Monday, June 29, 2009

Patio Magic

by Amy Platon

Well, since we all like home makeovers, I thought I’d share my newest creation. Behold, our new and improved back porch. This little 10x10 space needed some sprucing up this summer.

I started with ordering some new JCP cushions that were half-off. The bench cushion they offered was too big for my loveseat, so I opted for two cushions to take advantage of the deal. Then I was off to installing my ultra cheap painter’s drop cloth curtains. Thanks to Layla Palmer over at Lettered Cottage for this fabuloso idea. Cost: $20 for two 8ft drop cloths. Bonus: they are water resistant so perfect for outdoor use. I bought the rods at Target as well as simple black clip rings to hang them with.

And how do you like the pillows? Hmmmm?

Well, this is gonna make you gasp (out loud even). I bought 2 short table runners from Old Time Pottery @ 6.99 each. They were double sided.

I just opened the seam at one end for the lumbar pillow and stuffed it with the stuffing from a pillow I hated. Then, for the chair cushions, I cut the runner in half and stuffed two pillows. With only minimal sewing skills, I had three pillows for less than $15. The table runner fabric is like a canvas material, and seems to be water repellant, but I bring them in at night to preserve them. I also bought two more runners for back up since they were such a bargain.

The potted plants are from Home Depot at $12.99 each and voila! Cozy summer back porch in full swing. There, now I’m all ready for the 4th of July family get together I’m hosting this year.

Wanna see the before photos:
Home Sweet Home

Other home ideas:
Kid Infusium

Our "in progress" kitchen makeover:
Kitchen Inspiration

Friday, June 26, 2009

Chugging Along

Here's an article I wrote for a our local Senior Center. It just ran in the Nona Vista View. It's so nice to add things like this to my portfolio of work. Super motivating, because it would be so easy to get sucked into what I'm not accomplishing instead of focusing on what I am accomplishing.

Thanks for reading!


Sunset Years Worth Waking Up To
by Amy Platon

If you are a senior and you haven’t been by to check out the activities offered at Renaissance Senior Center, then consider this your strategy guide to getting involved with this state of the art, parks and recreation facility.

First thing’s first. The guidelines are a little more specific than say, McDonald’s coffee discount for seniors. Even if you have received a discount coffee or senior discount of any kind, it may not be enough to qualify you as a senior. Officially, a senior, as defined by the Center, is a person of age 55 or “better” as Carrie Flood, Recreation Leader would say. (Although, the center does occasionally offer intergenerational classes. Check for a listing.)

So, once you’ve determined that you are in fact a senior, it may help for you to consider your motivation for participating in this recreation facility. Maybe you are looking to meet some new people or perhaps looking to improve your health. And yes, it can be both, in which case what are you waiting for?

If you feel like you could use a forum to make some new friends, this is just the place to do it. Try starting off with Walking with Friends. It’s the centers number one activity with about 35-40 people per class. Don’t like the heat? Well, this class is indoors to keep everyone cool. Hmm, does it still sound a little too sweaty for you? Maybe Scrap Booking, Bingo, Karaoke, and Movie of the Week are a little more your speed. And if cooking is your thing, you should consider attending the Recipe Exchange. Participants are encouraged to bring all of their recipes (well the ones you’re willing to part with anyway) to exchange with others. It’s one of the Center’s newest programs.

If socializing isn’t your target, but staying healthy is, then the open-hours workout room might be just the soft entry you want. You can work out on your terms and during the hours that work best for your schedule. If you prefer a class setting, Tai Chi, Yoga and Spinning are available, and all without the intimidations of a traditional gym. Who needs that kind of pressure? This is supposed to be fun.

Still not sure what works for you? How about getting a feel for the activities by becoming a volunteer. They are currently looking for fitness room monitors. Weekly and weekend hours are available. Additional new programs include Self Defense and BRITE both free and specializing in self-reliability and self-management. Call
407-254-9070 for all the info you need to get started.

So if your days feel long, or if you can tell time by what episode is on TV. Then come make some friends, get healthier, and get involved with Renaissance Senior Center. Whatever your goals may be, they offer something for everyone. Take part in making your sunset years worth waking up to.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Second –fiddle Holiday?

by Amy Platon (inspired by Bobbs)

I read in the Orlando Sentinel that “When it comes to cards, gifts and money spent, Father’s Day runs a distant second to Mother’s Day.”

There were lots of pie charts and graphs to illustrate this article, and if you’re interested, you can read it in full here.

It’s a cute article. But I couldn’t help but notice that all the money spent on a day of golfing wasn’t included, that I could see. And hey, a day of boating and fishing gets pretty expensive too. And then, just try to put a price on freedom. Some Moms I know give the gift of freedom to Dads on Father’s Day, when some husbands choose to spend money on a gift and cards. I know growing up we always ended Father’s Day with Mom cooking Dad his favorite meal followed by his favorite dessert. Priceless.

Father’s Day for us this year, included a green flag beach day and hubby getting a new pair of swim trunks. Honestly, it was a great day. We spent it with friends, and family basking in the sun and cooling off in the ocean. But then those are my favorite days, when we’re not spending too much money and we’re just taking each other in, soaking-up conversation, and making stupid jokes.

If I were to compare it with my Mother’s Day I’d say we both nailed it. Because for Mother’s Day hubby woke up, got dressed, and put on a tool belt. He followed me around the house asking what else? All the home-loose-ends were tied that day, and that too was priceless.

I for one, love the penniless holidays. Flipping around the paper and reading the rest of the news, it seems that’s just where our focus should be - enjoying our time together and keeping an eye on our budget.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Kid Infusium

by Amy Platon

I’m really big on trying to keep my kid friendly home as adult as possible. I once made the joke that at first glance you would never really know that kids lived in our house. That is until you walked into our kitchen and saw the fridge! It’s like a really ornate totem pole strewn with scrapbook guts that stands poignantly in the kitchen as a conversation piece.

But this is not to say that I deny my children space. I just do it in a way that works for us all. For instance downstairs the couches have tons of pillows, which the kids love to jump on and make really awesome forts out of.

The coffee table has sturdy legs because it’s really a bench, therefore makes a great launching pad or extra seating. That coffee table also doubles as a long kids dining table for parties when we push four kid chairs up to it.

Our downstairs closet has been dubbed the “Play Closet” and houses our art activities as well as a display area.

We do have a children’s table downstairs for all of those activities, and recently I did this to organize it. I am really proud of it because it’s been working so well. I just had to share.

I used wooden spice racks which I got from Ikea and stained them to match our d├ęcor.

The lower rack holds washable paints in spice jars and the upper rack holds Playdough.

The Playdough was never really a problem for the kids to get on their own but the paints were, so doing it this way has the kids only having to grab brushes, water, and paper, to get going.

It’s the kind of decorating I like to call “child infused” rather than overrun. That totally works for us!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Passion vs. Talent

by Amy Platon

Imagine if your passion is ice fishing, but you are born in Hawaii. How would you get from here to there? How would you know if your child has discovered his passion? How would you know the difference between passion and talent?

Stephen King wrote in his book On Writing that his son was taking music lessons for an instrument that he asked to play (can't remember which one). So, Stephen and his wife put their boy in private lessons for two years. Their boy was doing well, he was practicing like his instructor was asking. He was learning all the notes. He was willing to go to all the lessons without a fight. But then after two years Stephen told his wife, "We should take him out of those lessons."

“Why?” she asked. The answer was, because his son was not blowing up at it. He went to all the lessons, he did all the work, he was advancing at it, but wasn't tricking himself out on it. When the lesson was done, when practice was over, the instrument went back in the case.

Because Stephen knows that when you are tapping into your true passion, hours feel like minutes. You can’t get enough of that thing - You can’t not do it. You fill every minute of every day with it, or the thought of it. That’s when you know you’ve hit it.

I love that glimpse in time and matter that SK writes in his book. It was a huge parenting lesson in the last place I expected to receive one. I already knew as a writer that place he was talking about. And I feel lucky to have stumbled on it, or fortunate that my passion was at least an obvious one.

He revealed for me what I already knew as a writer but what I had forgotten as a parent.

Now, all I can hope is that my child’s passion isn’t ice fishing, cause we live in Florida and it might take us a while to figure that one out. Thanks Steve!