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I love making things, and I love giving handmade things as gifts. Sometimes there’s just not enough time, or maybe I just don’t have a good idea. I usually reserve the handmade gifts for Christmas and get an early start – the beginning of September. Still, not everyone gets something handmade and I have to resort to the usual stand-by gifts of candles, body wash, gift cards, etc.

My youngest sister’s birthday is in late February, but since I don’t get to see her then, I don’t get in a big rush. The day she and my other younger sister came with our parents for a birthday visit for my husband and my boys, I remembered I hadn’t gotten her gift yet. I immediately thought about running by the mall and getting her a candle. As much as she’d enjoy a candle, it just felt wrong to me. Too standard. Too easy. And I was in a crafty mood…

Since I had already planned to do some browsing in a craft store, I thought I’d look around and see if something struck me. Then the best idea hit me as I was walking across the parking lot: check her Pinterest boards! I pulled out my phone and scrolled through her many boards, looking for one with quick and easy DIY projects. Then I saw it:


It was saved to her “What a GREAT idea!” board, and I agreed.

First stop: frames. It had to be just right. No metallics or fine lines. No ordinary colors, but nothing too garish. It didn’t need to be too big, but it did need to be large enough to write on easily with a dry erase marker. I found some distressed 5×7 frames in colors that coordinated with her decor, and since they were 50% off, I decided to buy two for her.

Second stop: paper crafts. I am not a paper crafting kind of person. I tried to be, but it just wasn’t my thing. After our recent move I gave away all my scrapbooking materials, so I knew I would have to find something there. I loved looking at all the patterned papers and found several that fit themes in her house: birds (in her guest bathroom), bicycles (in her living room), etc. They would’ve been perfect – but they were too busy for background papers. It would be too hard to see whatever had been written across them. I finally decided on two simple patterns in different colors that would coordinate with the frames and the rest of her decor.

Third stop: an office supply store for a pack of dry erase markers. Of course, I had to complete the gift. I couldn’t give her cute message boards and expect her to go out and buy something so she’d be able to use them. For that, I went with basic black markers. No need for clashing colors or shades that wouldn’t show up against certain backgrounds.

Once I got home, I got right to work. I measured and cut the paper to fit perfectly – and to be symmetrically displayed. (Yes, I’m that person.) I put them together and wrote a special note on each one (with my own dry erase marker) since I didn’t buy her a card. (I hate shopping for cards…) Then I wrapped each frame in tissue paper and placed them carefully in a gift bag.

I kept texting her to see how close they were: Where are you? What’s your ETA? Now where are you? Almost as soon as she arrived, I had her open her gift. I was excited! And she was excited when she opened them! She started sharing her plans for using one in her guest room (for personalized messages to her guests) and one in her living room. 


My other younger sister’s birthday is the end of this month. I can’t wait to peruse her Pinterest boards and find something fun to make for her. This revolutionizes the way I will approach gift-giving from now on!

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Even before I went back to work, Saturdays were extra special if I could just stay home. Now that I’m working, they’re even more special because I’m not spending all day at home a few times during the week. And since the boys are involved in more activities and we’ve been helping with the youth group for a little over a year, those Saturdays are rare.

Today is one of those rare treasures. The weather is perfect: sunny and cool, with a high of 78. I have a few errands I could run, and one I probably should run, but I’m content with just staying at home, doing what I feel like doing when I feel like doing it. I’ll get some of my household chores done, but I’ll also read a bit (The Fault in Our Stars), knit a little, maybe watch a few episodes of something on Netflix. I’m looking forward to making a loaf of homemade bread this afternoon to go with homemade cream of mushroom soup for tonight’s supper. Maybe we’ll watch a movie and snack on popcorn afterward…

Today is this homebody’s heaven.

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Last year I found out about this 31-day blogfest that takes place every October. I followed a friend’s posts for the month and liked the idea of picking one topic to blog about for 31 days. Then life got busy and I forgot all about it – until just now, when I was directed to one of her posts for this year. I found the website, read up on the suggestions and topics, and decided to join in this year. I want to blog more, and this is the perfect opportunity for it.

Now that I’m working and both boys are in school, we’re trying to figure out how to do life differently. We’ve been at it for five weeks now, and there’s still room for improvement. Hopefully we’ll be more seasoned by the time the next 31 days have passed.

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A Solution?

Whenever Jacob takes his socks off, he leaves them inside out. (Same goes for his shirts and shorts, but he’s doing some of his own laundry now, so he gets to deal with that…) Whenever I wash, dry, and fold a load of whites, there are his socks, inside out, waiting for me to do all the work. And I’ve done it. Every single time. Until today.

Today I left his socks inside out when I rolled them together. He can now turn them right side out himself when he gets ready to put them on. And I’ll keep doing that until he decides to start turning them right side out when takes them off and throws them in the laundry basket.

Then I had another thought: he may just wear them inside out if he’s too lazy to right them. Oh, well. If he does, they’ll be turned the right way every other wash. 🙂

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Firsts Day!

Today is a day full of firsts! The first first was that I cooked breakfast (for one) at 6:30 this morning. I rarely cook breakfast, and when I do it’s usually for supper. But it’s Caleb’s first day of (not home) school, and they don’t get a snack break. They get to eat when it’s time for lunch, and I know my teenage bottomless pit of a boy will be starving by then. He needed something more than a bowl of cereal or a Pop-Tart, so I toasted him a waffle and fried an egg to go on top. It’s something he loves to eat, but he’s not yet in the habit of eating breakfast quite so early. He did well to eat 2/3 of it. I hope that’ll hold him! At least he got some protein for the morning.

It’s also Jacob’s first day of school – at home by himself. He has always had Caleb around, so it’ll be quite a change for him to be doing this “alone”. I’m hoping he’ll grow and mature over the course of the next year or two. He really acts like a totally different kid when Caleb’s not around. It’s going to be an interesting year!

And it’s the first day of our new produce co-op rotation. We took a hiatus over the summer, with the exception of one shop day in late July. Let me tell you, I have really been missing my fresh fruits and veggies! I’m sitting here now, waiting for our Facebook group’s notification that it’s time to pick up. I can’t wait to see what we get and what my menu plan for the next week or so will look like!

And I can’t wait for Caleb to get home and tell me all about what his first day was like…!

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For March, the boys’ new responsibility added to their allowance system was yard work. Unfortunately there really was nothing to do until the month was nearly gone.

Rain, cool weather, and the lack of high grass kept all of us from needing to do anything outside. Jacob was worried about not getting started on things, so he and Caleb decided to pull the few weeds in the front flower bed.

Finally at the end of the month, Billy and Caleb worked some in the front yard, pulling up lots of clover and other weeds. Jacob was busy cooking that night, but I promised him there would be more to do later.

It was early in April before we were able to get to work on our vegetable garden. Thankfully we didn’t jump the gun and try to plant in March. You know the old saying about there always being one last cold snap before Easter? Our last freeze was that weekend. The following Friday evening, Billy and Caleb worked on getting our garden bed ready for planting. The next morning, Jacob and I planted our cucumbers, squash, zucchini, okra, and basil. Oh, and garlic, which I later found out is a fall crop… Last week he helped me replant the okra since most of our first seeds didn’t sprout. We also planted some sage and rosemary, which I noticed has sprouted in the last day or so.

I don’t think Billy is quite ready to turn Caleb loose with the lawn mower just yet. Maybe after the first few mowings, after the grass is fairly uniform, he’ll teach him how to use it. It’s one of those old-fashioned self-powered push mowers. Shouldn’t take much, right?

Until the weather turns consistently warm and things start growing regularly, the boys won’t have any routine yard chores to do. Once the garden takes off, though, I’ll have them busy weeding, watering, and, hopefully, harvesting.

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Well Trained

The boys had to take part one of part one of the STAAR test today. (Tomorrow is part two of part one; parts one and two of part two are later in the month…) We arrived at 9:00 to check in, then they went into their testing rooms to work from 10:00-2:00.

While they tested, I roamed around that part of town. At Michael’s I found some beads and a jewelry stand for showing my pieces for sale at the arts center. Then I drove over to the library, only to find they were closed until 1:00. I went back to a Starbucks I had seen earlier and used part of a year-plus-old gift card. (I never go there…) It’s not that I wanted Starbucks; I wanted free WiFi. The combination of a Grande non-fat Strawberries & Creme frappe and their air conditioning left me shivering in my seat. I sat there for as long as I could stand it before heading back to my car. I decided I’d just sit in the parking lot of the convention center and wait the remaining two hours…

After I had been sitting in the parking lot for about 10 minutes, I got a call. Jacob had finished his test and I could get him. I went in and handed the lady at the registration table his card. A few minutes later she returned, chuckling.

“You’ve trained him well!” she said. I looked at her quizzically, wondering what in the world he had done… “Stranger danger,” she said, and gave me a thumbs up.

Apparently the teacher had taken his name card from the lady and told Jacob his mother was there to pick him up. He looked at her and said,

I’m not going with her. She’s not my mother.

A few minutes later, Jacob appeared in the hallway with his lunch bag, book bag, and water bottle. He saw me, smiled and waved, and walked confidently down the hall.

Good to know. 🙂

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