Posts on this website may contain affiliate links. For more information, please read my disclosure policy. Thank you for your support of this website and our family.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

If you’re looking for perfection, you’ve come to the wrong place

antique trim vessels
When my friend Nicole showed up this afternoon to pick up the centerpieces I built for her wedding, I will still waxing crates for her to use in her cupcake display.
“I wasn’t going to wax them, but then I was waiting for you and decided to try it to see what it looked like, and I think I like it.  But I’m not sure what they’ll look like in a month…I’ve never waxed old crates before.  And I’m actually not waxing them, now.  I started out waxing them, but I couldn’t get the wax down into all the crevices, so I’m oiling them.  My homemade furniture wax was made with beeswax and oil and so I figure, if I can mix oil with beeswax, can’t I just pour it on to this super soft wood? So, that’s what I’m doing. Pouring vegetable oil onto the wood and spreading it around.  What do you think?”
“It looks good.  Are you going to do the other two?”
“Well, I don’t know.  I mean, this is all a big experiment.  I don’t know what the oil’s going to look like in a month, either. But hey, if you’re looking for perfection, you’ve come to the wrong place.
“Let’s oil them.”
And so, 3 weeks before the wedding, on a Thursday afternoon, we sat down on my kitchen floor and poured vegetable oil on the other two crates.  I still don’t know what they’ll look like on the wedding day, but no matter what, I think it will be okay.
Because, like one of my favorite bloggers always says, “It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.”
Same goes for these antique-trim-branch-holder-thingies that I built.
wedding centerpieces antique trim towers
They are far from perfect.
antique trim towers
But they are beautiful.
repurposed antique trim
Like the lilac branches I filled them with, each one is different, but gorgeous.

Shared at Inspire me Monday

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Winner of the Living History Farms Giveaway and Life in Iowa in 1900–The rest of the story


I LOVE the 1900 farm at Living History Farms.  In many ways, it doesn’t seem so different from our own farm or those around us.  The house is actually quite similar to mine, as mine was built in 1907, and the barn is like those that dot the countryside where I live.

old house


But there’s no way I’d want to live (or farm) in 1900.  Besides the obvious amenities we enjoy now, like electricity, indoor plumbing and central heat, there are many other things that keep me from really wanting to turn back the clock.

For example, in 1900, 1 in 10 infants died before age 1. Epidemics threatened the lives of early Iowa settlers. Highly contagious diseases like cholera, smallpox, diphtheria and typhoid fever spread quickly from person to person. The average life expectancy of a pioneer man, woman or child ranged from 30 to 40 years, if they were fortunate enough to survive childhood.

Farming wasn’t much better.  Much of the work was done by hand, or with the help of horses.  Tractors had not yet been invented, although the iron plow was used.  (This plow, coincidentally, contributed to a loss of 50% of Iowa’s topsoil before the DustBowl in the 1930s.  Many farmers today use conservation tilling to reduce erosion of our fertile topsoil.)

However, things were improving.  Scientists were doing “extensive experimental work to breed disease-resistant varieties of plants, to improve plant yield and quality, and to increase the productivity of farm animal strains”. Hybridized corn was produced in 1881 and a hog cholera serum was developed in 1903.  Farmers were becoming business-men, and had begun making the improvements we benefit from today.

It’s romantic to imagine what 1900 was like in Iowa.  But we often look at the past through rose colored glasses.  The reality was much more bleak.  Life was hard without the many modern conveniences we enjoy.  And farming was even harder – harder on the farmers, and in some ways, harder on the land and the animals.

Farming and life have changed over the past 100 years, but one thing has remained the same – farmers are still trying to do things better than before.  New equipment, new discoveries in animal health, new conservation and animal care practices…farmers realize the global impact they have and are doing their best to make that impact a positive one.


Now, who’s ready for a rose-colored view of Iowa’s history? Wendy Tse is the lucky winner of 4 tickets to Living History Farms!  I’ll be emailing you, Wendy! Congrats!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Dear Mommies,


I’m not an expert mommy, nor am I an incredible experienced mommy.  But this I know:

It’s okay to not love parenting.

It’s okay if your kids make you want to pull your hair out.  It’s okay if you’re exhausted and frustrated at the end of the day.  It’s okay if you hide in the bathroom to get a few minutes alone.

Because parenting is HARD WORK. 


My True Parenting Confessions

I tried being a stay at home mom and didn’t like it. I have trouble giving my kids my full attention. I carry guilt and anxiety over my kids’ picky eating habits.   I choose “mommy time” instead of playing a game, doing an art activity, or playing with my kids, a lot.  I cannot put the boys to bed by myself without losing it.  I only work part time, but my kids go to daycare full time.

I don’t LOVE parenting.

But that’s okay.

It’s okay to not love parenting.

It doesn’t mean you don’t love your kids.  It doesn’t mean you are a bad parent.

It doesn’t mean you are a bad parent.


Figuring out how to discipline a 5 year old, fighting a 2 year old to get his hair washed, trying to sleep with a baby laying cross-ways in your bed, settling sibling disputes, sitting through 2-hour-long school concerts, running your kids back and forth to a million activities after school, changing a blow-out diaper in the Target bathroom, helping a stubborn, unmotivated kid with homework…the list goes on and on.  Parenting is hard.  And often, unenjoyable.

There is no shame in not loving parenting. 


Happy Mother’s Day from Katie, an imperfect mom who doesn’t love parenting, and her two little boys who love her (and feel loved) anyway.


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Giveaway! Because I love Living History Farms




I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this before, but I really wanted to be Laura Ingalls Wilder growing up.  So it only made sense that Living History Farms was by far my FAVORITE field trip.

As a 3rd grader, we visited the farms after learning about how our small, midwestern town was settled.

As a 5th grader, we took it a bit further.  We dressed in traditional pioneer attire, spent half the day in the one room schoolhouse, ate the lunch we packed in a pail, and then toured the rest of the farm.  (That’s me, with the navy bonnet, blonde braids and  red apron.)




When my brother was in 5th grade (and I was a college student) I eagerly volunteered to chaperone his trip, dressed in my pioneer clothes again, and probably had more fun than any of the kids there.

When I was nannying in college, I took the kiddos to Living History Farms for a little field trip, too.

Finally, my own son is big enough to appreciate the farms, and when we visited last Saturday, he loved it!

“Living History Farms in Urbandale, Iowa, tells the amazing story of how Iowans transformed the fertile prairies of the Midwest into the most productive farmland in the world. While at the 500-acre open-air museum, visitors travel at their own pace through historical time periods spanning 300 years. On-site interpreters provide a unique learning environment of seasonal activities and demonstrations.”


I wish I had checked out the website before hand…they have a great visitor’s guide for children under 5 (and another for grades 4-6) as well as a blog for children!  But we still had a great time and Adam learned a lot.

Here are a few pictures from our trip…


Adam was so busy exploring, he wouldn’t stop for pictures.


We only had time to tour the 1900 farm and 1875 town, and this was the look on Adam’s face when I told him we didn’t have time to see the 1700 Native American village or 1850 farm.


We are, however, planning to go back, and thanks to the generous folks at Living History Farms, you can go, too! 

Follow the directions to win a 4 pack of tickets to visit the farms this summer!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Thrift Fix: Upcycling Thrifted Finds with Swoodson Says

13811832943 e4d17bb18b m About


My guest blogger today is a fellow Iowa blogger and thrifter, Stephanie Woodson.  She is much more talented with the sewing machine than I am (remember how I swore off sewing?) and she looks adorable in her thrifted outfits!  Check out Stephanie’s blog and tell her I sent you!

I love thrifting!

I shop thrift stores three-fold:

  1. for clothes that I’m going to wear off the rack
  2. for clothes that I want to refashion into something else
  3. for clothes that I want to cut up solely for the fabric

I especially like buying garments that have a stain or hole; I know no one would buy them as-is but I can rescue them!


I dug around in my closet and pulled out a few of my favorite outfits that include thrifted clothes. I know some of you will be grossed out by ‘used’ shoes but each of these pairs was new with tags! I’m always shocked at the brand new clothing I find at Goodwill.

Swoodson Says Thrift 2 Swoodson Says Thrift 3 Swoodson Says Thrift 1

Tips for shopping thrift stores for refashions & upcycles:

If you’re looking to buy something solely to cut it up and use the fabric (an upcycled project), bigger is always better. Be sure to consider any details like buttons, plackets, pockets, elastic, etc. that eat up usable fabric. Linens, like sheets and duvet covers, can also be used as cheap practice fabric. One of my favorite recent projects was actually made from the scraps of other upcyled projects: Rainbow Harem Pants.

If you’re looking to buy something and adapt it to your taste (a refashioned project), try to keep your comfort level with sewing in mind. A shirt that is three sizes too big will likely have to be completely deconstructed, whereas a shirt one size too big will require more minor adjustments.

Writing this post inspired me to dig out something from my to-refashion pile and get started on summer sewing! Check out my recent post on cutting up one maxi skirt and using it to refashion three separate shirts. Here are two of my favorite past refashions: Maternity Skirt Refashion & Valentine’s T-shirt Refashion,

Always keep the following factors in mind when considering a piece of clothing! It’s easy to fall in love with a fabric or a print but it’s only worth buying if it will suit your project’s needs.

Things you can change or work with:

  • Color (by using dye and/or bleach)
  • Small holes or stains (cutting around them, appliqueing/designing over them)
  • Fit (bigger to smaller is always easier!)

Things you cannot change:

  • Strong detergent, smoke, or other odors
  • Fiber content (cotton is cotton and polyester is polyester)
  • Pattern scale (large stripes on a man’s shirt will not translate well on a women’s pair of short shorts)

I hope this inspires you to look a little deeper next time you’re thrifting or maybe brush up on your sewing skills!



thrift-fix_thumb5_thumbThis post was part of Thrift Fix.  To see all Thrift Fix posts, click here.

Get Thrift Fix and all of my other fascinating and entertaining blog posts delivered to your email inbox!  (Don’t worry, you can always unsubscribe later!)