How to Make No-Sew Cushions for Banquette Seating or Window Seats

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I finally completed the cushions for our banquette seating around the kitchen table. I had the bench built-in right after we moved here a year and a half ago. It only took me this long to do my part!

No sewing. Water proof. Washable. These were my non negotiable’s on the project. ANYONE can do this. If you have a window seat and want to make a cushion for it, this is the way to go.

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What you will need:

– Measurements (width and depth)
– Thin boards (I used 1/4 inch thick boards and had the store cut them to my sizes)
– Foam from a craft store. I purchased 3″ thick, but they come in 1″, 2″ and so on…
– Fabric: I wanted mine to be waterproof since we have small kids and this is at our table. I purchased a vinyl fabric to go underneath and then a cotton pattern to go on the top. My top fabric was a light upholstery grade fabric. It could be used for curtains or other type project.
– Staple gun
– Fabric tape, or duck tape.
– Measuring tape
– Scissors
– Sharp serrated kitchen knife

STEP 1

First I cut the foam to the sizes of my boards. I used a serrated kitchen knife which worked well. The store used an electric knife like our mothers used when they carved our thanksgiving turkeys but I don’t have one of those antiques. I have to say it did make the cleanest cut, but my kitchen knives worked ok too.

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STEP 2

Next I attached the vinyl fabric around the foam and to the boards with a staple gun. See the picture for how I did the corners. they came out very nice a square looking when finished.

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STEP 3

Finally I attached the fabric with tape to the bottom of the boards. I used tape instead of staples so I could pull it off and wash it without ruining it.

It’s that easy.

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Intentional Holidays – A Restful Thanksgiving

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A week or so ago I talked about being intentional with my holidays and eliminating some of the stress they bring.

So for Thanksgiving I punted. We went to a friend’s home and celebrated with them. For nearly 20 years these friends of ours have feasted with family and friends that need a place to celebrate. It’s always large. It’s always fun. The traditions are deep. But the cast is always different. And the stories…oh the stories we have heard of the fun. Roll-throwing contests. Burnt casseroles. Movies. Piano playing. Singing. Relaxing.

There is no formal invitation that goes out. Just a “hey you are always welcome to join us” kind of thing. But this year we accepted. We were excited and honored at the idea.

And all I had to do was bring some green beans!

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It was everything we had heard about and plenty more. The table was beautiful and yet practical. There were 19 people there sitting at one very long table that was pieced together from three tables.  We used paper plates and napkins but real silverware – a lesson learned over the years I understand. I took notes.

The food was plentiful and fantastic. Each of us brought a special dish to share. We loaded our plates up the first time and went back for more as many times as our stomachs would allow. We laughed, we relaxed.

We shared what we were thankful for in an “anything goes” sort of way. Some were funny, some sweet. All were honest. Everyone participated including a few who couldn’t be there this year and phoned them in. As they were read we had to guess who’s it was.

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While it was a total vacation for me it reminded me how very blessed we are to have such good, generous and loving friends. I know that day was a lot of work and preparation for them. I know because I have lived it. But this year, because of their generosity and goodness, I didn’t have to. I got to relax. For years through this tradition they have nourished many, many people. Their bodies, spirits and souls.

And I am very thankful for what they gave me this holiday season. Rest.

Thanksgiving Tablescapes

Oh yeah, this is my favorite part of decorating for the holidays – the table.

Here are some inspirational pictures from our Thanksgiving tables over the years.

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My Kids Took Over the Kitchen This Summer

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This is the new sign in my kitchen. It all started when I told my daughter I hated my life. Statements like that are excellent confidence and security builders – you should try them. You say something like that to your kid and stand back and watch them flourish.

I’m kidding of course.

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It was a real humbling moment for me.

All summer our kitchen has been riddled with crushed cereal, half eaten fruit laying on counters and cabinet doors wide open with snack boxes ajar. Little ones eating in the living room and crumbing all over my rugs and furniture. Snack wrappers stashed under sofas and chairs… you get the picture.

One day while getting breakfast for everyone I ran downstairs to get some milk (because the fridge in our kitchen was not working) when I realized someone (not me) left the basement refrigerator door open all night. Everything gone. On my way upstairs I noticed a half eaten apple sitting on the basement floor. Ants all around.

Later that day the subsequent trip to Costco, post fridge disaster, was still stacked high on the counter when my oldest decided it was time to bake something. Trying to give her freedom to be a big kid I decided to let her continue. While I cleaned off the table and floor (by myself) from breakfast, lunch and snack, she was making a new mess on the small portion of the counter you could still see. Looking for help I glanced into the sitting room to find four other kids watching TV and playing on electronic devices while I was cleaning up their messes.

It was then that I reached my boiling point and words flew. I didn’t really mean what I said. I was just frustrated with the situation I found myself in. I had just then decided they should be helping me but I wasn’t making them, in fact, I wasn’t even asking them to. But I was mad they weren’t helping me anyway.

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That night at my Bible study this statement struck me. “Your emotions are an indicator, not a determiner”.

OK, so my feelings don’t dictate, or determine how I must react. I am asked to have self control with my actions and words. That is a choice that I have to make in the moment and I take responsibility for that.

I know this, but I blow it once in a while. I’m not perfect and I’m not going to be perfect. Even God doesn’t expect me to be perfect. Ahhhh, sigh of relief.

But the most freeing piece of that statement was that my emotions are an indicator.

For some reason I have a very difficult time feeling justified in creating household rules based upon my feelings of frustration or irritation. When I am frustrated with some behavior going on in my home I feel like I need to “deal” with my emotion rather than changing the situation that is causing my frustration. So for me this was liberating to realize that my feelings of frustration over the constant state of my kitchen were an indicator that something was wrong in my home. And it was not only ok, but my job as mother, to change the situation.

In this case it was straight forward. I have the right to insist others clean up their own messes and respect our home and if they don’t they lose some privileges in the kitchen. While it isn’t ok for me to say hurtful things, it is ok for me to insist on some appropriate behavior around our home.

So for now the hours of operation were posted. This enables me to manage the meals and enforce the cleanup without hanging around my kitchen ALL DAY LONG.

I apologized to the kids that night for my actions and I prayed in front of them asking God for forgiveness as well. Then we discussed how out of control the kitchen had been lately and I told them the kitchen was going to have open hours each day until I knew people would clean up after themselves. I expected a lot of groaning and moaning, whining and complaining, but instead, I think they appreciated the boundaries. Imagine that.

We are all beautifully imperfect!

Family Theme Dinners

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A good friend of mine who is very creative, and organized, and thoughtful, was talking to me about her summer plans with the kids. She casually mentioned needing to do some family theme nights with the kids “again”. This was mentioned in passing as if everyone did them and she was behind the game.

I immediately stopped her seeking clarification and much more information because this sounded interesting to me. And of course I had no idea what this was, I can barely get food on the table let alone make it fun for people.

Or can I?

As I probed for more ideas out of her I became more and more excited about this idea of making dinner time fun. Maybe this would curb the need to fight and complain at the table. Maybe the distraction would be just what we need to eat instead of walk around the room. Maybe? Could it be?
Probably not, but it might entertain the adults. That’s reason enough for me.

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My friend was more than willing to share her ideas with me. I love sharing mommy tips. People have the best ideas and solutions. I’m sure I have never solved any of my own homemaker problems. My friends solve them for me. They always give me the solutions I need. I love friends.

Back to what I was saying. I know my limitations. I can’t do much outside of the normal business routine of making three meals a day and cleaning up after them. I just don’t have it in me to spent a day coming up with great crafts and decorations, theming out my already hectic dinners with frill and glory. My friend doesn’t do this either, by the way.

But I thought If I could make them simple, no prep or minimal prep necessary I might actually be able to pull one off. I challenged myself to research (in my head and on the web) for easy themes for a spontaneous dinner time. After minutes of research I have come up with a nice little list. But before I share that list please keep in mind these are low prep. No fuss, easy, use-what-you-have, little-thought-needed kind of ideas. These aren’t Pinterest worthy, they aren’t even Instagram worthy. Just you and your family having a little fun kind of ideas.

The only way I can imagine this coming off well, and not lame-o, is to hand it to the kids and let them run with it. They get to decorate, they find their outfits etc.

So, if you do one I would love it to pieces if you would share your idea. That would be so fun. I promise to share mine and because I have no shame I might even dare put some on Instagram. Seriously no one follows me anyway!

OK here it goes:

Oh, I forgot to say, there is no meal coordination here, you eat what you were already planning to eat. Like I said no prep, people, I have to keep the bar really low for myself so I feel accomplished.

Ok here we go now:

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Hawaiian night. I can only do this because I happen to have a garbage bag full of grass skirts and stuff from a party we had once. We also have some old leis in the dress up bin and I’m sure I can scare up some Hawaiian music on the iPod. Plus the girls would love to braid their hair. That’s Hawaiian isn’t it? If not, it is now.

Blueberry Pancakes

Breakfast for dinner including Jammie’s. Ok I lied, you could combine the food with the theme on this one! This is the night you don’t have dinner planned and so you scare up some eggs or pancakes to eat. Tell the kiddos to go put their jam jams on while your fixing it! Hey, even bring the stuffed animals and blankets if you don’t mind the extra load of laundry you will have after they wipe their sticky hands on them.

Backwards. See, easy. Announce it is backwards night and everyone can turn their clothes around, eat desert first, walk backwards to the table. The kids can come up with all sorts of spins on this for sure.

Indoor picnic. Grab a blanket, some trash bags to put under if if you are like me and have white rugs in your home, and sit down on the floor of your living room to dine. You may want to use water bottles with tops for this one.

Dinner under the table. Instead of eating on the table eat under it. In my house this will have to happen on a night dad is out of town, he would not like this one.

Color. Pick a color and have everyone wear it to dinner. Or everyone wears their favorite color.

Costume. Everyone comes in some sort of costume and then you go around the table and explain who or what you are.

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Toothpick night
(I just came up with that one now). Eat your entire dinner with toothpicks. Or spoons, or chopsticks, or your HANDS! Oh, that could be fun.

Hollywood Night. This one is for number 4 who got mad at me yesterday for calling her fancy pants. Not sure why that offended her so much, she is fancy and proud of it usually. So this one is for you fancy britches. Dress up and then dress others up. And then re-dress yourself up. It’s going to be so fun and fancy.

That’s all I got. Do you have any you can share? Leave a comment with your ideas.

Have fun with this and remember set the bar low for yourself, the rest of your life its set too high, don’t make this stressful too.

Farmers Markets and CSAs, Oh Yeah!

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Wednesday is the best day of the week in summer. Our local farmer’s market is open and my CSA share is delivered to my door! Oh yeah!

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. CSA allows city residents to have direct access to high quality, fresh produce grown locally by regional farmers. When you become a member of a CSA, you’re purchasing a “share” of vegetables from a regional farmer.

I have been a member of a CSA for the past 3 years. With mine, I know in advance what is coming each week and I can even swap out things we don’t eat. The hard part is meal planning around it. And I’m not good at meal planning anyway which makes it that much more difficult. So I have to admit I am still learning how to use all of it and not waste any.

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Last year, toward the end of the season, I started using Wednesday as a basic meal night where I grilled some chicken or fish and then used whatever veggies I had received that day to create a super fresh meal. It ended up being one of the best meals of the week. Usually I follow a meal plan from The Fresh 20 that I discussed before in Can Your Family Eat Healthy, Easily? But I found that while they use what is in season each week, it doesn’t always line up with what I receive. So I started buying basic meat each week to use on Wednesdays for my own creation. That worked well for me at the end of last season, so I am sticking with it this year.

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This past Wednesday, I also took the kids to the farmer’s market after school to get some bread, a treat, and my knives sharpened. Seriously, I am so happy that I have sharp knives today. You forget how nice it is to work with a really sharp knife.

That night we had grilled chicken, asparagus, a very crisp salad and fresh bread. It was really good.

You can ask the husband, but I am not known for my cooking abilities. The first meal I made for him was embarrassing. It looked something (or exactly) like frozen chicken breasts and frozen veggies from a bad dumped in a pyrex dish with foil over top and thrown in the oven for 30 minutes. Seriously, no seasonings, not even salt or pepper.

Rachel Ray taught me how to use the stove and The Fresh 20 has turned me into a decent cook.

But this past Wednesday night was all me (with the help of my CSA and local farmer’s market). And the hubby and kids all said it was good.

I was so proud. Oh, and thankful for summer Wednesdays!

Challenge #21 – Trash Cans

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The trash cans in our kitchen take a serious beating. We ask the kids to clear their dishes after every meal which is helpful in some regards and not so much in others.

They are all, even the three-year-old, expected to remove their plate from the table, scrape any uneaten food into the trash and then put their plate on the counter by the sink.

Do they do this?

Not usually, we are still working on that.

But somehow, the trash cans get food splattered all over them anyway. Maybe I’m the reason.

Either way, there is food, and I don’t know what, running down the door of our trash can drawer and sitting in the bottom of the cans.

I think it is nasty. I almost didn’t want to do this, because I was afraid I might throw up while I was working. But, I am really trying to hang on here for these last 9 days.

I told myself I would feel better when it was done; I would be proud of myself for sticking it out…

I was none of these things when I was done.

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But I am glad I did it. It needed to be done. And now it is. And hopefully I won’t have to do it for another year.

Buck up little camper, you can do it! We have 9 days left!

 

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