To the Sleep-Deprived Mama of a Hurting Baby

To the sleep-deprived Mama,

You are not alone.

I’ve been there; so tired you almost fall asleep on the toilet.

I hope you find this at 2 am, when you’re desperate for a word of encouragement and haven’t yet slept a wink because your child hasn’t slept.

I’ve rejoiced over 4 non-consecutive hours of sleep a night because for months we had less than that.

I know that the term “sleeping like a baby” was written by someone who was ignorant of what it is like to have a hurting baby.

I, too, was a real-live zombie, in a daze, wandering around aimlessly, looking for a bed. 

I’ve felt your hope as you plan a new strategy to help your baby fall asleep and stay asleep.

I read those books and blogs, and heard the advice of fellow parents. 

We bought the highly acclaimed swings, noise machines, and baby sleep books written by experts; all of which did not work for us.

One by one, tools and advice of experts failed for my hurting child who couldn’t sleep. 

Desperate, we also tried letting baby ‘cry it out’, but with a hurting child,  but it just wasn’t right and the crying went on far too long.

We learned that a hurting child is not able to self-soothe and what it is like to be needed by them to fall asleep.

I have seen a hurting child finally pass out in my arms, and realize it is the only time all day that their body relaxed.

I know how it FEELS to rock a baby so much that your back feels it may break.

I understand that the ONLY reason you can keep rocking them is because you LOVE them. So. Very. Much.

I’ve cradled a child with numb and tingling arms, too afraid to move for fear of waking them up.

I have felt poorly equipped, inadequate, and have sobbed, along with my child, unable to soothe them.

I’ve fallen asleep in that uncomfortable chair, freezing cold because you can’t reach the blanket, with my bladder about to burst, because I know if I move they’ll wake.

I know that you, too, would sacrifice your health, body, and sleep if it meant your child would feel better.

I have felt what it is like to be so tired, having given all your energy to the child, that you’ve forgotten to eat, or drink anything all day.

I tried to sleep when the baby slept, but a few 1 hour stretches at night were just not enough. And I know that when you work during the day or care for another child, that napping when the baby naps is not realistic.

I know the feeling of exhaustion that goes down into your SOUL.

And for those days to go on for MONTHS and MONTHS.

I heard my friends boast of how their child slept well from “the night they brought them home” and wondered what was wrong with us.

I know that until you’ve had a hurting child and experienced the sleep-deprivation it can cause, that you can feel entirely alone, misunderstood, and that you may fear it will. NEVER. end.

Seeking help, I took my child to the doctor and cried in the office.

I know how vulnerable it feels to have a public break-down and how grateful I was to the nurses, doctors, co-workers, family and friends who spoke kindly and encouraged me.

I know what its like to truly worship sleep and to be unable to focus on anything but the next chance to get some.

And, I too, reached the point where even when my baby slept, I stopped being ABLE to sleep.

As I laid my sleeping baby down, exhausted, a surge of adrenaline pumped through my veins as I slowly backed out of the room and closed the door. I was hypersensitive to ANY sound that might wake the baby. 

I, too, collapsed into bed only to hear my child’s baby grunts and noises that all babies make in their sleep.

I know that with each sound, a fresh dose of adrenaline surges and that fear that the baby will wake can steal ANY sleep you might get before the crying begins again. 

After months of sleep deprivation, I, too, heard my baby’s cries in the white noise of a fan, in the background of a football game, or the sound of the shower running, and wondered if I was a crazy person.

With nowhere else to turn, I relied on the Lord to carry me through those nights where I cried as much as my child. 

I too prayed those persistent prayers for sleep and for healing for my child. In our case, I prayed that his heartburn and acid reflux would cease and he would no longer hurt.

It took 15 months for those prayers to be answered.

 

BUT, Have hope.

My prayers WERE answered.

I have awoken to light streaming through the window and felt the seizing fear that something bad had happened.

And then I felt the JOY and RELIEF when I found the baby still asleep.

We slowly saw a few sporadic 4 or 5 hour stretches of sleep mix into the sleepless nights.

We saw a few long stretches turn into regular occurrences.

After months of a few hours of broken up sleep a night, I know that a 4 hour stretch can make you feel like a new mama.

As the long stretches turned into sporadic nights of 8-hour stretches, I know that at first, you wake up, wondering if something is wrong.

I also know, that at some point, you will realize that you had two nights in a row, then three, and then a week of good sleep. 

For us, it was sudden. When my son walked at 15 months, I felt the elation of our first full night of sleep. It didn’t take long for it to be a regular occurrence.

It did take time some time for me to feel refreshed, despite full nights of sleep. It takes some time for your body to catch up. Be gentle with yourself.

Looking back, I cannot begin to fathom how we even survived, but I can tell you, we did only by the Lord carrying us through it.

My son’s name is written in my Bible next to this verse, and it is imprinted on my soul after saying it over and over, half-asleep and weary.

I remember you upon my bed,
    and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
    and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
    your right hand upholds me. 

-Psalm 63:6-8

God IS hearing you.

He IS helping you.

He IS holding you up, as you struggle to stay awake and to comfort your child.

He IS equipping you to parent, work, and function, despite severe sleep deprivation.

 

Until Then

If you are reading this with red, stinging, tired eyes that you can hardly keep open, take heart, sleep is coming. 

If your child has reflux (GERD), and it is not responding to medication as our son didn’t, cling to the promise several doctors gave me and was TRUE for us: when your child walks, everything changes. The muscles develop, the pressure lifts from their stomach, and sleep comes.

This. Shall. Pass. I’ve experienced it.

Your child WILL sleep through the night, even if it feels like it may never happen. 

It will not be as soon as you’d like.

It will take you by surprise and suddenly life won’t seem like such a BLUR.

Your view of sleep will never be the same.

Even today, my son is 4 years old, and has slept through the night since 15 or 16 months. I still wake most mornings, grateful that my children slept all night long, and for their health.

When sleep comes, it will bring with it WAVES of gratitude.  

But, for now, cling to hope.  Be encouraged.

Keep loving your child.

If you feel like you’re just surviving, that is OK.

You are doing ENOUGH and I have no doubt that you are doing a GREAT job.

You are not alone.

 

DIY Decor: How to Update a Framed Mirror with Chalk Paint

How to Update a Framed Mirror with Chalk Paint

Chalk paint.

It’s all the rage on Pinterest. Several friends of mine have used it and love it (and what they painted looks fantastic!).

I’ve been dying to try it out but have been too afraid to jump in and use it on a large piece of furniture. Up until now, I’ve been chemically stripping or sanding my wood pieces to prep for spray paint.

With all the work that has been done to prep my other projects so far, the idea of no-prep before painting is rather alluring. I also love the flat finish of wax over chalk paint, especially when mildly distressed.

It. Was. Time.

Since we moved in December, we haven’t hung much on our walls. We have been slowly painting and decorating one room at a time. Currently, we are putting up a kitchen backsplash and painting the walls in our kitchen and main living area. I’ve also been refinishing some bar stools for our kitchen island (stripping them and spray painting them).

The rest of the space is coming together, but I have not selected anything to hang on the walls. With a tight budget, I’m hoping to use things we already have.

We have a framed mirror, in great condition from our old house. In the dimly lit basement, I thought it might look nice upstairs. However, after bringing it up, I didn’t like the color of the wood stain with the color of our floors and carpet.

Older mirror in good condition but the color doesn't go well with our new house

Older mirror in good condition but the color doesn’t go well with our new house

I still wanted to use the mirror but was afraid to chemically strip it, and sanding really isn’t that fun. Plus, if I keep sanding projects every night I’m going to have one skinny arm and one with Popeye muscles since I do most of the sanding with my right hand. There IS some sanding on the back-end if distressing the project, but MUCH less than removing the original finish.

So…finally, an experiment with chalk paint seemed like a great idea.

Unsure of how this would go and on such a small project, I didn’t want to splurge and buy Annie Sloan chalk paint. I looked online and checked out the colors at Home Depot and JoAnn Fabrics. I ended up buying Folk Art Chalk paint at JoAnn Fabrics for $7.99 (and actually paid about $4 with a 40% off coupon). I went back to buy the Folk Art clear wax to seal it the following week with a different coupon, and paid the same as the paint. For a little over $8, the refinishing is certainly worth it and much less expensive than buying a new mirror.

As you may have seen in a few other DIY posts and the post about our dining room, we’re using aqua, yellow, white and silver in our dining room. The dining room connects to our kitchen and main living area. We are using grey paint in those rooms and will use similar accent colors. I want something with a pop of color for the walls, so am using yellow on the mirror frame.

How to Update a Framed Mirror with Chalk Paint

Materials

  • Chalk Paint (I used Folk Art Home Decor Chalk Paint in Yellow Crochet)
  • Wax (I used Folk Art Home Decor Clear Wax)
  • Paint brushes (foam brush for paint and old beat up bristle brush for wax)
  • 100 grit sand paper
  • FINE sand paper block

Steps

1. Prepare to Paint

Use painters tape to protect surfaces that will not be painted

Use painters tape to protect surfaces that will not be painted

Clean the surface to be painted: Remove dust or debris, and then wipe with rubbing alcohol

Allow the surface to dry

Apply painters tape to any surface that will not be painted

 

2. Apply Chalk Paint in Thin Layers

Chalk Paint

Chalk Paint

Shake the paint well before use to ensure even coats

This paint has hardly any scent, so can be used indoors. As with most paint, it is a good idea for the object being painted and paint to be the same temperature when you start and to paint when it isn’t really hot or really cold

Use a paint brush to apply paint to the surface

Use care not to apply excess paint in the crevices to make it easier to sand later

A foam paint brush worked very well but bristle brush would also work 

Use care not to apply excess paint in the crevices

Use care not to apply excess paint in the crevices

This paint required 2 hours between coats

3 coats of paint were applied until desired coverage was achieved

First coat of chalk paint

First coat of chalk paint

 

 

Second Coat

Second Coat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Third and Final Coat

Third and Final Coat

3. Allow to Fully Dry

The paint needs to dry fully before any sanding can be done

The three coats were applied 2 hours apart, and allowed to dry overnight

4. Sand to Smooth and/or Distress

Fine sanding block and 100 grit sand paper

Fine sanding block and 100 grit sand paper

To Smooth:

If you don’t want visible brush strokes sand the entire surface with a fine sanding block or sand paper

The fine grit will leave a silky smooth finish and help you get a feel for how much pressure to apply before the original surface shows through.

Use sand paper or sanding block to remove paint in some areas

Use sand paper or sanding block in the direction of the wood grain to remove paint in some areas

If you remove too much paint and didn’t want a distressed look, you can always, stop and reapply paint. Dry fully before sanding again.

To Distress:

Distress various areas using sand paper or a sanding block, focusing on areas that would naturally undergo ‘wear and tear’ (edges, corners, ridges)

As a general rule, higher grit will remove more paint with less pressure and effort, 

Use sand paper to remove paint in areas that would undergo wear and tear

Use sand paper to remove paint in areas that would undergo wear and tear

but will also remove the original surface if you aren’t careful.

If you want to see LAYERS (of different colored paint or paint and original finish), it may be worth using more effort with a FINE sand paper instead

Always sand and in the direction of the wood grain to avoid damaging the piece, and to avoid leaving visible scratches on the painted surface

Sand to distress the paint

Sand to distress the paint

It is important to randomize the areas to distress so it looks natural, not planned at the end.

Vary size of distressed area, location, and try to stagger around each edge.

I randomly turned the mirror around and picked different sections to distress on each edge. I tried to vary the length and width of each section

5. Seal with Wax

Clear wax

Clear wax

Wipe down the entire surface to wax with a dry rag and remove as much chalk dust as possible so loose paint doesn’t clump when wax is applied

The wax did have an odor so may be best applied outside or in a well-ventilated area

Use an old, clean paint brush to apply wax in a THIN coat and remove excess with a soft, clean rag

As with painting, use care not to apply excess wax in crevices

Once the wax has dried for an hour, buff the wax with a clear rag to create a little shine (otherwise leave for a matte finish)

Apply wax thinly and then wipe off excess with paper towel or cloth rag

Apply wax in a thin layer and wipe off excess with paper towel or a soft cloth rag

As wax is applied, the colors are deepened, and the contrast between the two colors became stronger

Wax did dry quickly but be sure it is fully dry before handling to avoid finger print impressions

 

 

 

Work in small sections since you can visually tell where wax has been applied

Work in small sections since you can visually tell where wax has been applied

 

 

 

 

 

The wax deepens the contrast between the colors

The wax deepens the contrast between the colors

 

 

 

 

Be sure to wax the outside edges. Might as well pick a beautiful day!

Be sure to wax the outside edges

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Enjoy the Finished Product

Chalk Painted Mirror

Chalk Painted Mirror

Chalk Painted Mirror Before and After

Chalk Painted Mirror, Before and After images

5 Questions to Consider When Setting Your Family’s Fall Schedule

Hello September.

I can’t believe my second summer as a stay-at-home mom is finished already. Unlike last year, our mornings were free since our daughter dropped her morning nap. With no scheduled activities, we kept a very loose schedule.

The freedom…It. Was. Lovely.

We met friends at parks, went to the zoo (A LOT), ran errands on rainy days, and spent a lot of time relaxing, reading books, and playing at home.

My husband and I allowed bed and nap times to be more flexible than the rest of the year. If neighbor children were outside, we allowed the kids to play longer, and stayed later at events. We also allowed our little one to even skip naps for special family events (although she and WE all paid for that!).

The loose schedule did sometimes yield overtired, overstimulated, unruly and exhausted children. But, because it was summer, we simply stayed home the next day (or two) to get back on track.

While I have enjoyed the flexibility, I am ready for a change of pace.

With no structured activities, I had very few opportunities to spend time with adults (away from the kids). I miss it. Without it, I find myself less patient, and more easily frustrated. Not the way I want to be.

My son will be attending preschool two half-days a week.  I am excited for him to experience new things and meet new kids, but also feel unexpectedly emotional at the same time. He will never be home with me as much as he is now. Starting now, time devoted to school, sports and friends will increase year by year.

This realization that the time we have at home is fleeting makes me committed to make the most of our time this year (of course, while making a concerted effort NOT to smother them). I am looking to maximize quality time at home, while exposing both kids to educational and social opportunities. This summer, we were barraged by flyers for sports, ECFE, swimming lessons, church activities and more. I had a pile of things that looked worthwhile. So much to do…So little time.

As we set the schedule for fall, there is a real need for balance. It is imperative that we avoid the danger of being TOO busy. Being TOO busy will run children and parents ragged. Suddenly activities that are supposed to be fun and begin to cause stress, angst, and lose their effectiveness.

There are SO MANY great opportunities to learn and play, but we CANNOT and WILL NOT do them all.

Here are 5 questions we considered when setting our family’s fall schedule.  These questions helped us sort through what was important and to choose activities wisely. Our answers are noted with each question.

5 Questions to Consider When Setting Your Family’s Fall Schedule:

1. What takes priority?

What are the priorities for your family this year? What activities MUST happen each day/week? This may be different depending on the season. As a general rule, if anything interferes with these priorities, it is unlikely that we will participate.

Our family:

  • We put God first. Church and Small Group every other Sunday night are a MUST.
  • The kids will be allowed to sleep until they wake up MOST days
  • My daughter will have a consistent afternoon nap, otherwise she just is not herself
  • I am committed to staying home all day with the kids at least one day a week to just enjoy them
  • Family dinners are priority
  • Bedtime will be consistent
  • The schedule needs to allow me to run errands, and keep the house in order

2. What is necessary and what ‘would-be-nice’?

Is the activity something that NEEDS to be done? Or is it something that would be fun, or nice to do if time allows?

Our family:

  • Aiden: NEEDS to attend preschool. Swimming lessons, maybe a sport or two during the year, or time to play with other kids ‘would-be-nice’
  • Adelyn: NEEDS the opportunity to spend time away from me and to interact with other children. Swimming lessons ‘would-be-nice’
  • I: NEED one activity during the week that allows me to interact with other adults away from my children. It ‘would-be-nice to have more than one since my husband travels a lot
  • My husband: NEEDS to meet with a group of men from church before work

3. Is the schedule fair?

Once you have the list of activities you’ll participate in, determine if it is balanced (for children AND adults). Each member of the family is ONE of {insert size of family}; the schedule won’t work if it is at the expense of any ONE. Can everyone benefit from this schedule? Does the schedule meet the NEEDS of everyone? 

Our family:

  • The kids and I will attend Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) on Thursday mornings and the women’s bible study at church on Tuesdays. These precious hours allow me to study God’s word and get to know some amazing women. The kids learn about God and play with some very sweet children. These breaks leave me feeling refreshed and restored; they allow me to be a better wife and to parent with more patience and grace
  • My son will attend preschool, two days a week, in the afternoons. He will go just after lunch, and my daughter will go down for her nap right after we drop him off. This gives ample time for her to rest, and I am especially looking forward to some special time alone with her before we go pick him up.
  • We signed my son up for a 4-week gymnastics class during the month of September, along with 2 neighbor kids. It starts early enough in the evening that we can have family dinners when we get home (as long as I plan ahead), and is a chance for us to see how things go having another activity in the schedule.  

4. Is it feasible?

Can you meet your priorities, and make it to everything without undue stress? Is there enough time between activities?

Our family:

  • Our current planned schedule does allow me to run errands and clean the house during the week
  • Our schedule will allow me time to prep meals and for family dinners, and does not interfere with the kids waking up, nap time, or bedtime.
  • Our Thursday schedule was NOT feasible. We were going to attend a BSF class across town (where our friends are) but it would not be feasible to get eat lunch, and get to preschool on time without undue stress (and even then we might be late). SO, we transferred to a different class, which allows us more time

5. What needs to go?

If the schedule looks full, are there some activities you can put off until later in the year? Is there an activity that needs to be given up? Have you taken time to ASK your child what they want to continue doing, or if there is anything they would rather do instead?

Our family:

  • We want both kids to do swimming lessons this year. With the school year just starting, we’ll get into the swing of things and see if we can add classes on Saturday mornings during the second fall session
  • If any activity is causing undue stress, frustration, over-stimulation, fear, or just isn’t going well – we will reassess and determine if we will continue or not

 

Fall schedule

What Do You See? What Does God See? Do They Match?

Standing in front of a mirror in June, getting ready, I found myself displeased with how my clothes fit. I sighed, wishing I had bought something new to wear for our family photos.

The image I saw really mirrored my own self image, not just my outward appearance:

  • A wife who still forgets her husband sees her as beautiful, despite his words and compliments
  • A tired mother, wishing she could have slept later than the baby who woke at 430 am
  • A mother of two whose body is different than it used to be
  • A woman who doesn’t spend time to get ready or to reflect on how she sees herself most days

On a normal day, I usually a rush to put on mascara, some sunscreen enforced face lotion, and a little powder before a child needs something. That morning, my husband was graciously taking care of the kids so I could spend a little more time getting ready.

But in this case, those added moments staring in the mirror weren’t doing me any favors. I was certainly NOT feeling ‘pretty’, no matter how many times I changed my clothes or added more makeup.

Instead, I was doing something very unproductive; sinking into the pit of self-loathing.  Annoyed with myself and my lack of exercise, healthy eating, and the realization that my body is simply DIFFERENT than it used to be.

I’m sad to admit that the problem didn’t start that day. It was bigger. Let me tell you how I got to this point. It was several weeks in the making.

In the weeks before our trip, I had searched my closet and several stores for the perfect outfit. I was supposed to wear something navy, white, and/or khaki. Sounds simple, right? I had 3 tops, and own 2 white pants and several pairs of khakis.

These clothes are all in ‘new’ condition, but were all purchased before my second child (some before my first). I like them, but frankly, I felt like they didn’t like me! They do not FIT as they did when they were bought. A common problem these days and the reason why I wear the same few outfits over and over despite having a closet-full.

After finding things in the store also didn’t fit as I desired, I decided it was a problem with me, and resorted to wearing Spanx under my pants. You know, to just make something I had ‘WORK’.

Yep.

So now I’m squeezed into spanx which are NOT physically comfortable, in order to ‘FEEL’ comfortable in my BRAIN, in a regular navy shirt and khaki pants.

I had thought that this strategy would give me peace of mind, so I could relax during photos.

Right.

Relax in Spanx. Ha.

I could hardly breathe. But at least I wasn’t focused on sucking in my stomach?

So that was my frame of mind as I coated my hair with hairspray to make it ‘stay down’ and put on more makeup than usual, in a weak attempt to cover my perceived tired eyes with mascara and concealer. As I applied mascara, my eyes caught words written at the top of the mirror in black marker.

“What do you see? What does God see? Do they match?”

I immediately felt the pang of conviction and mixed emotions. Remorse that I had YET AGAIN forgotten this truth. And, at that same moment, I was overjoyed by the remembrance that God sees me as useful, beautiful, and of eternal value.

I can’t take credit for those words. You see, I was getting ready in my niece’s old bedroom. We were staying at her parent’s home as we gathered to celebrate her wedding day. She is an amazing woman, niece and friend. She wrote these WISE words long ago.

I stood there, pondering the words as my son and daughter tumbled into the room a few moments later as my husband tried to rally them for a bath and to get dressed. They both had wicked bed head and mismatched pajamas.

Still struggling with mixed emotions, I saw the joyful sparkle in their eyes, high energy movements, and simplicity of my emotions as I watched them.  If I see my children as such beautiful, amazing, and earth shattering little people, how much MORE does the Lord see in me and in them?

He made us all. Every detail. With loving care we can’t even imagine.

If you’ve given birth, you know that a tiny baby can only be made by a loving creator. They are too perfect. Tiny toes, fingers and noses. No matter how they look to human eyes, these children are EXACTLY as God made them, and their days and birth were all ordained beforehand by Him.

All these thoughts remained with me as I finished getting ready.

I put on a necklace and forgot to care what I looked like to the world and was just glad the necklace was a great distraction for my daughter to play with.

Because of truthful words on that mirror, I was just me. As I was that day; wife, mother, woman, and child of God.

We had fun taking pictures. There was much laughter, play and joy. My daughter had one outburst of tears, but that is expected from a 1-year-old. Everyone was relaxed and after taking some posed pictures, the entire family went down to the beach to wander and let the kids play.

Had I not seen those words, I am not sure I would have relaxed or stopped worrying about how I looked.

I would have missed the fun, preoccupied with my own perceived inadequacy.

Instead, I spent the day with a refreshed view of how God sees me, reinforced by how I see my own children.

Here’s one photo from the day that thankfully doesn’t look like I am slathered in makeup and fully doused in hairspray.

Family Photo

Some time after returning home, I came across this passage, and was reminded of that moment.

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you,O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

Matthew 6:25-34

 

The next time you struggle with your clothes, hair, or skin, remember to ask check if your self-image reflects that of your maker.  Do they match? I know I will be writing this question on my daughter’s mirror when she is old enough to have one.

 

 

DIY Accents: How to Make Metallic Painted Coffee Beans

Exploring on Pinterest one day, I stumbled across this picture of coffee beans that appeared to be painted. I clicked on the link, hoping for DIY instructions or at least where to buy some, only to be disappointed. It was just a photo with filters applied so the beans appeared blue.

Inspired by the photo, I decided to figure out how to recreate the look with paint and coffee beans. Initially, I thought spray paint would be best, but could not find metallic spray paint in the color I wanted. Instead I bought some metallic craft paint and decided to experiment.

DIY Metallic Coffee Beans are inexpensive, can be used to make a variety of accents, centerpieces, gifts and more. Even though I love the way they look, the best thing about them is that they smell like coffee! Comforting, warm and homey.

Here are 4 good reasons to make your own: 4 Ways to Use DIY Metallic Painted Coffee Beans.

Happy Painting!

DIY Accents How to Make Metallic Painted Coffee Beans

DIY Accents How to Make Metallic Painted Coffee Beans

Materials:

  • 10 oz Whole Bean Coffee – $3 (bought with a coupon, cheapest brand)
  • Metallic Craft Paint in color of choice (I used Folk Art Metallic Acrylic Paint in Aquamarine and Ice Blue) – $1.99 each
  • Foam tipped paint brush – $1
  • Plastic bowl, or disposable aluminum foil tray
  • Paper cup
  • Baking sheet lined with aluminum foil

Steps Used:

Preparation

Start with 10 oz whole coffee beans

Start with 10 oz whole coffee beans

Metallic Craft Paint

Metallic Craft Paint

Pour coffee beans into a large bowl or tray

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil

Transfer paint to a paper cup

IF mixing paint colors together, stir to mix using a foam paint brush

I couldn’t find the color I thought I wanted, so I mixed 2 parts Iced Blue craft paint in 1 part Aquamarine craft paint. In the end, the mixed color was washed out so I ended up adding Aquamarine paint, without mixing to brighten the beans up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paint the Beans

Coat the foam brush with paint

Coat the foam brush with paint

Stir the beans with the brush

Stir the beans with the brush coated in paint

Add more paint and continue to coat the beans by stirring

Re-coat the brush, and continue to stir the beans

Stop when coated as desired

Stop painting when coffee beans are the desired color

Coat the bottom half of the foam brush with paint so it is coated, but not dripping

Transfer the brush to the bowl of beans and use the brush to ‘stir’ the beans

(The more you stir, the thinner the coating on the beans)

When it appears no more paint is being transferred, re-coat the brush, and stir again.

Repeat steps until the beans are coated with paint as desired

I coated with the mixed color paint first, but it wasn’t bright enough. I then switched to the aquamarine paint and re-coated the brush more often, and stirred less for a thicker coating

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Allow to Dry Fully

Transfer to a foil coated baking sheet

Transfer to a foil coated baking sheet

When the beans have the desired amount of color, transfer to the baking sheet and allow to fully dry

(Mix them up every now and again to expose them to air and speed-up the drying process)

Mine seemed to be dry quickly, but I allowed them to sit overnight on the tray just to be sure

 

 

Use them

Once they are dry, they are ready to use! Feel free to share how you use yours in the comments.

Enjoy!

 

 

10 Simple Tips to Help Out-of-Town Guests Feel ‘At Home’ in Your Home

In recent years, we have been blessed to have out-of-town guests. We love the chance to catch up, show them around the city, or to host celebrations. Our family has also been guests of many thoughtful and gracious hosts.

Whether your guests are family or friends, here are 10 simple ways you can help them feel ‘at home’ in your home during their visit.

10 Simple Tips to Help Out-of-Town Guests Feel ‘At Home’ in Your Home

1. Provide bulky items

If your guests have small children or babies, they may require use of bulky items (Pack N Play, car seat, or stroller). If you have an extra or know someone you can borrow extras from, offer! You guests’ sanity and backs will thank you! Be sure to inquire what items they will need ahead of time so everyone knows what IS and IS NOT available. If borrowing, do your best to have everything washed, and setup before they arrive.

Also consider asking if you can swing by the store to pick up bulky items like diapers. On our last trip out-of-town, our hosts picked up diapers and wipes and a few ‘baby’ necessities. We packed just enough diapers and wipes to get us there, saving space in suitcases.

2. Give a tour

One of the best ways to help your guests feel at home right away is to give a quick home tour. Include the entire house, and where your guests will be staying. It is a good idea to show where you’ve hidden extra towels and linens and any quirky things they need to know about your guest bathroom. My 3-year-old son LOVES to give our home tour and proudly parades everyone through the house. Guests think it is cute, and it lets them know where things are so they can start settling in.

3. Provide a ‘extras’ basket

Seems like every time I travel, I forget a simple necessity. We keep a basket of ‘extras’ for guests in the guest bathroom closet. We only take it out when guests are here, and replenish it with fresh stuff after they leave so it is ready to go for next time with minimal effort.

Create a guest ‘extras’ basket:

  • Q-tips
  • Mouthwash and small disposable plastic cups
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Dental Floss
  • A NEW loufa
  • Body wash (actually not in the basket: include a full size bottle in the shower)
  • Travel size shampoo and conditioner
  • Body lotion
  • 2 travel size deodorants (one men’s, one women’s)
  • Travel first aid kit
  • Chapstick
  • Travel tissues
  • Travel size lint roller
  • Disposable razor
  • Nail file

4. Buy grab-and-go snacks and containers

Whether your guests are visiting family and friends, working, or exploring the area, it is a good idea to have some foods and beverages that can be eaten on-the-go. I always set out disposable coffee cups and lids, and let guests know what ‘quick’ foods are in the house.

Grab-and-go ideas:

  • granola bars
  • bananas or washed fresh fruit
  • bagels or cinnamon toast
  • cheese sticks
  • lunch meat
  • cut up veggies and dip
  • sparkling water or soda
  • bottled water
  • disposable coffee cups and lids

5. Accommodate special diets

Do your guests have any food allergies or do they have a special diet need? It is a good idea to ask ahead of time so you can be prepared. Consider things like allergies, lactose intolerance, diabetes or Celiac. For guests with little ones, have some baby and toddler ‘friendly’ food on hand; asking if you can pick up a few of their children’s favorite items can help little ones adjust to new surroundings.

As a general rule when making food for someone with food allergies, save the packaging or set it aside for easy access so they can read the label themselves. Even if you are great at reading food labels, an extra set of eyes is never a bad idea.

6. Give them their own space – and stay out of it

If your house is ‘full’, this can be tricky. BUT, if you plan ahead, it can be done! If you have a guest room, set everything up ahead of time and move items you need to use during the week to other locations. For example, our guest room closet houses our vacuum cleaner and ironing board. I know I may need them while guests are here so I move the ironing board to the laundry room and the vacuum to the entryway closet.

If your guests are staying in one of your children’s rooms, grab a few outfits and their favorite toys so they aren’t likely to wander into the room, or want something in there while your guests are resting. IF you HAVE to go in, try to make it as little as possible.

Do your best to make your the room comfortable, even if it is not a dedicated guest room. Remove as much clutter as you can so they have room to just BE. If using your child’s room as a guest room, consider buying a few nice guest pillows and ‘adult’ bedding during ‘back-to-school’ sales or Home Goods or TJ Max. Use a large plastic storage bin to store loose items and some favorite toys; it makes room for guests, and gives your child access to some of their favorite things they may want to go into the room to get.

Additional guest room items include:

  • alarm clock
  • extra blankets or pillows
  • hangers
  • an extra universal charger for a phone or computer, if you have it
  • portable fan (We live in a new housing development and workers begin clunking around at 7 am. A good fan can create some much-needed white noise and drown out sounds of kids and allow guests to cool off if they get warm during the night)
  • pass code for wireless internet
  • mirror (full length is a bonus!)
  • spare key or garage code
  • large or bulky items, if needed (Pack N Play, etc.)

7. Offer use of appliances

When guests stay, I make it clear that the washer, dryer, iron, hair dryer and anything else appliance-related is available to use. No one wants to wear dirty or wrinkly clothes, or have wet hair!

8. Work around their schedule

Most travelers have an agenda to accomplish during their visit. They may have special errands, sight-seeing, or appointments for work or with friends. They have made a special effort (and spent money) to come and stay with you, so whenever possible, adjust your schedule to theirs.

  • Meals: If they aren’t sure how their schedule will work out ahead of time, pick up a few easy meals that can be made quickly and don’t require a set timeline. I usually grab some lunch meat, chips, fruit and vegetables for lunches, and grab buns for hot dogs, burgers, frozen chicken, and a few easy sides. This way, regardless of their schedule, we have food on hand, or can have freedom to choose to pick up food or eat out.
  • Your schedule: If YOU have set appointments, work, kids who nap and/or go to bed early, or other scheduled activities, let your guests know your schedule. Your guests can then CHOOSE to make adjustments, if needed. If you stay home like me, let them know if you can offer use of your car or be available to pick them up or drop them off somewhere. A spare key or the garage code will allow them to come and go as needed.
  • Sleep: Do your best to reduce noise during the evening and early morning when your guests are sleeping. Regardless of the purpose of your travel, it is nice to think of any trip as VACATION from home. One perk of vacation is sleeping until YOU are ready to get up. I listen in the morning for my kids so I can quickly bring them downstairs so they don’t wake our guests.
  • Events: Don’t schedule anything for your guests. If planning a large event while they are visiting, consult them on the timing of that event. It is not your job to pack their schedule or to pressure them to do what YOU want to do. Too much in too little time can leave everyone exhausted and reduce the amount of time available to have some quality conversations and actually enjoy their visit.
  • Expectations: Don’t expect anything from them. Be glad they are here, and be grateful for WHATEVER amount of time (large or small) you have with them.

9. Provide distractions for little ones

If your guests are traveling with kids, a small basket of toys in their room, or in the living area where everyone is visiting can help the parents relax and the child get in some play time. Even better, go for quality time with the kiddos and play with them so the parents can get ready in peace, take a nap, or visit with other adults!

10. Enjoy your time with them

Remember that being a good host isn’t all about food, cleaning, or organizing! While it is great to have a clean house and do nice meals and events, the best thing to do with your guests is RELAX. Enjoy them.

Do what it takes to keep your house from being FILTHY, but feel free to allow a few dust bunnies or crumbs to stay on the floor. Accept help when your company wants to hang in the kitchen with you and help you load the dishwasher. Your friends and family did not come all this way to watch you cook and clean. They came here to spend quality time with you and your family. Plus, if your house is TOO clean, they won’t feel like they can LIVE in it.

No matter how long or short the visit, be grateful for what time you DO have with your guests. Don’t preoccupy your thoughts with when they are leaving or coming back again so you can be present in the moment.

 

What other tips do you have for hosting guests?

10 tips for making out of town guests feel at home in your home

4 Ways to Use DIY Metallic Painted Coffee Beans

Last week I made some Metallic Painted Coffee Beans; easy to make, inexpensive, and smell lovely.

I was inspired when I stumbled across this picture of coffee beans that appeared to be painted. I clicked on the photo in hope of some DIY instructions, but instead found the beans only appeared blue due to some fancy photo editing. I was disappointed, since I had already thought of a bunch of ways I could use them in my home.

I decided to try a little experiment to make my own.

I will soon post a little tutorial on how to make your own metallic painted coffee beans, but first I thought I’d give you a few reasons to want them!

4 Ways to Use DIY Metallic Painted Coffee Beans

 

1. Vase Filler

Use metallic painted coffee beans as vase filler in a clear glass container.

These two examples show the painted beans in a mason jar with some other DIY accents (Crackle Painted Glass Bottle, Spray Painted Wine Bottle and Votive), and as a stand-alone accent in a round glass vase.

Use beans to fill a Mason Jar and group with other glass accents

Use metallic painted coffee beans to fill a Mason Jar. Group with other DIY accent pieces

Use as vase filler

Use metallic painted coffee beans as vase filler

 

2. Create a Centerpiece

Use the painted coffee beans to create a centerpiece and display on your dining table or kitchen island. Three examples are shown below.

  • Place a large candle in a small metal bucket or other container and surround with metallic coffee beans
  • Spread metallic coffee beans on a platter and place a handful of votive candles throughout
  • Fill different glass containers with metallic coffee beans and place in a line on a dining table (Depending on the occasion, you could create different colored sets of beans – red, white and blue for 4th of July OR green, red and silver or gold for Christmas).
Bucket with candle

Place a large candle in a metal bucket and surround with metallic painted coffee beans. Use as a centerpiece or accent.

Spread metallic painted coffee beans on a platter and place votive candles throughout to create an easy centerpiece for a dining table or center island

Spread metallic painted coffee beans on a platter and place votive candles throughout to create an easy centerpiece for a dining table or center island

Fill various sized glass containers with metallic coffee beans and create a long, skinny centerpiece

Fill various sized glass containers with metallic coffee beans and create a long, skinny centerpiece

 

3. Give a Gift

Wrap metallic coffee beans in a clear cellophane bag, tie with a ribbon, and bring as an inexpensive, homemade housewarming or hostess gift. Maybe I’ll make these to give hosts this year during Christmas…

Wrap metallic coffee beans in cellophane and give as a gift

Wrap metallic coffee beans in cellophane and give as a gift

 

4. Dress-Up a Fake Plant

I have some fake plants in my house. That fake ‘grass’ or dirt in them is never convincing and gets dusty and weird. One way to change that is to just cover it up with something decorative like these metallic painted coffee beans.  Would be cool in an even larger pot!

Dress up a fake plant with metallic coffee beans in the pot

Dress up a fake plant with metallic coffee beans in the pot

 

Other ideas

There are many amazing decorative ideas for plain coffee beans on the internet. Here are a few of my favorites. Any of these could use either plain coffee beans, metallic painted coffee beans, or a mixture of the two.

 

What would you do with them?

Feel free to post to your favorite link of how to use them, or a quick comment.