Monday, January 31, 2011

Tessa's bed, now underwater

Ever since Tessa moved to a big-girl twin bed, when she was three, this has been the sleeping arrangement: Tyler and Tessa sharing a bunk bed, each with cute quilts (we already had), that sort of coordinate, and don't scream a specific gender--since they were the centerpiece of a mixed-gender bedroom.

The same situation persists today, over 4 years later. Tessa has been fine with this for the most part, but recently has wished she had more of her "own" space, and more of a feminine space at that. That's tough. How girly can you make the bottom half of a bunk bed, when there is a boy sleeping directly above it?

Not much we can do there, but we decided to try to make the space more hers, and more fun. She had the idea of painting a mural on the plywood she stares up at every night, the stuff that supports Tyler's mattress. I thought it was a great idea--something just for her, something hidden so it wouldn't be an eye-soar for the bedroom if it turned out poorly.

But...I am no artist. I had no idea how to paint a decent-looking mural! We decided on an under-the sea theme, since her sheets are blue and tan (like water and sand). So I took baby steps. I figured I could handle painting the whole thing blue...then I would see if I was brave enough to continue. But if not, at least the blue would be prettier than the unfinished wood.

I picked out a pretty shade of blue and bought a $3 sample at Lowe's. I let the kids help me with that part--they had fun and made a mess. Then days went by, and I decided I could add an ocean floor, why not? After looking through a "Little Mermaid" book, I tried my hand at seaweed, then some shells. (I just used random craft paints I had for everything else)

I was satisfied, so I kept going. Next was this little guy...or girl? The pink octopus. He was fun to make.

Mr. Octopus was cute enough, which gave me courage to try some fish. I painted a school of tiny un-detailed fish...and these yellow ones turned out alright, but another group I tried looked terrible, so I painted over it and went for turtles.

The sky above the water's surface was super easy...and that was it! I did it--one step at a time, I did it. And it wasn't even that hard. (But this whole process was spread over a few weeks...I'm not that ambitious and decisive.)

My ocean-scene mural is totally amateur, but I am proud of myself for attempting it. It was rewarding to create something with my hands, especially when my audience was so easy-to-impress. I have a much more critical eye, but I even like it. I surprised myself. I think it's good to try new things occasionally, especially low-risk ones like this. It keeps life interesting.

But more importantly, Tessa loves it. I also sewed a simple curtain to hang along the edge of her bed area, so she can truly have her own space, and a bit of privacy. I think it all made her feel special. I am glad, because until bedroom circumstances change, this is the best I can do.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Sisters II

Speaking of sisters, it is so fun to watch my daughters "sister" each other. They get along great, when they get along. I am so glad they have each other. And Tyler joins right in the fun most of the time--I don't think he feels left out of the same-gender-sibling bonding...(but I do hope he gets a brother someday)

Saturday, January 15, 2011


I am part of a great group of sisters. Just look at this line-up. I am fourth of the the five good-looking girls below. I loved having sisters. There was always someone around willing to play "house" or Barbies or some other imaginative, girly game, not to mention to borrow a shirt from. Being on the younger end of the group, I had much to learn from my wise sisters. My little sis and I carefully watched our more mature siblings, and tried to be just like them.

It was fun to grow up together, and now that we're all sophisticated adults, I still count on my sisters, and continue to learn TONS from them. Here we are last summer, in age order, but youngest to oldest this time. We don't form a perfect staircase anymore, but I think we make a nice group.

What would I do without my sisters? They are the greatest, and they do so much for me. The week after Christmas we were lucky enough to travel to Denver and be with my parents, a bunch of my siblings, and lots of nieces and nephews...and it was awesome.

Here is a taste of how much my sisters amazed me, just in that week--I saw one enthusiastically host some super-fun "older cousin" slumber parties to the detriment of her home; I saw one muster much more patience than I have in convincing a precocious two-year-old to go to bed (including trips to the garage to see if that might be a better place to sleep); I saw one create the best toffee you've ever tasted, then round everyone up for scripture reading, followed by silly "boardless" games, then later bust a move like she was one of the teenagers, not a mature mother of 4; and I saw my newest sister-in-law make perfect and delicious Thai curry for all of us, and perform masterpieces on the her spare time when she didn't have her adoring nieces attached to her.

Amazing, right? And those are just the ones I saw that week. I could go on about my other sisters and sisters-in-law. They are all dynamite.

My sisters teach me so much; so much more than how to bake great bread (although I am grateful for the bread I can make now...see last post).

I am always uplifted and inspired when I am around them. They make me want to be better.

And now that my sisters and I have kids of our own, it is awesome to see the bonds of love and friendship and silliness be passed down to that generation. My kids love their cousins.

Family relationships are pretty incredible. The unconditional love I feel from my family is a great support to me. I am blessed to have my sisters, but I can't quit without mentioning my awesome brothers! They are equally as amazing (and have chosen stellar girls for their wives). So glad the boys came along after all those girls, to attempt to even things out a bit. I love you all!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Simple, yet delectible

I wish more things in life could be that way...a perfect, delicious result with minimal effort. That is how this artisan bread is. So easy, so perfect, and so reminiscent of the bread Tom and I ate by the handful when we visited Europe 9 years ago.

But I guess that is not how life is, nor is it supposed to be. I do believe in work, and I'm not afraid of it. But since life always feels full and busy, I won't complain when I don't have to spend time kneading and fussing over yummy bread.

I just stirred some up today, and am waiting the designated two hours to shape and bake it. (the picture is from a previous loaf I made) I love this bread-making technique: you have to plan ahead and allow time for the dough to sit and for the chemical reactions (or whatever) to take place, but the active-time-spent is very small. You just mix until the flour is incorporated, and let it sit. Kneading is unnecessary when you follow this procedure outlined in the book I read. (kind of like the genius of the washing machine--throw it all in, turn it on, and let it do its magic while you do something else) There are a few other tips to implement at baking time, but nothing too complicated.

I can't take credit for discovering the book and this method. One of my sisters is pro at researching and perfecting recipes and baking/cooking techniques. She found this one, and tested it before spreading the news. I am so grateful she shares her findings. In fact, my whole family is very grateful. Yum. Love simple, love delicious.