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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Easter Art

In addition to my new wreath and last year's wreath, I updated some of my art in time for Easter.

I changed out my Brushfire Design cross for an Easter-y themed one.  I'm just loving these!

And, printed out eighteen25's great Easter Subway Art.  I look forward to their new creations, having used this frame for several of their other Subway Art designs this year like the ones here, here,and here!

Love this time of year!  Now, come on warm temperatures!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Goodreads and Book Lists

In January I discovered goodreads.com and am really enjoying this reading website.
It's a great place to list the books I've read, want to read, or am currently reading. 
I include a couple of my goodsreads lists on my blog sidebar.
And I set a Reading Challenge for myself all on the site.
Another thing I really like about Goodsreads is the opportunity to learn about new books to add to my to-read list.  I'm goodreads friends with a number of readers I know, and many I don't know.  But we have a lot of books in common so I know what they add to their lists might be of interest.  Are you on goodreads?  If so, friend me!

What I'm finding is - there are so many good books out there, and so little time to get to them all!
I've gotten a lot of inspiration from the following lists that I thought I'd share.

It's odd but I believe I've read more books from the 1800s than I have from the 2000s. 
So when I saw "Entertainment Weekly's" list of favorite new classics, it gave me a great idea of what more current books to consider.

The U.K. paper The Telegraph published its list "100 Best Books:  The Perfect Library" a few years ago.  From ancient classics to the 2000s - it's a comprehensive list.

The National Endowment for the Humanities worked with public and private schools to compile their
I have not read enough classic children's literature apparently so I'm starting to go back and look at some this year.  This list is sorted by grade level.

In 1998 the Modern Library @ Random House released its "100 Best" list that prompted a number of other publishers to do the same.  You can find the Modern Library's 100 Best Books, 100 Best Novels, 100 Best Non-Fiction Books, and Radcliff's 100 Best Novels lists here.

A list titled "1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die" on listology 5 years ago has developed quite a following.  There are a number of blogs and goodreads.com devotees focused on reading and discussing these works.  I took a look and it's apparent I haven't read a fraction of those listed here.  Oh well, it still gave me some good ideas to add to my "to-read" list!

Finally, the BBC "Big Read" project in 2003 compiled the top 200 novels according to BBC readers. 

Of course, the New York Times and Amazon have their current bestsellers lists and their annual bestseller lists that are easy to mine for great titles as well.

Again, so many great books, so little time!

Don't forget about the Reading Party which takes places on the 20th of every month.
Ricki Jill and I would love to hear what you're reading!

Happy Reading!

Paper, Paper Everywhere

I think we're pretty good about taking care of mail quickly.  I tend to pay bills through our online banking system when they come in.  I deal with all the paper kids bring home rather quickly too.  But somehow this corner of our kitchen tends to look like this a lot.
Not too bad, I realize, but this is after I've organized it somewhat.

But here's what it looks like now.

I was inspired by Bonnie at House of Grace and her system. 

I like hers better but couldn't find a great box like hers, so I'm going with paintable gray from Target with matching folders and labels.  I made a folder for those loose papers that aren't yet ready to be filed away in the office - new mail and magazines, this week's spelling list, recipes I want to try out, school papers for David to see, letters, etc.

I like how I can also tuck it away over by the kitchen table to give myself more counter space as well. 

It's such an improvement and will help me keep the clutter in the kitchen down hopefully!

We have a lot less junk mail now that we have been Catalog Choice users for a couple of years.  I first told you about it here. Any time I get new catalogs that we don't need I just go online and request that we no longer receive it.  Works beautifully.

I also signed us up for Opt Out last year. 

This put a quick halt to most of those unsolicited offers for new credit cards and insurance.  We get one every now and then, but it is rare.  I would recommend filling out the screen above for each adult in your household.  I filled it out for David initially but I was still getting a bunch addressed to me.  I opted us out permanently.

And, we're big paper recyclers.  Every school in our county and most of the public buildings and parks have an Abitibi paper recycling dumpster.  The school or building receives $$ for tons of paper recycled.  Our school puts that money towards the landscaping and other outdoor projects.  Win-win!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Updated Bathrooms

Our house is a little strange in its design. 
The master bedroom, living room, kitchen, dining room, laundry, etc. are on the main floor.
Then you walk downstairs to the rest of the living space including the remaining bedrooms, 2 full baths, a family room, and walk out to the pool and backyard. 
You can find more pictures than you'd ever want to see here and here!

The two downstairs bathrooms go with the boys' bedrooms.  We haven't spent a lot of energy or money on those bathrooms, because really.  But they were pretty dated (our house was built in 1983) and the flooring was getting old and worn out.  We decided to update them this year.

Brennan's Bathroom
Before we moved in

We didn't do much in this bathroom because it's a little boy's space.  I painted the walls the same blue we used in his room and the playroom next door, and I gave the cabinetry an uplift with fresh paint.

The floor though was getting pretty gross, as were the baseboards.  I tried to talk my now-9-year-old into a new countertop but he wasn't having it.  He loves the blue.  And it works in here.  So blue laminate it is.
But the floors were updated to tile and I LOVE it!

Thomas's Bathroom
The biggest changes though were done in Thomas's Bathroom. 
This is also the guest bathroom for overnight guests.
Here's a shot before we moved in.  Shower insert, mauve countertop, dark brown tile.

We applied a fresh coat of paint, upgraded the countertop and all the fixtures and it made a big difference.

This year though we decided to change the shower and floor to finish the room.

Shower insert before.

Tiled shower after.
(The metal looks brass in this picture but it's all brushed nickel).

Dark linoleum before.

Lighter tile after. 

I added some ORB accessories and new towels and voila!

While it might not be evident through the pictures, it makes a pretty dramatic difference when you walk in.  I keep hearing "wow, this looks so much better!"

And now we really need guests because this great shower is slightly wasted on a 10 year old!

The tile floors and shower were all grouted with a product called Laticrete.  The contractor who did the work for us recently began using this product and swears he'll never switch back to conventional grouts.  It is easy to work with and apparently never needs to be cleaned with anything harsher than your regular cleaning supplies.  After what I just went through with our main level floors, I'm thrilled to have updated technology at work downstairs.

And I'm also thrilled that these bathrooms are done!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

101 Places to See Before You're 12 - An Archaeological Site

An Archaeological Site

On our way back from visiting our family on Sunday we stopped in Tennessee to visit the Pinson Mounds State Archaeological Area.

Pinson Mounds is an archaeological complex that consists of 17 earthen  mounds over 400 acres.  These mounds were built by Native Americans in the 200 B.C. - 500 A.D. period (the Middle Woodland period).  It's the largest mound center in the Southeast.

Here is the visitors center as we drove up.

The visitor's center was closed but that didn't stop us from exploring on our own and helping ourselves to a brochure and map.

Pinson Mounds was first documented in modern history in 1820 by a surveying crew.  The state purchased the land and it is now a National Historic Landmark and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

This is Saul's Mound which stands at 72 feet.  It's the second tallest mound in the U.S.
The larger mounds like this one were used for ceremonial purposes.
The smaller bounds were used for burials.

The view from the top was worth all those stairs.

Thomas would like for me to point out that we have also visited another Archaeological site - the La Brea Tar Pits.  You can read about our adventure there last summer here.  Since we didn't really get to go into the pit area where they're excavating, I didn't count that, but the rest of my family does :)

From the Book:
#71 - An Archaeological Site
We think we know a lot about the past.  And then one day, a farmer is plowing a field and hits an object.  It's something that doesn't seem to belong there - a part of a skull, a tool, maybe a shard of pottery.  He has it examined, and everything we thought we knew changes.  The farmer's field, it turns out is on the site of an old village, one no one knew about.  And as layers of dirt are removed, the village reappears, and we discover a forgotten part of the past.  New archaeological sites are being found all the time - in the middle of cities, in the countryside, maybe even in your town.  Not only can you see one, but at many sites, you can actually help dig.  You could be the one to find an important piece of history.  And even if you don't. you'll have fun digging in the dirt.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


We had a great time in Mississippi visiting our families. 
We especially loved all the Cousin Time we got! 

If you know Grandpa Laroy, please don't forward these photos to him. 
He just might be receiving a photo calendar for an upcoming hard-to-shop-for holiday (which would be almost all of them in his case!)

Thomas - 10, Danielle - 4, Brennan - 9, Natalie - 7

January 18th birthday buddies

We loved spending time with Mamaw, the kids great-grandmother!

We took a bunch of photos on campus with Grandma and Mamaw!

I somehow didn't get a group shot of the boys with their cousins Taylor and Ellie.
I think because they were mesmerized by the coolest.new.toy.ever.
That's right.  An old typewriter that David got down from the attic.
The kids were standing in line for their chance to type.
Who knew?