Thursday, November 20, 2014

Grace at Home No. 131


Welcome!  I'm so glad you're here for the Grace at Home party!

It's just one week until Thanksgiving.  I'm thankful today to share the news that my oldest son, Will, made it safely back from Nepal, where he trekked to the Base Camp of Mt. Everest.  It's so much fun to see your child fulfill a dream, isn't it?  But this mom was really glad for him to arrive home safely!

Last week's party included so many wonderful links that I had a hard time choosing features.  But here are a few that caught my eye.

Cindy from Dwellings: The Heart of Your Home shared her renovated kitchen.  Oh, my word.  This is jaw-dropping!


Lauren from Bless 'Er House transformed 1970's dining chairs into show stoppers.


Lisa from Texas Decor used a scrap piece of wood to create this adorable sign for over her pantry door.  Check out her easy tutorial!


Kim from Lou Lou Girls shared a bunch of family-friendly games for Thanksgiving.  Love these!


Diane from An Extraordinary Day created a beautiful Thanksgiving tablescape.  If you need inspiration for next Thursday's meal, you'll find it here!


As for me, I shared some memories and thoughts about social media in this post, "It's a Good Thing There Was No Pinterest Back Then."  I'd love to know your thoughts about this!


These are just a few of my favorites.  Thank you to everyone who joined last week's party!  I'm so grateful for each person who links up each week. If you've been featured, feel free to grab the "I was featured" button (the code is right over in my sidebar).  I'd be so proud if you displayed it!

 

Now for this week's party!  Grace at Home is a place for you to share anything related to making your home a place of grace. I invite you to link posts about
  • DIY projects
  • decorating
  • recipes
  • hospitality
  • homemaking tips
  • parenting
  • marriage
  • faith
  • self-care
  • soul care
Whatever you do to make your home a place of grace, I'd like to hear about it.  Here's what I ask of you.  Please include the permalink to your post, not your blog's home page.  Please let people know that you've linked up.  No more than three posts per person, please.  And visit at least one of the other party participants--that's what really makes it a party!



Wednesday, November 19, 2014

It's a good thing there was no Pinterest back then


Holiday preparations are kicking into full gear around here.  I'll bet that's true at your house, too.

As I was gathering everything I need for Thanksgiving, my eyes fell on an item that took me back over 20 years.



It was fall of 1991, and I was looking forward to my very first Thanksgiving as a mom.  I had recently resigned from my full-time job so that I could be a stay-at-home mom, and our budget was tight.  But when I saw these Thanksgiving cookie cutters at a V&S Variety Store, I was smitten.  I carefully counted out the few dollars to purchase them, certain of how I would use them.

I bore those cookie cutters home and tied them onto a grapevine wreath that hung in my kitchen. Then I fashioned a bow from ribbon of some autumnal color and stepped back to survey my work.

Honestly, I don't think my wreath was particularly beautiful.  But I was so pleased to have created a decorative accent that was just right for the season.

As I think now about that moment of homemaking satisfaction and pride, I'm grateful that there was no Pinterest.

It's not that I don't like social media; I do like it very much.  I've often wished that I'd had all that easy-to-access inspiration back when I was a young mom.

But I know myself better than that. I've always been terribly prone to comparing myself to others. And if I'd had all the beautiful inspiration of Pinterest back then, I'm guessing that I would have been ashamed of my wreath.  I might have noted that the cookie cutters were just cheap ornaments from the variety store or that the grapevine wreath wasn't the right size and shape or that the bow wasn't quite fluffy enough.

I might have weighed my efforts in the balance and found them terribly wanting.



And I might very well have taken my little wreath off the wall, cut down the cookie cutters, and put them back in the box.

Since I didn't have anything to compare it to, I simply enjoyed my wreath, that first year and for several years after. My little boys delighted in the cookie cutters, and we built lovely Thanksgiving memories.



I like to think I've grown a lot since then.  I love getting inspiration from Pinterest, and I enjoy sharing my own projects there.

But sometimes I wonder if I end up gathering more inspiration or insecurity from perusing all the pretty pictures.

What about you?  Do you ever find yourself feeling discontent as you compare your things to pictures on Pinterest, or do you just find inspiration there?

"I have learned to be content with whatever I have."
(Philippians 4:11b, NRSV)

Joining Weekend Bloggy Reading at Serenity Now

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Gratitude


This weekend, while I'm doing 101 routine jobs, I'm focusing my heart on this:



Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever (Psalm 118).

While I love the holiday of Thanksgiving, I'm thinking that it shouldn't be limited to one day.  So I'm starting today.  Will you join me?

Friday, November 14, 2014

A new skin care product


I am participating in a Vibrant Influencer Network campaign for L’Oreal Age Perfect. 
 Opinions expressed in this post are my own. I am in no way affiliated with 
L’Oreal Age Perfect and do not earn a commission or percent of sales.

One fun thing about blogging is that I occasionally get to try new products.  Since I don't want my blog to be one giant commercial, I don't do this very often, but recently I was given a chance to try some new products that really caught my eye: the L’Oreal Age Perfect line of skin care products.

I am blessed with good skin.  And when I say "blessed," I mean it.  I have good genes, thanks to my mom:
 
Wasn't she a cutie?  I'm so thankful that I inherited her creamy skin, and I've tried to take care of it.

But now I'm 51 years old, and caring for my skin has become more of a task than it used to be. Simply put, aging skin just doesn't renew itself as ably as young skin does.

Thankfully, the science of skin care has come a long way.  My mom never had much more than cold cream to care for her skin.  Now I have these weapons at my disposal.


I've been using the products for a couple weeks now, and I can tell you that I'm very pleased with them. One thing in particular I noticed is that the creams are luxuriously thick, yet they absorb very quickly.  I don't like to feel as though a cream is resting on top of my face, and I hate for my face to feel sticky.  No sticky feeling with these creams!  I love that.

I was a little hesitant to note that the creams are not fragrance-free.  I'm very sensitive to smells, and once I actually returned a very expensive night cream because its fragrance gave me a terrible headache.  The fragrance in the L'Oreal creams, though, are very pleasant, and they dissipate pretty quickly.  That's a good thing for me.

The other thing I noticed right away is the price of these products.  Good quality products for mature skin can cost a pretty penny.  These are very reasonably priced.  The MSRP is less than $25, but I found them at my local discount store for less than $20--and with a $3.00 coupon attached!  I'm so glad that L'Oreal is offering good products at an affordable price.

I'll let you know what kind of results I get after using these products for awhile.  For now, you can read all about them here--and look for them at your local drug or discount store.

Do you have any favorite skin care tips to share?  I'd love to hear them!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Grace at Home No. 130


Welcome to the weekly Grace at Home party!  Can you believe it's already the second Thursday in November??  Just two weeks until Thanksgiving!

Here are a few posts from last week's party that really caught my eye.

Laura from Decor to Adore completely transformed the family room in her new house.  She created a beautiful room that tells her family's story.  Love this!


Christine from Little Brags shared a Thanksgiving tour of her home.


Fall in North Carolina is still in full swing--and just look at the beautiful real leaf wreath that Debby from My Favorite Things made!  Debby lives in North Carolina, too.


If you're ready for a Christmas wreath, you'll want to check out this beauty made by Penny from Penny's Vintage Home.  It's amazing!


If your thoughts are turning to holiday desserts, you'll want to check out this Bread Pudding with Cinnamon-Toffee Sauce from Kendra at Joy in Our Home.  Yum!


Mandy from Sharing Authentic Grace wrote about grace in gratitude.  An excellent post!


These are just a few of my favorites.  Thank you to everyone who joined last week's party!  I'm so grateful for each person who links up each week. If you've been featured, feel free to grab the "I was featured" button (the code is right over in my sidebar).  I'd be so proud if you displayed it!

 

Now for this week's party!  Grace at Home is a place for you to share anything related to making your home a place of grace. I invite you to link posts about
  • DIY projects
  • decorating
  • recipes
  • hospitality
  • homemaking tips
  • parenting
  • marriage
  • faith
  • self-care
  • soul care
Whatever you do to make your home a place of grace, I'd like to hear about it.  Here's what I ask of you.  Please include the permalink to your post, not your blog's home page.  Please let people know that you've linked up.  No more than three posts per person, please.  And visit at least one of the other party participants--that's what really makes it a party!


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

How to prepare your home for guests


If you're like me, you're preparing to host guests during the upcoming holidays.  And you'd truly like to be a gracious host.



This year will mark the 30th Thanksgiving and Christmas my husband and I have celebrated in our own home.  "Home" for us has ranged from a 500-square-foot apartment in married students' housing to our current large house.  Over the years I've learned that the welcome I provide my guests is much more important than the fanciness of the space.

The goal of hospitality is not to pamper our guests; it's to make them feel welcome.  So don't be intimidated by the idea of trying to create a guest space that's comparable to a four-star hotel. Instead, try to anticipate your guests' needs and try to make them feel at home.



Here are some simple tips for preparing your home for guests.

Make sure the bed(s) are comfortable.  The best way to do this is to spend a night in the guest bed!  I did this and learned that my guest beds weren't quite supportive enough.  I remedied that situation by placing a sheet of plywood underneath each mattress, then added a foam topper to each bed.

I like twin beds in a guest room, which makes the space more versatile.  I've found that most married couples don't mind sleeping in twin beds for a night or two, and this way the space can easily accommodate others.

Be sure that your bed linens are nice and clean.  Since some guests suffer from allergies, don't use heavily-scented detergents or fabric softeners when laundering linens.  Instead, add some white vinegar to the rinse water.  Don't forget to launder or dry clean blankets, bedspreads, comforters, and pillows as needed.

If space allows, keep extra sheets, blankets, and pillows in the guest room.  Mine are on the top shelf of the closet.

While the linens are off the bed, take the opportunity to dust and vacuum the guest room thoroughly. Take a good look at the carpet or rug while you're vacuuming to see if steam cleaning is needed.



If your guest bed needs a headboard, you can easily and inexpensively make an upholstered one!  All you need is a piece of plywood, some foam, fabric, and a staple gun.  Click here for a simple tutorial. And if you're in need of a night stand, consider any piece of furniture you might be able to re-invent. The nightstand in this room was a small chest from Bombay--remember that store?  I painted it with homemade chalk paint, and now it has a new life!

Supply the guest room with a spot for guests to place their luggage and room to unpack their clothes. Guest closets often provide necessary storage space in homes, but be sure there is ample space for guests to hang clothes.  Provide plenty of nice hangers and an ironing board and iron if possible.

Provide several sources of light, including a lamp by the bed.  You may also want to provide a night light which guests can unplug if it's not needed.

Now for the guest bathroom.  If you're very fortunate, you have a bathroom attached to the guests' sleeping space.  If not, be sure that your guests know which bathroom to use and be certain that the path to the bathroom isn't blocked in any way.  If the bathroom is down the hall, you may want to place a nightlight in the hallway.

Scrub the bathroom thoroughly.  If needed, wash the rugs.  Check the shower curtain liner and wash or replace if necessary.

Double-check the sink and bathtub/shower drains.  If they're running slow, use a drain opener to get them cleaned out.  Alternatively, pour some full-strength bleach down the drains, followed by the hottest water your tap will produce.  Or to clean your drains more gently, pour some baking soda followed by white vinegar into the drains, then flush with hot water.

Stock the bathroom with plenty of fluffy towels and washcloths.  Towels needn't be expensive, just thick and thirsty.  Taking a cue from luxury hotels, I prefer white towels, which are easy to keep clean and stain-free and work well with any decor.  Be sure to provide lots of wash cloths, which you can buy inexpensively in bulk packages.  If you don't have a bathroom attached to your guests' bedroom, simply place a stack of neatly folded towels and washcloths in their sleeping space.

I had some white hand towels monogrammed for the guest bath; don't they look pretty hanging with the fluffy bath towels?
In addition to towels, stock the bathroom with toiletries your guests might need, such as:
  • hand soap
  • bath soap (a new full-size bar)
  • shampoo
  • conditioner
  • lotion
  • toothpaste
  • toothbrushes
  • dental floss
  • disposable cups
  • cotton balls
  • Q-Tips
  • disposable razors
  • shaving cream
  • feminine hygiene products
  • hair dryer  
Be sure there's plenty of toilet paper close at hand.  Also, consider keeping a plunger and a package of disinfecting wipes in the guest bathroom.  Many houses now have water-saving toilets, which can easily be clogged; most guests would prefer to remedy that situation quickly and without having to bother the host.  In the same vein, keep a package of light bulbs handy.

Provide at least one mirror outside the bathroom.  A full-length mirror is ideal.  Be sure the mirror is close to an electrical outlet.

Once all those things are done, think about the little things guests might need while they're in your home.  Gather those items and make a welcome basket.  Here's mine:



My welcome basket contains:

  • bottles of water
  • snacks
  • first aid items (band-aids in various sizes, alcohol wipes, instant cold pack)
  • OTC pain medications (acetaminophen and ibuprofen)
  • small sewing kit
  • scissors
  • tube of lip balm
  • lint roller
  • box of tissues
  • extension cord (use a t.p. roll covered in pretty paper to corral the cord)
  • flashlight
  • candle
  • matches

I also printed a Welcome Card with pertinent information about our home, including our wifi password, home phone number, street address, nearest cross street, and the code for our alarm system.  Here's a blank form that you could customize and print with your own information:


You may also want to provide some reading material, such as a Bible, a devotional book, and current magazines.  If little children are visiting, provide some story books.

Just before guests arrive, place some fresh flowers in the guest space.  Avoid flowers with a strong fragrance, such as lilies, hyacinths, and amaryllis.   (For tips on arranging your own flowers, click here.)


However grand or simple your space, your guests are sure to appreciate your hospitality if it's offered with grace and love.

Click here if you'd like a full tour of my guest room.

Now tell me, how do you prepare your home for guests?  Do you have any other tips to share?

I'm joining these wonderful parties: