Friday, August 30, 2013


I just have a few insta-pics to share this week. We're savoring the last few free days before the school schedules kick in. If you want to join in the insta-fun, you can follow me {I'm dreamanddiffer}.

The highlight of this week was definitely our trip to the Great Minnesota Get-Together. The Minnesota State Fair is a crazy, crowded zoo, but so worth braving the crowds and heat.
Food, animals, food, people-watching, food, rides, and more food.

Did I mention the food?
My weird-fair-food of the year was this sweet corn ice-cream, with bacon-honey-butter.
Sounds disgusting, but was actually really good.

I'm going to miss my girl when she goes back to school this week. I am so not one of those parents cheering as the school bus drives away. I have loved having her home with me every day this summer.
Even if she does think I'm crazy.

And now that summer is nearly over, these two finally decided to work together on something. They managed to make a batch of cookies without fighting. It only took 3 months for them to get bored enough to appreciate each-other's company!

Hope you have a great Labor Day weekend!

I'm linking up here:
life rearranged


Thursday, August 29, 2013

End of Summer Reading

With Labor Day weekend just around the corner, many of us are savoring the last few precious days of summer. School starts next week, and with it comes the return to busy-ness, schedules, and structured days. Gone are the long, lazy days of lounging poolside with a good book. 
{Okay, I've done more of my lounging on the sidelines of a soccer game than beside my nonexistent pool this summer, but you get the idea.}

Here are some of the books I've enjoyed over the last month of summer:

 Perfect for fans of Downton Abbey, it is the story of an aristocratic family, a house, a mysterious death and a way of life that vanished forever, told in flashback by a woman who witnessed it all and kept a secret for decades. This is a fun, fast read. Very enjoyable and a perfect beach book.

{Wolf Hall}
England in the 1520s is a heartbeat from disaster. If the king dies without a male heir, the country could be destroyed by civil war. Henry VIII wants to annul his marriage of twenty years and marry Anne Boleyn. The pope and most of Europe opposes him. Into this impasse steps Thomas Cromwell: a wholly original man, a charmer and a bully, both idealist and opportunist, astute in reading people, and implacable in his ambition. This is a not a light read, but it is totally compelling. I found myself thinking about it long after I had set it down and am looking forward to continuing Mantel's Cromwell trilogy.

{O Jerusalem
At the close of the year 1918, forced to flee England, Sherlock Holmes and his nineteen-year-old apprentice Mary Russell enter British-occupied Palestine under the auspices of Holmes’s enigmatic brother, Mycroft. Their arrival coincides with growing tensions between Jew, Moslem, and Christian, and a rash of unsolved murders that has baffled the authorities. I've mentioned my love of all things Sherlockian before, and this adventure is no exception. 

{A Spear of Summer Grass}
 The daughter of a scandalous mother, Delilah Drummond is used to raising eyebrows on her own, but when she crosses the line, she is exiled to Kenya until gossip about her recent escapades subsides. Amidst the wonders—and dangers—of Africa, Delilah awakes to a land out of all proportion: extremes of heat, darkness, beauty and joy that cut to her very heart. Only when this sacred place is profaned by bloodshed does Delilah discover what is truly worth fighting for—and what she can no longer live without. This has all the necessary components of a great beach read: romance, adventure, an exotic setting, and a saucy heroine. I definitely recommend it!

There you have it~ some wonderful end-of-summer reading. Enjoy the last days of August and have a great Labor Day weekend!
~Happy Reading!~

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

An Abbreviated WIWW

After our brief flirtation with cooler temperatures, the summer heat has returned to Minnesota with a vengeance. Unfortunately, my interest in getting dressed in anything cute left with the cool breeze. When the heat index is in the triple digits, I go for baggy and breezy every day. The less fabric sticking to my skin, the better. 

So, although it's Wednesday, I only have one outfit to share.

The top is from Old Navy, capris are Silver, and the tank and ballet flats are from Target.
But my favorite part is the necklace. It was an estate sale score, only $1. It's super long, as you can see, I managed to loop it around my neck 4 times. I can wear it in long loops or with lots of layers; both ways are fun.

I'll be linking up at The Pleated Poppy.
pleated poppy

Friday, August 23, 2013


It's time for some InstaFriday fun over at Life Rearranged and I'm joining in! If you'd like to follow me on Instagram, I'm dreamanddiffer.

As a kid, I used to dream of having a house worthy of a feature in the glossy pages of Country Living or BHG. {I was a weird kid.}
This week, I came as close as I probably ever will when my Autumn Harvest Mantel was featured on the Better Homes and Gardens website! You can find the slideshow here.

In a moment of complete insanity this week, I decided to cut my own bangs. Umm. Yeah. Don't follow my example, people. This picture shows Stage 1. But, I continued to cut. And cut. I now have a weird spiky fringe that I can only hope will grow out quickly. 
I knew it was a bad idea, and I did it anyway. 
Story of my life.

I got bit by the fall-crafting-bug... but I have the attention span of a flea. So this wreath remains unfinished on my kitchen table. Complete with weird, smiling, face-plate.

More fall-crafting. I love burlap, it's so versatile. And cheap. 
Thank goodness, because I started over three times before I achieved a pumpkin I was happy with. I might do a few more for a gallery-style arrangement...
Then again, maybe not. 
{See above unfinished wreath for explanation}

It's hockey season again. That means huge, smelly bags will be living in the back of my truck for the next 8 months. It also means I will have no free time and no money for the next 8 months. 
Good times.

Last, but not least, my baby turned 9. Sniff, sniff. How did 9 years go by?!
We celebrated with dinner at a local Japanese restaurant.

And topped off the night with a big ol' chocolate cake.

Hope you have a great weekend!
life rearranged

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

What I Wore Wednesday

It has been forever and a day since I did a WIWW post. I just can't get into clothes in the summer. 

That sounds bad. 
I do get dressed, but just not in anything worth sharing. 
But we enjoyed a few days of cool weather and I was able to break out the cardis and layer on some cuteness, so I thought I would share.
I'm linking up at The Pleated Poppy.
pleated poppy
 Cardi: Banana Republic
Tank: Lands End
Capris: Silver
Sandals: Target

 Cardi, dress: Target
Slip extender: A Slip Shop {Etsy}
Shoes: Macy's
Flower pin: Claire's

 Cardi, top, sandals: Target
Capris: Silver

Caitlin's taste in clothes can only be described as unique. There are not many 11 year olds who get excited about dressing like a librarian, but she loves anything that bears a resemblance to what Hermione Granger would wear {circa Hogwarts year 1}. Think lots of chunky cardigans and pleated skirts. I love that she is confident enough to rock her own unique style, and the fact that it is classic and we never have to worry about it being age-appropriate makes it even better.
Cardi and skirt: LL Bean

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Highlights of Summer

I am a bad summer blogger. Despite my best intentions, one day after another just slipped by without my ever having written a word. Now here we are at the end of August, and I'm not quite sure where the weeks went. I've spent the last few days busily prepping, planning, and preparing for the upcoming school year. One thing is for sure, I am much better prepared for this year than I was for last! 

But before we hit the homeschool books, I thought it would be fun to look back at some of the highlights of this warp-speed season. There were no big vacations or long road trips like last summer, but it was still very fun.

#1 Family Time
 Family get-togethers are always fun, but this summer's were extra special. It's very rare that all of my sisters can get together in the same place, at the same time, but we managed it this year. 
 Five girls in one family= a lot of grandkids/cousins (there is even one missing here)

#2 House Projects
 Redoing the living room was a totally unexpected, but very welcome highlight.  It makes me happy to see this sight every time I walk in the front door.

#3 Soccer and Baseball
 This was the summer of championships. As parents, we could not have had more fun watching the kids rock their individual sports. 

Caitlin's soccer team had a perfect season, and capped it off  by winning the state championship.
 Hunter's baseball team won the league championship, and Hunter was awarded the Golden Glove (he made an awesome double play).

#4 Camping!
 We love camping, but only got to go twice this summer (see above; sports are time consuming!). It was a blast, nonetheless. It's so nice to unplug and enjoy nature, even for just a few days.

#5 Minnesota State Fair
Okay, we haven't actually done this one yet, but it's on the agenda for this weekend. A trip to the state fair, in the roasting August heat, with a million other sweaty Minnesotans is the annual capstone of our summer. Fried food on a stick? Here I come!

What do you have planned for the last few days of summer?


Thursday, August 8, 2013

4th Grade Homeschool Curriculum

I can't even begin to wrap my brain around how quickly this summer has gone. Talk about blink and you miss it! I've spent the last few days cleaning out our homeschool cupboard in preparation for the upcoming year. Hunter will be in 4th grade this year. I am so excited to start another year of watching him learn and grow.
We've purchased all the books and supplies, and I'm nearly done with the planning, organizing, and scheduling. We are continuing to follow the classical method of homeschooling, using The Well Trained Mind as our guide.
Here's what we're using:
Saxon Math 5/4
First Language Lessons, Level 4
Writing With Ease, Level 4
The Story of the World, Volume 2
Chemistry for the Grammar Stage (Elemental Science)
Prima Latina
Spelling Workout Level D
Vocabulary from Classical Roots
Classically Cursive, Book 2
We will be continuing with artist and composer studies, ala Charlotte Mason, and Hunter will also study Chinese with a tutor. I need to find a geography spine still, so if you have any good recommendations let me know!
Are you ready for the upcoming year?
Hip Homeschool Hop Button 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Cottage Living Room Reveal

My apologies for the long delay between posts! It has been nearly three weeks since I posted last, but we were working hard to finish up the living room, and then enjoying a long visit from my sister and her kids. We are very happy with how everything has turned out, and it was well worth living with chaos for a month! 
So, without further delay... 
here it is!
Bright and fresh, it makes me smile every time I walk in the room. Just for comparison, here's a before shot:

We ripped out the carpet, put in new flooring, installed board and batten, added slipcovers and new pillows, and changed out the curtains.
The flooring is Allure vinyl planking from Home Depot. I can't say enough good stuff about this flooring. I absolutely love it. It's cheap, easy to install, and looks and feels like real wood. And from all the reviews I've read, it holds up to hard use- a must in our home of kids, animals, and work-boot wearing husbands.
As you can see, I kept the Tobacco Road paint on the upper wall and used White Luxury (from Behr) in a semi-gloss finish on the board and batten. We've used White Luxury on all our trim, so it flows with the rest of the house. 
I did incorporate a bit of the blue-green color I was lusting after (you can read about that here), but just in small doses. I will share the details of my custom-mixed paint color in an upcoming post. 
 Most of the accessories are things I already owned, just rearranged and repurposed. I found the bird print at Junk Bonanza a few months ago. We used to have a desk in this corner, so you can see that I didn't bother to cover the lamp cord all the way down. You couldn't see it before!
 Our awful old couch and love seat got new life with a Target slip cover and some pillows from TJ Maxx and Pottery Barn.
 The original back cushions wouldn't fit under the slip, so we just left them off, and added a few bed pillows for comfort. 
The curtains are from Target.

I kept the mantle clean and simple. The lanterns are recent finds from TJ Maxx, and they have battery powered candles. No more forgetting to blow out candles when I leave!
 I definitely still need to get an area rug to add a bit of warmth and texture. But I am okay without one for summer time. After getting rid of our yucky old carpet, it is so nice to feel that clean, smooth floor underfoot. 

This was an unplanned, but very needed update. I am so glad we just dove in and did it. I'm loving my new cottage living room!
I'm linking up here:
My Romantic Home
French Country Cottage
Savvy Southern Style
DIY by Design
Between Naps on the Porch
DIY Showoff
Jennifer Rizzo