Back in the Swing of Things

Today I started as the primary teacher for our church's Mother's Day Out program. Its two days a week with the three year olds, and while its temporary until I find a full-time job, its nice to be back in teaching. Its nice to be back in the world of skinned knees, endless questions, recess, childrens' books and coloring pages.

I've been gathering ideas on Pinterest for the coming weeks, and here are a few I'm excited to do:

color matching with cars

pumpkin art for the unit on fall

(wet q-tip over chalk)

letters of the week

seasons for the transition from summer to fall

And there's so much more! I wish Pinterest was around back when I was student teaching.

Tonight is also our first meeting for womens' Bible study. We're going through Beth Moore's Living Beyond Yourself study, which is about the fruits of the spirit. Its nice to be back into the season of small groups, football games, and all those other good things that fall brings! Now we just need those cooler temperatures...


Untitled, For Now*

I've realized that a blog can provide great accountability. If I share something with the world six readers, I'm more likely to do it. So I've decided that every Sunday, I'm going to share something I took away from church that morning. My hope is that by sharing what I learn, I'll be more intentional about remembering the lesson. What I take away may relate to the sermon or may not. Today, it doesn't really relate. 

*I need help with a title for this series of Sunday posts. Everything I come up with is cheesy. Suggestions welcomed-- no, needed.

We studied Acts 3 this morning and Jason talked about being refreshed by the Lord. The context: Peter and John are asked by a crippled beggar for money. Peter tells the beggar he has no money, but he commands the beggar to walk in Jesus Christ's name. The people watching were amazed by the miracle and came running to Peter, who rebukes them.

What stuck out to me was verses 12 & 13: "Men of Israel, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus..."

Jason explained why Peter mentioned this name of God and the significance of that name to the Jews. 'The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob' would make the Jews remember Moses' encounter with the burning bush, when God identifies himself to Moses as (you guessed it) "...the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob". (Exodus 3:6)

By mentioning this particular name of God, Peter is telling the Jews to look past the miracle to the One who is behind the miracle. Look past the burning bush to the God who can create a fire that doesn't consume the bush. Look past the healed cripple to the God who can heal all diseases. God is all-powerful, and we can't forget that.


Couch to 5K, Week 4

Technically, its the third week we've been running the Couch to 5K, but its the fourth week according to the plan.

Anyways, I decided to post about my progress in running at the end of each week. This way I can look back and remember how I felt each week, plus track my progress (obviously). So without further ado....week 4.

Checking days off feels so good!

Week 4 required sixteen minutes of running (total), broken up into intervals of three and five minutes. Week 3 only had nine minutes of running, so it was a big step and I definitely felt it. The first day of week 4, Monday, was awful. I was so ready to quit and felt totally exhausted for hours after I ran. Before we ran it again, I ran week 3's workout to feel better about myself...and it didn't work. :) But it got better. We ran again on Thursday and it was a little easier, although I didn't feel great. I did have more energy afterwards, however. That was a good sign to me. And today I felt so much better. Granted, Hurricane Irene brought us a great breeze and cooled the morning off by a few degrees.

Signs of progress:

We didn't talk at all during the running. There was no way I could talk and run and survive. :)
My entire body felt like Jell-O when we finished.
I drained my entire water bottle before we finished the run.
I was drained of energy for at least two hours after we ran.

Not a lot of talking, but more.
Tried to drink less water (since I probably won't carry any during the 5K).
More energy after running, although I still had Jell-O for legs.

Talked for most of the run, up until the last 5 minute run.
Didn't drink any water until after the run (since Melanie didn't have her stroller, I had no place to put my water bottle).
Plenty of energy when we finished, enough to check out a Farmer's Market before heading home.

I'm definitely encouraged to see the progress even within this week. It makes me feel much more confident that I'll be ready for the 5K by the end of September.

Bring on week 5!


5 Months, 3 Days

That's how long it took me to finally finish this embellished tee from Make It Love It. Five months ago I bought the shirts...that's sad. But its done and now I'm waiting for the temperatures to cool down (please God! it was 95 at 6:00 last night) enough for me to wear it. 


Now, I'm not sure what happened, but my shirt didn't turn out much like the tutorial. In the tutorial, Ashley tells you to turn the v-neck into a scoop neck by adding fabric to the bottom of the V. I did that and sewed a flower on it only to have the flower bend forward because it wasn't supported enough. So I ditched the scoop neck and kept it to the V. 

The other difference is the layout of the flowers. I tried to eyeball her design and make it the same (which should have worked, seeing as the flowers were all the same size). But my flowers seemed to be too big, so I decided to change up the design a bit and took the flowers all the way up to my collarbone.

Final verdict: I like it and will definitely wear it this winter, probably under a sweater. But in the process I learned a few things and want to try it again, maybe making the flowers smaller this time. I'll be on the look out for more $2 shirts!


Frames x8

For centerpieces at our wedding, we used frames from Pier 1 that my mom and I found while shopping one day a few months before the wedding. We switched out the glass and fake picture for a piece of black paper and set the vase right on top. Easy.

I had to add this shot of the flowers because I love the colors. Wish there wasn't a hotel backdrop or I'd frame it.

Anyway, after the wedding my mom gave a few frames to family and friends (since we had at least fourteen of 'em). We still had a bunch left over, so I got about six or eight frames and I think a few might be with Mom.

I had no idea what I would do with eight identical black frames until I saw this project over at Young House Love. They painted a black mirror from Marshall's and hung it in their daughter's nursery.

You can probably guess what I did with my frames. Yep, painted them. Two frames are now teal and hanging in our bedroom. Now I'm on the hunt for mirrors to put in the center because I'd rather not put teeny tiny pictures up.

Also, no idea why our bedroom never photographs well. The light's always weird. 
Hopefully you can tell the frames are a dark teal.

This is the color palette I'm using for our bedroom, except take out that top tan-ish color and put in white.  We've got light blue/green walls, dark teal frames, white sheets, brown bedding. So far, so good!

Also, if you've never seen Design Seeds (which is where I got the palette), you should check it out. There are literally tons of color palettes and they're all so pretty!


The Easy Button

I browse Craigslist a few times each week on the off chance there's a real treasure amidst all the junk. But Craigslist can get annoying when you have to click on each link just to see that the 'Real Wood Bookcase' is really a flimsy piece of particleboard. It turns out I'm not the only one annoyed by all the clicking. Someone out there invented CraigsEasy, a way to scroll through just the pictures on Craigslist. So much better.

When you click the link to CraigsEasy, it'll give you a pin to drag into your bookmark bar. Then all you do is pull up Craigslist and hit the pin. Voila! Craigslist is all pictures. I should tell you that I discovered this through Storage | Glee, which is also where I grabbed this picture so that you can see it for yourself.

Isn't that so much easier??


Couch Potato No More

Sadly, I'm a total couch potato. I can sit on the couch and do nothing for hours thanks to Pinterest, blogs, and Friday Night Lights. I've always wanted to be more active and I'd love to be one of those people who run because it feels good (versus feeling like a slow, painful death), who run when they're stressed so they feel better, and who get energized from running. I am definitely not one of those people yet, but I'm working on it.

I found out three weeks ago about the Couch to 5k program. Nine weeks from not running at all to running three miles. The program sounded perfect for me. I've tried in the past to just get out there and start running, and its always ended with me in pain and swearing off running forever. Enter the Couch to 5K. Each week, you do intervals of walking and jogging until you're ready to run three miles. These last two weeks were slightly challenging, but I always felt great afterwards. Today was a different story. Today, the program got serious about running and added almost double the running from last week. I wanted to quit, to lay down and never get up, but thankfully I have a very encouraging running partner (who happens to push two kids in a stroller while running, so I need to stop whining).

Melanie and I were meeting up a few times per week to go walking in the mornings. She teaches Stroller Strides and is in better shape than I am. But we'd meet up, walk and talk for about an hour, and then play at the park with her kids. When I found out about the Couch to 5K program, I mentioned it to her and told her I thought we could do it. She loved the idea and mentioned she'd always wanted to get into running, since her husband runs and her sister is training for a half marathon. So for the past three weeks, we've been slowly preparing for a 5K at the end of September, the VMC 5K. Its perfectly timed for the end of our nine week training. I'm excited. I'm nervous I won't be ready in time. I'm doubting that I'll even finish the training and do the 5K. I'm proud of myself for running at least three times each week for the last three weeks. I'm so, so glad to be running with Melanie, who always gives me pep talks and won't let me take a break.

If I've learned anything, its that running with a partner is the absolute best accountability. Its so easy to skip running when its just me, but when I've got plans to meet Melanie, I can't skip it. If I can do this, anyone out there can do this. Find a partner, look up the running plan, and just go!

Motivation found hereherehere and here (but all via Pinterest).



I first saw the zinc letters in this kitchen (which is absolutely gorgeous, by the way. See the whole kitchen here.)

Later, I saw a tutorial for zinc-inspired letters and it turns out its incredibly easy to make these fake zinc letters. Silver paint over black paint on cardboard letters. Easy, right?

So I went to Hobby Lobby to get letters and paint, and an hour later....voila!

My letters turned out a little dark because I used "Gunmetal Gray" paint, but I still like them a lot. And for under $5, even better!


Skunk Hunting

We've got unwelcome friends just outside our backyard. Most nights, we can smell them outside and occasionally we get lucky and can smell them inside the house. On nights that we eat out in the backyard, we usually do a quick scan along the fence line for any of our friends, but we're usually okay since its still light out.

But tonight, that wasn't the case. I came out around 8:30 to enjoy the unusually cool weather and immediately saw three skunks just wandering around in our neighbor's yard. Guess they were enjoying the weather too. 

Unfortunately, I could only see one when I came back out with my camera, but here he is:

 (The pictures are a bit blurry because it was getting dusky out.) 

I decided to brave the skunks and stay outside since they're never actually in our backyard, just right along that fence. I'm pretty sure they nest/burrow/whatever they do somewhere in that mini jungle out back..

In the time its taken me to write this post and upload those pictures--about ten minutes-- I've learned something. The skunks don't stay outside our backyard! I happened to glance up a minute ago and saw that skunk meandering right across the yard, maybe ten feet from me. I'm now finishing this post inside the house.

Anyone know how to trap and/or kill skunks far, far away from yourself and your house? I'd rather not experience that stink up close and personal.


Homemade Laundry Detergent

There are tons and tons of recipes for homemade laundry detergent out there. I never thought about making your own detergent until I saw it on Pinterest. When I looked it up, there were too many recipes to choose from. I have no experience with making detergent or with any of the ingredients (like Borax, etc.), but most of the recipes looked fairly simple so I wanted to try it. 

The recipe I decided to try was from Erin @ Why Not Sew. Her recipe leaves you with two gallons of detergent so I only made half because of storage. One gallon is enough at a time. All I needed to make the detergent was water, a Fels-Naptha bar, washing soda, and Borax. Since her tutorial can explain everything, I won't go into detail. 

Everything went really smoothly, except when I left the soap to boil for a minute and went to change the laundry. I came back to see it boiling over, which left me scrubbing the insides/underneaths of the stove for a few days. But at least it was soap that spilled, so now the stove is nice and clean. :)

I used the detergent today (about 1/2 cup per load) and it worked perfectly. This detergent doesn't make suds, which I have to get used to, but it worked just fine. There may not be a big advantage in using homemade detergent over store-bought, but I was motivated to try it because:
a) its simple and easy
b) its much cheaper than store-bought
c) I know what goes into it...no nasty chemicals I can't pronounce
d) less waste since I don't have to buy a plastic container

So there you have it. It works for me and I'll continue to make it. I feel proud of myself for making my own detergent because until recently, I hadn't even thought about making it on my own. Ya know how sometimes you forget that you don't have to buy everything??


Colossians 3:2

Remember this painting that I did for my sister Sarah's birthday? Probably not, seeing as that was in January (well, February by the time I got it to her). 

Shortly after she received her painting, Sarah asked if I would paint a similar one for her roommate for this coming fall. She wanted the paintings to compliment each other without actually matching. Her roommate chose her favorite verse, Colossians 3:2, and told me her favorite colors: pink, purple, greens, blues.

That was in early March. Now that its early August (five months later, in case you were wondering), the painting is complete. I'd painted the bracket and the wording by the time I got to Port Hope, where Sarah and I finished it together. Sarah told me her roommate also loves polka dots, so that's what we opted for to fill in the background.

The girls move into their apartment tomorrow, so happy moving day! Make some space for when I come to visit!


Port Hope 2011

We spent last week in Port Hope, Michigan, home of my grandparents. It was a quick week-- we left Sunday afternoon after church, drove 14 hours, spent 5 full days with the family, and drove 14 hours home on Saturday to be back in time for church on Sunday. Phew.

Let's recap.



More painting.

Even more painting.

Lunch for the work crews.
(Not pictured: roofing, rescreening windows, fixing porch steps, cutting tree limbs.)

Grindstone City for ice cream.
Note: those cones are singles. Singles.

"Durt" or yogurt.

Family and neighbors.

Yo Gabba Gabba.

"Tors" or tractors.

Bonfire to burn cut tree limbs.

Family pics.

Giving knuckles.

I'm ready to go back! Next summer, let's hope we can make it for more than five days.