Monday, September 30, 2013

Announcing: 31 Days of DIY Art for Your Home!

In keeping with tradition here at Beauty4Ashes, I'm participating in the 31 Days Series for the month of October! This year's theme? DIY Art for Your Home!

Look for new ideas, old favorites, ideas for kids, just-frame-it, and a few more crafty ideas that might take more than an hour. Are you ready?

Contact me if you have specific requests--something you've seen here on the blog, in our home tours, or an idea you've seen on Pinterest that you want simplified.

See you tomorrow!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Our Living Room {Tour}

Of all the places we've lived, this living room is my favorite. I like the paint color--though I don't know what it is--and I like the hardwood floors. Every time we move we downsize a bit more, so nothing is crowded either.

Always having the same furniture in the four main places we've lived makes things familiar, but every time there are tweaks in the arrangement. I think it's fun making it all fit, be functional and seem comfortable.

My black ladder shelves flank our entertainment cabinet. We don't have a TV, by the way, so the top half is used for more book storage while the bottom half is where the printer and all of that "office" stuff goes. Gary's favorite chair presides in front.

I've mixed books with some family pictures, decorative lanterns and our memento jars from different places we've visited.

On top of the cabinet is a birdhouse, plant in a basket, an old fashioned lamp (whose globe was broken in the latest move) and our family rules subway-esque sign.

The other side of the room holds the couch, centered under the window and flanked by side tables and lamps that almost match. I've had a dusty gray-blue color in the living room at the last two houses, but because of the green undertones in the paint, blue just didn't work here! Thankfully, this rug--the only one that I didn't donate before leaving the last house--matches perfectly!

"The rules" in home design say the rug should be a jump bigger, but it works for us. The pillows... not so much! I pulled the pretty blue-flowered covers off of the purple pillows, and while purple and red are both undertones in the rug and play nicely with the sagey-gray green in the rug and walls, it screams 1993 to me! I will be sewing new covers from some dropcloths or something soon!

Another part of this living room that worked out perfectly is the white curtains. I left the curtains in the last living room, but brought the sheers from the dining room in Ohio. I had added a ruffle at the bottom to make them long enough for that house. But in typical fashion, I had only half-finished that project! The pair with the ruffle are the perfect length for the window by Gary's chair. The pair that I didn't finish are the perfect length for the window behind the couch because of that funny bump-out in the wall. Yay!

Moral of the story: It's ok not to finish projects. Ha! (Sheers work here because there are wood blinds on the windows. Kinda important!)

The left side table has a lamp and a plant. I removed my laptop for pictures, but it's usually hanging out there too. This is where I blog. :)

There's another lamp on the right side, along with a memento from Gary's dad's missionary trip to Africa in the 60s and a wooden bowl that belonged to my parents but now holds treasures. You know, the little boy kind. Rocks, feathers, acorns... There was a worm in there today that must have crawled out of an acorn.

This half wall is at the top of the stairs. We're in a split-level ranch style home, and this is kind of the welcome-to-our-home table. The door behind the half-wall is our coat closet.

The big white bowl and watering can, the wood used in the monogram sign, as well as the old window (below) are all from our barn on our property in Iowa. This is also where the boys' blocks are kept--which are currently being used several times a day to make Jericho or castles or jails.

We read together on the couch after lunch and before rest time. I find that these bins of books get put away more neatly than books on a shelf. The boys also "read" quietly after they've bathed in the evening while waiting for their brothers to be done and worship to start.

For art on the walls, we're still using these pictures I took on my last trip to Europe in 2003. I printed these shots at home in 8 X 10 and stuck them down on freshly-painted canvasses. I painted a border around the prints, then put stickers under the pictures. Black paint on the outside edge frames the canvasses. I got the canvases on sale at Michael's and the paint was a friend's leftovers after she painted her living room, so the whole project was pretty inexpensive for the impact. Minus the trip to Europe, of course.

I hope you've enjoyed this peek into our home! I wish I could invite you over for a meal and a chat and maybe some fun games. We like Apples to Apples!

For those of you who have visited us in the past, does this living room feel familiar? Does anything surprise you?

Have a great week!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Our Classroom {Tour}

We did it.

Something we've been planning on and meaning to do for awhile, but life has been full of moving and changes, plus I didn't feel like my son was ready to start before.

Start what? SCHOOL!

Homeschool to be exact.

Let me tell you, I have a lot to learn about the whole homeschool world, but my background as an educator and my experience teaching Kindergarten has helped immensely! For now I'm kinda making things up, but we do something with numbers and something with letters every day, we read a lot, and most days we get to do something fun and creative and messy!

Ok, this is supposed to be about our classroom. When we were looking for a rental home here, it wasn't even on our list of needs. There's always the kitchen table, right? Well, this house has three bedrooms. Two are upstairs, one is downstairs. Since none of them had an attached bathroom or a bigger closet, there was no obvious way to assign rooms to members of our family.

This house also has a big bonus room in the basement. If you took the tour earlier this week, you saw that it's nicely carpeted and painted and the placement of the windows is the only clue that you're in a basement. Initially we thought that would be a great playroom/classroom, but the more we thought about it, the more it became clear that the bigger bedroom upstairs should be the classroom. It would fit into the pattern of our daily lives better if we were upstairs, it had closets to store books and art supplies, and Gary and I could use the bonus room as a bedroom.

So we did.

This table and chairs is the only furniture we bought. It was $30 off of craigslist. It's not perfect, but that is what makes it perfect for our classroom! I'm not going to get upset if it gets crayons, glue, paint, etc. on it.

The classroom is also our playroom, so our toy bins are here. We've really purged the toys in our recent moves and in preparation for the big move overseas, so there's not a whole lot here. It's a great space during school time for the younger boys to play with something while I work one-on-one with Jonathan. Jared likes to be included with school work too, so a lot of the time, Josiah plays on his own.

I'm really focusing on hanging the boys' artwork here. It's their space. And their art is usually colorful! I think it's a great way to add some interest to the large blank spaces on the walls. Below are three canvasses that each boy painted when they were very small.

My mom sent us this ABC poster. The colors and pictures are perfect for our classroom! I think she got it at her dollar store--the best dollar store ever, seriously!

Above is a larger canvas that I helped Jonathan fingerpaint when he was about 13 months old. It was a Father's Day gift to Gary and hung in his office at work until he quit the whole Corporate America thing.

Below you'll notice the paintstrip art I had hanging in our guest room in Ohio and moved to the hall when Jonathan moved into the guest room. I still love it, and it's fun how the colors match so well! Didn't plan that!

This bookshelf keeps popping up everywhere, doesn't it? Anyone remember where they've seen this shelf that my dad made? It was in Jonathan's nursery in our first house in Iowa, in Jared's nursery in our second house, moved to the closet nook in Josiah's nursery, then was in Jonathan's room in Ohio. Now it's a happy part of our classroom in Nebraska!

We use this train table for trains. And sorting manipulatives, doing puzzles, an extra space for someone to do larger art projects, well, you get the idea.

This second ABC chart was something I picked up at Michael's right after public school started here, so it was really cheap! I couldn't pass up the matching calendar either! This calendar set up is something I always did in my Kindergarten classroom, and it's a great way to learn numbers, days of the week, months of the year, etc.

Seeing that we're renting, I just used poster putty to hang all of the charts. Then I used thumbtacks to hang twine along the bottom of the ABC charts. We use tiny clothespins (found at Walmart) to display the boys' projects.

This last corner of the room is all for Mommy! I finally have a place where my sewing table fits perfectly! I've already used it too! My sewing table is an heirloom, though not worth much monetarily, it's of huge sentimental value. My Grandpa, a cabinet maker, built this table to my Grandma's specifications, taking into consideration her sewing habits, where she wanted her supplies, even her height. Unfortunately, Grandma was several inches taller than me, so sitting here isn't super comfortable, but oh well!

This old map is from a National Geographic collection a friend gave me when I papered the boys' old room in Iowa with maps. It has the US on one side and the world on the other. I had it with the world shown, but it had the USSR, so I thought maybe it would be fun to mark the places in the US that we've traveled to.

The baskets on the right side are for my boys' school work. It's an easy way to keep their things organized. I can go through the baskets later and decide what to keep. The basket on top holds jars of sewing supplies, mostly my Grandma's. The wonky basket on the left is there to try to hide the modem and wireless router for our internet! 

My "every child is an artist" sign hasn't fared too well in the moves. I think it'll be fine once I find and re-glue the clothespins.

How about some before and after shots?

So even though we weren't looking for a house that had a space we could use for a classroom, it turned out perfectly! We use this space every day--even on weekends because it doubles as a playroom.

What about you? Do you homeschool? Do you have a designated space for it? How about a place where your kids do homework or get creative? Or a playroom? We've never had one of those and I really like it!

Thanks for taking the tour!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Home Sweet Home: Nebraska Edition

Ooops, I did it again!

Sorry for the song in your head, but I'm sure I played with your heart over the last month or more. Yes, we moved. Again. And when we move I drop off the face of the blogging earth for awhile. A month is my average.

I would know, because we've moved like four times in the last year. Oy! We're getting really good at it, and every time we shed more stuff. But anyway, that's not what I wanted to ramble on about tonight. I just wanted to check in, say how we're doing and show you a quick BEFORE tour of our newest home.

We are now in Lincoln, Nebraska, a place I remember visiting twice as a little girl. The first time it was miserably hot; the second time was dangerously cold. As an adult I got a quick driving tour one summer as we drove through the state, and last summer we stopped here for lunch on our way to California. Gary, on the other hand, practically grew up here! His parents worked at a school not far from Lincoln and quite a few of Gary's friends still live here. Gary even went to school and worked here for a while.

Now Gary is working for one of his friends. He enjoys his work and we're available on weekends to raise our support team for our mission to the British Isles! Because of Gary's connections, we've already visited several churches and are booked solid for the month of October. Our team is growing and that's encouraging! If you want to know more about our mission, you can "like" us on Facebook--look for Celtic 5--or email me your address (either email or snail mail) and we will put you on our mailing list.

SO. We found this house in a quiet neighborhood and it just felt like home! It was our third day of looking and by mid-afternoon the next day, we were moving in! Before we unloaded the truck, I did a quick walk-though taking pictures of the new place. Remember it's a rental and we're not here to make changes and updates, but I do have a passion to make places feel and look like home. I'm planning to blog three or four times a week to show you how we've personalized each space.

Now on to the BEFORE tour!

Split-level Entry and Stairs:

Living Room:

Eat-in Kitchen:


Bedroom 1:

 Bedroom 2:

Hall Closet:

Upstairs Bathroom:

 Bedroom 3 (downstairs):


Bonus/Family Room:

Storage/Laundry Room with 2nd Bathroom:

What do you think? Does it look like somewhere you could call home? It sure did to us, and we snatched it up. We like the neutral but current paint colors, the hardwood floors upstairs, the blinds on all of the windows, the bonus bathroom and family room, and the fact that the basement isn't scary and unfinished. There's also lots of mature trees, a mostly-fenced backyard, a covered patio and a garage. Our neighborhood is quiet and friendly and the boys and I are enjoying our daily walks. We're one mile from Target (um, that could be a problem!) and about five minutes from TWO churches of our denomination. All-in-all, our first 6 weeks in Lincoln have been good ones and I'm looking to sharing more with you!

Like, tomorrow--you should see the first room I'm going to share! I'm super excited!


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