Sunday, June 28

New life for a little chair

My bathroom has a small vanity area. The perfect spot for a great vanity bench. Problem is, I don't own a vanity bench, and I've never been able to locate one for a price that I wanted to pay (i.e. cheap). But I love to sit while I do my hair, or sit while I brush my teeth--because I like to read while I do these things. Am I the only one who reads while she brushes her teeth?

Lacking a cool vanity bench, I've perched on various things. Recently, though, I dragged a tired old chair from my attic and decided to turn it into a vanity seat.

This chair is one of a couple left from the first dining room furniture my husband I ever bought--estate-sale furniture purchased in 1990. I don't know how old it was in 1990, but you can imagine how the seat looked after having been used in the dining room of my boys' early childhoods, having been moved five times, and then having been stored away in my attic for years. I didn't take a picture of the seat, just of the chair. Here she is:

(Just pretend that I know what I'm doing with photos and that this picture is turned correctly. Sheesh!)
And here she is now:

I simply sprayed the frame with Rustoleum Heirloom White spray paint and then used some leftover fabric from the bedding I made this spring to cover the seat.  The chair is a perfect fit for my vanity space.  Maybe I can sit here, brush my teeth, and read about how to take better pictures.

I like it! I think it's better here than it ever was in my dining room. What do you think?

Shared with Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for Metamorphosis Monday. Check out all the fun transformations!

Saturday, June 27

Frugal skincare

The other day my husband and I were discussing birthdays, and suddenly he said, "You know what? On your birthday you'll be the sum of our children's ages!"

Thank you, dear. I needed to hear that.

Take it from an aging redhead: one day you're gonna wish you had worn sunscreen. So I thought I'd share with you my best skincare secret. Here it is:

Yep, Oil of Olay. Look for "Olay complete" on the label. Its SPF rating is just 15, but don't let that fool you. Besides the chemical sun barrier, it also has a physical barrier to the sun: micronized zinc oxide.

Now for my frugal tip: If you use liquid foundation, save the bottle when just a little foundation is left. Then fill the bottle using your sunscreen. Shake very, very well. Maybe even stir a little with a cotton swab. And voila! You've got tinted moisturizer in just the right shade.

And if you want to train your children's brains, do what my husband did: have them come up with the mathematical formula for when your age will be the sum of their ages. Have fun with that.

Friday, June 26

Fun at Target

I'm just getting back to town from the world's most wonderful conference (more on that later). It takes me forever to get things going smoothly after I've been on a trip. Any of you born-organized people have any tips for how to re-enter home life after away-from-home life?

Anyway, I had to go to Target to pick up a few groceries, and look what I found at the One Spot (well, the $2.50 part of the One Spot):

They had these little stools in several colors. I'm betting they'll go fast, but you might want to check it out. Anyway, my head is spinning with things to do with this. Right now, it's on my front porch, anchoring a fun little Independence Day vignette.

By the way, U.S. News and World Report has just named my hometown as one of the country's 10 best places to live. You can read their reasons for this here. But I think one of the real reasons is because Durham has TWO SuperTargets. I live five minutes from one SuperTarget and ten minutes from another. My kind of town.

Tuesday, June 23

Surprised by simplicity

I came across the most extraordinary ordinary thing a few days ago.

Actually, it's a pile of trash. The detritus of a party, waiting to be swept up. Can you tell what these were before they were trash, though?

They were sparklers. Old-fashioned sparklers, the kind that come 10 in a box, 3 boxes for a dollar. So very ordinary.

What is extraordinary is that the sparklers were the hit of the graduation party we had for our son. I bought the sparklers because I thought they might be fun for some of the guests, such as the younger brothers and sisters of the seniors. They seemed celebratory to me. But you know who really liked them? The graduates.

Somehow, I have come to think of my teenagers and their friends as so sophisticated. In fact, they are pretty sophisticated in some ways: they all have computers, they all have cell phones, they all have favorite drinks at Starbuck's. They have all experienced so much more in their lives than I had at their age.

Yet when they got together for a party, they had the best time with sparklers. As sophisticated and experienced as they are, when it was time for a party, they had the most fun playing with the same silly, fun thing that I enjoyed when I was a kid.

And somehow, in a world that seems so big and complicated, it's reassuring to know that kids are still kids. Fun is still fun. And for that matter, the mom is still the one sweeping up after the party. Solomon was right: there is nothing new under the sun.

Unwrapped with Emily at Chatting at the Sky

Monday, June 22


Kiawah Island, South Carolina
Where my husband and I spent our honeymoon

Susan at Between Naps on the Porch hosts Metamorphosis Monday each week, which is such a fun feature. Today I was going to tell you about a little project I completed recently, but I decided to share something much more personal with you instead.

You see, today is my wedding anniversary. As of this day, my husband and I have been married 24 years. And as I was thinking about metamorphoses (is that the correct plural form?), I couldn't help but think of how I had changed over the past 24 years.
  • 24 years ago, I thought I was so mature. I now realize that maturing takes a long time, and I still have a ways to go.
  • 24 years ago, I thought I knew pretty much the path my life would take. I now realize that no one ever knows exactly the path her life will take.
  • 24 years ago, I thought I knew all about faith in general, and my faith in particular. I now realize that faith is something that is not necessarily (or even ideally) set in stone when one is 21 years old.
  • 24 years ago, I thought that marriage was a destination at which I had finally arrived after months of waiting for the "big day." Now I know that what had arrived was just the wedding ceremony--and that marriage is a journey that will take a lifetime to travel.
  • 24 years ago, I thought that no one could be more in love with anyone than I was with my husband. Now I know that the love I felt on that day was just a hint of what was to come.
So what has changed? Where has the metamorphosis taken place? I think it's been in my mind and my heart. I am so grateful that I have changed. I was not a bad person 24 years ago, but I have changed a great deal. And I am still changing. My desire is to change more and more--to become more like Jesus, more full of the spirit of God. I am grateful that, for 24 years now, through better and worse, through richer and poorer, through sickness and health, my darling husband has helped me to change into the person I am becoming.

Friday, June 19

The best candles and a special offer

One more post about candles. And I've saved the best for last.

First a question for you: is there something special about your home that nearly always provokes a comment or question from guests? Something like "Oh, I love your ________!" or "Where did you get that ________?"

Well, that "something special" about my home is actually the smell. Just like y'all, I work hard to make my home lovely and inviting, and the smell of my house is one way I've succeeded. And I'm going to share my secret with you.

First, the inspiration for my secret: leather. I love the smell of leather. Rich and supple, mellow and soft yet masculine and pungent. Mmmmm. Am I the only one who will "look" at wallets and purses and other goods by holding them up to her nose?

And leather furniture! Oh, my. Like one of my favorite things in our house: the leather chair and ottoman in the corner of my husband's study. Makes me want to curl up with a cup of coffee right now.

Anyway, on to my secret: leather candles. Well, leather-scented candles, anyway.

I know there are lots of good purveyors of candles out there, but in my mind there's one that really stands out: DeeJay's Candles of Fort Worth, Texas. DeeJay's is one of those wonderful family-owned business that does things the old-fashioned way. (Read the story here.) The founder, Diane, had a love for scented candles but was never satisfied with the ones she bought. . . so she created her own. And twenty years later, she's still making her own candles, and they are the best I've ever tried.

DeeJay's is a real bricks-and-mortar store, but I've never been to Ft. Worth, so I've never shopped with them that way. I shop with them online. In fact, I think DeeJay's was actually the very first online shopping I ever did, way back in 2001, when a friend introduced me to her wares. (I know, most of you were shopping online before 2001, but I was slow to join the party.) The first time I shopped with DeeJay's, I bought a sampling of scents. And I'm telling you, she's got quite a list of scents to choose from. Her product line is straightforward: she's all about the good smells. You can choose from votives, tea lights, pillars, jar candles, fragrance oils, and other yummy-smelling products.

I've tried a number of her products, and they've all been good, but my personal favorite is the votive candle. I am not kidding: DeeJay's votives are the longest-lasting, most highly scented candles I've ever tried. Pop one of these babies into a slender votive holder and you won't believe how good it will smell or how long it will burn. All for just $1.25 per votive, plus a FREE 13th votive if you buy 12. There aren't many places where you can still get a "baker's dozen." And you don't have to choose a dozen of just one scent: you can choose 13 different scents for your 13 different candles, if you like.

AND RIGHT NOW, just for Imparting Grace readers, DeeJay's is making available a special offer. If you want to try their candles, you can get 14 for the price of a dozen instead of 13. Just place your order for 14 votives and then enter the online code "RICHELLA" at checkout. You'll get 14 votives, but you'll only be charged for 12. The special is good through July 15, 2009. Thanks, DeeJay's, for making this offer available.

And here's a little offer from me. I've never done a product review before (although it makes me feel so official, I might have to do it again!). Just so you'll know that I'm telling the truth here, I'll share. Leave me a comment if you're interested in trying a Leather Candle. I'll wait a bit, to give folks a chance to get around to reading this and commenting. But next weekend, I'll randomly pick three commenters and send them a Leather votive to try. How's that sound?

Now go visit DeeJay's. You might love Banana Nut, or Fresh Cake, or Creme Brulee'. But I'm telling you, you should try the Leather Candles. You'll be glad you did.

One word of advice: remember that candles are heavy and expensive to ship. DeeJay's works hard to keep their shipping costs as reasonable as possible, but there's no getting around the fact that candles are not cheap to ship. Even with the special offer, shipping costs can still be hard. So you might want to get together with someone else in your area and combine your orders into one and split the shipping cost among yourselves.

I'm sharing this with Julia at Hooked on Houses. She has an awesome feature of letting readers say what they're hooked on. See her post today for the other fun links!

Thursday, June 18

More candles

I love lamplight and lamps, just like I talked about here. I also like candlelight and candleholders, and I love to use candles all over my house.

Like these candle lanterns on my screened porch

and these candles on a chest of drawers in my upstairs hall.

And see that ball in the stone basin? I also really like decorative balls, or spheres, or whatever you call them. Here are some that I have in a bowl on the sofa table in my living room.

Like so many of you, I like trying new looks by using things I already have on hand. So I was wondering: what if I combined some of my candleholders with some of my spheres/balls (what do you call those things?)?

What do you think? Does it work for something different?

Wednesday, June 17

16 candles

Today is my middle son's 16th birthday. Yep, you heard right. Not my oldest son. My middle son.

I love looking at pictures of little children on their moms' blogs. But my boys are so big now. I wish I could go back in time and take a photo of them when they were little and cute.

Oh, wait. This is the 21st century. I can share an old photo!

Isn't he adorable? I mean really, isn't he? This photo was taken when he was two years old.

Today he's 16, and he looks like this (pictured with the woman who gave birth to him:

Darn. I should never have fed him MiracleGro.

This giant of a guy is my little boy, all grown up. He's 6'8" now. "Adorable" is not usually the word we use to describe him now that he's the biggest person in the family.

But he still is. Don't you think?

Tuesday, June 16

Quick birthday gift

Tomorrow is my middle son's 16th birthday, so I have birthdays on the brain. As I was wrapping his presents, I was reminded of all the birthday parties my boys have attended over the years. And all the gifts I've bought. Lego sets and Nerf guns and board games and basketballs and Hot Wheels and. . . gift cards. When all else fails, gift cards. Know what I mean?

One gift, though, is always a hit, whether I give it to my own kids or let them take it to a birthday party.

When my oldest son was turning five, I needed one more present for him. But it was late and all the stores were closed and I didn't have much money to spend, anyway. Still, I wanted one more little thing for him to unwrap.

So I gave him five $1 bills, five quarters, five dimes, five nickels, and five pennies. I put them all in a little gift bag and tied it with ribbon.

He was thrilled.

Since then, on every birthday, I've given each of my boys a dollar, a quarter, a dime, a nickel, and a penny for every year he's celebrating.

Here's the loot for my son's gift bag for tomorrow. By the time the recipient is 16, it's a nice little haul. But that's the nice thing about this gift: it grows as the child grows, so it's a nice amount of money for whatever age child. For instance, for an 8-year-old, the total gift is $11.28. That's enough for an 8-year-old to buy something he or she might really like (or several things, if the lucky kid has a mom who frequents garage sales!). But it doesn't break the giver's bank.

I just keep a stash of those cello loot bags that you buy at Dollar Tree, pop in some colored tissue paper, pour in the cash, and tie it all up with a ribbon.

Presto! A gift that always fits and never needs to be returned.

Relaxing on the porch

Kimba at A Soft Place to Land is hosting a Garden Party today. Of course any party at Kimba's is going to be good, so I'm excited to join the fun.

First I should tell you that for years I had a nice little screened porch, but I suffered badly from Porch Envy. All I had managed to do was to find these cool candle lanterns at Target, which I hung from plant hangers,

and put an outdoor lamp from Home Depot on a little antique table. Otherwise, though, about all I did was grumble that my porch wasn't big enough to have what I wanted--an eating table and a seating area.

Even when I got a new table for my kitchen and decided to put my old table and chairs on the porch, I still didn't have what I really wanted. I just had a square porch with a table in the middle in it.

Then this spring it occurred to me: if I turned my table on an angle, maybe I could have a sitting area! I decided to dedicate $100 to this project and see what I could come up with.

The first thing I wanted ate up a hunk of the money: a rug. I really wanted an area rug for my sitting area. Target had just the right size for $59.

Unfortunately, that left me with just $41 to do everything else. So I went to the cheapest source of goods available: my own house. I shopped the house.

This bookshelf was languishing in our bonus room holding a motley collection of board games. I moved the board games and had my big strong sons move the shelf down to the porch.

This bench was hiding out in my back yard, pretty much unused. So I hauled it up to the porch.

I'd had this wicker chair for years; it's comfortable and seemed to be begging to be on the porch.

Now for the fluff:

I painted a cute little chair from my boys' old play table. I love it holding this birdhouse.

I grew the hydrangeas with my very own hands. (If you don't already have some hydrangea bushes in your yard, I urge you to get at least one. They're so easy to grow, and they make the most beautiful arrangements.)

I shopped the house for most of the stuff that I used to dress the shelves. I walked around looking for things that just seemed to say "porch" to me. For instance, the lamp on top of the bookshelf I stole from a little table in my guest room. The topiaries were in my dining room years ago. The black tray is one I made with postcards and Mod Podge.

I did buy a few things: the blue and white pillows on the bench I found at TJMaxx for $16. The red and white plates I found on clearance at Pier One; the four cost $6. The scrolly candle holder hanging on the wall above the bookshelf was on clearance at Target for $9. The remaining $10 I spent on plants.

And ta-da! The porch I'd been wanting!

Now a couple of questions for you. I think I want to paint the bookshelf and the bench. But what color? I'm wondering about black for the bench, since the chairs around my table are black. And I'm thinking maybe green for the bookshelf, but green is my favorite color, so I'm always thinking green. Have any suggestions for me?

Be sure to check out Kimba's Garden Party for more outdoor projects. Thank you for hosting us, Kimba!

Monday, June 15


Today I'm celebrating the makeover of Imparting Grace. I'm so excited about the brand new design of my blog, and I'm thrilled to be sharing it with you.

If you're visiting here from the Nester's Giveaway Day, welcome! I'm so glad you came by.

So what is Imparting Grace about? Is it a decorating blog, a homemaking blog, a faith blog, a mom blog? The answer, I think, is "yes."

If you were to ask my what my passion is, I would answer "all of the above." Because my passion is really the interplay of the various facets of the whole person. I'm fascinated by the way our spiritual selves set the tone for our emotional selves which affect our physical selves which impact our intellectual selves which inform our spiritual selves. . . .

So you may find here a post about my decorating my house,

or making something fun for my home,

or reflecting on my faith,

or savoring moments with my family,

or just being honest with myself.

In everything I post, I hope to be faithful to the challenge I set for myself when I started this blog, that which inspired the name. Ephesians 4:29 says, "Let no word proceed out of your mouth, except what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers."

I hope you'll like what you see and come back often. I'm eager to have blogging friends with whom to enjoy this journey.

Today you have a good reason to be visiting me: a giveaway! To celebrate my new blog design, I've put together a basket of goodies from my hometown of Durham, North Carolina: Burt's Bees goodies! I'm sure most of you have seen or heard of Burt's Bees products. They are wonderful skin care products, and they're all made right here.

To enter the drawing for my giveaway, please leave me a comment. Or leave a comment at the post about Imparting Grace over at Nesting Place. I can guarantee the winner will love these products. **We have a winner! Congratulations, Carmen from Life with Sprinkles on Top. Hope you enjoy the basket!**

And I can guarantee that you'll always be welcome here. Come again!

Sunday, June 14

Extreme Makeover: Blog Edition

I love makeovers.

A good friend of mine once won a makeover of her teeth. Really. The contest was sponsored by a morning radio show, and she won porcelain veneers for all her teeth. She also got a designer haircut and a makeup consultation. It was wonderful.

Much as I'd love to have porcelain veneers, that kind of makeover is not happening for me right now. But I'm thrilled to announce the makeover of this blog, which is nearly as exciting.

If you've visited here before, you've probably inferred that my ability to make my blog visually appealing is pretty limited. It's just not something I could do for myself. So I did something else: I hired Darcy.

Do you know Darcy? She's wonderful. Her work is amazing. She's smart; she's quick; she's gifted; she's fun; she's funny; she's affordable; she's a joy to work with. About the only bad thing about Darcy is that there's only one of her, so she has a waiting list.

But, oh, when you make it to the top of the list. . . !

I have a logo. I've never had a logo before. I have my own button now. Blogger heaven! If you'd like to, go right over there and grab it for yourself. I even have a favicon. Before Darcy, I'd never heard the word "favicon." Now, though, I'm not sure what I'd do without one!

So thank you, Darcy, for your incredible work. And thank you, reader, for visiting me here. Please come back tomorrow, when I'll be having a giveaway to celebrate my new look!

Friday, June 12


So far I have written 28 posts for this little blog, and two of them have had to do with my own insecurity. Two out of 28. That's more than 7% of my posts to date. I didn't plan this; it's just what spilled out of my heart.

Like it or not, I've got a theme goin' on.

This week, my husband and I were talking (not about my blog, just about our life), and he rightly diagnosed my chronic insecurity as, at heart, a lack of faith. Faith in God. Faith in him. Faith in those who love me.

Ouch. You know what? The truth hurts sometimes. But it's still the truth.

And as I've considered it, I believe that God has brought this issue to the surface so that He can deal with it.

I was thinking about those verses from Proverbs 3. We quote them a lot: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will your paths straight." And I was thinking that I've always taken these verses to mean that I should follow the commands of God; that I should take the straight and narrow path rather than the broad road that leads to destruction. That's true: I should do that.

But here's what I've missed. Leaning on my own understanding includes my understanding of myself. My insecurity does not come from what God says about me and how He loves me. Here's a sample of what the Lord says about me:

Psalm 139:14: "I am fearfully and wonderfully made."
Psalm 27:1: "The Lord is my light and my salvation: whom shall I fear?"
John 15:9: (Jesus talking here) "As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you."

Now there's a theme for you. Throughout His word, God emphasizes over and over His love for me. And if I'll trust in that with all my heart, there won't be room for all this insecurity.

I don't think that re-adjusting my thinking is going to happen overnight. But I do think that God wants me to be secure in His love for me.

Now and forevermore.