Review: Newport Aquarium, part 2

Priorities

The restrooms are on the bottom floor. You pay and enter on the top floor. If you have drunk a large coffee during the last 100 miles before reaching Newport Aquarium, stop at a restroom in the shopping mall area. We were in such a hurry that we missed some of the upstairs exhibits and on the way out, we should have used the restroom again, but didn’t because we forgot it was on the lower level. Fortunately the children made it to ChickfilA.

The tide pool really captured their interest. During the last tour, no one else was there and they had a long conversation with the staff. What great people they have on board there! The children probably learned more there than anywhere else. The questions they had became a conversation.
Splash exchanged places with Bubbles throughout the day. We had to go back to check often.

First Tour

We took tour number one led by Big Bro, which lasted about an hour and a half. The children hopped from exhibit to exhibit, missing some and spending lots of time at others. The smaller fish tanks didn’t  catch their interest much. They moved in on the tide pool, the special Splash and Bubbles Show with its view into the big shark tank, the frog bog with a play structure and a live action Frogger game, the tunnels under the shark tank, the gi-normous, 14 foot, 800 pound alligator, the Shark Central petting area, and the shark bridge.

I’ve got an alligator whisperer! You should have heard the shout out when they discovered the second albino alligator on the second tour!

Second Tour

We didn’t even take a breather before we set off on tour number two led by Li’l Sis and me with Big Bro chomping on the bit, especially in the seahorse room! But this time we found the statues there. We visited all the special places they loved on the first tour and added the albino alligators,  the penguin viewing room, the shark weight comparison chair, the gila monster, the sea turtle life cycle, the shark teeth touch table and the poisonous frogs. This tour also took an hour and a half.

Though the children still did a fly-by on these smaller exhibits, they at least looked at them on the second and third tour.

Feeding Frenzy

By this time we were starving. I had forgotten the lunch we packed in the frig at home, so we went to Sharky’s Cafe and bought a pizza and Slushees which the children devoured like little sharks in a feeding frenzy. There wasn’t a place to eat a bag lunch anyway and we would have probably gone back to the car to eat and keep warm if I hadn’t left our meal behind. The pizza was delicious, but pricey. At least I had plenty of snacks which helped.

The seahorses captivated them and me. I didn’t have time to find out if the mini albino lobster was a cave dweller or a white crawfish. Big Bro kept escaping me and I had to run to keep up. The children couldn’t quite figure out the black light room, but the colors of the fish were incredible.
They would have liked to have hugged the real ones or at least petted them, but seahorses are a bit shy.

Third Tour

After eating, we had an hour and a half left for tour number three. Again we had to hit all those highlights from the first tour. But this time I knew the penguin feeding time was coming up. We arrived at it early, which worked really well since they started early. One of the staff alerted us to the possibility. Two speakers took turns informing us about what was happening. The children didn’t get bored at all and took in a lot of facts even though they are 3 and not quite 5. Very impressive.  We slid past a few missed items such as the chambered nautilus, the sea horse statues, and real divers doing tank clean up and repairs in the shark tank. Wow! They waved at us. We found out that all the divers are unpaid volunteers.

I’m not sure where the sharks are, but I was ready to dial 9-1-1. These divers are something else!
Penguins are hilarious to watch.
Even I learned new things. The penguins eat more than all the other fish and animals combined, and they look so cute doing it!

Newport Faves

Li’l Sis’s favorite part was the tunnel with sharks swimming overhead and all around us. She found the muted blue light and soft waves calming. Big Bro loved petting the sharks and the stinging sea anemone, horseshoe crab and starfish. Being a totally different personality, he found that exhilarating. I was most impressed by the Newport staff. They were well informed and engaging. They obviously loved their jobs–working with the animals and the public. I was also glad that evolution was not force fed at every exhibit. It was there, but not as overwhelming as in many science museums.

The underwater tunnels scared some children, but Li’l Sis could have sat in them for hours.
You have to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince or princess. I’ll be saving these pictures for their weddings!

The End

Since the grandchildren didn’t return with me, I couldn’t follow up with the books I have about ocean life. We’ll talk about it when they come back to visit and reminisce about our trip to the aquarium.

They both fell asleep for the last leg of the journey home. I suppose they dreamed of the ocean. I hope so anyway.

 

What to Check for Among the Post Valentine’s Day Sales

Just throwing it out there: today is the perfect day to go shopping! Post-Valentine’s Day sales are the gifts that keep on giving!

If you plan ahead, and have a little bit of storage space, post Valentine’s Day sales are the perfect time to pick up Valentine cards for your kiddo’s friends at half the price- or even less! It’s also and excellent time to check for sales on chocolates, and cute little pink and white stuffed animals. Last year, Christy picked up a couple boxes of Valentines after Valentine’s Day so that she would be stocked for this year. Disney Princesses, cute animals, and Super Heroes seem to be timeless choices that should still be safely in season next year!

When Christy got married, she stocked up on the pink Hershey kisses on Valentine’s Day because she knew they went with her colors. So, if you have a wedding coming up and are looking for decorations for tables, or candy for little favors, be sure to check out the post-Valentine Day sales. But, if you’re wedding shopping, don’t limit your thoughts to just the candy aisle. Vases are often discounted post-Valentine’s Day as well!

Post-Valentine’s day is the perfect time to stock up on Hershey kisses!

What else could you save on after Valentine’s Day? What about watching for red décor that can be repurposed for the Fourth of July, Christmas, and Autumn! A red table cloth, or plain red napkins can be super versatile, and are easy to dress up with other special touches!

Last year, post-Valentine’s Day Christy picked up a few cute chalkboard bunting banners. They were used for every single family birthday we held, and Thanksgiving! Looking for décor that can be easily adjusted to make it work for other special occasions is an excellent way to take advantage of post-holiday sales.

That chalkboard banner bought during post-Valentine’s Day sales was used at every birthday last year!

So, as you do your grocery shopping, or errand running this week,  don’t forget to keep an eye out for the post-Valentine’s Day specials that just might be coming your way!

Review: Newport Aquarium

Using our savings

We save our money to use it for the good stuff, like Newport Aquarium.

After growing up on the Salmon River that led to the Connecticut River that flowed into the Long Island Sound, I now live 600 miles from my beloved ocean. My bucket list includes taking my grandchildren to visit the ocean or some facsimile thereof as often as possible. Of course, that means I get to go, too!

Newport Aquarium

When I needed to break up a long trip recently to take Big Bro and Li’l Sis home, I didn’t have many options. In the summer we stop at parks along the way. In the winter, we find indoor play places. But Big Bro especially was having trouble with the long hours in his booster seat. “This is taking too long,” he informed me. As I mapped out the journey with some fun stops, I noticed Newport Aquarium. It was closer to our destination than I had hoped for, but as I crunched the numbers I realized I could leave very early and the children would sleep for several hours.

The Reviews

I started checking the reviews. Several people complained about the price. But the aquarium was running a special–one free child’s ticket with each adult ticket. Good deal! I called to ask about buying the ticket ahead to get the free ticket. I had heard a snowstorm might hit, so I wanted to be sure my tickets wouldn’t expire if I bought ahead and then couldn’t make it. The receptionist with a really sweet southern accent told me that the aquarium was rarely crowded on Monday through Thursday, and since our trip was planned for Wednesday, we could wait and buy the ticket when we arrived with no problems.

Another reviewer said they toured the place in under an hour and a half and thought it wasn’t worth the money.  I checked out the website. Lots of pictures and descriptions convinced me that the person behind the review didn’t know how to take children through an aquarium. We started the training right away.

Getting the most out of the Website

First I showed the children the website newportaquarium.com. We talked about the activities they would do and the animals they would see. The website gave printable coloring pages. We spent about an hour on those.

This was the first contact with the word “bioluminescence.” When I asked Big Bro what it meant the night after we got home he easily spouted off, “A fish that glows in the deep, dark ocean.”

The website also offered two games. I had difficulty limiting Big Bro’s screen time using his favorite one.

We practiced the two-finger petting technique they allow in the tide pool and the shark tank. Yes, shark tank!

They both did a great job with the two-finger petting technique.

Then we dug out all the fish, penguins, sharks, lobsters, frogs, turtles, walrus, seals, whales, snakes, fish, octopi, alligators and sea creatures they owned. I showed them which ones they were likely to see and what they are called. We played with the shells in my seashell collection, too.

This doesn’t even include the stuffed animals.

Heading Out

The morning we set off it was too dark for me to realize how bad the weather was. We drove out of the storm about an hour later, but it slowed the schedule down enough that we missed the first shark feed.

The children woke up at the right exit to see this cool jet and tip me off to a future place to visit.

About two and half hours into the trip the children woke up just in time for me to stop for COFFEE! My sister deserves kudos for calling me and telling me to get this much needed item. First the caffeine kept me awake and then the need for a restroom finished the job. Double duty. We found a bonus when we pulled into the McDonalds right across from the Armstrong Air and Space Museum. We drove about ten feet away from the 4F5D Skylancer flown by Neil Armstrong and replica Apollo and Gemini space capsules. We would have climbed into them if it weren’t so cold and we weren’t already running late. We’ll be visiting there sometime soon!

Important Info

When we reached the aquarium, as I had read in several places, I kept my ticket. I had to pay by credit card at the upstairs landing before we left. The cost, $2. Not bad.

To Be Continued….

Next week I’ll tell about the visit itself.

 

 

Tea and Where to Find it

I can’t drink coffee. I’m a mother of young children, and I can’t drink coffee. Think how antithetical that is to the long nights of young motherhood! I know, I know. How do I keep going?! But, I do.  A year and a half ago when we discovered I had Hashimoto’s (a thyroid autoimmune disorder) I also discovered that drinking even a small cup of coffee early in the morning would set me up for a long night of insomnia, and even if I managed to escape that, it would totally make me have a huge likelihood of battling inexplicable rage the next day. Basically, coffee totally messes with my emotions, and my sleep cycle, and is not worth it. Thankfully, tea does not have the same effect, and I’ve always loved tea. And, when I discovered Loose Leaf Tea, the decision to cut coffee became even easier.

When we lived in Minneapolis we loved going to the farmer’s market because there was an awesome little tea stand called Mrs. Kelly’s Tea there.  They sell a variety of loose leaf teas, including a smokey Russian dinner tea I have never found anywhere else, a delicious African Fruit Bowl Rooibos tea, and my personal favorite: Earl Blue (Earl Grey infused with lavender).

Tea time remains a favorite time together

When stocked up before our move south… but, inevitably, began to run low on our stock. That’s when I turned to one of the mom groups on Facebook that I regularly interact on. Where could I find loose leaf tea near me that would come even close to Mrs. Kelly’s?

Even young toddlers can enjoy tea.

I was given several suggestions. But, one stuck out because it sounded at least a little bit like Mrs. Kelly’s. The Spice and Tea Exchange in downtown Greenville sounded very similar. So, we planned a family outing.

We walked in, and it did remind me of Mrs. Kelly’s Tea. Not quite as many varieties, but enough to keep us busy. The shop keeper immediately invited us to take down whatever jars of tea interested us and smell them. (One of my favorite ways to decide what teas to try!) We ended up getting a sampler pack, and two other packets. Flavors included: Earl Grey Crème, Coconut Oolong, Chamomile Twist Herbal, International Breakfast, and Hazelnut Cookie. We love them! Each flavor is delicious, but our family favorite has to be the Coconut Oolong. It tastes so creamy! Just perfect! Hooray for loose leaf tea!

We’re trying 5 new varieties. So far Coconut Oolong has our vote!

Building a Ball Pit

DIY Simple Ball Pit

When Big Bro asked to play in a Ball Pit, I thought that would make a fun outing. Then the big picture dawned on me. Taking him and Li’l Sis to the Trampoline Park that had a ball pit for two hours cost one quarter of the price of constructing a permanent one that all eight of my grandchildren and the one on the way could enjoy for years at my house. And I serve free healthy treats and don’t collect goobers from hundreds of other children drooling, licking, coughing, and passing out germs.

Poor Big Bro, he had the stomach bug and slept through the whole construction phase. But Li’l Sis figured out how to do it on her own. One of the reviews had said the tent came with no instructions. None were needed. Even a three-year-old could do it.

So I started to research ball pits. The most expensive part, the plastic balls themselves, could be bought in bulk to help bring down the cost. A friend of mine told me she bought hers a few at a time at yard sales. I’ll be adding more to my pit the same way. The next item, a place to hold them for play, took some time to narrow down.

Weaving the sticks into the correct loops took a minute, but it was not difficult.

Choices

I loved the idea of building one from scrap material. I have some material that would work in my garage storage area and I could also purchase some low priced at Habitat for Humanity or even scavenge some at yard sales or on Freecycle. But I decided against that idea because it would take up a lot of room that couldn’t be used for anything else since it would be semi-permanent.

Next I considered the idea of a kiddie pool and looked at several. Inflatable ones would work well, but eventually would pop or tear and often the air valves stretch and no longer stay in place, causing deflation. The price also escalated with the height of the walls, and I knew that to have enough balls to make it fun, I’d need it to be fairly deep. Also, the balls would go flying out and I’d be doing toe touches picking them up all day. Not bad for my health, but it would cause stress on my limited time schedule.

A regular kiddie pool, like the first idea, takes up space, even though it could be stored more easily because it is lightweight and  movable. A hanger on the garage wall would hold it. Unfortunately, finding a kiddie pool locally in February isn’t highly likely. Buying one online is costly because of the shipping price.

Then I discovered indoor popup tents. Wow! Several of them had entries 8 inches or so above floor level. The one I chose has an inside height of five feet,  included 3 windows and a door that can be rolled and tied up and the best part of all, folds and twists into a package about 15″ by 15″ by 3″ for storage.

Ready for blast off!
I love the window in the roof that not only lets the kids view the moon , stars and planets, but lets me take a quick peek at them.
The round windows fit the spaceship theme perfectly. It also added a great vocabulary word: porthole.
Test flight.

How it works

Big Bro and Li’l Sis broke it in. It withstood that test very well. There are no pulls or tears despite the half drop belly flops and attempted cannon balls.

Papa, Big Bro and Li’l Sis all fit in the ball pit together. I could have squeezed in, too, but then there wouldn’t have been room to play with the balls.

One of the children’s favorite activities is hiding the letters we use for our devotion time in the ball pit. As they find a letter, they say the verse that goes with it by memory. When we finish finding all the letters, we pray and then they love to sing our devotional song, The Lord Is My Shepherd, inside it because of the enhanced acoustics.

The tent doubles as a great little play area when the balls are removed. I’ll be using it as a quiet place for reading by adding blankets and pillows.

Five stars!

Yep, this gets a thumbs up!

All systems go!

Building a Temporary Bookshelf

All we have

If there is one thing our family collects, it is books. Both my husband and I met working at our university library after having worked at public libraries in high school. We then went on staff at the library. (Well, I went on staff as the Circulation Coordinator, my husband became a Graduate Assistant). We love books.

In addition, my husband is in the process of getting his Master of Divinity so he can Pastor a church some day. So, add to all the normal books as many commentaries as we can cram in.

When we moved into our new home it was obvious we were going to need more bookshelf space. The 4 bookshelves we already owned were woefully inadequate.

Our long range plan is to make the one room that has no windows into it a library with built in bookshelves. But, it’s not in the budget yet. So, I’ve been searching for ways to make our books easily accessible prior to that renovation. A week or two ago we stumbled upon a plan.

We had a nice long plank of wood that had been left by the contractor. And I noticed 3 or 4 cement blocks. Curt helped by cleaning off the wood plank, and I helped set it up on top of those cement blocks in his office. Now, the majority of his commentaries are easily visible, and accessible for study! This temporary bookshelf will probably serve us for at least a year. Hooray for DIY!

All you need:

A Plank of Wood appropriately sized for your space

3-4 cinder blocks

Here you can see how we balanced the plank on the cinder blocks. Even with this long plank we were still running out of space for his theology books.
Another cinder block was needed at the center to support the plank. Without that block it would be bowing in the middle.

 

The Un-BEET-able Veggie

Each of these beets was equivalent to the amount in a 16 oz. can.

The challenge

That New Year’s Resolution to eat more veggies still challenges me.  So last week when I meandered through the produce section, I noticed beets on sale. I reversed my cart and checked the beets in the organic section. The flavor of organic veggies really helps. They taste the closest to right-out-of-the-garden even though I’m paying for not adding additives which aren’t good for me. This time, the price actually got me. The regular beets cost $1.29 for a sickly looking bunch that weighed a little over a pound. The organic beets weighed three times as much and cost $1.99. The total cost  also came in under an equal amount of canned beets which wouldn’t even include the greens–more about that later.

Beet this!

Prepping beets is really easy.

I brought them home and cut off the greens. Then I tried a new cooking method. I put them in a glass pan with a little water and roasted them in the oven. It took almost an hour because they were so huge. Finally when the fork pierced them deeply and easily, I pulled them out and let them cool ten minutes. Then I peeled off the skins. My fingers turned bright purple, but the skins slipped off with no problem. I cut one of them up and plated it for dinner. I was amazed! Usually beets taste like dirt. These tasted wonderful. The flavor was slightly sweet but not over-powering and very savory. The whole beet disappeared and everyone started on beet #2. I tried to hide it with beet #3 because I had plans for them.

I crammed that fork in as far as it would go.
Peeling them was amazing. It took less than two minutes.

A day later I added a tablespoon of cornstarch to 1/2 cup of vinegar, 1/2 cup of sugar, a tablespoon of butter, and  one whole clove. I heated it slowly to a boil on medium low heat and let the mixture thicken. Then I poured it on a cup of beets I had cut into chunks. Voila! Harvard beets. I don’t understand why they cost so much at the store. They are super simple to make.

Just a couple ingredients needed for Harvard beets.
The grandchildren were willing to try them just because of the pretty color.

At the same time I chopped up the rest of the beets and doused them in 1/2 cup of vinegar, 1 tablespoon of sugar, a pinch of dry mustard, salt, pepper, and a tablespoon of olive oil. I covered them and set them in the frig to chill overnight. Pickled beets. Again, high cost at the store and super cheap in my kitchen.

Pickled beets can be cooked in the vinegar-based dressing, but it isn’t needed as long as they soak a good while.

Back to those greens I cut off the top. I cooked them on the stove and then put them in the frig. Later I added them to my yogurt, mango, banana, berry smoothie. That’s nutrition!

The plain beets tasted unbelievable. No dirt flavor to them like I taste in canned beets. But this–this is the best!

These were the tastiest beets I ever ate. I’ve got this New Year’s resolution down!

The Park in our Backyard: Building a Teepee

What we had to work with

Each time we go outside I am in awe of the home God has given us. I love it! I’ve raved over the inside several times on here. Today, let me share our backyard.

First, we have a wonderful deck. Our big beautiful sliding glass door that gives the dining room such lovely morning light opens out onto the deck, and while it’s warm, the girls can play, while I get the table set for dinner.

Descend those sturdy wooden steps, and you enter our backyard paradise. When we first moved in you could barely see the creek below. Brambles with razor sharp thorns prevented any serious attempts at further exploration.

Then came Thanksgiving Break. As soon as his school books closed, my husband and I were out there working. We pulled out truck loads of thorns, vines, dead wood, and trash.

And I had a brilliant idea. I took those long straight sticks we were pulling out, just the nice ones I though would hold firm, and I created a wooden teepee. Tiger calls it her “little house!”

I started with 3 sticks of about equal length. One had a split at the end, making it easy to use to support the other two. And, I started adding sticks around and around and around.

Still fairly close to the beginning of our building process

At first you could see through the sticks. Just the rough outline of the teepee was visible. But, as I removed more brush, and discovered more serviceable branches, the structure grew and grew.

One of my little helpers, hard at work!

Now it overlooks the creek, and when I’m out pulling out more of the brush in this battle to reclaim our yard, the girls can play happily at pretending to start campfires, and finding leaf beds for their doll babies to sleep in. The perfect fun for all of us.

Almost complete. Just a few more sticks needed!
The finished product! The entrance is facing toward the creek, so you can’t see it from this angle

How you can make one too

So, how can you make one of these?

You will need lots and lots of sticks. These can be of all lengths, but you will probably want most to be about 4 to 5 feet long.

Start with 3-4 similarly sized sticks of the longest length you have available. This will determine the height of your structure.

Balance the sticks against each other. You might find that having a second person to hold things steady as you get started helps.

Add sticks of a similar size until the stability of the structure is secured.

Then add the other sticks. Shorter sticks help close in the gaps down low.

Don’t forget to leave an opening for a door!

Enjoy!

15 Reasons I Love My Papercutter

Huh?!

A picture with a title something like “If you remember what this is you’re ancient” scrolled across my Facebook feed. Really? A paper cutter? I use mine all the time. They’re antique now? I think one should be on every woman’s wedding registry.

Actually, they’re still for sale at Office Depot www.officedepot.com/a/products/883647/X-Acto-Heavy-Duty-15-x/;jsessionid=0000zvZxmcAJ2gAaMEwvxvn4V-_:17h4h7aom?cm_cat=2000000020 and  Amazon.com at https://www.amazon.com/Swingline-Trimmer-Guillotine-Capacity-ClassicCut/dp/B016LDV41S/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1484344112&sr=8-3&keywords=paper+cutter+guillotine

Let me tell you about paper cutters.

#1 I’ve cut myself with scissors, razors, and exacto knives, but never with my paper cutter.  I love the crisp, perfect, straight-edge cut I get. I was all kinds of happy when I finally used some birthday gift money to purchase one. I think I’m right because the price has quadrupled since I bought mine.

It looks dangerous, but it isn’t if you take reasonable care when using it.

Here’s what I cut

#2 Squares to  make snowflakes and origami. Most paper comes in rectangle shapes. A lot of times I need as close to a perfect square as I can get.

#3 Memory verse reminders for DVBS, Sunday School and family devotions. I copy and paste from http://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org, print them out, and cut them into perfect little note-size shapes.

I have cut thousands of memory verse reminders.

#4 Edges of homemade books. When you fold paper for a book, the center pages stick out at the opposite edge from the fold. The paper cutter trims them to be even.

#5 Crafts such as paper chains, book marks, and coloring pages. I also have “Color, cut and paste” pages for Preschool class on Wednesday and Children’s Church on Sunday that often require cutting from separate pages that are included.

These postcards are from my work in a jail ministry. The women loved getting Bible verses and hymns they could hang on their bunks.

#6 I make my own greeting cards and postcards all the time. I like to use card stock for both. The paper cutter takes one swing to cut a greeting card that requires a single fold and two swings to separate a piece of paper into four postcards.

The youth group sends cards to widows and shut-ins. The top card was one they colored. We did that before it became a “thing.”

#7 Flashcards. Homeschooling meant lots of flashcards. Usually I started with blank index cards and cut them in half. These fit so nicely in a child’s hand. I put everything from the Circle of Fifths to phonics sounds on them. I knew I had succeeded when my children asked me to cut blank cards to make their own study help card packs.

#8 Schedules. They always fit better when I trim off the edges before taping them into a notebook.

#9 Bulletin board borders. I can print out border art on colored paper, then cut the paper into strips and hang it around the edges of the bulletin board with pins or tape. Usually I use a design on longer paper such as 8 1/2 by 14 to do this.

#10 All my homemade photo projects pass under my paper cutter’s arm for trimming.

My children’s artwork made up into cute note-card sets.

#11 I print on sticker paper and cut out stickers when needed. I find that labels run through the printer easily and cut into just the right size for kids.

Special projects

#12 I don’t scrapbook much, but if I did, I would never be able to cut straight lines with a rolling cutter or scissors.

#13 I made a “Lift the flap” page for a wedding scrapbook being assembled at my niece-to-be’s wedding shower.

#14 When I sent in a mock-up for a boardbook idea to a publisher, I used it to trim pages to fit perfectly.

#15 I’ve even used it for iron-on transfer art.

Simple art projects become even simpler!

Hints

Paper pulled fresh out of a ream cuts well. As soon as it absorbs moisture from humidity in the air, not so well. Sometimes cutting two or more pieces solves the problem. Sometimes moving up or down the cutting surface of the blade helps. The center of the blade is not as sharp as the ends.

An added benefit is that a paper cutter cuts through scotch tape and usually through other tape, too. Duct tape might gum up the cutting edge. Test it first on a scrap piece of paper.

My cutter cuts corrugated cardboard easily. It chokes more on thick, solid-type cardboard, though the thinner type such as used for cereal boxes is no problem. Cardstock paper works great also.

Getting your own

If you want one of your own and the sticker price is too high, just think: these things are built like tanks. Find one on ebay or do an ISO (in search of) on a local bargain site like virtual yard sale in your town or county.  Another option is using a cutter at a local copy center. Sometimes they don’t charge if you do business there often.

If this were an actual review

So I have to admit, I am in love with my paper cutter. You need to go fall in love with your own.

I am not being compensated by anyone or any company. This post contains only my personal opinions.

Instant Home: Just Add Curtains

I’ve always thought that curtains made houses feel like homes. During college and while counseling at summer camp I always brought my curtains with me. It softened the rooms, and made them feel warm and kind to me.

When we sold our old house, we discovered that all window furnishing stay with the house. So… the new owner let me bring our orange nursery curtains from our Under the Sea themed nursery. But, that was it. We’d be starting over.

So, when November of last year arrived, we still had minimal curtains up, and just cordless blinds in the bedrooms.

However, I happened upon an awesome sale that month at our nearby Bargain Hunt! They were trying to get rid of all their curtains and selling them for $5 a package! (A package usually meant one panel, but occasionally two.) It took some digging, because most of the curtains wouldn’t fit our décor. But, I found curtains that would work! I was so excited!

I brought them home, and immediately began to run into problems. First, I only had 2 panels for our bedroom which has 2 windows. Now, each panel covered one of those windows, but, I really preferred to have window curtains hanging on each side.

The curtains I brought for the dining room were fresh, and cute! But… they didn’t quite reach the floor near our sliding glass door. And I really didn’t care for that at all!

The dining room curtains looked complete when I added a strip of blue curtain fabric to fill in the gap to the floor. And I love the way it ties the grey into my lovely blue walls!

And… I hadn’t found what I was looking for to go in the girls new room. They would be upgrading beds from the crib and trundle shortly, and we hadn’t really gone with the under the sea theme in the new house. The orange curtains were just a bit on the short side for their room anyway.

So, I got to work. I pulled out my sewing machine and scissors and went to town. First, I added a few inches in blue to the bottom of the dining room curtains. I hemmed up the sheer white curtains that gave light, but privacy in our living room. Then I split the bedroom curtains, and playroom/office curtains in half, and hemmed up the edges. Everything was far less labor intensive than I first imagined it would be! I had it all done within a day or two!

One panel, where you want two? Just split the curtain down the middle, and hem up the edges! Ta-da!
Adding curtains to the basement playroom amps up the style, and gives privacy during the winter months when our neighbors deck is visible through the window.
Sheer material from Goodwill was the base for this lovely sheer curtain in the living room. A double curtain rod allows us to drop the heavier curtains at night when it’s nice to be a bit more private in our front living room.

Finally, it was time to fix up the girl’s room. I had made a stop at Joann’s Fabric, and found this darling princess material that I knew they’d love. I also bought some blackout material.

Place the pins all facing one direction, so that you don’t accidently stab your hand when you run your stitch.
Pins helped keep the fabric from slipping and creating funny creases as I sewed.

The darker the room, the longer they’ll sleep, right? Now, these curtains did cost more than all the other curtains. But I figured I’d saved so much money buying the $5 panels that it was ok to splurge a little here. I carefully cut and pinned the blackout material and Princess material together, and ran a straight stitch down each side. The girls loved it! And so did I!

Freshly hung princess curtains!

We went from a lovely house, to a cozy and fresh home. Just add curtains!

Our back door curtains came from a much larger panel. I cut down the material and split the panel in half to make these darling little curtains. A magnetic curtain rod allowed us to hang them directly on the door.