Friday, October 30
Thursday, October 29
Tuesday, October 27
I am in need of newness.
I had a tough weekend, one in which I was very disappointed in myself. Did you ever have a problem with someone and think that you had it all resolved, think that you had your heart in good order, think that you had forgiven and moved on in wholeness, only to discover that unforgiveness was lurking in an ugly little corner of your soul?
My weekend was pretty much ruined by a monster inside me that was unleashed. I became angry over something that happened years ago, and I acted so badly. Now, instead of having enjoyed a pleasant weekend and going on with the work of my week, I'm having to eat all those hasty words and seek to repair the damage that I wrought in my anger.
I would have been too ashamed to get out of bed this morning, except for one thing:
This I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
His mercies never come to an end;
They are new every morning.
Great is Your faithfulness.
"The Lord is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in Him."
I need NEW. God's mercies have always been there for me, but I need new ones this morning. And they are there, waiting for me. Not only that, they are new every morning. I am dismayed at how faithless I can be--surely I had grown beyond that point? Surely I can't be that bad?! No, I hadn't. I can still be that bad. So I need to know that there will still be mercy for me when I fail.
And there is. So I can in fact have hope. And I can sing all day: "The Lord is my portion; therefore I will hope in Him."
(images courtesy of Google Image Search)
Thursday, October 22
First, the front of the house. Our house is pretty good sized, but it's built on a hillside, so from the front it doesn't appear too big. This is one of the things I like about the house.
To the right of the front door is the seating area of my front porch, which I've tried to make into an outdoor living room. To see more of this space, click here.
Now come on in!
Here's the foyer. That's Cocoa the pound puppy pretending that she doesn't care that I'm taking pictures. Straight ahead is the living room; to the right is the dining room. On the left is my husband's study (that I failed to photograph in the daylight), the stairway, and a hall leading to the powder room and the master bedroom.
Here's the living room. I'll try to give you a 360 degree look at it.
This room is the trickiest room I've ever tried to decorate. It has lots of lovely elements. . . I love the fireplace and the built-in entertainment center and the built-in bookcases and all the French windows and doors. . . but all together it's a room with which I've struggled. If looking at the pictures gives you any wonderful ideas about space planning for this room, please share them with me! This really is an old-fashioned living room. We sit here and talk, or read, or watch TV together, or entertain guests. Definitely not a living room just for show, this is a room we live in. In fact, if you were in the room right now and could peek under the coffee table, you'd see my exercise stepper. I pull it out from under the coffee table every day and exercise while watching taped episodes of Designed to Sell. I don't want to sell my house, but watching the show keeps me motivated to cut down on clutter as much as possible.
From this angle you can see into the dining room to the right and into the kitchen straight ahead.
Monday, October 19
It's obvious that there are lots of us interested in DIY projects. But why DIY? For me, it's usually to be able to have something that I want for less money than it would cost to buy the item or to hire someone to make it for me. But it's also because doing something myself is fun and rewarding. This past week I got to combine those two attributes into a fun DIY project for someone else--or, more precisely, for a group of someones.
I've mentioned that we're helping to start a new church. (By the way, if you're in Durham or Chapel Hill, North Carolina and searching for a good church, let me know!) One of the wonderful things about helping to start a church is that everyone gets to contribute to the effort. Everyone's gifts and talents are necessary. I think churches are always supposed to be that way, but the needs are most evident in a little fledgling group.
This past Sunday was our very first chance to meet on Sunday morning. We've been looking for quite awhile for space to meet on Sunday mornings, and we were finally able to rent space from a local elementary school. My job for our first Sunday morning service? To create a welcome table to greet folks as they entered the school building.
As you might imagine, my budget for doing this was pretty small. Our little church needs every dollar for more pressing needs than decor. So I sought to use more time than money and see what I could do.
First, the needs. I figured we needed a tablecloth to cover the standard cafeteria table. Then some kind of container to hold mints. (Does anyone else like to find a bowl of peppermints on a welcome table?) And finally a large flower arrangement of some kind.
Here's what I came up with.
First, a tablecloth. I have yards and yards of upholstery fabric that I got on clearance for less than $1 per yard. I originally bought this fabric to make upholstered headboards for my guest room, but after that project and a couple of others I still had nearly 20 yards.
So I cut two identical 2-yard panels and, employing the same method I used on my DIY bedspread, I made a tablecloth. Total cost: $0.
Next, a bowl to hold mints. I had an old Revere Ware bowl that was not only tarnished but stained beyond repair. So I spray-painted it and then distressed the edges a bit. I like the way it looks, and it's just the right size to hold peppermints. Total cost: $0.
Second, a flower arrangement. Since the welcome table is in a large open space, I needed to come up with a large arrangement. The first thing I did was to create a vase for the flowers. I'd admired several arrangements held in containers made of wood. I had these sticks that I'd bought last year on clearance for 99 cents.
I cut them in half and spray-painted them dark brown. Then I hot-glued them onto a cheap glass cylinder vase, just like I did with the pencil vase I made for my son's teacher.
The flowers themselves were the most fun. I briefly considered buying fresh flowers for the welcome table, until I realized that even at Sam's I would have to spend $20 or more for enough flowers to fill my vase. Not bad for an occasional splurge, but not something I can afford to do every week. So I opted to make an artificial arrangement that we can use throughout the autumn. I'd never worked with artificial flowers before, so I didn't realize how much fun it could be. Why? Since the "stems" are wires, the flowers stay right where you put them! Woo hoo!
Michael's had all their fall silk flowers on sale for 50% off, so I was able to get a lot for very little money. I started with a product that Michael's calls a "bush":
Not exactly beautiful, but I chose it because it was, well, bushy. I figured it would be a good anchor to hold more beautiful pieces. For my large arrangement, I used two of the bushes. Next I added pretty pieces: artificial leaves, cat tails, wheat stalks, berries, sunflowers, feathers. I just poked them one by one into the bushes. Since they're artificial, they stayed right where I poked them! Then I added a few curly branches from my yard. I finished the whole thing by tying some fallish ribbon around the vase.
And here it is:
Total cost: $18.
I took this photo on my screened-in porch; that's my back yard in the background. As you can imagine, the flowers showed up even better in the white cinder-block hallway of the elementary school. The welcome table is the first stop for folks coming in the door, and I think it was in fact a welcoming place.
I got the fun of doing something myself as well as the satisfaction of doing for others. That's a big win-win in my book!
Check out all the fun projects at Kimba's!
I want to show y'all my new accessory for fall.
I love pretty clothes, but I have to admit that I'm not particularly fashionable. So I'm not usually up on the latest trends in fashion. But I did buy one fashion accessory this fall that I'm really happy with. Here it is:
Do you like it? I just love it! Believe it or not, I found it in a hotel gift shop. When my husband and I went away for our weekend trip a few weeks ago, one of our days turned out to be very rainy. Our spirits were not dampened, but our bodies were. I was wishing that I had a hat of some kind to keep me warm and dry. We wandered into our hotel's gift shop, never dreaming that we'd actually buy anything there. . . and there was this hat! I love the glen plaid, I love the feathers, I love the styling. And it fit! (I have kind of a big head--don't laugh; it's a pain to find hats or caps.) And to top it all off, it was just $20, which seemed very reasonable to me. So onto my head it went, and out into the rain we ventured--and had a wonderful day of roaming through quaint little shops and antique stores. My husband snapped this picture of me in one of the shops where we were greeted by the cutest little shop dog, a puppy named Jasper:
My son said that I look like I'm squeezing Jasper to death (I'm such a dog lover), but the point is the hat, not the hug.
We had loads of fun despite the rain.
Since then, this hat has become something of a symbol for me. I sometimes struggle with a "I could never do that!" kind of attitude. I've decided that "Of course I could do that!" or at least "I could try!" are the attitudes I'd like to have. No doubt I will fail sometimes, but perhaps the best lesson for me is that I can learn from my failures.
Right? Of course I could do that! I'll just put on my can do hat and give it a try!
Friday, October 16
Wednesday, October 14
Tuesday, October 13
Thursday, October 8
This week I had the pleasure of having lunch at a friend's house where I marveled at her collection of china. Her house is beautifully decorated throughout, but the kitchen and dining room are especially lovely--beautiful plates and platters hung on the wall as art, gorgeous dishes in the antique china cabinet, wonderful china to eat from. This is the kind of collection that can make me very envious if I'm not careful.
Looking at how well my friend has used her collection made me think of how I've used my own collections. When I was a small girl, I had a collection of dolls. My father traveled a great deal, and he would often bring my sister and me a doll from the cities he visited. I remember having a doll whose head was carved from a chestnut, one whose face was a dried apple, another made from a baby alligator.
When I was a teenager, my mother encouraged me to choose something new to collect. My mom and my grandmother were very keen on collections, and they wanted me to have something special that they could help me collect. Just think about that--I had two generous women who wanted to give me gifts. I could have chosen to collect coins or stamps or leather-bound books or any number of things, but what did I choose?
Yes, you read that right. I chose to collect unicorns. I had unicorn figurines, unicorn books, unicorn bookends, unicorn jewelry, unicorn art, even unicorn towels. Oh, my goodness.
After I outgrew the unicorns, I was turned off collecting for awhile, but I guess I do have the collecting gene. Now, though, I collect things that not only interest me and make me happy but that will be lovely to use in my home.
Here's a part of a collection that I inherited from my mother. She loved antique bottles and was always on the lookout for them at antique stores, yard sales, and estate sales. The little Listerine bottle is my favorite.
Earlier this week I wrote about the collection of pitchers that was inspired by this pitcher that I also inherited from my mother.
Here's how I use the pitchers in my kitchen:
My prized collection, though, is of crosses. Several years ago, my husband gave me a crystal cross as an Easter gift. That was a gift that I will cherish forever. Since then, I have collected crosses. I love them for what they represent: the sacrifice that Jesus made to save us. I love them as works of art. Each one in my collection is beautiful in its own way. And I love them each as a piece of memorabilia: most were acquired as souvenirs of special trips or given to me by loved ones.
And I love using them in my home. Most of them are displayed on this wall in my living room:
Some of my favorites are on the chest:
The two Celtic crosses are special favorites. The stone one is from the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the crystal one is Waterford.
Do you collect anything? What makes you smile?
--Shared with Julia for Hooked on Fridays
Tuesday, October 6
Yesterday I wrote a post about my kitchen. I made sure that everything was nicely put away and I cleaned my countertops to perfection and I took pictures. I'm not a great photographer, but I was proud of my photos of my lovely kitchen.
I took those photos at 1:00 yesterday afternoon. 18 hours later, my kitchen looked as if a storm had passed through. What happened? I had it looking wonderful--picture-perfect!--just a few hours ago!
So I muttered under my breath and started to, none too graciously, restore order to this space, when my eye fell upon this:
A little plate I inherited from my grandmother.
My grandmother was a wise woman. I am thankful for this reminder.
My kitchen is a lovely gift from God, and I am grateful. "Every good gift. . . is from above" (James 1:17). I know this is true, and I want to use this gift to its fullest potential. But even greater than the gift of my home is the gift of my family. Mess-making, chaos-creating people though they may be, they are a far greater treasure than my nice kitchen.
And so I will wash the dishes and throw away the trash and wipe up the crumbs. And I will fall on my knees in gratitude that I have a precious family to make my kitchen dirty enough to be happy.
Monday, October 5
Nearly five years ago, my husband and I discovered a house that was in the process of being built. We fell in love with it--the location, the size, the setting, the floor plan. . . so we bought it. And we were lucky enough to buy it before it was finished, so we got to choose many of the features and make some floor plan modifications.
I love our house, and I work hard to make it a home for us. But some of the spaces in this house have been challenging for me to decorate. This is by far the nicest place we've ever lived, and while I think I have good taste, I haven't always been sure that my decorating choices were quite right.
Here's an example. Most of the kitchen was already in place when we bought the house: the cabinets were in, the countertop was in, the appliances were in. I got to choose paint color, backsplash, and cabinet hardware. I was pleased with everything, until the builder showed us this little feature: the boxes at the top of the cabinets.
And then he proudly flipped a switch to show us this:
And I nearly threw up. He was so excited to offer us these cool shadowbox cabinets for display, but all I could think was "What the heck am I going to put in those?" I kept thinking that the shadowboxes looked like something I'd see in a magazine along with a caption explaining that the homeowner ordered those as a place to showcase her collection of Majolica. Friends, I've got no Majolica.
You wouldn't believe how much I stressed about this decorating decision. 15 shadow boxes I needed to fill, and I didn't have 15 of anything that I wanted to display. Then I remembered this:
This pitcher was a wedding gift to my mother and father back in 1960. It's one of the things I remember clearly from my childhood--no matter where we lived, that red pitcher was always on display somewhere.
The red pitcher got me to thinking, and I realized that I had several pretty pitchers. So I decided to go with pitchers for the shadow boxes. Of course, even though I had several pretty pitchers, I didn't have 15 of them. So off I went to TJMaxx and Marshall's. I'll admit that when I unloaded seven pitchers from my cart onto the counter at TJMaxx, I got a couple of odd looks. But I was pleased with what I found, and most of them cost less than $10.
And so those shadow boxes went from intimidating blank spaces to warm, appealing full spaces:
And in context in my kitchen:
I think I made a good decision! Here's what I learned: TRUST YOURSELF. I lost sleep wondering what I should put in those cabinets, but when I calmed down and gave it some thought, I chose something that would make me happy. And what makes me happy works great in my kitchen.
Here are a few more shots of my kitchen: