The View from the Curb

We are pretty good at boosting the curb appeal of our house…but not very good a keeping it in tip-top shape.  A lot of that has to do with time and money and not necessarily with the fact that we don’t care what it looks like.  The plants we planted several years back have been fertilized maybe three times since and there’s an area in one of the landscaping beds that has seen four different perennials get planted and then die every year.  I don’t know if we (ok, I since I did all the plant choosing) picked the wrong plant for the wrong amount of sunlight or soil or what, but we’ve had to replace those three plants way more often than we’d like.  As of this moment, there are three hydrangeas living in those spots.  I bought them on clearance at Lowe’s last year and two of them are actually doing pretty good, albeit small.  The third is hanging on by literally one, tiny leaf.  Sigh.  I guess we’ll see how they come up next spring.
On either side of that bed are the original decorative grasses we planted way back when and those bright flowers, they are f-a-k-e.  Dollar Store, fake, red-orange daises that I thought would play well with our red-orange front door.  I sorta felt like a smartie-pants when I thought of the idea to “plant” fake plants but I didn’t want to share too quickly in case they didn’t stand up against the elements and my plan failed.
However, I’m happy to say that, after weathering this Southern sun, heat, and rain for the past five months, they still look pretty dang good.
Good enough that I’ll probably head to the ‘ole Dollar Store next year to grab different flowers just to switch things up and good enough that I might “plant” more elsewhere because who doesn’t love flowers that are 100% self-sufficient?!  I mean, with all the time we don’t have in the world, it was really nice to at least look like we had some sort of green thumbs at work over here. 

Try it and see for yourself!  We highly recommend it!

One other thing we did to the front this year was install spotlights to light up the house a little more at dusk and after dark.  This has been on our to-do list for years now but we just couldn’t financially pull the trigger on lights when there were so many other things needing to be done.  But, one day last winter I was walking through Home Depot on a mission to grab a ceiling fan for our screened-in patio when I passed the landscape lighting section and, in that section, a couple of boxes of spotlight kits for 50% off.  I called the Headmaster as quick as I could and he gave me the go-ahead to grab one.  I did and he installed them a few months later.  (Anthony used to work for a landscaping company so he is a whiz at installing outdoor lighting but if you’re not sure you can, the Thrift Decor Chick, Sarah, has an awesome tutorial that even had me thinking I could.  The only reason I didn’t is because Anthony wanted to himself.  #controlfreak  ;)  )      

Our kit included four spotlights but we only ended up using three – one at each protruding corner of the front of the house.  It’s crazy what a difference just adding a little mood lighting can make!

Next up, we really need to work on our grass situation.  We’ve got a very unbanlanced mixture of sand/dirt, weeds, and grass that is really begging for help.  Sod is out of the question because of the price so a-seeding we will go next spring. 

But anyway, the moral of this whole story is…if you want to boost curb appeal in a big way with little maintenance, sink some fake flowers into the ground and grab some landscape spotlights!  The season is rolling around where outdoor stuff will be going on clearance so keep those eyes peeled!

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P.S.  In case the clearance section around you isn’t turning anything good up or you just want to know, this kit (affiliate link) off Amazon is just like the one we bought.  :) 

To the Max-is

Oh, me and my ideas.  This one is two parts awesome and one part comical.  Comical because sometimes I start doing something and then I get carried away; ending up much farther downstream than I had in mind when I began.  This is one of those times when the current just kept pulling…

It all started with this dress:
095487789d44b7110032c07ae328ca1cI’ve always loved the colors and pattern but it’s always been just a little bit too tight up top and therefore, passed by during many a round in my closet.

As it happens though, I know two little chickies on whom it wouldn’t be too tight if I just did a little snipping and sewing here and there.

Meet chick 1 and chick 2:
IMG_8166So cute, right? 

Here’s how I did it!  (PS, this won’t just work for twins!  You could take in or shorten each dress differently to fit different-sized sisters!)

You might remember that I made similar dresses out of a shirred top last year.  For those dresses, I cut the shirred part of the top in half vertically and sewed the sides together.  For these dresses, I cut the shirred part in half horizontally, making it shorter.
First, I figured out where the horizontal halfway point of the shirred part of the dress was by counting the elastic strips on the inside and dividing by two.  Then I grabbed my seam ripper and ripped out the elastic strip in the middle and the thread holding it in, all the way around. 
Then I cut the shirred part of the dress in half right where that elastic had been.
Now I had two shirred pieces – one still attached to the rest of the dress and one completely separate.IMG_0917
Each one had an unfinished edge so, to finish that edge, I just folded it over and secured it with a straight stitch.IMG_0922
I did all of that right before naptime while the kids were awake and did the rest during naptime.  Also during that naptime I listened to Young House Love’s podcast while I worked and took two whole pictures of the rest of the process.  Those two pictures are completely inadequate at showing what happens next so I give you my best apology and hope my words will suffice for any of ya who want to copy this refashion.

Next, I cut the bottom, unshirred part of the original maxi in half horizontally.  Then, I grabbed the unshirred part of the dress that was now completely separate and attached it to the lone shirred piece of fabric.  To do this, I turned each piece inside out so that the right sides of the dress were facing eachother, lined up the two edges at which they would be attached, and stitched them together.  To make sure the dress gathered correctly, I pulled the shirred part tight while I sewed the non-shirred, bottom part on.
The bottom half of the original maxi was wider than the middle (or the dress part right below the shirring), so I had to trim off the excess fabric once I had it almost completely attached and then stitch up the side to complete it.IMG_0921
With that excess fabric, I made four strips of fabric just like I made these fabric strips for my gladiator sandals a couple of years ago.  I sewed two on each dress for straps.  Originally I wanted to attach them so that they ran from the front to the back and crossed at the back but, when I did that, I either didn’t measure correctly (aka, I really eye-balled it wrong) or the dresses are just a little too big on the girls right now to have a crossed back.  Either way, they just looked plain awkward.  So I went with Plan B and just attached them at the front to tie behind the neck, halter-style.

Because they’re a little big, they’ll fit the girls for a long time; going from dress to tunic and maybe even to just a top or long skirt.  Until then though, the colors make them perfect for fall right now.  As soon as it sinks below the 80 degree mark down here, I’ve got their scarves and vests ready (click the links for the tutorials on those!). 
IMG_8171Good golly, girls are so fun to dress.  :)  

BUT, I didn’t stop there.

I went a little farther and became “that mom”…

IMG_81777Ohhhh yes, yes I did.  Learning how to make a bow-tie has been on my radar since the boy child was born so, since I had even more extra fabric left after making the girls’ straps, I thought “why not now?”  To make the bow, I used this tutorial by Erika at Life Unfluffed (it’s no-sew and so easy!!) except I sewed mine.  Then I made another fabric strap like the ones on the girls’ dresses to go around Sebastian’s neck, secured with velcro strips that I glued to each end.

Oh but wait, there’s more.  You thought I was done, didn’t you?  Oh heck no!  There’s one more kid to deck over here.  We can’t leave anybody out now, can we?

You better believe that if I’d had enough fabric leftover to make the baby a mini-dress, I would’ve.  Haha!  Instead, I whipped up a second bow and added it to a thin elastic band to adorn her bitty noggin’. 


One dress.  One family affair. 

And a few outtakes.
Note how differently the boy takes pictures vs. the girls.  What a goof.  I’m going to go ahead and say that that’s probably an inherent difference across the board.  ;) 

Sebastian realized his red cap matched his red shorts and I promised him he could wear the two together after I took the ‘serious’ pictures.  And I did.  And I can’t…I just can’t… 

I’ll just leave it at that.

Happy Thursday y’all!

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one dress for four kids

Easy Homemade Latte

We love our cups o’ joe in the morning.  The kids wake us up and, right after filling their sippies, one of us heads straight to our coffee maker to get that liquid fuel brewin’.  Anthony takes his black and I usually douse mine with more creamer than I probably should but a mom wants what a mom wants, right?  My j-o-b definitely warrants it so I’m totally justified…or so I tell myself.  Calories shmalories.

Coffee-mate’s Caramel Macchiato creamer is my favorite (not sugar-free or light; gimme all the calories and taste plz) and up until the beginning of the year, I’d just do the normal brew, pour, dump, and stir but then Anthony casually made himself a latte with said creamer one afternoon and it was so good that it’s now become a daily for me.

All you need is the coffee you normally brew, the creamer you love, and a frother (link heads to the one we bought years ago at Bed, Bath, & Beyond that’still running like a champ or here’s another that has great reviews and is under $7!!  Both can be found on amazon so you won’t even have to leave the house!)*

I rolled out a little Instagram video last week to show you just how easy it is to make one of these lattes from the comfort of your own kitchen but I realized that the ‘half-inch’ instruction might’ve been a little silly so, after you watch the vid, read the six easy steps below and then go make yourself one (or three if that’s your jam…errr, joe).


[Latte from Sheena Tobin on Vimeo.]

Step 1:  Brew your coffee.  (If you go the k-cup route, skip to step 2 and brew your coffee after you’ve frothed your creamer.)
Step 2:  Pour creamer into your empty cup.  We have two sizes of mugs in our cupboard; these two:Image-1 (1)In our 12 oz. cups, I pour about six tablespoons of creamer and in the 16 oz. I pour about eight.  You can adjust to taste but you just need to make sure you have enough to completely or almost completely submerge your frother.
Step 3:  Microwave the creamer for 25 seconds.  I *think* I read somewhere that, when making lattes, the milk (or creamer in this case) froths better when it’s warm vs. hot so, unless I completely made that up, you might want to run a few test rounds with your microwave to figure out what gets the creamer warm but not boiling.)
Step 4:  Froth that warm creamer until it’s nice and fluffy.
Step 5:  Pour in your coffee and give it a little stir.  (Or stick your mug under your k-cup and press play if you’re going thatta way.)
Step 6 (optional):  Add a little more creamer and give it another whirl.

And that’s it!  Let me know if you try it!

Making your coffee this way probably doesn’t taste much different but, while it feels lighter and more coffeehouse-ish, it’s definitely a little more fun, and sometimes, a little more fun in the morning just makes the whole day better.  ;)

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*links to frothers are affiliate links


Acting on a Hutch

This post will show the snail’s pace at which we project these days…in case you’ve ever wondered how we get it all done with four kids in tow.  Answer:  WE DON’T!  Haha…oh *sigh*. 

The hutch I’m about to unveil has been around and waiting to be finished for a few months now.  Actually, it was part of the yard sale fundraiser that this table was also a part of.  One of the teens going on the mission trip painted it and it was up to me to do some slight distressing and stenciling of the back.  I didn’t get a before shot but I did find this one Googling, and it’s kind of similar to what ours (ours as in the donated-to-the-fundraising-effort) looked like:  IMG_0554
It was brown all around with that dated gold pattern on the glass doors but thankfully, in really good shape.  Perfect for a few coats of paint and a trip to 2016.

We put the teens to work on giving it a light sanding, giving it a coat of white primer, and then going over that with a couple of coats of a creamy white latex.  We removed the backing behind the top part of the hutch (it was just held on by several small nails) and, on it and on the back on the inside of the doors, the teens painted on a coat of the leftover chalk paint we used on the table mentioned earlier. 

And then that backing sat,

and sat,

and sat,

and sat at our house, waiting for me to stencil it.

And finally, I got around to it one night last week.  I used the Beads Allover Stencil from Cutting Edge Stencils (the same stencil I used on an accent wall in the twins’ room last year) and some of that creamy white latex paint to add a unique touch to the hutch.

And pretty unique it is:

It’s currently sitting in the youth center waiting for a buyer and for sale pictures, I ran around Anthony’s office, trying to find what I could stage her shelves with.  I didn’t have many options, as you can tell but either way, it was a fun challenge.IMG_0818

The stencil goes horizontally but actually I meant to paint it on vertically.  We sort of guessed on which way the backing went on while it was sitting at our house, miles from its counterpart hutch and our guess was wrong.  But it’s okay because we were both pleasantly surprised at how good it looked going the “wrong” way.  But really, with a stencil this pretty, there’s probably no wrong way anyway.  :)

IMG_0820(spot the selfie)

The mission trip is done and over this year so the proceeds from this hutch will go towards the trip next summer.  One of the coffee tables I’m working on turning into a tufted bench is also a part of the fundraiser so you’ll see that finished on the blog in approx. three months.  Ha!  Slow and steady does not win the race folks but as long as what you’ve got looks better than what you had, hopefully no one will notice.  Disappointed smile