Sunday, September 29, 2013

What I Wore Sunday:Fixing Old Navy

Happy Feast of the Archangels!
This morning  I threw on my favorite going-to-Mass-in-cold-weather outfit.
Dress: Old Navy
Standard black leggings
Boots: Keen Ferno High Boot. Love!
No jewelry because that is the kind of week I’ve had.
It’s my favorite outfit because it is way comfortable. I only put up with discomfort for extra special occasions, like…I can’t even think of any. If it ain’t comfortable, it goes in the donate pile.
That being said the dress has always annoyed me a little. The source of this annoyance was 90% due to the goofy side pockets.
Seriously, aren’t they weird-looking? The pocket lining tends to get all bunched up, so you have these wads of fabric hanging off your hips. Plus, the dress material is so thin that you can’t put anything thicker than a business card in the pocket without the shape showing through.
Bad call, Old Navy.
The other 10% annoyance is from the fact that the neck opening is too big and always gapes open. (Naturally I decided not to capture this phenomenon in the picture.)
After an averagely exhausting Mass, I put the kids down for a nap and then decided to do away with the pockets all together.
Since I wanted to take the side seams in a little bit anyway I just turned the dress inside-out and sewed a new seam about 3/4 inch in from the old one. Then I just cut off the pocket. Problem solved!

Then to fix the gaping neck-hole problem I put a piece of 1/4” elastic inside a 4” section of the neckline, then pulled the elastic tight and stitched it into place.
So, to sum up:
No more goofy pockets!
No more gaping neckline!
It might not look that different, but trust me on this one: it is A LOT better.
Other than sewing, we spent the day just chillin’. (Well, me and the kids chilled. Nemo is ears deep in grading, which is no fun for anyone.)
I am so happy that CJ and I have reached the point in our relationship that once in a while we can just sit on the couch together and not make excessive demands on each other.

Hanging out, watching Leap Frog something or other.
I let CJ play on the iPad on Sundays, so while he was completely and utterly content to mess with very expensive technology, I took the opportunity to lie down on the sofa next to him and nap. Except I couldn’t really nap because of all the beeping and booping, but it was nice to rest with my eyes closed for a while:)
Well, I am off to try to tempt Nemo away from grading with ice cream and Star Trek. Happy Sunday!

There are lots of other great outfits at Fine Linen and Purple. Check them out!

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Postscript: There's more Humblebee on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Hope to see you there! Especially on Instagram. I love Instagram.

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Boodwah

I am a creature of habit, and I work pretty hard to make sure the little creatures in my care follow in my footsteps. For the most part we have a good little routine going.

However, things will go wrong, and when they do they do so in a rather spectacular, hilarious fashion. Take today for example. I slept pretty poorly last night, thanks to going to bed much too late and having a nightmare involving Edith Stein (don't ask me, ask my subconscious).

Then Noni, who has been a top-notch sleeper ever since she got over her colic, was up screaming at 5 o'clock sharp. She had a pretty good excuse, namely a mess in her pantalones and a rather alarming diaper rash, but I was still a little piqued to be up for the day at five.

I know, I know; woe is mom.

On the bright side, Noni and I got to have some girl time, which doesn't  happen too often. We spent our two hours together watching Murder, She Wrote and biting the coffee table.

There were many other mishaps during the day, including the dreaded CJ Napfail. He doesn't skip naps often, but when he does it is at the most inconvenient time possible.

Long story short (too late!!!) it's been a long and tiring day but before I head off to bed I really really want to show you what I've been working on lately!

Here is the master bedroom back in June.

Cool lamps, huh? 

The duvet set is approximately six years old and has been through the wringer, including our non-declawed cats and an unfortunate housekeeping disaster (it involves a zucchini. Go read; it's funny!)

I knew I wanted to update the bedding but I pondered the details for quite a while. I finally decided that the best fit for me was to buy a neutral duvet cover and then to make some shams and a bedrunner with some more colorful fabrics. This way when my tastes change I can just whip up some new shams and --presto!-- updated room!

Here's what I came up with.

The bed runner is reversible in case I'm in the mood for blue.

Pippin decieded to make a cute nuisance of himself.

 I got the little mirrors at a garage sale this summer--$5 for all of them plus some sidewalk chalk!

 The purple one's my favorite.

I also relocated this ceder chest from elsewhere in the house to the foot of the bed. It desperately needs to be refinished but since it is a family piece I am skeered that I'll wreck it. Maybe after I refinish a few other things first...

The new look is really encouraging me to make the bed every morning. I love walking past the master bedroom now!

Let the record show that for this picture-taking occasion I ironed my sheets and dust ruffle the for the first time, ever. It's a good thing I took pictures because that's never happening again.

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Postscript: There's more Humblebee on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Hope to see you there! Especially on Instagram. I love Instagram.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Mother's Little Helper

During our Aldi shopping trip a few months ago I found some storage baskets for $4 a piece. Of course I bought them all. No, seriously, I did. I cleared the shelf. Old homes are notorious for being short on storage space, and ours is no exception. I intended to build storage cubes like this one from Ikea to house them...

except maybe not bright pink

...but of course I have been having trouble finding the time, So the baskets have been lining the walls and collecting all the little ephemera that have no place else to go. Socks, scarves, and little jackets in the front hall, stuffed animals and blankies in the living room, etc.

Enter the cat.

Pippin, who has called out house his home for almost a month now, is a real sweetie. He lets the kids pull his ears, put him in laundry baskets, pile pillows on top of him, and tickle his paws. He's a stellar cuddler. He's an all-around good cat except in one little area: he can't seem to be able to tell the difference between a storage basket full of scarves and a litter box.

Oh, also, I have a bad habit of leaving clean laundry piled in the hallway outside the kids' rooms when they are napping with the intention of putting it away when they wake up. Which I almost never do, so I just choose an outfit from the pile when it is time to get the little ones dressed. Until the day I dressed CJ and couldn't figure out where the cat pee smell was coming from.

Don't worry, I did eventually figure it out. But not before CJ rolled all over my bed. Curses.

Anyway, I am hoping that Pippin  will eventually learn that the litter box is the box with kitty litter in it, and not the one full of little hats.

I mean, it's just because he's young, right? He'll figure it out, right? JUST SAY RIGHT. Because I'm having trouble keeping up with all the laundry, and I don't want to be that house that smells like a cat urinal.

The silver lining is that I don't leave laundry in the hallway any more.

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Postscript: There's more Humblebee on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Hope to see you there! Especially on Instagram. I love Instagram.

Friday, September 20, 2013

These Aren't the Desks You're Looking For...

About six weeks ago I popped into the St. Vincent de Paul store just to see what I could see, and the first things I saw were these two little school desks all by their lonesome.

They were scratched, stained, and icky grimy but they were also DARLING. And at $4 each, how could I not take them home?

{Taking them  home turned out to be quite a trick, as I drive a very teeny car that is filled to the brim with car seats, but with one desk in the passenger seat and one sticking out of the trunk we all made it home.}

I had grand plans of refinishing them but of course they languished, untouched, for a while until I read about the Get Your DIY On link party over at Just a Girl and Her Blog. This link party is so neat because it has a different challenge every week this fall, and the challenge for September 22 was slated as "$20 Thrift Upcycle". It seemed like the perfect deadline by which to refinish my little dears--erm, I mean, desks.

It was going to be a bit of a challenge, seeing as I had already spent $8 of the $20 on purchasing the desks themselves. Luckily, I had most of the supplies I needed in my stash--I only had to buy two cans of spray paint: Valspar Primer + Paint in Tropical Gloss ($4) and Rustoleum Oil Rubbed Bronze ($8). If I'm doing my math right, that adds up to $20! Dang I'm good.

First I put CJ to work giving them a good scrub-down. 

To prep both desks for refinishing I took them apart as much as I could. And threw all the hardware in a distilled white vinegar bath to soak all the gunk off.

Then I applied Citristrip stripping gel to all the wood parts and also to the metal. The varnish on the wood came off fairly easily but the metal had some stubborn parts that I had to work on with an abrasive pad. Then I wiped everything down with mineral spirits and sanded the seats, desk tops, and chair slats with 60 grit, 120 grit, and then 220 grit sandpaper.

Then I got a little creative with the stain application. On one I made horizontal lines with 1-1/2" painters tape and on the other I applied vinyl alphabet decals. The stain (Miniwax Dark Walnut) bled a little underneath both the painters tape and the decals,  but I kind of liked the resulting rustic effect.

The seats and chair slats got stained too, then all the wood got a couple of coats of polyurethane in a satin finish.

The metal needed many many MANY coats of spray paint.

But then it was finally time to put them back together. I almost failed at this part because I didn't take detailed pictures before I took them apart. Rookie mistake.

Be still my heart.

Don't tell Nemo, but I think owning these fabulous desks means we are morally obligated to homeschool.

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I've shared this post at Link Party Palooza, Inspiration Exchange, and Show Me What Ya Got

DIY Show OffToo Much Time On My HandsJust a Girl and Her Blog

52 MantelsLove Grows Wild
Postscript: There's more Humblebee on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Hope to see you there! Especially on Instagram. I love Instagram.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Which Way is Up Again?

I am one of those people who like to keep busy, but this morning was RIDICULOUS.

My little sister is getting married this weekend.They are such a cute couple and I am so excited to be able to go to their wedding! But, typically me, I've left all the preparations for said event until the very last minute.

We left the house by 8:30 this morning, crossed state lines to hit up a mom's exercise class, then went to pick up my bridesmaid's dress from the seamstress, then crossed back over state lines to do some last minute shopping: pantyhose (because I don't own a single pair and I don't want my sister's new in-laws to think I am a hillbilly), a birthday present for my sweet nephew (I can't believe he's two already!), a wedding present for the happy couple, and lastly I hit up Michael's because they were having a killer sale on 1" foam brushes-- five cents each. After all that we had to go pick up our CSA veggies downtown. Then my gas light came on thanks to all that driving so we  had to stop and tank up before finally heading home.

When we got home I had to haul the dress, the pantyhose, the gift, the other gift, my foam brushes, and a huge box of organic veggies to our house from where we park up the block. It was made extra difficult by the fact that the city is doing work on our street so there is a giant pit in front of our house. But I made it all in one trip! Holla!

But now I must dash because I am working on a very special project that I want to include in the Get Your DIY On linkup this Sunday. The theme this week is $20 Thrift Upcycle. I am so freakin' excited! Must work faster!

Ciao for now! (Yes I really did just say that).

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Postscript: There's more Humblebee on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Hope to see you there! Especially on Instagram. I love Instagram.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

O-P-E-N for Business

CJ's thing du jour is "open" signs. Allow me to illustrate his affection for them with an amusing anecdote:

The other day I took the kids to the vet to pick up Pippin, who was fresh from the operating table sans one pair of testicles. Poor baby. 

As we were leaving the vet's office CJ spotted an "open" sign in the window of the business next door. It was one of those neon signs that flashes "O...P...E...N...OPEN" over an over again. CJ was pretty stoked about it, and he ran over and stood right in front of the window to read the letters as they lit up. I stood by him and frantically tried to think of a way to coax him away from the letters and back into the car so we could just go home already.

That's when I noticed that there were curtains completely covering the front windows of the business. Then I noticed the "ATM inside" sign on the front door. And then I noticed the name. At that point I started to put two and two together.


So there I was, standing outside a strip club with a drugged up kitten in a carrier, a baby strapped to my chest, and a two-year-old jumping up and down, clapping his hands in delight, and squealing, "Open! Open! O-P-E-N! Open!

Life is ridiculous.

The other day when I was sewing CJ got into one of my craft storage bins and found some corrugated cardboard letters left over from making a party bunting a few years ago that I had completely forgotten about. I decided to use them to make an "open" sign for my crazy little boy.

I got a frame from the St. Vincent de Paul store for $1.50 and painted it with the spray paint left over from this project. I used some scrapbook paper for the background. I've had the same pad of scrapbook paper for 6 years. I think it is high time I admit to myself that I will never be a scrapbooker.

I put the sign right by CJ's little table in the living room. That little table is also home to his new "toy"--an adding machine that I got at a garage sale. It looks like CJ's accounting firm is open for business.

That concentration!

His apprentice seems underwhelmed.

Then CJ did something funny off-camera.


 No one can make Noni laugh like he can!

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Postscript: There's more Humblebee on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Hope to see you there! Especially on Instagram. I love Instagram.

Friday, September 6, 2013

My Morning Tea

I love my morning tea.

I’m a third generation Red Rose Tea drinker.

I have a lot of memories of my grandparents sitting around their farmhouse kitchen table, drinking their afternoon tea from stained-black mugs.

My dad’s teacups are similarly stained. He takes his tea “black as the devil and hot as hell”. When I was a kid, I would always rack up the brownie points by bringing him a hot cup of tea as he sat in the recliner reading his German-language newspaper.

I’ve been drinking tea since I was a kid, and I still take it the way my grandma prepared it for me—with a lot of milk and a little sugar.
I have grown very, very particular about the way I prepare my morning tea. Nemo likes to tease me for traveling with my particular tea mug and spoon. I suppose it could be seen as a little eccentric but it is completely necessary in order for me to fully appreciate my tea.. How else am I supposed to get the tea-sugar-milk proportions just right?


I love my tea. I love the ritual of making it and then sitting down to enjoy it and a few moments of peace and quiet. I can’t imagine a morning without it.
This tea manifesto does have a point. I’m getting to it.

day of fasting

When I first head about the day of fasting for peace in Syria, my first thought was, “But what about my teeeeeea?”. God puts up with a lot of whining like that from me. Doing without full meals is pretty hard, but no tea is a real issue for me. (I should point out that water, tea, coffee, milk, juice are allowed to a fasting person, but because I enjoy my tea so deeply I don’t drink it during fasts).

So basically I was getting all bent out of shape about having to go without my tea for one morning. Way to be holy, Eva.

I have been working all week to get in the right mindset. I have been doing a lot of reading. In particular I recommend this excellent post from 3 Minute Apologetics on why Catholics fast and this article from the Washington Post that summarizes the situation in Syria as succinctly as possible. I also came across this quote that actually made me excited for the fast:

Clothe thyself with the spiritual armour (fasting), for we have a heavy warfare to wage with demons.
~St. John Chrysostom

I'm ready for battle now.

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Postscript: There's more Humblebee on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Hope to see you there! Especially on Instagram. I love Instagram.

Blog Tour {7 QTs}

Linking up with Jen over at Conversion Diary with some bog overhaulin’ Quick Takes.

Blog Makeover2

Last weekend while Nemo and the kids were visiting his parents I had a blissful 48 hours to myself. When planning how I would spend my weekend off I knew that I wanted to overhaul my blog, but I wasn’t quite sure where to start. I am pretty clueless when it comes to fancy schmancy technology things. Luckily for me the lovely Sheena over at Bean in Love had a very well-timed post featuring her favorite blogging tools. It was invaluable! When the fam headed out the door I was ready to git ‘er done. Here’s what I did:

1. New banner! I downloaded the honeycomb background here. There are a variety of different colors and they are all available FOR FREE! I cropped the image to banner size (450 pixels by 1200 pixels in my case), then inserted the text using Picasa Creative Kit because it had a font that I liked.

2. About Page. Nothing says “professional blog” like an about page, right? First I had to learn how to create a new page, because I am in no way an actual professional blogger. Then I spent a few precious hours writing the content. I hope I covered everything! You can check it out here.

3. Tabs. Also a hallmark of a spiffy blog, n’est-ce pas? The tabs lead to a page that contains all the posts that have the corresponding labels. Adding this feature meant I had to go back through all (ok, most) of my posts and actually label them. Because I have been exceptionally lazy about that thus far.

4. Background. I am very proud of this part because I generated the striped background by myself. Didn’t have to steal it or anything! For this part I used Pixlr, an online photo editing program. You don’t have to spend any money or download a thing to use it! Just go to the website, upload an image and get started editing! You can also create your own image, which is what I did. I started a blank image then added the stripes. I saved the image to my computer, then in Blogger I went from Template—>Customize—>Background and uploaded the image.

5. Pinterest “Pin It” Mouseover. I used the tutorial found here to install a widget that puts a “Pin It” button on my images when you hover over the image. The image I used for the button came from the collection of (FREE!!!) Pinterest Buttons available over at Pink Moustache.

6. Signature. To make my new signature graphic I created a blank image over at Pixlr, then I uploaded that blank image to PicMonkey, another online photo editing program that Sheena recommended. I used the cute graphics and fonts there to whip up the signature. I love the way it turned out!

7. Windows Live Writer. I’ve been using Blogger for years—YEARS!!!—and it has always irritated me  that it is so difficult and time consuming to get images placed exactly where you want. Whole days of my life, down the drain I tell you! Windows Live Writer is a free download and it solves all of my problems. Now I can write my posts within WLW and I can put my dang pictures WHEREVER I WANT AND NO BACKTALK. Plus there are a lot of other cool features. But obviously the picture thing is my fave.

Now head on over to Conversion Diary for more of the QTs!

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Postscript: There's more Humblebee on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Hope to see you there! Especially on Instagram. I love Instagram.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


So the cat I mentioned in last Friday's post?

Yeah...he's under my desk chair as we speak.

We just couldn’t get him out of our heads. For several days we tried to decide if we wanted to take on a new cat. The first cat we owned as a married couple, Rousseau, died back in April. Our remaining cat, Morwen, is a neurotic mess and we weren’t sure how she would handle a strange cat in the house. And we weren’t sure we wanted to take the gamble that he might take after her. One feline basket case in the family is enough.

In the end we decided to go for it. While Nemo and the kids were away for the weekend I went to the shelter to fill out the paperwork and bring this orange baby home.
We’ve named him Pippin.
 He had been in the shelter for about 3 months, and he is about 5 months old now. I couldn’t believe that he had been without a home so long. Who wouldn’t want to snatch him up?

 He’s been ours for three days and other than typical kitten rambunctiousness he doesn’t seem to have any behavioral problems.

He is playful and cuddly and best of all is doing wonderfully with the kids. Morwen possesses none of those qualities. She spends her days hiding from them and her nights yowling at us. She’s a peach, that one.

The kids are mutually delighted with Pippin.

 When CJ and I first saw him at Petco, CJ was jumping around with joy and saying, “Meow Meow! Meow Meow!”, which is what he calls his stuffed kitty. Now that Pippin is here it is easy why he got the two of them confused.

I mean, the resemblance between them really is uncanny. Even down to the color of the eyes and the splotch of white on the neck.

It’s like he was made for us.
BTW do you see how big his paws are? I think he might be the size of a mountain lion when he grows up. Yikes.

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Postscript: There's more Humblebee on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Hope to see you there! Especially on Instagram. I love Instagram.