The Library

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With the school year now in full swing, my girls needed a bit of space for all of that reading and writing goodness coming their way.  And to be perfectly honest with all of you, mama needed a bit of cleaning and organizing to take place for fear that soon the entire house would become over run with toys.  So, we decided to move a great many toys to the basement playroom, and move a whole lot of books into the upstairs playroom…creating ourselves our very own library.  Complete with comfy reading chairs and all.

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I must say, this space has become a new fav in our house.  From reading books while nestled in their most-beloved chairs, to practicing math problems on their very own chalkboard, these girls are all set for many months of learning fun.  And the best part of it all, is that not a single dollar was spent.  Just a little elbow grease and strong lifting here, a touch of shuffling and organizing there, accented with just a tiny bit of creativity and we were all set.  Now that makes this mama very, very happy.

A Year In Review

It is hard to believe that this blustery day in February marks the one year anniversary of Making of a Home.  Thank you so much to all of you who have been following my musings over the course of the last year!  I am deeply grateful for each of you.

Today I would like to share with you some of my favorite (and your favorite) posts from this past year.  Thank you again, and be on the look out for some new and exciting changes and additions to Making of a Home over the course of the next year.

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Chocolate Anyone?

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Inspiration

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Laundry Day

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Upstream

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Let Them Read

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Rhubarb Goodness

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Spring Soup

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It’s In My Blood

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Pastaless Lasagna 

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Fuasa—Italian Easter Bread

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Generational Wealth

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Farm Fresh

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Ode to the Strawberry

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Retreat

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Grandma Dit’s Carrot Cake

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Canning Day

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New Chapter

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Suburban Homestead

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Walk with Us

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Thanksgiving 2012

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Musings

A Place Of Their Own

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I’m sure all of you mamas out there know how this goes.  The holidays are now over, and space needs to be created for all those gifts that the little ones found under the tree Christmas morning.  Our biggest issue this year was that both girls received a lot of project materials (which is amazing…don’t get me wrong), but the problem arose when each girl wanted her own space to create, discover, and “just be in peace.” (That was my oldest…always wanting her “peace” 🙂 )

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So, I ventured to my parents’ basement, where I can always find a few trinkets that I need, and emerged with an antique desk that my sister and I used when we played “school” all those years ago.  I then went to the thrift store and picked up a table.  I painted both these pieces to match our existing decor in our basement.  It must, of course, all coordinate right?

And yes, that is a sewing machine…for my three year old.  That was the one item she asked for for Christmas.  She never wavered, never faltered.  Each and every time someone asked her what she wanted for Christmas, her response was, “A real sewing machine.”  Oh my.

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I also let my oldest paint the trim on her table, to add a bit of personal pizzazz, and then covered it with a water-based finish to avoid any chipping.

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Now each girl has a bit of space, all her own, where she can get lost in her creative world.  More on the projects created in these spaces later this week.

Suburban Homestead

Amid the labyrinth of power lines and close proximity to our neighbors, we are slowly but surely developing for ourselves a bit of a suburban homestead paradise all our own.  When we took possession of this property four years ago, we were given a perfectly blank slate to work with because the previous owners had just filled in their in-ground pool.  This left us with a lovely, flat, fenced-in canvas that we are now able to glean a great deal of food from.

{Before.  Late July 2012.}

The gardening space we previously had contains 12 4X8 foot raised beds and one 4X16 foot raised bed.  Then just outside that space we have a smattering of lavender and rhubarb and some heirloom perennial flowers.  Last year we added 2 apple trees, an asparagus and strawberry patch, raspberry bramble and an herb garden to the mix.

And now, here we are…

I am so thrilled by how the space turned out.  I must say I was a little skeptical for a while there, when the vision in my head did not seem to match what lay before me.  But with a bit of digging, a little building and a whole lot of hauling, I am satisfied to say the very least.

We used the beautiful circa 1850 barn timbers I mentioned in a previous post to create a more permanent border for the existing asparagus and strawberry patch.  We used the remaining timbers to create a brand new perennial vegetable bed that will soon be home to more rhubarb (rhubarb wine here I come!), asparagus and Jerusalem artichokes.

We then added three additional 4X8 foot raised beds and one 4X4 bed.  This fall these beds will be loaded with cold hardy annual vegetables that we then hope to cover with a hoop house of some sort.  We are crossing our fingers this will give us delicious, fresh vegetables year round.  We also plan to add some gorgeous tree stumps around the fire pit for prime seating for those s’more-roasting evenings right around the corner.

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All of us mamas need our space now and again.  A place where we can just sit, and be still.  These times don’t seem to come often, but when they do arise it is so very nice to have a place to call our own.

Last week, my girls and I were completely worn out by the extreme heat, so we decided to spend an afternoon in the basement.  Once we were in this nice, cool space for an extended period of time, we realized the place needed a little pick me up.  We spent the afternoon organizing, all while Belle (aka Beauty) and her gang sang to us in the background.  When we were finished I realized that maybe, just maybe, there was a way I could set up my sewing machine in the basement in a permanent space.

The girls and I got back to work and moved furniture around a bit, which they loved because we discovered lots of lost treasures hidden beneath couch cushions and tables.  And we also realized there was, in fact, a bit of space available amongst the chaos for a tiny sewing nook.

I shared this idea with my mother and father-in-law and to my absolute surprise, three days later my father-in-law had built me an absolutely fabulous sewing table!  He is one crafty guy I tell you.  So I then went rummaging through my parents’ basement, found an old abandoned chair, painted it and now I have a cute little space to call my own.

I can’t wait to start my first project 🙂

Burlap Placemats

While on our visit to Growing Power in Milwaukee, Wisconsin back in December, we were told that burlap bags worked great as covers for compost bins.  Our tour guide told us that they obtained all of their burlap bags from local coffee roasters for little to no cost at all.

It just so happens that there is a local coffee roaster housed just two store fronts down from my husband’s fitness business, so we decided to investigate and I’ll be darned that they literally had closets full of burlap!  The owner said that there is one local farmer that comes regularly to pick up some of her extra bags, but other than that she was just waiting for someone to take them off her hands because she hated to just throw them out.

Well, my husband walked out of there with a tower of burlap sacks, towering far above his over six foot frame.  While we did use a few of the coffee bags to cover our compost bins, we were left with a lot extra stock.  So, I started to look through my crafting books for different things to do with burlap and I came upon one of my Amanda Blake Soule favorites, The Creative Family.  In this book, Amanda discusses the use of burlap to introduce children to sewing.  The wide spaces in the burlap make for easy needlework for young children.

After feeling inspired, as I so often do after reading Amanda’s books, the girls and I got to work.  The girls each took turns sewing using roughly 1 X 2 foot pieces of burlap (I simply cut up one coffee bag), embroidery floss, an embroidery hoop and a large needle.

After the girls reached a point where they were satisfied with their work, I removed the hoop and used my sewing machine to sew on a bit of fabric to the back of the burlap.

This quick project (It only took about 45 minutes from start to finish…including clean up.) ended up turning out quite well and the girls now have their very own hand crafted snack-time placemats.

Now I just need to come up with some more projects to use up the other twenty burlap bags I have 🙂  If anyone has any crafty ideas, please feel free to leave a comment.  I would love to come up with some more ideas.

Birthday Bliss

When a member of our family celebrates a birthday, that festivity does not only last one day, but several. We share multiple meals, eat a plethora of desserts and of course exchange a multitude of presents.

As I’m sure many of you know, the little ones in our lives are always making gifts for others.  Whether it be a drawing, a hand-strung necklace, a small piece of fabric that is a “mini blanket,” my girls are always at the ready to shower any birthday celebrant with many a gift.   Because of this, I am always trying to find new and creative ideas for gifts that the recipient can actually use, yet my kids can make as well.

Well in one short day a special lady in our life is celebrating her birthday and the girls and I found the perfect gift idea…bath salts.  It is very cost effective, very useful (especially when the birthday girl is quite the athlete), and is very easy and fun to make with the kids!

The basic recipe is as follows:

1 cup Epsom salt

1 cup course sea salt

20 drops of essential oil of your choosing

Any glass jar with a lid (We reused an old honey jar.)

Place the salts in a bowl and mix well.  Take out about ¾ cup of the salt mixture and place in a smaller bowl. Add the essential oil and mix well.

Then add the salts with the essential oils back into the large bowl with the remaining salts.  Mix well.  Pour into a glass jar and tightly fit on the lid.  That’s it!

I hope you all enjoy this fun, easy project with your little ones!

“Sew” Much Fun

It seems that every year when January and February roll around I get this need to do a project.  Last year it was the girls’ new, shared bedroom.  Out with the crib and whole nursery scene and in with the “big girl stuff,” as my girls like to say.

This year when January rolled around I again got this yearning for some sort of crafty undertaking.  I happened to be on a blog that I love and follow regularly, SouleMama.com, and she had some pictures of the most adorable little flannel night gowns and I knew that I had found my project.

In her post she mentioned that she used a Butterick B4910 pattern for the gowns and I began to get a little nervous.  Now you see, I had never actually used a pattern in my entire life.  My sewing skills up until this point consisted of items like one-seam sun dresses, pillow case dresses, quilts, and fabric napkins.  So you can image my surprise when I carefully opened the Butterick package to find those lovely brown pieces of tissue paper with print all over them.  Oh my.  Talk about a flood of anxiety!

But after some work, I realized that I truly LOVED this whole sewing thing.  And then I became obsessed.  I made 6 nightgowns (some for my girls, some for a birthday present, some just to make for when I come across anyone who may want one).  Here are two of the gowns I made for my girls for their Valentine’s Day present.

Then I thought to myself, “My goodness, if I can make this gown, why not try the shirt and pants that are in the pattern as well?”  So on I went with my sewing, a little bit each day, and my how I have realized this is an amazing way to relax and unwind at the end of a crazy day.  Here are some of the PJs I made out of some vintage cotton curtains I thrifted.  I felt like Maria straight out of Sound of Music…ha!

Once I was on the repurposing kick, I found an old sling I used with my youngest and decided to make a school bag for her because she will be starting preschool in the fall.

I definitely believe I have found a new love, and it is my Brother sewing machine.