I am an elementary school media specialist (librarian) and a new mom. My daughters (born 12/27/2010 and 6/27/2013) are teaching me all kinds of new things every day. One thing they have taught me is that sometimes, there just isn't room for much else besides learning. If you're not sleeping, eating, talking, blogging, or whatever, it might just be because you're TOO BUSY LEARNING!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Getting Ready for Autumn Gardening

My summer garden went rather well and was fun. Around the beginning of May, we pulled up the pansies (that survived all winter!), and I planted petunias and marigolds. Tyler planted vegetables in the big garden, and he sprayed out an area for me to plant an herb garden. Today is beautiful and breezy, and I can feel fall coming on. In another month or so (maybe sooner), I'll have to pull up and trim back the summer plants and get the autumn garden ready to go.

At the moment, the brick planter by the front door is brimming with pink petunias, which kind of clash with the house, but I don't care. I think these may last a while yet. However, if I was going to pull them up, I think I might replace them with three or four chrysanthemums in different colors. I already bought one chrysanthemum, but it got run over by a wayward soccer ball at our last cookout and hasn't been doing real well. It may recover, but for now, no blossoms.

The front walk flower beds are housing marigolds at the moment, but they are a little past their peak. Still blossoming, but definitely not as prolific lately, some of the plants have started to die one branch at a time. I guess pansies are the best option for winter flowers in the beds, but I may check into some other options too. Any reader suggestions? Especially if you live in my area, what flowers work well in the fall and winter? I'd like to try something new and interesting if I can.

The herb garden is probably ripe for harvest, but I've never had one before, so I'm not sure. Any tips from my herb gardening friends? Left to right (but pretty hard to distinguish), I have chives (potted), parsley, oregano, sage, rosemary, thyme, and purple basil. We've had fun using these in our cooking over the summer. Tyler is much better at incorporating them on the fly, but I will use them when recipes call for them too. I think what I need to do with these is clip them back and dry the harvested herbs so that they can come back next year. They should all come back except the chives and parsley. The basil definitely will. It's already trying to take over the world. I wouldn't be surprised if it came back well before true spring, in fact.

Here's my wish list for my autumn yard:
  • two rocking chairs or a glider for the front porch
  • plant stand/table for the front porch (great place for a jack-o-lantern!)
  • chrysanthemums galore
  • something other than pansies for the flower beds
  • a wheelbarrow (because it would be fun to haul dead plants to the compost pile in that instead of carrying them because it just seems more garden-y)
What are your autumn plans?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

My DIWLO Wedding

This post is in honor of my faithful and recently-engaged reader Kimberly. She recently shared her plans for her upcoming DIY Wedding on her blog.

My wedding was kind of DIY, but more like DIWLO (Do It With Loved Ones). Just about every piece of the wedding was personalized and created by one or more people who love us and wanted to help. This was made possible by the fact that ours was a small wedding (about 60 guests), and we just happen to be surrounded by a hugely talented group of family and friends.

You can view the slide show at the bottom of the post for some pictures of how things turned out, but here is a list of items contributed:
  • the invitations - My sister Sonja and I worked late into the night one night designing and printing the invitations on her laser printer. We used blank invitations from Target. I chose the dogwood as the theme flower for the wedding, even though it was past dogwood season. That's the joy of artificial flowers, folks.
  • the programs - I designed these on Microsoft Word and then had them copied on nice paper at Kinkos.
  • the wedding party flowers - For the wedding party, I chose artificial flowers. I talked to Sonja about what she had done for the flowers at her wedding and then went to Michael's (craft store) for supplies. I picked out white flowers for boutonnieres and corsages and a bunch of flowers I liked for the bridal bouquet. For the bridesmaid bouquet and tossing bouquet, I found a ready-made bunch of white flowers at the same craft store.
  • the reception flowers - My sister-in-law Tabetha ordered two dozen yellow roses for me from Costco. Sonja went to pick them up the day before the wedding, and it turned out that there were four dozen! So there were yellow roses everywhere. I bought a bunch of little vases at Target for the reception tables, and those flower arrangements doubled as guest favors. Mom, Grandma, Sonja, and Tammy (my friend and photographer) spent a long time arranging flowers throughout the reception area and sanctuary.
  • the officiant - Pastor Mike from my church of four years officiated the wedding. It was one of his first weddings, and everyone commented that the message was excellent.
  • the musicians - All of the musicians were friends and family. My brother Aaron was our genius pianist. We got more compliments on his amazing talent than any other part of the service. In addition to playing the prelude, processional, and recessional, he also accompanied the singers and played a solo Liszt piece. Singers were soloist Joy, my roommate, and trio singers Sonja, Sarah, and Tarah. Everyone sounded beautiful.
  • the photographer - Tammy, my former coworker and friend, came and took pictures for the wedding. You can see some of her brilliant work here.
  • hair and makeup - Sonja did my hair, and I got my makeup and nails done at Balance Day Spa with a gift certificate from Tyler.
  • catering - Ty's brother Chris did the catering for the wedding with help from his girlfriend (now fiancee) Ashley. Ty and I agree that it was the best wedding reception food we have ever had, and it was all personalized just for us. There was even gazpacho, upon Tyler's request.
  • cake - Instead of traditional wedding cake, our guests feasted on cheesecakes made by mother of the bride Sara and mother of the groom Nancy. Neither Ty nor I are fans of regular wedding cake, but we both love cheesecakes, and our moms were incredibly generous to prepare these for us. Also on the dessert table were mints homemade by a family friend, Denise.
We felt so blessed to have so many people involved in the execution of our wedding. It may not have been the party of the century or even the season, but our closest friends and family were there to help us celebrate one of the most important days of our lives, and that's exactly what we wanted.

For other great DIY wedding ideas, check out Sonja's series of blog posts on her wedding, featuring her wedding scrapbook.

And here's the promised slide show... You can also link to the album here.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

September Home Projects: Making it Pretty

I just got a raise for finishing my master's degree. Yay! So I have re-vamped my budget to include a small amount for home improvement expenses every month -- little things like decorations and organizing stuff. So, here are my projects for September:

Curtains!!! I have been lamenting our lack of bedroom window treatment ever since I moved into my husband's former bachelor pad in June of 2007. I finally decided what I wanted and bought these, along with a tension rod, at Target. It's hard to see in the picture, but the curtains have burgundy stripes that pick up the comforter.

I made the tie-backs myself using a pattern from Crochet Pattern Central (suggested by Kimberly). Of these I am inordinately proud.

My other main purchase of the month was a wreath to signify the advent of autumn. It's about a million degrees outside today, but the wreath gives me hope.

And this is an example of closet shopping. Since I finally moved the huge, heavy, largely-decorative chess set off the kitchen table, we can theoretically eat there now. In the spirit of autumn, I pulled my autumnal table cloth down from the cabinet from which it had not emerged since I put it there more than a year ago. Now the kitchen is festive.

And so, today I am enjoying my freshly cleaned and updated house, freshly husband-mowed lawn, and not-at-all-fall-like weather.

Ty says he's going to fix the drywall in the laundry closet this week, and then we're tearing down popcorn ceilings, so look for some seriously nasty photo-journaling coming soon on that.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Organized Classroom Spaces

I love the start of a new school year. Everything is shiny and new, including the teachers and children in many cases. And as the kids arrive, they get to see a new classroom, cleaned up and organized just for them. Here are some of my favorite classroom spaces this year:

This is my office. I love having an office. The joy of having a locked door to close is sometimes overwhelming as well.

My friend Emily spent a good portion of her summer working on her classroom. Pictured above is her beautiful classroom library -- my favorite part of any classroom, of course. I like the way Emily has displayed her books with the covers out so the kids can browse more easily.

Another classroom library space that I simply adore was created by one of our new teachers, Erin. She has this same colorful theme throughout her classroom, but this corner is my favorite. I really want to be a third grader so I can come in here to read.

As yet unsullied by students, here is Fannie's art room. It's hard to see in this picture, but she has all of her art supplies stored neatly in bins on the shelves in the back of the room. The shelves are open, so her exceptional organizational skills are completely exposed.

Margareta knew her students would bring in supplies to share, like facial tissue, so she cleared out a whole cabinet in order to be prepared to stow the stuff on the first day.

Some classrooms have more physical limitations than others. Second grade teachers are all teaching in mobile units this year at my school, which means less space, fewer windows, and very little character. Tammy made the most of her windows by adding these attractive curtains to help brighten up the space.

What are your best classroom organization ideas? Aren't the ladies featured in this post amazing?

Monday, September 1, 2008

August Organization Project: Office Closet

I don't have any pictures of this one because I really wasn't prepared to tackle it. My thought process was basically, "Hm. I should work on National Boards planning. Don't wanna. Let's look in the office closet and see what I can throw out."

I did end up getting rid of one box. But not one box of stuff. I consolidated. Now there are fewer boxes and just a tiny bit less stuff.

I couldn't bring myself to get rid of the things in that closet for the most part. Shortly before I got married and moved into my husband's house, my parents moved out of their house (the one where I spent all of high school and stored all my pre-college life stuff). Consequently, I spent one weekend before their move packing up my room at my parents' house and stowing the boxes in Tyler's office closet. Most of what I could chuck, I chucked in Durham rather than hauling it into my new life with me.

So, while I didn't get rid of much yesterday, I did rediscover some treasures, such as...
  • a "tooth pillow" in which to store lost teeth for the tooth fairy, made by Grandma Likness
  • a doily and some figurines that I actually took out of the boxes and put around the house
  • an album full of pictures and memorabilia of our childhood dog, including the song we wrote about her (really, we did)
  • all my stuff from my study abroad semester in Finland
  • a news clipping of my brother driving his race car at the Orange County Speedway
  • scrapbooks from before the days of acid-free paper and die-cut shapes
  • the best stories I wrote in elementary and middle school, all typed on the Apple IIGS and printed with the trusty dot matrix printer
  • journals and other incriminating evidence of awkward adolescence that should probably be incinerated at first opportunity
  • all the tumble-polished rock jewelry from Great Grandpa Boehm
  • a gift from the museum guft shop from my best friend in first grade
And soooo much more. So, I pretty much labeled everything "for posterity," organized it by form and function, and put it all back in the closet. I know that professional organizers will tell you not to store a whole closet full of your misspent youth, but most professional organizers probably store their misspent youths at their parents' houses like normal people. So I'm keeping it. At least for now.