Monday, April 13, 2015

Springtime Activity

 Hey everybody!  Long time no blog!  If you don't follow me on Facebook then I'm sure by now you're probably convinced that I've been whisked away to the witness protection program, or that maybe all my fingers were broken in a freak accident and I couldn't type.  But alas, no...I'm still around, with all 10 fingers in good working order, I just haven't had time to blog lately.

I have some posts coming up in a couple of weeks that will be fun before and after makeovers.  I was going to share them before they were finished because I didn't really have anything else to blog about, but then I just procrastinated and got really busy and it never happened.  But now I'm kind of glad I didn't because I'm all set to add the finishing touches!

In the mean time, I thought I'd share a bit of what's going on around the "farm" that's been keeping me busy.  Of course homeschooling my kiddos is a big thing, my Etsy shop orders keep me hopping, and I'm still teaching a kids' class at church, but besides all of that here's what's been happening lately.

We got our winter garden tilled up and the summer garden is off to a good start.  We've planted 5, 50' rows of corn.  Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be doing as well this year as it did last year.  I don't think this new variety we tried likes the sandy Florida soil very much.

On the other hand, the peas seem to be doing really well so far and we're pleased with their progress.

We've also got 4 rows of bush beans planted so far and they're starting to pop up.

Hubs built these trellis contraptions with scrap wood so that we can try out some pole beans this year.  I'm sure the kids will love playing in the shady tunnel once the vines start growing well.

We bought a big rain barrel at a yard sale for $5 and it has become our compost bin.  It's about 3/4 full now and so heavy I can hardly flip it anymore to keep it mixed up.  In the background you can see the tree swing Hubby built for the kids last year.  They spend SO much time playing on it!  They love to twist it all up and then just spin like crazy all the while throwing their heads back laughing with gleeful abandon.  

I keep this enamelware bucket under the counter in the kitchen so that I can toss all my fruit and veggie scraps into it while I'm cooking.  I also add eggshells and coffee grounds, then once it's full I take it out and dump it into the big barrel.  The lid helps keep the smell contained and we change out the grocery bag in it each time to help with the smell also.  Our neighbor brings us plenty of manure that we mix in to the big barrel, as well as ash from our firepit, and leaves and grass from the yard.  We hope it will make a big improvement in our sandy soil once it's ready.

In other news on the "farm," Hubs built me a clothesline!  Yay!!  I LOVE using it!  He used limbs from a tree that fell during a storm and I love its rustic look.  He made the lines low for me since I'm such a shorty and it makes it nice for the kids also because they love to help.  Even the 4 year old likes to get in on the action, thus the little red chair he drug over there so that he could reach.  I love my little helpers!  :)

And this little uniform is a sign of another thing eating up my time lately...T-ball!  With games and practices a few times a week it keeps us hopping.  But it's SO much fun to watch them, and our lil' guy is having a lot of fun with it.

Hubs has taken on some side work.  A man in our church is paying him to get this old thing running again.  That keeps him busy in his spare time.  Thankfully he has it parked behind his workshop so I don't have to look at it much.  :)

 Over the winter months while the grass wasn't growing he also rebuilt our mower deck.  As you can see, it was completely rusted out.  It had been welded and patched to death and just wasn't going to make it one more summer.  The sand here just eats it up.

We have 5 acres to mow, plus we'll now be mowing the 5 acres next door to us so a good mower is essential.  This zero-turn Dixie Chopper is 20 years old, but Hubs keeps it running and takes good care of it.  He ordered all the parts to make the new deck and now it'll be like having a brand new mower I bet!  I don't know how men know how to do these things.  I think they're born with the knowledge of engines and construction already ingrained in them.  It baffles me how he does it, but I sure am thankful for his skills!

And that's a little look at what's been taking up our time around here.  I hope you haven't completely given up on me, I haven't given up on blogging that's for sure, but I have needed to take a break from it for a bit so that I could juggle everything else I've had going on.  But like I said, I'll have some decor posts coming soon.  I've been saving up my money to order some things to put the finishing touches on the kids' bathroom, and an unexpected cast-off coming our way will make a huge difference in our kids' bedrooms.  I hope to be able to share all of that with you soon.

Don't give up on me, I'm still here!  :D


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

An Unexpected Shopping Spree!

I'm really excited about sharing today's post.  It doesn't contain any mind blowing tutorials, or even any great DIY projects.  But it's exciting to me because it's all about my first partnership.  Well, maybe partnership isn't the right word.  Maybe sponsor?  I don't really know actually since this is my first time doing it.  : )

About a month or so ago I got an email from a media corporation asking me if I would like to join their campaign with a website called  I would receive free product to try and all I had to do was blog about my experience.  Well.....let me think on that awhile before I get back to you.  NOT!  I responded so fast to that email I bet they didn't have time to breathe in between sending it and receiving a reply.  I've read about other bloggers getting opportunities like this and I had always hoped I would be able to do it as well someday, and now my "someday" was here!

After a few more emails back and forth it was all set and I was told I could peruse the website and choose $250 of product to try!!  SHOPPING SPREE!! Oh man was that ever fun!  I spent a very long time considering all of my options.  I was considering a chandelier for our dining room, or maybe a new farmhouse style faucet for our kitchen sink, but in the end I decided I didn't want to spend it all in one place so to speak.  I ended up ordering five products that have been on my wish list but haven't been a priority before this.

 I've been working on finishing up both of the kiddos' rooms and on my list for those projects were ceiling fans for both of them.  Not terribly exciting I know, but something we've needed for an entire year but didn't really have the extra cash to spend on them.

We live in Florida and the summers (and the spring....and the fall) tend to get really hot and even though we have central air, ceiling fans are a must for circulating the air.  Plus, the fact that both kids are just like me in that they have trouble sleeping well without being able to feel some air movement.  In the meantime, we had been making do with little plastic oscillating fans that we already had in each of their rooms.  They looked ugly and collected dust like crazy, but it was our only option for the time being.  They both also had basic, ugly, flush mount ceiling lights.

I can't show too much of Lil Man's room yet, because that room reveal is yet to come.  I have a project to finish up this week and then I plan to show you most of it.

So, back to the ceiling fans.  I ordered two of these white Westinghouse fans.  
I went back to their website to find the link to share with you, but it appears they're not carrying this particular one anymore.  But {this} brand is almost identical.

So far we really like these.  Hubs got them up and installed in no time, and they feel solid and of good quality.  We have fans in other rooms of our home that are from the "every day low prices" store and they feel cheap compared to these.  Something is always going wrong with them, but these are quiet and seem really well made.

My favorite feature of them is the pull chains.  They have a little light and a fan emblem on them so there's no confusion about which one to pull.  Very handy!

And now, with the ugly plastic fan out of the way we can come up with something much prettier to display on their dressers.

Here's another quick "before and after" that has nothing to do with this partnership, but it happened at the same time so I wanted to show you.  

Another project for each of their rooms was to get rid of the ugly, grimy, cracked and broken, blinds in their rooms.  They were terrible already when we moved here, but after a year of not cleaning them they were much much worse.  I don't do mini-blind cleaning.  I just don't.  I'd rather pitch 'em and buy new ones than to clean them.  I much prefer roller blinds that don't require so much upkeep.  Plus, you don't have to worry about dangly cords in children's rooms.

I replaced my daughter's with these pretty scalloped edge ones from JCPenny and man, what a difference!  
SO much better, and the scalloped edge adds a nice feminine touch.

Ok, back to the FREE products now!

Another thing on my wish list (but not priority list) was new porch lights.  Ours were horribly sad.

They were too small, they were corroded and grody, and even still had the stickers on them from when they were put up years ago.   So ugly.

The back porch had the same depressing light with the same sad story.

The side entrance (actually the one we use the most) had a decent enough light that was still in good shape, it just wasn't quite my style.  And since this is basically the main entrance I wanted something a little more "me" here.

In comes..... 2 barn style lights!

From the picture on the website I thought they were going to be a galvanized color, so I was surprised when I pulled them out of the box and they were black.  I went back and looked at the listing and sure enough, right there in bold print it did indeed say "Oil Rubbed Bronze." fault on that one, but I still like them very much.  (And as for the mold around the white square, we tried and tried to clean it and bleach it but to no avail.  Any suggestions?)

Having a new light at the front entry way inspired me to finally come up with something cute to make it look more welcoming.  It probably helps that I finally took down the Christmas lights, too.  : )

                          "Go away, we hate life."                                                           "C'mon in!  We're friendly 'round here!"

Lookin' cute for Valentine's Day!  The only item here that's not second-hand is the cup cake sign. Well, and the flowers, too, of course.

The perfectly good porch light from the side entrance got moved around to the back porch and the scale of it fits much better here.  (And yes, we still have snowflakes on our windows. Don't judge.)

The side entrance then received one of the new barn lights.  I don't really have a good before and after shot of this area because the landing is SO small you can't do anything with it.  But the new light is the first step in making my vision for this entrance a reality.

I have in mind something like this.


But that's another "someday" project that isn't a priority as of yet.

So that brings us to the final product that I ordered on my spending spree.

Another barn style light, but this one is a pendant style.  We don't have it installed yet because it's going in our next room waiting for a makeover.

The Depths of Despair laundry room.

I hope to get started on that room next week.

So, in conclusion, this experience was SO much fun and working with was a breeze and I want to say a big THANK YOU to them (and to Hawke Media) for giving me this opportunity!  They shipped my items quickly, even the ones that originally said they were back ordered still came much quicker than expected.  The products are good quality and were easy to install.  So, if you're looking for building products, or home renovation products, consider for your needs.

* Disclaimer: this is a sponsored post, I received free product in return for my opinion about the products, but all opinions and reviews are 100% my own. *


Friday, January 30, 2015

Picture Frame Christmas Wreath and More Knock-Off Decor

Hey everyone!  
Today I'm sharing the last bit of Christmas decor from this year.  I did some Pinterest inspired things that I wanted to share with you, as well as share a neat little photography trick that I used.

I had SO very much going on this season that by the time I was finally able to get around to actually decorating I was not feeling very creative or original at all.  I just wanted it up and done.  So I scoured my Christmas board on Pinterest to try and get my creative juices flowing.  I saw a few ideas there that got me moving.

This is the shelf that hangs above the couch in the living room.  I kept it fairly simple this year with a wooden star hanging above, a white ceramic Nativity, candles, antique wooden toys, greenery, and red berries.

The wooden star idea came from my Pinterest board.

 I already had a similar star that I got at a yard sale a couple of years ago as well as some extra large galvanized jingle bells. 
 (I found the picture on Pinterest, but couldn't find the original source.)

Here's my version.

I love these little wooden animal toys.  My mom bought them at an antique store 30 years ago and I love the touch of simple rustic-ness they bring.

This candle idea was another one from Pinterest. 
 It caught my eye because I knew I had similar rustic snowflakes.

I used the candles that were on the dining room buffet in the fall, and just turned them around so the key was in the back and hooked the snowflake to the twine that was already on the candle.  I set them both up on pieces of the Christmas tree trunk that Hubs had cut off.

I enjoyed the simple rustic look of it all very much.

The third idea I "knocked off" was this picture frame wreath.  
(Again, I couldn't find the original source.  The blog must not exist anymore.)  

As I was looking over the board I saw this pin and it struck me that, "Hey! I have the perfect frame for this!"  I had just decorated for our church Christmas banquet and had bought and spray painted a frame to use as a photo prop that I knew would be just right for this.  I dug out my box of garland from the shed and came up with my own version.

I added a string of white lights to it that gave off the most beautiful cozy glow above our new piano.  I also tucked in some bunches of faux berries here and there.

 I really loved how it turned out!

 This last picture has nothing to do with decorating, but it is a little DIY frugal photography trick I wanted to share with you.

Can you see the difference in the two pictures above?
The one on the left is darker and has harsh shadowing on the right side of the wreath since the light source was coming from the window on the left.  The picture on the right is brighter and the shadowing is greatly reduced.  Different exposure settings you say?  Nope.  Same exact settings.  Different times of the day?  No, both pictures were taken within 10 seconds of each other.  Fancy umbrella flash on a stand?  No flash was used in either of these pictures.  Good editing skills?  Wrong again.  

The answer is.....poster board.  Yep, just a 33¢ piece of white poster board.  As I was taking the pictures I noticed the harsh shadows being created and I realized I needed to reflect the light coming from the window back onto the wreath.  Sitting nearby was a poster board calendar I made for my kids awhile back so I used the plain back side of it.  Using a tripod I set the camera to the timer mode, pushed the button, then quickly positioned myself just to the right of the wreath holding the poster board so that it caught the incoming light and bounced it back onto the wreath.  Pretty neat trick, huh?  My aspiring photographer brother taught me that trick when we were just kids.

That does it for Christmas decor pictures for this year.  I had more decorated, but just did not feel inspired to take pictures of any more of it.  Hopefully I'll be a better blogger next year.  : )

In other news, all the free products I ordered have been delivered.  Yay!  Now, I have 2 weeks to get them up and blog about them.  Two items are part of current projects that will help finish them off, one item is going to be the starting point of our next room makeover project, and the other two items are much needed replacements but aren't necessarily a big makeover project.

So stay tuned for that post coming up in.....2 weeks!  :D 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Red and White Nordic Christmas Decor

Ok, so Christmas is long past by now...I know I know.  But by way of explanation for my tardiness on sharing my Christmas decor, here-in lies my excuse.  I wanted to focus on my family.  Plain and simple.  I had many responsibilities this year between church, home, and Etsy shop and I didn't want my family to "miss" me because was I too busy blogging in the down moments to actually enjoy the moments with them.  And I did enjoy my time with them, so very much.  I didn't even stop to take one single picture on Christmas day.  Can you believe that?  I just wanted to soak it all in instead of forcing everyone into cheesy smiles and frustration of stopping every 2 minutes to "capture the moment."  And for what?  So that the Facebook world could see how great of a day it was for us?  No thanks.  I just wanted to cherish each moment in my heart and be really present and focused on my favorite people.

So....that is why I never got around to sharing pictures of my decor.  

But now that things have slowly returned to normal around here (in all honesty though, my dining room tree is still up, so not completely normal yet) I have a bit more time to share.  I promised I would, even if it was late, so here goes.  :)

The below picture was a cell phone shot I shared on Facebook of the overall view of the dining room.  If you're just now joining us, we had two full size trees this year!  The family tree in the living room, and then "my" tree in the dining room.  I kept the whole dining room and kitchen a red and white Nordic style theme, and then the living room was a little more traditional with reds and greens.

You can read more about the red and white tree {here}.  

I really enjoyed having a tree in the dining room this year.  Will I do it again next year though?  Most likely not.  Simplicity is my goal for next Christmas.

I found the tablecloth at Home Goods this year and thought it fit in perfectly with a Nordic farmhouse style.

The centerpiece on the table was a cloth napkin layered underneath a vintage wire paper organizer, filled with fresh greenery clippings (though not so fresh anymore by the time I got around to taking pictures of it), and three adorable Nordic style reindeer bought a few years ago from Home Goods.

I found these adorable little snowflake plates at Oriental Trading of all places!  I was ordering some things for the kids' class I teach at church and happened upon these and loved them!  They're ceramic and sturdy and I so enjoyed using them this year.
(The plates can be found {here} if you're interested.)

I've had those knit stockings for years and I still love them just as much as I ever have, probably from Home Goods as well, lol!  The middle punched tin piece was bought at an antique store years ago and I love incorporating it into our Christmas decor each year.

On the top of the buffet I layered 3 place mats that were thrifted, and added in white distressed frames that I've had for years but rarely ever display for some reason.  The picture inside is of my daughter and her BFF cousin a couple of years ago.  It's a little too bright to see them well, but the jars had Espsom salts and a votive candle in them.  

This platter was also bought at Home Goods this year and I love it so much!  It was perfect in this room.  The red felt trees were a thrift store find from a couple of years ago.

And on this end of the buffet was another jar candle and picture frame, with a more grown up picture of the girls from last year.

The curtains that are always in here fit in perfectly, and in each window I placed some favorite things.

The kids helped me spray snowflakes onto the windows and it looked SO festive and cozy!  We used a stencil and a can of fake spray snow.  It was especially fun since we live in Florida and there's no hope of ever seeing real snow.  One window had my favorite carved-looking Father Christmas and the other window held a little ceramic tree lamp that was given to us by my husband's grandmother.  I've always loved it and this year it fit in perfectly with the red and white theme.

Up in the big arched window I replaced the aqua canning jars with my collection of Jim Shore Father Christmases.  I love these guys and their quilted looking garments and how they have the look of being hand carved.  My family has gifted these to me over the years and I love them.  This is the first time in years that I've actually had a place to display them and I was so happy to finally be able to unpack and display them.

(Affiliate Links)

I shared this cell phone picture of the kitchen on the Facebook page.  I think this lighted garland that I put together was my favorite bit of decor besides the trees.  It was beautiful and cozy and had a lot of impact on the room.  

The ribbon that was wrapped around it also had the red and white Nordic theme going on.

Well, that wraps up the decor for the dining room and living room for this year.  In my next post I'll share just a couple of things I did in the living room.  I didn't take pictures of everything, but there were a couple of things I did that I want to share.

Also, stay tuned for some fun upcoming posts!  I'm so excited to be doing my first partnership here on the blog and I had the opportunity to select some products to try from a building website in return for blogging about my experience. Some of the things I ordered should be here soon so I'll be sharing those in the next couple of weeks, 2 other things were backordered so it will be next month before I share those.  But it's a very exciting thing for me and it'll be fun to share!

Oh yeah, one last thing.  Be sure to stop by the Facebook page and check out a sneak peak "Before/After" picture of my current room project.  It's a dramatic difference already and I'm not even done yet!

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