Category Archives: Misc

Kitchen Love Story: A Review and Giveaway

kitchen love story

 

It’s no secret that I built my kitchen from the ground up. We did everything ourselves, from building the cabinets to installing appliances. It helped to have a handy spouse, he’s an electrician by trade and a plumber by birth (well, sort of, his dad is a master plumber and he grew up learning the trade). With my history of furniture building, and the invaluable help from the amazing Ana White, it didn’t seem like too much of a leap to try out building kitchen cabinets. Overall, I consider our kitchen a resounding success!

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I love my kitchen. So, so much. But. There are a few things I don’t love, now that I’ve used it for two years. That’s where Camille Finan comes in. Here I thought I had covered all the angles. I had dozens of magazine tear sheets, hundreds of pins on Pinterest, sketches for cabinets and house plans to study layouts. I got a few things “right”. I’m glad we moved our sink and dishwasher out of the island and onto the wall. Everyone told me that was crazy, that I would want to have a “view” when doing the dishes. Wrong. Doing the dishes means staring at dishes, so who cares where the sink is? I’m happier to have a huge solid space that’s basically indestructible (thank you, stainless steel!) and leave my huge piles of dirty dishes somewhat hidden behind the refrigerator. I’m still quite happy with our open shelving, and we use those island stools just as much as we do our dining table.

 

Before I read Camille’s book, I was happy enough with my kitchen. Sure, there were the annoying things. My trash can cabinet worked okay as long as you didn’t try to pull them too hard. And the uncovered bins did attract a lot of fruit flies. The flip-up drawer front above it where I intended to store paper towels lay empty, as we nixed the paper for cloth rags to save on waste. The baby is constantly opening up the island cabinet doors and pulling out all my jars. My upper cabinet with vertical dividers for baking pans is pretty much a joke since only half of my vintage oven is actually an oven, and I have two generous shelves on the other side for my pans. When I read through Camille’s book, it was like the skies parted. Why hadn’t I thought of this before? I should replace those door with wide, deep drawers! Then, I wouldn’t have to empty out half the cabinet to grab the big jar in the back. I would just pull out the drawer. Now that I don’t need paper towel storage, I can make a drawer for that space to keep our dish cleaning supplies. Adding in a few shelves to the pan cabinet would make several small cubbies that will be great for those odds and ends with no real “home”. Over and over I was hit with new, great ideas every time I finished a chapter.

 

Kitchen Love Story serves as a primer for your kitchen renovation. Gone are the layouts and floorplan examples and confusing jargon. Camille fills you in on the secrets behind the curtain. She shows you how to

Personalized Holiday Gifts from Zazzle Made in the USA

Happy Holiday Season everyone! I hope all my US friends had a wonderful and happy Thanksgiving, I know we did. This year we chose to stay home and not do any store shopping, choosing to enjoy the family time and quiet. As you know, we traditionally make many of our gifts, but I also like to research for great gift options to give as well. Specifically ones with photos, because who doesn’t love family photos? I know I do! This year I partnered with Zazzle to find some fantastic options. I am so psyched at what I found! So, SO many gifts made right here in the USA, from great folks. I’m looking forward to ordering one for each person on my list. Want to take a look with me?

 

Zazzle Made in USA

Gold jewellery
zazzle.com

This beautiful necklace can be customized with your own art or photo. This would be great for the ladies in your life!

Look at this adorable cake pan! I LOVE IT! Great for pot lucks, you’ll never lose it 🙂 The perfect gift for the baker in your life. They have several different designs too!

Sometimes you don’t need a fancy catalogue to find chic holiday decor. This pillow is made from cotton right here in America.

I know I can’t be the only one who loves to stare at little faces all day long, and this custom pillow would be such a fun gift. You could use photos from travels, portraits of pets, or snapshots of family you don’t get to see often.

Anybody looking for a fresh new tree skirt? Why not personalize it?

Last year I gave all the moms in our family throw blankets with my kids’ photos, and I have to admit I was disappointed to see that “made in China” stamp. Now I can feel better about less carbon emissions from a blanket made nearby, from cotton to boot.

Anybody love American Apparel? Why not add some fun art or text for the scarf lover in the family?

My daughters love to help in the kitchen, almost as much as they love things with their names on them.

Somehow last year my toddler’s stocking was eaten by the dogs (I’m blaming the candy inside) so perhaps this year we will replace it with her very own special one.

It’s so refreshing to see reusable water bottles made and printed in our country. I love to use our reusable bottles, and favor the one with my kids’ photos on it. However I chose another company last time, and the printing is already chipping off. I’m eager for these to come back in stock so I can stock up!

These soft hair ties are so handy, and even better with monograms and cute patterns!

This would be perfect on a keychain, I think I’ll have to pick up a couple for the dads in my life.

So that about wraps up my quick round up of Made in the USA gifts from zazzle. Be sure to check out their home and holiday offerings. But that’s not all! There are so many more on the website, you’ll have to hop on over and check them out for yourself. They carry customizable American Apparel products, which include t-shirts and so much more. Plus they are having a HUGE Black Friday sale, so hurry up and happy conscientious shopping!
*This is a sponsored post. I only choose to work with companies I fully believe in with products I agree with, all opinions are my own.*

A Holiday with Minted

http://www.minted.com/photo-christmas-cards

How is it already November?! The months are flying by, and before you know it 2014 will be gone. As our family gears up for Thanksgiving and the holiday season, I’m trying to get a jump on planning so I’m not so frazzled the closer we get to Christmas. I research gift ideas, work on a menu for those big meals, and this year, I’m checking out adorable holiday cards from Minted. Have you heard of them? They are a great company offering beautiful products.

 

http://www.minted.com/photo-christmas-cards

http://www.minted.com/photo-christmas-cards

http://www.minted.com/photo-christmas-cards

 

It’s going to be so hard for me to choose! There are so many cute designs. And you can bet that they have some really great environmental initiatives. They offer 100% recycled paper, and also partner with Plant It 2020, which focuses on planting trees in non-logging sites. Minted is planting over 100,000 trees in the next 12 months, which counts for roughly 7 times their annual usage. That’s fantastic! If I’m going to be making purchases this holiday season, I’m going to focus on making sure the company I’m supported is both ethical and environmental. Minted definitely fits this bill. But wait! There’s more!

 

Minted also offers fabric by the yard! It’s designed by independent artists and printed on all natural materials in the United States. As someone planning on making more than a few fabric gifts this holiday season, I’m so excited about this!

http://www.minted.com/fabric?of=no&limit=160

MIN-RRJ-NFC-001_A_PD

MIN-TTR-NFC-001_D_PD

I’m already planning out which fabrics I’ll be ordering. Go ahead and check out the awesome offerings over at Minted, and get going on your holiday planning too!

*sponsored post*

SnapPower Winner!

Hey guys! Sorry I’m a tad late announcing the winner, ragweed allergies turned into an infection and I’ve been lying low and healing up for the past few days. And now for the news, the winner is….

Robyn!

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Thank you all for your great tips and comments! I read every last one and filed away some great green methods to start at our house. I have two woodworking tutorials coming up that I’m planning to post this week, so stay tuned! One is a quick and easy fun project, the other, well, it’s a bit bigger…

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Stay tuned for plans! And thank you again for being such amazing readers!

Man Crates and Man Cave Inspiration Roundup

Hello Everyone!

I have such a fun post up today. Have you ever struggled to figure out what gift to get for the man in your life? I know I have. So when I saw these Man Crates Gifts For Men, I knew it was a great idea! Gift baskets have been around for ages, but how about these cool crates? You can choose from several different packages, from jerky to zombie preparedness!

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There’s even sports and personalized gifts. Oh, and the fun part? They arrive in a crate that has to be opened with a crowbar! Much more fun than a plastic wrapped bag, yes? And you can re-use it. I also love that they send crates to men serving overseas, who I know would appreciate the humorous pick-me-up. As a blogger I get a lot of these PR type announcements, but Man Crates really caught my eye. Especially with my husband’s birthday coming up in a few weeks. Which inspired me to dream big, real big, and come up with a total Man Retreat I think he would love. We’ve been talking for months about eventually building a workshop for him that would double as a storm shelter. So I took the liberty of dreaming that we won the lottery and I got to surprise him with what I think would be his dream “Man Cave”. Let’s take a look!

 

Man Cave

Sleeping Beauty Diamond Edition Celebration and Giveaway!

With no encouragement from me, my toddler has become a Disney Princess. Full stop. So we’ve been watching many of the classic Disney movies, with favorites like The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. But one film we don’t have yet, but are anticipating the release, is Sleeping Beauty. To celebrate the upcoming release, I participated in a fabulous giveaway with Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment. I was tasked with choosing a few Princess themed products for the perfect little princess bedroom along with several other bloggers and these were curated into a prize pack that will please any little lady in your life. I encourage you to enter and check out Sleeping Beauty when it releases next week!

Sleeping Beauty

Why We Love our Rainbow Play System

rainbow play system

 

When we moved to our new home, we moved more into the country than into another subdivision. Our kids have dozens of acres to eventually roam, but it’s not close to any playgrounds. At our old home, we lived in a subdivision near parks within walking distance, and that was a lot of fun for us. But now, going to the park means packing up both kids and driving over 10 miles away. Which isn’t very sustainable in the long run. So when my mom brought up the idea of a swing set for the girls to grow up with, I jumped on it! I spent a little time researching different options, and found a Rainbow Play Systems dealer in the nearby town of New Braunfels.

 

homefield showroom

 

We started out by visiting the “showroom”, which was like heaven for Charlie! And somewhat of a nightmare for me because holy cow some of those systems are TALL! But she ran around playing on all the different styles while my mom and I sat with Caroline on a picnic table and leafed through the catalog. We asked several questions, because they have a few different “levels” when it comes to their systems. There is the bottom tier, which is new, and not something I was interested in. The wood was from China and while it was manufactured somewhat in the US, it’s not truly made here. The reason I chose Rainbow over a cheaper set from a big box store was because their higher tiers use native redwoods, quality sealing products, and are fully manufactured in the USA. The cost is higher, but the quality is much better and the end result means a swingset that will pretty much last for life. Their swing chains are all coated, their hardware is as well, and overall it’s just an incredibly solid, durable set.

 

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They’re also chicken friendly 😉 You can see the coating on the swing chains in this photo. Another reason I loved this system was that it’s so customizable. Did we want a wooden roof or a fabric one? Monkey bars, yes or no? (no for us, sorry kids, I’ll keep those bones unbroken! haha) Even the trapeze bars! We decided to take out the bar on the back and use that space for an infant swing, which Caroline definitely appreciates!

 

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We spent about a week studying the catalog and deciding on the basic system we wanted. We chose the Sunshine Clubhouse Package II, the 49B spacesaver. It has more than enough to keep the kids entertained for hours, and heck, even our dogs and chickens! They like to climb up into the clubhouse for a great lookout spot. It’s fabulous when it comes to barking at the cows. Promise. We made several changes to the original setup, and love what we ended up with. So far it’s survived its first blistering Texas summer unscathed. I’m looking forward to fall when we can play outside all day and not just at dusk.

 

So if you’re in the market for a swing set, I highly recommend taking a look at Rainbow, either at a dealer or searching your local sales boards for someone looking to re-home theirs. They also have a Facebook page.

 

 

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. Our dealer sent out an email that a review on the system in exchange for their chalkboard learning system, which I was planning to purchase as a Christmas gift. And since I’ve been planning a review, it was perfect timing! I stand by this product and would 100% purchase it again. As well as plan on purchasing other accessories in the future, like that really fun looking see-saw swing!

 

 

Getting Into Routine with Stinkerpants Magnets

stinkerpants-logo

Anyone with a toddler (or older children!) can tell you that transitions are difficult. Routine can be hard to establish, and every day can be a challenge. Even the little things. Especially the little things! You may be familiar with Weddingbee, the wedding planning blog I participated in four – whoa four! – years ago before my wedding. Well one of my fellow bees started a business selling charts and magnets to help little ones settle into new things and accomplish goals and tasks. Sounds great right? Well it is!

 

charlies-magnet-chart

 

Stinkerpants is an organizing solution for children provided through magnets and charts. For Charlie, who just turned three, I chose a reward chart and a morning/evening routine chart. The most difficulty we have is getting ready for bed, followed by a close second of getting ready for her Kids Day Out program twice a week, which starts up again in just a few days!

 

stinkerpants morning evening routine magnet chart

 

The best part is that the sets aren’t one-size-fits-all, you can choose any magnets you like! I went with the ones that followed our routine, which are pretty basic. But instead of books before bed, we sing songs together, which is what the music notes stand for. These magnets have changed our lives! From struggling every morning to get ready for school, and fighting tantrums every night, we’ve gone from a fun, playful routine because my daughter is excited to move each magnet into place.

 

stinkerpants reward chart magnets

 

The reward chart, though, is my favorite. During potty training, we tried out candy first, and it quickly spiraled out of control. I hated using food as a bribe, especially sugary sweets. Then we tried stickers, but I hated all that waste. So it was perfect to find these magnets! They’re reusable, durable, and fun. I had a great time picking out the rewards, and the images make them flexible for their meanings. Obviously the lollipop is a sweet, and the tablet is for iPad time, but the puzzle could mean a trip to the museum, the tv could be going to the movies, and the rainbow could mean an outdoor activity like the zoo. Once she fills up a row she earns that activity. So far we’ve done great with the potty and staying in bed, and that’s awesome! We’re still working hard on putting toys away and cleaning up.

 

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As far as placement, I rigged up a magnet board inside her closet so it’s easy to access, but can be closed up during the day so baby sister doesn’t accidentally try to eat one or something. I used some scrap flashing my dad had lying around in his shop, and some quarter round trim from the barn. Easy, no-cost, and simple to assemble! I just pre-drilled holes and attached the flashing with 1/4″ screws and the quarter round with 1 1/4″ screws right into the plywood door. It’s not going anywhere!

 

back-to-school-magnets

 

Sara just introduced a new weekly calendar that’s perfect for schedules full of activities, and I can’t wait to order some! Charlie has recently started picking up on days of the week and what they mean for her, and it will be even more important once she starts back up with her KDO program as well as music and dance classes.

So if you’ve been struggling with your toddler, or know someone with a pre-schooler (or even grade schooler!) check out Stinkerpants and check out her amazing magnet solutions.

 

 

Disclaimer: I was provided the magnets and charts free of charge in order to test them out and give a review. All opinions are my own, and I am very much looking forward to buying a calendar magnet set as well!

I Took the Made in USA Challenge, Will You?

masterlist2

Happy “Made in the USA Day” everyone! According to my Facebook feed (where all the hard-hitting news is, donchaknow) it’s Made in the USA Day, celebrating products and brands made in America. In our home, we’ve been striving to be more mindful of our consumption and waste. For my New Year Resolution, I decided to take the Made in USA Challenge. Care to hear the “rules“?

Look for items made in the United States first. If what you’re looking for can’t be found, then research companies who have ethical and sustainable business practices. Another great option is to buy used. The goal of the entire project is to be more mindful of ALL of your purchases.

Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not saying everything made overseas is bad or should be avoided. But we as a family have been inundated with so much “stuff” on a daily basis that we needed a good way to step back and readjust. By choosing companies and products that manufacture in our home country, we can support healthy working conditions, environmentally responsible practices, and a lower carbon footprint with less shipping. I try to source as many local items as possible.

Yes, it can be more expensive at times. But this helps us not fall victim to the shopaholic addiction. Do we need 20 different sippy cups? No. We only need 4. It means more washing, but that’s okay. I don’t need to constantly update my wardrobe with all the latest fashions. If I would like a fresh look, I try to find a great graphic tee from a local artist.

This has been such a freeing experience! There are more selections than I originally thought there would be, like Lodge cast iron and Fiestaware dishes. I do have to take more time to research a company, but it helps prevent me from making impulse purchases. Overall, our spending hasn’t increased, I just buy fewer quality items.

I encourage you to take a look at the Master List, and check out the companies who manufacture the products you buy. It’s such a great feeling to know I’m supporting companies I believe in.

 

Saving Alaska with Ana White on HGTV

saving alaska logo

Have you heard the news? Ana White, homemaker extraordinaire, has a new show on HGTV! It premiered last week with two pilot episodes. I finally got a chance to head over to my mom’s house to watch the recorded shows (we cut the cable cord 18 months ago, so I’ve been sadly lacking in HGTV). I can tell you without a doubt, it was AMAZING! I loved it. It’s probably my favorite new show on tv. I had the great pleasure of meeting Ana on her book tour a couple of years ago, and can say that she truly is that genuine and enjoyable in person. It’s been so much fun to work with her on plans for the past few years, as well as build the ones she’s worked on with others!

 

But the best part? I love how involved her family is with the show. As a mom of a toddler and baby myself, it’s incredibly refrishing, if not jaw-droppingly inspiring, to see her wear her son in a baby carrier and tote him around on the job site. It’s such a strong message for women, to not only see a woman working with power tools and building amazing furniture and rooms, but to also see a mom doing all these things with young children in tow. I just loved that! It goes to show that the work/life balance can truly exist for the modern woman. Even one wielding a hammer!

saving-alaska-screencapture

 

So if you’re looking for a great new show to watch, tune in to Saving Alaska. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they network picks up a full season and more episodes will be aired soon!

 

*This is not a sponsored post. Simply one mom’s enthusiastic recommendation for some quality entertainment!*





 

 

Taking a Break, and Readjusting

Wow, it’s been a while, hasn’t it? I didn’t plan to take such a long, unannounced blogging break. I’ve been having a bit of burnout for a while now, trying to figure out exactly what blogging meant for me. Did it mean income? Sharing? Validation? I felt myself trying to fit into the DIY Blogger mold and found I enjoyed the experience less and less. It wasn’t until having my second daughter that I decided to just take a step back and let it breathe for a little while. I’ve still been busy though, plugging away on the house (I’m *thisclose* to taking “finished” photos to post in a series about building the San Bernard plan from Tilson) and fun builds for friends.

raccoon critter chair killerbdesigns

I’ve been doing several “Critter Chairs” as I’ve been calling them. Free plans for them here.

 

I also decided to sell my flea market booth, because it was so much harder to do with two kids than I expected. Which is silly, really, because of course it would be! I didn’t really plan on how I would balance nursing/pumping during shows. And since breastfeeding meant more to me than a few sales at market, I decided to sell the booth and try it again another year. Besides, that just frees up our camping weekends this summer!

From a family standpoint, things are great. I’m loving spending more time with both of my girls, and can’t believe it’s already been 7 months since I became a mom of two. We’ve had a lot of adjusting to do, figuring out some diet restrictions for Caroline and me. We’re now both gluten/dairy/rice free, and possibly eliminating even more because of some sensitivities and eczema she’s suffered. It’s been a really big learning curve, and I haven’t had more than 3 hours of sleep at a time since she was born. I kind of forgot just how intense all that sleep deprivation is, when you’re waking up 3 or 4 times at night. That was probably the main reason for my blogging break, trying to catch up everywhere I can at home because I’m lagging in energy so much. But we’re finally getting into longer sleep stretches, and I’m feeling the upswing. Someday I’ll feel rested again, right? When they’re teenagers maybe?!

 

chicken-boxer-love

 

Blog Changes

As far as my blogging focus, there’s going to be a slight shift. Now that our home is mostly “finished”, I don’t plan on posting too many improvement type projects. I’m sure I’ll still have loads of furniture builds and outdoor things like the teepee we built for Christmas and I’m hoping to add a reclaimed-materials greenhouse to the yard this summer. But one major shift in our personal lives is going to come into larger focus here on Killer b. Designs, and that’s homesteading and sustainability. We’ve taken major steps to become greener and more mindful of our consumption, and I’m excited to share that progress. We’ve got our small backyard flock of hens (4 now, two production reds, an Americauna and a Barred Rock named Elsa, Anna and Christoph), 30 chicks we’re raising for meat, and a large yard garden I’m excited to manage this season. It’s very much a work in progress, but it’s my 10 year goal to be able to produce all the food our family needs. We’re not quite to the off-the-grid level of intensity, just wanting to reduce our footprint a little. So, the blog will mostly be projects still, but just not the “check out this cool tchotchke I redid!” sort.

Also, privacy. I’m planning to limit how much my kids are on the blog. There will still be photos from time to time, simply because a lot of my builds are kid-centric and I need my little model for scale 😉 But I don’t want to overdo their exposure online at such a young age. Which is also why I made the old Instagram account locked, as so much of it focuses on my kids. If you already follow and we interact, awesome! I’m planning to keep it that way. But if you found yourself randomly “out”, it’s simply because I decided to pare down my “followers” to people I regularly interact with or “know” online. I’m have a dedicated public account to blog-appropriate things like projects and country life, and keep the personal kid stuff out of it.

Killer b. Holiday Gift Guide

Happy Holiday season everyone! It may come as no surprise that this year, I’m focusing on hand making as many gifts as possible for the loved ones in my life. I get a little overwhelmed by the whole shop! shop! shop! mentality, so I’m slowing down and really thinking about what people will appreciate. And while every gift won’t be hand made, I’m focusing on small local businesses, sustainability, and personalization. So, let’s get to it!

WHAT I’D LOVE

Cast Iron Cookware

cast-iron

I’m trying to move toward chemical-free cooking and phasing out my nonstick pans. Bonus points if they’re thrifted and I’m giving someone’s castoffs a new life. I’ve even searched how to reseason them so they’re ready for use!

Reusable Kitchen Gear

neatos

I bought a few of these NeatOs reusable snack and sandwich bags, and would love to have some gallon sized ones as well. I’m also looking for reusable baking mats so I can stop wasting aluminum foil.

Canning Supplies

copper-pot

I’ve been growing my very first garden, and am really excited to start storing my own fresh produce! I already have a water bath kit, but a copper pot for making jams and jellies would be great. And one can never say no to canning jars!

 

GIFTS FOR MY MR.

A Holstar Beer Holster

holstar

My husband loves him some beer, and holsters. He’s also a huge fan of the Chive so I had it personalized and stamped with KCCO in kelly green.

KitchenAid Sausage Attachment

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Lately the Mr. has been processing his own meats, and we have a freezer full of wild venison and pork. Yum! He’s been interested in trying out sausage, and the meat grinder attachment worked so well that I’m excited for him to receive this one!

A Straight Razor

straight-razor

These straight razors are so beautiful, and he’s been really interested in straight shaving. I’m a bit nervous to try and pick something for him since I’ve read that there are different options based on preference. But I think a gift card to a shaving store would be a good solution!

 

Binoculars

binoculars

I mentioned above that my husband is an avid hunter, and a good pair of binoculars can be crucial. Not only that, it’s great for watching wildlife in the off season.

GIFTS I’M THINKING OF GETTING MY PARENTS/IN LAWS

Photo Fleece Blanket from Shutterfly

photo-blanket
I saw these and knew they would be perfect for all the grandparents. Who wouldn’t like to snuggle up with their favorite kiddos whenever they can?

Homemade Ornaments

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I never had much luck with the salt dough recipe, but this cornstarch and baking soda clay recipe works great for handprints and stamped letters. We’re going to make a big batch for all the Christmas trees in the family.

 

Donations to Charities

wounded-warrior-project-logo

My father is a Vietnam veteran, so I’m making a donation to the Wounded Warrior Project, who help injured veterans with rehabilitation and reintroduction into homeland life. Heifer International is also a great organization, they bring aid to communities by teaching them husbandry and farming.

GIFTS FOR MY KIDDOS

Homemade Play Dough

play-dough

My daughter LIVES for this stuff, but tends to go through it so quickly because she smooshes all the colors together and leaves it out to dry. So instead of buying the packaged stuff, I’m making her a batch of her very own custom dough!

Outdoor Cedar Teepee

cedar-teepee

How amazing would it be to have your very own play house shaped like a teepee? I’m planning to build ours without the base using cedar fence posts and pickets so it’s lasting yet chemical-free so it won’t leech into my garden.

 

Play Table

modern end play table and stools

I spoiled the surprise a bit by setting it out early, but I built my girls a modern style play table and stools that also works as an end table for our couch. It’s a big hit! We’ve already had tons of Play-Doh dates and tea parties here.

Fabric Memory Game

fabric-memory-game

I saw these fun little games and decided to make my own using some fabric scraps. It’s a great stocking stuffer! And if you’re not great at sewing, you could repurpose a deck of playing cards with some pretty scrap paper or family photos and mod podge it on.

Are you making gifts this holiday season? What are you making?

 

 

An Inconvenient Life

I’m going to warn you in advance that this post may sound preachy, but I really hope it doesn’t come off that way. I’ve been meaning to write it for some time now, but couldn’t organize my thoughts exactly how I wanted to say things. Please know that I do not judge anyone for living differently from how I choose to live, I simply wish to explain some changes in my (and my family’s) lifestyle in case someone else is looking to adopt some of the same practices.

 

Over the past couple of years, I’ve had a strong conviction to pay more attention to the things in my life. Things like food, medicine, appliances, clothing, and other “dry goods”. It has been weighing on my heart, all this stuff we preoccupy our minds with. All the commercials to buy more things, wear new clothes, get the latest gadget. I started watching documentaries and reading books about living green, growing your own food and supporting sustainable practices and production. A lot of my friends and family tease me for this new “hippie” lifestyle. But I’ve found that the more I delve into it, the more I enjoy it and find more satisfaction in my day to day life.

organic-ingredients

 

One big decision has been buying better food. Yes, it’s more expensive. Yes, I know that “organic” doesn’t always mean healthy. But after reading enough frightening articles about GMOs and abusing animals, I wanted to set aside a higher budget toward food and skimp on other things. For instance, we cut cable and only have local channels and Netflix. It’s inconvenient. I would love to be watching the DIY Network and HGTV, but I knew this was the best choice for my family. For starters, the tv isn’t always on so we have more quality time together. But the most important part was feeling that we prioritize putting the best possible foods into our bodies. It’s a trade, and one we are all happy to make.

 

homesteading

 

One of the most rewarding aspects of the homesteading lifestyle I’m pursuing is the home garden. It’s my first garden ever, and it’s had it’s hits and misses. Zucchini has been growing like a weed! But I learned that cucumbers in the blasting Texas sun don’t last long, and neither does anything when you leave a gate open for a hungry calf to tear apart nearly all your okra and pole beans. Whoops! We also decided to give raising chickens a try. We started with four, and are down to our original one chicken. One was lost early to rough play by a very, very sad Red Heeler (it was our favorite too! An Americauna which lays blue eggs, and Juno was really upset that she killed it and hasn’t touched another chicken). Another suffered a large wound on a stick and needed to be put down. The last was the worst. Our Rhode Island Red (or Elmo Chicken, as Charlie dubbed her) had just started laying a couple of weeks prior and went into the coop to lay her afternoon egg. It broke inside her and she died. The small silver lining to all this has been exposing my daughter to the way of farm life. We were together when I found poor dead Elmo Chicken, who she pronounced went “night night”. A life lesson, that’s for sure!

storing-harvest

 

Preserving this bounty has also been a new experience. Yes, I spend a significant amount of time in the kitchen blanching and packing and freezing. It would be much more convenient to simply grab a bag of frozen zucchini or okra from the store. Yet I feel that not only is it immensely satisfying to know exactly how this produce was grown (without chemicals or treated water), but that I’m learning new skills to serve both myself and my family as well as preserving a little bit of history and independence. I’m not particularly comfortable with how reliant we have become on centralized food production and enjoy knowing I can start providing for myself. Over time I would love to expand this even more and do my best to grow all the produce and meat we consume every year. That may be a pipe dream, but it’s one I feel value in pursuing.

 

reclaimed-materials

 

If you’ve followed my blog for any amount of time, you’ll have noticed that I do my best to salvage old materials and recreate them into new things. I’ve become even more vigilant about this. It began by wanting to save money, but now I also strive to save as many resources as possible. Buying furniture is certainly simple, if expensive. Building furniture is great, especially when it’s derived from sustainably forested lumber found locally. Though I really enjoy finding old cast off materials and doing my best to make them into something unique and interesting. I may not always achieve this, but at least I saved it from clogging up another landfill.

 

Another new “quirk” I’m getting the side-eye for is recycling and composting, in an effort to bring our home to zero waste status. Our area does not have recycling pick up, so I sort it into large bins and take it to the local recycling cache every other Friday. I also asked my husband to screw together some old pallets lying around at my dad’s barn and make me a composting heap for our kitchen scraps and yard waste. It’s already been a huge help! It’s not a huge time suck, but I do invest about 5 hours a month into recycling and composting. We also put out two rain barrels so I can water my plants without dipping into our well water supply, from an aquifer that’s been declining over the past few years. One day I would love to get a two thousand gallon cistern, have wind energy, and go completely off the grid. Will that happen? I’m not sure, but I’m going to do my best to try.

 

If you have been considering taking steps to a greener lifestyle, I highly encourage you to do it. It isn’t always easy, and I get that. However, it is incredibly rewarding on a personal and global level. Every little bit helps. You’d be surprised at all the things you can recycle, and that it’s not a huge time investment. Or that you find pleasure and emotional satisfaction at keeping a garden. You can easily support local small farms by visiting a farmer’s market or local grocer. It’s worth it, I promise.

 




In Memoriam: Bobby Hornsby

bobby hornsby

I don’t write personal posts all too often anymore, but yesterday my husband’s family experienced a terrible loss. Early yesterday morning, Jacob’s cousin lost her husband, Bobby Hornsby, in the line of duty. He has two young children, his son is only a few months younger than Charlie. My heart breaks for them, for those kids who now have to grow up without their daddy. For a mother who now has to raise them alone. For the family that lost a son while he was protecting others. It’s the worst kind of loss.

To help aid Kimberley, a fund has been set in place

X Base Pedestal Table from Ana White

A few weeks ago, my sister mentioned that she wanted to upgrade her hand-me-down round oak table she’d had since she graduated college. She wanted a “real” table that she picked herself, but the ones in stores were insanely expensive and nothing she was really looking for. So I offered to build her a table that was exactly what she wanted.

In the Bloglight with Hometalk

Hey guys! I was contacted by Hometalk to take part in their In the Bloglight blogger series. If you haven’t discovered Hometalk yet, you need to! It’s a great site full of inspiration and community. I promise you’ll be sucked in for hours.

Part of the excitement of this opportunity is that I finally have an excuse to talk more about the blog and less about the projects. I’ve never addressed a lot of these questions about how I got into blogging or why I bother to do it. Anyway, without further yammering, let’s get to it!

 

How did you first get into blogging?

I started blogging back in 2008 with a “lifestyle” (aka had no rhyme or reason) blog. In 2010 I got engaged and started focusing on wedding blogging. I wanted to apply to Weddingbee, and was accepted as Miss Sand Dollar by the summer. I blogged about our DIY wedding that we pulled together with $4000 by ourselves and how I basically went insane. Once the wedding was over, I started up a home/DIY blog and named it Killer b. Designs and invited my Weddingbee readership to follow. So thanks to you guys who have been with me since then!

 

How did you decide on the name of your blog?

I wanted something fun and a little bit daring, and since my name starts with a B I landed on Killer b. and threw in the “designs” because I didn’t know how else to incorporate everything I do. I studied as a graphic designer, have a history of general crafting (sewing, paper crafts, decor, yada yada) and recently have found a passion for carpentry and woodworking. So it wasn’t too scientific, but I’m still really happy with the name and get a kick out of people who address me as “Killer”. It makes me feel like kind of a badass. In a silly way.

 

Is blogging something you do on the side, or is it a full-time job for you?

It’s still a pipe dream to think I could ever rely on this blog as a source of income. Technically I’m a SAHM and do a little freelance design work on the side, and am making a (slow) go at selling furniture at the local flea market. All my blog revenue (which isn’t much) is donated to charity so I don’t get obsessed with advertisers and page views. I don’t have any current goals or plans in motion to “make it big”.

 

What was the first project you ever posted?

I used to do a little tshirt screenprinting for a band, the Midnight River Choir. I used my Yudu which worked well enough, but I charged a pittance and the work was tough. So after a few batches I quit. But from there I started wedding projects (DIY “fancy” hair combs and my butterfly bouquets) and they grew from there.

 

What do your friends and family think about your blog? Do they read all

Sisterhood is Coming

We found out today that Charlie is getting a baby sister! Little Caroline should be joining the family early October. Now to survive the second half of pregnancy in this Texas summer!

Apothecary Trundle Table on Country Living Website!

I’m ecstatic to share that my Apothecary Trundle Table was featured in a finishing article on CountryLiving.com! I’m totally patting myself on the back right now, because it’s my blog and I’m allowed to do that here 😉 If my husband’s employer hadn’t taken him hostage this week on double shifts, I would make him take me out to dinner to celebrate. Which is really just an excuse to eat chips and salsa. Instead Charlie and I will enjoy our dinner for two: Snapple and spaghetti. It’s the good life.