Friday, August 23, 2013

a spruced up kitchen = a happy mama and surprised daddy

My mister made plans to go with his father, his best friend Mike and Mike's dad, Tim, up to the good ol' boundary waters. If you aren't from 'round here, you may not know what that means. Well, honestly I don't really know what it means either... other than it's all woods, you bring canoes for the river (or rivers?), and it's pretty rugged camping. I didn't grow up with a camping family, so it's all a little foreign to me. But hopefully as the boys get a little older, I will  learn to be a mountain mama camper. But I don't eat fish or wild game. And I only drink bottled water. So probably not. But maybe.

As Matt made camping arrangements and took inventory of his camping gear, I was secretly planning my own adventure. And no it did not only involve chick flicks and Ben and Jerry's with Steph (Mike's wife). I got this crazy idea to have my husband come home to a super clean house and a spruced up kitchen! I sent out an e-mail to some of my close friends asking for help with cleaning, projects and childcare. I know time is scarce and if someone's got time for projects and cleaning that it will be spent on their own houses, but I took a chance.

I ended up with childcare for about 18 hours straight. Mom and Brian took the boys Friday evening and would return them at noon on Saturday. I got a friend to put in cleaning time with me Friday night, and another friend to help do a morning shift on Saturday before the boys got home. It worked out perfectly!

Wednesday night after he left, I got right to work. I wanted to change the color of the kitchen. It was a pretty boring super light-grey-almost-white. And next to the white cupboards, it was pretty blah.

Here's a before picture. Excuse the massive pile of dishes.
I went out and got some paint. I decided on a mustard yellow. I hated it...

So I got scared and did a trial on the opposite side of the window of the same color that is in our dining room, it's like a Moroccan Red or something...

And I wasn't feelin' it. So I trusted my gut, and went back to the yellow.

Yes I worked on it while the children were around. And yes I let Eli do the dishes so that he stayed out of my way. And yes it was around 4pm and he was still in his jammies. And yes he needed a diaper change, but I had paint all over my hands (and splattered on my unwashed dishes.) Good thing I am not a professional painter. 

The yellow ended up growing on me, so I finished the job at 3 a.m. and let it be.

Steph and Jill came over Friday night and while very pregnant Steph watched Netflix and sorted toys, Jill and I went to town on the upper level. We cleaned under beds. We dusted. She cleaned behind my toilet. She taught me the incredible magic of the magic eraser. Areas I thought I would have to paint were cleaned up with a few swipes of this amazing little sponge. Crayon was removed from walls and doors. Scuff marks gone from the doors and base boards. All the cleaning that never gets done, got done. It was beautiful up there!
We may or may not have watched Sisterwives
and eaten a pint (or two) of Ben and Jerry's...
Then I went to bed at like 3:30 a.m. and woke up by 7:45 a.m. to open the door to Sarah at 8 a.m. Sarah is an incredible friend, she brings so many gifts to our friendship. She has an amazing eye for design and decor. She was blessed with a brain that can create order and function in any area. She loves color, and pretty things. She is resourceful with things that are already just laying around. She does wonders with spray paint. She is also a blogger, so we have fun supporting each other on our blogging journeys. On top of all of that, she is a strong mama who loves Jesus, and adores her sweet family. Her house is always open to her friends, church family and her community. She pretty much has a coffee shop in her house. Seriously.

Isn't this amazing?
Here she is with her husband, one of the pastors at my church. Look at her cute new bangs! 

I needed help getting my kitchen in order. We have very little cupboard space, so we have an open air pantry that is sorta tricky to keep in order. The tops of the shelves were getting pretty cluttered with knickknacks and bulky items. Organization does not come naturally to me (well, maybe it's the maintenance part) so I needed to call in the pro to help a sister out.

Pretty cluttered.

Baking things/pasta/rice shelf. No order.
An area for daddy's meds and supplements, an area for untouched cookbooks,
an area for frequently used seasonings and avocado halves, an oatmeal and vinegar area...

There's a banana/avocado area, a goldfish cracker area,
chips/bread/peanut basket, baggies/oatmeal/honey area...

Too much stuff.

After Sarah and I had some breakfast and coffee talk, we got to work. We cleared off the top of my cupboards and all the shelves. Sarah wiped down the shelves and even cleaned out my microwave! Now that is love. I cleaned the top of my cupboards over the sink. People, I don't think this had been done in 5 years. And we have only lived here for one year. It was Nassssty. Like an inch of greasy kitchen dust. Don't judge.

Next Sarah helped me to assess my knickknacks and decor. We slowly placed things back on top of the shelves and cupboards until the perfect arrangement was made. Next we organized my pantry shelves. I collected as many containers and baskets as I could find, and Sarah worked her magic. Four hours later we scurried to finish before the children arrived. 

Sarah took beautiful pictures of our end result and you can check them out over at her blog An Inviting Home by clicking here.

Here is how the rest of my kitchen turned out! I am still on the look out for some more fun things to hang on the wall, we'll see. Sometimes less is more... but sometimes not:) 

I took this today. It was way cleaner the day Matt got home.
I still need Matt to hang that shelf that is sitting on the counter, next to the water jug.
I need some lessons on staging nice pictures for house tours...

Matt liked the kitchen! I thought he would not like the yellow, but he did. And of course the first thing he commented on was our beautiful clean microwave. I humbly gave Sarah all of the credit for that part! He never even saw the scratches Sarah was fretting over when she accidentally used the scratchy side of the sponge on our stainless steal fridge. Everytime I see the scratches (which is barely ever!) I am reminded of the day when my friend came and helped me out:)

I was so grateful for my little kitchen make-over, and the friends and family that were able to help out. Other than the $10 for the paint and $4 for the magic erasers, I didn't spend anything and I was able to get rid of a lot of the clutter that served no purpose. 

My kitchen is organized and it looks pretty. I spend a lot of time in that kitchen, and since we fixed it up, I enjoy being in there so much more now. I even stay caught up on dishes better than before, and I think that it's because I enjoy the way my space looks now, especially when it is neat and tidy.

Make sure to check out Sarah's blog to see how our project turned out, and to take a look at her house tour and her extensive DIY project gallery

Be encouraged; with very little resources it IS possible to re-create a space to be beautiful and functional. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Baby sometimes love is war.

There is a song that I heard last month that totally ministered to my soul.

(If you don't feel like watching it, here are the lyrics:)

Love is War 
by American Young

Young lovers in a picture frame
Ever notice how there ain’t no rain
Nobody hangs hard times on the wall

You won’t see it
In an 8x10
But there’s a storm 
Every now and then
A slamming door down the hall

Sometimes love is a white flag
Sometimes love is standing tall
Sometimes love is a feather
Sometimes a cannonball
But it’s worth, worth fighting for
Baby, sometimes love is war

An old couple on a front porch swing
On a walk down memory lane
Been through the fire and back again
Through the clear and the cloudy skies
Still love in each other’s eyes

Sometimes love is war
But sometimes you win
Sometimes love is a white flag
Sometimes love is standing tall
Sometimes love is a feather
Sometimes a cannonball
But it’s worth, worth fighting for
Baby, sometimes love is war

Sometimes love is all that can save us
Sometimes love can kill a man
Sometimes love is a soft touch
Or a pistol in your hand

Sometimes love is a white flag
Sometimes love is standing tall
Sometimes love is a feather
Sometimes a cannonball
But it’s worth, worth fighting for
Baby, sometimes love is…
Baby, sometimes love is war.


It spoke to me because in marriage, in parenthood, in family relationships and with friends, love really is like a war sometimes. 

Sometimes we fight to hold things together, 
and sometimes we fight to get some space. 

Sometimes we fight to be heard, 
and sometimes we kill each other with our silence. 

Sometimes we go to battle to show who's boss, 
and sometimes we give in because we are tired and it's not worth it.

Sometimes we attack with arms a'swingin' and words being spewed, 
and sometimes we retreat and and take cover when we realize there's no chance at winning this one. 

Sometimes we march in without fear, confident in our strong armor,
and sometimes we walk away with hearts that are battered and bruised.

And usually when it's over there is peace. And we come out a little stronger.
Which makes it all worth it. 

Sometimes it takes days to recover: for your heart to mend and your emotions to cool.
But sometimes it takes years. Whichever it is, choose forgiveness as soon as possible. The healing comes after. I actually met a friend this week that has a special gift of forgiveness. People question why she is able to forgive so quickly. I wish I could be quick to forgive!

For me, songs help me to process, they put my emotions in to words I maybe didn't have. This song did that for me. Just wanted to share. 

Kids are running amok, I gotta go to battle now...
Hope you all are fighting the good fight on this lovely Wednesday.

Love, peace, war, and all that good stuff,
Joan Sierra of arc 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Throwing out the "mom guilt" over simple birthdays.

Throwing out the "mom guilt" over simple birthday parties

This last weekend we celebrated my biggest boy and my littlest boy. Maximo Joe turned six and Eli Gil turned two. This summer has been tight money wise, and I was a little concerned about how I was going to throw a party with such a tight budget. We got super creative and hosted a party with over 30 people, and I think it cost us about $20. 

In the beautiful world of Pintrest birthday parties and fanciful events, it is so easy to feel inadequate when it comes to putting on any kind of celebration when funds are low. Luckily I grew up with a mom that threw beautiful parties no matter what the budget was. She was so creative, and I am so glad that she passed her creativity along to me.

Yes... all that really matters at a party is the group of loved ones that are present, and the fellowship that takes place, but if you ask me, a party ain't a party unless you got some pretty decorations that make it a little special. Even if it's just a mason jar full of fresh flowers from your neighbor's yard.

In the past, esty and Pintrest have heavily influenced the celebrations I have put on for my boys. We have had a few hard-drive crashes in the last few years, I wish I had more pics from birthdays past but let's see what I can find here....

Max's first birthday
It was a pirate birthday. Such a sweet day. Here is mom, dad,
and my "other" parents Glen and Diane.

He wasn't so amused.

Max's second birthday
His second birthday was a Curious George birthday.

Complete with a bouncy house and balloon animals.

Grandma and Grandpa Hegstrom hosted.

Max's third birthday
Robot cupcakes in the park with our playgroup. I wish I had more pictures of his party that took place that night. It
was a drive-in movie robot party. Everyone came in their pj's and we watched Wall-e on the projector outside with popcorn and treats.
"whoabot" cupcakes
Funniest thing was that I had made all the cupcakes the night before.
Max got up early, snuck in to the diningroom and took a bite out of EVERY SINGLE ONE.
I was so mad, but knew I'd laugh about it one day.
And your dang right I frosted those babies and served them at the park!!
Max's fourth birthday

I don't have any pictures from his fourth birthday on my computer, but here is a video!

It was a "Wipe Out-Star Wars-Lego" party. 

Max turns five, Eli turns one

Gabriel was still in diapers!
And my hair was super cute... shoot... now i want to cut it again...
okay back to the birthday party.

Oscar and Parker admiring his cool gifts.

We had all of our new neighbor friends over along with our beloved old neighbors,
and the annual guests of honor: The Hernandez Boyz

Auntie LP got Eli his first fedora.

So, like I said, this year we had to get creative. The party location changed about four times. So that stressed me out. It worked out perfectly though. We ended up having it at Max's favorite park in Roseville, Rosebrook Park. It's a playground and a wading pool, lots of shade and plenty of space. The kids all loved it.

We hung up huge paper lanterns that my mom had. They were leftover decorations from our church day camp that were going to get tossed. She knew we'd need them at some point, and they are what made the party special. We covered the ground in colorful picnic blankets and quilts, put a cute tablecloth on the picnic table, and there ya go. Easy, simple inviting decorations. Total cost: $0.

I bought two $5 watermelons and cut them up in to little bite sized pieces. I bought a container of white popcorn kernels for under $3. Matt popped it all in coconut oil the morning of the party. All he did was salt it and bag it up in brown paper bags. Simple. Then I bought red plastic cups that would hold the popcorn: $3. I bought two cases of bottled water at Aldi, $4.50. I already had napkins, and my mom and her husband brought the cooler full of ice and popsicles. They also brought a pinata and brown paper sacks for the kiddos to collect their candy. Matt's parents brought some extra watermelon too. And there ya go. Easy, inexpensive birthday party food. Total cost out of our pocket: About $20.

The rolled down paper sacks actually looked cool!

If you are low on $$$ when the birthday seasons arrive, here is my advice: Make it simple. Have it mid-morning or mid-afternoon so that you aren't having to feed guests a meal. Choose simple foods that are popular in general, and that are easy to prepare and inexpensive to buy. Ask close friends or family members to help out by bringing something. People love to help out. Shop at ALDI or stock up when things go on sale. Talk to friends and family about what they have for decorations, and borrow their goods! (Between my mom and I, we have paper lanterns, mason jars, huge frames for photo booths, vases, a cake stand, tiered plate displays, table cloths, little baby jar hanging candle holders, pretty serving trays, colorful cake plates... etc. etc. So we are pretty much ready for any kind of party or gathering.)

And then after all that advice, here is one more piece. Invite lots of awesome families and shower your birthday kid with lots of love, affirmation, hugs, high fives and kisses. Because really, that's all they are going to remember.

Thanks to everyone who came and who sent birthday wishes and lots of love our way. It was a great day.

This mama was pleased. Especially because I got a new cute hat right before the party. And if you know me,
you'll know this is a big deal, because I NEVER find hats that fit my head. p.s. I got it at Target for under $4!!

So really, the party was closer to $25 if you count my birthday hat.