Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year & Word of the Year

It's that time again. Time to come up with a "word of the year".

IIt seems like just yesterday that I was contemplating my "word" for 2010.

Some of my previous words have been: ACCOMPLISH, FOCUS, COMPLETE.

This year I would like my word to help motivate me in my journey to get stronger, lose some weight, become better about protecting my time, continue to improve our finances, get some projects completed, etc.

Phew! That's a lot to get done this year!

Here are some of the words I have been tossing around:

4. ACT

I think I need a little more time to process.

I may have to revisit Ali Edwards' list here.

In the meantime, I am excited at the promise of a new year and an opportunity to reassess and make some changes.

The first change will be getting these Christmas decorations down and my house back in order! That's my plan for New Year's day - let's see how far we get.

I am feeling pretty good right now about my decision to decorate "light" this year.

Makes for a much nicer clean-up!

Here's wishing a wonderful New Year to all of my friends and family!

Have fun and be safe!

The J9

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Hour of Power - Update

Wow! That hour went awfully fast!

Here's what I got done:

1. Cleaned up the kitchen.
2. Went through the mail.
3. Put away the Fall/Halloween bins.
4. Vacuumed the family room.
5. Rotated the laundry (I actually had to rewash the load in the dryer - ughhhh!).
6. Swept the kitchen floor.
7. Created the menu for this week.
8. Helped the girls make jello!

I feel pretty good about that list!

We have a little friend with us today while her mom gets some things done. She loves hanging out with Emma and Zach! Emma is so good with her!

Here is a peek at our menu for the week. I have some plans to change our menu board up a little. Another one of those projects where I hope to use things that I already have and spend no extra $$$.

I'll show you how it turns out!

Your turn - what did you get done?

The J9

Sunday, Sunday

Sunday is always a lazy start day for us at the Billings' household. It is the only day that we get a chance to sleep in. The cool temps this morning made it even more enticing to stay in our warm and cozy beds!

Now that I am up and moving, I am surveying all that needs to get done before we leave for softball double-headers this afternoon.

No projects for today :( Just clean and go!

I think I need an "Hour of Power". Have you ever tried this? Usually, when I am feeling a little overwhelmed, and a little under-motivated, I call a friend and ask her to join me for an "Hour of Power". We both do as much as we can for an hour and report back what we have accomplished when our hour is up.

Who wants to join me? I'm starting in 5 minutes - and will report back at noon.

Here's hoping for a big, long list of things that are done! "Hour of Power" here I come!

The J9

Friday, October 1, 2010

Gearing Up for Fall and Halloween

I love Fall.

It is, by far, my favorite time of the year.

That being said, Fall has been slow to appear here in Kansas. Up until this past week, we have still been seeing temps in the 90's. Crazy! Now that things are finally starting to cool down, I'm starting to feel the urge to pull out the bins with the fall/halloween decorations.

One thing I know my collection has been lacking is a nice bold, something for the front door.

I have been searching for a wreath or something to hang, but haven't been able to find anything that I really love - and that won't break my budget. Budget is important at my house!

While I was at Hobby Lobby last week, I found some fall bunches that were on 50% off sale. I grabbed a leafy bunch, some small pumpkins, a few accent pics, and a grape vine wreath. Best part - everything was on sale!

After bringing it all home, I cut everything apart with wire cutters, heated up my new glue gun and started playing.

I started by hot glueing the leaves randomly around the grapevine wreath. I just kept layering and filling in until I was happy with how it looked.

Once I had most of the wreath covered with leaves, I started placing the pumpkins and other accents.

It took me only about an hour to put the whole thing together - and I love how it turned out! I saw similar wreaths at Hobby Lobby for $79.99. Mine only set me back about $12.00! And, I think it is so much prettier - Just sayin'!

The plan is to get the rest of the decorations up this weekend, and finish off the fall decorating. I am challenging myself to use what I have on hand. No money on new decor items. I'll be excited to share how that goes!

Happy Fall!

The J9

Saturday, September 4, 2010

My First Slipcovers

We can never go to the Maine house without a few projects waiting for us.

Last year it was apparent that we needed to buy new cushions for the wicker furniture on the front porch. I had some cute "lobster" fabric that I had never used - so I thought I would try my hand at slipcovers to save the cost of buying something new.

I have to say I was nervous at first, but it ended up being an easy project and looks great!

No new cushions for a while for these chairs!

Before: (Not very inviting.)

After: (A great place to sit and relax.)

I'm pretty proud of how they turned out. The lobster fabric was perfect. Plus - they were free! Hopefully they will last for a few years. The weather can be a bit brutal, but the fabric is very heavy weight. We'll see how they hold up.

I'm feeling empowered to try more slipcovers - and I have the perfect project in mind. It will be a little more complicated, but will really transform the pieces. And, it will save us the cost of new furniture. That's a bonus I can get on board with! Now, I just have to wait for the fabric to go on sale. I can be very patient.

I have to say - this was the easiest project of the trip. We cleaned out part of the attic and made a few trips to goodwill and the dump. The guys rebuilt a wall and put a new header in the garage.

One of these days vacation will be just that - vacation! Right?!

Maybe that's just wishful thinking.

The J9

Pickles, Pickles Everywhere!

We had a pickle party at our house last night!

I had about 10 cucumbers from our garden that I wasn't sure what to do with. So, my good friend KB offered to come over and teach me how to make and can pickles. Of course, I took her up on it!

She brought her family, we ordered pizzas, let the kids and hubbies hang out, and we got to work! We always have such a good time hanging together - our husband's have become good friends, our kids are the same ages and are great friends, and we have such a similar outlook on life and family!

It is amazing how much fun we had in my kitchen! We both commented on how much more enjoyable it is to can, bake, whatever . . . with a friend. I have such great memories of my mom and her best-friend (my "ma") canning in the kitchen when I was little. It felt so good to carry-on that tradition. And, I was amazed at how easy it was!

We now have 8 cans of "bread and butter" pickles to enjoy! We used a recipe that KB's husband had from his grandmother. I don't think I have been this proud of something I created in a long time. Now the hard part - we have to wait 30 days to enjoy the fruits of our labor. They are just so tempting sitting on my counter - I may have to move them out of sight!

Probably the most fun of the evening was sitting in the family room talking with the hubbies and listening for the "pop" of the canning lids as they sealed. I know - you're thinking we're a bit corny - but come on - you would have loved it too!

I'm now inspired to do more, so I pulled out a couple of cookbooks that I inherited from my mom and "ma". Both are books with recipes for homemade mixes and then recipes for how to use the mixes.

I would love to be able to pull out something like the "Quick Mix" and use it to create recipes like "Sunshine Coffeecake" or "Crispy Breadsticks". Besides being quick and easy, it's so much more healthful for my family.

I'll let you know how that turns out.

In the meantime, here is the recipe and a photo of our pickles.


The J9

Grandma H's Bread & Butter Pickles

4 qts. cucumber sliced thin (I made mine into chunks instead)
6 medium onions sliced thin
1 green pepper diced
1 red pepper diced
1/3 cup salt
3 cups white vinegar
3 cloves garlic
5 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp. tumeric
1 1/2 tsp. celery seed
2 tsp. mustard seed

Slice cucumbers thin, add sliced onions and diced peppers and whole garlic. Sprinkle salt over layers as you work. Mix a tray of ice cubes through the pickles and let stand for 3 hours. Drain and divide into two batches. Combine vinegar, sugar and spices and pour over pickles. Heat just to boiling. Ladle pickles into hot jars and seal. Allow to stand 30 days before using.

Makes 8 pints.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

'Tween You & Me

So, Emma requested a room-makeover for her birthday.

Her birthday was in March - Oops!

It took me a little while to get things moving, but once I did, the inspiration just kept flowing. We are almost finished and wanted to share some "before & after" pics.

Not bragging or anything - but we are really proud of how it has turned out!

So here is the room as we prepped to begin painting the walls and woodwork:

She was done with the lavender and flowers! Just too much girly-girl!

And here are some with the woodwork painted, and as we began to cut-in the light turquoise color on three of the walls:

I was really nervous about the light turquoise color when we first picked it, but as we got it up on the walls I really fell in love with it!

It is a really fun and soothing color! And, it looks great with the new white woodwork.

Good riddance to the ugly old "honey/brown/orange"! You can see it in the hallway if you look closely.

Our inspiration came from her new bedding - a "bed-in-a-bag" set that we picked up at Target on super-duper sale. The colors in the bedding are a light turquoise, darker turquoise, lime green and brown circles. We knew we wanted to do some kind of circles on the wall, but weren't sure exactly what we wanted.

Leave it to my artsy-fartsy hubby! He created an inspiration wall in Photoshop that Emma loved. Now - how to get it on the wall.

Thanks to my artsy-fartsy mom, who has an art projector or two! We projected the printed Photoshop page up onto the wall and my mom traced the circles. Hard work!

Really glad for the "arty-fartsy" family in my life!

Then it was up to me to fill it all in. It was a tough project, but I LOVE how it turned out! It was well worth the hours spent (and the episode of vertigo that resulted)!

In progress . . .

More circles . . .

The final product! You can see the bedding that originally inspired us. Paper lanterns are from Pier One. The colors where perfect. Emma is holding out for a disco ball she spotted at Target to add to the lantern corner. Now we are just waiting for it to go on clearance or super-duper sale so we can snag it!

I still have some detail work to complete - need to paint the vent cover on the accent wall, paint out the closet, and hang a few shelves. But, otherwise, the room is close to complete!

We created a magnetic bulletin board by wrapping an old, metal shelf in a cute brown, seer-sucker fabric with white polka dots. We created magnets out of buttons and bottle caps. I'll try to get some close up shots soon so you can see how cute the magnets turned out!

After I get the rest of the detail-work done, I will take some real pics (not iphone pics) of the finished project.

I'm just glad that she loves it as much as I do!

Now, Zach is planning his big room makeover. Not sure when I will get to that one!

Thanks for taking a look!