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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Homeschool, here we come... right back where we started from...

In 6 days, we'll be homeschoolers again.  This is very exciting for a mama that is missing one-on-one time with her babies something awful.  The curriculum is purchased and the lesson plans are made, and I'm thrilled to be starting the new year off this way.  It'll make our days off much smoother, too, since we won't have a school schedule to work around and we'll be able to travel a bit farther from home.  Yippee! (Remind me of this excitement when I'm beating my head against the wall trying to teach geometry.  Eek.) 

How was Christmas, y'all?  (Remember, I'm a Texan now.  Kind of.)

Ours was good... glad the chaos is ending, to be honest.  Decorations will be coming down tomorrow, and that will be the end of that.  Ahem.  As much as I hate snow, it was weird to spend Christmas in a t-shirt.  A windstorm Christmas just isn't quite as magical as a white one.

I'm still homesick.  Terribly.  This is made worse by a really incredible job offer Mr. Smitten received back up in Oregon (home for us).  He said no... against his every desire... and now we're fighting the "Are we really supposed to be here?" demons that are creeping up constantly.  As if the holidays weren't stressful enough, around every stressful circumstance is doubt of whether we're really in the right place, even when we don't feel like it.  I know God knows what He is doing though, and its a good thing, because I don't have a clue.  I guess that all remains to be continued.

I'm grateful, though, that a new year is upon us and one with more family time.  Helloooo homeschool!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Embarrassment of Riches

I wish I was better about posting.  So much is going on, but by the time I get the time and motivation to sit down and post about it, it all seems irrelevant.

It's been one of the hardest weeks of my life.  Holidays at a children's home are nothing short of chaotic, due to a combination of emotional upheaval and other instabilities in the childrens' lives and the absolute outpouring of love, support, and gifts from so many that support our kids.  While the second part is absolutely a blessing, the mixed love/disappointment/anxiety cycle that swirls around can create a pretty odd sort of phenomena in a place like this.  Bunches of kids/teens around this place are in major trouble for behavior, breaking out, sex and drugs and the like.  One of the boys in our house was discharged from the home for further care after multiple suicide threats/attempts, and my heart is broken over it.  The stress level has been on red alert for some time now and I'm absolutely exhausted.  As someone jokingly said, "Send help, the inmates are taking over the asylum."

Perhaps the hardest part about all this was the necessary transition from absolute mayhem to peace and love and good tidings of comfort and joy -- 'tis the season, right?  We celebrated our on-campus Christmas yesterday.  Our house alone received more than a truckload of gifts (literally and actually).  Yesterday, I stamped 97 thank-you notes, and that only covers about half of it.  Its an embarrassment of riches, really.  And its not that I'm not grateful.  The people that assisted with the absolute outpouring of love on these kids are the real angels that make all of what we do here possible to change the course of these kids lives.  To us its only an iPod or a new football or tricycle, but for the kids here, these things represent normalcy and comfort and moving forward. 

All that said, I'm so glad its over.

We had our personal kids do their gifts with the others so that the real Christmas, this year, can be about Christ and love and family and not about gifts.  This is a relief, and I'm glad there's a week between now and then to recharge.  Tomorrow we'll be headed to a camp/ranch a few hours away with a handful of kids for a 4-day retreat of hiking, fishing, fellowship, and, hopefully, rest.  I'm looking very forward to this trip -- a chance to get away and see some new scenery before Christmas and then, the end of the year.

My husband is taking the boys to a real NFL game when they get back from break (they go visit a family member or sponsor during the holidays whenever possible), which he's jazzed about, but I've got my own big news for 2011 -- we'll be a homeschooling family again then, and I'm very excited.

Lots of people think I'm crazy -- my plate's pretty full with 8 kids and a million other houseparent responsibilities, but my kids need and want this, and, honestly, I do too.  My kids have begun to slip into the blur of the daily grind around here, and I need more time and connection with them for all our sakes.  While I know homeschooling 2-1/2 kids every day (one of them is only 2) isn't going to do much for my busy schedule, I hope it will help with my priorities.  I'm excited about this, but also hoping I haven't really bitten off more than I can chew.  Guess we'll see.

Sorry for the endless rambling -- an attempt, I guess, at keeping track of this life that feels like its just whizzing right on by.

Merry Christmas to you all....

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Back to My Regularly-Scheduled Programming

Well, after my Thanksgiving pout-fest (see last post), I wound up having a pretty decent (and gratitude-filled) day.  We had 10 days "off duty", which creates a really weird dynamic, sending the kids somewhere else for several days, with other houseparents.  It was the first days off we've had since we arrived, and was much needed, but we didn't do much besides veg in front of the TV and such.  Now we're back though, and the kids are all hyped up on Christmas treats and excitement, so there is lots of energy in the air over at our place!

Christmas season is in full swing here, which is pretty exciting.  I enjoy doing the big-family thing, especially at this time of year, so its fun to have people to share that with.  A pretty lazy day lies in wait for me, which I think I'll start by making cake pops for the first time.  I've seen 'em all over blog-land and they're just way too cute to pass up!  I found a great recipe here, so I'll give it a shot and let y'all know how they come out!

Hope your weekend is going well.  What big plans do you have?

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Confession time, y'all.

I'm cranky.  And Thanksgiving morning is not a good time to be cranky.  I'm painfully aware of the particular wretchedness that is assigned to those who clomp around the house being moody on the one day of the year that we're all supposed to count our blessings and focus primarily on gratitude.  And yet, I clomp away.

I got up at 5 a.m., for my second day-off in a row when little C (2 years old) chucked a sippy cup at my nose (also, for the second day in a row) demanding "juice. now."  I love my son more than life.  I do.  This season of toddlerhood is just proving to be almost unbearable with him, and I'm struggling with the always-on mixture of clinginess, crankiness, and outright defiance.  My house is trashed because I'm so exhausted that I've decided not to clean the dishes for going on two days now, and it smells like the deer jerky my husband has been experimenting with making during that time (which is a pungent mix of blood and teriyaki odor).  My fibromyalgia is flaring up something awful, and it feels as though I was beat with a sledgehammer during my fitful sleep.  I found out late last night that I bounced a check to my boss because of a bank mix-up and that I was so stressed thinking about that that I forgot to pick up my paycheck when the office was open and now must spend the entire holiday weekend (and the only time I've had alone with my family in 3 months) with a negative bank balance and a bounced check hanging over my head.  I'm 2500+ miles away from my extended family and am homesick beyond reason.  We had to have a kid removed from our house last week, and I've cried buckets over the whole thing.  It's 85 degrees and humid here, and there's snow at home.  Big C is spending the holiday with an unrelated-to-the-rest-of-us uncle, another 6 kids in this house are gone with their custodial families, and we are incomplete.  Boohoo.  Woe is me.

Here's the thing.  Can I be real, right now, friends?  I don't feel like being thankful.  I am not, at the moment, consumed with gratitude.  I am consumed with selfishness, poutiness, fatigue, and annoyance.  I would like to stomp my feet and pout, and swat my son's behind while I watch him open the lid of his sippy cup and pour the contents on the floor.  I don't want to decorate for Christmas because the donated 80's furniture and teal swag curtains in this house are so horrible that I don't see the point.  For reals, yo, I'd like to cry.  Big, fat, selfish tears.

But the lesson, here, is that gratitude is a choice.  And rather than pull the covers over my head, I will thank God for the shower of blessings I have every single day.  I will remember that no one promised me this ministry was going to be easy, or that my heart wasn't going to be broken when I watched these kids go "home".  And I'm learning that I can't have life on my own terms and then expect God to fill in the cracks with His way.  These ugly couches and this dusty, desolate town mean I'm doing work on His terms, which is what I agreed to in the first place.  The trick, I guess, is being thankful when life doesn't look exactly how you'd design it.

So, I will suck it up.  I will wash the bloody deer-stained dishes.  I will cook a turkey and try not to burn the pie... and make a memory, even if I do.  I will remember that my kids are healthy and smart enough to have streaks of stubbornness and defiance, and that is indeed a blessing.  I will realize that the chatter and laughter of nine kids in the house on regular days is better than the absence of it on days like this, and fight the wretched clomper inside me in an effort to bring myself back to reality.  Life is good.  Hard, but good.  And, as hard as it is for me to admit it... it's not about me at all.  The sooner I get around to really understanding that, the more grateful I can be on days like this.

I am SO grateful for my family, and for the unconventional life we live.  I'm grateful for a husband that is willing to undertake this wild life alongside me, and family that supports us, even when they don't really understand why we're here. I'm grateful that our needs are provided for and that there are people all over the world who care about and support the kids I care for and the place that makes it all possible.  I'm grateful for peace in our home, for love in our home, and for laughter in our home -- three things I don't think I could live without.  Mostly, though, I'm grateful for a loving God who knows infinitely more about what is good for me than I do, and that He has allowed me to be here, doing this, in service to Him, despite all my wretched selfishness.  I am blessed beyond measure, and I do wrong to ever let myself forget that.  Thank you, Lord.  I am grateful.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Remember me? No? Me either.

It's been awhile.  Hello again!

We're digging in our heels at our new home/vocation/ministry and are fully in the grip of it now.  If any of y'all need a refresher, our family moved across country several months ago to come work at a children's home, and we really hit the ground running when we got here.  I haven't had one minute to even *think* about blogging, but I've missed all those I used to follow, so after a particularly insane week, I've managed to steal a few hours of peace to catch up a bit.  Just wanted to let everyone know I'm still alive and kicking -- I'm just doing it with 10 kids now instead of 3.  :)

Yes, I said 10 kids.


Really?  It's been awesome.  And horrible.  And every single day I think I'm going to throw in the towel.  And every single day I think I could do this for the rest of my life.  So... it's been a whirlwind, exhausting journey thus far.  And we've only just begun... (cue the music).  It's an absolutely incredible place to be with maybe the best group of people I've ever had or will have the pleasure of working with in my life, which is really the only way I get through the days.  The support here is incredible, and the kids are.... ah, I can't think of a single word to say it all.  Incredible.  Exhausting.  Troubled.  Lovely.  Kind.  Beautiful.  Broken.  Perfect.

The holidays are, of course, upon us, which means bad things in a place like this.  Emotional upheaval, acting out, ups and downs, and all that.  I'm bracing myself, but secretly still looking forward to the approaching season, 85 degree weather not withstanding.

Anyway, glad to see my little slice of the Internet is still here.  Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Red light, green light

Remember that old game from childhood?  Your foot balanced precariously to a pause, holding the energy of your weight as it prepared to spring forth into frantic galloping toward the goal, as soon as the call came... "green light!"?

We got the green light.  And our little legs are sprinting us forward on an exciting new path, full of adventure. 

Friends, I don't aim to make this blog a preachy sort of place, but I can't stop myself from telling everyone who will listen... Our God is an AWESOME God.

There are ways we've had to lean back and expect many miracles in the last few days -- trust that what He requires, He provides for, and ohhhh, we have not been disappointed but rather overwhelmed with an absolute overflowing of blessings and small miracles and real-life supernatural wonders.  It is good.

I'm happy and very grateful to be done with the waiting game, but now comes the craziness of packing and moving and saying goodbyes to family (a particularly difficult part of all this -- especially since some of them are not so pleased with our choice).  We're moving across the country -- to TEXAS! -- and entering into a kind of ministry that will allow us to work closely with kids who need lots of love, working in a children's home.  This is sorta scary... something I don't feel entirely equipped for... but I'm trusting that the old notion is true:  He does not call the equipped but equips those He calls.  He has already moved heaven and Earth to help us prepare in more practical ways for this, and I have no doubt that much growth and learning is upon us. 

We've got about two weeks before we head out, and our days right now are spent paring down to only the bare essentials -- selling furniture and excess, since we're moving into a furnished "cottage".  In the middle of that two weeks is a 4-day trip out of town for a wedding, my son's 11th birthday, and the start of the school year (which will mean temporary homeschool for us until we get to where we're going.  I didn't see the sense in starting them in school for a week, plus we'll be on the road for a week, so we're aiming to make it an memorable and educational experience for the little ones).

Anyhow, I'd better run.  We've got a grip of furniture (well, okay, a horse trailer full of furniture) going out to various Craigslist buyers today, and I've got to flex a muscle or two and help Mr. Smitten get it all loaded up. 

Thanks for reading.  Have fun and Get Smitten!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Bad Blogger! Bad!

Alright, so I'm pretty sure no one has noticed my absence (wow, that sounded very Eeyore-esque, didn't it?), but I thought I'd pop in here and wax and wane a bit about life and how its still wonky and uncertain and I have nothing creative to share.  Something about the up-in-the-airness of our life at the moment makes my creative brain sort of paralyzed while massive amounts of fatigue set in.  We are getting closer to having a direction -- I think.  We traveled across the country for a bit of what-iffing, which was helpful, and now, we keep waiting for the green light, or a red one, for that matter, to get us up and at 'em for whatever lies ahead.

I haven't been doing much creating lately.  I'm working on an old dining set I picked up for pennies -- you know the standard country set with the spindle-back chairs and such?  Anyway, I started to apply a distressed ivory finish to it, but the brush-paint is looking dull and chalky and I'm really wishing that I'd have opted for spray paint instead.  I'm only two chairs into it, so I may re-route the whole thing and try spraying it.  We'll see.  I'm so tired lately that I can't manage to scrape up the gumption to play with paint and sandpaper -- a sign, perhaps, that something is terribly wrong for me, haha.

No, not really.  I think I'm just sort of unconsciously sopping up the last bit of laziness that I can eek out of this season of life.  I don't do lazy, but that's precisely what I've been lately.  I know it won't last and that soon enough, I'll have to return to schedules and alarm clocks and exhausted evenings, but for now, I'm taking the hours as they come and trying to learn something in the silence.  I'm taking naps (gasp!) and sleeping in and watching TV and doing all those things my life has been substantively void of and will be again soon, but it's worth it to take a pause, even if the magnification of the intensity of waiting is so difficult when one slows down to watch the clock.


Ok, folks.  This girl is gonna take her lazy-bones self off to bed now, and hope that next time, I'll be armed with something beautiful and inspiring for your viewing pleasure.  Thanks for sticking with me!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

In the Meantime

Life is still wonky while we wait. wait. wait.

I'm beginning to believe there's a purpose to the waiting that goes beyond merely driving me out of my ever-lovin' and oh-so-impatient mind.  The purpose is as yet unclear, though... so I wait to figure out the purpose of the waiting waiting waiting.  Can you tell I'm not doin' so hot at this waiting business?  Mhm.

Last week, in the middle of my pouting, I made myself get creative for a few hours.  Here are the fruits of those labors:


(It's painted red).  Here's a close-up of the paint effect:


This one was lots of fun, because I chose a technique I've never used before.  I read about using candle wax to easily make a peeled paint/distressed-look finish, so I thought I'd give it a try on this baby.  I rubbed it well with a taper candle, especially heavily on the corners and "worn" areas, and ran a piece of sandpaper over it when it dried... voila.  Super easy.  Since I was hoping for a worn-out painted barn wood look here, I think the effect was great.  Kinda fun and rustic, and I do love me some red to brighten up a room.  :)

Whadya think?


... and a little banner thing, out of wide ribbon, coffee filters, cupcake wrappers, paper circles, and chipboard letters.  These are bad cell-phone pictures, but it says "imagine".




Alright, that's all I got.  One day of crafty, and several more sitting around staring at the clock.  Terrible, I know.  Whatchu got?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Alex Trebec is the Emcee of My Life

Here's the deal, folks.  We're in a waiting game.  A really, really long waiting game... or so it seems.

The stress of the big-decision-making dissolved when Husband and I looked at each other and realized, simultaneously, it seems, that we could really alleviate the weight of the world we had been so bravely complaining endlessly about, by giving it up completely and stepping foot into where we ought to be anyway -- NOT in the driver's seat.  We prayed for clarity and for guidance, passed around some angsty worry, and then, simply turned it over to the One who is in control... He who is so much more equipped for that sort of thing. 

The decision was made, and we did not have to choose.  That was a good feeling.  The kind of feeling that reminds me, though I ought not to be surprised, that I really don't have the tools to be in charge of my own life.  Sorry, but thats just a fact, folks.  And I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but neither do you.  : /  It's true.

Anyway, the stress is gone and the peace has arrived.  The trouble, now, is with patience.  Being willingly out of control means that I do what I can do and then stand back and let the rest unfold.  Standing around... being quiet... waiting... all that is pretty hard for this go-go-go girl.  On a good day, I can't even watch a movie without simultaneously doing something else.  And the Jeopardy theme song that seems to be incessantly playing in the background of my head can really make a girl crazy while the time passes... tick, tick, tick, tick, and the unknown is still out there making neener-neener faces at me. 


Did I say the peace has arrived?  Well, it would, if I would let it.  Stubborn, stubborn girl I am.  Stubborn, and impatient.  Bad combo. 

All this nervous waiting has really stifled my creativity.  Self-obsession can do that.  Take my word for it, wontcha?  I'd like to have been using all this free time on my plate to really soar with all the creative projects I could be doing right now, and maybe this post is a kick in my own butt to do just that.  What's the point of waiting around for life to happen to me when I've got a million smile-worthy things I could be doing? 

Stop yer whinin', Whimsy.  Get to it. 

Thursday, July 15, 2010


I was just talking to one of my very creative and talented friends, who I'm so excited for.  She's starting the exciting journey of turning her hobby into a business, and I just know she'll be a huge success.  Can't wait to link y'all up to her when she gets started.

Anyway, we were talking about the various books and resources out there that I found so very helpful, and it got me wondering -- what were/are the most valuable resources for any of you readers, for getting started on Etsy, opening a business, figuring out the business of handmade goods, etc.?  I'm linking up my favorites with my Amazon Associates account, below.

The Craft, Inc. books are my very faves, and if I could only pick two, these would be it -- they go hand-in-hand.  I think they are appropriately geared to help us think outside of the every day, and look at how our products can fit into the marketplace.  The authors don't assume you're an idiot, but they don't assume that you have a degree in business and marketing either -- just straight-to-the-point advice for those of us standing at the bottom of the handmade business mountain, looking up.

This would be my top pick, if you could only buy two books, to get your feet wet in the handmade goods industry.

Another one I picked up a few years ago was:  The Complete Idiot's Guide to Making Money with Your Hobby.  This one may very well be outdated by now (no pic on Amazon), but it does have a lot of valuable information if you can get a copy.  The downside?  The book frequently references the 'National Craft Association' and relays resources from them, but the NCA, as far as I can tell, hasn't existed for several years now.  So, take that for what its worth.

Country Living's Crafting a Business:  Make Money Doing What You Love falls under the "if they can do it, so can I" category.  It's more inspirational than instructional, but there is a section at the end called "Business Crafting Workshop" that gives some helpful tips on getting started. 

The rest of the book features profiles of 31 crafty business owners (all women, I think) that have seen great success, interviewing them for advice and tips.

I can't say that this book has given me any information I can't live without, but it is a good thing to pick up on those discouraging days -- a glimpse into what *could* be, with enough skill and persistence.

Perhaps the most helpful information yet are all the business tools that Etsy gives on their website, for free!  I highly recommend signing up for their business newsletter and reading through their "quit your day job" series of vendor profiles.  I say all this without having done any business on Etsy yet, but that's only because I haven't had the time to branch out into the online world.  I know that when I do, the resources Etsy has provided will make it so easy (and getting my store set up was a *breeze*, thanks to their very easy-to-follow tutorials and helps).

Here are a few more random ones that I own/have read/have seen that stand out:

What about you?  What resources do you recommend?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Prayer and Red Paint

Hi bloggy friends.  I haven't been around much lately -- lots going on for the Smitten Family, resulting in little time to play.  Bummer.

Big things on the horizon.  We're moving.  Somewhere.  The stress comes in distinguishing where that somewhere will end up being, as there are several opportunities/options in the mix right now.  We may be moving thousands of miles from "home", or maybe more like 50, to an arctic climate or a tropical one, and there is little else I can focus on but the giant, anvil-like question mark lingering over our heads right now.

We'll know more in the week ahead, but friends... can I be honest here?  I'm terrified.  So much to consider, so many unknowns, regardless of which direction we go.  The stress and worry is exhausting, the fear and anxiety somewhat paralyzing.

I'm an adventure-lover, a nomad, and a pretty flexible kinda chick.  I can bloom where I'm planted better than anyone I know, and yet, this particular crossroads has me so off-kilter I can hardly set my mind on anything else.

I'll find my footing, I know I will.  And in the grand scheme of life happenings, this one, I know, is minor and not at all tragic, and I should shut my mouth and be grateful that we have things like job interviews and opportunities and options on the horizon.  Still, though, if you're the praying sort, and you've got the time, would you utter one for me?  I need some serious wisdom and guidance and a little Divine Intervention wouldn't hurt at all.  Wouldn't life be easier if God just lit up a giant neon arrow over the right choice... if He gave us a road map of obedience and good choices?  You know... turn here, move there, take this job, stay far away from this church, get to know this person, leave this door closed... and so on?

I know... easier yes, but less fulfilling.  We're blessed that He knows what we don't... that we are given the chance to exercise faith.  And now, my faith-legs are just peddling as hard as they can.  Still, I'm lost in a cloudy sort of haze of choices... pushing and pulling against my own human understanding, and I'm tired, and scared, and impatient.

And the only solution I can think of is prayer and a can of red paint, so here I go to indulge in a little of both.

Thanks for listening.  <3

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Four Hour Thrifty Beachy Bedroom Makeover

Redecorate? Why, of course!

I may have already mentioned what an *insanely* busy week I have -- one without a single spare second for playing around with DIY projects, redecorating, or blogging about those things. Yet, here I sit, about to share the fabulous (if I do say so myself) beachy bedroom makeover I just pulled off in my daughter's bedroom yesterday. She's at grandma's during church summer camp (grandma lives closer than we do), and though I have SO much more I should be doing... why not redecorate something instead?

It is inevitably times when I really don't have the time to spare that I take on projects like this. It drives my husband absolutely up. the. wall. His very logical mind doesn't understand why prioritizing my tasks is so difficult for me. The simple answer is that I really hate housework and would so much rather be doing something I enjoy. Sad, but true.

Anyway, as embarrassed as I should be to share this photo with the world, this is exactly how my daughter left her bedroom:


Terrible... huh?

And this is how it looks now:



Not bad for 4 hours, eh?

We're having loads of houseguests coming through over the next few days to celebrate My Girl's 7th birthday, and this room also serves as a guest room (she has a bed up in the loft, too, where all the toys are supposed to be, which is where she sleeps when we have guests and, in the summer, whenever the urge strikes). Anyway, she's in love with mermaids and horses and princesses, all things girly and all things tomboy-ish, and is as organizationally challenged as the rest of her family, I'm afraid. If she had her way, she'd have a Little Mermaid bedroom with horses everywhere and Disney Princess decals on the wall... all of which makes my decorating OCD twitch and lurch, especially in a sometimes-guest room. It probably makes me a terrible mother that I just can't give my little girl whatever kind of bedroom she wants (and in my defense, she had a Disney Princess bedroom once-upon-a-time), but I just can't stand the commercial-cartoon bedroom theme, even for a seven-year-old.

The solution she and I came to was a beachy-cottage look bedroom. We live on a ranch in the mountains, and her bedroom branches off a traditional log-cabin lodge (with moose heads on the wall and everything) so it may look a tad out of place, but this is like a grownup mermaid bedroom... something she won't argue with, and the horses and fairies and Disney paraphernalia can be stashed up in the toy loft plastic disaster room, keeping the sometimes-guest-room free of toys and clutter, so that she can sleep, read, do homework, and relax in her room.

Part of the challenge of living here has been that we're only caretakers for the place and the house doesn't really belong to us. Our decorating options are limited, and I'm not able to be rid of the green shag carpeting, harvest gold lineoleum/sinks, or, horror of horrors... wood paneling. Gah. I sooo would love to paint the paneling white in this room, but for now I just have to do my best to draw attention away from the oh-so-retro look. I do love the wood floors in there, though.

Anyway, this is what I did in the room...

I switched out the black dresser for a junk-store makeover that was in my studio. My sister-in-law found this great piece buried in the back of a junk shop for $30 and it's been something we're working on together for her first place. She'll take it to college with her in the fall, but we're putting it to good use until then, since she doesn't have anywhere to store it. It was dark wood with white drawers, and all we've done so far is spray paint the outside, leaving the drawers in their previous weathered shape. The shutters are from ReStore and were stashed in the guest house, so I pulled 'em in to add some more white to the dark room.


This was another ReStore purchase (for $5!). A window frame with shutters that open.



I thought I'd love an aqua fabric behind this, but wasn't in love when it was done -- the color was just too bright for the muted peaceful look I was going for. For take two, I stapled burlap to the back... much better. I then dry-brushed a plain wood board and adhered it with mounting tape to create a ledge, hung a mirror and some framed sea-grass photo-look scrapbook paper. I got the glass jars in a pack of 3 at the dollar store, so I filled them with decorator sand and attached scrapbooking stickers to spell out s-e-a.



Love it! I especially like how much of the wall it covers -- hides more of the ugly wood paneling.

For the bed, I just flipped over her existing comforter so the white side was showing, instead of the quilted pastels on the other side. The throw pillows were laying around in various other rooms of the house, and the beige one is an unused couch cushion. The "throw" at the bottom of the bed is really just 2 yards of scrap fabric I found at GW for $1.


The serving tray had a big crack in the wood bottom, and it's been waiting for inspiration. In my "photo real" stack of scrapbooking paper, there was a sheet that looked like sand, so I cut the paper to size and put it in the bottom of the tray, sprinkling it with seashells ($1 for a basketfull at the Dollar Tree), and a sand-filled mason jar votive holder. Whatdya think?

Behind the bed, I hung a shelf (a cheap Ikea shelf I had stashed away), and filled a double frame with, what else, photo-look scrapbook paper of an ocean horizon, then added some candles and shelves for a little wall display in-lieu of a headboard. (There was a headboard in here before that I just took out instead of doing something with it. It would be cute painted, but that piece was already here and not mine to re-vamp, so we opted for re-housing it in the garage instead).


I left the white lacey curtains in the room, but cut some leftover burlap and hung it from the curtain rods for makeshift valances.


The rest of the wall decor was whipped up during the project (all part of that 4 hour time frame), with some craft paint and hot glue, in true Whimsy Smitten style. The desk in the corner will be replaced shortly with one I'm working on repainting, and we'll be adding a little vanity I'm re-doing for her as a birthday present (sshhh!).




Now I want to move into this room! I love the peaceful colors, and these windows get a great breeze through the room, which can really fool you into thinking you're relaxing in some beach cottage on the coast.... if you ignore the sound of the cows and goats outside, that is.

Even though I SO didn't have time for it, it was totally worth the four-hour diversion to pull this off. What do you think?

Linking to these parties:

  All Thingz Related  

Monday, June 28, 2010

My First Feature

Ooooooh, I'm squealing with delight to wake up this morning and discover my crib-turned-reading-bench featured over at The Girl Creative! Go check out the other great features and link up your projects for this week's "Just Something I Whipped Up Monday" link party.

The Girl Creative

My Girl is turning 7 on Friday, and we're hosting quite the soiree this weekend -- a 'royal ball' for my little princess. I also have family coming to visit, which makes for a very busy Mrs. Smitten, but I can't wait to share all the party fun with you all. I'm just jonesin' to check out all the great projects you all are working on too (and, if you've commented recently and I haven't visited your blog yet, I'll get to it soon!), so I'm hoping I can steal away some time later for that.

Go check out that linky party and check back soon for some royal inspiration. :) Oh, and I haven't forgotten about my laundry contest a few posts back... winner to be announced later this week.

Have fun and Get Smitten!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sumo's Sweet Stuff's Flirty Apron Giveaway

I'm an apron collector and I love me some cute little aprons as much as I love to discover new inspirational and awesome bloggers to follow. Lucky me, I stumbled onto Sumo's Sweet Stuff and discovered her crafty coolness AND her Flirty Apron giveaway. Swoooooooon! Go drool over these beauties with me, would ya?

Sumo's Sweet Stuff

Monday, June 21, 2010

Crib-turned-Reading Bench Makeover

Now that my third baby, Lil' C, has turned two, I'm discovering the bittersweetness that comes along with de-baby-fying the house, slowly but surely. Since we're relatively sure that he'll be our last baby (at least for the forseeable future), we have no need to hold on to any of these items, but the sentimental downright mushy side of me hates to part with the last little nostalgias of baby-hood.

I had a yard sale last week where I parted with the highchair, jogging stroller, baby toys, and lots of other things, but a few pieces remain. One of those things was a mini-crib we bought for our bedroom, where Lil' C spent his first year sleeping, since sharing a room with either of his siblings when he was that young just wasn't working out. I bought the thing mainly because it's an identical match to the standard-size crib he has, and both pieces convert to bed frames -- the regular one a full size, and the mini one a twin size. I was jazzed to finally use it for this purpose until I priced out the rail conversion kit to make the change and discovered that the rails alone were a hundred bucks plus shipping. Since I picked up two awesome sets of industrial-looking bunk beds last week for $30 a piece (score!), I don't really need the twin bed option anymore anyway.

With some time and ingenuity, I know I could figure out a way to DIY the bed rails, (and I still might, if I have the need), but as per usual, I opted for a quicker lazier way to re-use the piece for the time being. Since I'm all a-flutter about the hot weather and an opportunity to create an outdoor living space, I thought I'd turn the mini-crib into an outdoor reading bench/comfy lounge spot on the patio for the kids.

Apologies, as usual, for the poor photo quality... impatience and operator cluelessness is to blame.


I took the front panel and round rail off the front, which was perfectly constructed for this since the hardware for the bed base/seat actually attached to the front legs of the crib. Since I plan to use this outside, I coated it with a coat of Thompson's deck sealer, which may or may not have actually done anything since the surface was not very porous. I don't much mind if the thing gets a little weathered, though, so take that for what its worth. Again, impatience and laziness win out over preparation and forward thinking. :)

There's a funky shadow in the picture (and Suzy, the headless bulldog -- AAHH!), but its really just the crib without a front...

I raised the bed base up from its previous position at the lowest setting up to chair-height and fixed some of the nicks and scratches in the wood by filling them in with a Sharpie.

The mattress pad that came with the thing was pretty chintzy and worn out, so I topped it with some foam pieces laying around from who-knows-what and used a serrated knife to cut the foam to size.

Here's Lil' C demonstrating the bed's former use)

To help keep the foam pieces from getting ruined, I made a quick cushion cover out of a cute vinyl tablecloth I found at Goodwill awhile back. Since I recently decorated my dining room in a French country/rooster theme and the dining room looks out onto the patio where this will sit, I thought this would work perfectly, and not bad for something like fifty cents. The vinyl enclosure will keep any wet weather from ruining the padding (in theory). Of course, if you were doing this project to make an indoor bench, you could opt for any fabric that suits you.

Tablecloth and Foam piece
I then used an extremely high-tech and delicate method for covering the foam with the tablecloth: Packing tape!

I know... lazy. But in my defense, vinyl tablecloths are a dime a dozen and I may opt to switch it out for another one at some point (and I'd still like to be able to use the rooster tablecloth if I do), so this is a non-permanent slipcover. I just folded the foam up like I was wrapping a gift...

...taped the excess down to the bottom, flipped it over, found a cute little model to try the bench out, and... voila!

Now that I look at it, I bet it would look cuter if I added the little mini-crib dust ruffle that I used with the crib set (which happens to be blue and white gingham), beneath the foam bench. I'll have to see if I can find that anywhere. When I put the bench out on the patio, I stuck an under-the-bed plastic bin with a snap-on-lid beneath it, where I can stash the throw pillows and store kid books for the perfect little porch reading nook.

The kids seem to be enjoying it -- at least one of them has been on the bench perpetually since I finished it this morning, and it's now 6 p.m. here. You can't beat anything that inspires the kids to kick back with a good book, right?

Hope everyone had a great weekend and enjoyed my Monday Makeover!

Linking to: The Girl Creative The DIY Show Off
Making BWS tips button Sumo Sweet Stuff

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Solve My Laundry Dilemma and Win a Prize!

Photo source: Unknown.

Okay bloggy friends, time for me to beg for some inspiration from you creative souls.

Anyone else around here absolutely *buried* under their laundry pile? While I don't even pretend to be caught up with my laundry, I often think I could spend 24 hours a day, 7 days a week washing, drying, sorting, folding, and hanging, and I'd still not be caught up. I have to confess that I really hate doing laundry. I'm a creative person, and there is just very little creativity involved in the old laundry routine. Bummer for the very disorganized Mrs. Smitten.

One of my biggest struggles is that everyone around here has a bad habit of tossing everything in the laundry basket on the floor, where I end up washing still clean things like towels that have only been used once, clothes that someone put on but didn't decide to wear, and a million other things. Moms, you all know what I mean, dontcha?

In an effort to tackle the laundry monster (AKA - Mt. Washmore for those of you flybabies out there), I'm looking for a way to personalize the towels in the house to assign two towels to each person that I can then wash at the end of the week. That way, in a perfect world, everyone will grab for their specific hung up towel, use it, hang it back up and... are you ready for this?... use it again, thus cutting my huge laundry monster down to size, at least somewhat. I know, this is probably just wishful thinking but... its worth a shot.

Here's the fun part. Anyone that can offer me an idea or suggestion that I wind up implementing will win a super secret thank-you giveaway prize. You know you love prizes, so bring on those laundry monster tips.

Fine Print: A few things to take into consideration:

- I tried the color-coded thing once before, but no one can ever remember their color and that just fizzled out right quick.
- Several people in our family have names that start with the same letter, so monograms can be tricky.
- I do own a sewing machine and can kinda-sorta use it, but I'm far from a master seamstress, so go easy on me, folks.

Thats it. Let the laundry inspiration begin!

Friday, June 18, 2010

His-n-Hers and Repurposed Changing Table

Owwwww! I just stepped on a toothpick, ouch-side up, and it went more than halfway into my arch muscles in my foot, where it stuck. Youch. Husband had to yank on the thing about five times to get it out, and I'm not proud to say that I bawled like a baby. No fun!

The upside, though, is that it bought be some on-the-couch-with-my-laptop time, so I can post about the super-cute 'his' and 'hers' signs I whipped up today. Unfortunately, the technique is nothing unique, considering I got the idea after I made the 'nest' wall hangings I shared in my last post, but they were fun, quick, and cheap! This one, too, has a nice price tag...

Started out with twenty cent wood plank-things (yes, that's the technical name) that I found at the discount lumber store.

Then I coated them with ivory craft paint and painted a black border around the edge.

And just like I did with the 'nest' plaques, I used my trusty Cricut and Make the Cut software to cut out "his" and "hers" in vinyl, then transferred them onto the painted boards.

Added some aqua ribbon and hung them up in the bedroom -- aren't they cute?!

Wood boards: $0.40
Paint (approx): $0.25
Vinyl (approx): $0.80
Ribbon: $1.50
Grand Total: A whopping $2.95 -- gotta love that! :)

Linking up this project to Funky Junk Interiors' Saturday Nite Special. Stop on by and check out some amazing inspiration.

Funky Junk's Saturday Nite Special

It's my first time linking up here, but I just can't resist mingling amongst all the creative lovelies on this site! Hoping to miraculously stumble upon an old gate between now and Sunday so I can participate in the themed link-up.
Also linking to Frugalicious Friday at Finding Fabulous, Saturday Soiree at A Little Lovely, and the always awesome CSI Project.

Decor Mamma
Visit thecsiproject.com


I also found another use for a changing table I picked up for $5 in the hope of repurposing it into something, without any real clue what I'd end up doing with it. Someday, this may have a more exciting life, but for now, it makes an excellent shipping station for getting online purchases out -- I've got my scale, envelopes, scissors, packing tape and stuff up top, then all the shipping boxes folded below. The picture is terrible, but you can get the idea. Yay for repurposing!

Okay, well that's all for now, folks. Hug those daddies in your life this weekend and celebrate them! <3>