Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July: Life Documented

July has nearly come to an end, and I nearly forgot to show you my Simple Stories Life Documented pages for the month! It has been one full month, as you can see from this layout!

I found this verse in my daily devotional reading, and it seemed so appropriate for this month! I found this little clip in my stash while I was unpacking my craft room. I think I bought these Making Memories clips with my friend Beth...at the Archivers store in the Chesterfield Mall...nearly ten years ago. Yep, that's quite a while to save these little pretties, but I'm glad I did. Beth has probably been using them in her planners all along, but I'm a little slow to this party.

I got a little doodly this month. Sometimes, you just have to go where the creativity takes you.

As you can see, I use my pages as part appointment book, part journal. It's been fun to look back each month and see the things that were accomplished, the cares on my heart, and the things that God accomplished for us. What a blessing!

Life Documented is really a record of God's faithfulness. Morning by morning new mercies I see, great is thy faithfulness Lord unto me!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

This Week's House Find (Brought To Me By God)

You may recall that I named this house the Heinz house because of all the ketchup and mustard colors inside. Well, we remedied the ketchup when we painted the front doors and dining room. The mustard room is the kitchen, and that one is still on the To Do list.

The kitchen has an unusual layout. There is a typical working space of island, counters and appliances, but then there is an adjoining sun room with a vaulted ceiling that leads out to the patio.

Our kitchen table really doesn't fill the space well, nor does it provide adequate seating when the family decides to hang out where the food is (and isn't that always the case?).

I want the room to feel more like a sun room and less like a space where we shoved the table and chairs because we didn't know where else to put them. I plan on painting this space a new color soon (of course!), and adding more botanical elements with plants and decor to make it feel more sun roomy.

But how to address the seating problem. I started considering upholstered booths and benches, which were quite pricey. And that's when God intervened.

Our family has been attending a church down the street, and by down the street I mean that we can walk to church most Sundays, it's that close. (But more on church to come this week!)

Every year, the church hosts a big three day rummage sale. The church members donate items, it all gets sorted over a period of weeks, and then gets sold in the gym, with proceeds going to some need in the church or school.

The boys and I walked over to the sale on the first day to take a look. And that was where I found this beauty.

A church pew, original to the church's 1800s site. I spoke with one of the sweet church ladies named Cindy who told me about its history. It belonged to one of the members who was moving into assisted living and decided to donate it back to the church for the sale.

It was totally precious and in perfect condition, and so...I passed it up.

Can you believe it?

I went home, called my Mom, and told her about the pew. I told her the price ($125), she told me it was a bargain, and told me to go back and get it.

I went back the next day, telling myself that if it was still there, then God must be saving it for our new home. And there it was, waiting for me! I was further blessed to discover that it would fit in the back end of Pumpkin Spice (my Subaru Crosstrek) perfectly.

After re-orienting the table in the room, we added the pew to the back. Now, this seating arrangement properly fills the space, with plenty of room to spare.

Not only is this pew the perfect size, but it's also the perfect color!

And look! It even has the racks for the hymnal and communion cards!

It also has the wire racks below, where the men would store their hats and the ladies would store their fans. (Does anyone else remember the days of no air conditioning? I remember making fans out of church bulletins as a child. I also remember the cardboard fans that were often provided, usually advertising the local funeral home.)

I love all of the nicks and chips that show its character. And that shield embellishment is so typically Lutheran that it makes me smile and sing "A mighty fortress is our God, a sword and shield victorious!"

I sent a photo of the pew to my son, John. He responded:

"Woah! Just think of all the holy butts that sat on that pew!"

My thoughts exactly!

I'm so thrilled with this new addition to our home! And here's a real God wink: it came from a church called Immanuel Lutheran Church, which happens to be the same name of the church where I was baptized. I love that!

Don't you just love a good God story?

Blessings on your Sunday, cafe friends!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Stressed in the Midwest

Last week, I had to have my yearly blood work and check up for our health insurance provider. This is something I never look forward to, but truly, who does?

For more than a week, my boys had to hear the same refrain:

"No, we can't eat that. I have to lose five pounds by Friday."

I was only kidding. Sorta.

My numbers came back, and it looks like I've passed four out of five criteria for optimal health!

Low cholesterol? Check!

Low body mass index? Check!

Low glucose levels? Check!

Triglyceride levels? Check!

Blood pressure? Hmm. Better check that.

It appears that I have pre-hypertension, which could lead to high blood pressure.

Am I surprised? Not really. After all, I'm the espresso-loving , crazy-life living stress queen that you all know if you spend even five minutes perusing my blog.

"You worry too much," my husband said smugly. Just wait until your numbers come back, mister, and then we'll see who the smug one is! HA!

"Really, what do you have to stress about?" he asked in his oh so flippant way, as if there's a secret formula of no corporate job = no stress.


I'm still in the process of my FOURTH CORPORATE RELOCATION in under TEN YEARS!

But hey! No worries!

I admit it. If left to my own devices, I can live inside of my own head too much, and that's a scary place where all worries and frets and dark thoughts reside. Worries about my children. Worries about my family. Worries about health. Worries about finances. Worries about the economy, and the state of world affairs, and our declining culture, and the church, and....

You see what I mean?

Time to practice the Lamaze breathing again.

So I've been examining my life to see areas where I may improve on this facet of my health. Doing a little research online (because if it's on the interwebs, it has to be true! Duh!) to find ways to lower blood pressure naturally.

Did you know that squeezing a ball for two minutes, fifteen minutes a day can significantly decrease blood pressure? This was from a study by the American Heart Association. Hmmm. Squeeze a ball? I can do that!

Did you also know that dog owners can have significantly lower blood pressure than those without dogs?

I want one SO BAD! Would you look at that face? Who wouldn't want to kiss that sweet puppy face all day? My blood pressure is lowering just looking at him!

Of course, following the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is probably a good idea. I've read through the food recommendations, and I already follow this diet nearly 100 percent of the time. Oatmeal, skim  milk, yogurt, fresh fruits and vegetables, avoiding restaurants and processed foods and salty foods and sugary sweets.

But there's this one little area where I may have a hard time.

I love my coffee bar! I even found this sweet little cafe curtain last week to make it look extra cute! (Better Homes and Gardens from Walmart!)

I can't give up my coffee! If I did, then what reason would I have to get up in the morning?

Maybe I can switch to decaff...for the afternoon cuppa. But give up coffee completely?

Back to my Lamaze breathing now.

Maybe a better approach to stress would be to remind myself about what Jesus had to say about this topic. And then keep reminding myself...every...single...day.

I think I may need to re-read some of my favorite books on the subject in the near future.

Tell me, what's your favorite stress reliever?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

What I Found In The Garden

This garden has been a challenge. It became obvious that weeding had been relegated to the bottom of the priority list prior to our move, and the garden beds were sadly neglected. Weeds as tall as Sam, piles of abandoned brush, and what I'm pretty sure are a few piles of discarded cat litter...eeeewww!

I've been working on the gardens every week, one small section at a time.

I began with the beds closest to the perimeter of the house, and discovered a very sweet cottage garden in the process!

This week, I started tackling the beds along the fence line at the back of the yard. And to my delight, I unearthed three lace cap hydrangeas and some beautiful lilies!

I feel like Indiana Jones, unearthing a treasure in the ruins of Machu Pichu!

There is a lot more to discover....and a lot more weeds to be pulled. I am making progress, and hoping to have it all cleared out by summer's end.

For now, I can sit on the patio, admire the flowers, ignore the weeds, and enjoy a beautiful sunset.

Weeds below, God's watercolor masterpiece above.

I think I'll just keep looking up.

Keep looking up, cafe friends!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

A No-Stamps (well, almost) Card For Dad

My poor Father-in-Law. He gets the same present for every birthday and holiday: books. Specifically, books on World War II. He sends us a list of books he'd like to read, and then we order them from Barnes and Noble or Amazon, wrap them up, and surprise! Books!

It doesn't seem all the exciting to me.

So I had to make a card with a little more pizzazz to go with those exciting war books!

I used a kit from Simple Stories (Hey, Pop!) to get a nice, color-coordinated look.

{Today's Brew: Simple Stories Hey, Pop! collection, Lawn Fawn Dies and twine, PTI ink and card stock}

I pulled out a sentiment from Mama Elephant for the inside of the card, and jazzed it up with some stars and a strip of card stock.

Can a masculine card have a little sparkle and shine? Yes. Yes it can.

I decided that the i over birthday needed a little heart for extra fancy punctuation. When I cut it out of this strip of card stock, I liked the negative space strip so much that I used it in the upper corner of the card, too.

A masculine card, to go with a masculine present.

Mission accomplished.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Dining Room Before and After Reveal!

The dining room is at the front of the house, and the first thing you see when you walk in the front door. It faces slightly northeast, making it a darker corner of the house. The ketchup (okay, maybe more wine than ketchup) walls didn't help to brighten the space at all. But wait! There's a chandelier for light, right? Nope! That was merely a glass vase and candle holder. Surprise! There was no electrical wiring in the ceiling, either.

Hello, ketchup and mustard!

Before week one was over, we began the dining room remodel.

Honestly, the ketchup/wine color was probably something I would have lived with ten years ago, and it would have matched our furniture and decor just fine. It just didn't feel right in this house.

Priming was absolutely necessary. Even with a coat of primer, the room already looked lighter and brighter! We chose Sherwin Williams Watery for the wall color, a nice neutral blue that goes with just about anything and will work well in all seasons.

Here's the dining room now:

Let there be light!

I found a wrought iron swag chandelier on Overstock.com to add light over the dining table without the need to call in an electrician and open up ceilings and walls. I like it because it is simple and understated, and it will be fun to decorate for different seasons. And did I mention that it was a bargain? $100.

I used a burlap cord cover (Ballard Designs) to hide the not-so-pretty chains. I think it adds to the style, which I am now dubbing New American Farmhouse.

We mixed a little new with a lot of old. I like to fill our rooms with the things that have meaning, rather than collecting an assortment of items that the decorating world tells me is the "new hot item". After all, we don't live in magazines. We live in homes. Our houses should tell our story.

The hutch now holds my collection of Ironstone, a wedding gift from one of our childhood neighbors when I was growing up.

I found this "Temperance" sign at an antique store in Chesterfield, Missouri called "Old House at Hog Hollow". It happens to be the name of my hometown, so I had to have it. I have it sandwiched between a wire rooster and my grandmother's vintage cookie jar.

My mother gave me this antique high chair last summer. It was the high chair I used as a baby, and all of the family grandchildren used as babies, too. She bought it from the local farmstead that had once given the land to our family church to build upon many years ago.

 On the dining table, this lovely swan decoy keeps company with a vase of summer flowers in a vintage Ball canning jar (another gift from Mom!).

Don't Daisies just sing "Summertime"?

The new buffalo check curtains and the rug came from Ballard Designs. The curtains were the big splurge of this room, but they make such a statement. I love them. I saved a little money by buying the rods from Lowe's. Also, this fantastic rug is actually a very reasonably priced indoor/outdoor rug. I found the bold pattern to be slightly contemporary, while at the same time suggesting a quilt pattern which definitely follows my New American Farmhouse theme.

The piano from our Pittsburgh home made the move with us. And let me tell you, the movers were very happy that they only had to carry this heavy piano a few feet through the front door! I think it looks great in this room, and now Sam can give us mood music when we dine. :)

My favorite paintings from Pennsylvania artist Kolene Spicher hang on both sides of the front window.

Spring, Summer...

...Autumn and Winter.

As you can see, the wood trim has seen better days. It looks like puppies and kitties scratched at them as they gazed out the windows every day. Our first thought was to paint out all the trim white. But the longer I live with it, the more I am liking the wood trim. It certainly isn't "the look" that you see in magazines and home decor now (where everything is white white white!). But it does go so well with our existing pine furniture. Perhaps we will give them a light sanding and staining and see if they grow on us.

We really love the new space. Before, I had a sense that no one ever used the dining room. It was probably meant to serve as the home's living room at one time (thus no ceiling light fixture), but had been converted to use as a show room. We don't live that formally. I like to use all of the spaces of our home, and this room is no exception. We have eaten in here frequently, and I know that we will enjoy many family meals in this space in the future.

This room is not only the first room you see when you enter the house, but it's also the first room I see when I come downstairs in the morning. And now, when this room is flooded with morning sunlight, I can start my day happy.

Hope your day is happy, too, cafe friends!