Sunday, November 19, 2017

Inspiration for your week


Thanksgiving week is here!

As we prepare for a special day of giving thanks this Thursday, I find myself grateful that our country observes a Thanksgiving Day—but also feeling that I need to begin and end every day with thanks.


In a world filled with strife and disputes, it's easy to forget to thank God for our blessings.
  But I believe that gratitude is a good antidote for anxiety.

In a world filled with constant comparisons, it's easy to forget to thank God for our blessings.
  But I believe that gratitude is a good antidote for insecurity.

And in a world filled with abundance, it's easy to forget to thank God for our blessings.
  But I believe that gratitude is a good antidote for greediness.

It seems that gratitude is the key to the kind of life I want to live:
  a life of serenity, confidence, and generosity.

So my hope is that this Thanksgiving week will just be the first of many in which I prioritize the act of counting my blessings and thanking God for them. Will you join me?

Perhaps you'll be encouraged, as I was, by these words from Laura Ingalls Wilder:

“As the years pass, I am coming more and more to understand that it is the common, everyday blessings of our common everyday lives for which we should be particularly grateful. They are the things that fill our lives with comfort and our hearts with gladness -- just the pure air to breathe and the strength to breath it; just warmth and shelter and home folks; just plain food that gives us strength; the bright sunshine on a cold day; and a cool breeze when the day is warm."

May you have a week full of giving thanks!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Grace at Home No. 275


Hello, friends! Welcome, welcome, welcome to the Grace at Home party, where we celebrate all the ways we make our homes places of grace.

Can you believe that Thanksgiving is just one week from today? I feel as though the holiday season has crept up on me this year, but I'm really looking forward to it. Now if I can just finish up all the work that's supposed to get done before the holidays!

Here are some features from last week's party:

Want to see an amazing furniture makeover? Check out this from Simply Beautiful by Angela. She created this beautiful faux card catalog table from an old "This End Up" style piece, and she shares her technique step by step. Simply beautiful is right!


Victoria from Dazzle While Frazzled showed us how to make this cute turkey wreath. This would be a fun project for older kids to work on this week. It would be used as an indoor decoration to make Thanksgiving extra special.


Looking for a different dessert for next week? Check out this layered maple cheesecake from All That's Jas!


Marty from A Stroll Thru Life offers some tips for making Christmas fun, not crazy. I especially like her suggestion for setting up a gift wrapping station. Read her post to see what she does.


And speaking of keeping things fun instead of crazy: if you're getting ready to host company for the holidays, you should read this post about how to prepare your home for guests. Lots of good tips!


If your heart needs encouragement, I suggest you click over to watch Debbie Kitterman's message called "New Every Morning." Debbie records a short video every week, and this one is especially encouraging!


As for me, I've been doing a little bit of Christmas crafting. I made this fun little ornament, and I'd love for you to take a look.


A big 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.  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.  Note that if you link a post here, you are giving me permission to share your post, including a photo.  And visit at least one of the other party participants--that's what really makes it a party!





Wednesday, November 15, 2017

DIY fun old-fashioned Christmas ornament


I had so much fun making a Christmas ornament from one of my mom's handwritten recipes (see that post here) that I decided to do a little more Christmas crafting.

I pulled an old technique from my Christmas memories and made this pretty stencilled ornament:


An ornament like this is super-easy to make and very inexpensive--perfect for gift-giving!

Here are the supplies you'll need (affiliate links provided for your convenience):

plain fabric
masking tape or painter's tape
small wooden embroidery hoop
craft paints in your choice of colors
stencil brushes
Christmas stencils
felt or fabric batting
sharp scissors

To start, you'll need a tiny embroidery hoop, like this 4" one.


You can usually find these at craft stores or sewing stores, or you can order them online. They should cost less than $2 apiece.

You'll also need a small piece of fabric. Unbleached muslin works well. I had a few scraps of grainsack cloth, so I used that.

Use your embroidery hoop to measure a square of fabric. You'll want your piece of fabric to be a bit larger than the hoop.

Next you'll need a Christmas stencil. To make this ornament, I used a stencil that I've owned for many years. But there are lots of Christmas stencils available; you'll just need to find some small ones. I found several at amazon.com that would work well for this project, like the ones in this little book:



If you can't find a stencil that strikes your fancy, you can always cut your own! Use a small piece of plastic or a piece of stiff cardstock (an old manila file folder works well). Use an exacto knife to very carefully cut out a design, and voila! Instant stencil!

I use acrylic craft paint for stencils. These are easy to find at craft stores, usually for less than $1 per bottle. No special paints needed.

One special tool you will need: a good stencil brush or brushes. I like the kind with bristles. You can use a foam pouncer, but I think the brushes with bristles are easier to control. The supply list above links to a great inexpensive set, or you can find them at your local craft store.

Tape your stencil to the fabric with masking tape or painter's tape. Be sure to tape the stencil down securely so that it won't wiggle while you're working. And cover all sides of the stencil so that no paint can escape over the sides of the stencil.

If you're using more than one color in your stencil, mask off the sections that you don't want to paint with the first color. For a project this small, you may have to tear tiny pieces of tape to cover up little bits of the stencil. For my ornament, I covered up the portions I wanted to be green and painted all the red parts of the design first. Then I removed the tape from the portions that needed green paint and taped over the red portions. Don't assume that you can carefully stay within the lines: you can't. Tape over anything you don't want painted with a particular color.

Squirt a bit of paint onto a palette (for this, I like to use an old plate). Dip your brush lightly into the paint, then brush off most of the paint. Seriously, this is the most important step. You want your brush to be almost dry before you start applying paint to the fabric. You might want to practice on a scrap piece of fabric first.

Now hold the stencil brush straight up and down and pounce paint onto the stencil. Pounce, pounce, pounce, pounce, pounce, straight up and down. You're adding just a teeny tiny bit of paint with every pounce of the brush. Do not stroke the paint from side to side; go straight up and down. If you need more paint, dip your brush again, but be sure to remove most of the paint before touching the fabric.

These three techniques—taping off parts of your design, removing most of the paint from the brush, and pouncing straight up and down—are the most important tips for ensuring that your image stays within the lines of the stencil.

Repeat the technique until you've used whatever colors you like and completed the entire image. Then carefully remove the stencil from the fabric and admire your work!


To frame the ornament in the embroidery hoop, first place the hoop on top of the design, like so:


Center the design in the frame. You can make a couple of small marks on the fabric if needed. (You can see that I really should have cut a larger square of fabric for this project; I barely had enough fabric to fit the hoop!)

Now cut a piece of felt or batting to place behind your painted fabric. This will make the painted fabric look nicer from both the front and the back.


Slide the larger portion of the embroidery hoop over the smaller portion of the hoop and tighten the screw so that the image is pulled taut.

Hint: if the screw is hard to tighten with your fingers, use pliers. You want to be sure that it's screwed together nice and tight!


When you're satisfied with the tautness of the image, trim away the excess fabric with scissors. Then tie on a ribbon or a piece of twine to serve as a hanger.

Ta da! You will have created a beautiful ornament in less time than it took me to write this blog post!


This technique is especially useful if you need to make several small gifts—you can get an assembly line going and make up a bunch of these in very little time. And they look so pretty hanging on the tree!


Do you like to make Christmas ornaments? I'd love to see your creations!

I'm joining these great parties:
Inspire Me Monday at My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia

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Sunday, November 12, 2017

Soul Care: Peace in turbulent times


Just a few days ago, as millions of Christians gathered for worship, a small group of faithful worshipers gathered in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Their place of worship wasn't fancy, but that wasn't important.

They gathered in the name of Jesus. They sang praises to God. They prayed. They gained strength from being together and from the presence of God in their midst.

Then a madman armed with weapons entered their sanctuary and killed or injured most of them.

In the days since that dreadful scene, reactions from other people have varied wildly. Some have been staunchly supportive and helpful of the victims' families. Some have called for tighter security for churches. Some have called for political change of one kind or another.

And some have allowed hatred into their hearts. Righteous indignation, perhaps, but still. How easy it is, in the heat of such a trying time, to forget that hatred is fuel for the fire of evil.

Dear Lord, deliver us. Deliver us from evil.

This week I ran across a statement from an old Ann Landers column:

We must remember that hatred is like acid.
It does more damage to the vessel in which it is stored
than to the object on which it is poured.

That's right, isn't it?

Even as we recoil in horror from such evil, as we grieve and work for change, may God help us be on guard against hate. 

May we instead fix our minds upon God, who can give us peace.



Thursday, November 9, 2017

Grace at Home No. 274


Hello and welcome to the Grace at Home party, where we celebrate all the ways we make our homes places of grace and beauty.

The past few months have been hard, haven't they? So much destruction, so much ugliness. And this week the church shooting in Texas, which strikes so keenly at our hearts. I don't know about you, but all the darkness in the world makes me long even more to make my home a haven of grace, a point of light, a sanctuary for my family and a beacon of hospitality for others.

Here are some links from last week's party I thought you'd enjoy.

Lori from Dining Delights created a beautiful tablescape for Thanksgiving. I really like the hurricane vases with floating candles.


Rita at Panoply also created a lovely Thanksgiving table. She used birch blocks from a fallen tree to make candle holders of varying heights. Isn't this stunning?


January—right after Christmas—is a favorite time for people to organize their homes. But I think that November is a good time to get a jump start on organization so that life isn't too crazy during the festive holiday season. Eileen from Just Measuring Up shares some common organizing mistakes and how to fix them.


Hungry for some comfort food? Carol at Comfort Spring Station gave us a recipe for rich pumpkin soup. Doesn't this look delicious?


Dr. Michelle Bengtson offers hope for those of us who are suffering. Having gone through a time of major depression herself, Michelle is especially equipped to help others. You'll want to read her words of encouragement of how God can use our pain for good.


A big 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.  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.  Note that if you link a post here, you are giving me permission to share your post, including a photo.  And visit at least one of the other party participants--that's what really makes it a party!





Monday, November 6, 2017

National Time Change Hangover Day


Did you know that there's a "national day" for practically everything?

A friend told me that this weekend I missed National Love Your Red Hair Day. Aw, shucks. But apparently it was also National Donut Day, and I didn't have any donuts, either.

Some of the observances are serious, of course, and I appreciate those. For instance, November is National COPD Month. My mom had COPD and died in November 18 years ago, so I am grateful for the push to raise awareness and to raise money for research.

Lots of the days, though, appear to be just for fun, and it seems that they spring up out of nowhere. So by the power vested in me by no one in particular, I am declaring the Monday after falling back to Standard Time
National Time Change Hangover Day.


Henceforth shall this day be filled with such observances as 
  • drinking an extra cup of coffee
  • staring mindlessly into space
  • yawning until your face hurts
  • changing into your jammies at 7:30 P.M.

Who's with me?

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Grace at Home No. 273


Hello, friends! It's November, and for the first time in history, the Houston Astros are World Series champions! Wow, what a series.

Baseball aside, I'm so glad you're here for this week's Grace at Home party, where we celebrate all the ways we make our homes places of grace. Here are some links from last week's party that I thought you'd enjoy.

I know some folks are gearing up for Christmas decorating, but I like to keep my house decorated for Fall until after Thanksgiving. So I was glad to see this Fall Home Tour from Kendra at Joy in Our Home.


One thing I'd really like (and NEED) to get better at is meal planning, so I was glad to see this post covering the basics of meal planning from Laura at Fantastically Four.

Maybe I'll start with a new recipe! Joy at Artful Homemaking shared a recipe for Caribbean Beans and Rice that I want to try.


And Tiffiney from Welcome Home Ministries shares the truth of how God uses everything in our lives—the good, the not-so-good, and the bad. Nothing is wasted!


A big 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.  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.  Note that if you link a post here, you are giving me permission to share your post, including a photo.  And visit at least one of the other party participants--that's what really makes it a party!





Thursday, October 26, 2017

Grace at Home No. 272


Happy Thursday! Y'all, today is the last Thursday in October. Can you believe it?

I'm so grateful you're here for the Grace at Home party, where we celebrate the ways we make our homes places of grace. Here are some links from last week's party that caught my eye:

Many of you have decorated your homes for Halloween, but starting next week you may want to transition to a Fall/Thanksgiving theme instead. Lindsey from Repurpose and Upcycle shows how you can decorate your home for Fall in just a few minutes.


Amanda from Sincerely Marie recently re-did a laundry room/powder room into this beauty, and would you believe that floor is not made of real bricks? Check out her post to see how she got this look for a fraction of the cost of a real brick floor.


Joy from Artful Homemaking shares some great tips for how to keep your home without losing your mind in her post 7 Habits of Highly Effective Homemakers.


I don't know about you, but the cooler temperatures of Fall make me want comfort food. . . yet the busy days of Fall make me want easy recipes. So I was glad to see that Jas from All That's Jas rounded up 25 casserole recipes.


Tiffiney from Welcome Home Ministry offered some much-needed words of wisdom for moms who struggle with the fact that they're not perfect. Love this post!


A big 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.  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.  Note that if you link a post here, you are giving me permission to share your post, including a photo.  And visit at least one of the other party participants--that's what really makes it a party!





Thursday, October 19, 2017

Grace at Home No. 271


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

Here are some links from last week's party that caught my eye.

Lindsey from Repurpose and Upcycle gave us some great tips for decorating a mantel for any season.


Leslie at From Playdates to Parties gathered some adorable Halloween costumes for little kids. Makes me wish I still had little kids!


Kimberly from LouLou Girls shared a recipe for a sheet pan dinner featuring steak. Doesn't this look delicious?


Karmen at Chairs from the Curb made me laugh out loud with her post, "One More Robot." Apparently Karmen's husband is a techie and she is not. . . oh, you'll just have to read it!


As for me, I did something unusual this week—I got a jump on Christmas preparations! I'd love for you to take a look at the sentimental Christmas ornament I created from one of my mother's old recipe cards.


A big 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.  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.  Note that if you link a post here, you are giving me permission to share your post, including a photo.  And visit at least one of the other party participants--that's what really makes it a party!