Friday, July 25, 2014

DIY Jewelry Hangers: Pretty and Functional


So, I sort of have a jewelry storage problem.  It's not that I have too much jewelry - oh no no, of course not!  It's simply that I don't have enough space to store my massive collection*  ;-)

Tom had been offering to make me some sort of earring hanger for a long time, but I kept saying I was alright with what I was already using (an overflowing compartmentalized velvet-lined (a.k.a. total dust-magnet) tray).  Really, it just wasn't working well for me.  I had trouble finding whatever pair of earrings I was hunting for each morning, and many of them got buried (by other earrings or by dust?  I can't really say.) that they became forgotten.

Luckily, this past Christmas, my darling husband went out on a limb and decided to whip together a pretty frame for displaying my biggest earrings, and I realized how very handy it was.


It was an easy little project for him.  He "re-purposed" the wooden frame from a picture we no longer wanted (if you don't have one already sitting around, you can always find tons of ugly pictures at thrift stores for a couple bucks and just buy them for the frame), and painted it purple to match our bedroom colors.  Then he bought a small piece of wire mesh, cut it to size with tin snips, and used glazier's points to hold it on the back.  Easy peasy.


Close-up of the back so you can see how the glazier's points are pressed into the wood
It's been a great solution for organizing all my biggest earrings.  Now that I can see them, I've been wearing them all much more often.  It only works well for hook-back styles, though.  My smaller or post-back earrings still live in that dusty old tray.

After the success of the earring holder, I was looking for a good way to hang some of my necklaces as well.  In the old house, I had put a row of seventeen big nails in the wall to hang them from:

Old necklace storage

I didn't mind it, but Tom thought it looked sloppy, and asked me to please not make seventeen holes in the wall of our new house!  I kept trying to think of a better way to hang necklaces that would be practical but also in my style.  Eventually it hit me that I could combine my old nails-in-the-wall method with Tom's pretty frame idea.  What is marriage about, if not compromise, huh?

Behold my new necklace frame!

Ten holes now, not seventeen.  Are you happy, honey? :-)


This was incredibly easy  to make.  I searched thrift stores for awhile until I found a similar-looking wooden frame that was roughly the same size as the earring one.  I gave it the same purple paint treatment, and hung it up empty on the wall.  Then I just nailed nails right into the wall inside the space of the frame, and hung all my big necklaces from them.


And now both sides of my dresser match.
Please ignore those ugly peach walls (with matching peach trim around the doors- really, who does that?!) - I'm dying to re-paint them, but other projects are taking precedence right now



Thanks for reading about my little project.  I hope it inspires someone who might be looking for a way to display or organize their jewelry.



*Don't worry, I'm not a compulsive shopper - most of these were gifts from my mom or husband, over many years! 


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Embrace the Ordinary (Vol. 1)

Gina at Someday (hopefully) They'll Be Saints started a great new link-up: Embrace the Ordinary [thank you, Theresa, for making me aware of it].

I started blogging partially as a way to document and hold myself accountable in my attempts to"embrace the ordinary".  So this is right up my alley.

I love what Gina says about the link-up
"I have a feeling that the more we embrace the ordinary, the more we find wonder and joy in our day to day, the more we take on the struggles and grow through them, the more we’ll find God in our days."
 ***

One little slice of beautiful ordinariness came earlier today.  Sly asked to use the scissors to cut something, and I offered to let him pick out a fun "cutting practice" sheet on the computer.  He chose one with spiders we found for free on a homeschooling site.  Then Stella wanted something to do herself, so I printed off a coloring sheet with a pig from the same packet.

I set them up at the little kid table, and they both got right to work.  It was so nice to see them interested and attentive (and quiet!).  Sly cut mostly on the lines, and Stella knew to pick the color pink for her pig.  Such little achievements, but they made me very proud.

Stella wanted Peter Rabbit and Kitty to join them at the table


It'd be great if it's this easy to get them interested when we start homeschooling "for real", but I'm sure things won't always look quite like this :-)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Why I Don't Hate My Body Anymore

For the first time since adolescence, I think I'm finally becoming comfortable with my body.

It happed like this.

Like so many females, I spent my pre-teen and teen years longing to be thinner.  Wanting my body to resemble the women's figures in magazines and movies, or at least to fit into a smaller pant size like the other girls.  Searching after that elusive "skinniness" every teen talks about.

I was on my high school's crew team, which is a very demanding sport.  I was fit, I was healthy, I could row like a beast (funny - that word used to be a high compliment for us back in the day, but I'm not sure that I'd like to be called a beast anymore!).  Even though my body could do so much, I cared only about the way it looked.  And it still didn't look skinny enough.

In college, I went for runs everyday: 3-6 miles long, sometimes more.  I ran two full marathons, two half marathons, and countless smaller races.  I ate more healthily than ever in my life.  Really, I was in the best shape I will probably ever be.  But even at my lowest adult weight - you know, that number that you would have to work really really hard to keep over the long term - I still didn't feel thin enough.  I just wanted to have a waist.  For my body to go in at the middle!  Maybe not the ideal hourglass proportions, but something that at least suggested that type of female figure. 

The skinniest I ever was.  And I think this photo just caught me at a good angle.
 
I've finally accepted that I never can have that.  To be specific: my frame just won't allow it.  My ribcage and my hipbones have barely an inch between them, and there's no room for me to ever have a waist, "unless", as Tom jokes "you have a couple ribs removed".  My legs, despite the fact that I barely get any exercise these days are still extremely muscular - more so than many men I know.  Some people might envy them, but they're just not very feminine.  It's how I'm made.

I debated posting a bathing suit picture for modesty reasons.  But I think it's relevant to the story I'm telling.


Marriage was the first step in helping me to accept the body I was given.  When you marry and begin to share your body and your life with another person, you come to see that the body has so much more value and meaning than just an appealing outer covering.  We have a body because we are meant to use it, to give it, to serve others with it.

Plus, my husband loved me and loved my body.  So it couldn't be completely terrible, right?

During pregnancy and childbirth, your body gets stretched to its limits (metaphorically, I mean...but actually in a literal sense as well!).  It wasn't until I had grown a tiny human inside of myself for nine months, used my body to painfully bring that human into the world, and then spent the next year further nurturing him with the milk that I was miraculously making that I really understood what I was capable of.  My body can do amazing and wonderful things!  This is what my body was made for - what everyone's body was made for: to allow them to carry out their vocation.  Whatever that may be. 

My vocation right now is to be a wife to my husband, to birth babies, and to do the work of raising them.  My vocation is not to have an hourglass figure. It's time to give myself permission to not have to be thin.  As long as I'm doing my part to keep my body reasonably healthy - i.e. able to perform my duties - I think I'm doing what I should.

I wanted a picture of me wearing a baby, but the only one I can find has me eating a cookie...right after I finished talking about being healthy!

I won't pretend to understand the deep mysteries of personhood....about the fact that we don't just have bodies, but that we are bodies.  But what I do know is that if my body is "me", it seems useless to keep going through life hating myself. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Best Baby Blow-outs link-up


After I wrote about Linus' recent mess at the museum, several readers started sharing their own (cringe-inducing, yet hilarious) tales about baby diaper blowouts.  I thought it would be fun to turn this into a link-up in case anyone else wants to tell their story.

To those who already shared it in the comments to the last post, consider turning it into a whole post on your blog - and if you don't have your own blog, feel free to leave your story here as a comment.  Can't wait to read them!


Big Messes at the Museum

Disclaimer: 
If you don't like hearing stories about dealing with bodily functions (i.e. being a parent), then this one isn't for you!


We have friends visiting from out-of-town, so yesterday, Tom took the day off work and we all went to the museum - five adults and seven kids under age four. 

Linus and I managed to sneak off on our own for a bit to look at a new exhibit I wanted to see in the art museum while the older two stayed with Tom and our friends in the natural history portion.  By the time I caught up with them, Stella was already done.  She was screaming her head off, and not willing to do anything.  Tom and I decided to split off from the group for a bit and take the kids to the children's area where there are fun things they're allowed to touch and hold, hoping she would calm down.

Soon after sitting down in there, Linus got to work making an enormous diaper, and soon began crying himself.  Because I hate carrying diaper bags around, I usually bring only the bare necessities: one diaper apiece and a small pack of wipes.  I could tell Linus was ready for his one allotted diaper, and maybe Stella was too, so I started looking around for a good place to change them.  Normally, I would just find a handy bench or corner and change the baby there, but the docents at the museum have eagle-eyes and do not let you pull stuff like that.  Plus, it was going to be a stinky one, and I knew I might need access to a sink.

I asked the docent in the children's room where the nearest bathroom was, and he told me to go down the hall and down the stairs....hmm, that wasn't going to work out well with the stroller.  Stella had started screaming again, and by this point, we had literally cleared out the room.  The only person left was the young male docent, awkwardly eying the family with the two screaming children, unsure what he could do to help.

I took Linus out of the Ergo carrier - which I left hanging off my waist - so I could bounce him around more effectively and try to calm him down.  Between his cries and my huge exaggerated bounces, I was attempting to explain to Tom - who couldn't understand me well because he was holding the screaming toddler - that we needed to go find a bathroom and get the kids' diapers changed.

And then: the explosion happened.  Linus finished up that diaper he'd been working on in one tremendous blowout.  Baby poop was all over the place.  It was covering my hands, my shirt, and absolutely dripping down the inside of the Ergo.  It probably got on the floor too.  I don't even know.  I just said, "We have to go NOW!" and took off, catching just a glimpse of the docent's shocked and fearful gape.

We all hurried to the elevator, but it wasn't arriving fast enough.  "I'll take the stairs with Linus!" I said.  "Meet me outside the bathroom!" I followed the signs for the bathroom as I ran down the stairs - they took me down several floors.  When I finally got inside, there wasn't even a baby-changing station.  But at least there was a little table I could work on.  Women and their daughters kept coming in and out, and it was making me more flustered.  As they squeezed around me standing there at the table, they all took a peek to see the disgusting mess I was working with.

Linus had to be totally stripped down.  His onesie and diaper went into a plastic bag I'd brought, and I cleaned him up with some the rest of the pack of wipes and put his one clean diaper on.  I didn't have a spare outfit for him.  Sorry, baby.  I was anxious to start scrubbing down my shirt and the Ergo, but I was afraid to leave Linus alone on the little table since there was nothing to strap him down with.  And now when I could have used them as baby-holders, there were no other women coming into the bathroom.  I couldn't put him on the floor since it was gross and wet and, you know, he was basically naked.

"Where the heck is Tom?" I wondered.  I was standing there covered in poo, holding Linus on the table, waiting to hear Tom's voice in the hall.  I pulled out my phone (carefully, since it was in the front pocket of the very soiled Ergo), and tried to call him.  No reception in the bathroom.  Sigh.  I unclipped the Ergo from my waist, threw it into a sink, picked up Linus, and went into the hallway, hoping no one would recognize what the yellow stuff all over my shirt was.

I tried calling Tom again.  He answered. Through the poor reception, echoing marble halls on my end, and shrieking toddler on his end, we attempted a conversation that went more or less like this, "WHERE ARE YOU?!"  "WHERE ARE YOU?!"  "I'M OUTSIDE THE BATHROOM, I'VE BEEN WAITING FOR YOU!" "I'M OUTSIDE THE BATHROOM, I'VE BEEN WAITING FOR YOU!"

Tom had found a different bathroom somewhere - a "family restroom" which I really wish I had found in the first place, since his presence would have greatly simplified cleanup - and was waiting for me outside of it.  I explained where I was so he could come help.  He showed up a few minutes later with the older kids - Stella still screaming in his arms - and took Linus in his other, so I could go back in and unsuccessfully attempt to get the yellow stains off everything.

To make the day just a little more gross, a short while later, I noticed a suspicious-looking brown stain on the shoulder of Tom's shirt where Stella had been sitting - in a dress - a little earlier.   She got her own diaper change shortly after.

Crazy people that we are, we ended up staying at the museum another couple hours.  We put some food into Stella which calmed her down considerably (Tom claims she gets her "hanger" = hungry+angry from me).  Poor Linus was put back, naked except for a diaper, into a damp but dry-paper-towel-lined Ergo to be carried around for the rest of the afternoon.

Heh, it worked out.


***

In the same vein....last night while we were praying the Rosary, Stella went over and grabbed the seat off her potty (no, she's not anywhere near being potty trained!  Mommy was overly-optimistic about being able to reduce the number of diapers she changes each day) and placed it on Tom's head like a hat.  Everyone else stayed focused and prayerful, but mature person that I am, I snickered about it for a good while.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A Week in Feminine Dress

I participated again in A Week in Feminine Dress over at The Catholic Lady.  Stop by to see what her readers and I have been wearing.


As I was looking over my photos before sending them to her, it occurred to me that I've finally found my own personal style.  I know what sort of clothes I feel happy in now, and that's all I let myself buy and keep.  I'm attracted to bright colors and bold prints.  I like clothes that with a bit of a boho feel to them, and I accessorize with colorful jewelry.

For too long, I let myself be limited by what the latest styles were - in other words, the often disappointing selection for sale in the stores.

I was twenty years old when I decided to start increasing the number of skirts in my wardrobe, and to otherwise strive to dress more femininely (previously, I was a self-professed "jeans and a t-shirt kind of gal").  That was almost ten years ago now.  Over that time, popular styles have gone through several periods where it was almost impossible to find a skirt that wasn't a mini-skirt or a top that didn't show half my chest.  I would be out shopping, searching in vain.  And then I'd spot the one skirt in the store that was slightly on the longer side and get so excited by my victory that I'd just buy it right away without a thought to whether I really and truly liked the style and the fit.  So I amassed a closet full of clothes that may have met my impression of feminine, but just weren't fun to wear.

And when you don't feel pretty in the majority of your wardrobe, you begin to just feel frumpy.  I would find myself wearing a preppy polo shirt, or a pink lacy top, or a silky floral skirt and just feel as if I was wearing a costume.  I was dressing like someone else, instead of like me.

I suspect this might be one reason some women hesitate to start wearing more skirts, even when they're attracted to the idea.  They imagine that they must dress to fit some mold, or some very specific notion of "feminine."  They know they don't want to look like they just walked out of Little House on the Prairie, or a Jane Austen novel, or the Duggar house (God love 'em!).

But the good news is, you don't have to look like anyone else!  Think of all the ways women have found to dress over the centuries in ways which fit their unique personality, yet still respect their feminine nature.  There's a look for everyone, and I guess my advice is to just pick pieces that you love and stop following the latest trends.

I'm pretty sure the reason I finally arrived at a point where I feel that my wardrobe is all truly "me" is because I stopped shopping at the retail stores.  When Sly was born, I quit my job, and we suddenly had to survive on a teeny tiny tiny budget.  I had already been using thrift store clothes to supplement my wardrobe, but at that point I had to learn how to start shopping at them exclusively - or else get no "new" clothes ever.  At thrift stores, you're not bound by the current hot trends.  Everything in there is at least a year old (sometimes as much as thirty years old!), so you have a wide range of styles to browse and try on.  You get to know what you like, what works on your body.

It does take some time to build up your wardrobe with clothes that are "you", and weed out those that aren't.  But when you arrive there, it feels so great to be truly comfortable and satisfied with almost everything you wear!


***
Addendum:
If anyone is looking to enhance their wardrobe with some beautiful feminine styles from eShakti (see my review of one of their dresses here), you can use the code "extraordinaries" to receive 10% off your order through July 21st.

Monday, June 30, 2014

New House Tour: Boys' Room

We're been in the new place for almost three months now, so it's probably time to start giving people a look around.  I'm going to start with Sly's room, since his is the most "completed" at this point.   Most of the rest of the house still has a long way to go.  I sometimes feel like I'm stepping around piles of sandpaper, paint cans, putty knives, and screwdrivers everywhere I go....

For the sake of being "real", I didn't clean up the room before I took the pictures.  Cleaning the room is Sly's job anyways these days (yesss!), and I let him get away with things being less tidy than "perfect".  These pictures won't look magazine-worthy by any means, but that's my life!

**As I give my little tour, I'll try to point out where various items came from.  I think a theme should develop, and I hope to help convince people that you can find some really cool things when you shop secondhand! **

Linus is testing out the rug

Sly's bedroom - which will be "the boys' room" once Linus grows up a bit - is up on the third floor.  The sloped ceilings provide a lot of visual interest, but unfortunately, cut waaaaay down on the available wall space for hanging decorations.  And we'll probably never be able to put bunkbeds in here unless we decide to block the windows.  Thankfully, it's a very large room, and I'm pretty sure we can fit at least four twin-size beds along the walls, should we ever have the need.

Over the years, I've collected a number of "ship" paintings and decorations.  I'm just attracted to the romance of big sailing ships.  We decided to put them all in Sly's room, and give the room a sorta ship/map/travel/world explorer theme! 

The previous owner had painted the room a funky paint scheme of dark blue, light blue, and orange-yellow trim.  It ended up looking great with our decorations.

These prints were a Christmas gifts from Tom's sister, who had apparently grown so tired of hearing me go into raptures about how much I loved them every time we visited her house, that she just took them off the wall and wrapped them up for me!
Last week, we hung a curtain rod over the window, and I have some really cool ship-printed fabric that I'm going to make into curtains.  I'll try to post a picture once they're up.

We found a map-printed duvet cover (bought online, to cover Tom's threadbare childhood comforter) for the bed (given away by a friend).


The map in the photo below is just a one-yard cut of fabric I found in the quilting section at Joann Fabrics.  I hemmed the edges, and we just nailed it to the wall.  We found the decorative ship's wheel at Goodwill. 

The heater was left by the previous owner, and we haven't moved it yet.  I do not feel safe with it staying in a little kid's room!  

On the bookshelf (bought at garage sale) is a statue of Mary (gift from my mom) - who is also known as the "Star of the Sea", which is the Marian title our daughter Stella Maris is named after, so even she fits the theme! -, a cool ship nightlight (thrift store), and a wooden plane (from Tom's childhood).  And a huge pile of books below, because stuffing them into the shelf is how Sly cleans them up.  Better than nothing.


My aunt was giving away this child-size desk which we still need to find a chair for.  On top are two light-up globes (flea market, thrift store), a railroad tie (found near railroad tracks), and other little things Sly has been given from here and there.


Another shot with Linus still chilling on the floor.


Below we have some metal planes (also from Tom's childhood), an armchair (given away by a priest friend) perfect for reading or nursing babies - do you see the arm covers on the floor? Why do kids have a compulsion to rip them off all the time? -, and a map of Pennsylvania (bought by Tom in a shop in New Orleans during our honeymoon while I was at the hotel taking a nap) which I think is kind of ugly, so we compromised by putting it in Sly's room :-)


This photo below can't convey the massiveness of the closet.  Sly's dresser fits in there easily, with plenty of room left for storage.  It extends all the way to the slanted wall on the right. 

A word about the dresser - my dad trash-picked it for us a year ago.  We sanded off the old peeling finish, and Tom re-finished it with shellac (which is an old-fashioned finish which comes from the shells of beetles (hence the name)).  I think it looks like a million bucks now! 


Near the door is another cool ship picture (Goodwill), and a kid-size guitar (trash-picked).  Sly can't play it yet, but his dad has big dreams :-)


Oh, and there's an icon of St. George over the door.  George is Sly's middle name.  It's impossible to find anything with St. Sylvester!

Hope you enjoyed the tour, and that I have something else to show soon.