Thursday, August 29, 2013

Our purple door

I grew up in Minnesota, home of the Vikings, the mighty Purple People Eaters of my childhood years. Football was a big family affair when I was growing up, so I suppose it's no surprise the purple  has been my favorite color for as long as I can remember. 

When Niels and I started brainstorming our wishlist for the dream house. One of the aesthetic items on my list was a purple front door. Niels was on board after we say this gray house in our city which served as inspiration in many ways. (We introduced ourselves to the owners so they wouldn't be freaked out by all our drive-bys!)

When we were building the house, we left the front door white, in part because I couldn't decide on the right purple. I wanted it to be dark with more gray tones than blue. It also needed to work with the stone on our house. 

As summer turns to fall, we felt the pressure to get the door painted before winter. We landed on Quixotic Plum from Sherwin Williams. (For those who prefer Benjamin Moore paints,Shadow is the closest match).
Thanks to Google and Pinterest I found this house on Spruce Interiors and was sold.

SW quixotic plum for the front door

 Dirty Diaper Laundry also uses Quixotic Purple, but included the sidelights as well.

After looking at the above photo, I decided I wanted to keep the white trim to provide a little contrast and to blend with the white trim piece above our door. I used Sherwin Williams Color Visualizer to confirm that I liked this idea better than covering the entire door with the purple paint. I did, so I printed off the photo, and then accidentally deleted the picture. Oops. At least, I'm more than happy with the real thing!

When the painter arrived, I showed him the picture and got right to work. 

I am so happy with the color. Choosing paint was the hardest part of the whole build process for us, and it's so hard to determine what a little chip will look like on a bigger scale, but I loved the color and am so happy that we kept the trim white. 

Voila! Our new purple door!

It's really interesting how the color changes depending on the time of day and how cloudy it is. At times it looks nearly black from the road.

Bye bye white...hello purple!

Over Labor Day weekend, Niels and I cleaned out our garage and were so happy to find our long lost name plate. 

This was a wedding gift from Niels' family. We had it up at our old house, took it down when we listed that house for sale, and it was packed in a box...with lawn care items. Ahem. 

We put it up with Command Strips, and so far it's holding up really well. We also splurged on a new welcome mat. 

Front porch: done!

Linked to:
30 Homemade Days * DIY ShowoffHouse of Hepworths * Liz Marie BlogPractically Functional * And Sew We CraftSew Much CraftingTatertots & Jello * Thrifty Decor Chick

Monday, August 26, 2013

Free Printable | The Grass Is Always Greener

This past weekend, Niels was gone all day Saturday picking up our new car. One of the perks of working for his company is that we are able to purchase former fleet cars at a great discount. The only catch is that you have to pick up the car in the region where it was in use. The last car we bought was in Pennsylvania, so we were able to drive together to get it. (Fun fact: this is when we learned that I can no longer drive in the dark...or rain!)

For our new car, Niels flew to Albany, NY and then drove the new car home. He had eight hours to bond with "Otto Bahn."

Having a full day with my son is wonderful, of course, but living with a brain injury means that I need a lot of rest and breaks. Not always part of the parenting package, for sure! For our family, a typical day means that I stay home with D all day and make dinner. When Niels comes home between 6 and 6:30, he is on duty. Not that I am uninvolved with our family after Niels gets home, but it does my brain good to know that I can get some time to myself to rest, catch up on Facebook, work on a craft or do something to recharge.

I'm coming off a month of not-so-good health days. First, I had an infection, then I had an allergic reaction to my antibiotics, which led to other issues (including two trips to the ER), and finally culminated in one of the worse headaches I've had in awhile (living with a brain injury, that says a lot because I always have a little headache). After four days in bed, the headache became tolerable and then I had to deal with some crushing fatigue as my brain recovered from the headache. And this is how I was feeling when Niels left to get the new car. Not the most ideal timing. D and I managed pretty well, but let me tell you, I missed my man! And being alone all day and night made me appreciate all that he does to keep our little family together when I'm not able to do much at all.

I've been chewing on this post written by Julia of Hooked on Houses for a few weeks. Since then, I've noticed more bloggers writing about envy and feeling overwhelmed or dissatisfied when they compare themselves to others or scroll through their Pinterest feed. I think one of the blessings of living with a brain injury is that in order to embrace your new normal, you must learn to let go of expectations. Each day is a lottery. I never know if it will be a good day or a bad day. Even on a great day, I'm never going to get every done I want to get done because there's too much catching up on all the things that slipped by on a much more frequent bad day or even fair day. My mantra is "All I can do is all I can do, and that's all I can do."

I find sites like Pinterest to be inspirational. I get lots of ideas for quilting, cooking, and organizing. I assume that the folks who pin to Pinterest are pinning their best ideas on their best days. I'm certain that if I crash their houses (and know that if they crash mine), there will likely be clutter on the counters, toys on the floor, and other evidence that the homes they take such care to decorate are actually lived in by real people.

Before my brain injury, I was a writer. My first book, Generation Ex (<-- Amazon affiliate link) outlines the long-term effects of divorce on children (including adult children). I wrote a lot about marriage because the idea of marriage can be pretty scary when you've learned more about how marriages end than how they are sustained. Out of necessity, Niels and I spend most every day together. In fact, in six years, we've only spent two nights apart, and then, only when I had someone else spend the night with D and I. Niels has made marriage ridiculously easy and being away from him all day on Saturday made me realize even more how blessed I am that I am his.

I made the printable at the top of this page using a photo from our wedding day. I loved how vivid the grass was that day as we stood for our pre-wedding photos. (I also loved my floral sandals. Not heels for this girl. Yet another loss, courtesy of my brain injury).

I love Neil Barringham's quote, "The grass is always greener where you water it," because it is such a great response to the more commonly known, "The grass is always greener on the other side." Comparison is truly the thief of joy. Whether it's your home, your figure, your kids, your clothes, your income, your job, your health, or even your spouse, when you compare the air-brushed version of what others have to the reality of your own life in all its messy glory, you will feel robbed. But if you focus your energy on what you do have, you will feel blessed. I would love to be able to work, to finish the neglected in-progress manuscripts boxed up in my basement, to be able to volunteer at D's school, or even just take my health for granted each morning. But I can't.  And I never will. And for a long while, my health issues left me in a dark place. But today, I am able to accept the hard things and embrace the good things. I may not have everything I want, but I am blessed to have everything I need.

If you'd like to download the printable, you can click on this link or click on the photo below. 

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Friday, August 23, 2013

Birthday Calendar | Free Download

A few weeks ago, I gave you a peek at a project I did for a guest post at Just Us Four. Today I'm going to reveal what I made: a Dutch birthday calendar you can download and personalize for your own family!

When I wrote this post, I'm was still a little jet-lagged from our family's nearly month-long visit to the Netherlands, where all of my husband's family lives. It had been 2.5 years since our last visit, so what we lack in frequency, we try to make up in duration!

Because we get back to the Netherlands so infrequently, we tend to stock up on a lot of our favorite things when we are there. There's one thing I like to stock up on that is uniquely Dutch, brilliant, and just the thing to share with you by way of introducing you to my love of organization, my attempts to reduce our use of paper, and my appreciation of Dutch culture. I'm  talking about the verjaardagskalendar, pronounced ver-YAR-digh-CAL-en-der

A verjaardagskalendar is a perpetual birthday and anniversary calendar. (Dutch lesson of the day: verjaardag = birthday). Instead of filling out birthdays and anniversaries on a new calendar every year, this perpetual calender has lines and dates, but no days of the week. Pretty smart, right?

Now, here's the brilliant part. I've been in many Dutch homes, and the birthday calender is always found in the same place. It's not the kitchen, or by the computer or office area, as I might have guessed. Nope, it's in the main floor bathroom. Every.single.time. (Because most houses in the Netherlands are built up rather than out, the main floor usually has only one bathroom, right by the front door).

One of the fun things about marrying someone from a different culture is discovering those things that seem so ordinary to one, while being rather surprising to the other. When I asked Niels why the calendar is in the bathroom he shrugged his shoulders and said that it's the one room in the house that's used every day, and when you are there, you usually have a moment to sit and think. (Clearly, we had this conversation in our pre-child days!)

We have added a verjaardagskalendar to our powder room, with a little note inviting friends and family to add their information.

In a few weeks, our son will be starting pre-K, and his world will start to include friends from school. We brought home a special birthday calendar for his bathroom.

Now that D is potty trained, he has little book shelf  doesn't need to quite so many books to entertain him while he's taking care of business. 

So, if you don't happen to live in the Netherlands, or have family there to visit, how can you get your hands on your own birthday calendar? Fortunately, Amazon has started to carry a few, like this sea glass-themed birthday calendar (<---affiliate link). If you have a lot of time on your hands, you can make something like Alissa at Crafty Endeavor's bottle cap birthday calendar. Another option is to make a trendy chalkboard birthday calendar like my friend Lauren at The Thinking Closet. A little-known gift lurking in your Microsoft Word program is a selection of birthday calendars. When you open a new document, search the online templates for "birthday calendar." As I write this, there are three options.

Or, as a special gift to you, I have created a custom birthday calendar for you. 

You can download this pdf  for your personal use. 

Just print on card stock, and add your own 4x6 photos, like this:

Add birthdays and anniversaries. If known, I like to add the year, as well.
I blurred the names of the innocent.
Punch a hole, add a ring, and you are ready to go!

If the bathroom seems like a strange place for your calendar, consider another area you see every day, like the frig. 

A big thanks to Shannah at Just Us Four  for letting me guest post. You can follow her on Facebook,  PinterestBlog Lovin'Google+, and/or Twitter,

And if you aren't already, you can follow us, too! 

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Friday, August 16, 2013


It's a big day here at the de Jong Dream House! We're celebrating 400,000 views here on our little home on the web. 

A little history. 

First post: May 22, 2011
In our humble first post, we announced to the world our friends and family that we were going to start the process of building the most energy-efficient, earth-friendly, accessible house we could afford.

100,000 on July 29, 2012
We hit our first big milestone on a big milestone in our personal life: our fifth anniversary. It was five months after we moved in and 14 months from our first post. We learned that those who watched our house be built stuck around to see how we made our new house a home. Our most popular posts during those first fourteen months were My Perfect PantrySeeking Sole Mates Missing Sock Holder, and our Growing Up Gallery.
My Perfect Pantry was a peek into the pantry at our old house and my hopes for our new walk-in pantry.

Our Seeking Sole Mates Missing Sock Holder is our most popular post ever.
This gallery of frames ready to be filled with our son's school pictures is the most popular of our nine photo galleries. The others are our anniversary gallery, we do gallery, visual book shelf, heritage gallery, chair rail photo gallery, printable gallery,  great moments, and mini-gallery.
200,000 on January 29, 2013
It took only six months (exactly!) to hit our next 100,000. Our most popular post during this period was our uses for tension rods. Our readers loved to see how we started getting organized!
Tension Rod Organization
300,000 on May 12, 2013

This year we started to pick up speed. It only took 3-1/2 months to hit 300,000. Our most popular post during this short period was my sort of healthy Nutella recipe, in large part to a feature by New Nostalgia
Sort of Healthy Nutella
400,000 on August 16, 2013
Here we are at another milestone. It took just over three months, which was a pleasant surprise because we were in Europe for a month of this period, and recovering from jet lag for a few weeks after that. Needless to say, we weren't as post-heavy during this period, but you loved my new craft table made from Ikea Expedits and an unfinished door. 

DIY Craft Table
In the coming weeks, you can expect to see more peeks at my craft room as I work to get it organized. With our son starting all-day pre-K in a few weeks, you can bet that I will be spending some serious hours in my new favorite room. We also have some BIG news to share next month that will hopefully get us to that BIG half million mark a little sooner. 

Thanks to everyone who has followed along our journey. And if you really like what you see, you can also follow us on FacebookPinterestBlog Lovin', Hometalk, Google+ and/or Twitter.

Linked to:
36th Avenue * Balancing HomeCrystal & Co * House of Hepworths * Life After Laundry *  Little Miss Celebration * New Nostalgia * Practically Functional *  Real Coake * Sew Much Crafting *  Sew Woodsy * Sparkles & a Stove *  Will Cook for Smiles

Thursday, August 15, 2013

DIY Thread and Bobbin Holder

I am slowly getting my new craft room in order. Recently, I shared my Ikea Expedit craft table, which I absolutely love for all the storage it gives me for my fabric stash and supplies. 

I've been scouring Pinterest for ideas for storing my thread and bobbins. What I really wanted was a way to store thread with matching bobbins that I could easily grab as needed. 

I was shopping one of my favorite discount stores and came across this Collector's Treasure Frame. (<--Affililiate link to a similiar, but slightly larger version). 

I scored this baby for $5, so I picked up two so I have one when I'm ready to expand. I loved the compartments and thought it would work perfectly. 

Black would have been fine, except I was using white in my craft room, so I made a quick change with spray paint. 

The frame came with a reversible back with black and white. I knew I wanted white, but I loved this glittery scrapbook paper. 

I taped two 8-1/2" x 11" pieces together and it fit my frame perfectly. 

I can fit two spools in each compartment, with room for bobbins on top. Perfect!

I'm really starting to love these UGlu dashes that I picked up at Joann. They stick to anything! Although, I think I will opt for the dots next time. 

Dots would have worked a little better, but these magnets aren't going anywhere!

I turned the rack on its side to make sure the magnets were lined up and placed high enough so there was plenty of room for the spools.

And it's ready to hang!

Once again I turned to my trusty Command Strips. (No ad, but I love them enough that I may or may not have them on my Christmas list). I should have used the thinner strips, but I used what I had on hand. Most of my crafty time comes during nap time or at night, when it's too dark for me to drive (darn TBI eyes!)

I set the level on top to make sure the holder was straight, then pushed it against the wall until I heard all the Command Strips click. 

The holder is hung to the right of my sewing table.

I learned a neat trick for keeping bobbins in order. 

There are several pins on Pinterest that show how to use clear tubing to make bobbin clips, but I found the idea at Schlosser Designs. I bought 2' of 3/4" tubing at Lowe's--the staff was happy to cut it for me. When I got home, I used my non-fabric scissors to cut it into 1/2" rings. Then clip into the ring so there is an opening to fit over the bobbin.

I clipped a few extra and put them in a little box so it's handy the next time I wind a bobbin. 

I liked the idea so much that I went back to Lowe's and bought 1/2" tubing to use for my spools. 

I really like how this holder creates a colorful, but practical display. The only flaw in my plan is that, as a new sewists, I have a pretty steep learning curve ahead of me. And while looking for some new bobbins to fill up my pretty new display, I learned that my particular machine prefers plastic bobbins. Non-magnetic bobbins, that is. Oops. Good thing I have another case to transform into a plastic bobbin-friendly holder, complete with nails instead of magnets. Live and learn.

Linked to:
Create Craft LoveCrystal & Co Diana Rambles * DIY Showoff  * The Grant LifeHouse of Hepworths *  Just Us FourLife After Laundry  * Little Miss Celebration * New Nostalgia * Not Just a Housewife *  Practically Functional * Sew Much CraftingAnd Sew We Craft * Sparkles & a Stove Threading My Way * Val's Quilting StudioWill Cook for Smiles 

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