Monday, December 31, 2012

Top 3 Pins of 2012

There is no doubt that one of my worst mistakes this year was finding Pinterest.  Even though most of my pins are just things I like...okay LOVE and want to try, it is always fun to see what my followers are liking and re-pinning.  It's silly, I know, but I feel kind of proud when I see that I was able to share something that others are enjoying enough to re-pin for themselves!

Here are my top 3 pins for this year.  {Not necessarily my favorites, but clearly your favorites!}

1. Elegant
Pinned Image
Originally found here

I think this decor is simply elegant, whether for the holidays or a specific celebration (such as a wedding), and it has by far been my most re-pinned pin! (With over 200 pins)

I do have to admit it is beautiful!

2.  Punch
Pinned Image
Originally found here

No offense, but this one kind of makes me laugh.  I pinned it randomly while trying to help my mom find ideas for my sister's graduation party.  I haven't read it too closely, but apparently people love it (although it is at a very distant 2nd).

3.  Framing Bathroom Mirrors
Framing bathroom mirrors - a great tutorial with step-by-step instructions & pictures.
Originally found here

(This one may not be my official #3, but it sure seems to have filled my inbox the most lately.)

I personally love this one; it was the inspiration (and directions) for our master bath mirror frame, which has put us one step closer to finally being done with our master bath reno.  But alas, it seems we may NEVER be completely done with that project!  I love continually adding to it and making it more our own!

Now that I have begun to even find it possible to regulate my time on Pinterest, I seem to appreciate (and enjoy) it much more!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

One Proud Sister

" [without] works, is dead...Yea, a man may say, thou hast faith, and I have works:
shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works."
James 2:17-18

Today I get to brag about my little brother.  He chose to serve the Lord through a 2-year proselytizing mission, and left December 18th for the Missionary Training Center in Salt Lake City.  In our church, young men  used to be able to leave on a mission at 19 years old.  When Mason turned 19, he didn't jump up and down ecstatically and leave right away...he just wasn't ready.  Then, almost a year later, he started talking about going on a mission, and slowly but surely began completely the paperwork, doctor's appointments, and other processes in preparation for his mission.  Now, almost 2 years after his 19th birthday, Mason has begun an amazing journey.  He waited until he was ready, and I know that because of that, he will be able to serve humbly and selflessly.

I'm a little envious.  I believe this is an incredibly faith building opportunity, not to mention the spiritual rewards that must come from choosing to serve the Lord and His children, rather than oneself, for TWO years.  Today I hold my brother, and all other missionaries in our church, in high regard as Christmas came and went without the typical family celebration.  These young men and women know about sacrifice, about love, and about dedication.

Thank you, Mason, for your example to me and to our family.  I love you big, little brother! Great job!

Go here to find out more about LDS Missionaries and what they do.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Project # 2

Working on 2 projects simultaneously actually worked out really well for me...this time.  Anytime I got frustrated with one (like after slicing my fingers open with sewing needles) or needed to let something dry, I could switch to the other and not waste a productive mood!

I finished the "Fall" blocks first (because I was most excited about them), then I went to work finishing my leaves!  Buttons projects are floating around lately, and since I had already made a letter 'F' for my friend's baby shower, I figured I would attempt some leaves just for fun! Here is the project I made for my friend's baby shower!

Jason actually helped me out a little because I waited until last minute. Either way, it turned out pretty well!

As for the leaves:

I have this AWESOME frame that I bought at a yard sale a while back.  I really like it, but was never able to figure out what to do with it because it doesn't have a back or glass.  I realized recently that I just wasn't thinking outside the box.  Since when do frames have to have glass? And how am I not capable of making a back myself? Hello....cardboard is awesome! So with all my excuses out of the way, it was time to find something to do with this frame...cue my button leaves!

Step 1: Find a template!
Your template will, of course, depend upon what you want to make.  Templates can be found in varying locations; I just did a Google image search and found free templates of what I wanted.

When I made the letter 'F,' I  found an outline that I liked, but in the end, it didn't really work for the overall look I was hoping to achieve; unfortunately, this is also true for the leaf template that I found :(  One of the leaves was much easier to create with  buttons- I ended up using this template for both leaves.

Step 2: Select your buttons.
I have begun collecting buttons from places like yard sales, but unfortunately people only seem to sell ugly, drab buttons for cheap.  If you want a specific color or theme, you will need to plan it out prior to purchasing and make sure you have extra buttons in your chosen colors.  Once you have the ones you want, you can arrange them on the template to get a feel for what buttons you will use and how they will fit.

I always end up using more buttons than I expect.  For the leaves, I chose two or 3 similar colors that I could use to fade into one another to ATTEMPT to get a more natural look.

Step 3: Find a better way!!
The next few steps are a little rough because I am crazy and want to make sure my final product is EXACTLY the way I want it.  I will tell you the ways I have tried this so far and recommend some ideas for a better strategy.

Step 3 (the first time): Place template over desired placement on cloth and attach.
I put the template over the exact position I would want it on the cloth and then arranged the buttons on the template.  At this point I busted out needle and thread and stitched each button where I wanted. **This was very difficult to do without moving the buttons, but like I said, I am crazy, and I wanted my buttons in JUST the right place.  Once I stitched all buttons through the paper and cloth, I pulled all the paper off from around the buttons and discarded it.  Then I went back and put a dab of hot glue under each button just to be sure they would be good to go.

This is where my husband stepped in to tell me I am ridiculous!! Thank goodness!!  Halfway through sewing them, he had me arrange the buttons directly on the cloth so that we could hot glue them directly to the cloth FIRST and THEN stitch them just to reinforce!  The hard part about this: sewing through hot glue SUCKS!! Beware the hot glue, and make sure you have a very sturdy needle!!

This is similar to how I did it for round two...but here is what I would recommend instead: 
Figure out some way to trace your template onto the cloth in a way that will not be visible when you are finished.  I am not sure what the tactic is, but figure it out because it is not worth the time and effort otherwise.

...or don't be a ridiculous perfectionist, and you will have no problems!

Last problem I had: one of my leaves looks like a chili pepper :(

Halloween Wreath is up next!!


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Too early for fall decor?

Well, blogger world, here is my first legit attempt at a blog that someone else could actually care about! Yay!  So as anyone who follows me on Pinterest knows, I am obsessed with Fall Decor right now!

Before summer break I decided I wanted a "craft room."  My room certainly doesn't come close to what you will find online, BUT my formal dining is much more useful when it is full of craft supplies!!  Somewhere along the line I decided this supposed craft room of mine would be leaf-themed.  I guess I just like foliage.  So upon completion of the first decorative item for my now useful space, I was hooked on leaves, which of course made me long for fall.

Fall is by far my favorite season, partly because it encompasses my favorite holiday: HALLOWEEN!!! Because my husband has taught me how to be thrifty, this year I don't have to feel guilty for wanting and actually fulfilling my desire to ready my home for this fabulous season!!  With a little help from Pinterest, the amazing bloggers out there who share their talents, and a little bit of my own creativity, I decided to conquer a couple projects before I start back 2 days :(

Project One

Jason and I love to hunt yard sales, flea markets...and the free adds on Craig's List!  We always seem to accumulate weird, random things that we have no use for at the time but are convinced we will one day use.  ( I love that my husband lets me collect junk- this is one of the many ways I know he truly loves me! )  Last winter when I FINALLY discovered Pinterest, the hubby began collecting free pallets for me because I love the rustic decor floating around that is made with pallets.  Unfortunately, this pile outside my back door has just been growing since free pallets are so easy to come by.  I am pretty sure that one of these days people are going to realize pallets are awesome and start charging for them...I do not look forward to that day.

Since I wanted to clear my porch off a little as backyard barbecue time is beginning to approach, last week I started breaking into my first pallet without much purpose for what I would do with it. Then I remembered this:

And I remembered how awesome I think this is; then I decided to make one for fall...but I didn't want to have to spend much money to make it happen.  Thinking back to those pallets, I couldn't figure out how to use them for this project since the slats aren't wide enough to stand on their own...until...dum dada dum: I realized the 2x4 bases of the pallets would work fabulously.  Luckily my husband trusts me with power tools (Ha!) so I got to work measuring, sanding, and cutting!!

I will attempt to include my steps below, but here is a link to the original done by Dittle Dattle (she is my inspiration) so you can see what I used and adapted from her post!

Since I had already disassembled a pallet, I didn't have to worry about that, but I started off using a hammer and flat-blade screwdriver until I could get a small crowbar from my husband's collection of tools he keeps on his work truck.

Step 1: Decide how big you want your blocks to be.  
You could really make them any size you want based on where you plan to display them, like for instance if you wanted to put them on your porch, you might make them a foot tall, maybe 7" for a main mantle display, etc.  I want mine to go on a side table, so I followed the example in the image above and decided on varying sizes. Plus I figured my first use of a circular saw may also produce slightly varied blocks :)

My blocks were all 4" wide (so I didn't have to adjust the 2x4) and I varied between approximately 4" and 5" for the height.

Step 2: Measure and cut

I actually gave my 2x4's an initial sanding since they were in kind of rough shape (I didn't want to end up with any slivers.)

Measure and be sure to mark off your blocks where you want them.  Clamp down your board you plan to cut, put on your proper safety equipment, and then go to town with the saw.

You could use lots of different kinds of saws for this, but I used a circular saw because it is light enough for me to handle and operate easily on my own and is more precise then some of the other saws we have!

Step 3: Sand
You can do a lot with the sanding to add character, etc based on what you are looking to accomplish.  Jason and I decided we really like the look of the raw wood, and since it fits with fall, we opted not paint them and leave some of the natural graininess.  Depending on what you plan to do will determine the extent of your sanding.  If you plan to cover the edges with ribbon like in the inspiration post, you will not have to focus on these too much; since I am not using ribbon, I wanted them to be smooth.  I also rounded the corners a bit.

Sand to your desired texture.  I used an 80 grit first (during my initial sanding to get rid of splinters) and then used a 100 grit.  This left the weathered color of the grain, but smoothed the wood enough to look pretty! Be sure to clean the sawdust off before continuing to the next step.

Step 4: Decor
Now is when you really need to decide exactly what you want to do with your blocks, and get it done. Originally I was going to paint the blocks a neutral fall tone and then add the scrapbooking paper like in the link above, but since we opted to keep the wood look, I skipped this step and jumped straight to the mod podge-ing.  If you are painting, you will want to give the paint some time to dry before continuing to where I pick up.

I chose some beautiful fall paper from K & Company (purchased at Michael's with my awesome teacher discount, yaya) You will need to measure and cut your paper to the appropriate sizes for your blocks and then begin attaching!

Due to our love of the natural wood, we also decided not to cover the entire front with paper, but instead to cut out letters (hard work without a die-cut, cricut, or other amazing cutting tool besides basic scissors) and attach them directly to the block!

I coated the front of each letter and embellishment with Mod Podge before also using Mod Podge to attach them to the wood blocks!  Be sure to let the letters dry completely before attaching or you may end up with wrinkles.

I also ended up putting different papers on the left side of the block to spice it up a little since we went with plainer fronts.  If you choose to go with the raw wood, my recommendation would be to NOT coat the front of the wood block with mod podge; I did with one of mine and am now very sad I did because I don't really like the color it left me with.  Of course, if you have children (or clumsy, irresponsible adult friends) you may want to do this to insure that they will not be ruined by a spilled glass of water, juice, etc.

Step 5: Enjoy :)

I am SO incredibly in love with how these turned out, and quite proud of myself too.  Thankfully my husband was a good supporter when I was freaking out thinking "no, shouldn't have done that," or "crap, honey which paper should I use?!"

Now find an awesome place in your house to show off your hard work, and be sure to tell all your friends so they can compliment your awesomeness ;)

Posting project two soon; check back to see the finished result!


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Why I'm Worried...

Jason and I don't have children yet, but it is a plan for the future. One of the potential ideas we have is to home-school our children. Even though I am licensed as a high school English teacher, I still have a jump start on lots of home-schooling-parents because I have taken so many education and child psychology courses for my degree. I would like to take more courses if this is something we pursue, but I will figure that out with time.

The dilemma I have at the moment (besides the fact I have to keep correcting my spelling because I am typing so fast) is that there are so many positives and negatives to both sides of education. I say both because to me there are really only two choices: home-schooling and public education. I don't know that I can justify our savings on private school since most students (including college level) don't truly appreciate the opportunities that come through education until they are gone.

[[I do speak from experience on this- I wish that I had been less focused on work and my lack of social life because I worked obsessively, and more focused on what I was learning. It would really benefit me to have read all those required texts in college. I am just such a slow reader and it would have taken forever.]]

Consequently, I am left with the option of public or home. As a public school teacher, I feel that I can truly speak to many of the pros and cons, especially since I went through public education myself. I know I may sound like a crazy, paranoid, conservative lady here, but I was exposed to a lot of inappropriate, lude, crude, tramatic STUFF throughout my years in public school. No, I may not have turned out terribly because of it, but I would like to prolong my children's exposure to some of this stuff for a while if I can. Of course it does hit a point where informed citizens do have to know what is out there, especially so they can make informed decisions for themselves (so no, I am not trying to take away my children's agency,) but I feel like my kids don't need to hear about condoms, drugs, thongs, and such until at least middle I crazy?!

However, here is where my personal experiences with public school really make it hard to say that my children will be truly successful and educationally aware to the extent that they will be utterly brilliant and incredibly successful individuals....(it will take me a minute to get to it, but I promise I will get to my point)...

Some of our plans (desires) for home-schooling our children is the ability to take them to museums and galleries and shows around the country. We don't have to worry about permission forms, inadequate bagged lunches, or whether or not mom can get off work to help chaperone. We can teach the history of wars and visit the monuments and memorials that accompany them to help our children understand the reality. I can teach the Irish Potato Famine and take them to Ireland if I really want to. I want to increase their exposure (to important life things) and give them the ability to grow through the experiences we are able to offer them.
I don't want my children to be those weird shut-ins that often result from home-schooling. I want them to participate in community sports, music, and dance if that is what they are interested in, so they can take lessons and be on teams and expand their talents that they worked for before they came to earth.
I want to have days that we get together with other home-schoolers and have lessons together and take field trips together, so they can be exposed to others and others' opinions. I don't want them to be shut off in a world with no diversity, but...public education gives a wonderful opportunity for diversity...

Various cultures, religions, ethnicities exist under the same roof and even within the same walls. My children would have the opportunity to interact with people of different social classes and various walks of life; they would be exposed to multiple opinions so they are not biased or restricted by simply what their parents and close friends think and feel.

Public education gives them the ability to share what they have learned with others and learn from the comments and suggestions of their peers. So often, during a lesson, my students will comment on something they felt or discovered while reading...something that never even occurred to me. How will my children be exposed to the various ah-ha moments that truly make group learning and discovery such a vital part of the human experience. Watching daredevil friends on the monkey bars, which later inspires unimagined and unpredicted adventure.

I don't want to take these experiences away from my children. I was educated through public education, and I turned out fine (...I think). Aside from all the crazy government influences on education, and the decreasing quality of teachers, and the radically obtuse exposure they will have to public education such a bad option?

I just don't know...

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

This Week's Obsessions...

Oh I am so hooked! Lazy person's way to search the internet for amazingness!
I love to see all the amazing things that everyone else is posting, and it is the easiest way to save what I like with out completely filling my bookmarks (which are already WAY overstocked.)

2. Bike riding
I am definitely going to need to get used to this, but it is fantastic! I am so sore that I can't even run and can barely sit-My bum hurts!
However, I LOVE IT! My husband took me for a crazy bike ride yesterday when we both got home from work. Amazing. We found some cool trails and open, secluded fields! Yay!

3. Writing
I have started a writing unit with my seniors and had them do a 20 minute SOC (Stream of Consciousness) write yesterday. To be a good little teacher and model proper SOC-ing, I wrote with them. Now all I want to do is write!! I haven't written much since high school, but I used to be a big writer. Nothing of actual substance really, which is probably sad; it is just easier to express my ideas, thoughts, and feelings through pen and paper.

4. Plants!
Ah! I just want to plant. My angel wings are going strong. My plumeria is doing alright. My rosemary is definitely dead-I finally had to accept this. And I have seeds!!!! I am going to plant! So stinking pumped :)

5. Decorating our House with my Husband.
Sometimes I just have to admit that Jason has an eye for decor. He is incredible at seeing how things will turn out, whereas I, on the other hand, just like to guess-and-check. Ha. We have put together several little corners now. I love that he helps me with this stuff, and I love being able to share our time making our home come to life.

Try some of my obsessions; they are guaranteed to make you smile :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Honey, I want...

What started as occasional comments of "why is there no light over our sink?," and "uh, there is too much space here" has turned into ANOTHER PROJECT!! Yes!

Ever since Jason's idea to make my mom a mantle for her birthday, we have become crazy DIY-ers! Most people live in a world where home-make-over projects are long, lost wishes and there are hopes of maybe one day "sprucing things up." Well, the Edwards live in a world where (although long-awaited in some instances*cough*our shower*cough*) the wishes never get lost and do much more than spruce!

Here a couple pictures of some of the projects we have done so far.

Mom's Mantle

Our new lighting/projector encasement/valence

These are the two main projects we have completed at this point. After the projector case turned out so well, we started planning for a lot more projects, and we bought a great deal of wood. It was at this point also that Jason constructed my square foot gardening boxes.

Since our confidence was up, it was a great time to embark on another project, so we began to fulfill my pleas for over-the-sink lighting. The lighting isn't actually in yet, but everything is made, painted, and pieced together.
We actually got up early this morning (and somehow I still made it to PLT by 7:35) and put on our last coat of paint so everything would be ready to assemble by this afternoon. Below are some of the beginning stages. Start to "finish" took us 3 days-not bad for a constructive hobby!

Learning As We Go

While Jason was learning to use a router (and a screwdriver)
I was learning the imperative value of primer and letting
paint dry! All joking aside though, Jason did an amazing
job, and he only messed up in the last scene because
he was trying to surprise me by having it all done
by the time I got home from work today...and
he most certainly succeeded! Love him!

As far as the finished project goes, I am incredibly impressed (as usual) with our mad skills. I am also very grateful to our Heavenly Father for allowing us to work so well together, even through our moments of frustration, we are somehow able to pull together something that makes us feel good and makes our home look amazing!

I love our projects, and I love our life!