Friday, December 23, 2011

The One with the Christmas Tree

In the flurry of final Christmas preparation (And I do mean FLURRY . . . we are hosting the Munsell Christmas Eve celebration as of yesterday!), I took a sawzall to our Christmas tree.

It needed it.

Sophia breaking yet another ornament today was the last straw. She came to me carrying the reindeer minus his antlers, and I knew something had to be done.

So I broke out John's new sawzall, chopped off the top of our tree, and put it up on a table. Lots of tape later (the tree holder is a wee bit of a poor fit on the table), our tree has had a chic makeover.

Behold the VERY sad before:


And after!


The only ornaments I put back on were the (mostly) unbreakable apples and two strings of lights. Then I added in 18 yards of blue ribbon and the angel . . . done! I'm pretty sure this tree is Sophia proof-ish . . . we shall see.



As of yesterday . . . late last night! . . . I am done with my Christmas projects. Sophia modeled this one for me; it is going to a lucky little cousin. She would have been just as happy to keep it, but we are learning about selflessness in the Libby house.


If I am not back on here before then, Merry Christmas everyone! I have been saying "Merry Christmas" everywhere I go, and with all of the "Happy Holidays" I feel like quite the rebel.

So again I say . . . MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Stocking craftiness

Poor kid #2. Nothing is the same as it was for coddled #1. By the time #2 comes along, you're lucky to get anything into their baby book . . . ever. I've got a few scribblings down in Jude's, but it's a far cry from what Sophia's was by this time. So I decided that by golly, he was going to have a great stocking for his first Christmas, one way or another.

Then I figured out what I was going to be making for Christmas gifts this year, and the stocking got added into the mix as another item on the list. And to be honest, it went to the bottom of the list, because he wouldn't know if it didn't get done, but other people would know if I handed them a half made something or other.

The past couple months have been filled with a flurry of stitchery. I have gone thru four spools of thread in the past three weeks alone . . . when a friend called to ask if she could borrow a spool of white I replied "Darn! I knew I forgot something at Walmart today!" because I had finished off two of them that week and didn't have any left.

This past weekend I finally finished my last (almost, not quite . . . one small one yet to do) project beside Jude's stocking. Monday the plan was to get cranking. And then somehow the laundry, dishes, and kids ate up the day, and no stocking. (Is this sounding at all like the making of Jude's baby quilt?!)

Tuesday. I finally started the stocking, and by the time I went to bed I had the top halfway done. Phew! Yesterday I woke up determined to finish, and for once I met my goal! Unfortunately, it was also the day that Sophia decided she would try responding to everything I said with "no" . . . we had temper tantrum fun ALL DAY, so that was nice . . .

I wanted the kid's stockings to match in design but be different colors, and thanks to Nanny (my grandmother) I had six beautiful calico fabrics to use for Jude's. I already had the white fabric on hand (leftover from his baby quilt!), so just had to cut and sew.

Sophia's stocking . . .


Jude's stocking . . .


Thanks to iron on interfacing, the letters were super easy . . . just choose a font from the computer, print out the name, and trace onto the interfacing (backward), which should be ironed onto the wrong side of the fabric. Cut out, iron onto stocking, voila!


Together . . . along with the nativity, our only decoration other than the tree . . . maybe next year I will start my projects earlier and have my act together enough to do some other decorating. But hey, Jude's stocking is done and blogged, and it's only the 22nd!


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Bedroom makeovers!

Since before Jude was born, I have been planning for the "Big Bedroom Switcheroo!" We only have two bedrooms in our house, so knew that Sophia and the baby would have to go in together at some point.

Well, John and I sleeping in the living room moved that timeline right up . . . the kids have been in the same room since last Tuesday, and we are back in a bedroom! Thank goodness for my mom and sister coming over to help . . . we were able to get the rooms done in an afternoon!

Now for those of you who may never have gotten to see the kid's room "before," here you go:




Yes, it is completely necessary to show you all three pictures, so you can appreciate exactly how dramatic an improvement has been made! (At our closing the homeowners actually commented about how embarrassed they were by this room . . .)

We painted the room blue before we ever moved in, and I left that color for this room switch. While John and I were in the room it never did really work very well, as it is a big room and our furniture just kind of floated in it. And not in a good way.

And now, the "after!"

Drumroll . . . .




Thanks to a lot of painters tape, this mural wall was an easy day's project. My inspiration was this wall from HGTV's Design Star. The green paint was a mix I made from my dining room paint, 2 darker green sample pots I had on hand, a pot of florescent green paint, and a hefty squirt of yellow. Fortunately, it came out just the color I wanted, so I didn't have to buy any!

The metal butterfly was $2 in the gardening section at Goodwill, and just needed a good couple coats of white spraypaint (had on hand!).


The bed is one that I used to sleep in as a girl at the vacation house we went to every summer. When my dad and his two brothers sold the house, we kids each got to pick one thing to have, and I chose this metal bedframe. I thought about painting it white, but decided I liked the contrast, and it has such sentimental value just as it is.

The quilt was a lucky find from JCPenney, on clearance for $30! Add in a bedskirt I made for free as I already had the fabric, and voila, Sophia has a whole new "big girl" bed.


I was trying to think of what I wanted for wall art, and decided on animal silhouettes when I found these canvases at Big Lots for $3 apiece. Then all I had to do was paint them all gray, print off the silhouettes, trace them onto the canvases, and fill in with paint. And of course I already had all the paint, so I got 4 art pieces for $12! I am planning to hang them a little lower, but if I waited for the room to be perfect I might never post. (And they are a little crooked for the picture, but what do you expect over a 2 year old's bed?!)


The folks who owned our house before us left a bunch of things, some helpful, some not so much. This little stool was one thing that fell into the "helpful but ugly" category, as it was only half painted, and the painted part was an BRIGHT red. Fortunately, I had some paint left over from the mural wall, and two coats later I had a new stool!


I was at Walmart one day while I was trying to figure out what to use as a rug between the beds when I came across these flokati rugs for $20. They are machine washable and so cozy, but were a bit small, so I sewed two of them together. Perfect size!

The other rug in their room is an 8x10 woven Pottery Barn rug that needed a good washing after being puked on multiple times by Sophia. Getting a rug cleaned can be pricy, but I took it to the dry cleaners, threw on a bunch of Oxyclean and ran it thru their biggest washer. That got 95% of the stains out, and the only one left is under furniture.

Sophia's bedspread - $30
Painter's tape - $10
Rugs (1 bought and 1 cleaned) - $50
Wall art - $14
Curtain rod - $16

Total cost of kid's room makeover: $120


Now on to our room . . .

Our room was previously Sophia's, and before we moved in it was the castle room. Remember what the castle room looked like?


Yup, instead of "the mustard bottle threw up on the wall" you've got really hard to get off fake castle wallpaper complete with super glued turrets. The room did have a marvelous transformation into a nursery for Sophia . . .


. . . but has now been reborn as a serene retreat for John and me.



After sleeping in the living room for weeks and folding up the couch every day, I have decided that I can put forth the effort make the bed. Especially when I'll be rewarded with a room that looks this good!


Our across-the-street-and-down-the-road-a-little-bit neighbors were getting rid of four chairs that I snatched up a couple months ago. They've just been sitting in our basement, but now two of them are being repurposed as our bedside tables . . . conveniently already painted white, not bad for free!


I took this picture while on vacation a couple years ago, and used a deal to get it made into a photo canvas for our room.


Hands down my favorite thing in the room! I found this beautiful sunburst mirror at Home Goods for $25 and snatched it up . . . love, love, love it!

(Can you see the little cutie running around my bedroom reflected in it?!)


These seashell art pieces will be featured in an upcoming blog post after Christmas. I am planning to change up the background behind them to something a little more sophisticated . . .

Curtain rod and sheers: $36
Photo canvas: $39
Sunburst mirror: $25

Total cost of "Serene Retreat" makeover: $100

And now here's where I make the shameless plug . . . these low cost makeovers were done with NO furniture purchases! My mom and I are all about using what we already have to maximize a home's look . . . if you are interested in finding out what we could do for you check out our website at

End of plug, and end of post. Don't forget to become a follower so you can be entered in the January 1st drawing, prize TBA!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

December mish-mash

I had the best of intentions as far as posting this month. Three posts a week, blah blah blah . . . you can see how that worked out! Not only am I so far behind in posting, but behind on everything in general . . .


. . . the to-do pile . . . more of a mountain right now . . .


. . . that's right, the calendar is still on November . . .


But, at least the tree is up! Isn't it lovely with our Sophia-proofing . . . decorations only on the top half. She is so hands on, after having several ornaments get broken from too much lovin' we stripped it down.


And so now I have another pile waiting for me, another "to-do," the pile 'o decorations that need to be hot glued thanks to Sophia. John was particularly sad about the nativity sheep.


Random cuteness from the Christmas tree trimming day . . . Jude camoflaged on our brown recliner.


I brought the camera with us when we went to get our tree, thinking we would get some great shots of family togetherness. Then it was -42 with a windchill of about -187 and I decided it was a much better idea to wait inside with the kids while John and the "tree guy" loaded up our tree and so this is the only picture we got the whole time.
The cool orange moon.


You know how you sort of eyeball your potential trees to see how they'll fit in your house? Well, we got the tree home and realized that it was so massive that a) it takes up a ridiculous amount of living room space, and b) we can't even get the angel on top because the bottom is so fat you can't reach the center of the top from any angle!
So no topper this year.




Sophia REALY wanted to hang the Pooh bear decoration, but it was Jude's 1st Christmas ornament, so she finally settled for giving him a kiss.


Jude was super excited about hanging it up, as you can see . . .



Next morning, gotta love coming in from a run to find the hat crew on deck!


Tomorrow I'll be back with a bedroom makeover post . . . now time to go get cracking on some Christmas projects, while my to-do pile grows and November waits a little longer!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The winner!

You wouldn't know it from the weather, but today really is December 1st, and that means it's time to pick a winner! This month's drawing was for a jar of strawberry jam, and according to the random number assignment from, Kristin Tripp is the big winner! Congrats, Kristin, this will be an easy prize to deliver . . . and you are not obliged to share the jam with anyone.

Better luck next time, I'm going to come up with something great for January's giveaway, and all you have to do is become a follower to be entered to win . . . now off to enjoy the kid's naptime with a steaming cup of coffee and whatever I rustle up for lunch.

Monday, November 28, 2011

A few firsts and some cuteness

This long weekend was full of first . . . Jude's first Thanksgiving, Sophia's first snowman, and (shame on us!) our first photo of our entire family of four!

Somehow we hadn't managed to have a picture taken of all of us in the entire first four months of Jude's life. I think it's one of those second child "things." Time goes by so fast, and either John or I was always taking the picture . . . and then it was Thanksgiving and we finally got someone else to take it for us.


As for the snowman . . . Sophia only started walking on January 1, 2011, so her one outside experience in the snow last year involved sitting on her bum in the snow. She was not a fan. But now? John has to bribe her with hot chocolate to get her inside . . . good thing we have lots of Ovaltine at our house!



Mittens do not stay on long when building a snowman . . .
have to take them off to collect rocks . . . er, I mean buttons!


She's a good sport . . . falls down and bounces right back up!



Sophia has a little brother, her "little buddy" Jude, but she also has her own little baby, whose name happens to be Jude as well. The other day, Jude needed to eat.



Personally, I love the thumb in the mouth while feeding baby doll Jude.

And now, we wrap up with some four month old cuteness . . .



Finally, a reminder . . . become a follower of my blog and you will be entered in my December 1st drawing for a jar of homemade strawberry jam! And if you get someone else to follow, not only will they get an entry, but you will get a second one! Just shoot me an e-mail or comment to let me know that you deserve credit . . . happy Monday!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The search for a running partner

When I started running in college and joined the cross-country team, I got used to running with people. Running was as much a social activity as it was a way to stay fit. I never ran out of running partners, and remember those years so very fondly, in large part because of the amazing friends I made thru running and still have today.

Don't think I was fast just because I was on the team . . . I've gotten much faster after college than I was during. God bless Coach Kurtz for letting me be part of the team!

Post-college was a bit of a shock in many ways. Starting out in the real world . . . real job, real bills . . . real breakup even. But the change that has affected me the most? The immediate loss of all my running partners.

It didn't matter how fast or slow you were, we ran together. Of course the faster runners did some of the runs at a different pace, but I still remember the LONG runs of 8+ miles that I did with Elizabeth, one of the very fastest girls. Her 5K time was many minutes faster than mine, but she never made me feel like a lesser part of the team. None of the others did. We were a team.

When you learn to run in a group environment, and are lucky enough to run with that "pack" for four years, it is a major adjustment to run by yourself. No more talking or singing (still can't figure out how I was in good enough shape to sing while running . . . ), just many solitary miles.

But at some point I started running with my co-worker Amanda. We couldn't have been more different individuals (hello, she had a motorcycle!), but were perfect running buddies. We ran at exactly the same pace, did the same distances, liked the same kind of speed workouts, and lived in close proximity to each other. Even better, neither of us would get offended if the other just wanted to shut up and run, or got annoyed because we needed to talk something out the whole time. It was a match made in heaven. We even trained for my one marathon together!

Then I got married. And somehow things changed. I lived 25 minutes away in Biddeford and was working all nights, and we drifted apart. She changed jobs, I changed jobs . . . and now for the last five years I have been running solo.

But once in a while I get the chance to run with a friend, and that little bit of time gives me a glimpse back to the golden years of running with others. It doesn't matter to me how fast or slow someone is, I relish the opportunity to interact while running . . . to be able to forget that I am putting forth effort and just enjoy the fresh air. To see my old worn running routes with new eyes, or discover new territory together.

I run because it keeps me fit, both mentally and physically. When I can't run I crave it. But in the back of my mind, every time I run, I look forward to the time that I find that perfect running partner again. Only another runner can understand it completely, but the communion of souls that you find while running together is different from any other friendship . . . and every time I do get the chance to run with someone else I am reminded of that, and relish every moment.

This post is dedicated to Helene, Laura, and Janeen . . . my longest lasting running partners . . . can't wait until the next time, ladies! Hi-O!!!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Fun times!

I can picture the scene . . . it's a rainy afternoon and mother and daughter are in the living room, sitting on the floor together, playing blissfully with a favorite toy . . . baby son looking on from his bouncy seat, gurgling happily . . . then the activity moves into the kitchen . . . time to make chocolate chip cookies! Flour flies everywhere and no one cares . . . lots of laughter . . .

And I can tell you, that's not me! I am a Type A mom on a mission, and it seems that there is always something that needs doing. One project or another needs my attention, so I am often splitting myself between watching the kiddos, making dinner, folding laundry, and sewing something or other.

But I do want to be the cool mom. I want our house to be THE destination, where everyone wants to come after school because there's always a full cookie jar. Not the house that everyone avoids because "their mom is crazy . . . she's super uptight!"

So once in a while I try a little harder to be that mom. I bake with Sophia in matching aprons and ignore the mess that I'll have to clean up later. I sit down on the floor while we build the tallest tower we can. I hold Jude and talk to him for a few minutes instead of folding laundry. I know it is important to have those times, but always niggling the back of my mind is my to-do list, so they don't happen as often as I would like them too.

Yesterday was one of those afternoons. Sophia woke up on the wrong side of the bed from her nap, but instead of having a terrible tear-filled afternoon, we had fun! Out came the $5 canvas from Big Lots, along with the finger paints the Snuggler got for her birthday. An hour later we had a painted canvas, and a painted Sophia . . . and smiles! We emptied those tubes of paint, man, and no one ever had more fun doing so.

Then it was up to the tub for the bubbliest bubble bath ever, and by the time that was done it was time for dinner. Time really does fly when you're having fun! I think it was a gift to both of us, to really enjoy each other's company. Of course, poor little Jude is just an observer for now, but soon enough he'll be in on the fun, too.



















And of course, don't forget to become a follower of my blog so that you can be automatically entered to win a jar of homemade strawberry jam on December 1st!
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