Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Let's Get Creative!

A very happy Wednesday morning to you all! Today feels like a much brighter day than yesterday was for me, and I feel a renewed sense of determination to tackle a few larger projects around the house. My mom and I were talking yesterday about our great need to be creative and how important being creative truly is, especially if God put that desire in you in the first place. So, I thought I'd show you a little project I just finished and a new one I'm going to be working on.

My Mr. N. is an Eagle Scout. That was one of the things that impressed me right off the bat about him and earned him MAJOR bonus points with my Grandparents, especially. =] He had quite a few pieces of memorabilia from those days placed in a box, but I really wanted to see them out and about considering how much work each precious patch represents. I looked into buying a large shadow box, but those are EXPENSIVE so I looked around to see what I had on hand. I started with an ordinary collage picture frame:
I removed the picture insert portion, but saved the cardboard backing. I then wrapped the cardboard backing with burlap (two layers worth, since you can see through it) that I'd purchased at JoAnn's Fabric (with a coupon!), cutting the burlap to be about an inch and a half or so around the edges. You'll just need to make sure you have enough to glue to the cardboard. Our cat, Pippin, was helping, as you can see.

Then I hot glued the burlap to the cardboard. The burlap is pretty thick, so I had to press down to make sure it was all sticking properly.

After hot gluing, it looked like this:

I then set out all of the memorabilia Mr. N. wanted to include, leaving room for any additional pieces we will need to get from his parents later on. It was a perfect time to let me move things around to fit properly before gluing.

Now, what I didn't take a picture of was that I used safety pins to pin both the sash and the scarf to the burlap. I didn't want to hot glue those particular items, so I was careful to get everything in line first and then pin it. I also pinned the corners of the scarf to the back where the burlap was glued. I hot glued each patch to the burlap. As for the pin at the top, I just pushed the pin straight into the cardboard, which was enough to keep it steady.

Fitting it into the frame was tricky, since it was so thick. However, after a bit of time, I was able to get it in there snug as a bug and still press the tiny metal brackets on the frame down around the cardboard piece to secure it in place. Here is the finished product:
Spiffy, no? The back doesn't look pretty, but we know what the Nester says, "It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful", and it's not about the back, it's about the front, right? =] 

For another project I did that was similar, I used a flour sack dish towel for the fabric. There are definitely lots of inexpensive options out there.

The next project I'm going to start working on has to do with this little beauty. Behold!
We found this crate on the side of the road. Shocker, I know. Even though it's a tad beat up, it's going to look pretty epic once I'm finished with it (or so I tell myself along with playing the song "Eye of the Tiger" in my head). haha.

Hope you're finding ways to be creative this week, too! I'd love to see/hear about some of your projects! Happy creating! 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tis the Season

I don't know about you, but it's a tad warm here today. Summer is upon us, it seems. Thank God for sandals and a cool-ish breeze. =]

In looking over my friend's blogs and facebook pages, I'm reminded of the reality that it seems to be the season for babies. Baby bellies, babies being born, baby pictures, baby showers. Even our church right now feels like a scene straight out of Bambi, or National Geographic, depending upon how I'm feeling on any given Sunday. Just kidding....sort of.

Here are some excellent tutorials I've found lately for homemade baby gifts. They're adorable, they're personal, and they're incredibly useful. You can walk proudly into the next baby shower you're invited to bearing your homemade homage to baby. =]

From Jessica at How About Orange here are some brilliant Pacifier Clips made from ribbons:
Photo from Jessica at How About Orange
These are adorable and inexpensive to make!

From Emily at Jones Design Company here are a few tutorials:
Custom burp clothes:
Photo from Emily at Jones Design Company
I absolutely love these and have heard that a new mom can never have enough burp clothes.
Hair clips for that fine baby girl hair:
Photo from Emily at Jones Design Company

And a sweet flower mobile/wreath for your little lady's crib:
Photo from Emily at Jones Design Company

Not to mention that Emily has a ton of great flower tutorials at her site, as well, so be sure to check it out.

And there are tutorials that you can download for a small fee for little dolls, or bunnies from our very own Martha Stewart. Emily at Jones Design also has her own versions of these two which I like better. =]

And Mr. N.'s talented cousin, Kristin's site has lots of sweet quilts and other fun things like this baby wipe holding pocket to try on your own.
Photo from Kristen at Simply Classic

In any case, you now have a little more of an arsenal for the baby season. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Anatomy of a Playlist

Meet Fred. He is the oldest of our Middle Earthlings at a whopping 8 and 3 quarters years old. I mention Fred, because he and I took a drive to the vet's office this morning so that he could have his teeth cleaned. Fred has had more visits to the dentist than I have since I got my braces off in 1997, which is impressive since he wasn't actually born until 2002. Lucky boy! He would disagree. Fred has a bit of a split personality. He's a lover at home. He loves a good nap, and by love, I mean he understands and respects the deep layers of brilliance and reverence that naps deserve, like I do. He's playful and, when he wants to, he'll actually fetch his toys when you throw them to him. But at the vet's office, he's what they call a "Hugs and Kisses Kitty". That little phrase stands in for one big four letter word, "RAGE". Oh yes! I can't really blame him. I mean, it must be frightening to go into an office filled with other animals that you've pretty much only seen from the living room window and have strangers poke you with needles and such. Like people, each animal handles the fear differently. Our girl, Merry, will purr, especially if she's with Mr. N., and remind the doctor and the staff of just how enchanting she really is. Pippin tends to embrace the fear and channel his anger into a rigid body, toothless hiss, and taco rolled tongue. He looks like a cobra ready to strike. It's pretty impressive, actually. Anyways, while Fred and I were in the car, I turned on my ipod and chose my favorite play list to calm his nerves. 

My favorite play list is entitled "Little Miss Sunshine" after the Richard Hargreaves children's book with a little bit of Alan Arkin, from the movie titled the same, thrown in. It's compiled of my most favorite songs. Not the ones that are just enjoyable, mind you, but the ones that make me feel AMAZING (thanks, dude!). The songs that I actually hope will come up next and start a mental dance party during (the only place I look good dancing. *tear). This play list is kind of like an explosion of 1940's big band meets The Swell Season with bits of shrapnel from the Steven Curtis Chapman mullet days, Mumford and Sons, and my favorite Christmas music. It's like a diet cherry coke with crushed ice and tater tots on a hot summer day. It has soothing properties. Fred seemed to calm down as soon as "Footloose" came on. I'm not sure he was visualizing Kevin Bacon dancing the same way I was, but that's his loss my problem okay. 

After a quick Starbucks run, my mind wandered from how difficult it is to drop my sweet boy off for the day every single time I have to, to how scary it is for both of us, to fear, to risk, to needing to be in control, to getting my hopes up, to that SNL skit of Will Ferrell singing "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" Lawrence Welk Show style and projectile vomiting (Andy William's version is in my play list for that very reason). Doesn't taking risks feel like that sometimes?! There's so much excitement and anticipation that seem to wrap us up in the festive sweater and turtleneck of a 1950's holiday special, but there's also the intense anxiety and projectile vomiting in realizing that we may fail, we may lose, we may have our hopes dashed again, we may not be in control of what happens next, and knowing that we really have no idea what the bleep is going on. All the what-ifs. A friend of mine recently gave a new clarity to a very familiar verse. "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy - meditate on these things." Philippians 4:8 She focused on the word "True" and said that the things we worry about, the what-ifs that we blow to king-sized proportions, the futures we worry about, all of those things are not truths. Yes, it's good to be cautious sometimes, to be informed, and to make the proper preparations for our futures, but creating scenarios of what could be, or what we think should be, means that we're creating an imaginary world of sorts for ourselves and not focusing on what we know to be true, namely that God has everything under control. From Fred's vet visit, to which job He has just around the corner for us, to when we'll meet our future spouse, or be given the gift of a child, to how we'll pay next month's rent, to the state of our country....He knows it all. It doesn't make the waiting any easier, it doesn't always bring clarity, nor does it take away the fear and anxiety of not understanding His timing or His ways, but we know that He hears us, He grants us grace in each difficult moment, and will keep us going. Sometimes it's about the faith of stepping out, sometimes it's about the faith of staying back, and sometimes it's just about the faith of taking our fears, our worries, our frustrations, our hopes, our dreams and laying them before Him admitting that we're at a loss. Turning towards Him rather than away from Him in the tough times.

It really is a process. I guess it's good that I have a swinging soundtrack on this crazy journey. =]

"....Everybody cut footloose....."! 


Monday, June 6, 2011

Silver Lining

It's a beautiful, gray day here. Is it the same where you are? We were expecting some thunder storms today, but it looks like all we're going to get is overcast skies. While we're pretty ready for summer (I know our poor pepper plants are and are cursing my name for planting them in March), we are so thankful for a few more days to enjoy cooler weather and stay cozy inside. 

I thought today might be a fun day to visit the outdoors, kind of a silver lining to remind us that things are still growing, and blooming, and thriving right outside. I know that sometimes all it takes to brighten my day is to clip a few flowers and put them in a simple jar inside. Won't you join me on a little tour of our garden? Please keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times. Thank you! =]

This is me and Mr. N. shortly after we purchased our home this year. Notice the socks with sandals, proving we were meant for each other. =]

  Hydrangeas out front. I am loving getting to bring a few of these inside to enjoy! I can take no credit for planting these. They were already in the ground.
 Here are my spoils from Green Acres (the most incredible nursery in the area!) this past weekend. I skipped dress shopping to spend more time at G.A. Can't wait to plant these this week, hopefully!
 And our vegetable garden. This is the first time we've tried planting veggies in the ground, so it has been a huge learning experience for us. Only the carrots (which you can't see off to the left), one zucchini plant (the one that looks like it's from Jurassic Park), and the beans were started from seed. All the others were purchased as plants. This year we tried a little of everything and ended up planting carrots, zucchini, green beans, peas, tomatoes, peppers, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, basil, rosemary, and thyme. We also have a little citrus tree that's trying hard to come back and a few apple trees that were already here. It has been a fun adventure so far.
The poles used for the beans and peas are actually iron garden hooks we purchased for our wedding. The metal in between the poles for the peas are from a china hutch we were given. Each one was set in front of a pane of glass on either side of the hutch as a design element that screamed 1980's. 

And since I've kept you long enough, here's a rare sighting of our majestic Dr. Leo Marvin guarding the apple trees. (He is also another fun find from the previous owner.) 
 I hope that you've enjoyed your tour today and that you get a chance to step outside, breathe the fresh air, and bask in the beauty of God's creation around you. When you look at the plants outside your home and inside, just think about how the earth actually cries out in praise to God. That these little blossoms, vegetables, fruits, mountains, streams, etc. are glorifying God and His handiwork.
"....You make the outgoings of the morning and evening rejoice...." Ps. 65:8b
"We give thanks to You, O God, we give thanks! For Your wondrous works declare that Your name is near." Ps. 75:1

Friday, June 3, 2011

Sleep Deprivation = Fun Facts

Good morning, all! 

Happiest of Fridays to you! This week has flown by with the help of a holiday, but it's always good to see Friday once more. =]

Whilst tossing and turning ALL NIGHT LONG, it occurred to me at 4:30 a.m. that there are some things I need to tell you about myself and my life that will make understanding my future ramblings much easier. Consider them fun facts, if you will. Here are a few I thought of in the wee, small hours of the morning, and I'll give you more as time progresses, should I realize that something may be unclear. 

  • For starters, my husband and I have been married for 3 years come this October. He is truly the love of my life, but beyond that, truly what God knew I needed in a husband. He is hardworking, funny, hot, loves God, loves me, answers all of my boy questions without even Elizabeth Bennett would say, "He is truly the best man I have ever known". Here in the blog I will affectionately refer to him as "Mr. N." for anonymity's sake and because it sounds kind of James Bond-ish, which is just good times. 
  • We own three cats who we refer to as Hobbits. Their names are Fred, Merry, and Pippin. They are all rescue cats courtesy of an incredible organization called Animal Friends Rescue Project. I got them all as kittens and had these three long before I got married so, ladies, you can find love after adopting cats as a single woman. =]
  • Mr. N. and I love naming things like inanimate objects. An example of this is that both of our vehicles have names: His = The (Millennium) Falcon, Hers = Eowyn (my fav. character from The Lord of the Rings). Both of our ipods have names. Our camera has a name. Certain plants have names. It's a sickness really, but it will make more sense when you hear me refer to something ordinary with a name. 
  • We purchased our very first home this past December. It has been a shock and excitement to enter the world of home ownership. Personally, as difficult and expensive as it can be at times, I love being responsible to fix things on our own rather than waiting on our landlord to do it for us. Our rental before this was a bit lacking in response time for certain issues, so we thank God for His absolute provision in this new endeavor.
  • Mr. N. and I took Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University class over a year ago and fell in love with it. We are always looking for ways to save money and/or make our money go farther. No, we're not "hippies", as our friend called us for getting a non-gas powered push mower. We just consider ourselves frugal. Hopefully, I'll be able to share some ways that we save money on this site and get some new tips from you!
  • Mr. N. and I are geeks. We love sci-fi (coughFireflycough), some fantasy, we're striving to learn the lyrics to all of the Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-long Blog songs, we go on dates to Peet's coffee (which doesn't really fit into the geek thing except that we can be referred to as Peetniks), we hope to visit the Harry Potter theme park and go visit the Lord of the Rings sets in New Zealand, and the like. In advance, I'm sorry. 
  • I just recently left my job of being an Administrative Assistant to be a stay at home wife. This has been an exciting challenge and has given me a chance to do a few projects around the house and try new things, which you'll see here. 
  • I was an Art and Photography major so you may see some photos now and again or other artistic endeavors.
  • I hate raisins and believe them to be what pure evil must taste like. Not super relevant, but important nonetheless.
  • You may from time to time see references to the show Bones or Friends, maybe even Castle or Psych. It's hard to say which. These are my favorite shows, so I know them well. If I ever shout out, "King of the Lab!" or tell myself not to be a "rabid porcupine" you'll know why. =]
  • The blogs that I read are those that continue to inspire and encourage me in some way. I hope that you will take a moment to drop by their sites and give them some love. I'll also list a few websites now and then for you to visit....sites that are truly worth the time, not because I say so, but because they are doing a great work or are stinking fun. 
That's probably enough for now. Onward!