At a consignment sale this weekend I kept texting photos to the boys and Dear Husband.

“Does he like this coat?”

“Do they want this bow?” (That would be the type that shoots arrows, I have boys.)

“I found a Lego movie for them!”

It was actually their text message that was the best score of the weekend. Dear Husband called,

“Did you check your texts?”


“Check it.”

I scrolled across and saw a Star Wars Foosball table loaded up in the back of his pick up truck. Total cost, $5! I called him back.

“What’s wrong with it?”

“Nothing. It’s missing a ball…”

Wow! Turned out Dear Husband trumped my lego movie by a long shot, but it’s all good. I LOVE foosball! Adore it. My brother and I played countless hours of foosball when I was my boys’ ages. Star Wars isn’t really my thing, but as foosball, heck ya. I’m in!

Dear Husband confessed to me that night, after I played many games with the boys, “They thought you would be mad about the table.”

My tidying efforts have left an impact, no doubt. I told them, I’m all for trying new, fun things, but we have to clear out some old to make room. That’s all.

So, I cleared some space in our very nice garage, brought in some chairs, even hung some magnetic darts nearby. Because it’s over 100 heat indexes outside and I’m feeling another round of Clones vs. Droids.

The Kids’ Drawings.





Even if I’m on a tight budget, I can find useful things at the Nashville Flea. Last month I was drawn to this little book because of the red/green color combo (one of my absolute favorites). I flipped it open and then thought, oh my, I could make this a book of the boys’ drawings. It’s removable front cover and hole punch design make it easy to add into, and its thick covers are great long-term protection.

The initial sort was fun, even if it was time-consuming. The smallish size of the book restricts some art, but I’ve got a ton of my favorites to fit. At the boys’ request, I kept two separate sections, instead of mixing their works together. They also suggested a few specific drawings they’d like included. I was happy to oblige.

Dear Husband thinks this was originally made to hold checks. What do you think? Have you seen a book like this before? How do you store your child’s artwork?

Lego Brothers and Dad’s Fabulous Metal Cabinet Redo.





Our boys and legos are synonymous. Not boys and lego, mind you, lego-S. Loads of legos. Piles of tiny legos. We’ve tried buckets, baskets, and cases, but somehow legos have the wonderful ability to be everywhere but in any actual containment. They are excellent toys and frankly the toy that gets the most play time by far. But, they can be equally frustrating when it comes time to vacuum, or say just walk through a room.

Dear husband decided it was time he stopped the madness. He stripped and sanded this metal cabinet he bought at auction. It’s five shallow drawers should solve the scattered lego approach we are currently living in. It seems deep buckets aren’t meant for legos, because you just cannot see what you have. To find any one piece the boys must spill over buckets and sift through on the carpeting, rarely putting the rest all back in. I understand too, it’s easier to search with them sprawled out. Why keep sprawling and cleaning? We hope with these five shallow drawers, they will be able sprawl and look inside a space that can slide closed. I’m thinking this just might work.

I hope they are mature enough to keep it somewhat organized. They are already seeing the benefit, mentioning it’s been easier to build. We’ve sorted a large portion already, plates, vehicle parts, etc. They now understand that sorting helped them find what they needed more quickly. They also agreed to separate the table top with their “caution” tape, allowing for equal play/display area. Although I’ve noticed my older son seems to be stretching his limits, chopper blades hanging over and such.

In the end, this is our best effort at living with legos peacefully. So, let’s get on with it then, a little more to sort, a little more to figure, a lot more use to come.

Homemade Valentines.



I really like my circle punch. It’s a 2 1/2 inch precision cut that looks so fancy. A bit too fancy for how darn easy it is to use, even for the kiddos.

I’ve punched circles out of empty tissue boxes before recycling and saved them as the box designs these days are so cute. Come Valentine making time, the my older fella suggested using these circles and taping a feather on each with some Washi tape. Sounded pretty cute to me. (The feathers were courtesy of Dirty.)

The boys did a lot of punching, gluing (a little message on the backs), and taping. And, for the final touch, we collected up black walnut halves displaying natural hearts.

We can’t wait to share and see what the other families came up with.

Note: I made a Star Wars garland for the boys here with this handy punch too.


Photos and Pillows.






This summer I found a stack of five white (embroidered?) squares at a garage sale for $1. I immediately thought, pillows! I bought a chunk of taupe fabric for the backs and five zippers. I finished two straight away, but finally finished the last three this week. I’ve been in a sewing mood lately…more to come.

Also, this weekend I spent three hours at a photography class in Nashville, my very first formal photography class ever! They offered free sensor cleaning and to take advantage of that I had to bring my camera sans lens. So my first photo is of the hotel interior, via my iphone. I definitely learned more about my camera’s tools and abilities and truly that photography is about getting it wrong enough to get it right.

Anyhow, while photographing the pillow in my red chair (the best seat in the house, comfort and view wise) for this post, my older son started asking questions.

“Can I take a photo?”

“Can we use the self-timer?”

“How do I make it lighter?”

He took the bottom photo of our view out the window by my excellent red chair, analyzing the histogram. He then set up a few shots of us sitting together by the window using the self-timer. By the fourth shot he was satisfied with our “selfie.” My original intent for this post was to talk about handwork, the joy of looking out the window with my new soft pillow on my back, or other ramblings. Instead, my sweet fella turned it into a much more special moment. Pillows come and go. Decorations switch and window views change, but getting the chance to teach and talk with your kiddo about something you love and they might just like too, well heck, that’s a real blog post!

Handmade Stocking Stuffers.


handmadestocking stufferspailandpie2

handmadestocking stufferpailandpie3


Last year I put together a handmade stocking stuffer swap with our school group mothers. It was truly inspiring to see everyone’s talents. Just before Halloween I asked if there was any interest again this year, keeping my fingers crossed. Well,  I’m so excited to say that many mothers (and a father I know of) came together (again!) with amazing handmade treasures. I don’t know which is better, the variety or the workmanship. I will post up some items the other mothers made soon, but in the meantime, here are the items I put into the batch.

Hand Knit Lollipops

I came up with this idea a few years back and thought it would be a good unisex stuffer.

Leather Naturalist Pockets

I’m so inspired by early naturalists due to the eye-opening book, The Species Seekers: Heroes, Fools, and the Mad Pursuit of Life on Earth by Richard Conniff. I used that fuel to create some leather pockets complete with paper to record findings and a tiny sewn pocket containing a feather, shark tooth, shell, and pine cone seed. I printed this quote on a paper (found in the above mentioned book) and sealed it around the treasures with a teal ribbon:

“The enthusiasm of naturalists is very apt to surprise ordinary people.” – William Swainson.

I know my boys have enjoyed these same natural finds and I hope to inspire other little collectors in the group.

(For the pockets I measured one piece of leather 7″ wide by 13″ long (at least 13″, some had beautiful, uneven raw edges). I folded 5″ over the bottom (using 10″ total) and sewed up a 1/4″ seam. The remainder 3″ became the front flap, sealed with a metal snap from my Kam snap machine.)

I had such fun coming up with items and hope to continue this fun tradition. I am so proud to be included with all of the mothers who are helping make our Christmas morning a little more handmade.



I washed a pot holder. I thought it was a good idea, at the very least a rational one, but it ripped to shreds and was rendered useless.  At the grocery store I picked up another and hoped it would last longer, but it’s oddly the same exact one that just died. If I killed a potholder so quickly that the same model is still on the store shelves, well, there is little hope.


Nashville’s flea market was this past weekend and there I saw a woman’s card table stacked with thick, 6-8″ squares of quilts and a handwritten marker sign stating, $4 each. Potholders! Reclaimed quilts as potholders, duh, why didn’t I think about that before I purchased the one at the grocery store? I bought a few and talked with the woman about her selection. She is a quilt reclaimer, repurposing fabric for the cooks of the world! I lingered a while talking about sewing, quilting, needle felting, and more. I walked away content to put one more person on my mental “person who likes repurposing things” list.


Just like my husband. He especially likes industrial type items. So, when he called me a few weeks ago and stated, “I’ve got something for you,” I knew it wasn’t diamond earrings. Indeed it was way better. He picked an industrial metal cabinet from a defunct business. Grease, check, rust, check. I told him to stash it in the garage until I could get a better look at it and clean it up, but more importantly find a place for it.

Our house suffers from a lack of wall space and it’s not because I have too much furniture. Oddly, for 2200 square feet we have only four rooms that comprise our entire home, save for a bathroom and laundry closet. Our previous home had seven rooms in 2400 square feet. Do you see the problem? We have a severe lack of walls, which makes our home so wonderfully open, but also so challenging to furnish.

I looked, I measured, I wondered. With the help of my younger son, who was hoping to find great treasures inside, we cleaned it up and put it in the kitchen. (He found an old wooden caster wheel and was happy with that.) Now dad’s magazine collection is organized well and I can use the top for a few school science supplies.


Inspired, I also repurposed an old pillow and felted wool sweater to add to the potholder pile. I reclaimed wool, pillow, stuffing, a metal cabinet and some quilt chunks this week. The kitchen is a lovelier place for it too.


Tumbling Compost.


Having six almost full sized chickens means we now have six almost full sized chickens pooping. It’s a lot. When they were growing chicks, I cleaned the brooder out weekly and found that walking down our hill to the edge of the woods (and back up again) with buckets of poop filled shavings wasn’t exactly fun. I talked to my husband and he built this for our weekly shavings and compost. The pile grew quickly and my husband was starting to wonder if our compost bin was spacious enough.

Two weeks ago he was browsing Craigslist and found a Compostumbler bin for $50! He raced over there, stayed quite a while, and came home with the bin for $40. Heck ya!


She’s a bit rusty but fully functional. I’m unsure why the company makes the cylinder metal but the drum ends plastic. I think the life of the product would be better if the entire item was made from what the drum ends were? They look perfectly fine. Anyhow, the company claims that in just two weeks you have compost. I would have to say, yes, if everything you threw in the bin was tiny, not corn cobs, gourds, or apple cores. I picked out some large items from the first batch that didn’t quite break down fully and will rerun them in the second batch as an experiment. However, for the most part, it was an intense daily exercise to rotate this behemoth and in two weeks I did have a spreadable load.


The height of the bin is quite nice. I can just reach in with my bucket and scoop the compost in with my gloved hand. The herb garden got the first batch because it’s close and frankly I care most for the soil of plants we can eat. It took about an hour to scoop, carry, unload and repeat and then finish off with reloading. The bin does hold a good amount. I’m happy with the faster rate we can turn over our pile as our soil here is desperate for some nutrients and loam. Now thanks to dear husband and those pooping chickens our plants can get the help they need.


Note: I’ve read quite a bit that chicken poop needs to be composted at least four to six months before use in gardens because of its high nitrogen content. Our chicken tractor set up actually allows for the chickens to poop directly on the grass for the duration of the day, not to mention when they are free ranging. At night the coop is really just a roosting zone which I put a tray for poop collection under. In the end, the poop in the coop is pretty minimal and I’ve only got six birds. With the current pile we have going (which includes a lot of dirt we saved from our defunct vegetable garden) the poop ratio is really low, so I don’t think the nitrogen content will be a problem.


Three Retro Dresses for $3.


Let me start by saying I prefer to be behind the camera rather than in front of it. That said, dear husband suggested we hit a couple garage sales Saturday morning on the way to the grocery store. I’m always game for that! We hit a small sale in an old house that had great digability. Digability is my term for a sale that has boxes, stacks, and/or piles full of old quality things. You know, excellent vintage hardcover books, leather pouches, games made in the USA. More like a time capsule garage sale than a Target rerun sale. First, I saw a quilted something and pulled it out of a box. “A quarter,” the owner blurts out. “Sold,” I say, not sure what to do with it, but knowing I could never beat the price. (It became our polyester patio pillow when we got home.)


Now I know this garage sale has great digability because the prices rock! Turning the corner I saw an adorable vintage baby blue bikini. Lifting my head I saw the adorable coral dress in the first photo. I pulled it down and held it to me, the official try on of any garage sale, and it seemed okay. I held it up to my husband, “Do you think it will fit?” Meanwhile, the current owner wanting to keep her closets clean shouts, “One dollar,” while approaching me to show me more. I nod, for $1, it’s worth the risk. She shows me the blue and white one, saying she loves it best. I also grab a tan and white one.


The amount of time and money it would take to replace these three dresses is obviously way beyond three dollars. That’s one reason I can’t stay away from resale. The second reason is that retro is unique. No one is sporting any of these dresses today, so that makes it my own. Finally, I have to tip my hat to the fact that these dresses withstood the test of time. Polyester isn’t my favorite material of choice, however, I do appreciate that these dresses didn’t get moth-eaten, ripped, or otherwise destroyed in the past 20(?) years. They were sewn to last, and last they will. My sweet retro dresses are here to stay.


Cigar Boxes.


It’s the time of year when my eyes are scanning for neon pink or green poster signs advertising yard sales, garage sales, multi-family sales or moving sales. Of my second-hand buying options, flea markets, auctions, estate sales, and thrift stores, none can compare to the garage sale. For me, the pricing and availability are superior curbside.

We kicked off this year with a great sale, (a sign of good things to come?). The boys found items they had on their Christmas list but didn’t receive, but for cents not dollars. I found a great pile of wooden cigar boxes and foolishly bought only four. Shamelessly they were filled in mere minutes when I got home. I had to go back the next day to buy another stack because, well, they are great storage. I usually like finding things and recreating them into new things, but this time the cigar boxes are going to stay as is. Well, until I find something I can’t resist trying with cigar boxes….