Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Beach or Shore???

Since we just got hit with yet another bout of the white stuff I thought it would be a good time to take a trip to the beach albeit a virtual trip.

I know I’ve mentioned it before but I have some really great friends. Several live close to me and I get to see them regularly. Others live some distance away. One of those friends is truly an amazing person. I love her dearly as a friend, role model and a priceless mentor.

This past summer, she offered us a week in her condo at the beach.
(The view from the patio)

This was our first weeklong vacation in about 6 years. That alone was a blessing. Then to stay in someone’s home for free was really really nice. Especially for the germ-a-phob in me. Knowing I was in a home that was only used by family helped me relax so much more.

This place was so inviting and very spacious. It’s in a private locked building in a more residential area. The beaches to the north and south are more public and touristy but this one was way more private. There was no through traffic and the restaurants and shops were all out on the main road into the beach. That meant only those living in the neighborhood were coming and going. That set the tone for a quiet relaxing week.
Here are some shots of the condo.
The girls stayed in this room. They loved having separate beds but being in the same room.

They had their own bathroom too.

We had a full sized kitchen and it was stocked with all the things you might need but not think to pack for vacation. Plus she told us to eat any/everything we could or wanted.
And not only that but when we got there she had a huge tray of her homemade baked Ziti waiting for us. What a gal!!!!

Here’s the dinning room. Plenty of elbowroom and the other half of the room was the perfect place for the kids to spread out all of their toys.

(Someone wants a cool-pop)

Nice cozy living room with the most comfortable denim furniture. There was a beach view out the front window or you could step out onto the patio for a better look.

A big 15 by 15 foot patio with a partial wall was a great place to set the kids out but keep them contained and safe. Sitting here after they were all tucked in for the night was a nice way to end the day too.

Here’s the sizeable master bedroom. We had plenty of space to set up the pack-n-play for little man’s bed.

Our bathroom was in here.

It gets even better. Not just a beautiful place to stay, we were right across the street from the beach and a 2-minute walk to Asbury Park’s boardwalk. Now, on top of this plus making us a meal for our first evening, she also had toys for all the kids, new buckets and shovels to take to the beach AND she had photos of my kids all around the room so they would “feel like they belonged”. Too sweet!!!!

(This was the best walk of my life!!!)
Aaahhh. I feel relaxed just thinking about our trip to the beach or is it the shore???
I’m still not sure?
What I do know is that we have wonderful memories of a fun family vacation.

(The most fun by far on a bike ride!)

(I had to have a soft-shell sandwich while we were there)

(My little man went exploring)

The best way to start your day....

Monday, February 14, 2011

Shirt + Bleach = New Design

First off, Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

I made that pink shirt for Valentine’s Day and here’s the one I made for St. Patrick’s Day. (I was busy last week)

I was watch some DIY show a few years ago and this guy was spraying bleach on some jeans to give them a aged faded look. In the back of my head I thought “Someday I’ll do that trick but not on jeans.” Last year I tried it on a few shirts for other people and more recently I’ve made a few for myself.

You need:
A T-shirt (pre-wash before you do your project)
Something to use as your stencil. (Paper, stickers, contact paper…)
A spray bottle of bleach
A large piece of cardboard covered with a plastic bag
A bucket of soapy water
A well-ventilated workspace

It works best on cotton fabric and something that is solid, not having a pattern already. Then anything goes for your design. It can be something abstract, a shape or letters. Originally I made some with initials. I cut out paper letters in different fonts and sizes then scattered them over the front of the shirt.

The more I make the more creative I get and I’m also learning new tricks along the way to make the process easier. I have discovered that the shirt comes out better if the pattern is stuck to the shirt for the bleach process. I started to cut my patterns out of contact paper.

You can draw out whatever shapes you want and then the contact paper works like a sticker to adhere to the shirt temporarily. If your lucky you can save yourself a few steps by finding the shape you want already made. You can use a sticker or a simple paper decoration.

If you can find a paper cutout of the shape or logo you want, use a glue stick to adhere it to your shirt. The paper only needs to sit still for a few minutes and then the glue can be washed off in the washing machine.

Don’t forget you can use Google images to find all sorts of shapes and logos if you need to make your own pattern. Then you can copy and paste it into a word document and alter the size to suit your needs. I made these shirts for the kids and me. Their logo needed to be a little smaller to fit their shirt. You can see in the picture that the smaller shirt folded over on itself when I pulled it off the cardboard to put it in the bucket. Those few seconds were enough to leave a mark. I can hardly notice when she has it on but I did learn to blot the bleach from the contact paper or pattern before I move it to the bucket. You can also see in the photo how different shirts react differently to the bleach. I got my shirt at Wal-mart and the girls' at Target. My guess is that different manufactures use different dye. Just something to think about if you want to do several shirts for a team, family reunion or something like that.

From the bucket of water I go to the washing machine and toss the shirt in with a load of clothes. (The bleach is so diluted after the bucket of soapy water that it can go into any load of clothes without worry of fading other clothing.)

After the shirt is washed you can be finished or you can continue to decorate. Here’s the heart shirt after the bleach treatment.

Then I used some fabric paint and a stamp from my kid’s card making kit to add a few red hearts to the design. Squeeze a small amount of paint on a paper plate then I rolled it out with a brayer to get a level area to dab my stamp into. This helps to make sure you get a nice even coat of fabric paint on the stamp. A quick test on the paper towel and then a few stamps on the shirt.

Over the weekend I had the luxury of flipping through some magazines and I think I found yet another technique I can use to decorate some more T-shirts.
I can't wait to see how they come out!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Admittedly it’s time for me to post something a little lighter. With Valentine’s Day right around the corner I thought I would share the craft we made for the kiddos to take to school.
I found this cute printout on the Family Fun web site that looks like the menu for an iPod. You can even change the song or fill in your kid’s name as the song title.

You will need:

Several copies of the “i Pod” printable
Boxes of candy conversation hearts
A bag of kisses
White string or cord (I used lanyard cord)
Red or pink paper
Tape, scissors and a glue stick.

I cut the cord about 4 feet and taped a kiss to each end.
Then fold the cord in half and tape the fold to the side of the candy heat box.
Wrap the box in a strip of colored paper and tape.
Cut out the menu and control pad for the iPod and use a glue stick to attach them to the box of candy.

Each of my girls made 15 for their classmates and I made a few for a play group that my younger two had here at home. Each kid had custom songs that included their names in the titles so their “valentine” is already signed.

We sat around the table and made all of them in a day with several breaks to go play. The most fun is watching them hold the kisses up to their ears and dance to the pretend music.

Friday, February 4, 2011

To Tell the Truth???

Do you tell the truth? I’ve read a few blogs that boast about how they are “keeping it real”. (Scoff). How real can it be when you are saying what you want people to know about you and taking the pictures and then editing them to suit you. We all do it. Who wants to show themselves in a bad light? Literally and metaphorically. (Why do you think my house is full of dimmer switches? Everyone looks good in low lighting).

There was a snippet on the news last week about how people are becoming depressed from reading their friends face book page. The theory is that you read a one or two sentence fragment from someone’s day. What you then do is interpret that as the other person’s reality. They post about making plans to go out for dinner or they post a picture from vacation and you suddenly feel inferior or that you have less or that your life is not as much fun as theirs is. Is that really a truthful representation of that person’s life? It’s one sentence from the day or the week. They have hand picked what they feel like sharing. Is it a clear “truthful” image?

What about face to face? Do you tell people you know when they have a bad haircut or when that style needs to go? It’s outdated. No one liked that style on Kate Gosselin and it’s time they tried something new. Or do you end up sounding like their mother? You know how a Mom will give you that backhanded compliment. “Honey you look nice, when are you getting your hair cut?” Which is where I get my theory on why so many people can’t take a compliment. You know, you say something nice and the other person doesn’t believe you. They think you are saying it just to be nice or make them feel good. They think you’re not being honest.

Do you speak up and let friends/family know when they are out of line? What if they are loosing perspective on the big picture? How long do you “ride the storm” before you put the cards on the table? Are we not raised to tell the truth? Isn’t there a certain price to pay for being honest? They say the truth hurts but who gets hurt? What are you willing to risk to be honest? Is the truth worth it? What if they are only hurting themselves? What if they are hurting you? Can you really get someone to understand you or your point of view?

What if you hold it in? Does that work? Who benefits from saying nothing?

Are you honest with yourself? I think there can be a fine line between one’s own reality and their denial. I’ve watched people blame others for problems in their own relationship. I’m sure you know someone who has said they are “fine” or “dealing with things”. They say they are just having fun, because on some level they know they are not being very smart. We have all been there where you loose sight of what is right or wrong because you think you are getting what you want. Are you happy in the end or did you just learn a hard lesson? Was it worth it?

Do you tell the truth? Always?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


I’ve been in such a funk these past few weeks. Bla. “Bla” is my new motto or so it would seem. I really don’t like being this way and I really want to shake it off. Not sure where this funk came from but I would like to send it back. It could be from starting the year out with a house full of sickies. The desperate need to sanitize, fumigate and generally de-germ the place is not the most fun way to use my time. Doing this and tending to others while also being sick…not so much fun either.

Maybe it’s from the weather. I’m not much of a winter kind of person. I don’t like the cold, the seldom seen sunshine and the sloppy wet mess that is everywhere within minutes of yet another snowfall. I’d love to hibernate, tucked safely in my bed for months if it were possible. Push comes to shove and I’ll go outside but I grumble all the while. I’ll go out and shovel only because it bugs me to have snow on my drive or walk ways. My job when the kids want to sled is to make sure the hot chocolate is ready when they come back inside. I went skiing once and the best part of that was watching the skiers come down the hill while I was sitting next to the fireplace in the lounge with an Irish coffee in hand.

Not even food has been able to make me happy. I usually turn to a pan of brownies for a little pick-me-up but now they are just “ok”. See. Bla. I’ve been to know to survive for days eating only Doritos. I can easily go through a bag in two sittings (ok… one) if my mood is low enough. Now, I’m just not interested. Oh, I’m still eating them, just not feeling any pep in my step yet.

I’ve got projects to distract me from the bla. I’ve made my list of goals but can’t find a place to start. Last year I was soooo ready to get things under way that I had supplies set up and first thing January 2nd I started on the total makeover project. Maybe it was overestimating what would be done in a year and not reaching that goal that is keeping back now???? Maybe it’s having so many projects that I want to start that I just can’t choose where to begin. Maybe it’s the annual “freeze” on spending from the hubby that has me down? It happens every year about this time, after the holidays and before the tax refund. I usually shop to pick up my spirits and to make myself go out of the house. I am quit the frugal shopper and never spend excessively. Nonetheless there is a “hold” on funds. Bla.

Hmm, maybe it’s just a general burn out. I seem to be chasing my tail more often than not. You know, you spend all your time doing something but never cross the finish line. With all the towels, sheets and clothes for 5 people I am running up and down steps constantly doing laundry and putting things away yet the baskets seem to be in a perpetual state of overflow. Between loads of laundry I try to put upstairs stuff, upstairs and downstairs stuff, downstairs but it all magically reappears where it doesn’t belong. I can spend the better part of the day cleaning crumbs off the table, sweeping the floor, wiping off countertops and washing dishes/loading the dishwasher and when I turn around I see a messy kitchen. Always.

At the end of it all I’m in a funk and to top it off I’m mad at myself for being in a funk. I have no right. I should be so blissful for all my blessings. I should express my gratitude for my good life. I should be thanking my lucky starts that I have it as good as I do; others are not so lucky.

Go away funk and don’t come back!!!!