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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

13

Quilted Pet Portraits

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I get restless very easily. My creative brain is always working overtime to help keep the rest of me sane during the mundane day-by-day of everyday living.  I specialize in custom party/signature/wedding/shower quilts, and to be honest with you, I get a little bored sometimes and like to try new things. So, hence, here we are. I am a HUGE dog lover. My dog, Henry, is a very big part of our family and well….I am very attached. I have seen some very cute pet portrait quilts, and since I know there are many other dog/pet/animal lovers out there, I thought I would try my hand at it! This is my first attempt and I am sort of learning/teaching myself as I go by trial and error and I thought some of you might enjoy fumbling through this process with me. First of all, I picked out a picture of Henry that I thought might work best for this-one that had a nice frontal view of his darling face. As you can see, I had quite a few to choose from:

ImageIn the end, I chose this one:

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To start this project here is what I used:

*Tracing paper

*Image on computer

*Fabric scraps, different colors/patterns for shades/variations

*Interfacing

*Scissors

After choosing my image, I zoomed it in on the computer to make it the size I wanted (I ended up putting “Henry” on a 14″x14″ block, so I made it to fit that well). Then I traced over it with tracing paper, tracing over anything that I felt would be significant in the final product (i.e. shading on the ears/face, the different parts of his eyes) being careful to label what everything was and what color/pattern I wanted to use for each piece so that it would stand out (i.e. for the shading on the ears I chose dark gray fabric, for his eyes light blue, etc.). The pattern looked like this.

100_2146I chose black and white polka dot for the main fabric, so I traced around the pattern and cut it out of the fabric. For the other pieces, I traced them on top of this pattern to make separated pieces, then cut those out of the fabrics I had chosen for them as well. This was very helpful to keep the original pattern intact, because I could then place it on top of the black background I had used and then used it to make sure all of the other pieces were in their proper place.  I will say all of this was exceptionally tedious, but fairly simple.

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100_2139I pinned everything in place and was ready to go!

100_2136Once I had his whole face together, I pinned it to interfacing and cut out around it so the fabric wouldn’t bunch when I appliqued it all together. I then picked out another background-background fabric, this time white with black polka dots and cut it out into a 14″x14″ square and pinned Henry to this. Then I set about appliqueing him on with my trusty machine, being careful to start in the center, just like when you are quilting anything (i.e. the nose on out).

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100_2140I just did raw-edge machine applique because for 1) it’s much quicker and easier and 2) the little fringe makes your portrait look a little “furrier” which I thought was fitting. 🙂 And, here is the finished product:

100_2145 Isn’t he cute? I think I’m going to add a border to this and either do a wall-hanging or a throw quilt. The girls suggested I use it to make Henry (the real Henry) a bed. Hmmm….that would look a little something like this:

100_1588Probably not….but look for it soon on my Etsy shop!

xo

2

A Beautiful Disaster

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I have always thought it would be fun to celebrate Christmas in July. I mean, why NOT celebrate Christmas two times a year? After my five-year-old looked at me and said, “I don’t want that one, I want a big one,” when I generously offered her a dum-dum lollipop it occurred to me that maybe we should be celebrating Thanksgiving more than once a year.  So yesterday, I invented “Thanksgiving in May”. Catchy, isn’t it? I have chatted with many of my friends, fellow frazzled mothers of ungrateful children, us all begging each other for the magical answer to getting our children to be thankful. In a society where parents revolve their lives around their children and often children are handed something without expecting to give anything in return (my children being no exception) it seems nearly impossible to teach them to be grateful for what they have.

So, yesterday, I set out, feeling a little smug, I might admit, for inventing this brilliant holiday, sure that it would be a success. I had it all planned out that we would go on a walk armed with our Kodak, ready to snap away at all of the things we had to be thankful for. Sounds like a good plan, right? I am going to show you the pictures, because what the girls wanted to take pictures of were cute. Here’s a start:

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Aren’t the pictures cute? In our case, a picture does NOT speak a thousand words. We started on our walk with hope and excitement and ended it with frustration and with me saying, “No more talking.” Followed by a tearful phone call to my best friend. Hmm…I wonder if the pilgrims felt this way the day of their first Thanksgiving….

What I pictured happening on this walk was an opportunity to point out to my girls all of the beauty in the ordinary-how all of creation magnifies God’s name and glory; how a sparrow in a tree can remind us of our worth in God’s eyes; how a simple flower is arrayed in greater glory than a princess in fine, silk dresses. I wanted them to see the world around us is full of things to be thankful for and take joy in.  What actually happened on this walk? My one daughter, the one who complained about the lollipop, complained about the long walk, the weather, her sister….etc, etc, etc, etc, etc….My other daughter spent the entire time trying to control me, her sister, the walk, the animals we saw on the walk, and refused to partake in our mission at all. She would speed up just enough to pass me and her sister, then slow down and walk a foot in front of us to control the speed in which we were talking and the path we were taking. She blatantly and stubbornly refused to acknowledge a single thing there was to be thankful for.

I admit, quite humbly, that I pictured this post before we set out on the walk one that I could write with pride and a sense of triumph. I wanted to be able to say that this was a successful journey, not only physically, but much more importantly spiritually.  This would be a new traditional for my family-not just a yearly one, but even weekly and eventually daily, so that we can get into the habit of seeing the beauty in all that is around us. It is so easy to see the things that discourage us, the things we don’t have, but I have found that when I stop to count my blessings, they far outweigh anything I am lacking.

After I talked with my friend yesterday she said, “Maybe thankfulness isn’t something that can be forced, but something that is taught by example. Something that your kids will catch by seeing your thankfulness.” What wisdom.  I have often heard that the remedy for a critical spirit is a thankful heart.  As a mom, I am sooooo ashamed to admit the times when I am way too critical of my children and my husband, feeling like it is my job to “fix” them rather than pointing out to them, and I think sometimes more importantly to myself, all the qualities and gifts God has given them.

So I began my own journey, after the girls were tucked away for their naps, and snapped a few things that I am thankful for. God is a romantic, and every day He woos me with His grace, love, and creation. For this, I am truly thankful.

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Silhouettes Pillows

Silhouettes are so trendy right now, and I have totally caught the bug! I love silhouettes and have them displayed all over my house. I have them of my children, my husband and I, my dog, off birds on my wallpaper,  I even have some of people I don’t know hanging in my dining room. So when I was considering recovering some shabby pillows that we have had for ten years, full of holes, a little outdated, and stained, I thought I would like to incorporate more silhouettes!

To do this project you will need:

*Old pillows or pillow forms

*Profile pictures of your subjects

*A computer with printer

*Fusible webbing (I used this kind from Walmart which was less than $3)

*Thread for hand and machine stitching

*Two different fabrics-one for the background and main part of the pillow, and one darker for the silhouette. For Henry’s pillow, I used burlap, which I do not recommend for this project. I found out belatedly that the fusible web doesn’t stick to it, so I had to go the extra mile and applique it on by machine.

To start, I picked my favorite subjects: the kids, and my dog, Henry, who is like one of our kids.I made the kids stand against the wall (as you can see I came up with this brilliant idea right after dinner, hence the bibs). With Henry, it was a little trickier making him sit still while I took this shot…a treat being held a few inches from his nose might have been involved…

Next, I uploaded the images on my computer, and used a program to edit them, playing with the shadows and exposure so that their faces stood out against the background.I printed their images to use as a stencil, and traced their images on the back of the fusible webbing. As a note, if you want your picture to appear in the same direction as you took the picture, print it as a mirror image.

After I traced the picture, I cut them out and ironed them on the back of my accent fabrics. Then, I cut out around the fabric and ironed it on to the front of my background fabric. If you really want to ensure that your silhouettes won’t come off, you can applique them by hand or machine. I opted not to, except for with Henry’s because the webbing didn’t stick to the burlap.I then started the demolition process on my pillows. Since I bought these, I wasn’t sure what I would find inside, whether it would be an actual pillow form or just stuffing. Since it was just stuffing in all three pillows, it gave me a little more freedom to make sizes I wanted. However, for one of the pillows, I did use the fabric as a sort of template when I was cutting out my fabric. You can either use a ripper or a good old fashioned pair of scissors. Never one to turn down the opportunity to take a short cut, I opted for the scissors.Cut out the shape of the pillow you want, and sew around the edges, wrong sides together, and leave a small opened so you can turn the fabric right side out.After you turn the pillows right side out, stuff them, and stitch the opening with a hand stitch. If you are feeling more creative, you can make your own pillow form, then just make a cover that you can take on and off using a zipper or make envelope sham. As I said, with two kids at home, full-time ministry, and an online business, for my home projects, I like to take shortcuts when I can.:)