Wednesday, July 27

Easy embellished towel

I've been on the look-out for some new towels for my powder room--some of my old ones are getting pretty threadbare. So far, though, I haven't found any that strike my fancy.

Target had some plain towels on sale last week, and I picked up a hand towel for a song, wondering if I could make an embellished towel for the powder room. A quick look through my fabric stash revealed a remnant of fabric that I used in my bedroom. Sure enough, the fabric worked well with the hand towel and with the color of the powder room walls.

Here are the easy steps for making an embellished towel:

Cut a strip of fabric six inches wide. Wash and dry the fabric and the towel to pre-shrink both of them.

Turn under a hem on both long sides of the fabric strip. Press well.

Place fabric strip on bottom of towel. Center whatever fabric design you like best, then cut away all but about one inch of the ends of the fabric strip. Press down raw ends of fabric strip.

Then comes the easy and fun part. Heat up your glue gun, and glue the fabric to your towel.

If you like, add some trim, such as this dark brown gimp, along one or both sides of your fabric strip. Glue trim securely in place.

Turn towel over. Wrap ends of fabric strip around to the back of the towel, and glue ends securely in place.

And just like that, you've created an embellished towel:

A cotton fabric works best for embellishing towels--you don't want your embellishment to impede the towel's absorbency.

As for the hot glue, I know it will work. I made some embellished towels for my kitchen several months ago, and they've already been through the washer and dryer many times. The hot glue has kept the fabric securely in place through all that use. Of course, if you're a whiz with a sewing machine, you could just as easily sew your fabric and trim onto a towel. My sewing skills are pretty slim, so the glue works well for me.

Here's my pretty little towel in its new home:

What do you think?

I'm joining these fun parties:

Inspiration Friday, At the Picket Fence

Monday, July 25

Grace Imparted

Imparting Grace

Today I want to share with you a story sent to me by a lovely woman named Karen. Karen is from Alabama, and though she doesn't have a blog of her own, she wanted to share the story of how she's experienced God's grace this spring. Here's Karen:

I serve as the City Clerk in the City of Pleasant Grove, Alabama. On the evening of April 27, 2011, our city was devastated by a EF-4 tornado. City facilites were unharmed, but 10 people lost their lives and approximately 1,000 homes were heavily damaged, with the majority of those totally gone. We had 3500 homes in the city, so we lost nearly a third of the homes.

A path a half mile wide looked like an airport landing strip when viewed from aerial photos.

I live just outside the city limits and had debris falling from the sky into my yard. A bank statement from an address in the city of Tuscaloosa, which is 60 miles away from my home, landed in my yard. I told my family, "This is a bad sign." I had a gut feeling it was going to be bad. Feeling compelled to be at City Hall, I told my husband I had to get to Pleasant Grove and do what I could to help. Getting there was difficult; fallen trees blocked the roads leading to the city. At last I made contact with a police officer. I told him I worked at City Hall and asked if he could take me there and he said, "Jump in." On the way there he told me things were really bad.

Our firefighters was busy treating the injured and it was like a scene from a war. Triage was taking place before my eyes. I saw doors that were propped against a handrail and realized they had been used to bring injured people to the Fire Department. Our fire trucks could not make it into most areas because of all the fallen trees, so many of the injured had been brought to the Fire Department in the beds of pick-up trucks. Several neighboring cities sent in their fire and rescue personnel and everyone was working together to help the injured and get them on their way to hospitals. Finally all injured had been transported and the next day began the search and recovery stage. When I did get to ride in one of the police cars the next day and see the damage it made me sick and broke my heart to see all the devastation. Pictures don't do it justice, but it is not something you really want to see.

I have to say I have really been touched by the tornado victims when they tell us what they experienced. All of them have said the same thing: that the houses they lost were just material and they are thankful to God that they and their family made it out alive. One resident told us that a friend asked her, "Why would God let that happen?" And she told her friend, "God did not make the storm happen. God had his hand covering us and protecting us that evening." She is so right. Over and over we have heard how amazing it is that only ten lives were lost. It is because of God's grace there weren't more.

I have been in awe of the volunteers and churches that have come to our aid, helping in any way they can. God wants us to help each other in times of need. The city is in the clean-up process. Some residents have moved away; others have decided to stay and start all over again. We have over thirty building permits for new homes so far and with time and with God's help we will again be the strong and tightly-knit community that we were before the storm. God's grace was present and still is in Pleasant Grove, and everyone knows it. I have been blessed to hear the testimonies from the storm victims and am blessed to work in a city that is quick to say that they know God loves and cares for them.

Thank you to Karen for sharing her story! Now how about you? How have you seen God's grace at work in your life? Share it with us! You can read this post about Grace Imparted. We're looking to celebrate together the goodness of God.

Friday, July 22

Customized storage tin--for free!

I'm excited to show you my latest creation: a customized storage tin that I made for free!

This week has been very busy and exciting as Preston and I have been at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill attending orientation. Preston is now registered for his classes and is all ready to be a TarHeel come August. As a new Carolina parent, I was the recipient of lots of good information, all of it contained in this shopping bag:

I was about to stuff this plastic bag into the container with all the other plastic bags when the mascot caught my eye. The wheels in my mind started turning, and I cut out the ram and mounted it on a sheet of white paper.

Then I cut out the image an had a perfect vinyl decal:

A quick search of my storage shelves revealed a tin which once contained cookies. I spray-painted it blue:

And then I simply ModPodged the mascot onto the tin.

Voila! From a couple of pieces of trash, I now have

a custom UNC tin!

I'm going to give this to Preston with the promise of homemade cookies for him and his roommate to share. My oldest son will be a junior at Duke; I wonder if he'd like a tin with a Blue Devil on it.

Can't you imagine one of these with your favorite team logo on it? Or with your child's favorite toy logo?

**I'm linking up to these great parties:

Monday, July 18

Grace Imparted

"Time to go to the orthodontist."

Almost never have those words provoked eagerness among my children. But this week, Lee was ready to go. He even posed for this silly photo before we left:

Why the excitement? Because this visit was THE visit. And here's a pic I snapped in the car right after we left the office:

What I hadn't expected was that I would get teary-eyed as we bade farewell to Dr. Gilbert and his staff. But when Dr. Gilbert said, "Lee, it's been great. I feel like I watched you grow up," the tears welled up.

Dr. Gilbert's office has been a regular part of our life since 2002, back when Will was in sixth grade. Will's now a junior at Duke. Then Preston was Dr. Gilbert's patient, and now Preston will be a freshman at Carolina. Lee was the last, and he's been a patient of Dr. Gilbert's for six years. Dr. Gilbert and his staff have seen us through the rough up-and-down ride of middle school for three boys--boys who now all have great smiles. As I reflected on all those office visits, with Dr. Gilbert and his staff so kind and patient every single time, I realized how great a gift it's been to know our orthodontist and benefit from his expert and compassionate care. And that brought tears to my eyes!

What about you? Have received a gift from God's generous hand? Tell us about it! We'd love to hear about the grace imparted to you.

Imparting Grace

Remember, it doesn't have to be a "big" story. Maybe you've taken a photo of something that stirs your imagination. Perhaps you've received a special gift. Or maybe you've received a very ordinary gift, but you've been touched with the understanding that it's from the hand of God. Maybe you've been working on a project and everything has fallen neatly into place. Perhaps you finally finished something that's taken you a long time to accomplish. Or maybe you've just been given the eyes to see something that's been true for a long time. Whatever the grace imparted to you, I'd like to know about it.

If you'd like to join the party, please link to your specific post, not to your blog's home page. And please include a link back to this party, so that others might find their way here. I look forward to reading your stories of Grace Imparted!

**I'm linking to Encouraging Words Wednesday at Walking in His Grace

Friday, July 15

Updating rather than upgrading

One of my favorite spaces in this house is the front porch. In fact, one of the very first things I wrote about when I started my blog was how I treated my porch as an outdoor living room.

I love decorating it for different seasons and holidays.

While I still love my porch, I'm no longer fond of the cushions on my porch furniture. I liked the red and gold stripes when I chose the furniture years ago. And the cushions are still in excellent shape--there's absolutely nothing wrong with them except that I've grown tired of the red and gold. So I found myself really wanting to replace them with some nice neutral cushions.

But wait--there are other things to pay for right now. Medical bills from Jack's open-heart surgery, two kids in college--you know how it goes.

So I had a choice: be grumpy about keeping my old cushions, or be grateful that I have cushions. To tell the truth, this seems to be a choice that I face about almost everything in my life: to be grumpy or be grateful.

I decided to try being grateful. Before long, it occurred to me that I could update the look of my old cushions by adding a little blue to the mix. I stumbled upon some old pillows that I sprayed with Scotch Guard so that I could use them on the porch. I found an old blue and white planter and potted a cutting from my golden pothos plant. I ran across a couple of blue and white tealight holders from Dollar Tree. And I found this little table at Goodwill for $5:

A coat of blue spray paint, some distressing, and a little walnut stain later, I had another blue accent for the porch.

So here's how the porch looks today, after spending $7.00 and a little time:

Up-to-date, enviably fashionable? No. But fresh enough to make me happy with it? Yes. I've found that the grateful me is much easier to please than the grumpy me!

What do you think? Do you like the touches of blue on my porch? Do you have spaces that could do with a little updating?

I'm joining these fun parties:

Wednesday, July 13

DIY Decorative Plate

I love decorating with plates. Large ones, small ones, plain ones, fancy ones--all kinds appeal to me. Recently I saw one with a beautiful damask pattern that I really liked, but since it was rather expensive, I decided to try to make one for myself.

I started with a plain glass plate. I just used one from the stack of glass plates I keep on hand to use for parties. First I turned the plate upside down marked the center, then I taped on a stencil. I chose a damask stencil that would fit in the center of the plate, but any kind of stencil would do.

Then I carefully dabbed black craft paint onto the stencil. I'll share a stencilling secret with you. Now, I've been stencilling things since 1983. Back then practically everything I made had a "country" theme. I shudder now to think about how many ducks and geese I used in my decorating! The secret? Dip your brush into paint, then get most of the paint off your brush before stencilling. I accomplish this by using an old plate, dabbing my brush over and over until there's hardly any paint left on the brush. I even dab it onto a paper napkin to ensure that the brush is almost dry. Then I daub my brush straight up and down on top of the stencil, forming a very light coat. I have to apply several light coats to get complete coverage, but this way the paint never leaks outside the stencil lines.

Here's how the plate looked after I stencilled it:

After this, all I did was to spray-paint the back of the plate. I spray-painted Heirloom White right on top of the stencilled design. Once the paint was dry, I turned the plate over and


The stencilled design and the spray paint are all under the glass, so what you see is the glossy finish of the glass plate.

I've already used this plate in a vignette in my guest room, and I'm eager to create some other designs to use elsewhere in my house.

I'm thrilled with the results, and the best part was the price: FREE!

What do you think? See any DIY decorative plates in your future?

I'm joining these fun parties:

Inspiration Friday, At the Picket Fence

Monday, July 11

A new linky party: Grace Imparted

I was privileged to attend a spiritual retreat last week, a time of teaching and reflection that was like water for thirsty souls. As we spent time enjoying the beauty of our surroundings and time devoted to prayer and fellowship, one of the speakers reminded us that everything--every good thing that we see, enjoy, and benefit from--is a gift from God. Everything comes to us as grace from God.

We use the word "grace" a lot, and when asked to define it, we usually say something like "Grace is unmerited favor." And while that definition is true, I think maybe it's not quite enough to reduce our idea of grace to a four-word definition.

I think we should talk about grace. I think we should share our awe and our wonder. So I'm asking you to join me in talking about it.

Starting next Monday, I'll host a new linky party called Grace Imparted. I want to hear about any grace you've received. Perhaps you've been moved by a special message from God. Maybe you've taken a photo of something that stirs your imagination. Perhaps you've received a special gift. Or maybe you've received a very ordinary gift, but you've been touched with the understanding that it's from the hand of God. Maybe you've been working on a project and everything has fallen neatly into place. Perhaps you finally finished something that's taken you a long time to accomplish. Or maybe you've just been given the eyes to see something that's been true for a long time. Whatever the grace imparted to you, I'd like to know about it.

Will you join me? Will you share with all of us your stories of the grace, large or small, you've been given? I hope so!

Imparting Grace

I'd love for you to take this button and help me spread the word. The party will begin next Monday, July 18, at 6:00 A.M. I'll keep the linky active for several days, so that you'll have ample time to join. Whether there are three or thirty of us, we'll share our stories of grace and celebrate the fact "every good and perfect is from above" (James 1:17).

**I'm joining Amanda for Weekend Bloggy Reading at Serenity Now**

Friday, July 8

Dealing with the heat

July in my hometown of Durham is hot. And humid. And really kind of miserable.

As I long for the cool weather and try not wish summertime away, I find it comforting to remember:

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1).

How about you? Do you love the heat, or do you long for cooler days? What do you do to appreciate all the seasons for the beauty they bring?

Monday, July 4

Beverage dispenser

I love the beautiful beverage dispensers I've seen in catalogs like Pottery Barn and Williams-Sonoma. They're always pictured with some luscious looking drink, ready to fill your glass and assuage your thirst. Only problem is that they're usually accompanied with a hefty price tag.

So I was very happy to find this one at Target:

And the price? Regular retail $19.99; currently on sale for 20% off. Not bad!

But beverage dispensers present a problem: either they have to sit on the edge of a counter or table, or else they need to be elevated, so that a glass can fit under the spout. This $16 dispenser is lovely, but it doesn't come with a stand.

So I thought and I thought, and then I remembered an old DIY project. Last year Alison at House of Hepworths inspired a lot of us to find a cheese dome at Goodwill, remove the feet from the cheese board, and glue the board to a chunky candlestick. I followed her instructions and painted mine Heirloom White.

As I was searching for something on which to elevate my new beverage dispenser, I caught sight of cheese-board-turned-pedestal, and I put the two together:

Voila! An elevated beverage dispenser!

There's plenty of room for even a footed glass to fit beneath the spigot now. I love the way it looks all together.

Perfect for a party tabletop!

I'm joining these fun parties:
Tips and Tricks at Homebody

Happy Independence Day

Just for fun this 4th of July, I thought you might like to see these scenes from Holiday Inn.

Bing Crosby sings "Freedom":

Fred Astaire dances to "Let's Say it with Firecrackers":