Monday, September 30

31 Days of Caring for Myself Body and Soul

You've probably heard about the tradition among bloggers of writing every day during the month of October.  Every single day for 31 days straight.  Begun by the Nester several years ago, it's become a big event in the blogging world.

I participated in the 31-day challenge back in 2011, when I wrote every day about spiritual formation.  Those writings formed the basis of a small book, A Spiritual Formation Primer, published by Renovaré.  So that was certainly a good experience for me.

Last year I just watched from the sidelines as other bloggers took up the challenge.  But this year I've felt led to participate once again.

So beginning October 1, I'll write every day for 31 days straight.  My topic?  Well, it's one I really need right now:  Caring for Myself Body and Soul.

The term "self-care" gets bandied about a lot these days.  I'm not sure, though, that many of us have ever really thought about what it means--or what it doesn't mean.  I want to explore that.

One thing I'm sure about already: just like you, I'm a whole person.  A body and an immortal soul.  I can care for my body and neglect my soul, but that's not a good plan.  Or I can tend to my soul and neglect my body, but that's not a good plan, either.

So this month will hold an exploration of caring for both my body and my soul.  Some days the posts will be deep and philosophical; some days will be light; some will simply be oh-so-practical.  But none of them will be much fun if I do this all alone.  Won't you join me on the journey?

1: Why think about this?
2: Creating something beautiful
3: Practicing routine
4: Slowing down
5: Trying something new
6: Sunday soul care
7: Saying "no"
8: Cooking something just for fun
9: Not saving things for good
10: Showing grace at home
11: Taking care of my hands
12: Resting
13: Sunday soul care
14: Sending a package
15: Organizing my purse
16: Walking with a friend
17: Celebrating with the Grace at Home party
18: Reflecting on life and lifestyle
19: Saying thank you
20: Exchanging rules for guidelines
21: Relishing the accomplishments of others

Sunday, September 29

Soul Care Sunday

The beautiful days of Autumn are upon us.  All creation sings the praise of its Maker!

May your day be filled with joining the mighty chorus.

Friday, September 27

Fall Home Tour

Welcome!  I'm so glad you're here!

I'm thrilled to be part of the All Things Home Fall Home Tour, and I'm even more thrilled that you've come to visit.  Here's our home in the Autumn:

We're blessed to live in a fairly new house in an old neighborhood in beautiful Durham, North Carolina.  Isn't that Autumn sky something?

Now step right up the front door.  We love the traditional colors of Autumn here.  Maybe that's because we're a family of redheads.

We could just sit here on the porch for awhile if you like.  This is one of my favorite spots in the whole house.  It really is our outdoor living room.  You can read all about it here.

Or you could come on in!  I've cleaned and scrubbed and polished in anticipation of your arrival.  

When I'm looking at home tours online, I always wish I could get a sense of how the rooms flow.  In case you're wondering how our rooms are connected, here's our main level floor plan.  Sorry that it's so smudged, but it'll give you an idea of our space.

Now let's peek into the rooms, shall we?

To the left of the front door is my husband's library.  It doesn't take much to make this room feel fallish.

A mum and a jug by the fireplace echo the autumnal colors in the rest of the room.

Now back across the foyer to the and the dining room.  I had a red dining room for 20 years, but I sure have been happy with it painted blue.  I like bold colors in a dining room.

Here's a view looking back toward the foyer.  The arches and built-in china cabinets are some of my favorite features of our house.

Simple and elegant was my approach for decorating the dining room for fall.  For the tablescape, I combined mercury glass pumpkins and candlesticks with DIY birch candles and placed them all on a DIY burlap runner.

I crafted an arrangement for the buffet from natural elements; I'll share more about it next week.  Well, technically this is not a buffet; it's actually just the bottom of my china cabinet.  I removed the hutch this year and I've loved having the open space on this wall.

You may have seen some glimpses above of the living room.  This room in the final stages of a makeover that's taken many months (I'll post a complete reveal soon!).  I didn't do too much fall decorating there, but I did add a couple of seasonal elements:

Both the living room and the dining room lead to the kitchen.  You might have noticed that the floor plan shows a kitchen, breakfast room, and keeping room, but we just use the whole space as one big room.  Here's a view from end to end:

And from the other end looking back toward the work area:

Another of my favorite features of this house are the lighted nooks above the cupboards.  They're filled with my collection of pitchers.  Above the kitchen sink is my DIY no-sew faux Roman shade.

As you can see, this is a working kitchen.  We're definitely a small-appliance-out-where-they're-easy-to-use kind of family.

Now, wouldn't you like some pumpkin bread?  I just baked some.  Click here for my recipe--I think it's the world's best!

Believe me, the kitchen is not usually this clean.  Home tours always make me want to see what people keep in their cupboards and closets, you know?  If you were to open this one of mine, you'd discover one of my quirks:  I have a special love of beverage napkins.  My friends laugh at me and my stash of pretty napkins.

Now moving to the other end of this big room.  To the left are the stairs leading to the lower level; to the right stands my mother's prized dough cabinet alongside our huge table.  A lot of teenaged boys can fit around this table!

The dough cabinet is one of my favorite pieces to decorate for the seasons.

I'm crushing on the combination of aqua and orange this season.

On the large wall leading down the stairs is my DIY family portrait wall clock.  You can read about it here.

I made a centerpiece for the table by placing seasonal elements on a tray.  That way I can whisk the centerpiece aside easily when we need the use of the whole table.

Through the French doors is our screened porch, which will be the last stop on the tour.  Our house is built on a hill, so the screened porch is high off the ground.  I feels like being in a treehouse!

I created a simple tablescape by stapling some ribbon to the table to make a runner, then adding a tool caddy filled with autumn leaves and some beautiful blue Ball jars.

Some mums and pumpkins complete the fall decor out here.  Told you I was loving aqua and orange!

Thank you so much for visiting me here at Imparting Grace!  I'd love for you to poke around while you're here.  My prayer is that you'll be blessed by your visit.

And now for an incredible giveaway (I've saved the best for last!):  


Enter to win this gorgeous hand painted Sarasota Chest in Crème Brûlée from Somerset Bay, a prize valued at $1,500. The contest is open to U.S. residents only.  I'm having trouble with the Rafflecopter widget, but you can enter easily by visiting Marty's Home Tour and scrolling to the end to the Rafflecopter form.   Just follow the directions to enter the giveaway.

And for more fall inspiration, be sure to visit everyone on the Fall Home Tour!  Here's a complete list:

Monday, September 23

Tuesday, September 24

Wednesday, September 25

Thursday, September 26

Friday, September 27
Thanks again for touring my home!   I'd love to connect with you.  You can find me here:

facebook facebook facebookPINTEREST

Click here to have Imparting Grace delivered to your inbox.

Wednesday, September 25

Easy, fun DIY kitchen accessories

If you're like me, you like to change accessories in your kitchen from time to time.  With the right tools, making your own accessories can be lots of fun.

When I was offered the opportunity to try a couple of new products available at Michael's stores, Folk Art Multi-Surface Paint and Handmade Charlotte Stencils, I jumped at the chance.

I love fresh flowers, and I like to have a variety of holders for them, so I created an embellished vase.  I was so pleased with the way it turned out, I think I'll make some more for gifts!

Crafting with stencils is as easy as 1-2-3.

1.  Choose a surface to embellish with a stenciled design.  Clean the surface thoroughly.  For the vase, I washed the glass, then cleaned it off with an alcohol wipe.

2.  Choose the design you want to use, and tape it firmly to your surface with masking tape.  As you can see, these stencils bend easily to conform to any surface.  You must simply smooth it out completely and tape it very securely in place.

3.  With just a little paint on your brush (I used a sponge (I used a sponge pouncer, or "Spouncer") to daub paint onto the stencil surface, one light layer at a time, until you achieve the look you want, then carefully lift the stencil straight away from your surface.

Doesn't the vase of sunflowers look cheerful in my kitchen window?

These Handmade Charlotte Stencils are fun, affordable, and amazingly versatile.  The stencils are made from heavy-duty but pliable cardstock.  Each package contains a set of stencils--there were 71 different patterns in the kitchen set that I chose!

And this Folk Art Multi-Surface Paint is the bomb.  You can use it on just about any surface, and it's machine-washable and dishwasher-safe.  I was a little skeptical about using it on glass, but as you can see from the vase, it adhered with no problem.

Once I got going, I kept thinking of other things I could make for my kitchen--and I was curious to see how the paint would do on a variety of surfaces.

How about a dish towel?  You bet!  This paint is machine-washable.  I think I'll put this design on a plain apron, too.  Wouldn't that be cute?

A little chalkboard makes a great place to post today's menu:

I even added a little pizzazz to my ugly old recipe binder.  I wasn't sure if this would work, but the paint adhered beautifully to this plastic surface.

Here's a stenciling tip:

Use a paper plate as a disposable paint palette.  It's important not to have too much paint on your brush when you're stenciling.  I like to dip my brush in the paint, then remove most of the paint from the brush by daubing it onto a dry area of the paper plate.  Then I daub the paint onto the stencil surface a thin layer at a time.

With these Handmade Charlotte stencils, you'll have to punch out the cardstock designs yourself.  This was really the only drawback I found to these stencils--you have to be sure to punch the designs out completely and to smooth down any edges that might be a little rough.  I found that this small drawback led to a great advantage, though--you can use the design you punched out as a guide for stencil placement.  Simply move the cardstock design around on your surface until you've got it just where you want it, then place the stencil right in that spot, remove the punched out design, and go to town with your paint!

Want to get started on your own project?  Now's a good time!  Enter to win a $100 Michaels gift card and $100 worth of Folk Art Multi-Surface Paint in the Facebook contest being held now through September 30!  Visit the contest here to get entered.

And to get lots more project inspiration, you can follow Plaid here:

This post was sponsored by Plaid with the Blueprint Social.  All opinions are entirely my own.

Tuesday, September 24

How to make a plastic pumpkin
look like the real thing

I'm a big fan of real pumpkins and gourds.  Every Autumn, I'm the first person in line to buy pumpkins.   Ain't nothing like the real thing.

But I like to have some plastic pumpkins and gourds, too.  I use lots of pumpkins and gourds in my Autumn decorating, so it's nice to have some things that last from year to year.  I just don't want them to look plastic, you know?

So I've figured out a way to make plastic pumpkins look like the real thing.

Last Autumn, I cut the stems off all my real pumpkins and gourds.  That was super-easy to do with gourds and baby boos.  Cutting the stems off our jack-o-lantern pumpkins took a little more effort and a very sharp knife.  Then I plopped them all into a bowl and left them.  My husband thought I was crazy. Here's how one of the stems looked after it dried.

This Fall, I bought a faux pumpkin at Michael's.  It was pretty realistic-looking, I thought.

First I wiped it with gel stain.  This made a big difference--the stain lessened the plastic sheen and settled into the scuffs to look like dirt from the field.   Then I removed its plastic stem with a pair of pliers; it came off very easily.  Finally, I simply hot-glued one of my beautiful dried stems to my fake pumpkin.

Looks pretty real sitting on my front porch, don't you think?

I did the same thing with the gourds, using stems cut from last year's real gourds and baby boos.  I found some very realistic-looking plastic gourds at Michael's, but the stems screamed "Fake!"

Now look--can you tell which gourds are fake and which are real?

Next I'd like to make some velvet pumpkins, and I'll certainly use real stems for those.

So before you toss your real pumpkins and gourds into the compost heap, cut off those stems.  When Fall rolls around next year, you'll be all set!

How's the Fall decorating going at your house?

and Wow Us Wednesday at Savvy Southern Style