The Great Espcape

Tags

, , ,

Today, I want to to share this short story I wrote nearly three years ago . . .

When my son finally fell asleep for a nap, I felt free to do anything. However, the unwashed dishes and piles of laundry weighed heavily on my sense of obligation. I started by scraping the remains of last night’s meal into the trash. Full again. I sighed and tied up the bag.

As I approached the black trash can at the corner of the porch, I heard a rustle of leaves and a chirping noise coming from out of sight on the right. I carefully approached the trash can. Another rustle of leaves. This time, I could tell they came from near the abandoned blue trash can. Fear of rabid animals and my poor choice of raggedy blue slippers as shoes hastened my retreat indoors.

With the windows open to the fine spring weather, I could still hear rustling leaves and chirping noises. I decided to face the potentially rabid creature rather than face a cranky baby. I gathered my courage and changed my shoes to venture back outside. The chirping noises became more frustrated. Could a bird have gotten trapped? The noises definitely came from the trash can filled with cardboard for car work and dead leaves.

I gently tapped on the trash can and jumped back at the vigorous rustling noises. The animal had definitely fallen into the trash can. I pulled out my phone to ask hubby for advice. Before he could respond, I picked up the blue bin by the handle. I slowly moved it to the grassy area while keeping it at arm’s length. I took a deep breath and gently tipped the can away from me.

Once the can hit the ground, a chipmunk scurried out and dashed for cover. I let my breath out in a sigh of relief. I replaced the trash can in its neglected corner and went back inside. The baby stayed asleep, and I sent my hubby a brief message of victory.

###

Advertisements

Capsule Wardrobe Update

Tags

, , , ,

I skipped my fall capsule wardrobe this year. My job and kids have kept me very busy for the past six months. I tried to sit down a few times and write a post about my fall capsule wardrobe. In the past couple of weeks, I came to the conclusion I don’t need to post about my capsule wardrobes anymore. I feel content with the clothes and accessories I have. Working with the Project 333 guidelines helped me trim down my closet and start to discover my style. However, I don’t need to concentrate on numbers so much anymore.

My wardrobe does not fit perfectly within the guidelines. I like to try to choose pieces for my wardrobe I can wear for at least half of the year, so I always find myself with more than 33 items in the cooler months when I add in my layering pieces. The Midwest also has variable seasons, which means I always had to include “just in case items.”

For example, the fall usually starts out with shorts and sandals and ends with winter gear. We have experienced 70 degree days in December and February. April can start with ice storms or balmy conditions. All of this fluctuation in weather means I keep all of my clothes in my closet year-round.

I may eventually share more of my wardrobe in general, such as my jewelry box or scarf collection. For now, I will use my blog to focus on other areas of my life. Feel free to leave a comment if you have content ideas.

Nature Collection Displays

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

Edit 1Like most children, I had a small rock collection. Most of my specimens came from gift shops where my family took its annual vacations. Included in my collection are: a geode slice from Yellowstone State Park, a clear quartz crystal from a museum in Grand Rapids, several different quartz keepsakes from Mammoth Cave and Horse Cave in Kentucky, and some things I don’t remember where that came from. I put all of them in a beautiful carved box my father gave me and didn’t look at them again for many years.

I picked up collecting rocks in college. My science professor assigned everyone a rock collection project in my geology class. Some of my friends, including my now lovable hubby, helped put mine together. Collecting rocks and fossils became a quirky hobby my hubby and I still do together. We have quite the assortment of specimens we have found over the past eight years.

Our oldest son became fascinated with all things nature in the past year. He likes to pull out my old box of rocks and other containers of rock, fossils, shells, etc. I have come up with a few different ways to display and store our collection. Some of these are purely decorative while others make specimens easily accessible for curious hands.

1. Apothecary Jars: any glass jar or container will do. I have used canning jars, vases, and bowls. These usually made their way to my bookshelves as decoration or bookends.

2. Bookends: as I said above, jars and vases with rocks and fossils make great bookends. I also have this pair of geode bookends.

3. Cloche: I found mine at a church rummage sale, but I have also seen them at Goodwill. My cloche has three giant fossils my husband and I found on our trip to Myrtle Beach.

4. Display Box: images of old printer trays and curiosity cabinets are popular on Pinterest. I went with this slightly more affordable display box, which I paid $18 for on Amazon. It houses all of the fossils my hubby and I have found over the years (with the exception of the trilobite fossil, all of our specimens have been found).

Edit 6

5. Tool Sorter: this is actually my son’s collection. He started his collection less than a year ago. My mom found this tool sorter in her garage, but these can be found at any hardware store or tool section at large superstores (Meijer, Wal*Mart, etc).

Edit 5

6. Magnetic Tins: this is the most recent display I put together. I’ve seen these used as spice racks all over the internet. I found mine at the Dollar Tree. (Yes, I did put rocks in my pocket to test the strength of the magnets before purchasing them.) I like this display for organizing and showing off specimens from different trips. Here I have shells and lava rocks from Myrtle Beach, a break your own geode from Michigan, and some fossil conglomerates from our camping trip to Madison*, Indiana, this year.

Edit 7

*Madison, Indiana, is a great place to find fossils. It is located along the Ohio River right across from Kentucky. Sea glass and small fossils wash up along the river shore. We had to be careful walking on the beach because there was broken glass and other trash. Madison also has a wonderful road cut just outside of town. Every rock we picked up had at least one fossils in it. I wanted to find some trilobites, but we only found brachiopods and corals.

I hope this list inspires some people to display their found treasures. I have plans to make a hanging display of geode slices for my kitchen window. If it turns out well, I will write a post about it. I want to wait until the holidays are over before purchasing supplies.

Busy Bags for Church and Car

Hubby and I started going to a new church more than a year ago. (We finally became members this month.) We love many things about this church, but it doesn’t have a nursery for the little ones to go to during the service. There is a play room with a speaker playing the sermon, but the children generally spend the entire service with the rest of the family. My toddler (almost preschooler!) did fine at first with a few toys and playing with my jewelry, but he has matured a bit and needs more stimulation now. This has forced me to get creative with small, quiet activities he can do in a church pew. We also drive 4-6 hours to see my in-laws a few times a year, so I also need some car-friendly activities. Here is what I have come up with so far for my almost-three-year-old:

  1. Duplo kits (current favorite). I have had my son help me put together Duplo kits to entertain him. We fill a bag with some Duplos to build different things. Usually, the little man, vehicle base, and flowers end up in the bag with some basic bricks. This past week, it was all red bricks. My son used these to make a plane, a horse, and other creations. These didn’t work so well in the car, but I think he just needs time to get used to managing them in his lap.
  2. Velcro sticks. My sister-in-law made these with colored craft sticks and velcro dots. These are great for learning colors and shapes with straight sides (square, rectangle, pentagon, etc.). My son used these to make a drill, a hammer, a triangle, a house, and many other things. These worked well in both the car and at church.
  3. Puzzles. Any puzzle will do. We are currently stuck between the puzzles with four pieces which make a shape and the regular puzzles. I think my son will do better with these later in the year. I don’t think this would work well in the car.
  4. Lacing cards. You can make these out of cardboard and a hole punch or buy the pre-made ones pretty much anywhere (even the Dollar Tree). Again, my son is a little young for these, but I think he’ll catch on to them sometime in the next six months. You could also do a string with large beads. This will make a great car activity.
  5. Pipe cleaners in a bottle. I cut down some pipe cleaners and put them in an empty spice bottle. To make this more challenging, you could put colored stickers around the holes and have your child match the colors. I think this one would also work well in the car.
  6. Matching cards. We have a set of cards where my son matches a colored vehicle to the corresponding shadow. He hasn’t quite caught on to this one yet. These are easy to make, or you could use a matching pairs game. My sister-in-law made our set for us. This is another one we haven’t tried in the car yet.
  7. Dinosaur farm. We have a pencil pouch with some small plastic dinosaurs we get out occasionally. If I include our duplo fence, my son can make a little farm on the church pew. We can also switch out the dinosaurs for some duplo animals we have.
  8. Books. This isn’t really a busy bag, but I usually slip a couple of books in our bag for my son to flip through during church. My baby also likes looking at the pictures once in a while.

I don’t pack all of these busy bags every week. My son usually picks out some duplos and 2-4 books. Then, I pick a couple of the other busy bags to include. Everything fits in my toddler’s play bag, and he likes carrying it out to the car and into the church. He also usually has a little stuffed animal he carries because he will sometimes fall asleep for nap on the way home. Let me know if you have any busy bag ideas.

Summer Capsule Wardrobe

It is time for another capsule wardrobe! As always, I mostly follow the project 333 rules. I don’t plan on having any outerwear this season, so I think I will include jewelry this time around. I will not include the rings I wear every day in the count. I may add in more of my jewelry to my capsule. I plan on experimenting with wearing dresses over shorts to see how that works with breastfeeding. I hope to find another pair of shorts, more summery tops, and a pair of sandals. Here is what I have so far (items in bold have carried over from previous capsule wardrobes):

  1. Navy skirt
  2. White skirt with paisley-ish pattern
  3. Floral skirt (this is an old one I couldn’t wear while pregnant)
  4. Black and white skirt
  5. Dark wash jean
  6. Denim shorts
  7. Navy cardigan
  8. Navy short-sleeved cardigan
  9. Navy t-shirt (organic cotton)
  10. Navy t-shirt
  11. Grey t-shirt
  12. Blue shirt with swirly pattern
  13. Patterned shirt with empire waist
  14. Teal t-shirt (I actually got bleach on this shirt and may put it with lounge wear)
  15. Navy tiered tank
  16. Navy belt
  17. Dark blue flats (these are wearing out and need to be replaced)
  18. Black wedges
  19. Grey sneakers
  20. Silver links necklace
  21. Floral statement necklace
  22. Gold dainty necklace
  23. Peacock necklace
  24. Long gold necklace
  25. Navy charm bracelet
  26. Diamond stud earrings
  27. Grey pearl stud earrings
  28. Sapphire stud earrings

I start a new part time job next week with a company shirt I have to wear during my shifts. I don’t know if this will affect my capsule wardrobe at all. Let me know if any of you do a capsule wardrobe as well.

Monkeys and Crawling

I haven’t felt much like blogging lately. Most of my creative energy has gone toward crochet projects, and I don’t have much left for my blog. Since more than a month has gone by since my latest post, I thought I would post a bit of an update.

We have made slow progress on our new house. Nothing feels really done yet, but the house definitely looks improved from what we started with. Since we gutted the bedrooms, built out and insulated the walls, and put new drywall and flooring in, we know we don’t have any unknown mold issues in those rooms. Hubby also updated all of the wiring in the bedrooms and painted the rooms. He also added another outlet and more lighting in the kitchen. We hope to get more work done during Memorial Day weekend.

My younger son turned six months old last week. He started crawling about three weeks ago, which is much sooner than my older son. This has kept me on my toes and started the dreaded sibling rivalry. My boys got along much better when the baby couldn’t get into the toddlers toys. I’ve heard sharing is a real struggle with firstborn children.

Meanwhile, my toddler (soon to be preschooler!) has become really interested in monkeys. If a monkey is involved, he loves it. He became attached to a stuffed monkey when he was younger and has slowly become more interested in them. He likes Curious George books and movies, we even found a little stuffed George at a church rummage sale recently. A monkey shirt I bought him is always the first one to be chosen when it’s clean.

My family received a zoo membership for Christmas. I took the boys for the first time on Tuesday, and my toddler loved it. He liked seeing the capuchin monkeys on the monkey island, the Tasmanian devils loping around their enclosure, the giant shark tank and fish tank, and many other animals. Since we have a membership, I decided to check out a book about an animal in our zoo each week as a way to help my toddler learn more about animals around the world. Then, we can see the animals at the zoo (we probably won’t go every week). This week’s animal was the capuchin monkey, of course.

18402802_10212660741338711_3034099380043449614_n

Spring 2017 Capsule Wardrobe

Tags

, ,

Spring has arrived here in the Midwest. We had one day of perfect weather followed by several days of rain two weeks ago. This just serves as a reminder to include a wide variety of clothes in my spring capsule wardrobe. Nursing my baby is still going well, so I won’t be including any dresses this season. The weather usually starts out as cold and rainy (with the possibility of snow today) and transitions to consistently hot weather. I will probably have to swap out some items as the season goes on, such as exchanging my winter coat and a pair of pants for shorts and/or skirts. Here is what I will start the season with (as always, items in bold carried over from previous capsule wardrobes):

  1. Red and blue floral scarf
  2. Grey cable hat
  3. Trench coat
  4. Blue winter coat
  5. Navy jacket
  6. Navy skirt
  7. White skirt with paisley-ish pattern
  8. Dark wash straight leg jean (these are wearing out and need to be replaced)
  9. Dark wash jean
  10. Wine-colored jeans
  11. Denim shorts
  12. Navy cardigan
  13. Grey cardigan
  14. Navy short-sleeved cardigan
  15. Navy and white long-sleeved shirt
  16. Navy t-shirt (organic cotton)
  17. Navy t-shirt
  18. Grey t-shirt
  19. Navy short-sleeved top with striped detail
  20. Teal top
  21. Navy tiered tank
  22. Navy belt (repurchased)
  23. Brown boots
  24. Dark blue flats (these are also wearing out and need to be replaced)
  25. Black wedges
  26. Grey sneakers

I plan on looking for a few lighter weight shirts for late spring/summer because a couple of my short sleeved shirts are a sweater+like material. I would also like to find another pair of shorts and/or a casual skirt.

Capsule Wardrobe Update

Tags

, ,

More than a year has gone by since I have done an in-depth update of a capsule wardrobe, although I did recently write a post about my capsule wardrobes in general. Since I had some difficulty putting together this capsule wardrobe together, I thought I would take this opportunity to go over what worked and what didn’t and why. Here is what I started with:

  1. Striped scarf
  2. Red and blue floral scarf
  3. Cobalt blue silk scarf (favorite scarf this season)
  4. Grey cowl scarf (didn’t wear at all)
  5. Grey cable hat (rarely wore)
  6. Trench coat
  7. Blue winter coat
  8. Navy skirt
  9. White skirt with paisley-ish pattern (my go-to for church)
  10. Dark wash straight leg jean
  11. Dark wash jean
  12. Navy leggings (rarely wore)
  13. Navy cardigan
  14. Grey cardigan
  15. Dark grey sweater (rarely wore, switched to lounge wear)
  16. Teal 3/4 sleeve sweater
  17. Blue and green plaid shirt (rarely wore)
  18. Dark blue button down shirt
  19. Navy and white long-sleeved shirt
  20. Teal long-sleeved shirt
  21. Navy t-shirt (organic cotton)
  22. Navy t-shirt
  23. Grey t-shirt
  24. Navy short-sleeved top with striped detail
  25. Teal top
  26. Navy tiered tank
  27. Navy belt
  28. Brown boots
  29. Dark blue flats (rarely wore)
  30. Black wedges
  31. Grey sneakers

We had a very mild winter here in the Midwest. This meant I didn’t wear my scarves, crocheted hat, leggings, and sweaters as much as I have in years past. I think I will include fewer scarf options in the future. On days when the temperature required a scarf, I didn’t reach for my lighter weight scarves or my cowl scarf. I think I will include fewer scarf options in the future. My heavy grey sweater moved over to the lounge wear category because I rarely wore it outside my home. It’s too bulky to fit under my coats, and I tend to feel hot in it anyway. If I don’t get much use out of it next winter, I will probably donate it and get a lighter sweater.

My dark blue flats also didn’t really work out for this capsule wardrobe.Since they are made entirely out of recyclable materials, I can’t just take them to get re-soled and keep wearing them. On the plus side, I don’t have to just throw them away and can put them in the recycle bin. I will probably replace them with either a pair of sandals or another pair of flats.

I didn’t wear my two button-down shirts as much as I expected. I really just like wearing cardigans so much more. I plan on putting these away for the spring. I will pull them back out in the fall to give them another go. If I don’t like them as much, I will probably just donate them and stick with my casual top and cardigan uniform.

I tried out my first pair of colored pants in almost a decade. I bought a pair of wine-colored jeans. Since several of my tops were in neutral colors with matching cardigans, I was able to pull them off. The ones I bought have very deep pockets, which I loved. These became the pants I wore the most often this season.

I have a few items I put aside while I was pregnant which I had no desire to include in this capsule wardrobe and will probably donate. These include: my purple cardigan, my emerald top, and my navy and white sleeveless top. They just don’t work for me anymore or don’t fit.

I will ponder on these things while I put together my next capsule wardrobe. Spring is always a temperamental season here in the Midwest. We can have snow one day and beautiful, 70 degree weather the next. I will try to put a post with my Spring capsule next weekend.

Recent Nonfiction Reads

Tags

, , ,

I have spent the past year or so trying to incorporate more nonfiction into my reading. I like to spend the last half hour or so of my day reading. Sometimes, that happens while I nurse my baby right before I go to sleep. Other times, my youngest goes down for a long stretch a little early and I get to take my time with my evening routine and read for a little longer. Still other times, I don’t get to read before bed at all.

Reading has always been important to me. My dad used to read to me when I was a little girl. When I learned how to read, he would have me read to him. I definitely inherited my love of reading from my dad. I have tried to pass along the love of reading to my sons. My toddler seems to really enjoy books, and hubby and I try to make sure he gets bedtime books every night.

My tastes usually run in the science fiction and fantasy genres. Last year, however, I tried out several nonfiction books. While I probably won’t switch to mostly nonfiction books, I did enjoy a few books more than I expected. Here is a list of nonfiction books I have read in the past year or so (in no particular order):

  • Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner goes through some unexpected connections between things, such as teachers and sumo wrestlers (they both cheat).
  • The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo encourages people to declutter and only keep items which spark joy. (Read my full review here.)
  • The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby is a memoir written by a man who suffered a stroke and could only blink his left eye.
  • Wear No Evil by Greta Eagan helps people shop my consciously and includes several ethical brands to try out. (Read my full review here.)
  • The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines tells the story of how the couple got started in the tv business and a bit of their love story.
  • As You Wish by Cary Elwes goes through the journey of making the beloved film The Princess Bride. This is probably the nonfiction book I would most highly recommend.

Have any of you read any good nonfiction books lately?

Farewell Makeup

Tags

, ,

When we moved into our new house almost a month ago, I tried to do some decluttering. While going through things in the bathroom, I came across my makeup bag in one of the drawers. I had toyed with the idea of getting rid of my makeup for several months, but I kept putting it off.

Makeup has never appealed to me much. Even in high school, I really only wore it for show choir competitions and special occasions. I used makeup even less. I’ve certainly never incorporated it into my daily routine.

When I came across my makeup bag (which was only the size of a large pencil pouch), I realized I had not used anything in that bag in more than a year. I decided it was time to just give up on makeup for a while. I only have three products I use: an acne product for the occasional bad pimple, Burt’s Bees replenishing lip balm with pomegranate oil, and Burt’s Bees sweet violet tinted lip balm. I use the pomegranate lip balm almost every day. It works like chap stick and tints my lips ever so slightly. I rarely reach for the tinted lip balm. It serves as more of a lipstick and doesn’t last very long.

I may eventually experiment with makeup. For now, I’m happy with my simple daily routine. I would much rather spend my money on books 😉