Thursday, March 31, 2011

"Things I Know For Sure" Thursday (& Giveaway Winner Announced)

You thought I had forgotten about this series, didn't you? Well, you're right. I kinda did. But today, it's back. And I have a resource to tell you about that many of you will love.

I must admit I didn't have to think a lot about food allergies years ago, but when my niece was just a baby and it was discovered that she was highly allergic to several things, all that changed. She's 5 years old now, and although her allergies aren't considered to be life-threatening anymore (thank the Lord!), she still has to be very cautious about everything she eats.

It seems that more children than ever are facing the challenge of living with food allergies. Those of you who live with children or other family members with food allergies know that it's something you have to be aware of constantly. It can even force you to change your lifestyle--where you shop for groceries, where you eat out, IF you eat out, whether you child can attend certain parties, etc. If there's one thing I know for sure, having food allergies is very serious, but if you're informed & have the right resources, you don't have to live in fear.

I have admired my sister for being very proactive in finding helpful information & recipes to help her daughter & many other parents & children find ways to deal with food allergies & the concerns that come with them. In fact, she writes a blog about this very topic where she shares all her recipes, research & findings. It's called Living the Allergic the Fullest. You can visit her by clicking here.

These Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Muffins are just one example of the great recipes she shares:

Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Muffins {Dairy-, Egg- and Peanut Free}

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour {you can use whole wheat flour here, if you choose}

1 cup oats

1/3 cup sugar

1T baking powder

2T ground flax seed

1T cornstarch {this replaces the egg}

1 heaping Tablespoon of pure cocoa powder

1 cup almond milk {plain for less sugar content}

1/4 cup canola oil

1 tsp vanilla

3/4 cup vegan chocolate chips

Mix dry ingredients {except choc chips} together in mixing bowl. Mix liquid ingredients in a small bowl and then add them to the dry ingredients. Mix until moist. Fold in vegan chocolate chips. Fill greased muffin tins 3/4 full and bake @ 400 degrees for 12 minutes. Serve warm with Smart Balance Light {dairy-free buttery spread}.

Her blog is a great resource for those of you wanting to know more about allergies & how to deal with them. Is there a child with food allergies in your child's class at school? On this blog, you can find recipes the entire class can enjoy together at the next party. So go visit, learn something new, and be informed. And if you have information share on the subject, it's a great place for that, too!

I'm linking this recipe to a few of these sites.

And now, the winner of the DaySpring Giveaway is:

The Barkers!
(I don't have your email address so be sure to contact me!)

And if you didn't win, don't miss out on your favorite items! Click on the banner below to visit DaySpring & take advantage of the free shipping offer!

Spring and Easter

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

My Headboard's Distressed, But I'm Feeling Fine

Were you here for the discussion the other day about Refinisher's Reluctance & how it's sometimes hard to distress furniture once it's painted? (If you missed it, you can read about it here.) As I suspected, I'm not alone in this feeling. Several of you shared your own experiences of how hard it is for you to take your perfect painted finishes & purposefully make them im-perfect.

I couldn't bear to distress my previous headboard because it begged me not to. But my latest one was different. This one insisted on it. It knew it wasn't perfect & wasn't even going to try to pretend otherwise. And so she was an ideal candidate for distressing.

Here's how I found her at an estate sale in Atlanta a few weeks ago (yes, I've even started going to estate sales when I'm out of town if the opportunity arises):

I actually like the shade of green she was, but it looked as though she'd been left out in a garage or storage shed because she was pretty dirty & even had a little mildew.

My brother-in-law, a wood-working guru, suggested I use this:

You just mix a little with water, following the instructions on the packaging. Then, scrub down your piece with a brush. You will need to take precaution & use gloves, etc., but the results are great!

After my headboard dried out well, I brushed on a couple coats of Sherwin Williams' Quicksilver (the same paint I used for this project).

Then, it was time for the distressing. I should mention that if I had taken the time to thoroughly sand & smooth down this piece, the weathered finish wouldn't have been so necessary. But, I didn't and so it was. (See how the original layers of painted brushstrokes show thru?)

I started out with a coat of gray glaze by mixing the glazing medium with some plain 'ol gray craft paint. Yes, you can do this. The amount of paint required is so insignificant, it's not necessary to use a high-quality paint for this step.

I just brushed it on liberally & then wiped off what I wanted to remove...

After that was dry, I just sanded the edges & the original green paint showed through beautifully in some areas.

That was it!

I think she likes her little makeover. If I were keeping her, I'm thinking I might've liked to stencil on a little French something-or-other, maybe even add something like this image I found for sale on etsy:

Wouldn't that be adorable? You can find this digital image & other great ones like it for sale here.

Meanwhile, if this doesn't sell soon, I may just talk my self into adding the crown.

Sharing this makeover with a few of these sites.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Bird Watching {For Real}

There's been a lot of drama around here lately. No, it's not because I have 3 girls. Recently, it's been due to our new family project of bird watching. I know. It sounds wildly exciting. But, really--you'd be surprised.

I should start at the beginning. Before we moved to this house, we really didn't think much about birds--unless you count the fact that we did have the largest bird nest known to man in our attic at one point, but that's a whole other story. But, when we moved into this house, we were amazed at the types of birds we were seeing in our yard all the time. And so, last year, we decided to put out a bird feeder and try to invite more & get a better look.

Then, we bought bird books and better binoculars so we could actually identify them. My husband started researching how to make birdhouses to attract specific species of birds. And before I knew it, we became real live bird watchers. Even Lola can already spot an American Goldfinch & tell you the difference between a male & female Cardinal.

And I guess I should also mention my little bird feeder project. This Spring we wanted to add another feeder, so I went as far as to make a really cute one for our deck. Lily & I spent one afternoon dismantling a little "bird gazebo" from Hobby Lobby & using the parts to combine with a liter water bottle to create just the look we wanted.

Cute, huh?

The only problem was, it turned out to be one of those less-than-perfect projects and the next morning, here's what I found:

And that is why you never saw a tutorial on the project.

So, we opted to go with this cute store-bought version & the birds have been loving it.

We re-filled our other feeder as well, & now it's like Bird Central Station around here. They literally ate up all the seed in this feeder in one day.

We've got birds galore.

But, there has been a little trouble in Bird Paradise. Apparently, the squirrels got the memo as well that we've been putting out the bird seed buffet & yesterday, I heard screams coming from my kids as we walked into the house. I only wish I had a picture to share, but all I saw was a contorted squirrel who was hanging by one foot off the edge of the deck as he stretched his acrobatic self across to the dangling bird feeder. I was actually so impressed that it took me a minute to remember to scare him off.

And now my husband, because of his devotion to our feathered friends, has assumed his Squirrel Terminator role & has informed me that he has left the BB gun loaded and ready for me to take action from the perfect stake-out position at laundry room window. As if.

But, wait--there's more. As I was inside the house yesterday, I received a call from my husband who was outside the house, telling me in an exasperated voice that I need to "get out here & see this". From his tone, I could tell he wasn't looking at a new rare species of bird at the feeders. And when I arrived, I found him less-than-thrilled about the fact that along with all the beautiful birds who have stopped by for a visit lately, we have been also been visited by a woodpecker, who has decided to leave his mark on one of our posts under the deck.

Oh, the irony. Note the position of the bird feeder dangling just a few feet above the said damage. I have no idea if the woodpecker was attracted by the bird seed or not. Any woodpecker experts out there?

Whatever the case, my husband is now on a new mission to find a way to deter the woodpeckers without scaring off the other birds.

Meanwhile, I'm just hoping this bird watching hobby hasn't gotten us in over our heads. I'll keep you posted!

Have you entered my DaySpring Giveaway yet? Time's almost up! Click here before you miss out.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Refinisher's Reluctance & My French Headboard Makeover

This little beauty has been sitting in my garage all Winter, waiting patiently for her turn to be beautiful again. As soon as I spotted her that day in the thrift store, I knew she would be hard to part with.

And now that she's had a makeover, it's true...I hate to see her go. She's just so French and girly and so much like this Louis Headboard from Ballard that I love...

In fact, it was this bed that first came to mind when I found her. From the start, I planned to paint her a creamy white and finish with a gray glaze for a weathered look. But once I had sprayed on the Heirloom White, I came down with a case of what I call Refinisher's Reluctance & started doubting my original plan.

Does anyone else out there ever come down with this in the middle of a refinishing project? It's that little shred of doubt that pops up & makes you wonder if it's going to turn out like you hope. I know a lot of you feel it when you paint over a nice stained piece, leaving you to hope you don't regret what you've done later.

But, it happens to me a lot when I paint a nice, pristine coat of paint onto a piece that I'm planning to distress. It's like I can hear a voice inside saying, "Are you sure about this?" Sometimes it's hard to make yourself damage a nice finish.

And sometimes the piece itself says to me "I don't want to be distressed, just let me be!" So, I have to listen. I know it's only paint & it can be re-done, but I like to be right the first time.

And on this little bed, I just couldn't bear to mess with the creamy goodness by adding the glaze. Besides, she actually said to me, "Permettez-moi d'ĂȘtre ... Je suis beau comme je suis!", which, in case you're like me & only dream of speaking French, means- "Let me be...I am beautiful as I am!"

And so I let her be. And soon I know she'll find a great home where she can continue to be her beautiful self.

Have you ever had a case of Refinisher's Reluctance? Tell us about it!

I'm sharing my little headboard at a few of these sites...

Monday, March 21, 2011

Gallery Walls: Random. Risky. Rewarding.

There are certain spaces in my house that you might look at & consider me to be a minimalist when it comes to the decor. While this might be true, it's not because I have a highly-defined sense of style, but more because I have highly-defined disdain for dusting. My philosophy is: less stuff= less to dust.

But, my decorating plan for our ever-evolving home library is a step away from my norm. I'm going for fun, eclectic, cozy. This inspiration picture is a little taste of what we're heading toward.

One of these days we'll have a wall of bookshelves similar to this one, and some cozy chairs that are perfect for curling up in with a good book. Another element I've been wanting for our room is a gallery wall. You may remember I did a gallery wall for my kids' art in our craft room here:

And I did another one in our entry with my door photos from Europe:

In each of those gallery walls, I played it a little safe & kept a little uniformity by keeping the frame color the same, but for the library, I wanted a little more eclecticism (yeah, that's really a word, I googled it). I want a wall that has interest. One that begs you to stop and stare for a few minutes to take it all in. With a touch of unpredictable. Getting a look like this can be risky, but just like everything in decorating in my home, I know the most important thing is that it works for me.

I started this gallery the same way I did the others, by gathering all my art & laying it out on the floor. Then, I just arrange & rearrange until I find the configuration that "speaks" to me. Once I get the right arrangement, I measure the perimeter of it to be sure that it fits the area on my wall. It helps to take a picture of your configuration for reference later when you are hanging the pieces.

After that, it's time to hang. I must admit, this is the hardest & most risky part for me. I hate having to put nail holes in my nice pretty walls. And I definitely want to do it right the first time to avoid any extra holes in the wall. That's why I'm a fiend with a level & measuring tape.

My pieces for this wall are mostly a collection of prints from places we love. This is a map of my husband's hometown...

And some prints we bought in Boston...

A collage from our first trip to NYC...

A Paddington Station clock to remind us of when we stayed in Paddington on our trip to London last year. (I found this at Hobby Lobby, but it was perfect!)

And another HL find was this Paris Opera House print--we were there, too! I also added in my plaques from Ballard Designs and this iron gate piece for a little dimension.

I also wanted to include this little print of Paris I bought from a street vendor when we were there, so I took an empty frame, a piece of twine, and a couple baby clothespins (also found at Hobby Lobby), & created my own art.

I you want to display something like this, just take the twine & tape it to the back of your frame & then clip it on with the tiny clothespins. Couldn't be easier!

I love our collection so far. And the best part is that there's still plenty of room to add onto it when we find more art from our favorite places.

Are you wanting a gallery wall? Go ahead and take the risk. You'll love it. And remember: the only rule is that you make it a reflection of you...

I'm sharing my wall at a few of these places & the Nester's Take a Risk Day & the Gallery Wall Party at The Inspired Room.

Check them out!