...because home doesn't happen overnight.

boys bedroom after 10

Did you happen to notice the yarn-bombed letters in the boys’ room? The answer is yes. Because they took me forever. I bought two paper maché letters (one for each boy) from JoAnn’s when they were 50% off. I had them for a while and as the boys’ room took shape I realized the brown paper finish was screaming meh. Or mumbling meh?

Anyway, I considered painting the letters but decided to wrap them in yarn for more texture. I thought it would be a quick and easy project. I mean, how long does it take to wrap some yarn around a paper maché letter? HOURS. It takes hours! And several hot glue sticks. (The ‘E’ was particularly mind-numbing.) Who knew and didn’t tell me?

I hadn’t planned on devoting an entire post to these letters. I wrapped the ‘E’ first and didn’t take any pictures of it in progress. I was so annoyed! For the most part, I really liked the way it turned out though. When I tackled the ‘L’, I was feeling more confident mostly because I knew what to expect (lots of time, yarn, glue and burnt fingertips) and also the basic ‘L’ shape was a lot less intimidating. In hindsight, I probably should have started with the easier letter. Oh well. Hindsight is 20 / 20.

I took some pictures of the ‘L’ in progress to demonstrate a few talking points. This isn’t a step-by-step tutorial because different letters pose different challenges. If you want to try this craft, my advice is to stare down your letter and come up with a plan of action before you start wrapping and gluing. (Remember, you want all sides covered!) Or just (re)name your kid something that starts with an ‘I’.

I came up with a design that would mimic a Hudson Bay blanket in the boys’ room: white with dark blue-black, turquoise, mustard and red stripes. I bought my yarn at JoAnn’s and tried to choose colors that weren’t too primary to keep with the Hudson Bay scheme. I also decided I wanted the end result to have only vertically wrapped yarn showing from the front. Keeping those things in mind, this is what I did…

yarn wrapped letters 1

1 – I started on the lowest part of the ‘L’. I cut several small lengths of red yarn and hot glued them to the side of the point at which you would normally end the letter’s formation when writing. I made sure the small lengths were ~1″ longer than I needed so I would be able to wrap (hide) the cut ends once I started wrapping back to front. (See step 6 below for an image of some not yet wrapped small lengths of white yarn to better demonstrate this point.) Once the side was covered, I started wrapping the letter back to front with red yarn, tucking and gluing the cut side ends as I went.

2 – Once I finished the red stripe, I continued on with the mustard stripe. It’s important to wrap the yarn snug!

3 – I always started and ended each color on the back of the letter with a little hot glue and added more glue on the back periodically as I wrapped to keep the yarn in place.

4 – The stripes are done! I didn’t measure the width of each one – just eyeballed them.

yarn wrapped letters 2

5 – I started a length of white yarn next to the dark blue-black and wrapped it to the interior corner of the ‘L’. Then I continued that same length of white yarn horizontally up the longer line of the ‘L’ to cover the sides.

6 – At this point, the majority of the sides were covered save for a small section at the bottom exterior corner. I cut several small lengths of white yarn (~1″ longer than necessary) and individually hot glued them to cover the exposed side. (Much like I did with the red yarn in step 1.) You can see the top of the ‘L’ is still exposed but I take care of that in step 7.

7 – I wrapped the longest line of the ‘L’ back to front with white yarn, tucking and gluing the cut side ends as I went. This step gave me only vertically wrapped yarn showing from the front and covered the exposed top too.

yarn wrapped L

The finished product! If you scroll back up to the first image in this post, you’ll notice that the ‘L’ turned out much better than the ‘E’. I was focusing so much of my attention on the logistics of covering all sides of the ‘E’ that I wasn’t pulling the yarn as taut as I should have been so some areas are a little sloppy. Whatever. I’m not doing it over.

Yarn-bombed letters. Man, they’re tedious but I do like how they turned out. They’re great for children’s rooms and nurseries. If I ever craft them again, I’ll make it a party so I don’t suffer alone. Someone will be in charge of bringing wine.

Have you ever started what you thought would be a quick and easy project only to discover it was way more involved than you had anticipated? I’d love to hear your stories.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

meditation

You already know that meditation is a healthy practice, right? It’s been proven to cultivate self-awareness, improve focus, and benefit the cardiovascular & immune systems. More recently, it’s also been found helpful in eliminating symptoms of anxiety and depression. Steve and I started meditating six years ago with the help of this book. It’s amazing what just 8 minutes a day can do for your mind and body!

That first year of meditating – even for only a few minutes each day – was one of the most genuinely happy years of my life. Which is strange because there were a lot of difficult things going on at that time. Everett was a newborn. I was working as a pharmacist in a high crime area. (Our pharmacy was robbed twice in the 16 months I worked there.) And, consequently, I was applying and interviewing for jobs elsewhere. My mom was battling schizophrenia. She attempted suicide, was in and out of the hospital and, eventually, filed for divorce from my dad. By all accounts, I should have started eating or drinking my sorrows away or had a nervous breakdown. I’m not saying it was easy but I felt like I handled everything with a clear mind even when I was grieving.

Here’s the thing with meditating: it keeps me from getting caught up in the things I can’t change. I’m less reactive. I’m more optimistic. Regular meditation gives me the focus I need to be proactive about the things I can do and / or change. And, in general, I feel more in tune with my body. Maybe that sounds a bit voodoo to those who’ve never meditated before. But it’s all true.

So I don’t know why I let it get away from me. We moved, had another baby, renovated a house and stopped meditating up until a few months ago. I’m so glad we’re back at it.

meditating with kids

At first, Steve and I would meditate together after we put the kids to bed. Then Steve said he thought the kids should try it, too. We started meditating as a family about a month ago and guess what?! The kids LOVE it. After the first 10-minute session, Layne and Everett were begging to do it again. We use the Headspace app. I don’t think it’s marketed toward kids but it’s actually very kid-friendly. There are animated shorts which the boys always look forward watching.

After one month, we’re up to 12-minute sessions! We usually meditate in the boys’ bedroom as a part of their bedtime routine. Layne and Everett (ages 9½ and 6½ respectively) are really into it. They follow the app’s guidance and I love watching them “come to” at the end and stretch with woozy smiles. Mabrey? Well, she’s only 2½ and doesn’t follow along. HOWEVER, she is silent while we meditate. (!) She stays in the room with all of us and usually reads a book or putzes around. It’s not something we tell her to do. I think she just sees us being quiet and knows to do the same. Even if she isn’t meditating per se, I think it’s great for her to witness us doing it. Hey, I’ll take 12 minutes of silent bliss any day!

Do you meditate? Would you try it? Have you ever thought of meditating with your kids?

P.S. – Get some Headspace in book form, too.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

*THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.*

Congrats to Amanda who would play JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound along with some Wilco. So good!

aether cone 1

You know how much I loathe the appearance of TVs, surround sound speakers and subwoofers, right? You also know how much my husband enjoys these audio / visual components. We make it work by compromising. Steve gets his cinema toys but we try to disguise them somewhat so they aren’t the eyesores I think they are. The TV is recessed above the fireplace. Media components are stored out of sight in a modest cabinet. Shelves camouflage wall speakers. A plywood box covers the subwoofer. (I’m still giving the boob speakers the side eye.)

aether cone 2

Well, FINALLY, there is one media component that we both approve of as-is. It’s going to save a lot of marriages ;) Introducing Aether Cone! Have you heard of it? It’s a well-designed, thinking music player. The simple yet striking appearance reminds me of a phonograph, but the portability and learning capabilities bring it into the 21st century. The more you use Cone, the better it gets at selecting songs you love.

aether cone 6

Cone features voice command. You simply touch the button in the center of the player and ask out loud for a radio station, artist or song. It’s so easy my kids were placing requests on their own within a few minutes of setting up the player (which was surprisingly easy as well). Curses! I’m so sick of The Gummy Bear Song. And in case you were wondering, yes, the songs “I Like Potato Chips” and “I Love Pizza” do exist. Unfortunately.

aether cone 7

To jump to a similar song, turn the dial a little. To play something completely different (no more Gummy Bear!), turn the dial a lot. There isn’t a single screen to read. Pretty cool, huh?

rdio vs rdio unlimitedCone gives you free access to over 30 million songs via Rdio. For additional features, you can sign up for a $10 monthly subscription to Rdio Unlimited. They offer a free 30-day trial period if you’re interested, too.

aether cone 4

aether cone 5

There’s roughly a 30-minute window between the time Mabrey goes down for her afternoon nap and the time Everett gets off the school bus. That’s when I get Cone all to myself. I listen to The Avett Brothers, Nickel Creek or really bad good 80s and 90s music. Sometimes, I let Cone do the choosing for me.

We’ve used Cone as background music for dinner, the deejay for family dance parties and the radio for morning NPR listening. You can even listen to podcasts. It’s so versatile. I can’t wait to take it outside on the deck next summer. Come on summer! Until then, Cone is helping us survive cabin fever.

aether cone 3

Does Cone sound like something you and your family would enjoy? Aether is offering up one Cone to one lucky House*Tweaking reader! See entry details below.

PRIZE: one black & copper Aether Cone ($399 retail value)

RULES: You must be at least 18 years old and have a shipping address (no P.O. boxes please) within the U.S. One entry per email address.

TO ENTER: Follow Aether on instagram here. Then leave a comment on this post proclaiming “CONE ME!”

DEADLINE: Enter before 9:00 p.m. EST on Monday, January 19th. One random winner will be chosen and announced Tuesday, January 20th.

WHILE YOU’RE AT IT: Share which favorite song, album or artist you would request Cone to play.

Good luck!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking