Years ago, I scoured to find dining chairs that worked with our old house and our dining room table. It was such a thing that I ended up stripping paint from my table and restaining the stupid, free thing to make chairs I bought online.

I really don’t know what to say about that behavior.

Those chairs have served us well, but they’ve taken a ton of abuse since Thomas was born. I, personally, have had three of them collapse while sitting in them in the past six months. It’s pretty terrible to be eating your tacos, wondering if your chair is going to fall out from under you.

The expiration date on the table approaches. We got it for free 10 (!!) years ago. We’re ready to pick something that fits our style.

And so, I’m building benches. We don’t like the tables out there. I’m going to build one. But I’m starting with benches to fill our immediate need of somewhere to sit.

My friend’s brother does some amazing DIY furniture, and this one caught my eye.

Everything in our house is white but we didn’t want solid. I mixed water with leftover paint for a kind of whitewash effect. I bought raw steel hairpin legs from Amazon.

I still need to seal my boards and affix my legs.


October-December 2016: Goals Progress/Year-end roundup

1. Move 401ks to IRAs at my bank. Didn’t accomplish this. 

2. Lose 20 pounds. I’ve lost 10. I was within 1 pound at one point, and within 3-4 in September. But, I had the flu and November was a shitshow, and then holidays. I’ve gained 8 pounds since Nov. 1. So, next year.

3. Clothing budget of $500. Make 5 items of clothing. $237.50/$500. I bought blanket scarves, several dresses, a skirt. Will I carry over my excess? Yes. But it’s pretty obvious that I won’t spend it.

4. Buy a new house; sell my old house. Pretty proud of myself on this one. We still have lots of work to do, but I love our house and our neighborhood.

5. Read 35 books. 6/35. Big fail on this one. Lowest reading year of my life.

6. KonMari my house. This might be too involved for me. But I could use a major purge in 2017.

7. Spend less time surfing on my phone and pay more attention to my kid. I’m better than when the year started, but I could do better.

Goal wise, it was a pretty productive year. I did a lot that wasn’t in my list. I didn’t do things I would have liked to do. But selling and buying a house are major accomplishments, so 2016 would have been a win if that was the only thing I did.

I accomplished quite a bit, and set myself up for more projects and such next year.


Book Bins

Thomas has a lot of books. But it was hard to keep them neat because he had to pull them off the bookshelf to see what they are.

So, I made two rolling bins for him in October. I used crates from Michaels (similar) and caster wheels (similar). I sanded the bins and used deck finish I had in my garage. Any stain or paint would work.

This would work well for a toy bin or a storage basket in a living room, etc.

I used a coupon at Michaels, so each bin cost me $8. I bought my wheels at OSH, in a pack that was about $5 each.

I think it was a successful project because he’s able to find books and put them away.

Blackout Shades v.2

  Years ago, I made blackout shades/curtains for the master bedroom in our old house. We were going to buy roller shades for this house, but when I went to put the order in for, the two shades cost $600. I just can’t justify that. So I bought the supplies and made two shades for our master bedroom here. It took me time on three weekends.

Blackout fabric – $36

Decor fabric – $80 (with leftovers)

Tension rod – $50

Dowel rod – already had it

Holders – $2

Total – $168

I got all my fabric at Joann’s on sale and with extra coupons, so that helped immensely on cost. I feel so much happier with something “done” at the house. And I’m sleeping better since it’s dark!

April 2016: Goals progress

I am over April, which is great because April is also over April.

1. Move 401ks to IRAs at my bank. Nope. Let’s do this later.

2. Lose 20 pounds. I have three pounds to go. I hoped to be done this month, but making any sort of progress is a feat at this point.

3. Clothing budget of $500. Make 5 items of clothing. I spend $23 on shoes and made no clothes in April.

4. Buy a new house; sell my old house. ALMOST DONE. Our house is in the middle of its work and all my stuff is in storage. We move May 8, and will continue improvements for years, I’m sure.

5. Read 35 books. 2/35. Might not be the year for reading.

6. KonMari my house. No stuff here! Have to wait.

7. Spend less time surfing on my phone and pay more attention to my kid. Still could be better at this. Might need to delete FB account. I have FOMO about it, though. And I’ve noticed that friends who delete FB swap in other sites. I really just need some mindless downtime.

Trains and Advent Calendars

A couple of weeks ago, I was thinking, “Wouldn’t it be nice to do an advent calendar with Thomas this year?” I looked at Target, but I didn’t really see any I thought were any good.

On Friday, as we were setting up our Christmas stuff, I had to marvel, because 2014 Stephanie just KNEW that 2015 Stephanie would want to do that. She’d bought me a calendar and put it in the Christmas boxes and it was everything I was looking for.

 Except, we’re going to Florida for Christmas. So we won’t be here to do the whole calendar. Rather than forego it, Josh and I opted to start the calendar early and countdown to leaving for Florida instead of Christmas. While means we’re basically a few days behind.

Because I hadn’t found a calendar, I hadn’t put in much thought to what I’d want to put in it.

My requirements:
-Things that won’t clutter my house
-Things that bring Thomas joy
-Things that are little and not really “presents”

This could be food stuffs, etc., but I also wanted to make little experiences for him. Something he really, really loves are his trains. We bought him the IKEA wooden railway for his 2nd birthday, and it’s been a big hit. We bought more track a few months ago, and it came with a paper of track layouts. T loves pointing at one for us to help him build.

So, I scoured the internet (Pinterest) for more track layouts and made a couple PDFs of just the images. I printed them out, folded the pages and tucked each one into a different day.

Wooden train track layout #1
Wooden train track layout #2

(Sources: This. This. This. and This.)

(Note: Part of the picture is missing on the top of train layout #1. No matter what I did, I couldn’t get that photo to show up right in Photoshop. Sorry, people.)

New Curtains for Thomas

About two years ago, I decided the green curtains I’d made for Thomas weren’t working for me. I’d bought the material to recover a chair, but the color wasn’t right and then I got rid of the chair. T’s room ended up being more blue with whales than green AND blue like I’d intended.

So, I bought fabric and started making them. TWO YEARS ago. I finished them this month.

The rod had also pulled out of the wall on one side, so I fixed that. So much better.

(Shout out to my dad, who built the display book shelves from scratch from a vague idea I verbally told him. The holder part could stand to be doubled with another rod 2 inches up… But all in all, pretty awesome.)

Books all around

I’m on track for my reading goal this year only because of audiobooks I’ve been checking out from the Los Angeles Public Library.

BUT. But. Do you know how many children’s books I’ve read this year? I’ve read about Pete the Cat and his cool, blue magic sunglasses upwards of 25 times. I can recite half the books in Thomas’ library because he latches onto a book for a week or more and insists on reading it three, four, five times in a row. His favorite this second is about Otis, a little tractor with a calf friend.

This has got to count for something, right? RIGHT?

Does Pete worry about book goals? Goodness, no. Reading comes and reading goes.

March and April 2015: Goals progress

Hello neglected blog.

1. Being less negative. My gmail account shows seven days of talking negative about a particular coworker in March, and six in April. That’s not so bad! I haven’t had many other instances of negativity in the rest of my life, either, and I’m feeling happier this year than overall compared to previous years.

2. Projects. I’m at 8.

In case you forget, I’m aiming for at least one project from the following groups:
Play for Thomas
-Felt board
-Playdough (it only worked for a day, then I bought some)
-Cardboard house

Clothes for me
-Mending (three sweaters, a black shirt, a running jacket and slimming a kimono)
In progress
-Pants (I just need to sew them)
-Shirt (needs a hem)

Christmas decorations

Home decor
-Gallery wall progress (I found free pics online, printed them through Shutterfly, bought frames at Michaels and hung them up.)

-Clay jewelry holders
-Nail polish swatches

3. Track my food on my Fitbit app. I started to track my food one day in February. I know, I know.

4. Back health. Still haven’t found a chiro, did yoga 2/28 days in January. I’m still using my electro device for pain — I do it right before bed and it’s SO GOOD. My back feels so much better.

5. Clothing budget. $189.05/$534. I bought two pairs of pants at Target ($24.99 each). I’m pretty much abandoning this goal, though. I signed up for Stitch Fix after a conversation with Josh where I basically came to the conclusion that I’d be happier if I just had clothes I wanted to wear, that I felt confident in. But I don’t have a ton that qualify and I don’t really have time to spend days at the mall, trying on new styles to see what’s flattering on my body now. So, I’m going to pay Stitch Fix to do it for me.

Hear me, mothers of small children: If you can afford to throw money at a problem, do. It makes life easier. The only thing that is keeping me from throwing money at this one is this budget and the desire to own less stuff. I trust that what I’ve learned from doing this will carry with him (not buying an outrageous amount of new clothes), but I’ll also be happier because I’ll have things to wear.

6. Read 25 books. 11/25. Five in March/April. Audiobooks again.

The Outcast by Jolina Petersheim
The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan
Giraffe by J. M. Ledgard
Room by Emma Donoghue
Someone Else’s Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson
Where’d You Go Bernadette? by Maria Semple
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky by Lydia Netzer
The Magicians by Lev Grossman
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Insurgent by Veronica Roth

7. Declutter. I decluttered an organizer in our hall closet and found my passport! I’ve been looking for it since 2010.

Gold star

Today I:
-painted swatches for five polishes I found
-called Sirius XM and sorted out all the subscriptions
-cleaned off my kitchen counters and dining room table
-deep cleaned 48 square feet of soft tile floor
– worked for three hours
-washed two loads of laundry
-took Thomas to the park
-made dinner

I’ll take it.