Dec 11, 2013

Christmas Home Tour

No matter where we've lived, I have always enjoyed decorating our home for Christmas. This house, though, seems like it was made for Christmas! It makes it even more fun! I used a lot of the same decor as I had up last year (even the same tablescape- gasp!) but moved a lot of things to different parts of the house or paired them up in a new way. Enjoy the tour!

The front porch...

As usual, we cut down a really huge tree and then had to chop a lot of the bottom to fit it in the house. It was okay, though, because I had plenty of branches for making a wreath, a garland, and sprigs to tuck here and there. The ornament in the bottom right picture is the one we picked out on our Christmas date.

So much better than a fake garland! I might do this every year. The vase with branches is a card tree. We have a few up now!

Of course, I had to make new stockings this year. These were made out of old plaid shirts I picked up at Goodwill. Yes; I'm still obsessing over plaid. I did not come up with the chalkboard graphic on my own. I'm just really good at copying stuff I see on pinterest. The advent garland is still a favorite!

I didn't have the gallery wall up in time for Christmas last year, so I was excited to switch out the sheet music for some Christmas pieces.

That's it! Thanks for stopping by!

Dec 7, 2013

FREE Christmas Printables

Hello again! I've made some Christmas printables for myself and wanted to share them with you. They are lyrics taken from Silent Night, Holy Night, and It Came Upon the Midnight Clear. Enjoy!

Dec 5, 2013

Photography Tip

I am obviously not a professional photographer, and this may be a widely known trick, BUT I discovered a secret to getting real smiles out of kids (as opposed to CHEESE-y grins)!

I was taking pictures of some nieces and nephews and asked them to smile...

Without being prompted, they started cheesing.

And then I asked them to laugh...

SO much better! It worked like a charm every time I pulled the camera out. By the end of the day, they were laughing for the camera before I even asked them to!

Oct 14, 2013

Kitchen Cabinet Update

Today, I thought I'd take a little time to share an update on how our kitchen cabinets have held up. Our kitchen reveal post has received a lot of attention over the past year (thanks, pinterest!) mainly due to the fact that we painted our kitchen cabinets without sanding them.

Sanding must be a universally hated task. It sure is in our home! But if you're going to go to all the work of painting something, you definitely want to do whatever you need to do so that you don't have to redo it later, even if that means sanding.

I'll admit I was a bit skeptical when we painted our cabinets without sanding them.

But it worked!

We used a primer that did not require any sanding and a higher quality paint than what we'd normally use on walls (more details here). Not only did the cabinets look great as soon as they were finished, but they look terrific a year later!

There are just a couple of spots around the knobs of the two cabinets we use most often that need a little touch-up, but other than that, the paint has held up very well.

One thing I hadn't considered was how often I would have to wipe down the cabinets. For pete's sake, it looks like we splash coffee on them every time we walk by. I guess that's what I get for going with white. I love how bright they are, though, so I'd still pick white even after knowing I'd have to clean them all the time.

In the end, I'd say it was a success! If you've been on the fence about painting your cabinets, GO FOR IT!

If you have a success story about painting your cabinets, I'd love to hear all about it!

Oct 4, 2013

Free Harvest Printables

Can you believe it's October?! Summer has once again flown by, and here we are at the end of gardening season, long days, and cool treats. I'm okay with that. Autumn has always been a favorite of mine. I never really got around to pulling out my summer decor, but I had my autumn decor out by the middle of September. Rather than buying anything new, I rearranged things I already had on hand and then bought a few small pumpkins for vignettes. Printable art is easy to switch around, though, so I made a few new prints for this year. I used Bible verses about harvesting to create a set that coordinates. The background looks gray, but it should print white. If you have trouble with it, let me know.

{click to print}

{click to print}
Image source for the wheat: unknown. If it's yours, leave me a comment so I can include a link.

Check back soon for pictures of the autumn decor I put up!

Aug 25, 2013

What do you think?

Marshall preached a really convicting message this morning on Philippians 4:8, and I thought I'd make a printable for myself as a daily reminder to take every thought captive. It's something to remember every time I turn on the computer, tv, open a book, or even in daily conversation.

"You become what you think about most of the time." -Brian Tracy

Here is a printable version of Philippians 4:8 for you:

{click to print}

Aug 12, 2013

Grilled Guacamole

Yes, you read that correctly... grilled guacamole.

Why? Because we tried it, and it worked, and it was

If you like guac, you must try this before grilling season is over!

Grilled Guacamole
{click to print}

2 avocados, sliced in half and pits removed
1 large onion, sliced
3 romas, seeded and diced
one clove garlic, minced
olive oil
sea salt

Brush olive oil on the avocado flesh and on the onion sliced. Place on hot grill, and cook until nicely browned. Let sit until cool enough to handle.

Scoop the avocado flesh out of the skin and mash in a medium-sized bowl. Chop onion and add to bowl. Add tomatoes, garlic, and sea salt to taste.

We love to add a dollop of this to our Chili's copycat fajitas. Yum!

Jul 22, 2013

Backyard Makeover

When we first started talking about our plans for the backyard, we decided we'd take down the old clothesline, put up a new one, and put in a few plants. We debated whether or not to do "real" landscaping with mulch and the whole nine yards versus just sticking plants in the ground. After thinking it through, we decided to just put the plants in the ground.

And then we got a little carried away.

Once we got started, we thought, "If we're going to go to all this work, we might as well go all out."

One clothesline, three boxwoods, two mums, a lot of irises, a lilac, two bittersweet vines, two trumpet vines, several bags of mulch, 26 pavers, and a pergola later, I think we're finally finished... I'd say that qualifies as "going all out."

It's been a while since we shared our backyard inspiration board with you, so here is a before picture of the backyard for you.

Granted, everything looks a little drab in the middle of winter. But still, it was pretty sad.

Here it is now!

And here is a diagram to show you which plants are which. It'll be hard to tell from a distance until they get bigger. They spend the first year putting down roots, so they should grow a lot next summer.

We put in a lot of plants, but the best change by far is the pergola. Marshall built it for me as an anniversary/birthday gift!

Our yard doesn't really have any trees for shade, and because of all the different lines buried underground, we can't plant any. We planted vines at each of the posts, so the whole pergola should be covered next year!

Here is a before and after for you.

And just for fun, here are some other pictures from around the yard and house.

I hope you are enjoying your summer!

Jul 6, 2013

Front Yard Changes

We have absolutely loved having a space of our "own!" It worked out well that we moved in during the colder months and had plenty of time to do some interior work. Now that the weather is nicer, we've moved the work outdoors, starting with the front yard.

We didn't really change what was already here, but we added some plants and switched up the flower garden a bit.

The big picture:

They don't look like much now, but we planted two pear trees on either side of the yard. You need two to pollinate, so we planted a Bartlett and a Kieffer. They should produce a small amount of fruit this year, a medium size next year, and then the average amount from the third year on. All the rain we've had this year has been great for growing trees!

Since the trees did so well, we also planted a couple of Double Knock Out Roses. We want to eventually have a hedge across the front of the yard, so we're planning to add a couple of bushes each year. The blooms are gorgeous!

The flower beds were full of different types of hostas, but the draught finished off half of them last year, and I accidentally killed the rest. I planted Lily of the Valley- you know, the flower that even the blackest thumb can grow. Well, it didn't grow, so I ended up putting in some Impatiens. You can't see it yet, but there is some Astilbe and Caladium coming up behind the Impatiens.

We put planters on either side of the stairs with Bleeding Heart and some more Impatiens.

And, of course, no porch is complete without Boston ferns!

I am reusing my wreath from last summer, but I had to take everything off the foam form and use a straw form. After hanging all summer, the wreath was sagging. I'm hoping the straw form will hold up under the weight of the shells. I tied it off with a wire-edged burlap ribbon I found here.

The backyard is almost finished, and we'll show that next!

Jun 8, 2013

Just a Couple Things

Hello again!

Marshall and I have not missed blogging one bit; however, we agreed that we might post every now and then just for fun.

We are loving this new gingham quilt I made. It was so easy to put together, I plan to make another as soon as I get my sewing machine back from the repair guy. It's a long story.

I didn't take a picture of the finished product, but you get the idea... gray gingham + red binding = awesome quilt. It makes me want to go camping, which is saying a lot.

I just cut strips that were 5 inches x WOF, sewed the strips together down the long side, cut those down every 5 inches, and rearranged them to make the pattern. Make sense?

This has nothing to do with anything, but I cannot get enough of these peonies that are growing in our yard. How gorgeous is this?!

We have been thrifting like crazy, so be on the lookout for a living room update!

Apr 22, 2013


It's been fun, but I've decided I'm done with blogging, at least for now.


-I originally started blogging to keep in touch with friends and family. We lived far away from most of our loved ones, and I was really lonely. After moving in November, we are just minutes away from Marshall's family and an hour away from mine. We are blessed to see them on a regular basis, and I no longer feel the need to keep them updated on our lives via blogging.

-In 10 months, I've had over 31,000 views but very few comments on blog posts. Even if we hadn't moved closer to friends and family, blogging wasn't really helping me connect to anyone. It was as if I was putting all kinds of time into posts that were being sent out into a void. The comments I do receive are usually from spammers... major letdown!

-After posting a few DIY projects, I could see that those posts were getting a lot more attention. I changed my focus from keeping up with family to putting out content that people wanted to see. I would have been doing these projects anyway, but it takes hours to take pictures along the way, edit them, write up a post, etc. That results in keeping up with all kinds of people who I don't know and not having the time to keep up with my family. Sounds kind of backwards, right?

-I don't want to go through life always on the hunt for new blog post material. While we were on vacation, I found myself thinking about what my next post would be or which pictures would be blog worthy. And then I thought, "What is wrong with me? I should just be enjoying this for what it is right now!"

I will not be shutting down the blog. I realize that there are a lot of tutorials that have gone crazy on pinterest, and I want to keep the blog up so that people can always find the information they need. At the moment, I'm not planning to post anything new. But who knows, maybe I'll get the itch someday.

Thank you to everyone who subscribed and for those who did leave comments! It always put a smile on my face to see that we had a new follower or someone who was interested in a project. I'll still be able to receive e-mails and comments, so if you have a question about an old project, don't be afraid to ask away!

Apr 15, 2013

IKEA Magazine File Knock Off

Do you ever refrain from buying something that you don't need and then end up needing it almost as soon as you walk out of the store? That seems to be the story of my life.

I spotted some fabric covered magazine files last year at IKEA that I really liked, but I didn't need them at the time. I do get a few magazines in the mail, but I don't hang onto them for long and didn't need the extra storage.

About two weeks after that trip to IKEA, Marshall accepted his position here as a pastor, and we moved to our current home. Do you know how much mail a pastor gets?! And how many magazines?! I kept thinking to myself that I wished I would have bought those magazine files when I had the chance.

We don't have an IKEA nearby, and even if I did, the magazine files I had my eye on have been discontinued. I was able to find a picture of them on the internet, though, so I decided to make my own.

The inspiration:
IKEA's Kvarnvik Magazine File

We recently ordered some photobooks from MyPublisher (I highly recommend them- much better quality than other photobooks we've ordered!), and the boxes they came in were the perfect size.

I started by cutting the boxes to the shape I wanted.

Then, I laid the box down over some burlap. I cut out around the outline of the box, leaving about an inch extra all the way around.

I hot glued the burlap to the sides of the box and then doubled the edge over and hot glued it to the inside of the box. That gave it a nice, finished look.

And the final product:

So much for discontinued!

Apr 12, 2013

Kefir Mint Julep

Ok, so we are those people...

... you know...

...the kind that soak their grains, drink non-dairy milk, avoid the "dirty dozen," and have water kefir culturing on the kitchen counter.

Yes, we thought only weird people did those things, but after doing lots of research, well.... We think it's weirder not to at least try to eat the healthiest food possible. Bring on the kefir!

Confession: Water kefir does not have a pleasant taste.

Marshall likes it, but I have to disguise it to make it palatable. We make water kefir by the quart, and I like to make mine into Kefir Mint Julep. I've never actually tasted alcoholic Mint Julep before, so I'm using my imagination here. Humor me.

Kefir Mint Julep
1 quart finished kefir water
1 mint tea bag
1/4 C bottled lemon juice
1/4 C stevia

Place tea bag in a coffee mug and add just enough boiling water to cover it (about 1/3 C). Steep for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, add lemon juice and stevia to the kefir water.

Add the concentrated tea, and mix well.

Sometimes we skip the mint tea and just make kefir "lemonade." It's pretty tasty, too. If you have any kefir recipes, I'd love for you to share them in the comment section below!

Apr 10, 2013

Strawberry Lemonade Cake

Do you remember my Key Lime Cupcakes? They were a party in my mouth.

As I was enjoying one of my cupcakes, the thought occurred to me that I could try it with lemon.

And strawberry filling.

And Strawberry Lemonade Cake was born. Mmmmmmm! I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate finishing up my spring cleaning.

Strawberry Lemonade Cake
{click to print}

2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
2/3 cup coconut oil, melted
2/3 cup bottled lemon juice
3/4 cup Greek yogurt

strawberry jam (for filling)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour three 8 inch cake pans.

Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl.

Add the eggs, oil, lime juice, and yogurt. Mix until well blended.

Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Cool on wire racks. Using a rubber spatula, remove cakes carefully from the pans. Set the bottom cake layer on your cake plate or stand. Spread half of the jam evenly over the cake. Add another layer of cake, and spread the remaining jam on top. Add the top cake layer, and frost.

Lemonade Frosting
1 C butter, softened
4 C powdered sugar
2 t vanilla extract
4 T bottled lemon juice
yellow food coloring, optional

Cream the butter until smooth.

Add one cup of powdered sugar and mix well.

Mix in vanilla, lemon juice, and food coloring.

Add remaining powdered sugar, one cup at a time. Beat until smooth.