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Meaningful Questions to Ask at the Dinnertable

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I don’t know how things go in your family, but in ours between homework, ministries, meetings, guitar lessons, coffee dates, soccer games and just plain old everyday commitments, it can be stinkin’ hard to connect as a family. When Sam and I were first married we lived on his family farm which meant our lives and meal schedule revolved around the milking schedule. This meant that often times we weren’t eating dinner until nine o’clock and beyond. During this time we got into the nasty habit of eating in front of the TV before crawing into bed. This habit carried into the early years of raising our girls as well when it sounded so much nicer to eat and veg out once my two hooligans were tucked safely into bed and I could just relax. As they have gotten older, though, we realized we were missing valuable time to connect with our kids, sometimes the only time we actually got. We still some weeks only eat together as a family four or five nights out of seven, but that time is still vital for us to be connected in each other’s worlds. When we first started eating as a family I found myself often scolding the girls for fooling around or interrupting while their dad and I were trying to have a conversation, one that often excluded them and was above their comprehension. This was no good.

I searched Pinterest (ever the helpful resource) and find this idea of just adding each other questions during dinner.  I was skeptical, but decided to give it a try.  Two years ago I jotted down some questions and threw them in a jar. They ranged from “if you could be a dog for a day, what would you do?” To “if you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?” These questions are great because they help us to dream together and be imaginative. As they have gotten older, though, every once in awhile I will throw in a new one that is more meaningful. I’ve been amazed to hear the answers the girls can come up with. These questions help them think and grow, but they’ve also challenged me as well! So here are a few examples:

1.Who is someone you can encourage tomorrow and how can you do that?

2. Name three things you are thankful for.

3. Name something you love about the person on your left.

4. What is something God has been teaching you.

5. Who is someone we can be praying for?

6. Who is someone you can talk to about Jesus this week?

7. What is something you can rejoice in today?

Then, of course, there are the sillier ones like this:

1. If you could be a zookeeper for the day, what would that look like?

2. Tell us about an embarrassing moment.

3. If you could have anything to eat right now, what would it be?

4. If you could be a polar bear for the day, what would you do?

5. If you could be anything, what would you be and why? (Nora told us one time she’d like to be a unicorn in a uniform, my favorite answer ever!).

Those are just a few of ours. What about you? What questions would you ask? What do you do to connect as a family?? I’d love to know on the comments!:)

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Pumpkin Pie Latte

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Happy fall, Y’all!

Don’t you just adore the falling leaves crunching underfoot, the crisp air stirring up rich aromas of freshly carved pumpkins and smoky chimneys? There is something supremely poetic and romantic about the Fall. It’s a time for snuggling under warm, thick blankets and reading a good book on a rainy day or swinging on the front porch with hot apple cider on a warm, sunny afternoon listening to children giggling as they stomp home from school. AAAAAAH! It’s the epitome of coziness!

The Fall is the perfect time for hot drinks! So I came up with this really simple, yet divinely delicious recipe to enjoy on this fine Autumn morning while I read my Bible with two faithful pups curled at my feet.

Confession time: I’m not a huge fan of coffee or pumpkin pie! But, together, they make a heavenly combination. Confession #2: This is also a throw together recipe. I rarely follow any recipes to a T because I like to “create” with whimsy rather than follow recipes that squash the creative juices. That’s how I roll. So, bear with me. I will tell you what I put in this and give you an idea of how much I added of each ingredient, but I’m leaving it up to you to really make your own concoction to entice your own taste buds. So, here goes:

-Freshly brewed coffee (I filled my mug up about half full)

-canned pumpkin (I added about a tablespoon)

-Sweetened Condensed Milk (for me a teaspoon)

-Milk (I used skim and filled the rest of my mug with it)

-Cinnamon (just a dash in the coffee and some sprinkled on top of….)

-Whipped cream (optional but highly recommended. You taste buds, if not your waist, will thank you)

Mix all together, with whipped cream on top, and relish with pleasure while reading a gripping novel, taking a lovely stroll down a leaf strewn lane, snuggling with a companion, or enjoying the glory of God’s creation.

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There’s No Place Like Home (A Home Tour)

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I just saw this quote on Pinterest today by Jane Austen; “There’s nothing like staying at home for real comfort.” Being a homebody myself and a desperate Jane Austen fan, I fell in love and decided to make a print of it myself.

Today, as Spring days often are, is dreary, rainy, and romantically cozy. I find that my house is sprinkled with comfort and all things romantic as I walk through it. I wanted you to take a walk through it with me. DSCF1880

As I walked up the steps toward my attic office, I caught a glimpse of our cat, Picky-Picky sprawled out lazily upon our guestroom bed. I picked up this bedspread at an antique shop tucked away in a quaint little town while on vacation. The curtains draped haphazardly over this antique bed (found for a steal for $75 at a local flea market just down the street) were made from sheets found at Salvation Army.

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Next door is our girls’ room, papered with scrapbook sheets with paper stars dangling above the bed. Sometimes, when I tuck the girls away into bed at night, we pretend they are real stars and the ceiling is a night sky full of wonder and shooting stars.

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Then there is my room, painted a delicious, buttery yellow, complete with three windows that stream the sun through it. Even on a dreary day like today, it is bathed in luxurious light. The four post bed was crafted by my grandfather a quarter of a century ago and makes me feel ridiculously spoiled. It is high and soft and romantic. It is accented with bird pillows and a throw quilt, both crafted by yours truly, and is piled high with quilts acquired from different places, but my favorite being the one on top that was tucked away in my grandmother’s antique chest made by a relative long ago. As you can see, we, too, have stars above our bed. I am quite obsessed with paper stars.

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This vintage tray is one of my proudest finds, picked up at an estate sale for a few cents that sits on a shelf in our bathroom, topped with lotions and potions.

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When we first took a tour of our house when we were looking to buy, I nearly melted on the floor when I caught sight out this fireplace. It’s flanked by fluted pillars and has a built-in mirror that gives the room depth.  Do you see them? I told you I was obsessed with paper stars!

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This is our little breakfast nook, tucked into a corner of our kitchen. Can you tell I like vintage style? We got this table (that has two sides that pop out) and chairs all for $30 at an estate sale. Estate sales are my absolute favorites for the best finds!

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Seriously? Is there anything more romantic on a cold or dreary day than a hot cup of tea in a pretty tea cup? Most of these were my great grandmother’s. Aren’t they lovely?

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Along with paper stars, I am obsessed with birds (did you notice them on the pillows on my bed?). My dear, sweet mother knows this. This is Vivian, as I have fondly named her, given to me by my mom.

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….as was this one, which dangles nicely from the china cabinet in our dining room.

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Our reading nook, tucked between our stairs and living room, is papered with wallpaper I found for a dollar a roll at Micheal’s. I am quite fond of it.

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Aren’t they handsome? Perhaps one of the coziest of coziness on a dreary day are my two pals, Burton and Henry, that keep my company while the girls and Sam are away. Look at those faces!

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Lastly, this is the hope of things to come! This was taken in our backyard at the end of summer last year. This picture doesn’t do anything in it justice. Those zinnias and forget-me-nots brought me such joy! They were absolutely breath-taking. And that cute little girl in rubber boots watering flowers? Words cannot describe how cozy she is to cuddle!

So that is a glimpse into my cozy home! More to come later…….

xo

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Easy Mitten Quilt and Tea Staining Fabric

ImageQuilting as you go is a really popular way to quilt it seems these days, which absolutely thrills my soul! With two businesses to try to keep afloat, two girls to keep after, errands to run, a house to keep in order, murals to finish painting, custom orders to keep up with, youth group activities, church functions, upcoming showers and parties, Christmas presents to be made…..(you get the idea) I am so happy when I see something that helps me to shave off some time on my projects. I have sold my quilts in shops in the past (real storefront stores, not online) so I have to have an inventory of quilts on hand ready to be shipped out. Fall is just around the corner, and Christmas and snow shortly to follow, so lots of stores are already carrying winter items (which is terribly depressing to me, but that is for another day).  Anyway, I came up with this mitten quilt that is an applique quilt-as-you-go quilt that literally took me just a little over three hours to make, start to finish (minus tea staining the fabric). 

Here are the supplies you will need:

* 2 pieces of fabric measuring 48″x36″

*Batting measuring 48″x36″

*Fabric scraps of your choice for the mittens and binding (I found this adorable cotton fabric that looks like it’s knit, but I think using real salvaged sweaters would be cute, too)

*Rickrack

*Fusible webbing

*Thread

*Tea bags (if you intend to tea stain the fabric first)

Pretty simple list, right? 

First, I tea stained the fabric by boiling some water on the stove with a few tea bags, then I turned the stove off and let the fabric soak in it for a good hour, then rinsed and rung it out and hung it out to dry.  Don’t toss the water or bags yet because they will come in handy later.

102_2205After it had dried, I dipped it in the water a few times, then rinsed it out and rung it out really well, the put it in my dryer to really set the stain. DO NOT PUT IT IN WITH OTHER ITEMS!! It will stain other clothes, so I don’t recommend it and you might want to run a rag over the barrel once you are all done with this process. It has never left residue on future cycles for me before, but it probably doesn’t hurt to use this precaution.  You can always hang it up to dry again if you want to.  After it was dry again, I took just the tea bags and would put them in the fabric and squeeze for a very highly concentrated staining.  I have found that it’s always better to make sure the fabric is completely dry when you do this. 

102_2206Then I toss it in the dryer once more for good measure, pull it out and it’s good to go!

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I love anything vintage or antique, so I love this method because it makes your fabrics look “aged” quickly.

Once the fabric was tea-stained, I went to work cutting out mittens. I traced around my own hand for a pattern (very scientific 🙂 ) and then cut out two pairs of mittens out of each of the fabrics and webbing I had, totaling six pairs of mittens. Then, I sandwiched my three layers together (backing, batting and front fabric) and pinned it all together nicely as you would any other quilt.  Then I went about pinning and ironing the mittens in place. This part was fun to me, because I liked putting them around a little haphazardly like mittens strewn about after a morning sled riding and building snowman, discarded in the haste of warming hands on a mug of hot chocolate.  

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After I had the mittens where I wanted them, I pinned on some matching red and green rickrack to connect four out of my six pairs of mittens. I love rickrack! It adds a vintage touch to any project.

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*Note: I know one if dark brown and not red, but I was going to use the brown until I found I had some red after I took this picture. 

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Starting from the middle of the quilt outward, I went about quilting the three layers using a free-motion stitch, and sewing around each of the mittens and across the rickrack. 

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Once it was completely quilted (which took only about an hour total time) I cut out 1/2″ strips for the binding from different fabrics, just to keep things interesting. 

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Last but not least I attached the binding by machine. I know, I know…..that’s the lazy method. But, doing it this way is the difference between 30 minutes and three hours. So, I will take the easy method, please.

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Aaaaaaand (drum roll please) there you have it! A cozy quilt for the upcoming winter chill.

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Now all that is missing is a hot cup of cocoa, a crackling fire, Dean Martin singing “Baby it’s Cold Outside”, and snow sticking to the window outside. 

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DIY Wreath

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I am so cheap. I really am. I am that person that goes to the Salvation Army on half-off Wednesdays and agonizes about whether I should buy that really cute sweater that is $3 (and that is before the discount is taken off). Yep-that’s me.  So when I go to those major craft stores and browse all of their delightfully cheery Springtime decor, dreaming about what it would look like in my home and see a $40 price tag for a door wreath-well, my cheap heart practically goes into cardiac arrest.  This is why I love the Dollar Tree. I have to say this: I believe it is a complete deception and misnomer is a store calls itself a “dollar store” when everything in it is not a dollar. It’s just not right. This is why I love the Dollar Tree. I spend much more time and money there than any human being should, but can you blame me? Did you hear me say “EVERYTHING IS A DOLLAR!”?!

So, I picked up a few things from there today to make this wreath for my front door which was looking so shamefully naked and immodest. I spent six dollars-YUP- SIX dollars and ten minutes on this wreath.

The Dollar Tree has a great selection of silk flowers that I think are pretty. I picked up an assortment of ones I liked and thought would look nice together, along with a bare craft wreath and a spool of tulle in their wedding section (yeah-they even have a wedding section!).

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Then I went to work cutting the flowers from their stems to a more manageable length to work with (about 4 inches) with my trusty pair of wire cutters.

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I then glued the leaves of them to the base of the flower head and glued under the leaves and inserted them as I pleased through the wreath. This is the best part-arranging them however you feel like it and nobody can stop you. 😉

Here is our door all gussied up and ready for Spring. We just bought our house a couple of months ago and fell in love with all of it’s charm and character, this gorgeous front door being part of that.

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I chose to leave some space about 2/3 of the way from the top to let the twigs show, but I also made another one for the Fall and glued the whole way around. The girls helped me with this one (also made with stuff from the Dollar Tree):

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And here is one we made for Christmas:

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See? The possibilities are endless!

And I even had a lot of flowers left over to bring Spring inside the house as well!

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DIY Sock Monkey Slippers

I saw these adorable sock monkey slippers in a few stores, and I thought to myself “I think I can totally do that.” My motto is “Anything can be accomplished with a glue gun.” So, I bought a pair of wool, knee length socks  with the red band at the top(I got them at a discount store, but just today I saw a pair at the dollar store), and some cream and red felt, and got to work!   First of all, to get started, in addition to the socks and felt, you will need some buttons for eyes, embroidery thread for stitching, a glue gun, old sweaters or fleece for the bottom of the slippers and the ears, and an old pair of flip flops. The flip flops can be exchanged for thick foam if you don’t have a pair you want to part with. The flip flops are for the bottoms of the slippers. You could probably leave them out if you wanted to, but they make these more like slippers and less like just a pair of socks. 🙂 To start, cut the straps off of your flip flops, and cut enough fabric from your sweater or fleece to fit over the bottom of the shoes.  Wrap the fabric around the soles of the shoes, and glue into place with hot glue.  Press down so that the glue is squished and doesn’t dry hard and lumpy and poke into your feet when you wear the slippers. Once the fabric is attached to the bottom of the slippers, glue the sock onto the top of the shoe. I also added a few stitches just to ensure that the fabrics would not separate from each other during use. Next, cut a watermelon shaped mouth out of the red fabric. Make sure to measure the width of your sock so it fits nicely on the top of the sock.  Cut a rectangle out of the cream colored fabric the width of the sock and just about an inch and a half wide. Use embroidery floss to stitch the mouth and nose and to attach them to the socks.  The nice thing about these are, that if your stitching isn’t perfect, it just adds to the charm. For the nostrils, wrap the thread around the end of your needle and then push the needle into the fabric, leaving the “ball” intact.  Glue the “eyes” on or sew them on if you prefer. I like to take shortcuts when possible. Cut lightbulb shaped ears out of gray fleece, sweater, or felt.  Attach them to side with glue or sewing. To add traction to the bottom of your slippers, use your glue gun to put dots on the bottom. Mine still look a little “hairy” but at least it’s on the bottom.;)And, that’s IT! This really only takes an hour or so! This is great for a last minute Christmas gift or just for yourself! Oh yeah-and lastly, wear them loud and proud!