Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Learning to Breathe, Pt. 12

Where has this year gone?? It is December! Christmastime is all around and I LOVE it!

There are so many fun Christmas activities going on around my area, so I am trying to take advantage of as many things as possible. It allows me an opportunity really enjoy the lights and music that makes this season so special.

Last Saturday night, my mom and I went out to Sauder Village in Archbold, OH for their lantern tour. It was so much fun! We rode around in the freezing cold on a wagon filled with hay bays and strung with white twinkling lights. We stopped by homes that reflected the holidays in the 1880s, 1850s and 1920s. I couldn't believe how new some traditions are. It was a great way to start the Christmas season.

December is often full of craziness! I hope that you find time to reflect on the true meaning and hope of this wonderful season. A tiny baby was born in deplorable conditions so he could grow up and die on a cross for a sinful people like me. We celebrate Christmas because we know that Easter is coming!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Easy Thanksgiving Project - Blessings Bucket

November = Thanksgiving = Gratitude. Instead of just writing about the people and things I am thankful for, I decided to create something that I can use all year long to remember how God has blessed me.

Enter the Blessings Bucket. First I thought of a Blessings Box, then a Jar, but I found a really cute bucket at Hobby Lobby for 50% off! This whole project cost less than $6, but could easily be done with things found around the house.

These were my project supplies. My bucket, jumbo popsicle sticks and Washi tape. I wanted my Blessings Bucket to have a little bit of pretty to it.

I added the Washi tape to the top of the popsicle sticks. I used all three colors of Washi tape for variety. But you could give each member of your family a different color to use. Or you don't have to use any at all.

This is the fun part! Write down what you are thankful for. I have sticks for my family members, my home and of course, for my dog, Luna. There are many empty sticks waiting to be filled up.

The unused sticks are upside down, so I can easily grab one to write on. I am looking forward to filling out my sticks. And when I am having a bad day, I can look in my cute little bucket and see I have so much to be thankful for!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Learning to Breathe, Pt. 11

Happy November!! Autumn is moving right along. Some of my friends already have their Christmas trees up! I am going to hold off until next week. :) It is going to be in the 70s this week in NW Ohio and I am having a hard time getting in the Christmas spirit with the warmer temps.

November is a bittersweet month for me. I love Thanksgiving and the start of the holiday season, but it is also the month when I lost my dad. It will be four years this year. Every year, I can't believe it has been that long. This year is no different.

I have had a few friends lose their dads in the last year or so. It always bring back memories of how I felt during those first few days after my dad was gone. I was blessed to be with my dad for the last week of his life. That time is so precious to me - both the good and sad memories.

This November, I want to not only be thankful, but to show my thankfulness. I am still working out what I am going to do, but will be sharing my ideas throughout the month. Even though my home will be filling up with Christmas cheer, Thanksgiving is not off my radar!

Enjoy the last of the fall colors and be thankful!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Using DIY Chalk Paint

Oh my goodness.....I painted a table! I have been wanting to paint an end table that has been living in my family room for over a year. It was a $10 table from an estate sale, but over the year, I may have ruined the top with cold drink condensation.

To be honest, this was a project that I thought I wouldn't follow through with. I had zero experience painting furniture and didn't want to ruin an almost perfectly good table.

But I put on my big girl pants and decided to take it on. I wanted to use chalk paint, but didn't want the expense of using chalk paint. Thank goodness for Pinterest! I found a DIY chalk paint recipe. I have tons of leftover paint, including some paint samples, which is what I used. I just needed the Plaster of Paris. I paid $5 for a huge container. I could probably paint everything in my house with the amount I now own. It was super easy to mix up too!

So I set out to paint my table. After reading through several posts, I knew this was not going to be a one coat job. The first coat is pretty streaky. The paint dries pretty quickly, but I left it for a while in between coats...mostly because sitting on my garage floor is not comfy.

This also gave me time to make a stop at Hobby Lobby and look for a new drawer pull. I found one I liked and headed back to paint another coat.

By the second coat, the table was looking quite a bit better. I was gaining some confidence in my painting ability!

I ended up doing 3 coats of paint. The last coat seemed to finish it up. Now I should seal the top with wax, but I haven't done that yet. I am super happy with the how it turned out.

This project gave me so much confidence to paint more furniture. I am on the lookout for a coffee table for my family room and am ready to tackle the paint job!

Tell me about your furniture painting adventures!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Spooktacular Hot Drink Station

The weather is getting cooler and some days, down-right cold. Time to break out the hot tea and hot chocolate! I love ending my day with a cozy cup of something warm. Having a spot in my kitchen for all my hot drink goodies makes creating delicious drink really easy. I have admired lots of hot drink stations on Pinterest for a while. I kinda put one together. It was functional, but I really didn't think it was anything special. As I was pulling out my Halloween decorations, the creative juices started flowing with some fun ideas for a Halloween-inspired hot drink station.

Finally, my candy corn candles have a place to shine! I am more of a cutesy Halloween person than a scary Halloween person. So I love my happy little ghost next the big candy corn. My homemade hot chocolate mix looks very spooky in my little glass Halloween jar. By the way, this homemade hot chocolate mix is delish! Get there recipe here.

My little fun spider bowl was a great spot to put my stash of tea. Once it starts getting cold, I start drinking a lot more tea. It is so comforting! Having a variety of teas handy makes everything so easy. And if any guests would like some tea, they can see my selection.

I am so happy with how my little station turned out. It isn't super exciting, but it is a fun little festive addition to my kitchen!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Autumn Wreath Revamp

One way to love my home is by creating a happy front door. I made this wreath a few years ago, but I was never completely thrilled with it. I liked it, but didn't love it. It needed something a bit more.

Have you seen these half pumpkins at Michaels? This was the perfect thing to use for my wreath because it wasn't going to stick out from the door,. It was also going to create a focal point, but now I had figure out how to attach it to the wreath.

Thankfully it wasn't as difficult as I thought it was going to be. I was able to use a knife to make a small hole to push through a wire.

The wire easily wrapped around the wreath to attach it! YEAH!

My wreath has a fresh new look and now I love it! This was an easy and cheap way to use what I already had. This revamp project was less than $5. That is my kind of deal for a girl on a budget. Even though it was a small project, I took something I didn't like and made it into something that I love!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Snapshots Into My Life

What I am seeing through my lens this week.

This may not be the prettiest picture, but it is the season of comfort food. I made a cornbread tamale pie. It was so good!

We have a great farmer's market in Toledo. I love the colors of the mums and the pumpkins!

I walked out of Michaels the other day and was amazed at how beautiful the sky was. The pinks, blues and yellows were unbelievable!

These two. They may not ever want to admit it, but they are buddies. They were keeping the neighborhood safe from UPS trucks, squirrels and blowing leaves.

Friday, October 2, 2015

10 Tips to Organizing a Catch-All Space

I have a closet next to my hall coat closet that has been a bit of a nuisance space since I moved in. It isn't terribly large, but a whole lot of stuff can fit inside. Stuff that clutters the shelves making it impossible to find what is inside. Every so often, I will straighten the shelves, but there is no method to the madness. I was tired of this valuable closet space being wasted because of a lack of organization.

I am sharing some tips that were helpful as I worked to make this non-useful space useful.

1. Plan Your Project
The first thing I needed to do was figure out what I wanted to use this closet for. In its messy state, it held kitchen appliances, tools, cleaning supplies, candles and candle holders, vases, dog food, light bulbs, etc. Because of the variety of things inside, it became my go-to spot when I couldn't find something. When something wasn't inside, I knew it must be really lost. :)

Because of the location, this closet was a good spot for my vacuum and steam mop, but there was no room because of the shelves. I also needed a good spot for extra paper towels. I listed out the things I wanted in the closet.

2. Stay Calm
These kinds of organizing projects can be daunting. I oftentimes think it is easier to live with the mess than tackling the job. I want a happy, organized home and not dread opening up the closet door. I can do this...and so can you!!

3. Empty the Space
The easiest way to organize a space is to clean everything out. Trying to organize around all the stuff is difficult. Seeing the empty space gives you a chance to see the potential.

4. Don't Get Overwhelmed
See all the stuff piling on the floor and tables? You may start to wonder where it all came from. It is okay. It always looks worse before it gets better. Take a deep breath and keep going!

5. Purge, purge, purge
In the past year or so, I have discovered the freedom of purging. If you don't use it or need it, get rid of it! Someone else might need that thing you had to have, but have never actually used.

6. Make Piles
Set aside the things that need new homes. Don't worry about putting them away yet. Keep focused on the task at hand.

Keep the items that will stay in the closet together. It will make it easier to put them back in.

7. Clean
Because of the empty space, you can clean it. Wipe down shelves, cover them with shelf liners if needed. You don't want to the backdrop of your organized space to be dirty. True confession...I was going to paint the inside of the closet, but it just didn't happen. Another project for another day.

8. Organize Your Space
There is no right or wrong way to do this. You will be using this space, so put items where it makes sense for you. You may need to tweak it after living with it for a few days.

After I cleaned everything out, I found out that I had more space than I thought. Some of the things I was going to move could actually stay where they were.

9. Find Permanent Homes for the Rest
A place for everything and everything in its place. Find permanent places for those leftover items. My pile went to several spots, including a cabinet in my garage, my craft room closet and my spare bedroom closet.

10. Do A Happy Dance!
As my 2-year-old niece says, "I did it!" It is such a great feeling when the project is done and looks great! Keep up with the organization and don't let it become out of hand. It may change as your needs change.

Good luck! Let me know what organizing projects you have on your list!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Learning to Breathe, Pt. 10 and a Challenge

October starts my favorite three months of the year. I love fall and the time leading up to Christmas. It makes my heart happy! I love decorating, making warm, feel good food, burning candles, etc. The list goes on and on.

October also starts the 31 Day Challenge. For those who don't know, it is a challenge to write every day in October. This is the third year I have participated. My first year I wrote about fall and actually wrote all 31 days. Last year, my attempt was a little half-hearted - Making a House Home Sweet Home. I only blogged 11 days. This year, my topic is similar to last year - Loving the Home You Have.

It is something I am passionate about. My house is a LONG way from being what I want it to be, but I love it.  Besides being anywhere with my family, there is no place else I would rather be. While I am waiting for my windfall of cash (I am not holding my breath), I am doing things that are allowing me to make it into the place I want it to be - comforting and inviting.

I hope you will join me on this challenge. I will include links to each day's post at the bottom of this post. I hope I can inspire and encourage you.

If you are participating in the 31 Day Challenge, let me know. I would love to visit your little spot on the internet.

Day 2 - Organizing a Catch-all Space
Day 3 - Snapshots Into My Life
Day 4 - Reflections on Home
Day 5 - Autumn Wreath Revamp
Day 11 - Reflections on Home
Day 12 - Spooktacular Hot Drink Station

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Learning to Breathe, Pt 9

Ahhh...September. The start of all things fall. I am have been itching to put up my fall decorations, especially with the cooler weather we had here in NW Ohio last week. I started pulling some out yesterday even though it was hot and humid and will continue to be so for the at least the remainder of this week. Yuck!

August was crazy with traveling and general busyness, but September is looking a little less crazy which I am grateful for! Fall is one of my favorites time of year and I am looking forward to enjoying the change of seasons and welcoming cooler weather.

Over the past few months, I have slowly been meeting my neighbors, but last night I was invited to a little neighborhood BBQ. I had met most of the neighbors there briefly before, but this was a chance to actually get to know them a little bit better.

We sat outside and talked for several hours. It is probably one of the most relaxing evenings I have had in a while. To be honest, I was actually a little proud of myself for going over there alone and interacting with a group of virtual strangers. I don't do well in new environments and my introverted nature tends to shine through.

As I looked back at my enjoyable evening, I realized that it was truly a "learning to breathe" moment. I slowed down without any expectation. My phone was in my pocket, but I didn't pull it out once to look at the time or check Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. I wasn't waiting anxiously to get home or worrying about what the next day would bring. I was invested in the moment.

We have already decided that our next get-together would be a soup party. I am looking forward to it!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Learning to Breathe, Pt. 8

The summer is rapidly coming to the a close. It always seems to fly by. Ads for back-to-school shopping are popping up everywhere. I loved shopping for school supplies. I don't know what it is about new pens and notebooks, but it makes me happy! And I know that fall is approaching!

This past weekend has brought some quiet reflection about life and the loss of life. Two people I went to high school with experienced great loss. One person had to put her dog to sleep. And while that may seem trivial to some, it is quite important to others. I am grateful for my Luna and I would be devastated if something happened to her. The other lost his one-year-old son unexpectedly. I can't even begin to imagine the grief his family is suffering. Both will look back at this weekend as life changing.

I know loss. I know that deep pain that doesn't go away. It becomes a part of who you are. Taking time to enjoy the moments we are given with the people we love is so important. This weekend, I am headed back up to WI to see my brother's family. It is an expensive trip - gas, tolls, kennel fees, eating out - that I am not really prepared to make. But I want to make those precious memories to hold in my heart. To savor the times when Brynley calls me Auntie Colleen in her sweet voice and holds my hand. To cuddle a tiny Addilyn because she will never be this small again.

I didn't expect my learning to breathe journey to take this route, but you never know what life will bring. Learning to breathe in the most difficult times is probably something that is never mastered, but it will make the happy moments sweeter.