been to). I have come to hate roadtrips because I am always turned around keeping people happy and fed. Doing this without people, and just with a person sounds dreamy.

5. Service. I decided recently that I want my kids to see me happily do service for others. Once, a few years ago, the compassionate service leader called and asked me to take dinner to someone. I think I was pregnant and it was a hard time for me. I politely declined, then felt horrible for a few hours and called her back to apologize and accept. I have noticed that I can easily make someone a meal and take it over, but when I do it by choice - willingly - I am so much happier. I want my kids to jump at the chance to do service, and not always have to be asked. I am working on this. I think it is important. I also want this to extend to the community, not just to those in my church who need extra help...
This applies to all forms of service. I know I won't have more time when I have older kids, but I will have the ability to serve more when I'm not holding a baby all day.

6. Callings. This goes with #5 a little bit. Spencer and I love our callings. We have loved all of our callings, which is part of it I think. When I recently thought about getting a new calling, one that didn't require nearly as much of my time, it made me so sad! I am excited to put more time into our callings, as we will have kids that can be home alone occasionally. I treasure the time I get to be with my friends from church.

7. Exercise. I know that soon i will have more freedom to exercise. I won't be tied to a treadmill {before the kids are up} or the living room, or anything else. I hate to exercise, but I love how it makes me feel.

8. Be more involved in the school. As long as my kids are in public school I need to be as involved as possible. This year I bit off more than I could chew by agreeing to be on the PTA Board over Membership. I keep thinking that I need to do those things that will impact my kids the most. I love love love teaching FAME (art/music). I adore seeing my kids and their friends get so excited when I walk in. I love teaching them valuable lessons that are mostly absent from schools these days. I want them to experience culture and how these things feel. I hope to do more of this when I am not holding a baby all day. :) PTA is important. But I'd rather be in their classes. I taught last week and Emma soaked up every second of it. Most importantly, I get little glimpses of my kids' friends.

9. Temple Service. This is another thing that falls under the Service umbrella. I used to think I wanted to work when my kids were older. (And trust me, I still have dreams of teaching AP English to high schoolers...) But I am starting to think that I never want to work. I want to keep my house clean (imagine that!) and I want to work in the temple. Being in the most heavenly place for one day a week...I can't imagine anything better.

10. Date! Emma is so close to being our baby-sitter, I can taste it! One reason we don't go out much is the cost. And that Sadie doesn't like people. ;) We have been aiming for a date night 3 weeks out of 4. Lots of times we stay in. I feel like having a couple baby-sitters in a couple of years will allow us a lot more freedom to get out and just TALK, away from the distractions of home. Can't wait.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

a moment of bragging

December 1 was a Sunday. We had just gotten back from our crazy trip to Las Vegas/Grand Canyon. Spencer pulled us all together and asked if we would do something together during the month - read the entire Book of Mormon. I scoffed a little bit.

But my kids! Oh the little darlings. They said "sure" and immediately started reading. "17 pages a day" became our mantra.

The kids would always physically read the pages. It took about 45 minutes a night. I didn't always have that option so I have a newfound love of the audio section of the scriptures app. Tanner listened along with me (sorta). Spencer fell behind a lot and then would spend tons of time catching up.

Emma finished (on her new Kindle) on New Years Eve morning. We were driving to the cabin that day, so Tyler finished in the car. Spencer and I listened to the audio of all of Ether, and then had to slip in Moroni once we got to the cabin. What a relief to finish page 531!

We decided this was probably the coolest thing we have done as a family. When you read it in 30 days it reads more like a chronological book. Things and parts and stories fit together. Imagine that. :) We have talked about doing this again sometime. I would be up for it!

I saw this on Emma's door a few days ago. I am so proud.

(Accomplished! Going to Yogurtland!) This made my heart so happy.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

in a nutshell

Kids go back to school tomorrow. Boo! BUT we had quite the exciting two weeks, if I do say so myself.
We started here:

We went to the indoor water park (no pictures).

Grandma and Papa (and Uncle Adam) arrived:
Christmas Eve arrived...

Christmas morning came
We went to the "city" (it still cracks me up that people call it that) THREE times.
Time #1:


Time #2, for a should-have-been-more-awesome football game:
 (The garlic fries were awesome.)

Time #3. Biking the GG Bridge=so iconically American, and awesome.

Someone finally started walking...

We headed up high (elevation-wise) for NYE...
 ...and played games (reverse charades here) with some of our best friends. So fun being packed in tight.

And we found barely enough snow to cover the ground (and to sled) at 8000 feet:

Hey, rest of the US...send some of the precipitation this way!

It ended with puking, as the holidays usually do.

I just wish we had one more week!