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Art for Adam

Adam’s room is decorated in red and white, with some adorable gingham.  I've been looking for cheap farm-themed art for the shelves, so I made these silhouettes using clipart from
I copied it into SBC+3.0, used the wand on the cut and fill ribbon to get rid of the background on the clipart, colored the clipart white, and added a heavy shadow from the format ribbon. I had some frames that my sister in law used to decorate at Adam's shower, so painted them white and put them on the decorative shelves in his room.
The website also had silhouettes of dancers, a variety of animals, fireflies and caterpillars, etc. So it could be used for almost any room! I may make some with the "plants" for my living room.

I printed these at the handy little Kodak machine in Target.  Fast, but HORRIBLE quality!  I will be reprinting them through digital.creativememories.com.
Silhouettes - Page 010
When I designed them, I used the same shade of red on each print, but IRL, the red around the turkey looks BLACK!  (Plus, my turkey, pig and sheep are too big.)
Silhouettes - Page 009
But overall, I think it’s pretty cute!

And of course, I’m linking up!   Frugalicious Friday - includes a fun giveaway!

Bring on Spring!

Do I care that my car said it was –12 degrees Wednesday morning when I left for work?
Do I care that I can’t get a decent picture because of the sun reflecting off the snow and through my windows?
Do I care that we are a few inches away from a snowfall record here in central Iowa?
Do I care that we have had 11 snow days, and too many late starts/early dismissals to count?
Do I care that it’s not even March yet?

No!  It’s time for spring!
I love these tulips and sweet little birds.  My friend Katie H. and I went to Michaels last Saturday and picked out some spring accessories.

And, they were half off!

On my way to Michael’s, Adam and I stopped at JB Knacker.  They were having a great sale, and we got a red box for Adam’s room, a porch post for a project I’m working on, and these cute little nests for $1.50 each!
Those cute little pedestals are actually the Adam-sized bowls that came with my dishes.  We actually use them way more than I thought we would, but they work great for these adorable nests, too!
The eggs are from Michael’s, too. $5 for a bag full!  I need some more, but I don’t have time to drive all the way there to get them. :(
dscn0146 dscn0147
I had trouble getting those three to stay still, so I stuck a little double sided tape on the bottom!

Now, if we think it, and wish, it will come true, right?  Bring on spring!

I found another place to link up!
My Cottage Charm Trinkets and Treasures

B&A Living Room

Here’s a little Before and After for you:
This is the living room in our 100 (or 102 now, I guess) year old farm house.
My mother in law put up that wallpaper back when it was cool.  The green “caterpillar” carpet was heavy, heavy wool that was installed for one of the previous tenant’s son’s graduation in 1968.

P1030298 This was below the window you see above.  There was a window box air conditioner in that window at one time, and the condensation kind of ruined the wall.  (kind of?  ha!)
The plan was to take down wallpaper and paint.  And soon, we were doing this:

Oh yeah, it also ruined the siding, so we were also doing this:
And while we were at it, we  found this:
P1030304  It is a vine that was growing through the rotten siding, through the wall to the 2nd floor.  2nd floor!  Crazy!
Eventually we (and by we, I mean my fabulous Dad and husband.  I think that’s my dad on the left and husband on the right, but they look an awful lot alike in this pic) got it looking looking like this.
And after owning the house for two years, and living here for 20 months, it finally looks like this!
See that gorg-e-o-so floor?  Turns out that wool carpet was just protecting it for us!  It was perfect!

Check out these fun linky parties with more transformations!

Metamorphosis Monday

Before and After Party!

Career colors?

If only it were really this easy…

I saw this link on Susan’s Between Naps on the Porch.  Click HERE to take the test. You can skip the email part, and click “no thanks” when the add pops up! 

Here are my results.  I’m not sure they’re completely accurate, but it was quick and fun!

Best Occupational Category

Self-Control, Practical, Self-Contained, Orderly, Systematic, Precise, and Accurate

These conservative appearing, plotting-types enjoy organizing, data systems, accounting, detail, and accuracy. They often enjoy mathematics and data management activities such as accounting and investment management. Persistence and patience allows them to do detailed paperwork, operate office machines, write business reports, and make charts and graphs.

Suggested careers are Administrator, Secretary, Printer, Paralegal, Building Inspector, Bank Cashier, Private Secretary, Statistician, Operations Manager, Financial Analyst, Bookkeeper, Medical Records Technician, Developer of Business or Computer Systems, Clerical Worker, Proofreader, Accountant, Administrative Assistant, Banker, Certified Public Accountant, Credit Manager, Store Salesperson, Actuary, Dental Assistant, Business Education Teacher, Food Service Manager, IRS Agent, Budget Analyst, and Underwriter.

Your very careful, conscientious, conservative nature gives others the confidence to trust you with handling money and material possessions. Structured organizations that have well-ordered chains of command work best for you.

Suggested Organizer workplaces are large corporations, business offices, financial lending institutions, banks, insurance companies, accounting firms, and quality control and inspection departments.

2nd Best Occupational Category

Witty, Competitive, Sociable, Talkative, Ambitious, Argumentative, and Aggressive

These enterprising types sell, persuade, and lead others. Positions of leadership, power, and status are usually their ultimate goal. Persuasive people like to take financial and interpersonal risks and to participate in competitive activities. They enjoy working with others inside organizations to accomplish goals and achieve economic success.

One more silhouette

Here’s one more just for fun!Silhouettes - Page 001

Silhouette Project using Storybook Creator Plus 3.0

I was inspired earlier today by Kristi at Just Simply Southern and I also saw an adorable silhouette project by Traci at Beneath My Heart a few days ago (it’s an old post, but I’ve been catching up on my blog reading.)


So I decided to whip up a silhouette for my husband’s grandma’s birthday this weekend.  I used Storybook Creator Plus software from Creative Memories and it literally took a few minutes!  (Check out the software at www.mycmsite.com/katieolthoff)


Step 1:  Find a picture that shows a profile of the face and load it into a blank project. (I did mine in a 4x6 page so I can print it as a regular old picture.)


Step 2: Click on the Cut and Fill ribbon and use the custom cutting tool (curved line) to cut out the face.  Don’t worry if it looks kind of funky as you do it.  Use the “edit points” button to perfect it.  This step will flatten your image.

Silhouettes - Page 003

Step 3: Again on the Cut and Fill ribbon, change the fill color to whatever you want.

Step 4: Use the Insert ribbon to add your text.

Silhouettes - Page 001

I added a couple of (totally optional) steps here – a background and a little tag beneath the text.

Silhouettes - Page 002 

Silhouettes - Page 001Silhouettes - Page 004

Step 5: Print using your favorite photo printer or www.cmphotocenter.com.


And VOILA!  Bob’s your uncle!  (the only thing is, Bob really is my uncle…)


Adelyn is Adam’s 2nd cousin, and is only 6 weeks old!  I framed these and gave them to their Great Grandma Shirley for her birthday this week.  I forgot to take a picture of them printed and framed, though!  The total cost of the project was:

$0.56 (2 4x6 prints at Walmart)

$3.00 (black double frame at Walmart)

$3.56!  Great price for a beautiful, personalized gift!

l’m linking up to Make Your Monday at Twice Remembered.


Snow Day Project

Yesterday was my school district’s 10th snow day of the year, and today is the 11th. This is great practice for my part time gig next year!
While I was home yesterday, I finished up a pillow project that I started on Sunday, and I also worked on another project that I’m hoping to reveal at Make Your Monday and Metamorphosis Monday.
Here are my pillows.  I will post a tutorial later for those of you who aren’t as experienced at sewing as I am. :)
I made 4 – 2 stripe, 1 floral and 1 diamond.
P1070416(And no, I did not pick up the toys for these photos.  Just keeping it real!)
I absolutely adore this fabric.  So much, that I’ve been afraid to cut it for years.  More about that later.
And just for fun, here are a couple pictures of my boy in his new work boots.  Sorry they’re blurry – the kid won’t stand still!P1070390Don’t you love the kitchen subfloor?  And the way Adam throws all of his magnets on the floor.P1070391
One more – this is a sneak peak of my other snow day(s) project:

Response to Katie Couric’s Report on Antibiotic Use in Farms

The media is once again blasting the American farm.

This information is from: http://www.radiowebservices.com/posts/show/3739c18e-effb-48d1-ad91-19d4c4568854

    * FDA-approved antibiotics are used in a targeted manner – when animals are sick or exposed to disease – to prevent, control and treat livestock and poultry diseases. Some are also used to enhance growth and nutritional efficiency of the animals and birds. All FDA-approved antibiotics must meet/exceed rigorous animal and human food safety standards.
    * FDA-approved antibiotics protect the health of animals, ensuring a safe, compassionate, sustainable, affordable and reliable food supply for consumers.
    * Studies demonstrate judiciously used antibiotics actually contribute to reduced risks of bacterial contamination of meat and dairy. Banning these products will cause animal suffering, reduce farm income, and work against making food safer.
    * FDA-approved antibiotics are added to feed because this is the most efficient way in which to reach entire herds and flocks with these important animal health products. The amount of antibiotic in a specific feed is set by FDA – generally in grams per ton of feed – and these feeds can only be mixed by facilities operating on federal regulations specifying Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) and are inspected on a regular basis by FDA and state inspectors.
    * FDA conducts not only pre-approval review of all antibiotics used in feed, it maintains stringent post-approval monitoring, participates in USDA’s routine residue monitoring programs, cooperates in “responsible” and “judicious” use programs with veterinarians, farmers and ranchers, and actively tracks patterns of antibiotic resistance in humans.
    * There is no “smoking-gun” science establishing the link between on-farm antibiotic use and human resistance.  However, there are mountains of data showing a link between over-prescription in human medicine and hospital-acquired infections.
    * Legislation to ban antibiotic use is na├»ve and shows a basic lack of understanding of how the products are used, how much is used, how they’re regulated and the impact on animal welfare, food quality, safety and affordability, and human health.
    * Critics assert 70% of all antibiotics sold in the U.S. are fed to food animals for non-therapeutic purposes. There is no basis for this claim, nor do activists attempt to explain the number. The number is an agenda-driven number. To reach the 70% number means critics include drugs approved years ago, but never sold in the U.S., include products specifically developed for farm animals with no human medical use, and assume farmers medicate all animals throughout their entire lives at the maximum permitted dosage.  All wrong.
    * The “Danish experience” is anything but a success. European reports, interviews with Danish producers and veterinarians and others familiar with the aftermath of the ban on growth promotion and feed efficiency uses of the products, demonstrate a re-emergence of swine diseases not seen in Denmark for decades; a near-100% increase in the use of antibiotics to treat sick animals, and no material impact on human resistance, reaffirmed by the findings of a congressional fact-finding mission to Denmark in December 2009.


Here is a short video from the Iowa Turkey Federation on antibiotic use.


Choosing Toys for your Toddler


We have WAAAYYYY too many toys at our house, and I want to get rid of some, but which are worth keeping?  I decided to do some research.  Of course I am always thinking about safety, but my focus here is on the educational value of the toys.

I am going to sort toys and keep the ones that:

  • can be used in a variety of ways.
  • encourages cooperation (NOT aggression or violence)
  • activate the imagination
  • encourage role play
  • increase fine/large motor skills
  • increase shape recognition
  • require sorting

At our house, this means we will be keeping the tractors, animal figurines, puzzles, blocks, riding toys, balls, magnadoodle, crayons, kitchen toys and construction set.






Tools of the Mind

This is the curriculum described in my post, here


NPR Article

Metropolitan State College of Denver

- Click on the “Parents” link for age specific ideas!

NY Times Article

Nurtureshock Chapter 8: Can Self Control be Taught?

I have been reading Nurtureshock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merriman and I HIGHLY recommend it to parents and educators.  I just finished reading Chapter 8, and I thought I’d jot down some of my impressions.

The chapter focuses on a Preschool and Kindergarten program called Tools of the Mind.  The author describes the program, explains its benefits, and finally (in a much too short conclusion) explains how you can apply elements of the program to parenting and educational settings.

Tools of the Mind employs strategies such as a “play hour.”  This sounds very similar to “center time” in most preschool or kindergarten rooms, but the difference is in the childrens’ play plans.  Before the play hour begins, the students write down their play plan.  Younger children scribble or draw their play plan, while older children write as much as possible.  Then, for the next 45 minutes, the children STICK TO IT.

Other strategies include encouraging “private speak” by modeling it out loud.  As the students practice writing a letter with the teacher, they describe their pencil strokes out loud.  Gradually, they whisper what they’re doing, and eventually, they no longer speak out loud – it has become “private speak.”  This is something that adults do regularly (think through things in their heads) but kids do not all do this.

One of my favorite components is that the teachers show the children how to evaluate their own (and others’) work.  The teacher will write four versions of the same letter on the board and ask kids to pick the “best.”  Kids “grade” each other’s penmanship by circling the best example of each letter.

And the program is WILDLY successful – increasing students’ executive function, vocabulary, IQ, abstract and symbolic thinking, concentration, cognitive control and self-regulation.


So what can teachers and parents take from this?

- Have children write a plan for how they will spend their time, and make them stick to it.  This could be during studyhall, an afternoon at home, a visit to the library, or anywhere.

- Encourage children to use “private speech” when learning to do something.  “Start at the top and draw a line down.”  or “Cross the laces, and put this one underneath.”

- Instead of pointing out specific mistakes, be more general.  “There is a mistake in the second paragraph.”  “Something you just read didn’t make sense.”

- Have students evaluate their own work.


Any other ideas?

Makeover: China Cabinet

I’m posting this because I want to link up to Metamorphosis Monday over at Between Naps on the Porch and Make Your Monday at Twice Remembered.
When my husband and I were still in college, one of his co-workers got remarried and offered us some of her furniture.  We scored several freebies, and this is one them.
When we got it, it looked like this:
complete with a burn hole in the top.
I had it in my apartment for a year, storing books. (And I heard that it was a real PITA to carry up the stairs to my unit.)
And when we finally got married and bought our teeny tiny house, we put it in the dining room.
But after several months, I knew we needed it for storage, and the transformation began.
I’m sorry I didn’t take pictures of the whole process.  Basically, I sanded it with steel wool, then primed and painted it white.  I wanted to add some interest to the doors, so I added these fabric panels.  Bart helped with that project.  We screwed cup holders to the top and bottom of each door, and cut dowels to fit.  I made the panels (didn’t finish the seems or anything) and VOILA!  My panels were made from a light weight “decorator’s” fabric and they were 1 1/2 times the width of the windows. 

cottage 18
But the white felt really stark to me, so a few months later, I distressed the edges using my palm sander, and then coated the entire thing with Valspar glaze.  I wiped the glaze on with an old sock, then used a spray bottle of water and more old socks to wipe it off until it looked perfectly shabby.
Finally, I put three coats of water based poly on it.  I found that the glaze moved a bit with the poly because they were both water based, but because the glaze comes off with water (even after letting it cure a bit) I felt that it needed a topcoat.
I don’t think anyone will confuse it for an expensive piece of furniture, but I think it looks pretty good (especially since it was FREE!)
Here it is in our little Ames house.
And at Christmas time in our “new” house.  (Ignore the cabinets next to it.  They belong in the new bathroom someday.)
P1070208 I’ve made several other “curtains” for it, including an adorable black and white toile set, but these are made from cardboard and wrapping paper!  I love that this piece is so versatile and easy to change!

Hope you enjoyed my transformation!  Check out others at Between Naps on the Porch and Make Your Monday at Twice Remembered!
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Edited to Add:  I went ahead and linked up here, too!  Frugalicious Friday  and at Infarrantly Creative.