Thursday, August 25, 2016

August 2016 PTI Blog Hop!: God is Good

Hello, cafe friends! Today is the August Blog Hop at Papertrey Ink! And here is our inspiration photo:

Lovely! The colors really reminded me of the palette of new inks and card stock that arrived at my mailbox this week!

I hadn't planned on using these colors together, but when I saw them piled on top of each other I had to let out an "Oooooh!" Sigh worthy! Cocoa Bean, Americana, Saffron Spice and Pale Peony.

I used this palette as my starting point, and pulled together a few different PTI stamp sets to complete this idea that had been rolling around in my brain for a while.

{Today's Brew: Stitched Sentiments (PTI), Phrases and Praises (PTI), Tag Its (PTI), PTI card stock and ink, seam binding, burlap. wood grain embossing folder}

This sentiment is near and dear to my heart.

I once heard Beth Moore say in a bible study "God is good all the time. And when it appears that He is not good, that is because He is great."

Let that one sink deep into your soul for a moment.

The first time I heard this, it took my breath away. It is a thought that brings me to my knees.

There are going to be times in our lives when bad things will happen. That's a promise. And there will be times when we will struggle with a good God allowing bad things to happen. Without that struggle, we cannot grow in faith. And this side of heaven, we may never understand the goodness of His plan for us each and every time.

But every now and then, God lets us see a little glimpse of understanding, if we keep our eyes open. And when we see those Romans 8:28 moments, and recognize how God really does work for the good of those who love Him, well let me tell you this, it's a humbling experience. I'm comforted in the fact that I have a God who is bigger than my puny brain can grasp. Omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, beyond my understanding.

I had one of those moments this month.

A friend from Pittsburgh told me a story, and suddenly the formula was solved. I had been operating for the past year on an equation that looked like this:

A + B = ?

And quite miraculously, I saw God's plan. It wasn't A + B = Mary Rose's Unhappiness.

It was, in fact, the opposite.

A + B= God's good plan to prosper me and not to harm me, to give me hope and a future.

God is good all the time. What a mighty God we serve!

Francis Chan said "Isn't it a comfort to worship a God we cannot exaggerate?"


Monday, August 22, 2016

Recollections Creative Year from Michaels

Today I thought I'd show you some items I picked up this weekend from the Recollections Creative Year planner system at Michaels.

Originally, I went in to the store for just one thing (yeah, that's how it always happens!): this personal planner punch that I'd found after a lot of digging on the internet. And let me tell you, it's a very nice punch! Heavy and well made. The fact that it's gold and matches my Webster's Pages planner is just a bonus! I really wanted a punch that would allow me to make my own pages, dash boards, and dividers using all of the pretty papers I already own. This one will work very nicely, and it's a fraction of the cost of other punches sold online. Even better, use a coupon like I did and get it at a great price.

Of course, while I was there I happened to notice that Michaels carries a LOT of planner stuff now...Happy 365, Heidi Swapp, and their own in house brand Recollections. Stickers, stamps, binders, you name it.

I really liked the Recollections line because I knew it would fit in the Webster's Pages pumpkin planner that I already own. They did sell monthly kits in four different palettes, but none of them rocked my boat.

And then I saw these super cute journals. They have them in just about every category you can think of: academics, monthly budget, fitness, meal planning, and more. I picked up these four: Calendar, Spiritual, Journal, and Inspiration. These sell for 4.99 each, but this weekend they were on sale for buy one, get one half off. And did I mention I had a coupon?

I liked the calendar, and I was pretty sure that I had plenty of accessories from Simple Stories Carpe Diem to go with it. I used my sticker tabs to divide the months...easy.

The paper quality is really good, with nice tooth and no bleed through.

I liked the calendar for several reasons:

*It is undated, so you can start the calendar whenever you like.

*It features a month on two pages spread, which I find very handy.

*Following each monthly spread, it features weekly pages with plenty of room for notes.

* I like the printed colors of the graphics...clean and simple, so I can embellish as I choose.

Here's a look at the Spiritual Journal:

I really liked the simple prompts. I plan on using this now, as well as with the new women's bible study that begins at church next month.

Recollections also offers notepads with a side bar already punched for six ring binders. But I decided to cut off the holes and just slip it into the back slot of my planner. Perfect!

There it is: a planner full of happy! I'm so glad that I can use all of my Simple Stories Carpe Diem accessories with this system.

For now, I'm only putting my calendar and spiritual journals in my planner. I figure I can swap the journals out pretty easily.

It's that time of year when schedules become important. I'm adding new volunteer work to my monthly schedule, along with exploring some different social opportunities. The Fixer Upper is no longer requiring so much of my time, and Jemma the Yeti puppy is happily settling into routine.

Happy plans, cafe friends!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Importance of Curtains: A Few Tips and Tricks For Buying and Installing

This weekend, my husband finally finished the last of the trim staining for our new Andersen windows that were installed last fall. This project took him close to nine months to complete, for several reasons.

1.) It's tedious and time consuming, applying stain and then three coats of varnish, with sanding between coats.

2.) He managed to do the outer frame trim over the winter, but the interior window trim had to be done when the weather was ideal to open windows...not too hot, not too cold.

3.) We've been raising a sixty-five pound Yeti puppy for the past six months. Wild Yetis are tricky things to work around, but Jemma is finally calm enough to let us get stuff done.

First, we had to take down all the curtains, hide them upstairs, and then tape off all the windows. Wow. When the curtains came down, I realized what a big impact they have on the rooms downstairs.

Here's the dining room with no curtains:

And here's the dining room with curtains:

Such a big difference! They make such a statement. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Buffalo much, in fact, that I have to stop myself from inserting it into every room!

Here's the office/library/den without curtains:

And here it is with curtains:

MaryLynn, I added this photo for you! Look! Jemma still uses the gates! LOL!

Here's the family room without curtains:

Aww! Daddy's furry little Yeti helper!

And here's the family room with curtains:

Think of it this way. If the eyes are the windows to the soul, then the windows must be the eyes to the house. And trust me. This house needs a LOT of mascara! :)  Without curtains, these rooms would be fine. But with the addition of curtains and pretty lighting (also essential!), each room makes a statement.

Here are a few things we've learned about buying and hanging curtains:

1.) Quality counts. A well made curtain will have much better drape and heft. They don't need to be heavy and dark, but they do need form to help them drape properly. I purchased all of the curtains from Ballard Designs, and they were worth every penny. I used to be able to find decent curtains at Target, but these days their decor seems to be very trendy and transitional, and I lean to traditional style. I've also found nice curtains from Walmart Better Homes and Gardens line. Country Curtains is another great source for quality curtains. Occasionally, you can find nice Laura Ashley curtains at places like Marshalls and TJ Maxx.

2.) Where you install the brackets for your rods is very VERY important. Here's why. If you screw them into the wall too close to the trim, then that is where the edge of the curtain will go, and no farther. This means more curtain will cover more of the window, thus blocking out more light. If you don't want too much curtain covering your window, then make sure you screw the bracket into the wall at least three inches from the trim, as we've done here.

I tend to buy my curtain rods from home improvement stores. Typically, they have a very nice selection at good prices. You can also find matching tie backs, as we've done in the office room. I try to match the style and color to the style and color of the light fixtures in each room.

3.) You will want your curtains to touch the floor. If they do not touch the floor, it will look like a kid who's outgrown their pants and is wearing a pair of waders to school. Trust me. No one wants to wear waders. The curtain should have a bit of a break at the bottom hem, similar to the break you would find in a nicely tailored pair of pants.

4.) If you have a not-so-pretty view, or if you need to control the light coming in to the room, you will probably need some sheers. I bought these linen sheers from the Threshold line at Target before our new windows were installed. The new windows are much taller, so I added a few inches to the length by installing these on the rod with rings and clips. As you can see above, they are a little short (see tip number three above!). I'm trying to ignore it because these curtains get a lot of abuse from Jemma. Good enough for now!

We spent a good chunk of change on these curtains. Probably over $700 in total, just for the three rooms downstairs. It was definitely a splurge. Where did we save money? Well, I did reuse the previous curtain rods in the family room, and that saved us a little money. But the biggest savings came by simply finishing the window staining ourselves. Yes, it took a LONG time to finish, but in the end, we probably saved over a thousand dollars that we would have paid to painters to get the job done. And look! We've learned a new skill that we can add to our flipping repertoire.

Another project crossed off the To Do list! Hurray! Next up: painting!


Saturday, August 20, 2016

My Outdoor Craft Studio

This is it. My outdoor craft studio. In the nice weather, this is where I often find myself, with a good book and a stitching project in hand. In the evenings, I love to sit here and stitch while I listen to the hum of the cicadas and the chirping of the hummingbirds that come to my feeder at the end of the porch.

I'm just finishing up my project from Shepherd's Bush. I am laying a Nun stitch around the whole project, and then it will get folded over to make a pocket to hold a ruler. I love patterns that incorporate different stitches. It makes the project interesting and stretches my creative muscle a bit.

My front yard landscaping is filling in quite nicely. Everything is so lush and green.

My mother refers to me as the Johnny Appleseed of gardens. It seems wherever we have moved in the past eleven years (with the exception of my Pittsburgh home), I have created gardens from practically nothing. I make them pretty and lush, and then I hand them over to the next owner. Sigh!

This garden is beginning to remind me of one I planted at our house in Wildwood, Missouri. I told myself at the time that the front yard garden would be simple, and the backyard is where I really wanted it to be dramatic. And what happened? The front yard garden grew amazing, and was more beautiful than the back.

Perhaps I should stick with subtle, simple plantings. I seem to like them more.

The coleus make such a big impact this time of year. When the weather cools, I plan on adding some white and purple mums and perhaps a few sedum to this mix.

In all our years of gardening, we have never planted a tree until this house. This pagoda dogwood is growing slowly, but we really like the changes it brings to each season. We saw a full specimen at a local Japanese garden, and when this one grows to its mature height it will be a showstopper.

The Pink Diamond hydrangea are slowly changing colors, from white to green to a pinkish hue.

What can you say about the Incrediball hydrangea that hasn't already been said? So easy to grow, with such impressive blooms!

This year, for some reason, I never got around to purchasing hanging baskets for the front porch. I was too busy concentrating on the plantings in the garden below to actually look up. I think I was worried that hanging baskets might make it look cluttered and detract from the landscaping beds. Of course, I've never been one to embrace the philosophy that less is more. More is always more in my humble opinion. :)

Still waiting for the Morning Glories to bloom, any day now.

I'm still amazed at how much we've managed to do to this house in a short amount of time. Looking back over the past year, I can see where the Fixer Upper has taken most of my creative energy. It was not the sort of turnkey house where you move in, unpack, and just live. This was the house where you move in, get to work, and don't stop. It's been a great learning experience for my husband and me, and no doubt in the future we will use this house as our guide.

Perhaps our story will be a cautionary tale. Ha ha! Only the future can tell if it will be a story of what could be done or what should not be done going forward.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Views From The Garden

I had a visitor in my garden yesterday. This giant butterfly was happily making his way from flower to flower, inspecting the zinnias and cosmos along the way.

He's huge! I really loved this lime green zinnia this year. They've done surprisingly well when you consider they've had to contend with sixty-five pounds of puppy tromping through the garden on a daily basis.

My plan to fill in the bare spots with flowers grown from seed worked pretty well. I still had to weed every week to keep the thistle out, but this corner has greatly improved since last year.

The garden runs along the back of our yard, with a fence separating our corner lot from the neighbors behind us. I show you the nicely cropped photos most of the time so that you can't see what is essentially our view of the neighbors trash pile that we are treated to on a daily basis.

Sigh, Yesterday was actually one of the better days, as the three overflowing garbage cans were already at the curb for garbage pick up day. Apparently, when you own a three car garage, there's just no room left for garbage. On windy days, it just blows into our yard. On other days, they sometimes just toss it over the fence. Nice.

I try not to let it bother me, but this is what I see when I wash the dishes or sit at the table with with a cup of coffee in the morning.

Next month, we plan on purchasing about ten of the tallest arbor vitae we can find to plant at the back fence to try to hide this view. Hopefully, they will be mature enough to camouflage the garbage when we put the house on the market in the spring.

In the meantime, I've decided that I really cannot look at it from the kitchen table for one more day. This was the solution I came up with:

Half closed blinds. I can see Jemma at ground level, but it blocks my view of everything else.

Denial is always a great strategy. Ha ha ha! In the meantime, we continue to work on the inside of the house, finishing the staining and painting jobs that still need to get crossed off the To Do list. Just a few more months, and this Fixer Upper house should be finished and ready for its new owners.