Saturday, October 29, 2011

Why A Shoebox?

Every year around this time we start talking about boxes.  Shoe boxes, to be exact.  And rather than talking about which shoes we wish were in those boxes, we talk about how we can fill them with toys and pencils and washcloths and soap.  This is that time of year that Operation Christmas Child is in full swing encouraging us to pack a shoe box full of toys for some deserving child in another part of the world. This has been an annual event for our family for a number of years and I thought I would share why we find this so important to us. 

We believe that what Jesus teaches us in the Bible is the way we should live our lives.  One thing very clearly stated in the Bible is the need to care for the orphan.  Another is to be a cheerful giver.  As parents these are not only things we aspire to, these are mandates we try to teach to our children.  We have so very much here in our house.  We have everything we could possibly need and a whole bunch of the wants, too.  However, if we follow the teachings of Jesus, we need to look outside of our home to see how we can minister to those around.  And we do that as frequently as we can here in our neighbourhood.  But if we want to make a difference outside of this town, we need to think a bit differently.  We cannot invite an orphan from Haiti to our house for supper.  But we can give them school supplies and some basic toiletries and maybe a shirt and socks and the opportunity to hear about the wonderful news that Jesus is head-over-heels in love with them and died to prove it!  A shoebox is not only a box filled with possibly the first and only gift a child may receive, it is the chance to hear about the greatest gift ever given, that of Jesus Christ.  And we believe everyone should have the chance to hear that.  So, each year, we take the time to make up some boxes to send to some children in another part of the world who don't get the things they want and probably lack much of the things they need.  It is such a small thing on our part to make up some boxes of crayons and pencils and candy but the rewards for those children may be eternal. 

It is such a fun event to take our family of 5 kids and let each of them pick out the treasures they want to send to another child.  Admittedly for the younger ones, they think they are picking out their own presents and often tears fall when we tell them it is not for them.  However, as we have done this for a number of years, the desire to give grows in the kid's hearts until it comes out and overwhelms you with their generosity.  This past week my eldest son, 8 years old, bugged me for a number of days to bake cookies with him.  His plan was to sell the cookies at the end of the driveway to raise money for Operation Christmas Child and the shoe boxes his Sunday School class will make (not only do we have the opportunity to make the boxes here at our house, the Sunday School at our church uses the kid's morning offerings to make shoe boxes - rather than mom and dad paying for the boxes as happens here at home, all the money they bring to Sunday School comes directly from the kids' "Give" jar!).  You must remember that it is the last week of October here in the prairies of Manitoba and the weather is nippy.  I wasn't so sure anyone would be stopping by or that he would sit out there longer than 15 minutes before deciding it was too cold.  But he wouldn't relent.  So, this past Thursday we baked Peanut Butter cookies together, he and I.  His brother made up some iced tea.  He set up a table, wrote up a sign and sat out at the end of the driveway for 2 hours, first in shorts then in pants (eventually all the kids joined him so who could resist 5 cute kids selling cookies)!  And God proved faithful to his giving heart - he raised $15 by selling 30 cookies at $0.25 each (and a couple glasses of iced tea).  He was so excited and cannot wait to bring that money to Sunday School tomorrow.  And in the next week or two, we will take the kids on a shopping date and pick out some great gifts we know will bless some wonderful little kids in another country, kids that God has already chosen to receive the boxes we will make.  I will be sure to tell you how the shopping goes!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Ideas For Church Nursery Mini-MakeOver

Our church has two lovely rooms being used as nurseries - one is for the toddlers to play in and one is for the nursing moms and sleeping babies.  Both received a new paint job a few years back (the reason I am not painting now) and the nursing room received a few new rockers and cribs as well.  However, the layout of the nursing room leaves a bit to be desired, as does the decor.  I have decided to do a few things to *hopefully* add a bit of functionality and style to the room.  Here is what I have planned:

This wall has a large unnecessary shelf on it.  Really, it is just taking up space. It doesn't contribute much of anything.  I will take this shelf down and, instead, put the new change table I made on this wall.

Above the change table, I will put a large silver-framed mirror.  I don't know about you but when I am nursing a baby, it is bound to spit on me, my breasts are bound to leak and my breast pad is bound to be askew.  I would like the opportunity to look in a mirror before entering the general public to make sure I am presentable.  A mirror in the room affords that opportunity.  Plus, it will look much nicer than the random baby decorations you see around the room!  Beside this change table, tucked between it and the wall, will be the "diaper genie".  Right now it is in the center of the room and really doesn't need to be seen!  The doors and drawers on the change table can hold the diapers and wipes plus all those other things sitting on that shelf.

This is the current change table set-up.  Notice there is no space on the change table to put your wipes, diaper creme, baby powder, etc?  Not very helpful.  Those boxes under the change table hold diapers in various sizes and extra wipes and will get moved to the new change table and hidden in the doors/drawers.  The white change pad will go on the new change table and this old table will get moved out.  I anticipate using it as a shelf in the young kids Sunday School class.  See the"diaper genie" out there for all to see?  Yeah, it will get moved and be much less conspicuous.  Notice also how the two rockers don't match.  On the other side of the room, there is another blue rocker.  I will bring both blue rockers to this side and put a side table between them.  On the table will be a table lamp and maybe some b&w photos of babies.  We will see how big the table is since I have to find one yet.  I notice that when bottle-feeding a baby, there is no place to put the bottle except on the floor or on the "diaper genie".  A side table will take care of that.  Oh, and see that giraffe wall-hanging in the corner?  It is covering up a large panel box.  Right below it on the ground is a large painted canvas.  It is the right size to fit over the panel box.  Maybe I can repaint the canvas and put some sort of saying or verse or something there?  I am not sure.

This side of the room has too many pieces of furniture!  Hopefully I can eliminate some but we will see what happens.  Above each of the cribs I will place 4-16"X20" fabric-covered canvases covered with this fabric:

I am thinking the brown and blue in the fabric will go well with the brown and blue rocking chairs.  It will also work well with the wall color, I believe.  I am not sure how it will work with the striped curtains but they are not on the same wall so we will have to see once it is all done.  I will be taking down that shelf and picture and contemplating options for that corner.  I will also move the two matching cribs to the same wall and bring the odd crib to this wall.  The window also needs a treatment to go over top of this one.  See, with sleeping babies, you want the room dark.  This curtain has the ability to do just that but it certainly looks - well, it doesn't look that pretty.  If I can get a nice thick double-rod, I would hang this curtain behind a nicer looking decorative one.  We will see what happens.

Finally, we have this wall with two cribs.  Like I said, the two matching cribs will go on this wall and the odd crib on the other wall.  I want to see what they will look like without being square up against the wall.  Maybe that will eliminate the boxy feeling of the room.  The brown rocker will come between these two cribs.  The fabric canvases will go above these two cribs as well.  Above the rocker I will hang a tall narrow shadow box that I have made.  In it will sit a vase and in the vase will go various different decorating pieces, depending on the season.  I wanted something to go a bit more vertical in this spot.  I will also remove the halogen lamp.

I also have these really beautiful rose hooks that match the red color in the fabric.  I just have to figure out where they might fit.  They would be a great place to hang diaper bags or purses.

Ideally, if I had tonnes of money (since I am doing this all out-of-my-pocket), would make matching sheets and blankets and dust ruffles for the cribs.  But, this will have to do for now.  I hope to implement these changes this week and show you the difference next week.

If you have any ideas or suggestions for me, I am all ears.  Remember, this is not in my home and I need really economical solutions!


Saturday, October 8, 2011

Plain to Pretty Pine Buffet

** AFTER **
I was given this pine buffet numerous years ago by a dear friend of mine (you can still purchase it here).  She was moving across the country and she knew I always liked it so she gave it to me.  I loved the bun feet and the doors/drawers placement, even though I did find it a tad plain.  I used it for a number of years as a change table.  Then when we needed more drawer space, it went into storage and has sat there for a year or two.  Well, this week I pulled it out and did a number on her.  Hard to believe it is the same thing, huh?
** BEFORE **
 First, I needed to reinforce the drawers.  It is not a super well built cabinet but it was repairable.  The dowel joints were loose so I pried apart the ones I could and reglued them.  To add some excitement to the front of the cabinet, I added shelf trim to each of the doors and drawers.  Those were glued and nailed to the front.  The moulding certainly adds a bit of interest. 

Once the mouldings were done, I sanded the buffet down and painted it white - "Powdered Snow" by Behr, to be exact, in Satin finish.  I love the warmth and creaminess of the color - not cold and stark at all.  It took 3 coats before I was happy with the coverage.  Since I used the Behr Premium Plus Ultra, the primer was in the paint so technically it was one coat primer, 2 coats paint.

Since this buffet will once again be used as a change table (not for me, in case you were wondering!), I needed to add another piece of wood to the top.  The width of the buffet top is only 13" - quite narrow for a change table.  I bought a pine laminated project panel - 3/4" x 16" x 48" - and, after sanding it smooth, stained it with MinWax Ebony stain.  Once attached, this will make the top wide enough to accommodate a change pad.

Once the buffet and top were dry, I attached the top to the buffet with gorilla glue, a few clamps, and screwed from the inside.  That top will not budge.

Since the moulding I added covered up the holes for the knobs on the doors, I drilled new holes in the center of the doors.  Sparkly new knobs were added as the final touch to this furniture makeover (though I still need to add the poly to the paint/stain - I will leave that for next week).  Since the screws for the new knobs were too long for the drawers/doors, I had two options.  Either I could cut the screws shorter or I could make blocking to go on the inside of the drawer/door.  I chose to make the blocking since I thought it was the easier way to go.

Over all, I am thoroughly pleased with the transformation.  I had intended to distress the buffet but I wasn't confident in my ability to do that.  I am glad I left it as it is.  I had also planned to paint more on the inside of the buffet but decided to leave it plain pine.  I know this isn't a building project like my bathroom cabinet or my porch swing or my Adirondack chairs but I did use a few tools so I think it qualifies as a building and painting project.

Just one more look at the difference:


** AFTER **

 Tools used:
compound mitre saw - cut the mouldings, cut blocking for knobs
air nailer - attach the mouldings
glue and clamps - repair the drawers, attach the mouldings, attach the top to the buffet
cordless drill - drill new holes for knobs, drill holes in blocking, attach top to buffet
palm sander - sand down buffet prior to painting/staining

I am linking to these parties:

The DIY Show Off

Domestically Speaking

(On October 11)

PS:  Please excuse the poor picture quality on most of the photos - my hubby took my SLR and left me with my sons tiny little digital.  I will replace the photos with better ones when he returns! 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

My Latest "Building" Project

This next Friday Sandra at Sawdust & Paper Scraps is hosting another Build{Hers} Club Party and I am hoping I have a project to submit.  This is not really a building project but it does require the use of some power tools so maybe that will be enough to qualify.  Whatever the case, it should give me the push I need to complete this project, provided everything goes smoothly, which I know from experience it probably won't!

Here is a sneak peek at what I am working on!

I promise that no matter how far I get, I will show you my progress this next weekend and explain a little about the new room project I have going!
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