October 31, 2011

Fall time in the Bluegrass

I often think I would like to be in a different place, especially as the weather changes each season. As soon as the weather heats up each summer, I remember the cool, mild summer of when we lived in Montana.
And as soon as it gets cold, I start to think, "I bet California would be nice this time of year." haha We always think the grass is greener on the other side...although I'm sure when we have snow here, they really DO have green grass in CA :)

But this weekend, I could not get over the beauty of where I live, and I just had to share it with you all! It is days like this that I am so thankful I live in a place where we get to experience all 4 seasons.

I was like a little kid this weekend, everywhere I'd go I was stopping conversation to say, "Look at that tree!" So here are a few that I snapped. I would have taken more, but I'd say it would be frowned upon to stop in the middle of a four lane highway to take a pic (but don't think I didn't think about it!) Click on the pictures to see them larger.

The picture doesn't even do it justice. This tree looked like it was on fire.

I hope you are enjoying fall wherever you are!

October 29, 2011

What we've been eating: Crock Pot Pork Chops

 First of all, let me tell you, I love my crock pot. I am all about one dish meals & the crock pot helps me not look at the clock at 6 and say, "What are we having for dinner?" or "Oops, I forgot to defrost any meat from the freezer"
 Second of all, I didn't really have a second of all, so I don't know why I said, "first of all." Hmm, maybe, second of all, I really like pork. That's it. And I really do. I eat it more than any other meat I do believe.

This is a recipe I pinned a while back ago on Pinterest from Real Mom Kitchen, and it gets a 5 out of 5 stars from me. Yumm-o. I made it a little differently than the recipe calls for. (I don't know that I ever follow a recipe exactly. Have you noticed that theme here?) :)

I used 4 pork chops (about 1/2 in. thick)
1 packet dry Ranch Dressing Seasoning
10oz can Cream of Chicken Soup

Just dump the pork chops, (mine were even frozen when I put them in...remember my comment above??) ranch seasoning, and the can of cream of chicken soup into the crock pot. I put my crock pot on low for 6 hours. She says you can also get the job done in 4 hours on high.

I'm not a huge fan of garlic, so I just made my mashed potatoes plain. Nothing special to it. I just cut them up, boiled them, drained, then added a little butter, and milk and mashed them until they were the consistency I like. There's no science to my potato making, I just throw stuff in until they look and taste right!
**(I would suggest not adding a lot of salt to your potatoes when making the recipe. The gravy is salty enough)
I added some peas to the mix because I take after my mother and can hardly serve a meal without a green vegetable in it. It just feels weird if I don't. The pork was SO tender and delicious. I didn't even need a knife, it just fell apart with the help of a fork.

Perfect for a day when I am working or have a lot going on. And we enjoyed it on a perfect fall evening outside on the patio. Perfect :)
I'll be linking some HERE!
Happy eating!

October 24, 2011

New Life

My parents recently brought me this rocking chair. It is a family heirloom. It belonged to my great great aunt who received it as a wedding gift more than 100 years ago. 100 years ago! Crazy! It is perfect for my front sitting room, so I was so happy they wanted to give it to me!

While the wood is in pretty good condition, the seat was looking rather rough. It had a layer of chenille-type fabric, that was covering a layer of this plastic-y vinyl stuff that was covering the original black leather. Nice. Not nice, it was filthy dirty. And that vinyl was SO ugly!!

The original leather was actually in pretty nice condition considering its age. Especially where it was underneath and hidden by the chair. Look at the difference! I just think this kind of thing is so cool.
 Touching it, I just think of the ancient rears that had sat on that material. People I am related to down the line. I wonder if they could even fathom me or the future ahead. I try to think about my great greats down the line and what the future will be like, and I just can't seem to wrap my mind around it.
 Look at the under side. The springs and everything have been tied together!

 It has been signed in a few places too. To me it looks like it says, "blue". I don't know what this means, is this the person who made it? Does it mean anything at all? These are the things I wish I could know!

Once we took off the top two layers, I decided I want to keep the original leather. It isn't in horrible condition, and plus, I think that's part of what makes the piece so unique. I didn't want to lose that.
 To protect it a little more, and to make it more cushion-y (is that a word?) I added a layer of batting. I stapled it around the sides with my staple gun. Then, I cut out extra fabric on the corners so it wouldn't be too fat, folded it like a present, then stapled the corners. (I did have more pictures of this process, except my finger was in most of them. good grief.)

Then I repeated the same thing with my fabric! Put the right side facing down on the table, with your cushion on top. Staple each side a couple times, smoothing out the fabric all around before you staple each time.

 When doing the corners, fold in the side of the fabric first, then hold that down while you pull the fabric in front of you up, covering the piece you just folded in. I really just follow the same way I wrap a present. I just make sure all my edges are smooth, and sometimes I have to re-adjust to get it looking smoother.

I forgot to take a picture of it, but I used some of the same fabric I had leftover to cover the springs on the bottom. Even though you would never see the underside, I wanted to cover it up so the inside didn't get dusty and dirty over time.

 I LOVE the way it turned out. I am so pleased. The fabric is so pretty, and the brown tones in it look so nice with the dark wood.
What I love the most is that I was able to bring new life back into this old chair. It's amazing what a little new fabric can do. As I sit in it now, I can imagine what life was like for my great great aunt, and dream about my great greats rocking in it one day too. 
I'm linking up HERE

October 23, 2011

Fall candle revamp roundup

This is the first fall that we've lived in our new house, so when it came to decorating for fall, I had a lot more space than the small amount of decorations I have could fill. Since we are still putting money into projects around here to make this house our "own" (this might be a lifetime process, I'll be honest) I was looking for ways to add a little fall time flavor on the cheap...or in this case free.

I remembered some boxes we have in the garage. They probably weigh a good...oh I don't know 50 pounds or more. And they are filled with nothing but candles...left over from our wedding...6+ years ago. But here's the thing! I'm not going to be ashamed of my pack-rat-ed-ness when the stuff is useful down the road. And this is one of those roads!

I pulled some of them out and got to work. First, I pulled out some fall-ish fabric I had sitting around my craft room. With the brown and orange gingham fabric, I simply cut a strip with my pinking shears, and hot glued it around the candle. Then, I simply tied a small piece of brown jute around the brown fabric. Can we say easiest project EVER?!

With the yellow candle, I had some of these left over yellow scraps of fabric sitting around the craft room
(I save almost all my scraps too, for reasons like this. Surely I'm not the only one. Anyone?) I hot glued it around the candle too. Then I took a really small piece of my jute and slid it under the fabric, then tied it in a knot. I like the gathered look to it. So cute, and so simple!

** Side note, next time, I would do this a bit differently. I would suggest tying the jute string around the fabric and THEN hot glue it on. It was a bit difficult to slide the string under the fabric...but totally do-able.

For the "BOO" candle, I took some extra orange and black grosgrain ribbon I had on hand. First, I hot glued the black ribbon on, only putting a couple dots of glue in the back. Then, I simply glued the orange ribbon on the same way. Since I was doing this project quickly (They have to be quick these days or they don't happen!) and since I don't have any fancy cutting machines like a cricket or silhouette, I used a good ole fashioned Sharpie! Then I just wrote the word "BOO!" right on the candle.

I saved my favorite for last. I was inspired by these on Pinterest, but my cheapness overcame me. I looked a few times for cinnamon sticks that aren't meant for cooking (those are real small), but I couldn't find any. Mind you, I looked in ALL the stores in my town that might have something like that- Kroger & Walmart. So, I decided to take a different route & kill two birds with one stone.

I have this giant tree that sits in my backyard. It's the tallest tree in our neighborhood. It also has some dead brancehs in it, so we are constantly finding sticks all over the ground in our backyard. I went out there & picked a bunch, and brought them in. (I hope my neighbors didn't see me, they probably think I am so weird. Well I am, but that's beside the point) I thought about washing them first (cause you know, they're dirty & gross) but I decided that was too OCD of me, and I resisted the temptation and went "au natural". Haha, I'm a dork.
Then, I just broke them up into sizes that fit my candles & hot glued them on!

Here are a few tips from what I learned. Hold the stick onto the candle before you glue it. Due to the varying bends and bumps of the stick, not every part will touch the candle. So to save yourself a little glue, hold it up how you like it, then peek and see where it will touch.

See how only part of it touches?
Hey...only trying to save you .003 cents on the glue you'll save! :)

Also, save some of those little pieces that break off accidentally, you can fill in some of the blank spaces. I like how some of the white peeks through, but in a few places it was a bit much. Stick scraps to the rescue! (This post should have just been titled "scraps & leftovers--crap that can be turned into something great!" hahaha) 
And that's it! I wasn't sure how I'd like them sticking up taller than the candle, or being shorter than the candle, but I really like the varying lengths. Obviously, I'm not going to burn these candles since the sticks would be exposed to the flame. I really, really like how they turned out, and always take a look at them on this once forgettable side table.
So I'm pleased! I was able to use up 6 of the many dozens of candles I still have in my garage (and yes, they will continue to stay there for another project "down the road"). They bring some cute fall details into the house, and better yet, since everything I used I already had on hand...they were FREE!
I'll be partying here this week!

Until next time!

October 14, 2011

Grace for the Good Girl

This is the book I'm going to read while I'm on a break from school. In just the little bits I've read from it already, it has spoken to my heart. 

I first found out about it from fellow blogger Paige at Simple Thoughts. Her love and life in Jesus just exudes from the pages of her blog. She inspires me daily. Recently she wrote a post about this book. You can read her thoughts on it here. The snippets of Emily's book that she included were spoken straight to my heart. Here are a few: 

"you are not responsible to have it all together.
you are free to respond to the One who holds all things in His hands".

emily p. freeman

"I have spent most of my life avoiding weak. 
I don't want to look weak, act weak, or even give the hint that i am capable of weakness.
but if you are feeling weak?  Well, now.
That's a different thing all together. I can tell you how weakness is the door
to strength and how Jesus calls us to a life of weakness so that he can be strong.
and I believe it. 
for you."
Emily P. Freeman
Wow. That last one really punches me in the gut. 
After Isaac passed, I just wanted to forget everything. I was tired of crying. I was tired of being sad, I was tired of missing him. I was tired of people looking at me, feeling sorry for me. 
I wanted to get it all together, so I could get back to being me. I didn't want people to see me cry, so I didn't, I was stronger than that. I could get myself through this. I was a strong Christian, I could dig myself out of this pit. I thought if I just didn't think about it, it would be gone. As you can imagine, that didn't do me much good. I wasn't grieving, so that just made things down the road even worse.  
When I began to struggle, I felt like I had been treading water for months, and my legs could no longer keep me afloat.  
I was sinking
I felt so defeated, because I had been trying so hard to get better, to get back to any semblance of normalcy. I was fighting. I felt like I was under such spiritual attack. I would sit and read my Bible for hours on end, why wasn't this working?  
I was doing everything I knew to do
But that's the thing. So many of us strive, and try so hard, but sometimes we can barely keep out heads above water. We don't have to try so hard. We need to give ourselves some grace, and put it all in the hands of our creator. It reminds me of my favorite quote from my friend Mike Breen I am always having to remind myself:
I am a human BEING 
not a human DOING.
We need to give ourselves a break & realize we can't do it all, we can't be it all, and sometimes, life just isn't going to go back to "normal". 
I feel like Emily has captured some of the very thoughts, and feelings of my heart that I just couldn't put into words. I'm sure a lot of you might be thinking the same thing. I am so excited to read on & continue to find strength from her words & the talent God has given her. 
Check out Emily's blog "Chatting at the Sky". You can even read a chapter of her book there, and watch a short video of her explaining her heart that is in this book. 
Here's to putting away the "good girl" persona and letting our souls breathe.