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?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

It's pretty bad, right?  This bench used to be on my mother's patio...about 20 years ago!  We inherited it when we moved to Urbana, IL and she was downsizing.  It sat on our covered front porch for about 3 years.  Then we moved to Northern, IL and it's been in our backyard through the beating sun, snowstorms and rain.  It's a little worse for wear, I know.  I've been thinking about fixing it for years (procrastination is kind of a problem for me!)

Well, no more.  I finally spent about 4 hours and this old, beaten up bench that looked like it needed to go to the dump now looks like this

All it took was a little sanding, some new screws to tighten it up, and some leftover trim paint for the house.  I think she looks gorgeous now!  Once she's dried I'll add a few pillows and a blanket.  I plan to enjoy a glass of wine and my book on that spot this evening. 

I spent about 4 years procrastinating this little project that really didn't even take a full 4 hours to complete.  That's crazy, and it's inspired me to get busy on some other painting projects.  Coming soon, repainted antique apple boxes from my grandfather's grocery store, and an updated marble top table that really needs something!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

I've been trying to get things done around the house.  First on my list was switching out our family room furniture (from the basement) to our living room (main floor).  I don't know why I didn't think of this before! Our family room downstairs is very large, but I had our smaller, sleeker furniture placed there.  Our living room, as you can see above, is quite small, but I had an overstuffed chair, rolled arm sofa and wing back recliner stuffed in the room!

The furniture switch has worked well.  We use the living room more in the winter (enjoying the fireplace) and the family room more in the summer (it's in the basement, so it's the coolest place in the house).  The family room has the overstuffed chair, wing back recliner, sofa, day bed and another chair, as well as the flat screen tv and the wii so we can watch movies and netflix.  We've been enjoying it on Friday evenings as we all just get comfy and relax!

Switching the furniture cost us $0, but it's really made the house feel new and fresh.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A quick before and after of an old craigslist table and chair set.  I knew that I wanted to have it redone, but finally realized that it would never happen if I did it myself.  Luckily, we have a wonderful woman in town who does great furniture refinishing:  Refabulous!  This is what she did.