Wednesday, February 19, 2014

She's a teenager!

 And it was time to do something about her room.  She used to have a blue room, so "once upon a time" the quilt went with her room.  Then we decided to switch her from the blue bedroom to the cream colored office.  It needs some attention, right?

She chose a gorgeous green called Awakening (Valspar) but I suggested that it was just too bright.  Luckily, she agreed and we went with Afternoon Delight.  The Valspar paint was fabulous!  It only took one coat to cover the walls and it just went on so smoothly.  Here's the same room now...

She loves it, I love it, it's all good!

She bought the new bedding from Kohl's with a gift card that was a Christmas present from her Uncle Terry.  We bought the desk a few years ago on craigslist.  I'm going to paint it white, but I think I'll wait until Spring when I can spray paint it outside.  The couch is from her Great Grandmother's.  It folds out into a double bed and is great to have in her room for sleepovers.

I covered both of her lampshades with some wrapping paper I picked up in the Target dollar bins.  It's a temporary fix, but we both love the look.  The cabinet/bookshelf is another craiglist purchase.

The dresser is a hand me down from friends, to her brothers, and now to her.

Even though I probably haven't spent even $200 over the years on her room, we both think it looks wonderful right now.  Just in time for her to turn into a teenager.  Yikes!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The cost of living

My husband and I work for the same church, and both get paid twice a month.  Since our income comes in on the 1st and 15th, I have our bills organized to pay twice monthly also.

While we don't make lots of money by some people's standards, we are very comfortable.  We are getting close to being debt free (other than our mortgage and paying for our son's college education), and we enjoy our life.  We are able to take vacations, go out for dinner sometimes, and purchase "things" that we want and/or need.  It's a really good life!

I like paying our bills.  I like seeing where our money goes.  I like being able to make a nice contribution to our church every month.  I like being able to support organization that I believe are working for the good of our community and our world.

But I've been bothered lately by my lack of engagement with some of the large issues that face our world.  Gun violence is at the top of my list.  I don't understand how we, how I, let this horrible tragedy happen without doing anything to lessen the possibility of it happening again.

I'm frightened by the environmental issues that we are not addressing, that we are putting off for our own comfort.  And I'm disgusted that I sit and don't take more action on these issues that speak to me.

I've decided that not only is there a cost for groceries, and gas, and housing expenses, and medical bills, and wifi, and tithing...  There is also a cost for being a member of the human race.  I've decided that I'm adding that "cost" to my twice monthly bill paying routine.

I've collected the mailing addresses of my state and federal legislators, my Governor, and the President.  I'm going to make myself more aware of the issues that call to me.  And each month as I write out my bills, I'm also going to write letters to my elected officials.  I'm going to share my concerns with them and ask for them to take action.  I'm going to keep at it, month in and month out.

I believe that this practice will do a number of things.  First, it will set an example for my daughter that we can act on our convictions.  Second, it will help to make me more aware of the issues that I care about.  I'll need to keep informed so that my letters reference current findings and current events.  Third, hand written letters matter to elected officials.  Fourth, I believe that persistence triumphs.

I cry every time I read about teachers who tried so desperately to protect their young students from gunfire at Sandy Hook.  Starting today, I'm not just going to cry.  I'm going to write that letter.  

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Celebrating Advent

It seems that Christmas is starting earlier and earlier in the stores.  However, if you are part of a church that follows the liturgical seasons, Christmas is a 12 day season that starts on Christmas Day.  For us, this is the season of Advent--the four weeks leading up to Christmas.

I wanted our home decorations to be reminders of the season that we are celebrating.  The waiting, hoping and longing for that Advent represent.

The four candles are dark purple, dark blue, blue and pink.  They represent the coming of the dawn, the new day, that the birth of Jesus represents.  If you are up early, you can see the horizon turning these colors as the sun breaks forth!

A simple candle set atop a mason jar that I filled with cedar sprigs from the bushes in my front yard.

 I picked up these trees at a garage sale or thrift shop years ago!

One of my Isabel Bloom angels.  The mother of my college roommate was the manager of  Isabel Bloom 
in the Quad Cities.  I love her work, and these angels always come out as part of our winter decorations.

Blessings to you as you prepare for the new day coming!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

From blah to Ba-Bam!

I want to be a seamstress.  I want to make my own curtains, pillowcases, and slipcovers.  I have a sewing machine, and I even got it out.  Unfortunately, I just don't know how to use it.

But, that did not stop me!

I've been searching the internet for the perfect curtains for my kitchen.  My kitchen is currently a blank slate just waiting for some beautiful curtains to turn it from blah to Ba-Bam.  I've looked at all the usual culprits (Ikea, JC Penney, Bed Bath and Beyond, Kohls, Target, Etsy).  I just can't find what I'm looking for.

I realized that I was going to have to take matters into my own hands.

So, I went to Joann Fabrics, found a beautiful fabric from Waverly, talked to a awesome young woman who looked at my window measurements and figured out how much fabric I would need.  She also helped me find the Stitchery Glue that made this whole thing possible.  Ready.....?

Isn't it fun?  I love it so much.  It has the oranges and reds that I love, but also has bits of turquoise and pink.  Ok, so my husband thinks I'm crazy.  But I just love it.

I think you should be drooling by now it's so gorgeous!

I even made a valance for the kitchen window...
The whole project took me about an afternoon (with loads of laundry, phone calls and checking facebook in between).  I laid out the fabric on our ping pong table, used the stitchery glue to make an inch hem all around and then hung them with curtain clips.

Simple enough for me means you can do it too!

Friday, November 8, 2013

1 can of pumpkin + 1 box of choco cake mix = tons of delicousness!

My husband was recently diagnosed with Diabetes.  He's doing great with the changes that he's had to make in his diet!  Fortunately, we eat healthy meals so I haven't had to change our meal planning at all.  His downfall was snacking and sugary beverages.  He's eliminated the beverages, limited the snacking and is now doing great.

I've been trying to find some snacks and desserts that fit into his new restrictions.  Especially with the holidays coming, I don't want him to feel that he can't partake of anything.  I remembered a simple recipe that my Aunt Betty gave me some years ago.  Only 2 ingredients, but oh does it taste rich!

Take one can of pumpkin...not pumpkin pie filling, just pumpkin, and mix in one chocolate cake mix...
When you mix this together, you will think that you need to add egg, or water or something!  Resist.  Just keep mixing until you have incorporated all the pumpkin into the cake mix.  It will be stiff.  That's okay.  Now, fill your muffin cups...

Pop them in the oven and bake according to the box directions.  For mine, the box said to bake for 19-23 minutes at 350 degrees.  I set the timer for 20 minutes and checked them by inserting a tooth pick.  They weren't quite done so I added another 4 minutes to the timer.  Perfection!

My can of pumpkin had 38.5 grams of carbs, and my cake mix had 340 for a total of 378.5.  I made 12 muffins, so each muffin has 31.5 carbs.  For my husbands diabetic diet, he can have up to 60 carbs per meal, and he can have a 15 carb snack each morning, afternoon and evening.  While this muffin is higher in carbs than a normal snack, he could have it in evening if he has a lower carb meal.  This is also a great midmorning snack as his breakfast is always far less than 60 carbs.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A Recycled Home

I'm trying to fall back in love with my home.  Sometime, I only see what I wish were different about it (new flooring in the living room, adding dark stained butcher block counters in the kitchen, etc) instead of seeing how our home reflects our primary values.

So, here's my home and why I love it!

We live in a small, 3 bedroom ranch.  This style and floor plan are pretty common in the midwest.  I share my home with my husband, stepson, daughter and cat.  We have a living room, kitchen with eat in area, bathroom and 3 bedrooms on the main floor.  Our basement is partially finished with a large family room and an area that we've made into a bedroom for The Boy.

This is our living room.  The best part of it is the fireplace.  I love the smell of the wood burning!  The old wooden trunk was purchased at an antique barn when we lived in New Hampshire.  I recently purchased the leather sofas off craigslist.  I gained $50 when I bought them...I sold the old sofa for $250 and bought these for $200. This room is cozy (read small!) but I'm trying to be okay with that.

Next up...the kitchen
 Last year, we had the barstools, table and chairs refinished by a local woman.  The stools were purchased from the Habitat Restore and Target.  They were just blonde wood.  The table was a pedestal table set that we purchased from, you guessed it, Craigslist. 

I think we paid more to have it refinished than we did for the actual tables and chairs.  But it was worth it.  This kitchen/eating area is pretty small, and I think that having the tables and chairs "mimic" the antiqued finish on the cabinet helps to make the space feel more open. 

I like calming effect that the color palette has, however, in looking at these pictures, I think I need a few more pops of color!  I love the hits of orange from the print in the dining area and from the cookbook.  I think I need to extend those pops of orange to the corner near the stove.

 Our basement has a huge finished area.  When we moved here 5 years ago, The Boy wanted a basement bedroom, so we sectioned off a portion of this space for his room.  Somehow over the years, this whole area became his Bachelor Pad!  It was kind of nice to be The Place that his friends chose as their hang out.  We had many a weekend movie night down here.

Now that The Boy is off at college, we are reclaiming this as family space again.  It's a great place for watching our beloved Illini play football and basketball.  We like to lounge down here and watch netflix.  And The Tween recently said that she would like to take on the tradition of Movie Night with her friends.  I believe a Dr Who marathon is in the works.

So that's my recycled, recovered, craigslist home.  It's smaller than what I sometime wish for, but I'm gonna hold on to this thought, "May our home always be too small to hold all our friends."

Are you in love with your less-than-perfect home?

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Mantel progression

I really don't decorate that much.  I don't have a closet with seasonal items that I bring out each year; I don't allot a certain amount monthly to purchase new and interesting "pretties".  I have some framed pieces that I've had for years that are meaningful to me that I switch out seasonally.  And I try to make do with what I have to change up my fireplace periodically.

So, this is what it's looked like for late summer, early fall.  The pastor that I worked with in Tulsa, OK gave me this monarch print when I was ordained.  I love the print, but I mostly love the the incredible man who gave it to me.  He died shortly after he retired.  I still think about the impact he had on me and many, many others in his ministry in Tulsa.  The print has some hints of green that I tried to pick up with the candles and the plant.  There is a small vase that I made with my step-mother, as well as the cute bird clock that was a clearance item on MarketDay of all places!

Well, now it's October and my tween-age daughter says Halloween is her most favorite holiday.  So, I needed to make the mantel a bit "creepier".  I kept most of what I had, but added her favorite skeleton candle holder.  I covered some of my old "Happy Hollister" books (did anyone else read them as a child?  I loved them and pick them up at garage sales whenever I see them) to add some height to this great pottery piece that my mom made.  When we find cool hawk feathers, we add them to the vase.

We may write some spooky titles on the covered books.  She wants "Book of Death" on one of them.  My husband says "Sleepy Hollow" and I'm thinking "The Tell Tale Heart".  For now, they're just plain.  But I thought it needed a bit more color and so...Two little pumpkin candle holders.  We made these for a classroom party when the daughter was in 1st grade!  They are just baby food jars covered in orange, brown and  yellow tissue paper.  We added construction paper "jack-o-lantern" eyes and mouth and mod-podged the whole thing.  Added a little pipe cleaner stem and you have a pumpkin!

So, that's my fireplace mantel progression.  What does yours look like?