The scout binder revisited

Sarah and I had a skype meeting yesterday, catching up on life and wedding planning and re-energizing our blogging batteries. It's been almost exactly three years since we started this Nest & Launch venture and we started reminiscing on our early days. Remember how we used to post every weekday for the first year? There's a lot of content back in those archive stacks so we thought it would be fun to revisit and update some of the posts each week in a Throwback Thursday kind of way.

One of the very first posts I wrote (three years ago tomorrow, funny enough) still brings a lot of people here daily via Pinterest and various other mysterious-but-much-appreciated-pssst-pass-it-along social platforms. (Welcome, pinners!)  It was based on some some sage advice from a friend. She said, as I wrote in the original post:

"Start a Scout Binder. Now. She lamented how difficult it had been to prepare the Eagle scout application because all of the little signed badge cards and badges and earned rank cards and other sundry items had long been shuffled to the back corners of random drawers and pockets. She had no idea that they would need those again. So they had to gather it all up and, in some cases, track down old scout leaders for dates and signatures (or do some things over) to get a complete application submitted."  

Three years later, Sam's 7/8 of the way through his Eagle Project and the end is in sight. He's collected books for a women's/family shelter and built bookcases to hold them. I'm really glad we did our scout binder;  it really was a friendly, brilliant hint and it worked so well for us...

So much for organized foresight and the illusion of control! Oh well. Sometimes you put systems and prevention tactics into place and still end up with not a patch nor card in hand. Because bestlaid plans and teenage boys. And moving. Maybe there should be a merit badge for that.

But there IS an app for that if you'd like to avoid our old school quandary and add a failsafe: The Scout App. (And apparently there's no equivalent for Girl Scouts besides an app for the handbook and a girl scout cookie finder. Get on that, Girl Scouts!)


This Saturday my two oldest girls are coming home for Thanksgiving!! Their impending arrival sure makes the holiday exciting and something we look forward to all year. We've already been mapping out our week -- all the restaurants we want to visit, seeing Dickens' A Christmas Carol at the Alley Theater, and our annual Thanksgiving Day Segway ride. It is in this, the Segway ride, that we like to differentiate ourselves as the quintessential nerd family. Just imagine us . . . all in a row . . . with helmets strapped tightly around our chins . . .

Just between you and me? One of the daughters is bringing home a boyfriend to MEET THE FAMILY. This situation promotes an interesting dynamic, namely that we want the boyfriend to feel welcome and to NOT think we are CRAZY. Doubtless, we will be watching him closely to make sure he is good enough for our precious-princess-baby-girl. And, likewise, I suspect he will be surveying our family culture and his potential spot within the family o' nerds. Heavens, if young adult parenting doesn't make for some dramatic introductions!

This week I'm readying the nest for all of my little chicks (+1). This includes a long-planned re-do of Parker's room -- replacing his bunk beds and repainting and reorganizing. We will be offering Parker's room to the boyfriend for his stay, so this is a nice, self-imposed deadline. I need deadlines desperately, because . . . you know . . . Netflix.

The room was freshly painted last week. And this weekend the husband and I collaborated on a queen-sized bed frame. And by collaborated, I mean I made him a sandwich and he let me use the nail gun. We settled on a Pottery Barn Teen inspired platform bed that I originally spotted on Shanty2Chic. The plans are at

image via  Shanty2Chic

image via Shanty2Chic

Here's what I've got so far:

PJbed web.jpg

Today I'm filling the screw and nail holes and sanding. This evening Sterling will attach the feet. And at some point I will have the distinct privilege of going to Ikea for some bedding, which I imagine to be woodsy yet sophisticated, manly yet hipster.

I so enjoy these periods of preparation and anticipation. I try my hardest to make our home a place of refuge and happiness that our kids will want to return to again and again. And while, certainly, a platform bed is not entirely necessary to that project, I am aiming for order and peace, warmth and acceptance. Somehow, cozy spaces make the holidays . . . well, more cozy.

Here are a few more holiday ideas from around the web to cozy up your spaces:

Tidying for high school

There was a day last week when I was crossing the Target parking lot that I could sense the coming of Fall. I certainly couldn't feel the coming of Fall -- it really doesn't work that way along the Gulf Coast of Texas. But there is a quality of light, a certain slant of gold, that takes my mind directly to yellow pencils and fresh notebooks. I'm uncertain just how many more high school physics projects I can emotionally withstand, but new school supplies will always signal hope and happiness. School supplies are evergreen.

I'm doing my best to channel every good back-to-school feeling I can muster into Parker's room. It needs a major clean out. He grew about 27 sizes this summer, which means that very little of the size 10-12 clothing currently stuffed into his drawers and closet still fits him. Like seven things. Even the khaki pants I bought him at the Gap three and a half weeks ago are borderline too short. I'm beginning to worry that tomorrow I'll find a grown, bearded man sprawled across his lower bunk. My girls didn't do this. They grew predictably. Their growth was gradual. This boy-growing seems to be of a different order.

Also concerning --  Parker's room hasn't changed one bit since we moved into this house when he was FOUR YEARS OLD. The super cute dinosaur quilt from The Company Store? Yep, it's still there (and it has held up great!). I realize this is a fluffy, inconsequential, first-world problem. But dino bedding for a high schooler? That's the stuff therapy sessions are made of.

I'm all about keeping it real here at N&L. Behold the 'before.'

I'm all about keeping it real here at N&L. Behold the 'before.'

About six months ago I read Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. There have been synopses of this book ALL over the Internet, so I won't bore you with a lengthy recap. Suffice it to say that Kondo recommends a hefty purge, keeping only those possessions that "spark joy." I employed this method on my own closet and can report that her techniques really are life-changing! My closet is ALWAYS tidy, and has been for six months now. Turns out that if you don't have much stuff, then that stuff requires very little upkeep. I hope to help Parker learn to tidy up. I casually mentioned spending an hour a day for the next few days getting his belongings in order. He gritted his teeth a bit at the edict, but found the hour passed quickly, and then he was off to hang out with other lanky, quickly-growing friends. Yesterday we sorted clothes. Today we move to legos. Tomorrow? The dino bedding is retired in a silent ceremony.

What about you? How do you get ready for the new school year?

Make this now: big art.

What do you think about the fox? Too much?

What do you think about the fox? Too much?

I've come to be quite skeptical of Pinterest projects. I have a multi-step process by which I screen potential endeavors that goes something like this:

1. Is completing this project going to take longer than two hours? (Because I'm lazy.)
2. Will procuring the supplies make me tired? 
3. Will I want to keep the finished project longer than two weeks?

Surprisingly, those three questions rule out the majority of the Pinterest kingdom. Regardless, I keep pinning away because sometimes I just like to pull up my boards and look at pretty things.

Today, however, I'm going to tell you of a complete Pinterest success. Many moons ago I pinned this link for "DIY CANVAS PRINTS: HUGE IMPACT, LOW COST." That pin just sat patiently, waiting for the moment when I would need some large, inexpensive art for Jordan's room. In case you haven't heard (and who are we kidding? I've told EVERYONE), Jordan is coming home from her mission and thus requires large, impactful and inexpensive art. 

Guys, this tutorial is spot on. I nicely asked Sterling to accompany me to the Home Depot since, on my own, I can't find ANYTHING in that store. There, we quickly located the spray adhesive and 3/4" foam insulation board (the board is gigantic so bring a big vehicle or have the Home Depot folks cut it down for you). I'd already sent a photo to Staples, which was printed as an engineering print (size 48" x 36"). 

At home I cut the foam to size with a straight edge and a box cutter, sprayed on the adhesive and then slapped on the print. It took about 30 minutes and really does look like a canvas (make sure you wrap the edges). I'm super happy with it, and I have enough foam board left to make two more -- so I'm greedily sizing up any blank wall space.

As for the picture (the trees arching over a country road), I simply browsed one of my favorite free image sites, Unsplash. I downloaded the photo and then uploaded it to Staples. Downloading and uploading are two of my favorite things. They are undemanding tasks. Plus, you can do them in your pajamas.

So. Yeah. Big art. Item 128 checked off my list. Two bajillion things left to do!

Giving this year: DIY city quilts

Now that the calendar is hitting the last week of October I'm giving a little thought (very very little, mind you) to Christmas giving. I'd love to make at least a few of the gifts so I should probably get started! Maybe you're in the same boat. One thing for sure: I am itching to make a city quilt (or fourteen) from Haptic Lab. 

I've had my eye on their work for a couple of years. Their city quilts are amazing. Now they also offer DIY quilt kits, either the basic kit (pattern and instruction) for $38 or with materials included for $74.

NYC DIY city quilt kit,  photos via Haptic Lab

NYC DIY city quilt kit, photos via Haptic Lab

I can think of so many great recipients for these--as a hometown remembrance for kids who are getting ready to leave for uni or jobs or who have dreams of traveling, for friends with affinities for a certain city, for your own family to remember and mentally travel through cities you've loved together. It would also be wonderful to give the kit itself as a gift to one of your kids who loves creating things.

The beauty is that you can embroider little messages and important spots onto the quilt to personalize it and make it especially meaningful.

Boston DIY city quilt

Boston DIY city quilt

The only problem for me is I wouldn't be able to decide which city (there are 19 to choose from so far). And it's not just cities. They also offer USA and world map quilt kits--a fun gift to personalize and give someone (or, let's face it, yourself!) to document all the places they've lived or to highlight a journey. AND THEN there's the constellation quilt kits!

Haptic Labs also offers very cool ship kites and other custom kites. I think this red orange one could be fun for kite flying and equally fabulous hanging from the ceiling in a favorite room:

Here's a great little clip from Emily Fischer, the artist behind Haptic Labs, on the constellation quilts:

p.s Haptic Labs doesn't know I exist and definitely didn't pay for me to rave about them. I just get really excited when people come up with great ideas, create them, and share with the rest of us.

Definitely let me know if you decide to make one. I'd love to see what you do with it! Right now I'm trying to decide between Boston, NYC, London, or the world. 

A few good gems

Take a bow, everyone, and pat yourselves on the back: we've made it through another M-F and the weekend is upon us. What's on your docket? My family's scattered around a bit this weekend. Maddy's in Sydney for a debate tournament so it's just the boys and me until Sunday night. Sam's taking the PSAT tomorrow morning and I'm hoping to take a nice long walk around the lake by our house. We may end up seeing a movie, too. Have you seen any movies lately that you loved?

A few gems to take you into the weekend:

An innovative German afterschool game/program featuring a time-traveling professor is redefining play and learning and bringing lesson plans to life as well as teaching empathy. LOVE it.

Looking ahead to Halloween? How about three years' worth of couples costume ideas from Say YesCamp counselors, Dirty Dancing couple, acroBATS, lumberjacks, punk rockers, Mary Poppins and Bert, motorcyclers, magician and rabbit, and couples from Singing in the Rain, Moonrise Kingdom, and James Bond.

Given that it's springtime here and that the imported pumpkins at Costco are more than $30 each, we may take a cue from a Subtle Revelry and carve pineapple jack o'lanterns this year! Or oranges?

Divine caramel sauce and easy 10-minute caramel sauce. Because apples. And caramel. (Also--after being in Australia for two years now, I've started to say car-a-mel instead of car-mel. I just felt like I should confess that to someone.)

15 not-so-scary Halloween movies for wimps

Interesting: interpreting the motifs on turkish rugs

Friends, I've made this homemade kettle corn recipe three times in the last week or two (and wanted to make it at least eight more times). So easy and so so good in that sweet salty delicious way.

via Artisan Sweets

via Artisan Sweets

Illustrated mugshots of characters from famous banned books.

Gavin (at Zen Pencils) illustrates quotes from inspiring speeches in a cool, accessible way. I especially love his installments for John Green (advice for a writer), Amy Poehler (great people do things before they're ready), and Ira Glass (advice for beginners). 

Loving the Brave Women poster that Ashley Mae Hoiland recently created. It would make a great gift for a girl or teen (or grownup) in your life. She's also a wonderful writer.

via   Ashmae

via Ashmae

The art of slowing down in a museum (in case you missed it). I'm going to take this approach the next time we go museuming.

Make owl library cards from a free printable at love vs. design.

Have a fabulous weekend! Oh, and are you looking for your next good read? We've started posting what we're reading in the sidebar---> 

DIY heaven

Time and energy are both scarce commodities for me today. Hopefully I'll be back tomorrow with a well-thought-out, inspirational essay that will change your life FOREVER. But how about today we just look at pretty pictures? And dream of making beautiful things? 

I happened upon this blog the other night (thanks to the wonders of Pinterest) and spent a good 45 minutes reading through the project tutorials. This is a home-decorating, husband and wife team that will knock your socks off. They do some awesome stuff. Like make incredible furniture out of thrift store finds.

See how they added mid-century inspired legs to this dresser.

Or check out their studio/living room. Awww, man! Why didn't I think of that?

There is even a tutorial for those beautiful drapes.

Pardon me while I daydream.