Our Big News!

It must be fate.

Today I got my new issue of House Beautiful magazine, and on the cover was a question I've been pondering a lot lately: "Is Small the New Big?"

Now, I don't know for sure what House Beautiful has to say on this topic, but I'm crossing my fingers that it's true! The reason?

We are moving.

To San Francisco.

My husband's company is based in the Bay area, and about a month ago we got an offer to move there. I probably don't have to tell you that some of my first thoughts had to do with housing. Can we sell our Colorado house? (Maybe.) Can we afford to live in California? (Perhaps, if we do some major budget restructuring). Do we rent a house in California? (Probably, at least for the first year while we learn about the area.) Do we buy a house in California? (Eventually, maybe, if we can find the right fixer-upper!) Can we live in a smaller house? (The answer better be yes to that one, since moving to a more expensive market means that downsizing is a necessity for us.)

Do I have the energy to start all over, with a new house to love and decorate? (Ah...YES! That's an easy one.)

So, strap on your seat belts! The rest of the summer will be all about packing, house-hunting in California, holding a massive garage sale, and selling or renting our house in Colorado. I might go crazy. Join me, won't you?


Gone Fishin'

Except I don't fish. And I am not a dude with a cowboy hat.

So really, just replace "fishin'" with something like "sleeping," "zoning out," or "lazin' around." Point being, I am taking a little blogging break! We have some big potential changes coming up in our family's life, which I will be excited to share with you when I get back. :)

In the meantime, I'm taking a summer vacation. I'll be back in a week or two. Happy Summer to you and yours!


The Chair That Took Nine Months to Cover

Hi, my name is Carrie, and I am here today to tell you what not to do.

Let me start at the beginning. This is my mom. Oh, and that's my sister and me with her. Cute, huh?

About, oh, nine months ago, I had this genius idea to buy a pattern to recover an old Parsons chair that I had. I asked my mom if she would help me cover the chair, seeing as she knows how to sew and has an interior design degree and all.

Sounds resourceful. Smart, even. Who wouldn't rather spend money once on a pattern that keeps on giving, right? Well, you see where this is going, I am sure.

Yep, that's the finished chair. Yep, it looks fantastic, and I really do love it. However, just call my mom and ask her if it was worth nine months of her time, working on that darn thing every time she came to visit. Cursing the pattern that seemed so simple, but was really anything but. Tossing said pattern into the trash and eventually just winging it.

I love the chair! But here's a piece of advice for you. Unless you have endless patience and some kind of advanced PhD in physics and geometry, just buy a chair cover. Heck, you could fancy-it-up with some grosgrain ribbon and other bling.

So I will sit here and admire my chair that took two people to make (mostly my mom...I just cut some fabric and said things like "I can't believe it's this hard!" over and over). The chair that took nine months, endless patience, a chair pattern, a trash can (for aforementioned chair pattern), lots of pins and thread and eye-rolling and just a bit of wine. :)

I love it.

But take it from me: next time, just buy something and be done with it!


Fun Teacher Gift Idea!

I know most of our kids are already out of school for the summer, but this idea is so good, maybe you'll want to use it for next year!

This is my daughter's pre-school teacher, Mrs. Rebecca. I adore her. So does Nina.

At the beginning of the school year, I gave her this little list of questions about herself to fill out. You know, things like her favorite treats, favorite places to shop, favorite colors, favorite candy, etc.

It's been so helpful! At Christmas, we were able to get her a special gift that I knew she would love (Barnes & Noble gift card), and we brought her favorite ice cream from Baskin Robbins for Valentine's Day.

For the end of the school year, Nina and I put together the cutest little Summer Survival Kit. We knew Mrs. Rebecca loves tea, so we started with a personalized travel mug (from a local shop in our little town).

We grabbed her favorite candy, some yummy tea, and a little summer tea towel she can hang in her kitchen.

Then I spotted this straw bag with cute polka dots (at Target!) to pull it all together.

The gift turned out so great, and hopefully Mrs. Rebecca loved it!

I know I might be biased because I used to be one, but I just think that teachers deserve to be pampered! Mrs. Rebecca has been such a blessing to our family, and I hope that our gifts make her feel as special as she is.

Anyway, thought I would share in case any of you would like to steal this idea for the next school year!


How To Make a Homemade Subway Sign

Hi girls! I promised a tutorial on my homemade subway sign, and here it is!

To start, I had a few inspiration photos and a $3 four foot tall frame. That's about it.

First thing I did was paint the frame. You can see how I did that here. Then I sweetly asked my husband to cut a piece of plywood to fit into the frame. He acquiesced, and I painted the whole thing black.

Then I chose some street names that mean something to our family. I just thought that would be a fun twist on the other signs I've seen, which seem to be specific to one city. But since we've lived all over, this works better for us! Mildred Lane was where I grew up in Cincinnati. My husband grew up on Clover Street in Winston-Salem. We have every major stage in our lives represented on this sign! I printed each street name to fit the frame, using a font called Impact, in varying sizes and spacings.

After that, I traced each letter onto the black plywood using graphite paper. You can see a tutorial on how to do this here.

After that, it was just a simple matter of using a million white paint pens in varying sizes to fill in the letters. I did a few coats over every letter to make sure the white really stood out from the black. Totally time consuming, but totally worth it! Ta Da!

But you want to know the worst part? We don't even have subways in Denver. I am a total fraud! Have a great weekend!


Henry Update

Once again I want to thank all of you for praying for my friend Kara's son, Henry. He is continuing to take baby steps of improvement, and today I got to see a photo on Facebook of his older brother, William, visiting him in the hospital. You could see William reaching out a finger to touch Henry's little hand...brought tears to my eyes.

Here's an update directly from Kara's blog, Three Little Kings. I have passed along all your prayers and wishes to her, and I know they are so encouraging. Seriously, you guys are amazing! And I'll be back with a subway sign tutorial tomorrow! :)
Yesterday was a bigger day than usual. After I posted the "Day 12" blog, the doctors came for rounds and decided to switch Henry back to the ventilator after all. We were surprised, but have gained such a confidence in the Attending Physician that we felt fine about the decision. And it was a good one! Henry was switched back to the vent yesterday morning and was able to come off the paralytic medication at the same time. We hadn't realized we would see him wake up from his medical "slumber" yesterday, so it was really exciting when he began to open his eyes and realize we were there. He focused on each of us and even started to try to cry when he made eye contact (it was SO heartbreaking . . . especially as he struggled with the ventilator while crying . . . because we can't pick him up to comfort him).

He has been alert for long intervals since then, and it has been a joy to catch a glimpse of our Henry behind all the wires, tubes and swelling. He is losing some of the swelling, especially in his face, but his body has a long way to go. He weighs an extra 3 kilos right now, which is over 30% of his body weight. The lasix is helping him lose the edema, but it's not a quick process.

We were on a bit of a high yesterday as such a BIG step was taken, and I have to admit I've hit a low today. It felt like the pace was picking up and giving us hope yesterday, which all came to a screeching halt as not much has changed today, but I do remind myself that no news is still good news at this stage. We're back to baby steps today, but we are so thankful that they are in the right direction.


Subway Sign Specialty!

It all started because I was reorganizing my decorating inspiration photos. I found this:

And then I saw this:

And the clincher? Could you just die over this?

Then, to make matters worse, a few weeks ago I spotted this tall frame (about four feet high!) at a garage sale for $3. Do you see where this is headed?

First, I spray painted the frame gold. But then it was, you know, too gold. Like, Follow the Yellow Brick Road or We All Live in a Yellow Submarine. Gold.

Luckily, I had this fancy collection of Rub 'n' Buff. Have you ever heard of it? Hello, I love this product! I rubbed the Antique Gold color to dull it down. Just used my fingers and a few cotton balls, rubbed it on and then kind of buffed it after a few minutes. Perfection!

Much less Yellow Submarine, and all kinds of classy-looking. Took five minutes. I love results like that! (And because someone always asks, I will tell you that you can find Rub 'n' Buff at Michaels, Hobby Lobby, art supply stores, or their website).

Then I finalized the color with a bit of furniture stain (Minwax Dark Walnut) to bring out the details of the frame. Here's a little sneak peak into what I made, but stay tuned for Friday's post and the full reveal!

Tutorial coming, too, I promise!


An Easy Facelift for Antiques!

Hi everyone! OK, this is an absolutely amazing product, and I just had to share. Have you ever heard of Kramer's Best Antique Improver? Let me show you Exhibit A.

This is my husband's grandfather's desk, which we inherited when we got married. It's in good shape, but the wood looks a little dried out and "faded." The dry Colorado climate has not helped. I've tried various furniture polishes and oils, and the desk just soaks it up, then looks the same the next day: sad and worn-out.

Now, check out the same desk, below, about 20 minutes after the above photo was taken, and after one coat of Kramer's Best Antique Improver:

No touch-ups. No special camera effects. Literally, just 20 minutes with a rag and this miracle product (which no one is paying me to rave about). Go ahead, scroll up and compare those photos again. I'll wait. :)

I seriously cannot believe the difference. And I can tell you that, weeks after applying, it still looks this good!

So, if you've got a furniture piece that needs some TLC, invest the $20 to special order Kramer's Best Antique Improver. It's a lot cheaper, and a lot easier, than most of the other treatments out there. And I gotta love the instant gratification!


An Update on Baby Henry

I just wanted to say thank you again to all of you who are praying for my friend Kara's son, Henry. I am so honored that you would take time from your life to pray for people you don't know, because you believe it will make a difference. You all are an amazing group of people. I wish I could say more to express that better!

Henry is holding his own, but still has a scary road ahead. Below is the latest from Kara, originally posted on her family blog, Three Little Kings. Feel free to stop by there for more detailed updates or to drop her a comment of encouragement. And I promise I will be back tomorrow with some house-related stuff!
A clear picture of Henry is that he is on an oscillator, which has taken over the job of breathing for him so that his body can rest while it fights off the numerous infections which are threatening his life. He is heavily sedated and often needs additional medicine to be paralyzed because sometimes he starts to move around a bit and they have noticed changes in his vitals when this happens. We really need for him to just rest peacefully as the many treatments (antibiotics, blood transfusions, platelets, etc) do their work.

Our sweet boy does not look like himself right now. His whole body is swollen from the medications, and while they can give him (and have given) some lasix for this, it's a delicate balance and they have to watch his blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen saturation, ventilation, etc. One affects the other, which affects the other and so on. Sort of like "If You Give a Pig a Pancake," but not nearly as much fun.

The diagnosis of what caused all this (a virus is suspected but not confirmed) is still a mystery and may always be. Last week, diagnosis seemed important. Now, as I watch my baby fight for his life, I don't care what the initial cause may have been. I'm sure I'll care again later, but for now I just want my Henry back.

Scott and I feel so loved and truly appreciate all of the prayers and concern from our dear friends and family and what feels like thousands of others who are lifting us up.

Prayer Requests:
* Continued improvement. We are taking baby steps, but they are in the right direction.
* Our older boys, who haven't seen us much and are also very worried about the brother they adore.
* Strength and endurance for us and for my mom who is watching the kids so much of the time while she is dealing with the emotional toll as well.


Please Pray for Henry

**Updated to add: Here is a link to Kara's family blog, Three Little Kings. She just updated with a post about Henry, who is still fighting this awful infection. Please keep praying! I know it means so much to Kara to read your sweet comments. You all brought tears to my eyes with how quickly you responded. Thank you so much!

This is Henry Aaron, the son of my college roommate, Kara. (Kara has a home decorating blog, called home (ec)lectic, which I know is the last thing she is thinking about now.) I am interrupting my usual house-y stuff to ask for prayers for sweet baby Henry, who is in the hospital fighting for his life. This photo was taken the day before he got sick.

Baby Henry is nine months old, and is currently facing pneumonia, a horrific secondary lung infection, blood transfusions, oscillators, you name it. He is a very sick little man. Henry and the doctors are fighting hard, and I'm asking if you would just take a minute and pray for him.

I'll be back next week with some projects I've been working on, and any updates about little Henry. I can tell you one thing for sure: this makes me want to hug my baby Henry and sweet girl Nina extra hard, and thank God for their well-being today.

Thank you everyone!


My $10 Chair

Sometimes I find bargains in the unlikeliest of places. I had sold some of my old work clothes to a women's clothing consignment shop, and was on my way out their door after dropping them off. This chair was sitting underneath a pile of stuff. Marked $20, with 50% off!

It was in great shape, and I loved the color. Unfortunately, whoever had painted it must have run out of paint, so it looked kind of unfinished. I just whipped out my usual white paint (Behr's "Country Dairy") and popped in a movie to paint to while the kids were asleep.

I guess my lesson is that you never know where the bargains will come from! Keep your eyes peeled, especially now that it's summer garage sale season. Your next project could be just around the corner!

And I am sure your husband won't mind you hauling home more junk to store in the garage. :)