Thursday, March 31, 2016

Visitors at the Door

I came down the stairs on Easter morning and saw that we had visitors at the door.

A pair of purple house finch have been visiting my grapevine wreath for a while now. I think they're trying to decide if it will make a good spot for a nest. Either that, or they're stealing the grapevine for their own home renovations. They've been very busy. I know how that is. Home renovations can be exhausting!

Blessings on your day, cafe friends!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

A Simple Sympathy

I like to keep my sympathy cards simple. This really isn't the time to get over the top flashy. I just wanted a card that conveys the sentiment and lets the person know that I am thinking about them and praying for them.

{Today's Brew: Botanical Silhouettes (PTI), Sentiment from Willow stamp set (PTI), PTI inks and card stock, amuse ribbon}

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Fixer Upper House: When To Save and When To Splurge

Making decisions for this Fixer Upper house has been a full-time job for me. I am constantly keeping track of the budget because I know that we have a very slim profit margin for this future flip. I cannot out-price the neighborhood with our remodel, but I also have to make every room over to give the house an updated uniform style and flow.

Some renovations are budget friendly...paint, a few decor changes, and done.

Other renovations took a big chunk of change... Hello, Andersen windows and new house color!

The kitchen has been a work-in-progress remodel. One month we replaced all of the old and barely functioning mismatched appliances. Next, we "cut the mustard" and painted the walls.

But two things continued to nag at me. For starters, the ceiling fan in the adjoining sun room was ugly with a capital UGH. Furthermore, we never used it except to bring light to the room at night, and even then it had no dimmer switch to control.

The other puzzling piece: I didn't like our kitchen table and chairs in this room. The rectangle shape did a poor job of filling the space. The cottage style and cream color matched nothing else in the house. It just looked out of place with all of the other wood elements here.

My real dilemma is that I still love the old kitchen table and chairs. That shabby cottage style? Totally me. But I knew it wasn't working here. I simply cannot part with it. Who knows? One day in the not so distant future, we could move again and that table will be perfect in the next house. But in this house, I knew it would continue to bug me.

I finally found a light fixture that really encapsulated the look I am going for in this house, which is a sort of modern rustic farmhouse style. Not totally over-the-top Chip and Joanna Gaines, but with a few of those elements. I think the exterior of the house, with its wrap around front porch and picket fence and cottage garden landscaping, is a good representation of what the house should look like on the interior as well. (Can you tell that I obsess and over-think these things?)

This light fixture was ordered from Ballard Designs, and it is just the big statement piece that the space needed. I love that it is visible from the front foyer, too...a little peek of what's to come in the house.

With its wrought iron and rope detailing, I think it really has great style. It was a bit of a splurge at just over $300 on sale. But really, that's not a huge price to pay for good lighting. I know, because I've been looking for quite some time. At night, we can dim the lighting now, and it casts the most beautiful shadows up onto the vaulted ceiling.

That was the splurge.

When it came to the kitchen table and chairs, I knew that's where I'd have to save.

Furniture is so darn expensive!

A woman I know from church told me that she has a furniture repurposing business. She snags old pieces and brings them back to life with Annie Sloan paint. Yep! And every pinner on Pinterest does this now, too! You used to be able to find cheap pieces at places like Goodwill or the thrift stores. Not anymore!

I've been checking the postings on Craigslist for months, and I finally found a set that I knew would work perfectly in the space.

This traditional set is solid oak, with a pedestal base, two leaves, and six chairs, giving us plenty of options. It is made really really well, and the seats are super comfy, too. $300 for the whole set. I couldn't find a new table for that price, and even if I had, I knew it would not be this nice. I consider this one a great buy.

Two of the Windsor chairs have arms. I will order cushions for the seats and turn this into a sweet seating area, with a small table or chest or buffet between the two and maybe an ottoman.

I'm so happy with the way that the vertical arrow slats of the chairs mimics the detailing on the wrought iron cage of the chandelier above.

My plan is to do a little detailing on this set in the future. I plan to paint the pedestal, chair backs, and chair legs black, but leave the top of the table and seats in oak. I think it will really ground the set, while helping it stand out from the floors and wood trim. It will also be a better compliment to the light fixture.

Only one job left to do in the kitchen: transform the oak cabinets with paint. We've decided to put that project off for a few more weeks. The kitchen is part of Miss Jemma's zone, and until she's fully house broken, we think it will be best to save this job for later.

My husband asked that I mention the strapping handsome delivery man who made this furniture possible. Thank you, Hon, for driving an hour away to snag and retrieve my Craigslist find!

Later this week, I will show you how I've repurposed the old kitchen table and chairs. It's AWESOME!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Musings on Easter

I was sitting outside, singing hymns to Jemma the other day.


Doesn't everyone sing hymns to their dog?

I figure if Father Tim could quote scripture to his dog, Barnabas, in the Mitford novels, then surely I can try singing hymns to Jemma to make her behave.

Right now, she's at that toddler phase of parallel play. She wants to play by you, but when she plays with you, it's usually inappropriately. Like biting. See? She really is like a toddler. I am constantly redirecting her behavior. It's a good thing all those skills from all of those years of teaching preschool can still come in handy.

So there I was, singing hymns to Jemma. And she seemed to like it, so that's good.

I was singing the words to one of my favorites, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.

"Praise the mount, I'm fixed upon it
 The mount of Thy Redeeming Love"

And I started to weep, right there on the back stoop of the patio, with my dog playing in the sunshine.

It hit me. The mount of His Redeeming Love was right there, on the cross.

Have you ever wept for that kind of love?

If not, then you have to ask yourself if you are really seeking His presence.

God tells us in Jeremiah 29:13:
"You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you."

It's pretty hard (okay, I will even say impossible) to look for Jesus and not hear him say "Here I am, at the cross. On the cross for you."

For all of my pettiness. For all of my selfishness. For all of my moodiness. For all of my brokenness. For all of my sin.

I find Him there, on the cross for me.

Redeemed. For me. Because He loves me that much. And because He loves you that much, too.

I made this journal page to remember that love. And I am laughing because I spelled Redeemed wrong. Apparently, only God is perfect, so I can quit trying. (Will I fix it? Probably. Because I'm OCD that way.) But see? I'm showing you my mistakes, so that means I'm making progress.

Praise the mount! It leads to an empty tomb! And because Jesus conquered sin and death, I have eternal I don't have to wait for it. It is mine. The gift of God's grace. His Redeeming Love.

Peace to you, cafe friends! Blessings on your Easter.

Friday, March 25, 2016

PTI March 2016 Blog Hop

It's blog hop day at Papertrey Ink! This month, our inspiration is the amazing artist Izziyana Suhaimi, who stitches on paper. Stunning!

I decided to turn this around a bit, and stamp on fabric instead. I cut a piece of muslin to size, frayed the edges a bit, and used it as my canvas.

{Today's Brew: Bold Blossoms stamp set (PTI), PTI inks and card stock, Lawn Fawn stitched frames die, MFT scallop and stitch dies, DMC floss}

I decided to adhere the muslin panel with some cross-stitched corners. It was really easy to do with my handy piercing tool.

This tool can turn just about anything into a piece ready for stitching.

Thanks for visiting the cafe today!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Coffee Lovers Spring Blog Hop!

It's time for the coffee lovers spring blog hop! I just had to make a card because, AND spring! What could be better?

{Today's Brew: MFT stamps and Dies, Lawn Fawn stitched dies and papers, PTI card stock and felt, MME enamel dots}

I decided to make the coffee cozy out of felt because that's the sort of reusable felt cozies that I love to use with my To Go cups.

And I have GOOD NEWS of GREAT JOY for all coffee lovers!

I just discovered today that Senseo brand coffee makers will once again be selling in the United States! woo hoo! These espresso makers have been super popular in Europe, and once again we will have them stateside. I have mourned the loss of my Senseo for some time now, and I am thrilled to soon have one at my coffee bar once again!

Senseo, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

1.) So easy to use.
2.) Hot cups every time.
3.) A crema layer of perfection.
4.) Delicious Douwe Egberts coffees in an assortment of flavors like French Vanilla, Hazelnut, Dark        Roast, Kona, Columbian...mmm!
5.) Pods that decompose, not plastic that ends up in landfills.
6.)  Cheaper than fancy drive-thru coffees!
7.) Makes me feel like a super awesome barrista.

There you have it. Seven good reasons to order! I'll be placing my order from Dave's Coffee Pods today!

Take life one sip at a time, cafe friends!

Thanks for visiting the cafe today!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Watery Tulips

So maybe I'm still crushing on tulips. Until the real thing starts to bloom in my garden, I guess I'll have to be content making paper flowers grow.

Yesterday, I pulled out an old set from Papertrey Ink called Wishing You. I thought I'd try stamping these tulips on watercolor paper with PTI ink, and then giving them a light watercoloring effect. It worked like a charm. And to add to the watery effect, I adhered a few Dew Drops to the card front.

{Today's Brew: Wishing You (PTI), PTI card stock and ink, watercolor paper, Dew Drops, Micron marker}

Today my husband is in warm and sunny St. Louis, where the temps are in the seventies and all the trees and flowers are in bloom. Ah, spring comes so early in St. Louis! It was such a joy! It almost made you forget the brutally hot summers. Still, those daffodils in early March were such a welcome sight.

Tell me, are the flowers in bloom in your garden?

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Easter Jar

Tulips are such a cheerful flower in the spring. I've been buying myself a bouquet every time I see them at the store. Yep. Buying myself flowers. And you know why? Because I need them. For the cost of a grande latte that's gone in an hour, I can enjoy the message of hope that a vase of tulips delivers for an entire week.

These week-old Walmart tulips have seen better days, but I'm still enjoying them while I can. I thought they looked so sweet in this vintage Ball canning jar on the dining room table.

I pulled out the stamp set Friendship Jar series from Papertrey Ink and crafted an Easter card to mail this week. I had already stamped the jar on Vintage Cream card stock when I decided I wanted to use a doily for this card. But the white doily didn't quite match the softer color, so I sponged it very lightly with Fine Linen ink to give it a bit of a tea-stained effect.

{Today's Brew: Friendship Jar and Friendship Jar Spring fillers (PTI), PTI card stock, Lawn Fawn papers, amuse ribbon, doily, copic markers}

Hope you are having a beautiful spring, cafe friends!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Craving The Simple

I sent this photo to my sister, Tina, last weekend with this text message:

"A photo of my desk. Can you zoom in on the book? That is what is known as 'irony'. Looks like I'll be cleaning this weekend."

The book in mention? Organized Simplicity.  Yes, I crack myself up.

We all crave simplicity, don't we? No one wants a complicated life. And yet life is often just as messy as the top of my desk.

I've been studying First and Second Thessalonians, and I found this verse from 1 Thess. 4:11-12 to be a great reminder:

"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody."

That is so counter-cultural to the messages we hear in the world. Quiet? We live in the loud. MYOB? Is that even possible with Facebook and Twitter and 24/7 streaming news? Work with your hands? We work with our brains. Our daily life is so insular from outsiders, it's hard to think of even making an impact on others.

And yet we crave the simple.

Most of the time, I am completely content in my quiet life. A puppy chewing at my shoe laces, an espresso from my coffee bar, and I'm all set. It's the solitary life that gets me into trouble. That is when I need to remember to put on my coat and go work in the garden or take a walk or go in the basement and work with my hands.

Something simple.

So I made this Easter card with that thought in mind.

{Today's Brew: stamps from Lawn Fawn, picket fence die (Lawn Fawn), scallop edge die (MFT),PTI card stock, COPIC markers, paper doily}

Simple blessings, cafe friends!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Bringing Light To Dark Places

The first time I toured the Fixer Upper house was with our home inspector, Mark. You see, my husband, in his desperation to find a house before our time ran out, started doing house tours with the realtor while having me on Face Time. So there we were, a week or so after my husband put the offer on this place, doing the walk through inspection last spring.

I toured the downstairs, counting every wall and light fixture and window treatment that would need fixing, quickly realizing that just about everything in this house would need fixing in some way.

I left my beautiful colonial home in Pennsylvania for this?

By the time we'd made it back to the staircase to go look at the second story, I remember thinking "It's got to get better."

Nope. It got worse. The walls were painted in flat, light sucking paint in a yellowish tan that just made the space feel like a cave. But the walls weren't just dark and ugly. They were dirty and scratched and hadn't been touched in over ten years.

I looked at Mark, the home inspector, and said "Wow. Good thing I know a good painter." And then I pointed to my husband.

Mark nodded and said "Yeah, you aren't kidding!"

Last week, my husband finally figured out a way to paint the tall and cavernous stair well. We continued on with Sherwin Williams Accessible a nice, light-welcoming eggshell finish.

When he was done, I ordered stair tread rugs from Improvements catalog. I chose the Diamond Key pattern in Almond, which turned out to be a lovely match to the walls.

The stair tread rugs were an absolute necessity. Our puppy, Jemma, sleeps in her bed in our room every night. When you consider that she's doubled in size in one month, you can imagine how carrying her 25 pounds of wiggling furriness up those stairs every night was becoming dangerous.

She's now learning how to slowly walk up and down the stairs. Each rug is backed in a rubber type of latex, making them grip the stairs. They work really well! And the best part...machine washable.

Can you see how the color and finish now allow the light to bounce off the walls and into this once dark stairwell? With the light, Jemma-colored rugs and light walls, it feels like a spring breeze has blown into this stairway.

I also ordered matching runners for the hallway. I had painted this hallway in January, which was no easy task when you consider the trim I had to do around every door and baseboard!

After finishing a few projects in the kitchen, we can finally turn our attention to painting bedrooms and bathrooms upstairs.

One more job crossed off a very long list.

Bringing light to dark places, and making ugly things pretty again. This is what we do with houses.

I sure hope the next owner appreciates that!