Archive for the ‘Home’ Category

Opinion Saturday

I haven’t done an Opinion Saturday question for a little while, but I’ve got one for you today.

Thinking back to your own childhood, what were your favorite family traditions? They can be everyday things like tickle-fests at bedtime or going out to breakfast on Sunday mornings, or things related to holidays and birthdays– just anything that sticks out in your mind as something special and meaningful that your family did together when you were a child. Why do you think those traditions were meaningful to you? And what traditions are you creating for your own children to remember?

You have until Wednesday morning to answer. I’ll choose one responder as my “Very Interesting Person” this week. I am looking forward to reading about your memories as well as your current traditions.

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What I’m tackling today

For the past week or so John has been working on a really neat project. Our house is fairly generous– 5 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, 3000 square feet. But with ten kids you can imagine it is FULL these days. We currently have 3 girls sharing one room, and the 3 yr old is (ahem) sleeping in our room. Well, something about the baby turning 3 has got John and me hankering for another bedroom. And so John has been building one. Currently we have 3 bedrooms on the main level and two more upstairs, along with a gargantuan family room and a bathroom up there.

One of the upstairs bedrooms was formed 4 years ago by building walls, adding a dormer, and taking one corner out of our big-ol family room. It has been a small but serviceable bedroom for our teenaged boys– they love their space. Last week we took a chunk out of the opposite corner of the family room for our 9 year old boys. This will free up a bedroom downstairs for our 3 and 5 year old daughters.

The new bedroom is only 98 sq feet, but it is just adorable, complete with a new window and a built-in bunk at each end of the room. The wall-mounted bunks are high enough to slide full-sized Rubbermaids under the bed, so that will allow lots of toy storage.

I am really excited that we were able to add the new room without impacting the functionality of the family room. Yes, the family room has gotten smaller. Shape-wise, it now looks like a fat T instead of a rectangle. Each point of the T has its own function. One corner is the computer room, one is the library, (complete with window seat and a huge wall of books), and the other point of the T houses the piano and the foozball table. I really thought we’d have to get rid of the foozball table to make this work, but it still fits! We did get rid of a couch, a desk and (shhhh) my poor neglected treadmill, but I’m not sad about any of those things being gone.

We also called a plumber and added a new sink in a hidden corner just outside the upstairs bathroom door. Now kids can brush teeth or comb their hair while siblings are in the bathroom- a blessing considering 5 kids are now on one bathroom. The whole project cost — believe it or not– right around $1000 which is awesome considering we added a whole new bedroom and improved the functionality of the bathroom.

Anyway, today my task is to paint the new bedroom. We are hoping to get the boys moved in by Christmas. They are so excited that they have decided to make both breakfast and lunch, to free me up to get more painting done. Siblings of the lucky boys have already asked to trade rooms, but no way are they giving it up! It is an adorable, fun space and I think it will be a great solution. I’ll share pictures when we get the kids moved in.

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almost forgot — more craftiness

Here’s what I made started while my kids were hard at work on their snowflakes. I got the idea from Jenni at One Thing, and (when I finally finished it 3 days later) I was pleased with how it turned out.

Oh, and on another craft-copying note, remember the Robinznest candied nuts recipe that I mentioned awhile back? I made it (using 10 lbs of almonds!!) and it turned out wonderful. My family and I highly recommend it. The younger kids were disappointed to learn that I planned to give at least half of that sweet goodness away. I reminded them that a sure sign of a good gift is if you’re tempted to keep it yourself.

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Today’s fun

I’m making Christmas stockings for our new daughters. Our 4 biggest kids have stockings made by their great-grandma and given to them a few days after she died. Later I made stockings for John, me, and our 2 Korean boys of a different complimentary fabric. I then made 2 more for our littlest two girls out of yet another complimentary fabric. And just the other day I found enough leftover from the little girls’ stockings to make matching ones for our newest two girls. I’ll share pictures when I get them done. What fun!

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A week ago all I had on this wall was one small cabinet over the washer, plus the short (lower) clothes rod that you see in the picture. Now I’ve got three long shelves spanning the whole room– a perfect place for my sewing supplies, scrapbooking supplies, and school stuff. Even better, the counter on the other side of the room–the one that used to be heaped with school and craft supplies– is now clear.

Note: in this picture you can also see a longer clothes rod. It goes the whole length of the room and I love it. It does a great job drying quilts and jeans and other bulky items, especially in the winter when I can’t use my clothes line.

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I sit here typing this with aching shoulders. I feel like I’ve been at the gym. But really I am a victim of (not-so) Extreme Makeover, Mary Edition. The perp too, I guess. I got some lame-brained idea that all I need for a happy life is an organized laundry room.

One side of the room has a nice bank of cabinets, but the other side, til yesterday, consisted of a single upper cabinet and a hanging rod over the washer and dryer. It was OK, but it could be so much better.

Yesterday morning I ran to Home Depot and picked up the components for a wire shelving system along that whole side of the room. I now have three 8-foot wire shelves over the washer/dryer, along with my old hanging rod. I’m using the additional shelving to organize the homeschooling supplies that had exploded all over the counter on the other side of the room.

The little cabinet that had been over the washer is now in my bathroom over the toilet for additional storage in there. Theoretically this will net me a clean counter in the laundry room AND a clean counter in the bathroom. Since I am still in the throes of organizing, the counters are still hard to spot. But I am hoping that tomorrow I will be successful in the quest to dig everything out.

Along with all this, I also installed a tiny shelf in my kitchen cupboard that is perfect for my tiny Ethiopian coffee cups. I installed three new shoe shelves for my 12, 9 and 5 year olds. AND I installed new parts on the closet slider doors in their room to keep their bypass closet doors from continually falling off the track.

My husband’s cordless screwdriver has gotten a heavy workout today, as have my shoulder muscles. I love looking at house plans and daydreaming about my ‘perfect’ dream-house. But when it comes right down to it, there is something hugely satisfying about making what I have work better.

I hope to post pictures soon.

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As requested….

Here’s the picture of our pantry. There is another shelf full of tomatoes to the left, but that side of the pantry was too cluttery to show!

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A productive day

Earlier this afternoon

Three hours later

And boy, was I glad for the items on the left-hand side of the second picture!

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Works for Me

Just a quick Works for Me this week– sorry if it is a repeat, but chances are, some people have not heard this tip. This morning I canned 23 quarts of tomatoes in less than two hours. Yes, I had plenty of help, but what saves the most time is the way I handle the tomatoes.

When canning tomatoes for spaghetti sauce, it is not necessary to blanch each tomato, laboriously remove every skin and then carefully pack pieces into jars. Once I’ve cut tops off my tomatoes, I simply quarter them and run them through the blender to make a puree. I then heat the puree to a simmer, and pour into jars. Easy!! When you open the jar to make sauce, thicken it with a can of tomato paste or a spaghetti seasoning packet.

Quick tomato canning– works for me!

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My Childhood Home

Today’s the day! It’s your chance to share some of your favorite memories of your childhood home. Give me details: what comes flooding back when you think about it now?

My house was a white split level next door to the church where my dad was the minister. I remember the oak tree we climbed in our back yard, and the acorns we gathered from it to wing at our siblings. I remember using the tree to climb onto the roof of our house, and then being spotted on the roof by a neighbor driving by. He stopped the car and knocked on our front door to tell my mom what I’d been up to.

I remember the orange and gold diamond-patterned carpet in the kitchen, and how I played hopscotch on the diamonds. I remember my sister lying on that carpet tantruming at the ripe old age of 3 because she didn’t want to come inside for her nap.

I remember the storage closet under the basement stairs — it was the perfect place for a clubhouse, despite the ancient croquet set and the musty sleeping bags that took up part of the space.

I remember the sunny picture window in the living room where my dad hung a long shelf up high from four chains hooked into the ceiling, so that my mom could keep her plants safe from the many little ones in the house.

I remember sitting at that picture window in the living room in winter, watching the snow fall and the cars spin their wheels as they tried to drive up the hill on the street in front of our house. Always, always, my dad would go give them a push to get them going again.

I remember being fascinated by the tiny perfect hole in the window where a BB had been shot by a neighbor boy, and putting my tongue on the icy hole, and having my tongue freeze right to the glass. For a moment, before my panicked breath warmed the glass, I thought I was truly stuck.

Out that same window, I also remember watching my dad, thrilled over his brand-new snowblower, systematically clearing the driveways of half a dozen bemused neighbors, all with a black furry Russian-style hat on his head and a beatific smile on his face.

I remember bedtimes singing hymns with my mom as she nursed the latest baby. I remember morning devotions around the dining table with my dad, with the warmth of the basement wood stove filtering up to my feet through the vent in the floor.

Precious memories of home. I’m sure you have some too. Will you please share them with us all? Put your post up on your blog. Sign up below on Mr. Linkie. If you don’t have a blog, you can leave your story in comments. Then go to visit others who are sharing their own memories. It will be interesting to see what types of things are important enough to children to ‘stick’ with them their whole lives. I can’t wait to hear your stories!

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