a fresh, clean kitchen


last week i cleared off my kitchen countertops and started fresh.  i’m sure i was avoiding some other responsibility, i just can’t remember which one it was right now!

sometimes when my mind is running a million miles an hour, i need something visual to slow me down, like clear surfaces.  if my mind rests on the piles of piles then i just can’t seem to get a break.  i just need one area of my life to be clear sometimes, whether its my mind or my countertops ;)


my island arrangement has been modified slightly over the years, but in general has stayed the same.  and my other kitchen counters have remained virtually untouched for almost 8 years.  it was time for a fresh look.  and by fresh, i mean it literally.  my black thumb with houseplants has magically started to turn green this year, so i pulled some of my new leafy friends into the kitchen and i am loving the result!

this galvanized tub was a garage sale find that has been used as a magazine holder, soil holder, garden catch-all, drink cooler… you name it!  now it sits on my counter filled with a couple plants and a colander of fruit!  we always have fruit out on our counters and this time of year we have at least one, if not 2 bowls of cherry/grape/pear tomatoes – super good for little snacky hands.


no sooner did i fill this gum ball machine with pistachios then i heard a funny crack and pop.  oops – i tightened the top too tight and busted the glass.  thankfully it was a clean break and i happened to have some “kragle” on hand (crazy glue, for those of you who haven’t seen the lego movie).



i find that whenever i redecorate an area of my home i am more prone to keep it clean.  and when i also have less tchotchkes on my counters i’m more likely to keep them clear.


i have also been editing the way our kitchen functions.  i have always been big on putting items in the drawers and cabinets in a location that is logical: knives at the island, pots and pans next to the stove…  but now that i’m not the only cook in the kitchen (thank you lily may), i wanted to make sure things work well for her.  one of those small changes is that small stool you see above in the bottom right hand corner.  it folds up nicely into a lower cabinet, but it was kind of annoying to get out and put away all day long, so we found a corner out of the way that she could just leave it.


the kids use the toaster regularly, so it needed to stay out for easy access for them, but i love the freshness that the plant adds here!


in another effort to make things easier on everyone, i switched up our baking area and coffee station, which shared a space before.  our coffee maker tucks into the little door in the back corner under the cabinets, and our coffee cups are on the lowest shelf in the cabinet above.  then the baking supplies were on the next shelf up.  even with a stool, it was hard for my 8-year old baker to grab the supplies she needed, other than the sugar and flour that were on the counter previously.


i exchanged our previous canisters for a simple mason jar filled with coffee that i used in our rv this summer.  and rather than digging in a drawer every day for a coffee filter, i just put it out in the open.  i do wish this tray was a little shallower, but i still love the simplicity of the enamelware.


and now we have a new baking station!  we’re still working on making it more practical and functional, but for now we moved all of the baking pantry supplies to the first shelf in the cabinet above – so much easier to reach, and more space, too.  both of the drawers below are junk drawers, which is just ridiculous, so my plan is to clear one out and have the other necessary items in there, like measuring cups & spoons, spatulas, and a whisk.


our beast of a kitchenaid has lived under a counter for its whole life, but its so heavy to lift up and out, so for now it will live here.


a couple huge jars i had originally bought for our table top terrariums are now simple containers for our sugar and flour.  the prettiest anthro measuring cups are just the pop of color i need.

and this is one of my favorite houseplants ever:  string of pearls.  i have killed many in my lifetime, but this one is actually showing signs of new growth, so there’s hope yet!


our kitchen has looked like this now for about 2 weeks and it has actually inspired me to do the dishes!  now what will i do to motivate myself to keep the floors clean…?






DIY hot air balloons

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if you know me and DIY’s, you know you’re in for a long post!  i’m not just going to show you how to make one hot air balloon, i’m going to show you how to make 17 different balloons!


3 or 4 times a year, i create a new “installation” for our school‘s main office.  a couple years ago, my parents and i hung tension wires across the ceiling to be able to do these installations, so everything i do hangs from them.  when i’m ready to switch these out, they’ll move over to fred & betty’s, our school’s thrift store, where i do the window displays.  fun jobs, huh?

supplies:  paper lanterns (i used ones i had on hand, but the type with tighter, even boning worked much better than the wider criss-cross boning), scissors, hot glue, glue gun, mod podge, 1″ wide paint brush, tray for mod podge, fabric (i used almost all scraps), yarn, berry baskets, and styrofoam or plastic cups.


this is the key to the hot air balloon shape:  a cup.


i used both styrofoam cups and red plastic solo cups.  i cut each cup in half and also cut the bottom out as well.


then i lined the widest opening of the cup with hot glue, lots of it, and lined it up with the bottom opening of the paper lantern, making sure the entire cup top was adhered to the bottom of the lantern.  before i glued the cups to the lanterns, i made sure the widest opening of the cup fit over the bottom opening of the lantern because some lanterns had wider openings than others.


this is the start of the basic shape of the hot air balloon!



for the basic shape of the balloons, i used this technique.  i took a strip of fabric, between 1 to 2 1/2″ wide, and hot glued it to the inside of the cup opening on the bottom, then i painted lots of mod podge onto the lantern where the strip will lay. then i gently stretched the fabric strip to the top and hot glued to the inside of the  top opening as well.


 then i painted the top of the fabric with more layers of mod podge, almost in a paper-mache style.


and then do this over and over until the surface of the lantern is covered.  or, as you can see in the pic below, on some of the balloons i left some of the lantern showing through, but made sure i used enough strips to at least cover the cup base.

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for this balloon, i didn’t have enough green strips, but i had a lot of scraps.  i used strips at the base to make the basic shape, then covered it all with scraps of fabric.  and tons of mod podge.


after the balloons were made, i needed to figure out a way to hang the baskets.


i used yarn as the ties.  first i made a loop around the top of the balloon, not big enough to slide down.


then i tied the ends with a knot.


then made a second loop, just a little bigger than the first, but still not big enough to slide off the balloon.


then i took the smaller loop and placed it inside the larger loop.  where the arrows are, that is where i attached the loops to each other with the shorter pieces of yarn (see below).



then i snipped off the ends.


now does it make sense?


then i took long, even lengths of yarn and tied one end of each to a berry basket corner.


then i tied the other end of the yarn to the center of the bottom loop (see above – words can’t explain).



it was great like this, but i wanted to add one more thing…


i made a small loop to slide up the base of the balloon.


then took 4 small pieces of yarn and tied the long strings to the new small loop.



then i cut the ends of the knots.


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this balloon was made of several strips of the same fabric, covering the whole balloon.  then i took a strip of the persimmon fabric and wrapped the widest point of the balloon, and again at the base.  the basket was made by cutting apart a berry basket into 4 quarters, then glueing 2 of the quarters back together to make a smaller whole.  then i wove grosgrain ribbon through the openings and hot glued the ends together.

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this was one of my favorites!  instead of the strips going from the top to the bottom, the went from just above the middle to the bottom, then i painted the top of the balloon with acrylic paint.  i made i simple tiny bunting with scraps glued to yarn, and strung it around the balloon.  i lined the berry basket with red construction paper.

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i made 2 rainbow balloons, this one with the pattern repeating twice.  it took forever.  well, about an hour and a half.  rather than making an elaborate net to hang this basket from, i just did 4 long strings of yarn and glued little yarn bows at the top.  the basket was woven with yellow grosgrain ribbon and lined with a grocery bag.

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this was a funky shaped one.  i tried using a full cup rather than cutting it shorter in half, hence the longer, taller shape.  i did a patchwork on this one like the green one but then added 3 green strips for a bit of contrast.


this one is patchwork turquoise under the black and white strips.  i was just making do with what i had on hand, and i only had enough turquoise to do patchwork since i didn’t have long strips.  sometimes working with what you have forces the creativity!

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another balloon with the same strips covering it and contrasting bands.

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this balloon i did the yellow pieces first with 2 wide strips of fabric per section, then layered the pink fabric strips in between.  the basket is woven with 2 layers of ribbon for a more solid look.  i tied each corner of the basket with 2 strings of yarn.  i had an “x” of yarn at the top of the balloon that the ends of the basket strings tied to, 2 bottom strings tying to each top string.


after several elaborate balloons, i just wanted some more simple ones!  this one is just 3 colors of strips withe the lantern showing in between.  i wove the basket with thin strips of paper bag, and glued baker’s twine to the corners and to the base of the balloon.

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this one began with the floral fabric, then the yellow fabric on one side and the pink on the other, making a pattern.


this one i didn’t use any mod podge at all, just hot glue at the top and bottom of the strips and along the edges to seal it against the balloon.

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this is the other rainbow balloon, but with more colors.  can you see the irregular, spread out spines under the strips?  it was much more difficult to use than the closer spines.  more give in the paper of the lanterns.

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this pink lantern was so pretty i didn’t want to cover it completely.  the basket is woven with paper bag and striped ribbon.


another patchwork, but this time ombre.


the webbing was simple – just a single ring at the top with 2 strings coming from each basket corner.

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this one was made with mostly hot glue, too.  you can see the difference – its just not quite as tight as the mod podged balloons.


another simple one!

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these would look so cute in a kid’s room or nursery, or a playroom!  let me know if you have any questions!