Friday, March 30, 2012

What a Difference a Little Paint Makes

When we moved into our house a year and a half ago, we were so happy to finally be moving, that we just moved in. No painting. No renovating. Just straight to unpacking. We had waited nineteen months for our house to be sold and were excited to finally be moving into a house with more space for our family. I was in the first trimester of my pregnancy with Lillian so unpacking and getting things organized was enough for me to handle. Last spring John painted our downstairs bath and Lillian's room before her birth and then did Levi's room in the summer. Other than that, our house remained pretty white and the wallpaper hung on for dear life.

A few weekends ago, John tackled the front hallway. Then this week on his spring break he painted the living room and dining room. Wow, what a difference! We used Behr paint's Gobi Desert, which is the perfect tan color. We used it in our old house and found it to be a great neutral that works well with our furnishings and decor.

These 'before' shots were taken in December 2010, a few months after we had moved in. Sorry about the poor quality, but they accurately show the state of the walls when we moved in--dated and a little depressing.

Living Room & Entry BEFORE
Living Room & Entry AFTER
Living Room-BEFORE
Living Room-AFTER
Dining Room-BEFORE
Dining Room-AFTER
 It's a small step towards making our house feel more like our home. Truthfully, it didn't take long once we moved in for it to feel like home, but the leftover wallpaper and stark white walls made it feel like someone's old hand-me-down. Now, it feels more like ours. We have put our touch on it. I can't wait for more painting this summer!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

My Little Boy is Three

Today my little boy, Levi, is three years old! Yesterday we celebrated with family and friends at a train-themed party.

Wearing his favorite goggles-always ready to work.

We've been busy in our house the past week preparing for his birthday party. Besides cleaning, shopping, and preparing food, my father-in-law and I made two cakes for Levi. This is the second year I've enlisted his help. He is a talented guy and has made many cakes throughout his years as a father and now a grandfather. I bake the cakes and the make frosting, then he works on shaping the cakes and frosting them. I finish up by piping on the details.

We made a Thomas the Train cake and a Harold the Helicopter cake. I think they both turned out great and they were delicious too.

Levi was thrilled with them and couldn't wait until it was time to eat them.

It's hard to believe that it's already been three years since he was born. We were so thrilled to have a little boy. I still remember the moment when the doctor held him up and said, "What is it, Dad?" and John announced, "It's a boy!"

Now Levi is full of personality and so sweet and smart. He keeps us entertained and makes sure we get plenty of love everyday. I can't wait to see his life unfold.

Happy Birthday Levi!

Monday, March 19, 2012

A Taste of Spring

The beautiful weather continues, though it's a little more spring like today. Yesterday I spent some time cleaning up my flower beds. I'm happy to see the bulbs I planted in the fall are coming up. I have daffodils and crocuses in bloom now. Tulips will be coming a little later. It's so nice to see flowers already.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

It is March 15th

I've been having to check the calendar a lot lately. Yep, it is really just March. And the 15th of March at that. You'd never know it with this weather, but I am not complaining. Not. One. Bit. However, I am  remaining realistic. I'm well aware that a snowstorm could sweep in at some point and take us back to the winter we didn't have. But that's not happening anytime soon.

In the meantime, we'll enjoy this weather for all it's worth. We'll take walks and play outside with the neighbor kids. We'll dust off all the outdoor toys and pull out the sidewalk chalk. We'll each lunch outside.

Sidenote on this salad...Meet The Pioneer Woman's Cheeseburger Salad. HELLO! So good! It will be making regular appearances at our house from now on.

We'll soak up the sun. (This is our dog Rosie and my mom's dog Maggie. Maggie's spending her spring break with us.)

At one point when we were out on the deck Levi said, "It's kinda hot out here" and then went inside to "cool off".

I hope you're finding lots of ways to get outside and enjoy the beautiful weather. We sure are.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Spring Decorating Think Aloud

This past week I've been putting away all the winter and Valentine's Day decor and bringing out my spring things. It's always so refreshing to see it after a long winter. It just seems new and bright and cheery. It's exactly what I need to see when it's dreary and not so pretty outside. I'll be sharing pictures of all my decorating soon, but I thought I might take you through the process of decorating one space in my house. I'm letting you into my head so you can see how I decide to place things and end up with the finished product. To use a teaching term...a think aloud.

By no means am I a professional decorator and some might not even like my style. But if you're here, you probably are at least a little interested, so here goes.

This is my corner cupboard as it was decorated for Christmas.

I've said it's a favorite piece of mine. It's from IKEA and I've had it since I lived in my little one bedroom condo back in my pre-married days. Ideally this piece would be in the corner of my kitchen or next best, in my dining room. Unfortunately, due to the layout of the two rooms, it just doesn't fit. Instead, it found a place in our living room.

First, I cleared off all the winter decor that was on there. I left some of the books, the "pheasant" on top (I was so happy to find this piece being that John is a pheasant hunter, but after I brought it home John informed me that it was really more a quail with a pheasant tail. Oops. I still like it.), and the green vase. Then I gathered the other decor I might use to decorate it for spring. I use a lot of yellow and green with creams, whites, and tans mixed in. I have some silk florals, vases, candles, plates, books, a picture frame, and some more spring-specific pieces.

Next, I started at the top. These shelves are smaller so it's a little easier to make decisions on what to place there. Some things just don't fit. With each shelf, I try to have a variety of materials and sizes. You can see that I have a twig ball (something natural) next to a rectangular art piece that has plenty of color. On the next shelf I have a pottery vase, frame, artificial grass, and apothecary bottles filled with dried split peas.

Here's a close-up of the apothecary bottles. My mom and I saw this idea last summer and thought it was so cute. Dried beans or grains make inexpensive fillers for jars or vases and can coordinate with different seasonal decor.

The next shelf is a little larger so I can arrange and layer a little more. I started with the plate because I knew I wanted to put that on this shelf and it's a large piece. I placed the yellow pitcher on the opposite side so I wouldn't have two yellow things right next to each other. Then I chose two more things of varied material and size-the candle and the jar of blue and green eggs. To fill in the space and tie them all together, I wove a branch of forsythia around them.

I was left with these items to use on the bottom shelf. There was more than I would need, but I was able to decide what worked best and use the leftovers somewhere else in the house.

I cleared the shelf off and started with a simple green batik cloth. I think this acts as an anchor to tie the rest of the things together. It's similar to placing area rug in room to define a seating area.

The bottom shelf is the widest so there is plenty of room to layer things. Once again, I started by placing the largest objects first. I laid the tulips on the left side since I have the large yellow plate on the right side of the shelf above. Again, you want to mix up your colors a little so you don't have all of one color one side and another color on the other. Next, I stacked the books and placed a rough pottery bird on top. I placed an apothecary jar to the right. It's filled with cream-colored potpourri.

Next I added an oval white plate behind the books. Sometimes it's a good idea to place something behind that's slightly hidden. It acts as a backdrop. In this case, it helps to break up all the wood at the back of the shelf.

After that I moved the glass jar closer to the middle. Then I removed the green book from the pile and stood it on it's pages to act as a backdrop for the right side of the shelf. In front I placed a cream jar candle and a green ceramic egg.

And here is the finished product. I'm happy with how it turned out, but I may move things around if I come across something new or get some new inspiration.

That's the nice thing about changing up your decor seasonally--you feel free to make changes to what's there. You don't have to stick with the same look month after month. Even if you don't change up your decor as much as I do, you can still look for a few things to add in or take away that give your space a cheery new spring look.

Friday, March 9, 2012


Next to spending time with my kids, my favorite part about being a stay-at-home mom is that I have plenty of time to prepare yummy meals and treats for my family. It's no secret that I enjoy cooking and baking. In my opinion, there's nothing like a really amazing home-cooked meal. It doesn't have to be fancy-just tasty.

Over the past few years, I've started making lots of things from scratch in an effort to reduce our consumption of processed and prepared foods. For the most part, they aren't nice to your wallet or your body. Recently, I had been hearing about cooking and bread-making classes being taught by a very knowledgeable woman from my church. And then, an invitation came my way.

Last night I had the pleasure of attending a whEAT REAL class taught by Kim Nordin. About once a week, Kim opens her kitchen to teach others about grinding their own flour from a variety of grains, making bread and other baked goods, as well as making quick, healthy meals. She has been doing this for fourteen years and has a variety of classes to offer anyone looking to add to their culinary skills and learn easy ways to eat healthy.

Kim learned bread making from her grandma and it's nothing like what my grandma taught me. First of all, she grinds her own flour...right there in her kitchen. Now, you might think that sounds like a lot of work, but in just a few minutes she ground the fresh wheat flour for our bread dough. Plus once you hear of all the good stuff that is removed from wheat to make store-bought flour (even whole wheat varieties), it begins to make a lot of sense.

She started by making a huge batch of dough using her Bosch mixer.

Then we used the dough to make three loaves of whole wheat bread, a loaf of cinnamon swirl bread, cinnamon rolls,

pizza rolls,

and focaccia bread. All the while Kim shared tips and tricks from her years of experience. We took turns getting our hands dirty as we witnessed just how easy it is to prepare fresh baked goods for our families. The whole process from beginning to end took less than an hour!

Not only was the process much quicker than any bread making I've ever done, the end product was amazing! (The lack of many 'after' shots of the food is a good testimony to that fact. I was busy eating instead of taking pictures.) Everything has the perfect consistency you want in baked goods, but it tastes so fresh and "healthy"-in a very good way. Yes, I did really claim that the cinnamon rolls tasted healthy.

It's hard to put into words, but no other baked goods I've ever had taste as fresh and delicious as those made with fresh ground flour. Plus, you're still getting all the fiber and nutrients in the wheat that God intended.

As if the baked goods weren't enough, she also showed us how pressure cookers can considerably cut down on your meal prep time. We made stuffed chicken breasts and a millet salad-a cold salad made of cooked millet (one of the many grains you'll learn about from Kim) and lots of fresh veggies.

The chicken was moist and full of flavor and we were all clamoring for seconds of the millet salad.

Here's Kim...hard at work on the millet salad
I learned so much from Kim's class and am already making plans to attend more of her classes. She has a wealth of knowledge that she loves to share. In addition to her classes, she also sells all of the products and lots of the ingredients she uses in her cooking. If you're interested in learning more about making healthy food fast, visit Kim's website. You can also find her on Facebook.

Monday, March 5, 2012

I'm on Etsy!

Waaaay back in November, I introduced you to Katey Anne Creations. It's the little side business that my mom and I began to sell things we've created. Back then we tried our hand at a local craft sale and I made plans to put our things on Etsy. Then came the holidays and lots of other things to do and it was one thing that always got pushed to the bottom of the list. Thankfully, I have a mom who is always a great encourager and she helped me to get going on it again.

So, I'm happy to share the my(our) shop is up and running on Etsy. We'll mostly be selling things that we've sewn with some other creative things mixed in. There will be more added as we make things, but for now, I've posted all the things I had made last fall. Please visit our shop and look around. Tell your friends about it and check back often. I'm excited at the prospect of making some extra money by doing something I enjoy and getting to be home with my little ones. What a blessing!

My Etsy Shop:
Katey Anne Creations