Monday, February 28, 2011

Handpainted Jewelry Box

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Several years ago I asked Mr. RBR for a jewelry box for Christmas. I'm usually not extremely picky and didn't feel the need to pick it out myself, but I did ask that it be 1. large (larger than the one I had at the time) 2. Be white 3. Have silver hardware.

Mr. RBR found this.

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It's not tooooo bad. The size and functionality of it I love. It's worked well. But I've never loved the finish.

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Mr. RBR said he looked everywhere, but couldn't find something that was large and white, let alone with silver hardware. This finish is kind of halfway between cream and pickled oak. You can't really tell in the photos, but there's a pickish hue and some wood grain showing. And the brass just didn't go with our bedroom decor.

But now that our bedroom is getting a refresher, why not change it?

I started with some spray paint. Just give it a light sand and paint away. The drawers on this jewelry box shut pretty tight, so I didn't even bother to take my jewelry out.

Don't be like me.

Here's what it looked like after 3ish coats with some spray paint. I liked it. I thought it looked nice!

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But why not take it over the top? I decided to put a little handmade detail on it. Something branchy. I got me some spring fevah! I got a large artist's brush and practiced on some scrap paper.

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Uh oh. I might be in trouble. That sucks.

To the internet for some inspiration!

Um, yeah. Something like THIS!





















This is wallpaper by Schumacher, found here.

So I printed out the inspiration on my home printer. I got out a teensy tiny artist's brush and some regular white semi gloss trim paint. I found the paint was a little too thick and clumpy to get the small detail, so I added a few drops of water right on the paint lid. Then I just went for it!

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It was a little scary, but I figured if I hated it, all I needed to do was re-sand and re-spray. No big deal. Luckily it turned out very nice! It's not hard. Give it a try! Find some inspiration. Practice before you paint your piece. Go slowly--take your time!

When it was dry I wanted to make sure to protect my hard work. The spray paint seemed very durable, but I didn't want my branches to scrape off. I found some matte protective spray I already had (I used it to protect the chippy finish on the dump truck and train in the boy's room). I didn't want to spray the whole jewelry box in this case, because the sealer is matte and the spray paint was gloss. I was pretty sure that would rip a hole in the universe.

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Nah, I liked the gloss, and I didn't want to cover it with matte. If I had gloss spray sealer, I would have sprayed the whole thing. Instead I sprayed a little matte sealer right in the cap. Stuck my brush in there and painted over top all the white areas I wanted to protect. After I was finished I immediately cleaned my brush with mineral spirits so it stayed nice.

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All done! Here it is in its new home.

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You think if I brought it outside it might inspire spring to come sooner?

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Hmm... Not working.

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It's still pretty. One more before and after.

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Linking to some of these great parties!

This project was featured on the CSI Project.

Visit thecsiproject.com

Friday, February 25, 2011

Nightstand Kitchens

Did you know there is a phenomenon going around blogland? NIGHSTAND KITCHENS!

People take old nightstands (or sewing tables, or tv stands, or small entertainment centers) and turn them into kiddy kitchens. And they are so cute I can't stand it! Makes me want to try my own. The possibilities are endless. And of course each one ends up unique... it makes want to try to do a bunch and try to sell them.

Then I remember I have 3 children under 5 years old and a house in shambles and I think "WHEN am I going to do this exactly?"

We'll see. In case I can eek out some time this summer, I'll keep these gorgeous specimens in my idea box.






















This one from My Little Gems.

















Another one from Domestic Simplicity. Pretty!
























Girly meets modern at Dwellings by Devore.













































Bright red by Little Miss MK.























This little beauty, made from a sewing table, is freaking me out a little bit. Look anything like the beadboard in our Toy Room? Eeeeerie! From Lipstick and Laundry.


















The details on this one are killing me! The black windows on the appliances, the highlight and numbers on the microwave? Sooo cute. Martha Writes.

And all kinds of kitchen-y goodness over at Out Of The Crayon Box.

Have you made one of these? Please, please share! I'm begging!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Builder's Itch

Hey, if tennis player's can have tennis elbows, how about a builder's itch?

I have an urge to BUILD. Something. Lots of things. I don't think I've built one stinking thing before, but that dang Ana White sure makes me wanna try.

I know I've helped build lots of things. I've torn apart plenty of things. I've painted, revamped, destroyed and put together a lot of things. But BUILD something? Something from SCRATCH?Idonthinkso.

There's one little itty bitty problem--besides complete lack of experience. I'm afraid of saws.

I keep thinking I'm going to cut a finger off.

A little story that I just thought of. My friend used to go to this church. The minister was missing part of his index finger and part of his ring finger. First of all, how in the heck does that happen? If you're in some sort of finger accident, how do you miss the middle finger? Secondly, as the minister was gesturing he looked like he was giving everyone the bird. No really. Swear.

I don't want to look like I'm flicking anyone off! Argh. But I'd sure like to make some of Ana's plans.

In an old house, storage is often, well, lacking. I'd love to make this entry bench system.




















Picture from Ana's site.

Learn how to make the bench here.

Or how about some floating shelves? Yes, please!










Photo from Ana's site.

Learn how to make the shelves here.

She makes it look easy.

So easy in fact, I have a growing wild fantasy of adding a custom built-in cabinet to a little used nook upstairs.

It'd be great!

If I knew what the heck I was doing.

I'll let you know if I'm ready to risk life and, er, finger.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Happy birthday, Clayton!

Something really amazing happened three years ago today.

After nearly four years of failure to become parents using nearly every method available to us... we finally, finally, FINALLY officially became parents.

Clayton was born.


















We had had so many failures, I refused to take any pictures of myself pregnant. Finally on the way to the hospital, I relented.




















Finally.

We didn't know on February 23, 2008 what Clayton would bring to our family. But honestly it didn't take long to find out. Clayton's always been on fire. From nearly the moment he was born he has been fiesty. Clayton has been my only successful pregnancy out of 10. I've lost 9 others. In my mind I joke that Clayton came from one stubborn-ass egg. Sorry, but I think it's true.

He laughs the loudest, he cries the loudest. He is a bundle of energy that almost never, ever sits still. He's a rollercoaster on steroids.

















Just seven weeks after baby Clayton was born, little Zack would join us. Then the party would really begin!

















Dear, dear Clayton. I love all you kids so much, but on this day, your special day, I hope it's all you've ever dreamed of. Just like you kids are all I could ever dream of.

I love you sweetheart. I hope you'll always know how much. You are a special kid.

Love,
Mommy

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Fabric

Bought $150 worth of fabric the other day. EEK! That's a lot of cash for me. Hope I can get all these projects done before Delaney's out of diapers.

Not as in "I need to go buy some more diapers". As in potty trained.

Now that we got that straight, take a looksee. FUN!

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The green boucle-looking fabric is going in the basement. Pillows. The color isn't coming across well in the photo. It's not minty, it's more chartreuse-like.

The stripe will go in the living room. Haven't even shown you that room yet. It will be accenting existing pillows. (Fabric is called Epic Tales in Spa by Waverly).

The black and white print is going to slipcover some ottomans in the basement. (Fabric is called Esmee by Waverly.)

The brown geometric is going to be curtains in our master bedroom. About time I got rid of the hankerchiefs. I'm also lovin' the Oriental vibe. (Fabric is Key Ring by 3 Park/Waverly).

Huh. I sure have been on a Waverly kick. Well, they do have pretty fabric.

Better get to work!

Monday, February 21, 2011

More Photos of Korea

Pictures from the day we met Delaney: Day 4.

The moment I held Delaney for the first time.

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Chewing on the remote and sitting with Daddy.

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The foster dad was very creative. He made this riding toy out of a bumbo, obviously. Here you can see the dining area behind them. In the foreground are the room "pads."

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Where our little lady slept. We were glad to find out she slept in a crib, since that's where she'd sleep when she came home. You can also see behind Delaney they had a glassed-in porch area. It was almost like a greenhouse. The foster mom had all kinds of beautiful plants in there. She must have a real green thumb.

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Here we are in front of their Christmas decorations.

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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Photos of Korea

Photos from Day 3: Our room and visiting Tae Kwon Do Federation Headquarters, Kukkiwon

Our little (messy) room.
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That's pretty much all there was to it!

Our view.

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Mr. RBR at the gates of Kukkiwon.

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The Kukkiwon museum.

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The ceiling of the stadium was covered in HUGE flags. It was very pretty. Picture didn't do it justice.

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Mr. RBR ready to practice his skillz. ha!

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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Trip Day 4


Before we left for Korea, the social worker at our home agency sent us an email. In the email she said we needed to go to our Korean social worker's office on Tuesday, January 4 at 11:00 am. Then we'd get to go to the foster family's house and meet Delaney for the first time.

We were very, very excited. The day had finally arrived!

The night before I had gone to sleep at about 7 pm because I was so jetlagged. So it wasn't a surprise that we woke up at 4 am.

We puttered around the room, waiting for day break. I was glad I had brought lots of reading material: a book and a handful of magazines. Mr. RBR fiddled with his laptop. The guest house didn't have internet. We showered. Mr. RBR headed around the corner to a Seven-Eleven for some yogurt while I did my hair.

We had heard there was a nice coffee shop with internet access nearby, so late morning we headed out. We were starting to get our bearings and know the neighborhood a bit. We found the coffee shop easily. It's called Tom N Toms. I was surprised to learn it's a Korean business, because it seemed very western! Along with coffee, tea and hot chocolate--normal coffeehouse fare--they also offered a variety of hot, soft pretzels. My favorite was a soft pretzel twist stuffed with baked apple filling. It was delish! They'd roll and make them right in front of you. It was a neat place.

Tom N Toms became our morning ritual. From there I wrote on this blog, emailed, posted stuff on facebook.

We killed some time until it was time to find our social worker's office. The office was just two doors down from the guest house. We stopped back at the guest house to pick up the gifts we brought and went to find the office. We had to ride a very narrow elevator, and were invited to wait in a room until the social worker arrived. I had made some baked goods before we left for the staff. The room we were in had coffee and refreshments for the staff, so I took out my stash of stuff and set it out next to the coffee.

Several minutes later our social worker arrived, apologizing for being late. She said it's time to go! She snagged a driver and the four of us piled into a mini van.

Seoul is very hilly, and the streets sometimes go over each other, instead of crossing. It was kind of a crazy ride. The traffic was probably pretty typical for a big city. Busy. Fast. You have to be aggressive!

We passed the Olympic Village. I was glad we got to see it. With the weather as cold as it was, we probably wouldn't have ventured out to see it otherwise.

After about 40 minutes of driving we arrived at a tidy, tan brick apartment complex. We made it! Up the elevator a couple floors to the foster parents' home.

They met us at the door. There she was! It was so exciting. So wonderful! Little Delaney was even more beautiful in person.

Delaney's foster parents are in their 50s. They were dressed nicely. She was wearing a dark sweater and a long skirt. He was wearing brown dress pants and a striped sweater. They had little Delaney in what was probably a Christmas dress. It was navy and red plaid. Very, very cute. Although it was warm in the apartment, they had her very bundled up. Delaney even had socks over her tights.

Their apartment was very nice. Slightly smallish by mid-western standards. The walls were all cream, with a lot of built-ins that were dark wood. They had a couch and a chair pushed against one wall, but in place of a rug there was a large "pad" on the floor. Later I saw one of these at the agency too. Perhaps to cushion the knees and bums of little ones? They had some Christmas decor on the wall at the end of a hallway.

Delaney's foster parents clearly adored her. They showed us the games she did, and all the things she could do. They showed us where she slept. The foster mom kept telling us how smart she is. She told me to please be patient with her because she has a "hot temper." Oh, how that made me laugh. I reassured her. I also told her we had experience: one of our sons has a hot temper too!

Ahem, CLAYTON.

Foster mom invited us to sit at their dining room table. She had set out a variety of fruits and some homemade tea. Apples, pears, strawberries and persimmons (?) were peeled, cut, and setting out in white bowls. We ate with forks, which surprised me a little bit. The "tea" was cold and fruity. Almost syrupy. Foster mom said she made it herself, and it was good for colds.

We exchanged gifts. I had brought them a nice large, soft blanket (I knew it was as cold there as it is here), some leather gloves for the mister, and a dainty gold star necklace for the misses (Delaney's birthname means Gold Star). I gave them some vitamins (it's big there) and baked goods too. They had gifts for us also. Mr. RBR got a beautiful inlaid business card holder. I got a similar styled jewelry box. We also got tons and tons of Korean Ginsing tea. They also gave us a gorgeous hanbok for Delaney, the dress she wore on her 100 day party, and a photo album of pictures they took of Delaney while she was there.

It was a nice visit. We were there perhaps an hour? We took a lot of pictures, including some of the foster parents and us together. Then it was time to go. We had to leave Delaney behind, which was a little sad. But I knew we'd get her forever very soon.

40 minute drive back to the agency.

When we arrived, the social worker asked if we'd like to see the "Baby Reception Area". Would we? Of course!

In Korea, babies that are available to be adopted spend the first month or two of their lives in the Baby Reception area. They are cared for by nurses around the clock and seen by doctors daily. After they reach about 2 months old, if they haven't been adopted they are sent to live in a foster home. They are only allowed to be adopted by Koreans living in Korea until they are 5 months old. Once they reach 5 months old they may be adopted by people living elsewhere.

So of course we wanted to see the baby reception area--it was where Delaney spent her first 2 months of life! I think I almost fell over when the social worker walked us right to our building. The baby reception area was in the same building as we had been staying. I had no idea.

It was a bit like a hospital nursery. There was a big window in the hallway where we peered in at all the little babies. The little ones were lined up in bassinets, much like a hospital. There was a room beyond the little baby room, separated by glass again, for the bigger babies. In that room there were swings, bouncy seats, and all the items needed for bigger baby care.

It was very overwhelming. All those precious babes. We had a nice conversation with the social worker about changing attitudes in domestic adoption (Koreans adopting the Korean babies). But sadly, most Koreans want to adopt girls, and all the babies we saw in the nursery that day were boys.

Be still my heart. There were probably 15 precious, perfect baby boys there. All waiting for their families.

It was time to part ways. The social worker said we would get Delaney on Friday, then she left.

We headed back to our room to decompress. It had already been such an eventful day.

After a rest, we had heard there was a big mall called Co-Ex. We decided to check it out. On to the subway for my first subway ride!

All the signage in the subway is labeled in Hangul, Chinese and, thankfully, English, so it wasn't too hard to figure out where to go. The tickets are dispensed by machines. It was easy!

Over to the Co-Ex mall. I don't know what I was expecting, but it was just like any mall you'd see over here. Pretty much the same styles of clothes. Stores just like you'd see here. We walked around a bit, then decided it was time to find something to eat for dinner. We wanted something "authentic" but it didn't exist. So where did we eat in the middle of Seoul? Bennigans. Yep, Bennigans. I had a risotto dish, and I do have to say it was delicious. Just not what I was expecting to eat in Korea!

Again, by dinner time I was getting sooooo sleepy. Time to head back to our room. Again I was probably to sleep before 8 pm.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Happy Birthday to Yoooooouuu...

Happy birthday 36th birthday to the man that has stolen my heart. I love you so, so much, Mr. RBR.























PS. You are hot.

PSS. True story. Mr. RBR is at Monster Jam with the boys right now. HILARIOUS.

Delaney and I were going to paint each other's nails to combat all the testosterone, but then she reminded me she's a baby. She's napping instead. And I'm making cookies for Zack's class's Valentine's Day party on Monday.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Trip Day 3

To recap:

Jan 1: drove 3 hours to the airport.
Jan 2: On a plane for 12 hours. Lost the rest of the day due to time change.
Jan 3: Dropped off in the middle of Korea with no idea where to go. And that's where I'll start back up.

We were told we were supposed to take the bus that went to the Renaissance hotel. And we knew the guest house was close, but we didn't know where it was. We had an address, and that's it. So we just started walking, hoping we might see a street name or something that would tell us where to go. We walked only a block or two before I declared the plan absolutely ridiculous. Not only was it FREEZING cold, we were a wreck after traveling an entire day. And we were schlepping three bags each (2 large suitcases, 2 carry on bags, a purse and a laptop bag) through the sidewalks of downtown Seoul.

Right in front of us was a Starbucks. I reasoned they'd likely have internet. Maybe we could find something online about where to go? So we went in, set down our bags, and Mr. RBR went to the counter to get us a snack and something warm to drink (neither of us are coffee drinkers. I know. We're weird). Mr. RBR asked about internet access, and the barista said they didn't have it.

Crud.

Mr. RBR gave them the address of the guesthouse and asked if they knew where it was. They didn't.

Double crud.

So we had our little snack and rested a bit. The Starbucks was on the first floor of a tall building, and the window was at sidewalk level. It was interesting people watching, because I could see everyone's shoes. And what fantastic freaking shoes they were! Most women wore gorgeous high heels or high heeled boots. Everyone was dressed fantastically. Really sharp. I felt pretty self conscious in my somewhat sloppy airport gear, that I had basically slept in on the plane.

As we were sitting there, I could see out of the corner of my eye a woman on the sidewalk had stopped and was peering in. It lasted several moments, so finally I turned to look at her (to see what she was looking at) and met her eyes. The woman was probably in her 50s, impeccably dressed and was bent over at the waist looking in the window and staring right at me, right in the middle of a busy sidewalk. It cracked me up. They must not have 6 foot tall, sloppy, blond haired, white women at Starbucks very often.

Just then the barista came to our table. They must have internet in the back office, because she had a map printed out with directions to the guest house.

Oh Saint Starbucks Barista! We'll never forget you!

We ventured out into the streets of Seoul again and found the SWS guesthouse before too long. It was about 9 am by now and it had been 23 hours in actual time since we left our home.

The guesthouse was a narrow gray building, maybe 5 or 6 stories high. We went inside. There wasn't really a lobby, just a staircase, an elevator, and a small desk for the doorman. It surprised me the doorman didn't really speak English. He had us point to our name on a sheet of paper, then showed us to our room.

I knew the room would be small, but it was smaller than I expected. We had booked a regular room, which was two twin beds, 1 nightstand, a small table and two chairs, and a bathroom. There was no dresser, no TV, no closet. The bathroom had a shower, sink and, thankfully, a Western style toilet. It was so cramped the door didn't open all the way. Mr. RBR suggested upgrading our room (they have family rooms which are larger), but I wanted to give it a chance ($$). It took us some time to figure out how to turn on the heat and get the shower hot enough, but once we were warm and clean the world seemed to be a better place. And the teeny, tiny room was just fine.

We laid down for awhile and tried to nap. It didn't really work. I had no clue if it was supposed to be day or night, although it was approaching lunch time in Seoul.

Mr. RBR has been taking Tae Kwon Do and wanted to see Kukkiwon, which is the head of the World Tae Kwon Do Federation. Mr. RBR's instructors had to be certified by Kukkiwon. Kukkiwon is responsible for making Tae Kwon Do a world sport. So it's a big deal for those involved with it. Mr. RBR was even more excited to learn it was within walking distance of where we were staying.

After cleaning up a bit, we went for a walk to find Kukkiwon. There were signs, and we had a map so it was easy to find. It was a steep climb. I wondered if this is why all the Koreans we saw seemed so fit and slim. Seoul is so mountainous!

We walked around the grounds a bit, but didn't see anyone around. So we just walked inside. I think we may have arrived during lunch hour, but they were very accommodating. They showed us the competition "area" and the museum.

Oh look, here we are on the Kukkiwon website! (scroll down)

I don't really know much about Tae Kwon Do, but the history was interesting. And the excitement on Mr. RBR's face was priceless. He was like a little kid.

We checked out a tae kwon do store where Mr. RBR got a Korean flag and Kukkiwon pins, then headed back down hill. We stopped at a coffee shop (they were all over!) for a bite to eat. Mr. RBR had his laptop, and we emailed everyone back home. Then back outside to check out the surroundings close to the guest house.

There was a subway entrance near the guesthouse, and we had heard there was shopping and restaurants below ground. It was a good excuse to get out of the cold, anyway.

I feel a little silly admitting this, but I have never been on a subway before. Come to think of it, the only big city I've ever been to is Chicago. And I had taken the El in Chicago, but I had never been on a subway. Never been to New York. It's weird because I don't think of myself as small town girl, but maybe I am a little.

The subway was so wild to me. We didn't get on the train, but we did look at a number of stores and eventually found AN UNDERGROUND MALL. An underground mall, isn't that bizarre? You big city folks are probably used to all that, but to me it was nuts. And cool.

Once we found the mall we had access to a number of restaurants that were English friendly, which was not the case above ground. We could have wandered for hours above ground in f-f-f-freezing temperatures looking for a restaurant. So it was nice to have one place to go that was out of the cold. We went to a restaurant called Tomatillo. Yes, it was Mexican. :) Fantastic food. It was now dinner time, and we thoroughly enjoyed our first "real" meal since leaving home (unless you count the airplane food, but who really counts that). Also had a Cass beer, which is a common Korean brew. It was TASTY.

Because of jet lag, I was fading fast. It was probably 6 or 7 in the evening. We headed back above ground, and just like back at home, it was already dark. And freezing. Did I mention it was really cold in Seoul? Luckily it was only a short walk back to the guesthouse. I was so tired I went right to bed.

Day 4 to be continued.
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