To Dos

In my efforts to write a weekending post, all I got was staring at the screen and thinking about maybe watching a movie instead.  Which made me frustrated with myself–why am I so undisciplined?? especially with something I love to do??  And that made me realize:

This blog is not necessarily for GREAT! writing.  This blog is for me to get out the sluff before the good stuff begins.  And if that means this blog post isn’t too terribly good, but the other writing I do right after is, then I call that a win.  And if it turns out that this blog post turns into a masterpiece that has literary agents pounding down my door to talk to me, well that would also be a win.

So instead, here’s a rambling post of what I’m thinking and how I’m doing.

After three-ish months I feel I’m finally getting my groove back.  Meaning, I’m not always waking up after the kids.  I don’t always take a nap when they’re napping.  I don’t only watch TV when I have a free moment.  I’m working on keeping our house clean, I’m working on doing laundry, writing, reading, and spending time with God.  To be honest, I credit this with Steady Days, a book I cannot say enough about yet every time I try to write a blog post about it I sound all corny and cliche.  But seriously, this book has changed how I look at each hour of my day.

Getting back into the swing of things means my want-to-do list is getting longer and longer by the day.  It’s frustrating since I can’t do any of it since we’re moving and we have no time, no money, and no space to put my projects.  But I’m keeping my list secure so that when we get there (15 DAYS!) I have plenty of things to start on.  Here’s a quick list:

  • A photobook of our adoption journey.  I started working on this and then I remembered how much I HATE scrapbooking, so I never actually got past the title page.  But I want to do a photobook of the whole thing instead–because I have soooo many pictures.  Any suggestions on what company to use?
  • A photobook of our “Us in…” year.  I wanted to do something similar to this, but I’m being realistic and remembering that if it turns out to be anything resembling scrapbooking, it’ll never get done.  So I’m just going straight for the photobooks.
  • Sew quiet books for both of the girls.  Littlest would absolutely love a quiet book, and Little loves things like that.  She’s also a tad behind academically and developmentally–she knows her colors but not the names of shapes or animals or numbers or other basic things like that.  I love that I can customize it, too, to fit each of their levels.  Here’s my pinspiration board, and my goal is to have them done as Christmas presents.  Anyone done one before?  It’s not going to be hard is it?  Or like a scrapbook??????
  • Sew a quilt with a legit pattern.  Ever since I saw the quilts at the MFA Boston exhibit–these beautiful, hand-stitched quilts with an actual pattern to them, I want to make one.  I’m thinking I’ll do it for our bed, whenever we get one, so it’ll definitely be the biggest quilt I’ll have ever made.

There’s more, I’m sure, but looking through all the links to add to this post is making me procrastinate writing even more, so I’ll stop for now.  Because there’s a pile of laundry calling my name and only an hour and a half left of naptime.

Making Pinterest Work for You (and not the other way around)

I love Pinterest.  I think it can be a really great resource and an awesome tool to help make life a little easier.  What I don’t love about it is the image hoarding that comes with it.  Those people with 50,000+ pins:  how in the world do you remember what you have?  And just like I don’t think people should keep a hundred different magazines with post-it flags sticking out of them, I don’t think you should keep a bazillion images.  Just don’t do it.

Lately, though, I’ve been realizing that I’m pretty good at making Pinterest work for me.  I don’t often get sucked into the pinning vortex that others complain about.  Instead, I use it when I need it and it gives me the information that I need.

So, Here’s how to make Pinterest work for you.

pinterest

1.  Use it as a search engine.  I love doing this with food.  When I’ve got some things going bad, I just type them into the search bar and see what pins come up.  One day I typed “blueberry cream cheese” and found this awesome pin for cookies.  I also did this recently when I threw a baby shower.  In looking for some quick decorations, I typed “flag banner” or “fabric decorations” and I found a ton of pins that showed me what to do.  You can also do this with clothes:  You don’t know what goes with your olive green cargo pants?  Type in “olive green cargo pants” in the search engine and see what pics come up.  Then try to see what you’ve got in your closet to mimic the pictures and there you have it, an instant outfit.

Spoiler alert:  You don’t have to pin every pin you see.  I loved making those blueberry cream cheese cookies, but both blueberries and cream cheese are not items I regularly buy.  So why would I pin them?  In fact, as good as those cookies were, I haven’t craved them in the year and a half since I’ve made them.  And if I want to make them again, I’ll just search for them.

great way to keep your mail off the counter while you wait to sort it.

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2.  Use it as a guide.  I know when we first moved into our new house, knowing that we wouldn’t be moving for a few years, I got a little anxiety about thinking that everything would need a place.  When you move so many times, you get to the point where you don’t care about tiny piles because they’ll all be swept up into a box soon anyway.  But now I needed to understand how to make everything fit and be useful.  So I started looking at house organization pins.

But here’s the thing:  what works in this house most likely won’t work in the next house.  And if it will, chances are you’ll remember how to do it for the next house anyway.  For example, I totally made this scarf/hat storage out of my living room closet.  It’s cold 9 months of the year and I needed these things to be accessible.  So I pinned this pin long enough to remember what to do.  I copied it, then deleted the pin.  Why?  Because it’s totally working!  And since I’ll be using it for at least the next year and a half, I don’t think I’ll forget to bring this one to the next place if I need to do it again.

You can also do the same with simple DIYs, fashion, food, or other projects.

DIY Faux Polaroid Coasters from Darkroom and Dearly

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3. Let it be your memory.  There are some things–recipes, projects, quotes, TED talks, etc.–that I want to remember.  I have way too many things cluttering up my mind to remember ingredient measurements or how to make my own quilt binding, so it’s those useful tips that I pin.  Useful meaning that I use them over and over and over again.  We love those crispy black bean tacos, but I can never remember what to put in them, so it’s a pin I reference a lot.  I like to show TED talks about education and other pop-culture matters to my students, so I pin my favorites so I can easily find them at school.

But you won’t be able to do this if you keep clogging up your boards by pinning all the things.  Pin it.  Do it.  And then delete or keep it.

picnic.

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4. Let it inspire you.  I love a good photo.  Probably because I can’t take them myself and I have this deep appreciation for how people can capture a feeling.  While we wait for our family to grow, I’ve pinned some images of family moments that I want my life to mimic–not in the pretty, posed sort of way, but in the feeling I get from looking at them.  We’re also working hard to raise a community over here, so I have a board of photos just for that:  pictures of what community can feel like, so I know what I want from our own group.  

You can also set up specific inspiration boards.  I have one for 2014 that revolves around my goals and word for the year.  Whenever I feel a bit down or like I’ll never see the light at the end of the tunnel, I look through the images I pin.  They make me wistful and are full of promises and help me to get out of a funk and start doing things that I know I need to do in order to reach my goals.  You could do this with any life moment or goal you have in mind.

Baby Bump Book–Adoption Style

A pro and con about adoption is that I don’t have a giant baby belly leading the way everywhere I go.  So while it’s kind awesome that I don’t have to struggle with body image issues right now, it’s also so not awesome that I don’t get to carry my baby with me at all times.  It’s also sort of weird to be in this same waiting stage as a pregnant mother, and yet no one knows.  My pregnant friend and I will walk through the store and she gets stopped all the time with questions about when she’s due, how’s she handling it, is she excited, but no one knows to ask me about my baby because, well, they can’t see it.

The other thing missing from not having a baby bump is the nonexistent baby bump pictures.  First off, too many people post baby bump pics on social media too many times.  I don’t want to see your weekly progress preggo ladies.  But I know I’d take them for myself to remember, and I’d do it in front of a cute wall with the same outfit each week so that I can see the progression.

The second we decided to adopt, I knew I wanted to do a baby bump book in an adoption style.  Meaning, instead of pics of the actual baby belly, I’m taking pictures of major moments in the adoption process–the day we mailed our adoption application, the business card of our social worker, the postcard we received saying our application had been accepted, a picture of the day of our first training class, our adoption announcement pics and card, etc.   And I knew I wanted this little book to withstand the test of time, because hopefully future child(ren) will want to look at it over and over.

I’ve been really inspired by Project Life and bloggers who use the system, so I wanted to do something like that.  But I didn’t want to spend the money that it costs and I didn’t want to do a giant binder.  So I took my Michael’s coupons and went with SN@P! and Smash–but I think SN@P! is way cuter and more my style.  I bought one of their small book plastic pages in a variety pack and some of their paper.

Supplies

I collected some scrapbook-y things around the house and put them all into a little tub so that cleanup is easy and all my supplies are where I need them to be. (I stole that idea from Elsie’s December Daily project.)

supplies2

It’s mostly sticker letters, some paint chips that I might use, ribbon, pics, note cards, and stamps.  It’s not a lot, but I’m not really a scrapbook type person, I like me a good old fashioned photo album–simple and to the point.  But like I said with my tree skirt, my creativity is manifesting itself in so many different ways, so I wanted to try something out of my comfort zone.

I haven’t had the chance to work on this much, and I only just got some pictures printed, but I’ll be sure to update how it looks.

Anthropologie Inspired Christmas Tree Skirt

Remember my patchwork Christmas inspiration board?  Well, I finally made that Anthropologie-style Christmas tree skirt.

What I love most about doing things with my hands is the sense of accomplishment I get when I’m finished making something.  Especially when it turns out as good as this one.  But I also love being creative.  For so long I’ve sought pen and paper or computer keys to get out my creativeness, often thinking that the only talent I really possessed is writing.  But in the past few months of making and creating and sewing I’m realizing that writing is just one way my creative talent manifests itself.  There’s not really anything different between this patchwork tree skirt and a story–one is sewn together with thread, the other with words and plot points.  They are both messy and spontaneously put together.

So here you have it. 

DIY Christmas Tree Skirt

I’m not an expert sewer, and I’ve only really  made one quilt (I still have to do the binding and I’m wicked intimidated by it), but this tree skirt is definitely one for beginner sewers.  If you know how to work a sewing machine, you can do this.

Tutorial in pictures:

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Pick some super cute fabric and cut into whatever size squares you want.  Figure out how you want the pattern to look and sew all the squares together.  Sew it all into a giant square that is the length and width of how big you want you skirt to be.  I figured out mine by taking a ruler and measuring from the tree to how far I wanted the skirt to lay on the floor, and then multiplied by two.  Once your giant square is big enough, fold in half, then in half, then in half, and cut the outside into a rounded curve and do the same to the tip.  Cut a slit to the middle circle so you can put it around your tree.  Put it on a giant piece of material right sights together and trim.  Sew around the outside edges and inside edges, leaving a small opening to flip out, then sew the opening closed.  Put under tree.  Pile with presents.  Bring it out Christmas after Christmas and enjoy.

Happy Christmas to all of you!

I think next year I’m going to tackle those patchwork stockings.  I can’t wait to have more than two mismatched stockings hanging over the fireplace.

And if you end up making your own, post a pic on Instagram or Twitter and tag me so I can see!  (@caitlinmfrost)

Quick and Easy DIY Christmas Garland

One of my December Goals is to just enjoy this season.  Not to worry about money pressures or gift guides or any of the usual stress that I have at Christmas time.  One of the best way to do that–at least for what works for me–is to hand make things.  I don’t know why, but I love creating things, knowing that my little decorations will be around for years to come, and that one day future children of mine will laugh and make fun at all the amateurish and scruffy things I’ve made.

So here’s my handmade Christmas garland.  Much like my Christmas ornaments, this is one of the fastest holiday DIYs I could think of.  I don’t know why but I was super intimidated to put this one together, probably because the sewing machine can’t do anything with me without putting up a grand fight.  But luckily it waited until the end to start botching up everything.

Christmas Garland

There’s all of three steps to this:  punch circles, sew together, string them where you want them.  I used a handy dandy scrapbook hole puncher which I do not own but borrowed from the mother in law to cut holes out of Christmas paper.  Although you could handcut them or punch them out of any sort of shape you wanted and do this for any season.

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This season is probably the toughest that I’m going through right now, and yet it’s also the sweetest ever.  The whole no-money and tons of bills thing is weighing heavily on me.  I also got a second job and while I enjoy the time I get to spend in my community, I don’t like the time it takes away from everything else.  Because the sweet part is I have such a great life–an amazing husband, an impending family, great friends, a wonderful life group, and such an awesome community that I get to be a part of.  So while the mundane is dragging me down, I’m constantly trying to force myself to look on the bright side, because there really are so many bright sides.

And honestly, handmade Christmas garland is totally helping.

 

Linking up  at Living Well Spending Less for Thrifty Thursday

Quick and Easy DIY Christmas Ornaments

This is our fourth Christmas together, and so far the only tradition that we’ve kept is setting up the Christmas tree the day (or so) after Thanksgiving.  You non-kid married people know what I’m talking about, right?  It’s just so hard to create traditions around here.

The only other tradition we have is that we buy a Christmas ornament for each place we’ve visited.  So we’ve got one from Minneapolis, Disney, Texas, and North Carolina.

Our first tree was glittery black and we put some neon colored ornaments on it.  It sat on our hutch because our living room was about 10 square feet.  I wrapped the presents in black paper with neon colored Christmas trees printed on it.  It was awesome.

But three years ago we decided to go for a different look.  We were in a different place, had room for a bigger tree, and we got a 7 footer at Target.   The problem was, the only ornaments we had were the neon ones.  And it just didn’t look as cool on a green tree as it did on the black one.  So we picked up some filler ornaments at Target.  That’s when I came across these.

Vase Filler
I knew they would be perfect for the tree, so we bought them and I simply made them into ornaments by poking the wire ornament hanger thing through them.

DIY Christmas Ornaments

I love our tree.  It’s a mixture of rustic and weird.  A lot of our ornaments are from when I was a child, so most of the Santas date back to the early 90s.  My grandmother sent me a lot of ornaments, too.  My husband hates most of them, since they’re all from the 60s/70s, but I love it. It wouldn’t be Christmas without such an eclectic tree.

christmas tree

What are your Christmas traditions?  Are you a classic or retro kinda person?

And check out these other awesome Christmas trees alternatives:

Making it Lovely’s Pink Christmas Tree
12 Stylish Alternatives to the Traditional Christmas Tree
10 Alternative Christmas Tree Ideas for a Cool Christmas

A Patchwork Christmas

After a bazillion years, I finally finished my first quilt.

Don’t be all impressed now, it was a b-word to put together at the end.  But I have to say, the actual patchwork part was amazing to put together.  And surprisingly therapeutic.  So it makes me want to put together more patchwork, and after seeing this awesome patchwork Christmas tree skirt, I started finding other Christmas-y things to patchwork.

Patchwork Tree Skirt

Here are some other patchwork-inspired ideas:

Patchwork

patchwork coasters would be cute in christmas-themed fabric // maybe some christmas-themed patchwork pillows? // patchwork table runners or placemats // and of course a patchwork stocking

First of all, the problem with patchwork is that it can get really busy.  And then the problem with Christmasy-themed fabrics is that they can get really cheesy.  And there’s nothing I hate more than overly tacky handmade Christmas stuff.  But that’s why I love that Anthropologie tree skirt–it’s got that holiday feel without looking like Santa threw up all over your tree.

So I put together some different fabrics that would be cute for Christmas, but it wouldn’t be all in your face.

fabric

fabrics 1 & 2 are from Jo-Ann’s // 3 & 4 are from Tonic Living // 5& 6 from Fabricworm

I like the feel each of the fabrics give off:  a little bit whimsical with a twist of modern thrown in.  6 would be fun as a placemat backing, and then you could use it for longer than just Christmas.  I’d pair 1, 4, & 3 together in a patchwork stocking or as the main prints in a patchwork pillow.  They’re fun and colorful without being too loud.  2 would be great for a classic black and white Christmas look with a little bit of red or green thrown in.   5 looks a little bit clownish, I’ll admit, but I’d totally pair it with some red and dark blue for some fun coasters or whatnot.

I’m not sure how much sewing I’ll be doing this Christmas.  I have grand aspirations, but not a lot of time or money.  So I’ll just stay content with dreaming of all the possibilities.