Sunday, February 27, 2011

8 Things I Love About Lily

1. You love to make us laugh.

2. You write Dad & I lots of notes and cards just to say you love us.

3. You're very inquisitive & you love to learn new things.

4. You love to be creative & you decorate our house with your art projects. (I have no idea where you got this.)

5. You're a great middle sister.

6. You can clean & organize better than anyone else in the family.

7. Your red hair & freckles.

8. You bring sunshine to our lives every day.

Happy 8th Birthday, Lily!

We love you!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Spring. Found.

I know. I'm forcing Spring this year. As you can tell from my recent projects, even if it's not quite Spring outside, the inside of my house refuses to believe it, so here's a little more...

My cafe shelves got their makeover for Spring the other day, and I love how it all came together. My inspiration was my new {old} window.

I had been eyeing old windows in antique stores and home decor shops for months, and I had found some cute ones, but none of them were exactly what I wanted. None of them spoke to me. And I know it sounds crazy, but I wanted one with a story. Maybe it's because I've been watching too much American Pickers, but I wanted to really find one. And not just in a store.

So, one day when I had a few minutes to myself, I took a drive and started looking again. God knew I really wanted to find one and when I got the idea to go talk to a lady at one of my favorite shops, I knew the idea had come from Him. Sure enough, she knew where I could find a ton of old discarded windows.

So, I dug through this pile with my heeled boots sinking deeper and deeper into the mud, all the while hoping and praying that nothing live would come out and attack me.

Isn't it funny how some of us look at this as hitting the jackpot and others would never give this stuff a second glance? I couldn't help but think that that's how God is with us. When people look at us and see nothing worth using, He digs us out of the heaps of discarded lives, then He brings us to Himself, cleans us up, and makes us a part of something beautiful.

The words on the glass are the words to a song I learned in children's choir at church years ago. I'm amazed I still remembered them.

I wrote the words with my chalkboard markers just like I did on this project and this project.

I made this butterfly art by taking a thrift store frame and covering the insert with a piece of beige linen, then attaching the top of a giant butterfly pick with a little hot glue.

A tutorial for the bird and bunny topiary can be found here.

I hope this brings a little inspiration for Spring into your day today. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Family Hiking Tips

Did I ever show you a picture of my backyard?

Well, technically is not my backyard, but we do live very close to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I've lived in this area almost my entire life, and I have to admit--sometimes I tend to take it for granted that we live in one of the most beautiful places on earth. I know--it's terrible. Which is why my husband & I have been trying over the last couple of years to take advantage of all there is to do and appreciate around here.

And that's one reason why I have turned into a hiker. (Those of you who know me well-- you can stop laughing now.) I must admit I wasn't crazy about the idea when my husband first started suggesting it. After all, I'm not really the outdoor-sy type. I'm not a fan of dirt, bugs, or wild animals in the night. My husband, on the other hand, loves the outdoors. His family camped on their own remote land in Maine all his life and he loves it. He almost had me talked into camping one time and then he mentioned something about a lawn chair-turned-portable potty and he pretty much lost me on camping forever.

So, I figured after all those years of never giving in to camping, I owe him something. So, we hike. This way we get lots of family time together in nature, yet we finish up in time to stop at a nice restaurant for dinner and sleep in our nice, clean, cozy beds at home. (Don't look at me like that. I know some of you have never camped either.)

So, we have hiked several times now in the Smokies & I have to admit it's fun. We usually hike trails that are around 2 or 3 miles, but this past weekend, my husband decided we needed a challenge, so we hiked Abrams Falls, which is 5 miles. It was beautiful. And here we are 4 days later & I'm still thinking about it. But that's because my legs won't let me forget. Everyone did great. Even Lola (age 4) walked almost the entire trail herself.

I guess you could say I'm pretty much a pro at this hiking thing now, so, I thought if there are any of you out there who haven't hiked before, but think you might like to try it, I'll share a few of our tips we use for hiking.

1. There are no bathrooms on the trails. This is really important to remember. Especially if you have a fear of leaving the trail to find a remote spot & a black bear following your scent & attacking you & no one being able to hear you screaming because you walked too far away from the trail to be sure that no one could see you going potty in the woods. It could happen. I'm just sayin'.

2. Make sure you have the right shoes and clothes for the trail. Do not try to hike in wedge flip flops. Don't ask me how I know this is a bad idea.

3. Watch where you are walking while on the trail. Remember, sticks and stones may break your bones, but a 200-foot drop will kill you.

4. You may want to wear a hiker's bell to alert bears of your presence on the trail. I don't know where to buy one or how much they cost. We've never needed one because we bring Lola with us.

5. No fighting or whining on the trail. It ruins the tranquility of your surroundings. Plus, it just embarrasses the kids.

6. Watch out for mud as you're walking and do not step on mom's pink shoes with your dirty sneakers.

7. Do not allow the kids to swing their hiking stick around on the trail, as it might accidentally hit a stranger and they might be the type to give you a dirty look for letting kids swing hiking sticks around on the trail.

8. When the going gets tough, the tough keep going. Remember, there's nothing like a group of middle-aged nuns whizzing by you on the trail to make you feel like a real wimp.

{you thought I was kidding about the nuns, didn't you?}

9. Don't forget to bring your own water. In all my years of hiking (two) I have never once come across a Sonic or a Starbucks on a trail.

10. Never eat the Junior Mints you find on the trail. Because they are, in fact, not Junior Mints.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Dressing Up for Spring

Have I ever mentioned how much I love a white kitchen? We moved into our previous house over 10 years ago and back then I reluctantly chose white cabinets, worrying a little that it was a trend that would soon end. After all those years in that house, I never got tired of them, and never considered anything but white when I was designing my present kitchen. It's bright, it's clean, it's classic, and most importantly, it's versatile--which is a must for someone like me, who likes to change things up all the time.

And while I was wanting whimsical a few weeks ago for Valentine's Day, (remember my kitchen decor here?) for Spring, I wanted to dress it up a bit.

Just like always, I shopped my house and gathered up everything that spoke to my "Spring Formal" kind of mood. And Pantone would be proud because I even incorporated a hint of Honeysuckle. Then again, you never have to twist my arm to use a little pink. (For those of you who haven't heard, Pantone's Color Choice of the Year for Fashion and Decor is Honeysuckle.)

Gorgeous, huh?

This mirrored vanity tray I found at a Thrift store for $1.50 turned out to be a perfect fit behind the cooktop. And the bird and dogwood detail really screams "Spring!"

And in that turquoise vase, I have - you guessed it- some of those same white sticks from Christmas and Valentine's Day. And the pink flowery branch adds that hint of pink I wanted. (Don't worry- I'm aware that this could be a fire hazard. I promise I'll use common sense while cooking!)

Recognize that chalkboard? That was my silver one, but I was in the mood for gold, so I gave it a few coats of my favorite Krylon Gold Foil Metallic. And our monogram seemed like the perfect design for this style.

This little pink dog is a vintage vase my husband found for me a couple years ago. And the topiaries are the ones I made last year. (Click here for a tutorial.)

Hope y'all like this new look for my kitchen. I'm keeping this for a while. How are you changing things up for Spring?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Giant Pantry Chalkboard

Okay, I know some of you are saying what my husband said when I told him I was starting this project: "How many chalkboards do you need, Lady?" And my answer is always: "Just one more." While it's true that I have what might be classified as a slight chalkboard addiction, I do have a purpose in mind for each and every one of them. And this one will totally be put to good use.

It's my new extra-large pantry chalkboard and I hope it will help put an end to our problem of starting multiple lists for the things we need and never being able to track them all down when it's time to head to the store. This way, whenever we run out of something or think of something we need, anyone in the family can write it on the chalkboard. Then, when it's time to leave for the store, I'll just snap a quick picture of the list with my phone, and then it's with me when I get to the store. And if by chance I forget to take the picture before I leave, I'm hoping I can call my husband at home and sweet-talk him into sending me the pic!

This is going to be so fun.

And if there's anyone still left out there who hasn't made a chalkboard and you're wondering how it's done, click here to see my previous posts on chalkboards. I made this latest one using the frame from a mirror I found at an estate sale a few months ago. I couldn't find a place for the mirror, so I decided to take it out and just use the frame. Amazingly, it was the perfect size to fit in our space in the pantry. I love it when that happens!

Where do you use your chalkboards?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Another Spring Apothecary Jar With Lola {Our First Vlog!}

Today's post is our first attempt at vlogging & it happens to star Lola with another Spring Apothecary Jar How-to. In case you missed her first how-to last year, click here to see that.

Here's what you'll need to design a jar like Lola's: a large apothecary jar, river rocks, one or two small faux blooms, and a package of reindeer moss.

I apologize in advance for the narrow screen shot. I shot this with my phone & now I've learned I should film it horizontally next time. Trust me, I won't be winning any videography awards anytime soon. And now, here's Lola:

Thanks for stopping by! If you liked this, maybe I'll try some more vlog posts in the future.

Here's one more shot of the finished product...

{And Pottery Barn: I know you're wondering-- Lola is available for design consultations and new product development for a modest fee. Of course, as her manager and chief advisor, I'll require a fee as well. Thanks so much! We'll wait to hear from you.}

Linking this to a few of these sites...check them out!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Last Minute I Love You's...No Rush Shipping Required

This is for those of you out there who are still scratching your head about what to give your Valentine, and for those of you who may not have a lot in the budget for frivolous gifts this year. Take heart, and remember, the best ways to say "I love you" don't come from the candy-laden aisles at Wal-mart, but from the heart. And letting someone know that you took the time & effort to be creative just for them can mean more than you could imagine. And it's totally ok to get your ideas from someone else. I do it all the time.

Here are a few last minute ideas that are perfect for Valentine's Day. I'm putting them out here in case you need to borrow them.

Heart-shaped PB&J's

Don't forget your cookie cutters aren't just for cookies. Use them to cut some hearts out of bread for sandwiches for your sweethearts. Cut a smaller heart on the top piece to let the strawberry jelly show through. My kids LOVE it when I make their sandwiches like this. Works great for toast, too!

Hot Cocoa with Marshmallow Hearts

I honestly can't remember where I first saw this idea. Maybe it was Martha, maybe it was a magazine, but either way, it's easy & fun & your Valentine will love it. Create these little hearts by starting with a jumbo marshmallow. Use some clean scissors to cut it in half to give you 2 discs.

Next, cut the bottom of the disc into a "V" shape as pictured:

And lastly, cut a small "V" at the top to finish it off.

Add these to your favorite hot chocolate & you're sure to get a smile. Click here to get a recipe for a yummy homemade version of a hot cocoa you'll love.

Your Undivided Attention

This may be the single greatest gift you can give to your Valentine, no matter who they are. We have arrived at a point in time where there are more things than ever that compete for our attention. TV, video games, internet, and phones are just a few of them. It's quite possible that the most romantic thing you could say to your Valentine is "My phone is off for you." You could spend $15 & buy this service-blocking hanky from Uncommon Goods to wrap your phone in during a romantic Valentine's dinner...
Or, you could simply turn off your electronic addictions & give someone your undivided attention this Valentine's Day. They'll love you for it.

I hope these ideas help you out. I'll be sharing them with a few of these sites.

Happy Valentine's Day!