Monday, November 3, 2014

A Christmas Sled Upcycle

It's early November, and I've already told my friends not to be judgy.  I'm in Christmas mode.  One cannot do all of the crafting and all of the baking and all of the decorating in four weeks.  I waited until Halloween was over, even if I did listen to Christmas music the entire week of.

Now I'm ready to craft.  What better project to kick off the season than a free one!  (I have all the supplies on hand from other projects.)

My husband's parents separated two years ago this month, and his mother passed this little wooden sled on to us.  It has lived in a corner of my laundry/storage room since then because it's just not my style.  It's just too... circa 1995.  The only thing I like as-is is the twine.

Last year, I admired Christmas trees with large non-ornament items used to tie together a theme, but I couldn't come up with anything to put in my tree.  It just occurred to me that it's my sled now, and I'd rather change it to fit my decorating style than just hide it away or end up donating it.

First, I removed the twine and sanded all but the back, which is still unfinished.  I needed to degloss the surface of the sled so the paint wouldn't chip.  Next, I sprayed the red runners and the name part in an espresso brown I had leftover from redoing a vintage step stool/seat.

After drying for a day, I went over the entire sled with a coat of white spray paint.

While it was still tacky, I scraped the edges with a sharp putty knife to bring out the brown, and even a tiny bit of the red on one edge of the runner.  I retied the twine, and now it's ready to make an appearance on my Christmas tree!

Here's a closer view of the distressing...

Not my biggest "WOW" project, but definitely ranked among the cheapest and fastest!  The perfect project to kick off my favorite season!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Homes Sweet Homes

Our family is in our third home.  Our first home was a tiny apartment, where we lived from our wedding day until our oldest was 10 months old.  700 sq. ft. and a 1-hr. commute for Scott meant looking for a new home closer to work.  We were dead set on home ownership and all the nightmares joys that come with it, and bought our first house.

And this is most definitely an "after" photo.  We dug out load after load of lava rock and tore out a warped wooden walkway.  Ripped out bushes that hid the porch, and replaced the wood on the porch and deck.  Painted the brown posts to a crisp white.  Planted all new plants, mulched, babied the new grass, laid the slate walkway.  This was still before we put on the new roof, though.

It's a 3- (teeny tiny) bedroom 1.5 story with a finished basement, so it fit two children perfectly.  We brought Elijah home to this house, then brought Sadie home to this house.  We soon realized we'd outgrown the house and put it on the market.

We closed two days after Christmas, which I really REALLY do not recommend, unless your idea of a good time is undecorating the tree and packing and deep cleaning and painting at the new house all at the same time.

Now, we have 4 larger bedrooms, an extra bedroom in the finished basement, which we use as a playroom, and a laundry room big enough to hold all the kids' clothes.

This house is fantastic, but once again, we've realized our needs have changed and our house doesn't fit those needs.  Primarily, Denny can't enjoy life outside our home, with it being built on the side of a hill.  Great for sledding.  Not great for a barely mobile child.

We had the opportunity to buy a house that has every item on my wish list from childhood to now (including an attic with permanent stairs because Home Alone).  And it's built on probably the only flat lot in the city.  No stairs going into the home, and the ability to stay on one level the entire day (bedrooms upstairs).

It's a blank canvas, ready for us to make our own.  It's the place we hope to stay for a long time to come: our forever home.

We're also praying about the timing of our move, that our daughter will have only one transition instead of two.  Because one is hard enough.  That could mean quite a bit of chaos on this side of the ocean while I'm on the other side for pick-up trip, but we'll work out the details as we get closer to that time.

I hope moving will revive my little blog, bringing back a bit of the original purpose of the blog with upcycling items to make them my own.

Monday, July 28, 2014

A Much Needed Update (And Camping Pictures)

It's been several months since I blogged or even logged into my blog.  But it's time to update our adoption status!  Our homestudy was in our hands in record time, paperwork was sent in to USCIS (immigration) to approve us, a (literal) pink slip was sent back from USCIS requesting that we have three sentences changed in our homestudy, our homestudy agency had an addendum out the door the same day I requested it, and we had USCIS approval on June 3.

We quickly sent all our remaining documents to the Secretary of the Commonwealth for apostille, and had them mailed to our caseworker, who then sent them to Bulgaria.  I first received an message that our dossier was being submitted, then another message that we had verbal referral.  It's been a quiet two weeks, so I'm praying that the message I receive this week is that we have written referral!  We should be traveling to Bulgaria very soon to meet our daughter!

In other fun adventures, our family spent the weekend camping with around 20 other families from our church, and I wish we were doing it every weekend!  If you asked me one thing I loved more than anything else from my childhood, it would be camping.  I love everything from seeing kids running around with friends, the smell of a campfire, even cleaning up and drying the tent for packing, remembering that being my chore as a child.

We more than survived the weekend, we came home filled up with love for our church family, a greater understanding of community, and worn out kids who didn't complain about bedtime!  Even our dog is happily exhausted.  My kids spent so much time running, it was hard to take pictures of everything they did.  Here are a few:

Denny was thrilled to play in the dirt each day, and I was thrilled we had showers!

Viktorya loved swinging her baby in the hammock.

Sadie helped me dog-sit several dogs from the campsites while lots of bigs went swimming.

Viktorya was trying to reach another little dog we were dog-sitting.

Swinging in hammocks...


Finding friends to play baseball with...


And sparklers at night!

Happy Monday everyone!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Mama's a Busy Bee!

Life has been a whirlwind recently and, were it not for my love of lists, I'd forget everything!  First, I finished the kitchen backsplash project I'd been s l o w l y working on for the past couple of months...

Secondly, I've made quite a bit of progress on our adoption paperwork!  Our homestudy was finished on the 11th, and in my hands on the 14th.  On the 15th, I mailed our FBI clearances to be authenticated, our I-800A paperwork to USCIS, 6 documents to be apostilled at the Secretary of the Commonwealth, and a copy of our homestudy to our stateside caseworker.

At this point, we've only got one more document to complete before we've done all we can do, and it's our agency approval letter.  I have an agency approval certificate, but the specific wording in the letter we need for our dossier includes our home study agency's commitment to performing the post-placement reports, and we need to pay for those visits prior to them filling out the paperwork.  (We're about $600 from having all we need for that.)

I'm also still working on our dossier photos, and that's the hardest thing for me.  One of my friends was joking with me that I can tackle a big stack of legal documents and get them typed up, signed, notarized, and apostilled with no issue, but I can't put 10 pictures on a page and call it done.  I tried, and I've decided it's just going to be easier to use Shutterfly to make a photo collage, where I can easily play with the pictures and layouts.

My goal is to finish these last two pieces by the end of the month, so I can get everything to our caseworker for translation.  Things are moving so quickly right now, and I keep praying this pace keeps up!  The faster we get back to Bulgaria, the better!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Project Mode

I won't say that the paperwork for a subsequent adoption is easier, but it's definitely more efficient, knowing which pieces take longer to come back, and therefore, which items to work on first.

One of the first things we mailed off was our FBI checks, because those take 8-12 weeks to come back.  By the time we have our I-800a packet mailed off, after finishing our home study, we should receive the FBI clearances, and that will be the last piece of our dossier, next to the I-800a approval letter.

Speaking of home studies, we're waiting for one last piece, and it will be finished!  We're done (for now, at least) with trips to the doctor, bloodwork, autobiographies, and -thisclose- to being done with our education (for our placing agency requirements, not for our home study).

When I'm not working on adoption paperwork and I have some time to myself, I'm in DIY mode.  I've just painted our new-to-us headboard in CeCe Caldwell's "Seattle Mist" chalk paint, which I love against the curtains I made for our bedroom last year.

I started working on our kitchen backsplash last month, and now half of the tile is up, I have lots more pieces of tile to cut, and plenty of grouting to do.  It certainly would've been faster to pay Lowe's to install, but there's something so rewarding in looking at a finished project, knowing you did it all by yourself.

Plenty to keep me busy and to keep my mind off of waiting on paperwork.  Thankfully I have all the supplies for my projects on hand, because my "fun money" is now all earmarked for the adoption!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Back to Blogging... And EXCITING News!

Prior to life with five kids, I had a little more time for blogging, but it has fallen by the wayside, obviously.

I know I had friends who followed our journey, so it's my intention to carve out a little time for blogging each week.

The past year has been full of adjustments for everyone, with normal ups and downs, and our life has settled down quite a bit.  Our kids have gotten to know each other, grown to love each other, and life is good.

For my first post of the year, I have WONDERFUL news to share!  We're going back!!!  We're thrilled to announce that we're bringing Stephie into our family!

Our process is moving quickly right now and we hope, especially because of her age, that each step will continue to go at such a fast pace.  We should have our home study in our hands within the next few weeks!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Biscuit Cake! (Recipe)

I was talking to my grandmother and sister, working out the Christmas menu, and my sister said "I don't care what else you make, but I want biscuit cake." I've had several other people ask for the recipe, and I'm happy to oblige!  

The original recipe can be found here.  While this biscuit cake was still not exactly what we had on our trip to Bulgaria last October, it was the closest I could find, and adding Nutella to a recipe is never a bad thing, right?  I also modified the recipe to exclude the alcoholic Bailey's Irish Cream because, well, I was serving it to my kids and it's a no-bake recipe.  I also doubled the recipe to fill the trifle bowl. 

Trifle bowl
2 packages of biscuits (I used a specialty brand I found at Kroger, on the cookie aisle)
2 packages mascarpone cheese (with the specialty cheese)
8 oz. heavy whipping cream8 oz. milk4 oz. Bailey's Irish Cream-flavored coffee creamer1 3/4 c. confectioner's sugar1 tsp. pure vanilla extract1 jar NutellaChocolate (grated for garnish)
Chocolate roses (optional, added for Viktorya's birthday to represent Bulgaria)

1. Whip the heavy cream in a large bowl.  Add mascarpone cheese, vanilla extract, and 1 c. of confectioner's sugar.  Mix well.

2. In another bowl, mix together the milk, Irish Creme-flavored creamer, and 3/4 c. sugar.  Dip cookies in the milk mixture, for 10-20 seconds, depending on the thickness of the cookies.  You don't want them to fall apart, but you do want them a little soft.

3. Place one layer of biscuits in the trifle bowl. Spread a layer of Nutella over them, followed by a layer of the mascarpone and cream mixture.

4. Repeat the steps until the biscuits and cream mixture are used up.  I had probably 4-5 layers. 

5. Garnish with shredded chocolate.

6. Place in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight.  Serve cool.

7. Enjoy!