Monday, February 28, 2011

Colorful Closets

Simple Joys...those glimpses of life that we should take time embrace, the reminders that it's the small and simple things that make life beautiful.

The closets of our home are full of color. . . . .
even when there are no clothes hanging in them. For nearly half of my mother's life she has been making these
yarn covered hangers
. (A tutorial can be found HERE)
She has literally made hundreds of them for family and to give as gifts.
I remember taking a trip with a college friend when I was in my late teens. My mom put a bundle of these homemade hangers into my suitcase for me to give as a hostess gift for my friend's relative whose home we stayed. I was proud as well as a little embarrassed (the mixed emotions of a teenager) to present the made-by-hand gift.These colorful hangers have been a part of my life for most of my life. They remind me of my mother's creative and hardworking hands, and of her giving spirit.
They are a simple joy.
Do you have a made-by-hand simple joy?

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

Have you ever looked at a blog and wondered what it must be like to live next door to the blog author and see how things are in "real life"? Are you curious to know if their life is always as pretty as the photos on their blog? There are times that I feel like a bit of a hypocrite because while I post
The Good
, as in my recent front porch makeover.
What you don't see is The Bad,
the Christmas lights still out--but not on--at the end of February (I'm happy to report that I risked frost bite fingers
to finally un-wire these and put them away)
.
And then there is The Ugly,
leftovers that haven't been cleaned up since
decorating for a wedding in December.
(My husband and I both laugh and cringe at this sight.)
So why did I choose to post The Bad and The Ugly? Was it to relieve the pangs of hypocrisy? Perhaps. Was it to make you feel better about your real life messes? Possibly. But I think that it was mostly to remind us both that it's okay to look passed the bad and ugly in life to be able to see the good.
Last year we had so many crazy things go wrong in our life that one day my friend asked if I were keeping track of all of our of disasters. I sat down to write a list and decided that instead of writing of the bad things happening to us, I needed to make a list of what was going right. It was that list that helped us make it through the rough waters without totally sinking. We were able to find a balance of good along with the bad. In fact, the more we focused on the good the more there was to see. There is a lot of bad and ugly in this world but there is also so much good. Maybe that's one of the reasons why we like to look at all of the pretty pictures in magazines, catalogs and blogs. They portray a beautiful lifestyle, they give us relief from the ugly around us, they inspire us, and give us hope for something better.
No one has a perfect life. Everyone's life is a combination of good, bad, and ugly. But the more we look for the good and give it the attention it deserves the more we come to see that life really is what we choose to put our focus on.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

In-Between Porch Decor and a Winner

It's such an odd time of year, one might call it the "In-Between Season." There are no holidays in sight, it's too cold to decorate for spring, and decorating with the grays and browns of winter has gotten old. To cure the winter blahs that one gets in the in-between season, I pulled out my brightest spray paint colors and some old, very old, thrifted items.
First I gave an old frame and a piece of scrap beadboard a fresh coat of bright orange. Then I painted the legs of a stool with a creamy yellow and finished the top off with gray.The beadboard is now the ideal spicy backdrop for an average woody wreath.Faux ranunculus in a crusty pot resting on a silver tray are appropriate for this time of year. Fun Fact: Ranunculus flowers season is usually from January till May. The flowers look so pretty framed in orange with a bright yellow little bird that seems to be enjoying the scene.Even though the flowers are fake I couldn't resist adding a cheery teal watering can into the vignette, along with an over-sized lantern to shed a little light in the crisp early evenings of this time of year.I now have a bright, delightful, and perfect In-Between Season porch.According to Random Generator, the winner of the Thirty-One Gifts Giveaway is number 35. Hooray Gayle! Gayle is a very talented rug hooker and loooong-time reader of my blog. I'm so excited for her. Giving prizes is always fun but when it's someone I "kindda" know (we've never met in person but I saw her on TV), it makes it even more exciting!
Thank you Diana from Thirty-One Gifts for hosting this giveaway.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Dear Mother Nature

Dear Mother Nature,

I am so very tired of Winter. I am wondering if you can bring on Sprinter---the season where it's just warm enough to spray paint outside but not so warm that the weeds begin to grow. I am grateful for the snow and the water that it provides for the summer but it seems that lately we have had too much of a good thing. I am hoping that you will contemplate this change in weather. I have a long list of things that I would like to do but each one requires warmer temperatures.Thank you for this consideration,

Joy
***This is the last day to enter the 31 GIFTS giveaway here***

Friday, February 18, 2011

Suitcase Vacation

I apologize for vacating my blog for a few days. The flu found me and I found my bed. The funny thing is that even in my semi-conscience moments all I could think of was what I wanted to do to make-over my bedroom.
Because I haven't paid much attention to blogging this week I am going to change the deadline for the 31 gifts giveaway from this Saturday to next Tuesday, February 22nd at midnight. That will give you plenty of time to check out the catalog and enter the giveaway.
Speaking of vacations, do you see that big empty corner in my living room? That's where my suitcase stack usually resides. It's also the spot where we put the Christmas tree, so when Christmas came the suitcases took a vacation to the basement. After taking down the tree it seemed so nice to have an empty spot that I didn't rush to bring up the suitcases again---that and I was feeling too exhausted to make the trip down and up the stairs five times carrying suitcases. Did you know that vintage suitcases are heavy even when they're empty? It makes one appreciate the lighter, though characterless, version we have today.
After a couple of weeks of suitcase stack freedom I began to question whether they should return. True, the stack has become my signature piece, both in blogging and in my living room. But just because it's a big statement item doesn't mean that I have to live with it forever. How many things do we keep in our home just because they have always been there? I think that it's nice at times to live without an item to see if you still love it. Living without an item makes it easier to decide if maybe it's time to change things up a bit, either by moving the item to another room or by getting rid of it all together.
After living without my vintage suitcases for two months
I decided that I still love them and that I still want them to be
an important part of my living room's decor. So little by little they reappeared in the room where they belong. My signature piece is back and I am happy.
I'm curious, do you have a signature item in your home?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Sharing The Love

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!
I hope you don't mind if I speak from the heart for a bit. Recently I have had the pleasure of hosting a few giveaways. I enjoy using my blog as a means to help others grow their business. But it's so hard for me to hit the "generate" button on random generator when it's time to pick a winner. I want all of my readers to win. Most of all I want you to know that you are all winners in my book! I am humbled that you take the time to check on my blog. I am thankful when you leave a comment and very understanding when you don't. Blogging takes time and following blogs takes even more. We live in a busy world with so many demands on our time. I hope that you find your time here at my blog worthwhile. My family and I experienced a rough year last year and blogging took a low priority. Thankfully things are getting better. I hope to be sharing some fun projects in the next few months. It feels so good to be able to turn back on the creative side of my brain again (the survival side was in high gear for a while there). Please know that I value your loyalty and time! I am thankful that you do not judge me if it takes me a while to return an email or if I can't come visit each one of you (oh how I wish I could). You are all very important to me. I may not know your name but I do know that you have left an impression on my heart which motivates me to be a better blogger, but more than that, a better person. I cannot express enough gratitude to you for that. It does not seem enough to just say thank you. . . but I do THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH!!! And I appreciate you letting me ramble on a bit before I announce another winner and giveaway.

Random generator picked #1 (how rare does that seem?) to be the winner of the M.Bellish'd giveaway. Candace at We Are Glad For Many Things, you will be contacted soon for information about delivering your prize. Now onto another giveaway. . .

Diana from Thirty-One Gifts is sponsoring this weeks giveaway. Thirty-One Gifts is a faith based company and the name comes from Proverbs 31 that speaks of a virtuous woman. The goal of the company is to celebrate, encourage, and reward women for all that they do for their friends, family, and coworkers. Thirty-One Gifts offers so many beautiful items! I picked just a few that are both pretty and practical.Diana is offering my readers the chance to win a $30 gift certificate along with FREE monogramming. In order to win go view their catalog and pick what you would choose if you won the $30 certificate. Come back here and leave a comment with your choice. If you "like" Diana on her Facebook page then you can leave another comment for another entry. On top of all of this, if you find something you love and don't want to wait to see if you win, Diana has set up an event called "Joy's Giveaway Event" where you can place an order online. If you place an order through this event you can come back to this post and add THREE extra entries. That's a total of FIVE possibilities to win (pretty good odds I would say).

BEST OF LUCK TO YOU ALL!!!
***Giveaway ends Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011 at midnight***
Remember that Tuesday, February 15th is the last day for the awesome 20% discount on Scentsy orders.
And one more thing. . . if you want to spread a little love today, here are two good causes that you may want to get involved with.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Advice for the Younger Me

If there was a way that I could go back in time to give myself advice when I was a young mother I would have a long list of things to say. Of course most of it would be advice older mothers had already told me:
  • Enjoy your children while they're young because they grow up too fast.
  • Always treat your family as well as you would a guest.
  • Play more.
  • Keep a record of the unimportant moments as well as the important ones (I really wish I would have done that!)
  • Children can be taught how to do their own laundry.
  • Be in the moment.
  • Don't rush through the infant and toddler stages.
  • Be patient when it comes to potty training---especially when it takes longer than you think.
  • Breath
  • Every moment does not need to be planned.
  • Elaborate vacations and fancy birthday parties are not requirements for a happy childhood.
  • A big empty box is more fun than most toys you can buy.
  • Prayer and faith are essential in raising children.
  • Take time to step back and see your child as the person he/she is becoming.
  • Broken things can be replaced, broken hearts cannot.
  • Buy a panini maker.
Okay, I know that last one may seem a little odd. But a couple of years ago, when I purchased a panini maker, my life became easier. Every Saturday became panini night. Everyone makes their own meal to suit their taste, there is no more asking, "Mooommmmm, what's for dinner tonight???" And even though my younger self would have reminded me that panini makers were not readily available at the time I would have quickly answered, "Then find a meal that your family can enjoy weekly, that can be customized to fit individual taste and that can be a weekly mini-celebration, a night to look forward to for mom and the family." If panini's are not your family's thing then maybe sub sandwiches, crepes, waffles, burgers, or salads could become your weekly ritual.

What advice you would give your younger self?

***M.Bellish'd giveaway here***

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Is Gray The New Black

Lately I seem to be having a love affair with the color gray. A few years ago it was black but now when I envision a makeover for thrifted items I see them in a shade of gray. Perhaps it's because there are so many pleasing varieties of gray----light gray, dark gray, charcoal gray, blue-gray, gray-brown, gray-green and the ever popular greige. Whatever the reason, gray has become my go-to color.
What is your go-to color lately?

***Put your name in for the M.Bellish'd giveaway here***

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Blooming Bargains

What is it about flowers that make a house a home? My dream is to always have a bouquet of fresh flowers somewhere in my home. My pocket book doesn't always agree with my dream. Of course during the spring, summer, and fall it doesn't cost anything to
bring in nature
from my yard. But during the cold days of winter I have to rely on other ways to get my
floral fix
on a bargain. One of those ways is to look for flowers in unexpected places.
This beautiful bouquet came from a store that carries out of date and freight damaged food. The tulips were a dollar a bunch. For that price I felt I could splurge and buy five dollars worth.
Another way to save is to ask what day of the week the florist or grocery store has a fresh flower delivery. That will also likely be the day that they mark down flowers to clear them out (look for great bargains AFTER Valentines).
These blooms were on clearance. The great thing about potted flowers is that I can plant them in my yard later. To double my delight these bulbs will bloom next spring. When I buy potted flowers the first thing I do is lose the wrapping, plop the pot into a prettier container, and surround the top with a little moss.I try to save on my outdoor flowers too. Bargains can be found at the end of the season and on holidays. Big box stores will often mark down their plants when they look a little lanky or droopy. I've also been known to ask for the plants that they are throwing away (and have been very tempted to dumpster dive). Annuals can be hard to rescue but perennials can be nurtured back and will bloom for years. My favorite idea for bargain gardening came from a woman who would walk her dog at night and carry scissors with her. As she walked she would take little snippets from her neighbors bushes and flowers; nothing too big that they would miss. ***Edited to add: If you choose to do this please ask permission before taking snippets from your neighbors.*** When she arrived home she would dip the cuttings into root starter. I read that she was able to beautify her entire once-barren yard with just the cost of time, energy and root starter.
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