Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Birthday Girl

Saturday was Pinkerbelle’s 7th birthday. In the past, I have always done home parties. They were nothing fancy. Cupcakes, balloons, goodie bags, and an inflatable pool in the backyard is the norm.

I am not a “party girl”. I want and like to celebrate my kids’ birthdays, but going all-out is exhausting to me. I always thought I was saving money by not doing a party at Build-a-Bear or similar, but increasingly every year I realized that I spend more than I thought and put in way more effort than it appeared on these home parties.

This year, I booked her party at our community recreation center. For $90, we got a party room, cake and beverage, all paper goods, goodie bags, a t-shirt for the birthday girl, and swimming, for up to 10 people (including adults). All we did was show up.

First, we went to the party room. This was about as exciting as it got. (Out of 6 invited guests, 4 attended. Including family and 2 parents, we had exactly 10.)1127080855

This was Bree, our party coordinator. This is about as excited as she got.1127080855

Here’s P. with one of her gifts. This is about as excited as she got. Does anybody else have this problem with their children? Gosh, I thought I taught you to smile, say “thank you!” and “wow! that looks cool!”.1127080853

Okay, so the party room was kind of lame, but they had a lot of fun in the pool. I’m still glad I did it—it was much easier for me, and she was happy with it. Will I do it again? Dunno.

Craig and Skippy went to Boyscout Camp right from the party, so we had our family celebration last night. IMG_2995 IMG_3014 There, those are genuine smiles. Guess where I got the jewelry box and the giant stuffed pony? (Hint: think Thrift Store Thursday.) She also got a ladybug watch from us, and a couple little things from her brothers, plus $ from grandparents, so even though I spent under $10 on gifts, she did all right.

Here’s the cake. I told you I don’t do fancy. I bought strawberry marshmallows and snipped them to make flowers.IMG_2989

But you know what? I think my daughter will have good memories of her 7th birthday, and that’s what counts.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Simple Chair Makeover, or "Amateur Hour"

This was my desk chair. It sits at the built-in computer desk in the kitchen, and gets lots of use. It was originally purchased as a set with a desk, at Big Lots, some 8 years ago. About 7 years ago, the seat was covered with the red fabric, which was also used elsewhere in the room at the time. As you can see, it was sadly in need of a makeover.IMG_2789

Here it is now, spray painted black, distressed and stained, and new garage sale fabric on the seat. I knew I liked that fabric!IMG_2888

This was my first attempt at refinishing a piece of furniture, and I learned some lessons. The spray-painting was easy. It was the staining over the distressed parts that I had issues with. (This photo shows the distressing a little better.)IMG_2887

First, gloves would be helpful.IMG_2806

Second, sweep the garage floorIMG_2807because if there’s a breeze, you will end up with debris stuck to your piece.IMG_2809

Thirdly, you might also want to cover the garage floor.IMG_2810

Number four is the biggest lesson of all. When the directions on the can say to immediately wipe off excess stain, do it! Since my stain contained a topcoat, I thought I would just sort of lightly wipe it all over the whole piece, so it would all have the same sheen.

Three days later, when it was still sticky, I realized I had a problem. Some research online indicated that I might need to strip the whole thing and start all over.

Um, no way. I’m too lazy. Something I read suggested steel wool. All I had was an SOS pad, so I used it, first dry, then wet. After I wiped the soap residue off, no more sticky. Whew!

In the end, I’m very happy with the makeover, and I know what not to do next time!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Thrift Store Thursday 06/25

I had a pretty good week at the shops!

At Goodwill I found these faux pomegranates. They were $1 each, but I really liked them, thought they’d be great vase fillers, and I couldn’t get them for less than that somewhere else.IMG_2885I wasn’t too crazy about my lone jar of lemons before, but I think the poms really help the whole thing. I’m thinking a third jar with limes or something would complete the grouping nicely.

Today I made my weekly trip to United Volunteers, for 25% off everything. IMG_2881I got a brand new-with-tags pair of Children’s Place pants for Pinkerbelle, $2 (after discount). A Shopaholic book, and a book by the author of The Other Boleyn Girl (I really enjoyed the book, not so much the movie). I think they were 30 cents each. Also got a couple of books for Skippy, but he ran off with them before I could take the photo.

Then there are these: pillows made from U.S Mint bags! I did a wee bit of research and it appears that these may be authentic bags. It is unfortunate that they are indeed stuffed with polyfill, and not $1050 worth of coins. But, after all, I only paid $1.45 each.IMG_2883

I’m anxious to see what you found this week!

1. Please link directly to your Thrift Store Thursday post, not your home page.

2. Please mention and link back to my Thrift Store Thursday post.

3. Please put my button in your post, and I'd really love it if you'd use the code to do so :)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

WFMW--Quick Kid Project

Saturday, Skippy was looking through a past issue of Boys’ Life magazine, and found a project he wanted to try. It used a two-liter bottle to make a self-watering planter. I don’t work well spur-of-the-moment, and started to put him off, as usual (“we don’t have an empty bottle, we’ll have to wait….”). Which usually means they keep asking me for three weeks, until I finally pull it together.

This time, however, Skippy was ready. He had a 16 oz water bottle, which he was sure would work just fine. I started to question whether or not we had any plants or seeds…until Craig said he had some grass seed. Which reminded me that I still had some wheat berries from back in the spring when I grew wheatgrass.
It was so quick and satisfying then, that I knew it would be perfect for a kid.


1. Cut the top off the bottle.

2. Have an adult drill a hole in the cap, and thread a string through it.

3. Fill the top with potting soil around the string.

4. Put water in the bottom half, and invert the top to sit inside of it, with the string in the water, working as a wick.

5. Cover the soil with wheat berries. At this point, I misted the top of the soil with water, but we haven't watered it since, except to refill the bottom once.

Sunday morning it had sprouted. That’s overnight, people! Yesterday we noticed that it was growing so fast that we decided to put in a little measuring stick.


Skippy took a craft stick and marked it with lines and numbers (not actual units of measurement). When we inserted the stick yesterday afternoon, the tallest blade was at 4. Last night it was at 7. This morning, it was at 9. Also, the white stringy things in the dirt are the roots; it’s kind of cool that you can see them.
This was easy to put together, and it grows so fast your child won’t have time to get impatient. Educational fun works for me!  Visit We Are That Family for more Works for Me Wednesday!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Awards and Prizes

Yesterday I was excited to receive this in the mail:IMG_2879 I won this pretty album in a giveaway hosted by Christina and Victoria at as time goes by.   Thank you ladies!  They have a really pretty blog, and are accomplished thrifters.

A couple of days ago, I was given this award by Mrs. Petrie of  Casa Petrie.  She has a really cool blog design, an adorable daughter, and has done a fantastic job of decorating her home.  Thanks, Mrs. Petrie!


A condition of accepting the award is to list and explain seven things you love and pass the award on to seven bloggers. 

I am notoriously bad at making statements of commitment, such as “I love…” (unless it’s really not a big deal, like “I love chocolate cake”), but I’ll give it a go, in no particular order.

1. I love chocolate cake.  Obviously.

2. I love my family.  Craig is awesome and would do anything for me, and my kids are pretty great too.

3. I love sunshine, 78 degrees, and no humidity.  For the record, this week has been sunny, 98 degrees, and like 75% humidity.

4. I love going to the beach at Lake Michigan.  I almost never get in the water, but love just to sit under the beach umbrella.

5.  I love solitude and silence.

6.  I love to read a good book, but don’t get to as much as I’d like to.

7. I love pedicures (see this post).

And now, passing this on to seven blogs.  Some are newer to me, some are not, and several have probably already received this award.

1.  as time goes by

2.  Centsational Girl

3.  The Lettered Cottage

4.   Lucy’s Life

5.  The Shabby Nest

6.  Reinvented

7.  Life in the Fun Lane

Monday, June 22, 2009

Back in the Groove

Whew!  I’m glad last week is in the past.  Nephew left on Saturday, and guess what I did?  I went and got my first pedicure.  Ever.  It’s true.  I’m closer to 40 than I am to 30 (gasp!  did I just say that?) and until two days ago, I had never had a professional pedicure.

I had a gift card to a swanky spa that Craig gave me for Mother’s Day 2008, and was going to expire at the end of the month.  Now I know that it was serendipity that I put it off so long, because it was the perfect end to a crazy week.


I hope you aren’t totally grossed out by feet.  I’m borderline, and debated whether or not I should use a photo, but what’s a post without a photo?

So it’s almost back to normal around here (Firstborn is at Boy Scout camp this week, but I’m babysitting again, so still have 3 kids).

Now I need to catch up on the laundry, mop the floor, clean the bathrooms, plan meals, go grocery shopping….  Yup.  Back to normal.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Thrift Store Thursday 06/18

Did I mention that including the nephew and the babysittee, I have five children this week?  I don’t know how anybody does it! 

Regardless, I managed to slip in a quick trip to Goodwill this evening after Craig got home and took them all (the four who sleep here) to the pool.

IMG_2857 I haven’t had the best luck at GW lately, so I was pleasantly surprised tonight.  I got a virtually brand new pair of Nikes for Firstborn $2, Gap khaki pants for Pinkerbelle $2, and swim trunks for one of the boys, also $2.  I also got five chandelier shades for $1 each.

Last week at United Volunteers, I got this little stepladder for $3.  It’s in very good shape, and I think it has a charming sort of nostalgia to it.IMG_2856It’s also useful in the kitchen, since I am vertically challenged.

Okay, time for you to show and tell!

1. Please link directly to your Thrift Store Thursday post, not your home page.

2. Please mention and link back to my Thrift Store Thursday post.

3. Please put my button in your post, and I'd really love it if you'd use the code to do so :)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Soda Crates

Here’s the deal: the middle of last week my father-in-law, brother-in-law, and nephew arrived. FIL left yesterday, BIL leaves this afternoon, and nephew stays til Saturday. I’m also babysitting this week. And it’s been pouring rain for the last two days. Any semblance of routine is shot, my house is a mess, laundry is piling up….blog is taking a backseat.

I don’t want to leave you totally hanging though. Several of you wanted to know what I’m going to do with the soda crates, so here it is. Don’t get too excited.

IMG_2851 The Coke crate is holding books and magazines on the cheap Ikea coffee table.

IMG_2853The Pepsi crate has dividers for single bottles, so I haven’t decided what to do with it yet. Should I take out the dividers? If not, what do I do with it? If you’ve seen any cool ideas, let me know!

Friday, June 12, 2009

A Little Reveal(ing)

We are busy with our houseguests today, but here’s just a little sumthin’ for ya.

Remember my garage sale windows?IMG_2772

Here’s what we did with them.IMG_2839I had Craig hang them on either side of the fireplace to fill up the big empty wallspace.  I chose to hang the natural wood side out, rather than the painted side, because the paint was dirty and yellowing, which wouldn’t have looked good with the white mantel.  Plus, the brown goes well with the barn stars, and also echoes the kitchen cabinets at the other end of the room.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

We Have a Winner!

The winner of the shower curtain is number 15…



Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Thrift Store Thursday

The winner of the shower curtain will be drawn Thursday morning at 9:00. There's still time to enter!

In addition to the shower curtains, here’s what I got this week. At Goodwill I found these pink ‘lantern’ lights for Pinkerbelle’s room.IMG_2802 At $9, I might have passed them up as a little too pricey, but P. was with me…you know how that goes.

At another GW, this found its way into my cart, $4.IMG_2835 I’ve collected a bunch of glass containers over the last months, but I’m not very good about getting them filled with something.

I found these on craigslist, for $5 each.IMG_2836

Kind of like these, from Pottery Barn, no?pbsoda

The last couple of weeks, I have forgotten to include the TST “rules” . The items you show can be from a thrift or consignment store, a garage sale, craigslist, dumpster diving…as long as it’s second-hand. Even if it’s new in the package, but you got it somewhere other than the original store (like the Target stuff at GW).

1. Please link directly to your Thrift Store Thursday post, not your home page.

2. Please mention and link back to my Thrift Store Thursday post.

3. Please put my button in your post, and I'd really love it if you'd use the code to do so :)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


I’m going to have houseguests for the next week, so won’t be quite as active around here. Of course, I will pick the winner of the shower curtain Thursday morning. There’s still time to enter! shower curtian BTW, the one I had listed on ebay sold for the Buy It Now price! Was it one of you?

I’ll have a few posts lined up, including Thrift Store Thursday, but may not be as active in commenting, replying etc. Wish me luck…three additional males are descending upon my household!

Book Recommendation

One of the blogs I visit occasionally often gives books reviews and recommendations. Heidi at Mt. Hope Chronicles is a homeschooling mother with three adorable boys who are voracious readers. She also takes fantastic photos; her blog is well worth the visit.

Some time ago I saw her review of The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry. I got it from the library, intending to read it aloud over the kids’ spring break, but didn’t get around to it. I sort of forgot about it, until I stumbled on the audiobook version.willougbys This past week, we listened to it while driving, and we all enjoyed it immensely. I would never dissuade anyone from reading a book, but Arte Johnson is such an excellent reader and story-teller that I would urge you to do both. It’s tagged for ages 9-12, but it’s just as entertaining for adults.

This book is a parody of “old fashioned” stories, the kind that I liked best as a child! Stories such as Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, the Bobbsey Twins. There’s a baby left on the doorstep, orphaned children, a rich old benefactor, a nanny…all the “old fashioned” elements put into one story.

But this is meant to be humorous. It is irreverent. If you wouldn’t be able to see the silliness, the ridiculousness, of children who want to be orphans, and parents who have a light-bulb moment after reading Hansel and Gretel, then this may not be the book for you.

The rest of us will get several good snickers out of it!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Look What Showed Up at Goodwill! (Giveaway)

We all know that Goodwill gets clearance or returned items from Target. I’ve heard that Target donates it; I’ve also heard that Goodwill buys it by the lot. I’m not sure which is true, and I guess it doesn’t really matter. What it means is a good deal on new merchandise for us thrifty shoppers.

And today, this is what I found.shower curtian No, your eyes do not deceive you. It is THE shower curtain. The one I used to make a window treatment. The one that Melissa used. The one Wendy made drapes out of (love these, may need to copy). There’s been a lot of chatter about it around blogland.

There were two, and I got them both, for more than I paid a few months ago when I got them on clearance at Target, but still at a pretty good price. I checked, and one recently sold on ebay for $59—ridiculous! So, I currently have one of mine listed, not for $59, but for more than I paid. That’s kind of a test case; if it doesn’t sell, I have seven days to return the ones I got at GW if I want to.

And you, dear readers, have a chance to win one! I’m having a giveaway! We’ll just say it’s in honor of my 200th post, which is coming up within the next week or so. I'll draw a winner on Thursday, June 11 at 9:00 a.m.

Just leave a comment for one entry. Blog about it for a second entry and leave another comment to let me know you did. Good luck!

Contest open to residents of US and Canada only.