In pursuit of a simple, fabulous, imperfect life at home.

How to Recover a Lamp Shade

You will need:
  • an ugly old lampshade (I got mine at a thrift store for 2 dollars)
  • spray adhesive
  • a glue gun and glue sticks
  • fabric
  • some ribbon
  • scissors  
Step One:
Deconstruct your lampshade.  If your lampshade is in reasonably good shape and one of those flat, simple ones without any gaudy trims, you might be able to skip right to step 3 and just attach your new fabric over the old stuff.  But on this lampshade, the old stuff had to go!

Remove any trim around the outside and inside of shade.  There will probably be a sticky bias tape or similar edging holding on the current fabric.

You will now be left with a plastic or cardboard base.  Depending on your lampshade, your metal frame might still be attached. Mine was attached using the same bias tape that held on the ugly fabric, so  it will need to be reattached later.

Step Two:
Lay out your desired fabric.  To make sure you have enough fabric and to consider positioning before gluing, roll your lampshade on the fabric, starting at the seam.  Roll it until you get back around to the seam to make sure the you are going to have enough fabric to cover the whole thing.

Then spray the shade with spray adhesive, a section at a time,  starting at the seam.  Lay the sprayed part down on the part of fabric that you determined you would begin with.  Carefully roll the lampshade on the fabric, making sure that the fabric is adhering smoothly.  Continue with another section, and another, until you are back around to where you began.  Leave some overlap at the seam.

Step Three:
Trim the fabric so that you have a little bit extra at the top and bottom, to fold over.

Step Four:
Using a hot glue gun, reattach the metal frame, if necessary.

Step Five: 
Create a nice seam in the back by folding and gluing the fabric.

Step Six:
Spray the extra fabric you left sticking out at the bottom with spray adhesive.  Fold into the lampshade and secure with clothespins until dry. Repeat with the top.  For the top you will probably have to cut slits in the fabric to accommodate the metal wires that span the top, and a couple more to get it to fold in nicely.

Step Seven: 
If you would like you can add ribbon around the inside to give it a more finished edge. You'll probably want to take your time and do a nicer job that I did in this picture.  Also, you probably won't want to answer the telephone while working with the spray adhesive.  I did and now my phone is sticky...

Ta-Da.  There you have it. One brand new lampshade. 

 Now you can adorn it if you'd like.   I put some pom-pom trim and flowers on mine.  Originally this lamp was to go on the more boy-ish side of the nursery, but It turned out pretty darned girly, so I guess it's going on the girls side of the nursery!

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Making a Home that Serves You

Does your home serve you, or do you serve it?

Every morning little feet pitter-patter into my bedroom, straight over to my husbands side of the bed.  There is a flurry of excited whispers and then, if it is not still too early, my husband gives them the okay to go put on their rubber boots.  Then my sleepy husband rises, dresses, and takes 2 or 3 excited children into the backyard, still donning pajamas tucked into their bright rubber boots, to tend to the chickens.

They do all this as stealthily as 3 and 4 year old children do anything, as to let mommy sleep.  But sometimes I peak outside my bedroom window and watch as my kids skip across the backyard, hand in hand with their daddy, to do this one chore that they truly love doing.

This is a special thing that my kids share with their father.  And they won't always share it.  There will come a time when my kids would rather lay sleepily in bed than jump in backyard mud puddles on the way to the coop.  Or maybe, there will come a day when this chore will become a morning ritual all their own while daddy dozes with his head next to mine.  But for a season, this is magic.

And then, when I rise and prepare breakfast and set about tidying up the house, I find myself greeted by boots and mud.

It would be so easy to find myself grumbling as I pick up these boots day after day.  It would be easy to mutter something half under my breath but just barely loud enough for my husband to hear...

...something about the coat closet only being ten feet away. 

...something about how I just cleaned this floor yesterday.  

...something about how I already have enough to do.

Something I can't take back.

But this pile of muddy boots and floor is so much more than that.  It is a symbol of something precious.  I don't want to ruin it.

If the whole point of our homes were to keep them nice and pretty, to shine them up and show them off, then maybe it would be okay to nag our husbands about where the boots land.  Or the socks that miss the laundry basket.  Or a million other little things.  Because we would be here to serve the house.

But the house is here to serve us.   It's a tool we enjoy as part of this incredible life we share.  And so instead of changing the way we live to make for a cleaner house, I needed to change the way the house serves us to meet the way our family is using it.

I got a little wooden rack thing at a thrift store for 2 dollars.  I don't know what the rack was originally created for, but in our house, it is a spot for boots.


It's not the perfect spot for a line of rubber boots.  It's not the most convenient spot.  It isn't a radical solution.  If a magazine were going to come into my house to take pictures (yeah right!), I am certain they would be moving these rubber boots.  But in our house it is a beautiful sight.  Because the lives that this house serves are magical, full of excitement and wonder over little pleasures,

....and muddy. 

We clean and decorate and organize our homes, not for the sake of our homes, but so that our homes can be better backdrops for the lives we live in them.  Love your home for the life that thrives inside.

In what ways are you serving your house's needs?  How can you turn it around today so that your home is better serving your families needs?

Demystifying the Seasoning of Cast Iron

In an age of plenty of cheap products, there is something charming and almost romantic about a pan that could withstand a nuclear holocaust, that only gets better with use, that's handle will never come loose, that isn't coated in god-know-what, and that can go straight from the stove top to the oven.

Besides, cast iron pans make the best. pancakes. ever.

But if you've googled how to season a cast iron pan, you're probably aware that there are almost as many ways to do it as there are grandmas.  Apparently, every bodies grandma does it differently.

The cooking oils used range from lard to flax seed, and everything in between.  The temperatures and times run anywhere from 200 degrees all stinking day to 500 degrees for half an hour.

And everyone insists that their way is the only way to season a cast iron pan.  I bet their grandmas told them that.  You don't mess with some one's Mee-Mah.

If you find all the differing opinions daunting, don't.  Even if one of these ways is truly superior, all those different ways of doing it assures us that people have been doing it "wrong" for generations...with great results!

Note:  Even if your brand-spanking new pan says it is "pre-seasoned," it isn't.  You still need to season it.  Trust me.  They're liars.  Dirty liars.

So here is one way to season a cast iron pan:
  1. Choose a nice day.  Open all the windows and send your kids out on the porch to play.  This is a smokey, stinky job.
  2. Scrub the pan with a stiff plastic brush in soapy dish water.  You don't need steel wool unless you're removing rust.
  3. Dry with a cloth, and then dry more thoroughly by putting on the stove over medium-low heat for a couple of minutes.  
  4. Turn off pan and add a blob of shortening.  The residual heat from drying the pan will probably melt the shortening.  If not, you can turn the pan back on for a few moments.  You don't want to cook the shortening, just melt it.
  5. Spread the melted shortening around the inside of the pan,  making sure to get it all the way up the sides.  I use my fingers for this, because it isn't that hot.  But use common sense, if it's hot your not going to touch it with your fingers....right?
  6. Remove all the excess shortening with a piece of paper towel.  You just want a light, even coating.
  7. Place upside down in a 325 degree oven, with a cookie sheet or something on the rack below to catch any drips.  
  8. Bake for 1 hour.  Turn off oven and leave pan in oven until cool. 
And there you have it, a seasoned cast iron pan!  

One seasoning won't give you that slick black surface that you can fry an egg on.  But it will give you a very nice usable pan, ready for cooking all sorts of yummy things.  For a better finish, cook bacon in it!  Pancakes, if you add butter between cooking each pancake, can be a super way to improve the finish on your cast iron pan!
A note about sticky spots:  Some people claim that temperatures lower than 400 or 500 degrees will result in a sticky gooey coating.  Personally, I'm hesitant to grease something up and cook it at a temperature far above the smoking point for an extended period of time.  That's just me.  In my experience, it isn't low temperatures that cause that gumminess, but too much grease.  Make sure you have a thin coating, and your good to go.

But if you don't like my method, maybe you could ask your grandma how she does it?  Mee-mah always knows best...

A Nursery Update {and elephant mobiles}

A while back I shared my vision for our twin nursery.   I was hoping to have the nursery finished by the time I was 32 weeks along, (because who wants to be painting and sewing when they feel a million weeks pregnant?)  but considering that I'm 32 weeks on Friday and we've hardly started working on the nursery, I think I will have to set a new goal!

I have, however, been working on some little projects for the nursery! Like these elephant mobiles:

For the hoops, I went to the dollar store browsing for circles!  I came home with two of these picnic nets, which i tore apart and then I wrapped the hoop part in pink ribbon.

(I was going to use the strainers too, but didn't.)

I sewed the elephants out of fabric remnants and scraps.  The ears are burlap with fusible interfacing on the back.  The tails are bits of garden twine.   This project cost next to nothing, and I'm thrilled with it!

We may not be making much progress on the nursery, but I am keeping busy getting ready for these twins!  The bassinets are set up in our room, all ready for our sweet baby girls! 

Every time I see these two bassinets side by side it sinks in just a little bit more...holy crow, there's gonna be two of them!

Once the nursery is done I plan to do one of those big "reveal" posts where I give y'all a tour of the lovely new room.  Because I'm dramatic like that.   At this rate, you can expect that to happen ...oh... sometime before the twins graduate from university.

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Make a Meal Planning Magnet Board

Different seasons of life require different methods of meal planning.  Right now, with twins on the way and hubby working shift work, I needed a system that didn't require me to rack my pregnancy-fried brain for meal  ideas every week, while also allowing me the flexibility to change my mind at every pregnancy-craving-induced whim.

I created this menu board by painting a dollar store cookie sheet with chalkboard paint.  I then painted on my title and some decoration. 

I typed and printed some of our favorite meals and side dishes.  I then used some adhesive magnet tape to turn my food choices into magnets.

I wrote the days of the week in using chalk.  The chalkboard feature also allows me to write in foods I may want to try that I don't yet have a magnet for. 

The finished product sits over my stove to remind me what is planned for dinner this week.

And should I decide one evening, for example, that I'm not willing to endure the heartburn of lentil tacos tonight, I can easily enough switch meals with another day of the week or rearrange my meal plan entirely!

Do you have a meal planning technique that works for you?  Do you find that what works for your family is often changing based on circumstances and seasons of life?

Super Simple Homemade Air Freshener

Baking soda naturally absorbs odours, so why not take advantage of that to create simple, inexpensive air fresheners?

Here's how:

Use a hammer and and a nail to poke holes in the lid of a small canning jar. (The heart is a nice touch, but clearly not necessary)

Fill the jar about 1/4 full with baking soda
Add 6-8 drops of lavender essential oil

Put lid on and place in any spot that could use some freshening.  Every once in a while, give the jar a gentle shake to boost it's air freshening power.

I've made several, and I use them in my linen closet, under my kitchen sink (which is where the stinky garbage can is) and in the bathroom. 

This powder is also useful for removing odours from carpets and upholstery.  And it's already in a handy shaker!  Just sprinkle on your sofa or a spot on your carpet that needs to be deodorized, let sit for a little while, and then vacuum it up.

You could, of course, substitute your favorite essential oil for the lavender.  And you crafty ladies could certainly pretty up the jar a little bit too!

NOTE: As with any cleaning product (even the reasonably safe and friendly ones), keep out of reach of children and pets. 

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Teaching Kids to Pray

Photo Credit:  Samantha Celera via Flickr CC

I was a teenager when I prayed my first prayer.  In those early days as a brand new Christian I had no idea what prayer was supposed to look or sound like.  I didn't know how to talk to God because I barely knew who He was.  I struggled with a fear that I was somehow doing it wrong.

But over time, prayer became second nature.  As I learned who God was, I was able to pour out my heart to him with greater ease.  I began to praise him quietly throughout the day, and petition Him in moments of need or anxiety.   My spiritual life has seen ups and downs since, but today I treasure the fact that I can come boldly before the God who made me.

I want my children to develop a meaningful prayer life.  I want my children to know deep down inside that every moment of every day they can come before an Almighty God with the deepest cries of their heart.  And that they can do so with confidence.  Not confidence in who they are, but confidence in who God is.  Confident that there is a loving God who cares deeply about the longings of their hearts.

I am not an expert on prayer, or child rearing.  But I would like to share with you the things I've discovered while teaching my children to pray.

  • Habit is Good.  We say the same prayer as a family every night before the kids go to bed.  At first I feared we were creating too much of a sense of ritual and not enough an awareness of relationship.  But I've come to feel that developing Godly disciplines now, well they are young, is a great thing.  My children wouldn't dream of going to bed without praying first. Many of us as adults could use that kind of discipline!

  • Spontaneity is good too.  It is also important to teach children that they can always come before the throne of God.  Prayer isn't a bunch of magic words we say at bedtime and before meals, it is communion with a Holy God.  We pray spontaneously with our kids when they are hurt or scared or worried.  We pray when we learn that friends are sick, or sad, or in need. We pray to praise God for the good things in life, although we don't do this nearly as much as we should.  And I am teaching my oldest to pray and repent when she has wronged one of her siblings.

  • We need to model prayer for our children.  It's so easy to compartmentalize the teaching of our children in prayer from our own prayer life.  And obviously our kids don't need to see and hear every prayer we pray.  But don't be afraid to let you kids see you on your knees in prayer.  If you are praying with a group of adults, use discretion and reconsider whether you really need to shepherd the kids out of the room.  They may not understand everything being said, but if they only experience things they already know, they won't learn and grow!

  • We need to teach them about prayer.   It isn't enough just to show them how to pray.  We need to define the word for them too.  It is so easy for me to overlook this step.  And it's a hard step.  When we start discussing the things of God with our kids they can start asking some really tough questions.  (I am frequently stumped by my four year old!)   We need to teach our kids not just how to pray, but why to pray.  That God wants us to talk to Him, and listen to what he says in His word.  That God hears us.  And that God  wants us to seek His will.  

  • We aren't just teaching them to pray, we are teaching them about who God is.   Almighty God, the maker of the stars and the universe, cares about us. We can ask him to mend our boo-boo's and comfort us after a scary dream.   By praying with our kids, we teach them that God isn't just a Sunday school character, he is a personal God that we can speak to.

  • It's a process. There are a hundred moments in my life that I could tell you are when I really learned to pray:  In moments of temptation, desperation, anxiety.  As I stood in awe of the grand canyon.  The day I became a mom. When the car wouldn't start.  We spend our whole lives learning to pray.  And Lord willing, our kids will too.

  • More than anything else, we need to pray for them.  We have a responsibility to teach our children good things and to encourage Godly disciplines, but it is God who will implant Himself in our children's lives and draw them ever closer to Him.  So lets pray fervently for them!

Please join in the discussion and tell me how you teach your children to pray!

Laundry Tip: Whiter Whites, Naturally

The juice from one lemon added to warm wash water will noticeably brighten your whites.  Drying them on the clothes line on a sunny day will boost your results. It's simple, but it works!

 Happy Laundering!

Solving the "Is this my Towel?" Conundrum

We use our towels more than once before laundering them. I guess some people might think it's gross, but I figure you're just wiping clean water from a clean body.  It saves on laundry costs.  In theory.

What really ends up happening is we hang our towels on a hook or over a door and lose track of whose towel is whose.  On our way into the bathroom, uncertain of which towel is ours, we just grab a fresh one from the linen closet.  Wouldn't it be great to have some way of knowing whose towel is whose?

This is a really simple solution,  but the day I came up with this, I was seriously happy with myself:

Also, this new system has provided irrefutable evidence as which one of us has been leaving our wet towels lying on the bed.


All these years, and I was pretty sure it was him....
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