Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Gallery Wall of Mirrors

I'm so excited to show y'all what I've been working on--a gallery wall of mirrors in my bedroom.

Our master bedroom has been a work in progress for a long time.  I've been happy with part of the decor, but this wall had always stumped me.  One lonely mirror hung above the candle lamp, and that was it.

Finally I had an inspiration:  instead of taking away the mirror, I would add to it.  I searched through the attic and closets and came up with a couple more mirrors, but I knew I wanted more.  The ones on each end I found at Target.  That gave me five.  Then I went back to my attic and looked through all the wall decor pieces stashed there, including this clock:

I never really liked the clock very much, so I decided to experiment with it.  I used a hacksaw to cut off the crown at the top.  Much better!

Then I popped the clock works out of the back of the frame and used Krylon's Looking Glass spray paint to transform the glass into a mirror.  Presto!  Free round mirror!

Last, I wanted an antique mirror of some kind, but I couldn't find one that fit my price range.  Then I remembered the lovely old-looking frame of a piece of art I was no longer using.  I popped the art out of the frame and created an antique-looking mirror with the Looking Glass spray paint.  I simply gave the glass several ultra-light, uneven coats of paint, then drizzled a bit of white vinegar on the paint and wiped that away.  I added a few scratches for good measure, and voila!  An instant "antique"!

Armed with a collection of seven mirrors, I set out to arrange them on the wall.  For this step, I left the large oval mirror in the center of the wall and traced around the other mirrors onto brown paper.  Then I stuck painter's tape to the back of the brown-paper cutouts and moved the cutouts around until I found an arrangement that pleased me.

After that, I simply hung the mirrors right on top of the brown paper cutouts.  Once the mirrors were in place, I removed the paper from the wall.  I highly recommend making the paper cutouts.  So much easier than moving the real mirrors around!

Taken from the doorway:

Taken from our bed:

These photos give you a clear view of our "chandelier," better known as a ceiling fan.  It's too hot in North Carolina for me to surrender the ceiling fan in my bedroom!

I'm happy with the look of seven mirrors, but one of the wonderful things about gallery walls is that you can add to them or take away from them over time.  We'll see how long the wall lasts just like this!

A couple of other shots of our bedroom:

I made our bedding; you can read about it here and here.

Here's a before-and-after look at the space:

My husband really likes the new wall arrangement, which makes me happy.  It's his room, too!  And I'm so pleased with the change.  What do you think?

Note:  Bedroom wall color is Sherwin Williams "Mystery Green," a wonderful bluish-greyish-greenish color that looks different depending on the light.

Linking to these wonderful parties:

Monday, October 29, 2012

Grace for Dinner: Cowboy Soup

A few weeks ago I began a weekly series called "Grace for Dinner."  Each of these posts will include a recipe for a simple, delicious dinner food and a  prayer of blessing for you. My hope is to impart grace to you body and soul with these posts.

Today's recipe is a treat for us from one of my oldest blogging buddies, Amanda from Serenity Now.  Not that Amanda's old--she's a beautiful young mom--but she's been a blogging friend of mine for a long time now.  We first got acquainted with one another in 2009 and have been friends ever since.  I'm so grateful to know Amanda.  She's fun and funny and kind and thoughtful, and those attributes show forth brightly in the way she writes, the way she runs her blog, and the way she interacts with readers.  

Fall Pumpkin Patch Pictures, Serenity Now blog
Amanda's daughters at the pumpkin patch
Take it away, Amanda!

Hi, Imparting Grace readers! Today's recipe for Cowboy Soup is one of those throw-it-together meals that makes dinnertime easy. I love that you can add extra spices to give it some more kick, or leave it as-is for family members who don't like hot food.

My Aunt Linda gave me this recipe several years ago. I'm not sure why it's called "Cowboy Soup," (it's more of a stew) but since she lives in Texas and Texans know everything there is to know about cowboys (right?!), I decided to go with it.

I love the simplicity of this recipe!

Cowboy Soup

-1 can red beans
-1 can pinto beans
-1 can ranch style beans
-1 can corn
-1 can hominy
-1 can stewed tomatoes
-1 can rotel tomatoes
-1 pkg. taco seasoning
-1 pkg. Ranch dressing mix
-1 pound ground beef

(Note: Sometimes I have a hard time finding ranch style beans. I improvise with this soup and use whatever I think might taste good.)

Brown the ground beef. Drain and add all the ingredients to a large soup pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer until cooked through. (15 to 20 minutes)
Cowboy Soup (Stew) Recipe, from Serenity Now

I like to sprinkle some cheddar cheese on my soup after dishing it out. Served with a side of warm cornbread or biscuits, this is a great cold weather meal!

Thanks so much, Richella, for sharing your blog with me today. I hope Imparting Grace readers will come visit me at Serenity Now! You can also connect with me on FacebookPinterestTwitter, and Google+. I have some great stuff coming up for the holidays!

Thank you, Amanda!  This looks like the kind of hearty fare my guys would love!  And now, a blessing for the meal.

Dear Father in heaven, we are so grateful for hot food on a chilly day.  We ask that even as our food nourishes our bodies, You will nourish our hearts.  You know just what we need, and we thank You for providing for us in every way.  Thank You for allowing us to gather at this table, and thank You for always making us welcome at Your table.  Amen.

Blessings to you today!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

What I need to hear today

Maybe it's what you need, too.

Every blessing to you,

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Grace at Home No. 32--Welcome!

I'm so glad you're here for this week's Grace at Home party!


Here are a few of my favorite posts from last week's party.

Sarah at Clover Lane shared A Little Encouragement.  Sarah is a wise mom of six children ranging in age from to college freshman.  This post really is be an encouragement to mothers and a reminder of how much our children need us.

Another wise mom, Liberty of 16 Balls in the Air, featured a recipe for Almond Breakfast Bars.  Actually, she called these "Almond Anytime Bars," and she assures that these are both good and good for you.  Don't they look delicious?  Liberty is doing a series of posts on Whole Food Breakfasts.

If you're looking for inspiring Autumn spaces, you might want to check out Jennifer's mantel at Decorated Chaos.  She has tweaked and fluffed and now has it just right!

If you've admired the chalkboard art all over the blogosphere, you'll want to read this post by Leslie at Gwen Moss.  Just look at the chalkboard she created!  She shares all her secrets.


Thank you so much to everyone who joined the party!  If you've been featured this week (or in a previous week), feel free to grab my new "I've been featured" button.

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
Whatever you do to make your home a place of grace, I'd like to hear about it.  Please link to your specific blog post, not your home page, and include a link in your post back to this party.  And please visit some of the other links and leave some words of encouragement for that blogger.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Autumn house tour

Finally, my house is completely decorated for Autumn. Join me for an Autumn house tour!

The softer light of Autumn makes for nice pictures, I think.  Everything feels less harsh in the Fall!
Here you can see the seating area to the right of the front door.  The front porch is one of my favorite parts of this house.
I'm always so glad to have some real pumpkins--and don't you just love the little Hubbard squash?
Autumn is my favorite time to relax on the porch--especially these last few days before the end of Daylight Savings Time.
The autumn leaf pillows were a super-simple accessory to make; you can read about those here.

And now inside, where I kept things pretty simple this year.

In years past I've done various things on the dining room table.  This year, the simplicity of the mercury glass pumpkins appealed to me.
The living room I kept pretty simple, too.  A few candles, autumn leaves, and acorns adorn the coffee table.
The jug on the coffee table is very similar in color as this tiny Hubbard squash I added to the mantel. God's the very best color designer, isn't He?

Of course the living room has plenty soft seating for Cocoa and Snickers, who think they own the place.

Just a few pumpkins and some fall flowers on my mother's dough cabinet make it feel fallish in the breakfast room.  
Adjacent to the breakfast room is the screened porch, where the fall decor goes nicely with the aqua and orange things I added back in the spring.
This harvest basket was easy to create with pine cones, acorns, berries, and fall fruits.  It sits happily on an old sugar bag.
I'm awfully glad it was easy to create, to tell the truth.  I picked it up and set it aside one night so that a group of friends could eat at this table--and I forgot all about it until the next afternoon when I heard some suspicious crunching.  Here's what I found:
Caught red-handed!  Or red-pawed.  Whatever.  Anyway, the centerpiece was easy to re-create, so no lasting harm was done.

Hope you've enjoyed this little tour.  I'm sharing it at these wonderful parties:

Monday, October 22, 2012

Grace for dinner: Chicken Chili

A couple of weeks ago I began a weekly series called "Grace for Dinner."  Each of these posts will include a recipe for a simple, delicious dinner food and a  prayer of blessing for you. My hope is to impart grace to you body and soul with these posts.

This will be a place to find recipes you can really use.  My hope is that you might read a recipe here on a Monday and have it for dinner on Tuesday!

If I were to share with you only my own recipes, we'd have a pretty short series, so I've asked some blogging friends to help.  First up is Vivienne from The V Spot.  If you don't already know Viv, you're in for a treat.

Vivienne is wife to a wonderful husband and mother of four amazing boys, all of whom bless her life greatly and keep her busy.  She playfully describes The V Spot in these words: "Rants, observations, and home decorating. . . from a woman with no time for a blog."  Viv is fun and funny and sarcastic and smart--but she's also kind and gracious.  She's one of those bloggers whom I've not yet had the chance to meet in real life, yet I feel that I know her.  You may find yourself laughing or crying with her--or laughing so hard that you cry!  But you'll feel right at home at The V Spot.

Now with a busy household that includes five boys of various ages, Vivienne knows a thing or two about practical dinners.  Today she's going to share one of her favorite recipes with us.  Here's Viv. . . .

I love fall for several reasons, but one of them is that I just feel more in the mood to cook in the once the temperatures start to drop. I also find that things seem to get a bit busier in the fall as well, especially with my kids' schedules and activities, so hearty soups, stews and one pot meals just make life a bit easier.

I want to share one of our very favorites with you today:  Chicken Chili.

My kids actually say Yay! when I tell them that we're having Chicken Chili for dinner.  I first had this at my friend Jen's house several years ago.  Since then, I've revamped it, spiced it up and tailored it for our family.

I love this dish because it's delicious in addition to being low-fat, high-protein and very economical.  But best of all?  I can make it ahead of time and it's the perfect freezer meal on those busy days when I didn't plan for dinner.
This recipe makes a ginormous amount of Chicken Chili, but keep in mind that I have 4 growing boys who are eating me out of house and home and love this meal.  If you have a smaller family, just halve the recipe.  (Or make the whole thing and freeze some.)

You will need:

  • Large yellow onion, diced
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1 quart of chicken stock
  • 4 to 6 chicken pieces (I use thighs and leg quarters, skin removed)
  • 1 Tbsp of ground cumin
  • palm-full of dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp of salt
  • 2 cans each of: black beans, white beans, pinto beans, corn  (all drained and rinsed)
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes (un-drained)
  • jar of salsa (I recommend chipotle)
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, chopped into a paste (optional)
  • 1 bunch fresh (or frozen) cilantro, chopped (optional)
In a large stock pot bring water, chicken stock, onion, salt and garlic to a boil.  Add chicken pieces.  You can use chicken breast, but I like the darker meat for both flavor and price.

Boil chicken for 5 minutes or so, then reduce heat and let the chicken simmer for another 25 minutes.  Remove chicken with tongs and set aside.  

Drain and rinse the beans and corn.  Go ahead and do it all at once.  It's faster and easier that way.
Toss the beans and corn into the pot, along with the oregano, cumin, and the chopped chipotle pepper.

Add the 2 cans of tomatoes, the cilantro, and the jar of salsa.  (We like spicy, so I add more like a jar and a half, but it's totally up to you.)

Pull the chicken off the bones, shred and put back into the pot.  Let simmer another hour or so.  I use a diffuser under the pot to help evenly distribute the heat, and I actually let it sit overnight... we think it's better the next day because the flavors are really able to marry.  The smokiness of the chipotles, the broth, the beans, it all works together for a yummy, hearty meal.

I even toss in extra things here and there.  For example, I added some leftover rice and roasted red bell pepper to this batch.  We top it with shredded cheese, sour cream and more fresh cilantro.  It is mmm, mmm good!

And yes, freezing it into smaller portions means the boys can grab some and heat it up when ever they want.

Yummy, healthy, hearty and comes in at about a dollar a serving.  Not bad, huh?  Enjoy!

* * * * * 

Thank you so much, Viv!  I'm going to make up a batch of this soon.  And now for all of us, this prayer:

Dear Lord, we thank you for every gift.  We praise you as the Giver of all good things, including the food to nourish our bodies and the minds and hearts to appreciate you.  Bless us as we eat, dear Lord.  Give us strength to serve one another with love.  Amen.

Every blessing to you today!