Tuesday, August 30

DIY Footed Plate

Earlier this summer I made a decorative plate by stencilling a design on the back of a clear glass plate and then spray painting over it. As I've been working to make more accessories for my new blue dining room, I found myself wondering if I might be able to create a footed plate. I remembered Melissa's footed hurricane, so I decided to try her technique.

My materials were really cheap: a clear glass plate from IKEA (Item #201.379.12) for 99 cents and a glass candlestick from Dollar Tree. For $1.99, I figured I could take a chance, you know?

First I stencilled a design on the back of the plate, then spray painted right over the stencilled design, leaving the top of the plate untouched. I used Rust-oleum's Hammered Copper paint for this experiment. Then I used Gorilla Glue to attach the candlestick to the bottom of the plate.

You can see that I'm not very neat with Gorilla Glue. I need some more practice. When the glue was dry, I spray painted the candlestick.

And look! A footed plate!

Here's a side view:

Since the top of the plate is glass, it's food-safe. It'll require hand-washing, of course, but the glass surface is perfectly safe. I can just see it holding some of my favorite coconut shortbread cookies (recipe here).

For a total investment of $1.99 plus materials I had on hand, I'm thinking I might need another footed plate! I wouldn't do the copper look again, I don't think, but maybe white? What do you think?

I'm joining these fun parties:

Monday, August 29

Grace Imparted 7

Today is a beautiful day in North Carolina.

Saturday was not a beautiful day in North Carolina. As you probably know, North Carolina caught quite a bit of the fury of Hurricane Irene.

Now, we live in Durham, which is a couple of hours inland, so hurricanes don't affect us as they affect the coastal areas. Still, we experienced pretty high winds. See this mess in my yard?

Unfortunately, most of this was on our roof just a few minutes before this photo was taken. Actually, a good bit of this was in our roof--sticking right through the shingles and the plywood and coming to rest inside our attic. So now we have some nice big holes in the roof.

You know what's amazing, though? Throughout all that time of high winds, we had no rain. And the temperature was fairly cool--in the high 70's. These tree limbs damaged a part of our roof which is above an attic space. Though the winds raged outside, I was able to get up into the attic with plastic sheeting and staple gun and cover all the holes. (This part of the attic is too small for my 6'7" husband to squeeze into, so I was the one wielding the staple gun--I felt like Rosie the Riveter!) Not a drop of water got into the attic.

Once everything was covered, Jack and I walked outside--and THEN it started raining. Not a drop while our attic was exposed to the elements. What a gift!

What about you? Will you share the story of a gift you've received from God's hand? It can be large or small--I'd love to hear about it! Click here to read all about this new linky party celebrating God's gifts to us. Help yourself to a button and help me spread the word.

Imparting Grace

Thursday, August 25

Back to school with the English teacher:
using its and it's

It's back-to-school time, and I've decided it's time for me to put my English teacher hat back on.

Today I'm going to explain a point of grammar that is troublesome for many people: the use of its and it's. I'm amazed at how many good writers have problems with this one. Lately there seems to be a veritable epidemic of wrong-its-itis. I've spent some time thinking about this, and I think I understand why this one gives us such trouble.

Good writers know that, in order to show that a word is possessive, you must add an apostrophe plus s to the word.
  • Have you seen Jen's kitchen? (kitchen belongs to Jen)
  • The cat is lying in the dog's bed. (bed belongs to the dog)
The use of the apostrophe DOES NOT, however, apply to personal pronouns. Pronouns are wonderfully useful words, but regular rules of grammar don't necessarily apply to them. To make personal pronouns possessive, sometimes you use a completely different word, and sometimes you add an s--but never an apostrophe.

Pronoun Possessive form
us our
you your
her hers
him his
them their
it its

See? There's really no rhyme or reason to how possessives of pronouns are formed; a writer must simply learn the possessive form.

Now here's the funny part. When reading the work of good writers, you never see errors with the possessive forms of you or her. No good writer ever writes "This package is your's" or "That bike is her's." Those pronouns don't give us any trouble. So why is its so tricky?

I think it's because the word it's is in fact a legitimate word. In fact, we use this word quite often. But the word it's is a contraction of the two words it is. That is the ONLY correct usage of the word it's. So the simple rule is that, if you're not sure whether to use its or it's, you should simply replace the its/it's in the sentence with the words it is. Do you really mean to say "it is"? If so, use it's. But if you mean to say that something belongs to it, then you must not use the apostrophe.
  • The cat licked it's paw. (The cat licked it is paw??)
  • The door came off it's hinges. (The door came off it is hinges??)
  • Put everything in it's place. (Put everything in it is place??)
Do you see? These sentences are all wrong. All these sentences should use its, NOT it's.

So the rule is this:
It's means it is. That is all it can ever mean. Never use it unless you mean "it is."
Its is the possessive form of it; it means belonging to it.
Here's a little quiz for you:
  1. (It's or Its) going to be a hot day.
  2. That team lost (it's or its) best player.
  3. (It's or Its) not a problem.
  4. The horse lost (it's or its) shoe.
If you answered "it's" for #1 and #3 and "its" for #2 and #4, you've got it!

Now, will you do me a favor? Will you leave me a comment and let me know what points of English grammar you'd like for me to explain? I really want this series to be helpful to you. If you have a specific question and you need an answer right away, email me at RichellaP (at) Gmail (dot) com; I'll be glad to answer.

If you're new here and you're wondering why on earth I'm talking about English grammar, you might want to read this post.

Wednesday, August 24

Accessorizing a room without breaking the bank

When I was in the process of painting the dining room, one of my sons said, "So, are you going to get some new decorations to go with the new paint?" He's a boy after my own heart.

Actually, one of my goals in changing this room was to be able to use many of the same accessories that I had before. I pulled the blue color from the rug, just as I had done with the red. The rug is a riot of color, but I think they all work together beautifully. Still, I did change a few things.

First I found this gorgeous blue ruffly pillow at HomeGoods for $12.99. When I saw this pillow, I knew I'd found the color I wanted for my dining room.

I wanted a punchy fabric to go with the solid blue pillow. I found several that would work well for fall and winter, but I wanted to start with something light and bright for summer. I'd almost given up when I made a trip to World Market. Their "Kavita" curtain panel contained just the colors I was looking for. I didn't want the curtains, but a quick look around the store revealed the same fabric in other places, including a set of tea towels for $7.99. A few straight stitches later, I had a pillow.

Another trip to HomeGoods and another $12.99, and this gorgeous shallow bowl came home with me:

It took me awhile to find a plate stand deep enough to hold this bowl, but I finally found one at Pier One. I love the bowl displayed this way.

Most of the display on top of the china cabinet I already had, but I did add the big platter. Again, this was a HomeGoods find. It cost $9.99.

I found a couple of new accessories for my lighted cabinets. The multi-color vase was a fun find at Ross for just $7.99.

As for the little onion-shaped vase, it was one of my best finds. Here's how it started life:

The pink color didn't work for me, but the $2.48 price tag sure did! I spray-painted it and then wiped some stain over it and added some gold Rub'n'Buff around the neck. I love the way it turned out!

I'll probably keep on the lookout for a few more accessories to add to my blue room, but for now I'm happy with the way the new accessories are playing nicely with the old ones.

Where do you find accessories?

I'm linking this post to some fun parties:

Monday, August 22

Grace Imparted 6

You always know it's coming.

From the time you first take a child to school, you know that one day you'll really have to take him to school. If all goes according to plan, you know that some day he'll want to go to college. God willing, he'll have that opportunity, and you'll be happy for him.

But you still have to take him.

And so we took Preston to college on Friday. It was a lovely day, all in all. The weather was fairly mild by North Carolina standards. We moved all his stuff into his room and then we all went to downtown Chapel Hill, ate lunch at a cool pizza place, and did a little shopping. Then we drove around the campus and Preston pointed out several UNC landmarks to us. Finally, though, it was time to leave him at his dorm.

"Do you want us to come up to your room with you?" I asked Preston. "Sure," he said. We were thinking that we might get to meet his roommate, who was scheduled to arrive later than Preston. So Jack parked the car and we all trooped up the concrete stairs to the boxy little room. Still no roommate. Preston looked a little disappointed, and I hated the thought of just leaving him there by himself.

But then a wonderful thing happened. A door in the hallway opened and out stepped a couple of really nice guys. They introduced themselves. Then another door opened, and another. All the guys in the suite came out to the hallway to meet one another.

"Hey, you guys want a cookie?" Preston asked them.

"What kind?" one of them queried.

"Chocolate chip," answered Preston. "She made them," he said, pointing to me.

Just like that, the ice was broken. There they were, brand new to UNC, but already they were together, sharing cookies and stories and life. And I knew it was going to be okay.

Thank you, God, for the privilege of having a son like Preston. Thank you for giving him the opportunity to go to college. And thank you for prompting me to make those cookies.

What about you? Will you share the story of a gift you've received from God's hand? It can be large or small--I'd love to hear about it! Click here to read all about this new linky party celebrating God's gifts to us. Help yourself to a button and help me spread the word.

Imparting Grace

Friday, August 19

Long days, short years

"The days are long, but the years are short."

You've heard that. But you don't believe it, do you?

Maybe you want a child more than anything else on earth. Your heart aches as, month after month, you read the negative pregnancy tests. You can't imagine when you'll get to welcome a child into your home.

Maybe you're pregnant. Your back aches from carrying a baby for these long months. You can't get comfortable, you can't sleep, and you can't imagine going through labor and delivery.

Maybe you have a newborn. Your eyes ache from constant watchfulness over your infant and long nights without enough sleep. You rock and pat and soothe and you can't imagine that you'll ever be able to spend the whole night in your own bed.

Maybe you have a toddler. Your arms ache from picking up a crying child multiple times a day. You do everything you can to get your cranky little one to take a nap, and you can't imagine having a few hours all to yourself.

Maybe you have a preschooler. Your legs ache from running after your busy little one; your throat aches from answering 576 questions every day. You are amazed at how much of a mess one small child can make, and you can't imagine having a clean house.

Maybe you have a child in school. Your head aches from driving carpool and helping with homework and working on projects and producing bake-sale treats at the last minute. You can't imagine having just one schedule to coordinate.

I know you don't believe it. But it's true, I promise you. And before you know it, you'll be sitting in the section marked "Parents" and you'll watch him graduate. Then, before you can blink, you'll be taking him to college.

Just like me.

And you won't be able to imagine how 18 years went by

**I'm joining Amanda for Weekend Bloggy Reading.**

Tuesday, August 16

Dining room reveal

For 20 years I've had a red dining room.  Yes, I first painted my dining room red in 1991, gradually evolving from real red to burgundy to the most recent rusty red.

It was time for a change.

While recent trends have been toward more neutral colors, I still wanted a rich, deep color. I confess that I was a little scared to do something bold and dramatic, but I finally mustered up my courage, and now I have. . .

a French blue dining room! Voila!

I used my Karastan Floral Kirman rug for color inspiration. I've had this rug for years, and I still love it. There are so many wonderful colors in it!

My dining room includes quite a lot of white moulding and trim, and I love the way the white contrasts with the blue.

I'll take you around the room. First, looking in from the foyer:

With a view into the living room on the left:

Living room on the left, kitchen ahead to the right:

And back around to the foyer:

One more shot, just because I'm so excited about it:

Old and new side-by-side:

A note about the color: it's a custom mix that Sherwin Williams did for me in their Duration matte paint. Here's the formula:

I'll do another post with details of some fun new accessories I'm using. As you can see, my dining room is very traditional--but traditional doesn't have to be boring!

So what do you think? Do you like it, or should I be singing the blues?

I'm joining these fun parties:

Wow Us Wednesday at Savvy Southern Style
Transformation Thursday at The Shabby Creek Cottage
Open House Party at No Minimalist Here
Show and Share Day at Just a Girl
Inspiration Friday, At the Picket Fence
Weekend Wrap-Up Party at Tatertots and Jello
Show and Tell Saturday at Be Different, Act Normal
Room by Room: Dining Rooms at Cottage and Vine
Show Us Your Dining Rooms at Thrifty Decor Chick
Show Us Your Life at Kelly's Korner

Monday, August 15

Grace Imparted 5

The job of being a mom changes over the years.

Somehow I found it the job of being mother to babies and preschoolers to have lots of built-in reassurances. It was as if well-child check-ups were really "well-mother" check-ups for me. As long as my fellows were up to date on their immunizations, as long as their ear infections had been treated promptly, as long as their teeth came in on time and they were on the charts for height and weight, I got a checked off as a "Good Mom."

Does anyone know what I mean?

But as my boys got older, the well-child check-ups were fewer and and farther between. At the same time, there were more and more other influences in their lives. They came to know and love good teachers, good coaches, and good friends, just as they should. Sometimes it stung a little to realize that there was less room in their lives for me.

This past week, though, I got a chance to spend some time all alone with my oldest son, Will. Will is 20 years old. He'll be a junior at Duke University. He just got home from doing an internship with our congressman. I'm really proud of him, but I don't get to spend much time with him these days.

So I asked him out to lunch.

Literally. On Friday, Will and I had lunch together. For the cost of a couple of sandwiches, I got to spend two and half hours all alone with my firstborn son. We talked about big things, about little things, about the past, the present, and the future. It was the best lunch I've had in a long, long time.

And I was reminded once again that

Children are a heritage from the Lord;
the fruit of the womb is a reward (Psalm 127:3).

What a gift--pure grace, poured out into my life. Thank you, Lord.

What about you? Will you share the story of a gift you've received from God's hand? It can be large or small--I'd love to hear about it! Click here to read all about this new linky party celebrating God's gifts to us. Help yourself to a button and help me spread the word.

Imparting Grace

Saturday, August 13

A taste of heaven: peanut butter ice cream dessert

Weeks ago I published the recipe for my super-easy cookies 'n' cream dessert. Today I'm going to share with you a variation that my oldest son, Will, and I came up with: peanut butter ice cream dessert.

Warning: Save your calories, friends. You are going to want to try this.

Peanut Butter Ice Cream Dessert
1 package (16 oz.) peanut butter sandwich cookies
1 package (8 oz.) Cool Whip
1 carton (1/2 gallon or similar) reduced-fat vanilla ice cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
creamy peanut butter
Crush peanut butter sandwich cookies. (We use a zip-top bag and a rolling pin to do this.) Soften Cool Whip and ice cream slightly, just enough so that they're stirrable. Place Cool Whip and ice cream in a large mixer bowl. Add vanilla and mix thoroughly. Stir in peanut butter to taste: we used three heaping tablespoons. Mix in crushed cookies. Spoon into serving dish and freeze until hard enough to scoop.

Want to come sit with me on my porch and have some? I'd love to have you!

**I'm joining Amanda for Weekend Bloggy Reading!**