Thursday, April 28, 2016

Springtime Squatters

Do you remember the birds who came to visit my front door wreath on Easter? As it turns out, they weren't just visiting. They were shopping for real estate.

Yep. The pair of purple house finch have now taken up residence in their newly remodeled wreath on our front door.

In all honesty, our front door does not get a lot of use. We very rarely have visitors, and the UPS man just drops the boxes on the porch, rings the bell and leaves. I guess the birds figured out that if no one else was going to use this space, then this would be a perfect place to construct their very own Fixer Upper.

We're using the garage entrance now to enter and exit and retrieve the mail. It's a good thing we made that garage door look pretty.

Blessings on your day, cafe friends!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The $3 Home Improvement Makeover

Yes, you read that correctly. The $3 Home Improvement Makeover. Not the $300 Home Improvement Makeover. This is a post about how a $3 can of spray paint transformed and unified our family room.

It all began with me not loving that brass fireplace insert. Now I know that brass has become popular again, and I've seen it used in lots of homes where it looks great...elegant homes with lots of bling and sparkle. But this insert did not match anything in this house, and it certainly did not give the look of new American Farm House that I am going for on the exterior and interior of our Fixer Upper house.

Pinterest to the rescue!

I read how you can spray paint those brass inserts with this, a $3 can of Rustoleum High Heat spray paint. It comes in many colors and finishes, but I wanted a simple black matte.

If you look inside of the fireplace, you can see where the insert is held in place by two screws. Unscrew those, and out it comes! And even better, the glass windows can pop out, too, so no need for elaborate masking.

My husband gave the panels a light sanding with some sandpaper, then cleaned and prepped the surface. He sprayed one coat, let it dry, and sprayed another coat, using the entire can just as he finished up. And voila!

Wow! What a transformation!

The matte black matches so many of the darker colors in this room...the ceiling fan, the chalkboard, and so many of the accent decor pieces. Finally, the fireplace looks as if it belongs.

Except for the puppy. It does not match the naughty puppy. Silly Jemma! Couches are for people, not puppies!

See? Not every home improvement project has to make my credit card cry.

I truly believe that it's the smaller improvements that can make or break a house sale. Updated light fixtures, updated curtains and curtain rods, paint and even spray paint. Some projects are time consuming, and others can be accomplished in under an hour.

Thanks for visiting the cafe today!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Save Your Drama For Your Llama

I spent the weekend in Indy, visiting and eating and shopping with my son, John. We were walking in the courthouse square of Noblesville when we spotted them in front of Alexander's Ice Cream.

Two beautiful llamas, out for a stroll on a sunny day.

We asked the owner "What's the special occasion?"

No special occasion, he answered. It just seemed like a good day to take your llamas for a walk.

Oh, how I miss living in Stars Hollow! And look! Kirk even has his own hardware store! (That's a nod to all of you Gilmore Girls fans like me out there!)

Luke's Diner. ;)

I drove over three hours to get out of Chicago, only to eat at a restaurant called South of Chicago. The irony!

I love visiting with my son, John. Sometimes, a mom just needs to see her sweet child's face. I told him that his quiet, calm nature is a balm for my chaotic life.

Five states in ten years. We don't often get to revisit the places and people where we once lived. I'm glad that John has built a new adult life for himself near a town that we once called home. Not only do we get to visit our favorite cafes and diners and antique shops, but we also get to worship with our dear church families.

During those times when I feel less than grounded and not quite rooted anywhere, I can go back to a place that I called home, even if it's just for a weekend. A place where people hug you when they see you and can't wait to hear about the latest places where God has taken you.

A place where people take their llamas out for ice cream.

It's a good place to be.

Monday, April 25, 2016

PTI April Blog Hop

I could not believe the calendar when I checked it this morning.

April 25th? Seriously, is that right?

Where did the month of April go? I'm not really sure. But one thing's for certain...

...the 25th of the month means

This month's challenge was a real challenge for me. I am tired and it's Monday. My brain is not in super-creative mode, I guess. Here's the photo:

Hmmm. What do you do with that? Honestly, I didn't know where to go with this photo. So I went for the obvious. Circles and coffee.

I started with the coffee stained background, using various colors of brown PTI ink, and then lightly sponging it all with some spring green. The "happy" die cut is from the Pretty Peonies stamp set. Grind, scoop, pour, sip, happy just made a lot of sense to me.

{Today's Brew: Latte Love stamp set and die (PTI), Pretty Peonies die (PTI), PTI inks and card stock, polka embossing folder, circle stencil, prisma marker}

When in doubt, coffee.

Happy Monday, cafe friends!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Java Jemma

It's official. I have the silliest puppy of the litter.

Jemma loves my coffee bar! She often sleeps under it, tucked behind the coffee curtains. And when I'm trying to make an espresso, she's right there, watching the whole process intently.

On one of our recent sunny days, I decided to sit outside with a cuppa and soak up the sunshine. I went into the house for just a minute to retrieve a magazine, and when I came out I found Jemma, sitting in my chair, trying very hard to lap up a little coffee from my mug.

Silly puppy! Coffee is for Mamas!

It's hard to resist that smiling face!

I think she just wants a little taste of that magic elixir that makes Mama so happy.

Blessings on your Friday, cafe friends!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

An Organic Weed Killer That Really Works!

I started seeing them pop up in the warm weather last week.

They're baaaack!

The thistle weeds that were five feet tall when we moved into the Fixer Upper House last summer? The very same thistle weeds that I spent tons of hours and back breaking work trying to eradicate last summer and fall?

Right back and happily growing in the garden beds where we carefully spread three inches of dark mulch last fall.

I wanted to cry.

My husband's first instinct is to reach for the Roundup. But I finally have birds visiting my garden now, along with bunnies and chipmunks and squirrels. And Jemma. Did I mention that she likes to eat the flowers off the dandelions? I can't spray pesticides willy nilly throughout the yard.

I did a little research on homemade organic weed killers. One popular recipe uses white vinegar, Dawn dish soap, and salt. But I knew that if I started spraying salt in my garden nothing would grow in that soil. I really like my flowers, and my hope is that I can add to the garden and crowd out the weeds one day.

Then I read another recipe that said to just use straight vinegar, and spray directly on the weed. I had a bottle of distilled white vinegar and an empty Febreeze bottle, so I thought I'd give this method a try.

Wow! An hour after application, and the thistle weeds were already shriveling up and browning! Hooray!

Safe for puppies, deadly for weeds. Vinegar, you are my new best friend!

Peace restored!

Thanks for visiting the cafe today!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

A Curb-Appeal Makeover For The Garage

The Fixer Upper house sits at the corner of a cul de sac, with a side entry garage that is accessed from the street.

Picture, if you will, that whenever I come home, I do not get to see the pretty wrap around front porch with its white rockers and flowers. Nope. You only see that when you are driving past the house from the opposite direction.

I get to see a big ole garage door.

It really is the most used "entrance" to our house, and it never was all that welcoming...

...until this weekend!

We went to Lowe's (home improvement stores must love us!) and purchased a kit from Coach House Accents to give our garage doors the look of carriage house doors.

We purchased one decorative hardware kit ($35), and two window panel kits ($100).

Here are the doors before. Look at my sweet husband, diligently reading those instructions. Aww. I thought you only used those as a last resort. Ha ha. Just kidding!

And here he is, giving me a little visual demonstration of what the window panels will look like. We did the measurements, drilled the holes, and installed the hardware and window panels. And in just under an hour, our side entrance was transformed!

Ta da!

Wow! I cannot believe what a difference this makes to the look of the house!

Last fall, we installed the carriage house lights to the exterior, and honestly, I wasn't sure that I liked them before. But now, I think they match the look and feel of the cottage exterior perfectly!

The lights have a paned glass with a top arch, just like the garage windows. The black wrought iron of the lights now matches the garage door hardware, too. And the window panes now match the panes of our Andersen windows.

Now I know what some of you are wondering. Are those windows real? Can you see out of them from the interior of the garage? Nope! These are faux windows, but they certainly look real. I like to think of them as security windows. This way, no one can look into your garage and see all of the expensive things you are hiding there, like garden gnomes and cracked pots and Miracle Gro. (Oh, how I wish I had a garden shed. HOAs are evil!)

I found a nice spot for my garden potting table next to the chimney. Due to HOA's (hate 'em!), I cannot have a garden shed, so this potting table really helps me with gardening tasks, and I can still hide most of the tools in the garage. I can cute it up for the seasons, too, so it is decorative and functional.

Now some people may look at this project and say "Really? You've run out of projects to do inside of your house? (Nope!) Was this job really necessary?"

Maybe not.

But I really wanted to do this project for me. I wanted to feel welcomed and see a prettier side to my house when I come home. This makes me happy. And furthermore, you can never put a price on good curb appeal. Or maybe you can. $235, to be exact.

The next curb appeal project? Installing an arbor over this side gate, and then painting the picket fence white. I think it will freshen it up and tie it in with the white trim of the house. I will plant a lovely white sweet autumn clematis to grow here. And more flowers. Flowers always say "Welcome home."

Something like this:

 We are loving on this house in a way it hasn't been loved on in a long time.
Every project, big and small, takes this neglected house and turns it into a home.

Thanks for visiting the cafe, today!

Monday, April 18, 2016

A Non-traditional, Custom Wedding Card

Happy Monday, cafe friends! I hope your weekend was blessed with lovely spring weather. Sunshine and flowers, grass mowing and garden digging. Ah, spring!

My husband and I went out to brunch yesterday after church. We met with two of my husband's friends and co-workers who recently got married. I decided to make a non-traditional wedding card for them.

One of my favorite aspects of paper crafting is the fact that I can make a card that is custom tailored to the person who will receive it, right down to the theme and the colors.

I happen to know that this couple loves coffee. So much so, in fact, that they've had espresso makers built in to their custom kitchen designs. Hard core coffee lovers are my kind of people. :)

This couple also happens to work in the fashion industry, so I really needed to step up the design a notch and keep this one "on trend". No pressure, right? Notice the trendy color scheme, along with gold accents and washi.

I thought the sentiment inside was too funny for a wedding card!

A little washi addition to the envelope made this card match the pink cellophane-wrapped champagne bottle, too!

{Today's Brew: Heart to Heart stamp set (PTI), inside sentiment from Cuppa Love stamp set (PTI), outside sentiment from Tag Its (PTI), doily (Target), washi (Target), gold ribbon (Target), PTI inks and card stock}

Blessings on your day, cafe friends!