Thursday, April 17, 2014

Sam's Birthday

Now that the sun has returned (mostly), the days are slipping by at an alarming rate, and here it is already a couple of weeks since my last post!  

There's not much of excitement to report - lots of busy-ness, but not excitement - except for Sam's birthday.  
Sam turned eight on Monday.  Eight!

I always think of eight as a real turning point.  During this year, kids seem to grow up even faster than they have in previous years.  They really establish their own personality, more and more independently from mom and dad.

All this is right and good, of course.  But also a little sad for the mom who is watching her beloved baby take a giant leap toward manhood.

Well, maybe not such a giant leap.

Saturday, Sam got to celebrate his birthday with some friends at Chuck E. Cheese's.  We don't usually do parties like that (because I'm lazy) but Sam's friend has a birthday the day before Sam's, so his mom invited me to do a joint party.  Half the work and twice the fun...okay!

Monday, we just partied at home.

This tee shirt from my parents was one of Sam's favorite gifts.  It is a "doctor's note" which prescribes eating pizza, eating bacon, and playing video games every day: pretty much Sam's perfect day.

He even liked the new jeans.  Look at that smile.  

The "winning" present this year was this Lego set from us.  At least he's not yet too grown up to get excited about Legos!

You like the candle in the middle?  I discovered that I only had seven birthday candles and that would never do, so I improvised.

This was eight years ago.  *sniff*

Happy birthday, Sam!  You are loved more than you'll ever know!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Welcome Spring!

According to the calendar, we are in the season of "spring."  Most of us - in the northern half of the U.S., at least - have yet to experience much spring-like weather.

I know that our friends in Minnesota and Wisconsin are enjoying a lovely fresh layer of snow, but here, we finally have a day that feels like spring: chilly but warm enough to dispense with the parka, rainy but with occasional sun peeking through.  

(Basically, it's like England's weather, year-round.)

So, I've put a few spring-y touches around the house, like a new chalkboard sign,

a bunch of white tulips on the dining room table,

and, perhaps most shocking and dramatic of all,

I removed the little snowflakes from the mantle and added a pretty, pink wreath on one side.

Okay, not dramatic or shocking, but even subtle changes can help.  Right?  

I can't say that spring has sprung here, but I can say that today spring feels like a definite possibility.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Monday Meandering

Well, I blew my wad last week and have nothing so exciting as baby showers and "cloffice" spaces to post about this week. 

I thought, though, that I would meander through the house and show you a few small improvements I've made over the last little bit.

This little improvement isn't mine to brag about, but it is awfully nice to see: sunshine pouring in the dining room windows.

This little space is what a hopeful real estate agent might call the "breakfast nook."  

In reality, it has rarely been used for breakfast, and is usually piled high with papers and detritus.  

(I had just spent considerable time cleaning this up before I took the picture last week.  I'm generally an over-sharer, but I don't want to horrify anyone with the full extent of my messes.)

I knew the table wasn't right for the space and, pretty soon after we moved in, knew we needed a round pedestal table in that space.  So, I have occasionally searched Craigslist over the last several months, watching and waiting.  Last week, I found it.

It fits the space much better and will, hopefully, make the space more useful.  In fact, Will ate breakfast there yesterday morning.

My next idea for the space is a built in bench under the windows, but that can wait.

I also broke out some white paint (found in the basement from previous owners - love the price of $0) last week and finally painted this basket. 

I know this picture must be driving my OCD friends crazy.  Yes, the basket is crooked and off-center.  But, perfection is boring.

I also painted this $3.90 mirror from the thrift store.

Very cute and cottage-y, don'tcha think?

So, that's a quick meander through some minor improvements at Chez Shaw.  

Hope you are having a wonderful Monday.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Closet Makeover

One of the things which has not really had a home in our homes since we lived in Dayton (more than ten years ago) is all of my craft/sewing/scrapbooking stuff.  It generally lives in badly organized, deteriorating cardboard boxes in the basement, and if I want to do a project, I have to dig through all of the boxes, pull out what I think I might need, lug it upstairs, take over valuable real estate on the kitchen table, make a mess and then, when it's supper time, either put everything away - including the unfinished project - or leave it all out to hinder the rest of our lives.  Now that I am not homeschooling or working outside the home, I would like to get back into those activities a little more, but the current arrangement is not ideal.

But even in our larger house, every inch of space is used already!

Time to think creatively.

This closet sits under the stairs in our living room.  It is too far away from the front door to be a useful coat closet, so we decided to use it for board games.  And then, of course, it became a handy catch-all for various homeless items, like candles and violins and fireplace tools.

Sadly, our kids almost never play board or card games, so I decided to pull out the few games they do occasionally play, and pitch the rest. 

Can you see where this is going?

I forgot to take the before picture of the full-to-bursting closet, but here it is cleaned out, or nearly so, and ready to be made fabulous.

Here is one of three stacks I pulled out of there.

(The games we kept have found a new home in the storage ottoman in the living room.)

Once I pulled everything out, I grabbed some drawer units which were frittering away their time in the basement, and all my craft stuff, and started filling it up again.

I decided not to paint it.  The white paint is fairly new and does make the tiny space a little brighter.  

I did do one painting project, though.  I have had a can of chalkboard paint hanging around for just forever, but had never found the "perfect" project for it.  Until now.  The inside of the closet door was the perfect space to try my hand at one of Pinterest's biggest customers. 

I sanded first (and ended up pulling off the most recent layer of paint) and taped the space I wanted to fill.  

I then painted two coats of chalkboard paint, following the directions on the can for drying times, etc.

Unfortunately, when I went to pull the tape off, the door paint and the chalkboard paint came off with it!

Not a very pretty edge.  So, I touched up the edges with a smaller brush, going free hand.

I decided to just live with the small amount of white paint that came off the rest of the door.  It only shows on close inspection and I'm able to live with imperfection.  Clearly.

Here is the chalkboard, done and ready for chalk.

First, though, here is the inside of my new craft closet!  It is a tiny work space, so I will still need to use other spaces for my larger projects, but it is something, and it is mine. Mine, I say!

Actually, I can't even say that as my kids have already utilized the space for homework. 

Oh, well.  It serves the purpose of corraling my craft stuff, so I'll be happy with that.

And here is the chalkboard, treated and decorated.

Not a hugely crafty make-over, but a very useful one, with a little bit of "pretty" thrown in for fun.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Baby Shower

Here, at last, is the main event for that memorable day: the baby shower.

We went for a Beatrix Potter/English garden theme, but we tried to be subtle about it.

The English are nothing if not subtle, so we put aside our American love of all things gauche (Pepto-Bismol pink was out), and tried subtle for a change.

I made the little banner.  I'm afraid it was a little too subtle - it didn't really show up very well - but it was cute, if I do say so myself.

I hung baby dresses on the room divider. 

The yellow one on the top right was brought back for wee baby Anne by Uncle Steve when he was in Morrocco.  The white one below it was worn by little Katie.  The others were worn by other Copeland/Shaw babies.

Katie's friend, Julie James, made these sweet bouquets for us.  She took inspiration from Peter Rabbit and put parsley in the arrangements!  So cute!

We had cupcakes (of course), butter mints, nuts, three kinds of hot tea, a yummy citrus-y punch, and macaroons made by a friend of Katie's.

Each lady brought a tea cup and there were some beauties!

"Aunt" Nancy had a lovely devotional for us.  She had a series of little presents for Katie to open and each gift had a spiritual as well as physical significance.  Very sweet.

Then we moved to present opening!  Here, Katie was opening a pair of onesies that Johanna designed and made for Baby Donaldson.

Sean came toward the end and got in on some of the present-opening action.  

In all, there were about 27 ladies there, including Evie.  It was a wonderful mix of ladies who have known Katie since she was born and ladies who only know Katie as the elegant, talented Kathryn of the Pittsburgh Opera Chorus.  

And Baby D. is now well-equipped to make her entrance in a few weeks.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Birthday Brunch for the Birthday Girl and Baby

I promised baby shower pictures next, didn't I?  Well, let's stick with the chronological order here and talk about what happened that Saturday before the shower. Then, maybe, we'll get to some shower pictures.  Tomorrow.

(Hey, I'm a mom.  I know delay tactics.)

Saturday morning, early, Johanna, niece Maggie, and I went to the church to set up for the shower.  We rearranged furniture, set out dishes, frosted cupcakes, and I don't know what all.

At 11(-ish) we dashed out the door to drive to Cranberry for Katie's birthday brunch.

Katie turned 32 years and Baby Donaldson turned 32 weeks.  

(There might possibly maybe be some Aunt Worship going on for my elder daughter.  Ya think?) 

We convened at Perkins and had a lovely time.

Here's the whole crew (and me behind the camera).

Happy birthday!

Hard to believe it's been 32 years since I was called out of class to take a phone call from my dad, telling me I had a little sister.

Ooh, I'm a little misty.  Love that girl.

I love this picture of my mom and brother.  He knows how to make her laugh.

This cutie tried on Grandpa's cap.  Sorry, Dad; it looks way cuter on her.  

Next time: shower pictures.  Really.  

Monday, March 17, 2014


Anyone who knows my extended family knows that my sister-in-law is the baker/caterer.  She does a lovely job every time.  The most beautiful birthday cake I've ever seen was one of her creations - a flower garden with a white picket fence - all edible. It was a shame to eat it!

But for my sister's baby shower a couple of weeks ago, my sister-in-law was not available to do the honors, so I decided to attempt cupcakes myself.  I had no pretensions of mine turning out as delicious or as beautiful, but I'd do my best.  

I used recipes from Hello, Cupcake! by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson.

I made chocolate (of course)... well as lemon and vanilla.  I knew I would end up with more than we needed for the shower, but I figured I knew some little people who would be happy to clean up leftovers.

This is the face I got when this little person wanted to be picked up and her cruel mother decided to put down the fresh-from-the-oven pan first.

I made cream cheese frosting to go on all of them, but I tinted it three different colors, one for each type of cupcake: pink for chocolate, yellow for lemon, blue for vanilla (only the frosting had enough yellow in it from the vanilla that the blue turned green!). 

This is how they turned out.  Simple; nothing fancy; I know my limits!

Sadly, I wasn't really impressed with the flavor.  None of them seemed to have enough.  And they got very dry very quickly.  

But the ladies at the shower seemed to enjoy them, and I was glad.

And they were made with lots of love for my sweet "little" sister whom I love so much.

Next: pics from the baby shower.