Thursday, November 29, 2012

Half A Year

My baby is 6 months old.  Where has the time gone?  I know it's cliche, but really, I know it was just last week we brought him home from the hospital.  I remember when there was still 12 inches of empty space above his little head in his car seat.  Now his feet stretch past the edge and his head sits so much higher.  I still remember the first night he came home.  Crying and crying til 4:30a as Pete & I hunched over his bassinet unsure of what to do.  He ended up on Grandpa's chest for a couple hours that wee morning so we could rest.  I guiltily cried myself to sleep hoping Canon would awake in the morning, knowing in my heart God that would protect him, but fresh in my hospital head that babies should only sleep in "safe" places!  Well that went out the window when for 72 hours I got maybe three hours of sleep and my entire body was in the type of pain only new mama's know about.  

I also remember crying for three weeks straight at the drop of a hat.  My mom's mopping floors?  Tears flowed.  I leave Canon at home with Pete for the first time to go buy shoes at Target? Cried at the stop sign 100 feet away.  I don't miss that, but I do miss his tiny little hands measuring no longer than my thumb, his sweet wrinkly just-born-toes, his dark brown hair that shortly fell out, and his deep, deep blue womb eyes that hardly ever opened those first few weeks.  

Now he's a giggly, babbling boy who has favorite toys, would jump 'til dawn if we let him, and loves to have his diaper changed.  He can sit up with little assistance, loves to do his baby push-ups in the morning, and loves scruffy Daddy kisses.  He has a belly laugh that is undeniable, wills eat absolutely anything you put on a spoon, and is the apple of our very eyes.

With this season of Christmas coming upon us, I can only now fully realize the true reason of the season and what a great miracle the birth of our Savior was.  Props to Mary for having Jesus in a CAVE, ALONE, with the smell of MANURE in the air.  Seriously.  I would have been throwing hay and screaming, but somehow in my mind, I don't think that's how Jesus came to be on this earth.  It would have be so neat to witness all the animals lowing, knowing instinctively to behave.  Even they worshipped in this way!  What a beautiful baby boy he must have been in Mary's arms, eyes wide and so in love with his young mother.  A joyful chorus must have escaped her lips, as does every mother's when a babe is place in her arms.  I hope they have big screens in heaven, because that's one I'll be sure to watch over and over.  Did the sheep baaaah or were they silent?  How about Joseph?  Was he nervous and pacing about, unsure of how to support Mary?  Or was he appointed a supernatural loving calmness from the Holy Spirit?  Oh to have been a horse fly on the cool wall of that cave.

With all this in the back of my mind this season, I want time to slow down and this sweet little boy to stay little forever, but I also can't wait for the future.  To think of what next year will be like at this time is a fun thought to entertain for sure.  To picture Canon silently fixated on twinkling lights and maybe even hear him say "Oooooh pretty" will stir such a magical spirit in both of our hearts.  To see him help Pete pick out a Christmas tree and follow his short chubby stature as he runs around pointing at them all... seeing his face as he tastes his first candy cane.... letting him help his mama count down the days to his Saviors birth with an ornament advent calendar, I can't wait.

But for now I'll take the snuggles.  I'll hug and kiss and cup this sweet baby boy in my arms and I will him to stop growing but just for a moment.  I treasure his gummy two-tooth smile and the spirits he uplifts with his demeanor.  He is such a blessing to our family and so darn cute it's impossible not to fall in love.  I'll forever relish in his tight morning anxious-hungry hugs and two-sneeze coos always followed by a smile.  Sneezing is only a fun pastime for so long right?  

I hope you too remember to cherish the little things this season.  The magic and wonderment of little ones, the joy of their parents and grandparents, the nip in the air, the warmth of the fireplace, and the sound of carols.  As the song goes, 
Christmas time is here
We'll be drawing near
Oh, that we could always see
Such spirit through the year.
Merry Christmas to you and yours this season.
The Randalls

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Saturday Thrift Finds, Muffins, & Backseat Diaper Changes

There's nothing I love more than the thrill of a deal.  Add Trader Joe's Pumpkin muffins, fresh coffee, and a baby who doesn't mind having his diaper changed in the back seat and you got a perfect Saturday morning treasure hunt.  The invigorating super-hero quality of respectfully wheelin' and dealin' or the incredibly underpriced gem no one else has spotted or cared to take home - I love em' both.  All of our marriage, I have always tried to by "thrifty" in designing our home.  We have never bought anything brand new, save our IKEA bed frame costing us just one and a half Benjamin's and a few other clearance items.  My initial approach was just to pinch-pinch-pinch pennies and often times I bought things for cheap just because they were cheap.  After moving five times, I have come to love the art of "pairing down" and only buying things we love, trying to practice the phrase "All You Need Is Less." Although our home isn't exactly empty of "things" I would say there isn't an excess of "much."  Any purchase is now carefully thought through, decided and agreed upon by the both of us, and lovingly chosen.  Here are a few of my favorite things most recent finds.

Seven dollars in wooden empty & unwanted picture frames will shortly help me finish another Pinterest project.  For our five year anniversary we took a short road trip to Savannah, GA.  I noticed a few of the shops we loved to visit had uniquely designed brown paper bags that I, for some reason or another, can't ever just throw out.  I re-use them as lunch bags, cut them up to wrap a gift, or carry things from here to there.  I know, I know, what about the "needing less" philosophy? This infringes in the, frugality clause which I also abide by that states, "I paid for this when I bought something to put inside of it," so why not re-use it? So, on our next trip or the next time we discover a great brown bag, you can bet that sucker will be slapped behind a frame.  I plan to do an entire wall Young House Love style, with bags, napkins, menus, etc... all in the "brown bag" family. 
Here's a little cutie we picked up this morning - find of THE YEAR.  I can not express the joy my pitter-pattering heart boom boomed as I spotted the little green sticker reading $1.  "This can't be....seriously?  Somebody made a mistake."  Nope.  No mistake.  Just a little gold mine the elderly man selling it thought no one would want.  Dead wrong.  I love everything about it.  The shelves have a sweet doily-esque detail that you would find on the sheet metal  used to cover an old ceramic heater...  However, the sweet wire shelves under the push handles leave me curious.  Stemware?  Tea boxes?  Anyone know what they were used for?  
Here she is in her new home.  I'm swooning in all her rusty-metal-caster love.
 Here's the cheapest finds of the day.  Pete and I have been on a major duck dynasty kick and we recently watched the episode where they bought a vineyard and drank their failure mallard merlot out of these babies.  I had seem them before but thought, "Ah I could just make those with some candle sticks."  But why make them when someone (selling stuff out of a storage unit) wants to sell it to you for 50 cents?  No glass cutting/melting for me baby.  Lastly, the little owl friend was a last minute impulse I made after wiggling my price down for the chair pictured below.  At 25 cents, I couldn't refuse.
 And here, all you crazy kittens, is the new love of my life.  Marked at $8 but sold for $6, if ere' there were a chair to bring to a deserted island, she'd be the one I'd pick.  Tiffany Blue with almost flawless upholstery, two twin tufted buttons, and mint condition wood can stir just about every emotion of joy in this mama's heart.  Picture me - carrying this over head, Rocky style, (not you Aunt Rock) with little sparrows following my lead... Okay a little dramatic, but you get the idea.  She's a beaut.  We plan to add casters to her four pretty little legs so that she'll be standard table height.  She's sure to be a favorite come dinner party time.
What makes your heart flutter?  Fiesta dinnerware?  Mid-century modern tulip chairs?  Atomic era coffee tables?  Share the goods.  I'll be sure to let you know when we complete the task of furnishing our newly DIYed table.  Six more chairs to go!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Christmas Portraits!

Tis the season to be jolly and jolly they are!  Meet the Schweizer family!  I had the most fun shooting with them on a beautiful crisp fall Florida day!  Their papa in the Marines and is deployed, so they decided to take pictures "with him" in this way and I thought it was the sweetest idea! Obviously, these kids are lots of fun, so my job was a pretty easy - I just snapped away while they laughed and rolled around in the grass.  Thank you Schweizer family for a such beautiful photo session! I hope you had as much fun as I did!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Coffee & Plans

New Prints Up in the Shoppe!  Please, if you have any requests, I will be happy to come up with a design for you!  I heart graphic design and would love to make you something you will love.  The coffee cup print is designed to be a 5X7 but can easily be enlarged up to 11x14.  There are also two more color options which can be seen via here.  The second print is designed to be 8X10, but also can be enlarged.  Hope you love them as much as I love making them!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Oh Christmas Tree.

Making these tonight!  
I'm so excited I might watch a Christmas movie along with it!

Final products will be sold in the Shoppe!

Knock On Wood

The months after I was proposed to, and the days counting down to our wedding, it was my sole mission in life to obtain anything and everything we possibly might need for our future place of dwelling.  Who needs measurements or paint swatches when you've got nowhere to lay your head?  Craigslist, garage sales, and thrift stores were no longer safe.  Me, a betrothed and not yet edited-in-her-design-choices young bride ran rampant with the desire to furnish, design, and fill a home the moment I said. "I do."  Second-hand was my middle name.  Any opportunity of a deal was pounced upon.  Personal preference was often sacrificed out of necessity.  A choice that was an exception to this rule was our dining room table set.  I loved it from the moment I discovered it when a friend of ours was moving and selling it.  Little did I know, my husband-to-be liked his feet firmly planted on the ground when he eats, as opposed to dangling at bar height.  It's the little things that matter right?  So for the last five years I have lost sleep over this inconvenience.  Just kidding.  It's been great, but we wanted something we both loved and would enjoy for years to come, many-a-children and dinner party down the road.

Fast forward to today.  We have moved five times in our five years of marriage.  All of our furniture choices remain the same as I still sit on the same couch we purchased the first year we were married.  A few additions have been made, a new television when one broke, a hand-me-down crib that we painted for our sweet little boy, garage sale finds and thrift store gems.... one thing remained: a table that never gets eaten on that can only afford two dinner guests. So what could be done?  Obviously buying new was out of the question since other necessities remain.  

Enter Pinterest's ever evolving ideas and these nifty little pinsperations.
Even with such great ideas, these inspirations didn't change the fact that we had pocket change to spend on comfortably seating eight to ten guests at the drop of a hat.  So the ideas churned and we discovered the ever-popular trend of re-purposing unwanted palettes.  The key word being un-wanted.  We did not steal or disguise ourselves in the wee hours of the night in order to obtain lumber.  We drove around during the day, called stores, and did it the honest way.  No, I'm not going to tell you where we found our stock because we have lots of building projects ahead! Okay, maybe I will... if you're nice.  

After obtaining the right size palette that we wanted to base our table off of, we then began to collect any and all salvageable extras so that when it came time to rip into them, we would have enough for an actual table top.  Research and learning from other blogger's experiences helped us understand the art of working with palettes - you'll need way more lumber than just the dimensions of your finished product.  Our table took three LARGE  deconstructed palettes, when in fact it could have easily been constructed with the lumber from just one and half, had they been in pristine condition.  But where's the fun in "looking new?"  We wanted old, used, beat-up, and rugged.  And that's exactly what we got. For FREE!

Without further ado here's a quick little tutorial to wrap up 20+ hours of our husband and wife table attack.  Hi-yah. 

1.  First we obtained the necessary lumber and then some. Three times the amount needed is what worked for us, but living in the sunshine state, anything left outdoors tends to take a beating, via rain or heat.
2.  Then, we deconstructed only surface slats, as seen below. 
Again, after reading other blogger's trials,  we learned to use a saw-zall instead of trying to pry the slats from the supporting perpendicular beams.  Pete simply took the saw-zall to the nails, leaving our three palettes looking like this and this:
3.  Once deconstructed, we decided which base looked sturdiest and went from there.  Pete stripped all three palettes of their top layer of shorter-length slats (where sod or other palette-hauled merchandise would sit). 
4.  Then we began to process of choosing which of said slats looked better for the wear. Then we placed the slats along the base we chose.  Believe it or not, they lined up PERFECTLY and we only ended up having to do minimal trimming at the end. Miracle number one.
5.  Then the tediousness that is the hand-sander began.  First we started out with a rougher-grit to get rid of the gnarlier slivers. After that I took two runs over all the slats and base with a finer 150 grit.  With my need to perfect a smooth surface, this took hours, but I had little chubby baby hands on the brain and wanted to protect those sweet fingers.  I also took careful measure to remove as many loose or protruding nails.
6.  Once the took-forever-sanding step was done-zo Pete proceeded to use a compressor-powered nail gun to adhere the table top slats to the base.  Cue the Tim Allen manly grunts.  He felt super awesome and so did I using the thing. At this point, our little, well big table looked like this.... pardon the poor iphone quality. I was took excited to grab the real deal.
7. After this it was leg time.  The scary part. The pass or fail part.  To best show how we attached the legs, here's a few photos.  We used a combination of: 
  • 1.25 inch dry wall nails, since they have a little rigidity to them and will hopefully hang on a little better.  They were used in 3/4 of the leg attachment process. 
  • Super short screws for the heads of the table underneath - pictured in the first photo on the far left group of four screws. We switched it up for only these four adhesions since the nails would end up going through the wood. 
  • Super long screws to be screwed into each corner four times on the outside of the table, pictured last.  Screws also added a little bit of durability to the structural integrity. 
  • Metal L reinforcements as recommended by our helpful hardware store worker.  Here's what she looks like underneath.
8.  Once the majority of the elbow grease was put in, we went ahead and sanded her down once more time, just for the safety of chubby baby fingers.  Here's a cute couple snap shots of us in all our saw dust glory. 
9.  From here it was smooth sailing....har har.  The next step was definitely the most fun and by far the most rewarding.  Stain time!  Since we were going for a more "reclaimed" look, we decided to go with a clear polyurethane sealer so we'd get that nice wet but not too new look.
Needless to say we are pretty pleased with ourselves having never DIYed anything, unless you call slapping paint on a wall DIY. She's a nine foot long, 3 1/2 foot wide miracle. 

Here's our budget breakdown: 
  • Eight $2.50 metal brackets - $20.00 
  • a box of drywall nails - $4.00 
  • more nails for the nail gun - $4.00 
  • stain - $11.00 
  • 1 twelve foot long 4x4 for the legs $20.00
  • 2 packs of hand-sander size sandpaper - $6.00
  • 16 mini screws - $0.60
  • TOTAL = $65.60 + some change.  Pretty awesome right?
Now comes to adventure of finding an eclectic set of eight chairs before Thanksgiving, since we plan on hosting it this year.  Here's to big tables, more than two dinner guests, and our very first and very successful DIY project!  Chair #1 = $2.00, hopefully the rest will be as affordable.  Garage sales, I'm on the prowl.

The Perfect Gift

Good Morning Friend!
Welcome to Little Wood Shoppe!  In this little corner of cyber space I hope you will enjoy my creative musings, day to day happenings with my family of three, and general wordiness that describes my life.  Thanks for taking the time to indulge in the mundanity!
All my life, I have always loved to create for people.  Whether it be handmade birthday cards when I was younger, mix tapes when I was a teen, to now personalized art, objects that just scream soneone’s name, or surprise brown boxes in the mail, I have always loved the art of gift giving.  I  love the look on a family or friend’s face when they relish in something you made for them, or found an item that they never knew they wanted until you bought it for them.  A simple comment made in passing to be later redeemed on a birthday or special holiday is my most favorite way of gift-giving because it shows that the giver listens to the little details and better than that, remembers them!  
To this day, the most memorable gift I have ever received was my very first film camera when I was sixteen years old.  The giver was of course my husband, but at the time, he was my twenty-year-old-heart-throb-boyfriend, and I was head-over-heels-seventeen.  He drove to my town to pick me up after celebrating Christmas with my own family (at the time I didn’t have a license). Once arrived, I found his family had waited all day to open presents with me!  The tradition of his family is to open one gift at a time, round robin style, and then throw the wrapping paper at one another – to this day we carry this tradition on and it has ebbed it’s way through my family as well – a fun holiday tradition.  
But, back to the point… during one of the round robin waves, I opened a pack of film and thought it odd, but didn’t want to show any peculiarity on my face, being I was trying to impress the fam back then…. They of course, knew that the film was an addition to a gift I had yet to open, and were all smiling on the inside, the way you do when you know something someone else doesn’t.  As the rounds shimmied  down to one, I was out of gifts but everyone else had one left.  Being so clueless to surprises as I was then, I just figured, well that was fun (as I watched each of them open their last gifts).  
They looked at me and questioned, “Where’s your last gift?”  
I bashfully remarked, “Oh I ran out.”
A chorus of voices replied, “Oh you have to find your last gift.”  
Slowly I rose to my feet and gave my boyfriend a look of bewilderment and slight embarrassment hoping the mystery gift wasn’t going to be so romantic that a flushed face was in my near future, with everyone around me watching.  As I roamed around looking for a wrapped box, we all played the hot and cold game until I stumbled upon a small box. I unknowingly shook it’s contents.  This sent up a roaring, “No!” tipping me off that what was inside could possibly be quite fragile.  As I returned to the chaotic-crumbled-paper-room all eyes are on me.  I slowly and carefully ripped into the paper, with unbelieving eyes.  I had never celebrated Christmas with a boyfriend before, so this was more than icing on the cake!  With him already owning a camera and dappled in photography, he hoped to one day be a professional.  I too took classes in high school and had always wanted to learn more about it, as well as share in this pastime with him.  After realizing it must have cost a great deal, hugs were exchanged and a thorough explanation of how to insert the film and what settings to use for different lighting.  
As the evening wound down, I remember feeling greatly cared for and greatly thought after.  I had never mentioned wanting to OWN my own camera, but maybe just mused at the idea of loving photography or loving spending time together in that fashion.  Shooting together would be so much fun now that we each were armed with our own creative arsenal.  Today we still share in the knowledge, ability, and love of  taking photos.
This only fanned the flame of my love for gift giving.  Since then, so many more thoughtfully, intentional  exchanges have taken place.  Even though so many things have changed since that day – a marriage, a family moving, a baby being born – I still love the connection of familiarity the perfect gift can bring.  Don’t you?  With the season of Christmas looming closely, I hope you’ll consider the thoughtfulness behind the gift.  Whether big or small, handmade or store bought, expensive or not, the perfect gift is just that: perfect for the receiver. Enjoy the opportunity.