Fall Garland

Thanks to the knowledge of my friend Tahliah, I now know that these are magnolia "cones". They fall off of this magnolia tree and land on the drive in front of our garage.

And since they're so pretty, I collected a few (in the same manner that I collect pine cones) and brought them inside for a little DIY fall decor project.

I originally thought they'd get spray-painted and go in these candle sconces (and one did), but another idea prevailed; garland for the fireplace!

All I needed was ribbon and scissors.

I started by cutting one long piece of ribbon and tying a cone to each end.

I hung them by the already existing hooks on our fireplace mantel (thanks, previous renters!).

And just like that- a quick and easy fall decorating project! Since I already had the ribbon (from Asher's nursery project) and the magnolia cones came straight off of the ground, it was totally free. Can't beat zero-dollar decor!

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P.S. Thanking Jesus for the beautiful fall weather that's starting to roll into Georgia...the days are still in the 80s, but the mornings and evenings are cool and crisp.

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Painted Pine Cones

Howdy friends. How's everyone liking the season so far? Thanks to ninety degree temps, we haven't had much of a fall in Georgia. But as you can see, I'm determined to get in the seasonal mood anyway.

Since there aren't any pine cones on the ground yet this year (why buy them when you can get them for free?), I borrowed these from Asher's nursery.

And took them out to the garage for a little up-do with some Krylon spray paint. (The green shade is called "Ivy Leaf", and I can't remember what the orange shade is called.)

This had to be the fastest, easiest project I've done yet. All it took was about five minutes and two cans of spray paint to get green and orange tipped pine cones.

Then I arranged them in these decorative candle holders (which, by the way, were $1 each at the post-wide yard sale);

And just like that- a cheap, easy, fast, and fun way to not only bring the outdoors in, but the fall season as well.

This is where they are for the time being- the side table in our dining room, next to the golden orange leaf tea set that is also quite reminiscent of fall.

Happy fall decorating!

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The Wonders of the Clearance Rack

My favorite spot in the fabric store; the clearance rack. Specifically, the clearance rack at Hancock Fabrics. In my opinion, it's the best one in town. There are many times when it's a bust, but sometimes (like this time) you find a real gem. 
In this case, the gem was about three yards of high quality upholstery fabric for $3.99 a yard;

Not only is it a beautiful, modern print in a really nice neutral gray and ivory color combination, but let me repeat the price- $3.99 a yard! Every other upholstery fabric that I've ever seen (and liked) is priced upwards of $15-20 per yard. So, this was a no brainer.

It was originally going to be used as a backdrop for our built-in book shelves (since Thane won't let me paint. For, admittedly, good reasons).

Living room built-ins.

But after testing it there and seeing that it didn't create the dramatic pop of color or texture I wanted, it went into what I'll call "craft supply storage"; the top of my heap of random fabrics, frames, ribbon, and other yet-to-be-utilized goodies up in the attic. And there it sat, brimming with potential. And it continued to sit...for months... Until, finally, I figured out what to do with it; make more curtains! And my new odd-end of gray and ivory fabric seemed like a nice compliment to our blue-tiled guest bathroom.

Let's get this show on the road. Since it was one long piece, I folded it in half, ironed down the center (which made no crease), and cut the whole thing in half (lengthwise, of course).

If you thought my kitchen curtain project was a tad unprofessional, check this out; sewing without ironing or pinning. I only wish I could do it this way every time. 

Since the fabric is so thick, I found out pretty quickly that pinning and ironing didn't make any difference. So, I just folded my hem as I went. I can't find the picture to show you, darn! Oh well, we'll just have to skip right to the finished process.

Ta-da! Ever heard of "new-sew" curtains? Well, these are what I like to call "no-skill" curtains.

What do you know? They actually reach the floor. That's a first, in this house at least. By the way, the hem is about half an inch around the bottom and sides, and then the rod tab at the top is about three inches.

What motivated me to finally put this great clearance fabric to use? The fact that I was tempted to go out and buy more things with which to start other projects when I have lots of things (like this fabric) sitting at home already. This is my new rule; carry out plans with things I've already bought/already have rather than buying even more. When I've completely run out of projects with what I currently own, then I can start thinking about what moderate purchase I'd like to make next.

Speaking of another project...back to the built-ins for a minute. Since Thane is (smartly) against painting a rental that we'll only be living in for a matter of months, I've been brainstorming ideas for adding a pop of color to these shelves with something we can take with us when we go. In that case, it'll pretty much have to be fabric, and only if I find another great deal on something that would work.

Hmmmmmm... :)

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Musical Chairs

Finally, something that moves more than we do; our set of breakfast table chairs. Why are they not with the breakfast table, you might be wondering?

Because it's been out of commission since moving here last October. The one thing we lost in the PCS from Hawaii to Georgia was the hardware to attach the legs. So, it's been sitting in our attic for a year now, just waiting for us to finally get to Lowes and pick up some extra bolts. But despite having a very underutilized table, we've found many ways to utilize the matching chairs. Too many ways, in fact, which is why they're constantly moving. Here are just a few "arrangements" these chairs have seen in the last months;

Putting this in Asher's nursery was an upgrade from what was previously there- the black office chair that I used to nurse him in the middle of the night when he was first born. This nursery has never been big enough for a full sized rocker or glider. But I have to say, bulky and un-cute as it is, it did the job quite well.

But now I either bring the little buddy into the bed with me or nurse him on my new reading nook sofa in the next room over;

So, this chair holds the spot for now. It's small enough to fit in the space, and works really nicely for the occasional need to pop a squat in this room. (I borrowed some items from Asher's crib to dress it up a little.)

And this is where chair #2 sat for a little while- in our office/guest/reading nook room, right next to the computer so that I could sit down with Thane.

But this became unnecessary when the sofa moved in, so it went on a little journey to a different spot of the house- our top landing;

Remember that espresso bowl that I found at a Goodwill for $2?

Now it's the perfect container for Thane's keys and wallet. And (sometimes) he even tucks his army boots under the chair! Maybe I'm the only one who finds a little delight in something like that. I guess I just like order in the court house.

As always, I love finding good uses for things we already own. What about you guys? Re-purpose any household items lately? Find any new or interesting uses for something you had laying around?

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Hard-Grass Flooring

Flooring. The word that stumped us for months.

The ranch house had many many square feet of sub-floor to cover, and we had many many options. But there are two problems with lots of options; first, not being able to decide what we wanted. Second, making a decision (based on those many lovely, luxurious options) and then unsuccessfully attempting to cram the cost into a budget that's just not quite big enough.

And by "cram the cost into a budget that's just not quite big enough" I mean this; we knew we wanted solid hardwood floors. We knew we wanted something dark. This lead us to one conclusion; Brazilian Ebony. Ha! In our dreams. At $8 per square foot, that wasn't happening.

And so, we sort of, somewhat indecisively, settled for Walnut- only to realize that we couldn't afford it unless we downgraded to a thinner, engineered plank. The thin planks aren't as sturdy, so we were worried about quality. We don't ever plan on replacing our flooring, so this was a one time shot- in other words, we knew we'd better get it right the first time.

Brazilian Walnut

And to be totally honest, we weren't all that crazy about the green tones in Walnut. (Weird, right? Walnut has a lot of green in it. You can't see it in the photo above, but it's obvious when you see the large sample in the store.) But it was the darkest colored flooring that we could (maybe) afford. So, finally, after months of debating, we finally made a decision; we'd let God take care of it.

Okay, I know, that's not (technically) a decision. But non-the-less, we committed it to Him in faith, and He never disappoints. Even in trivial little matters like the flooring for our house. It must give Him joy to tend to the needs of his kids, regardless of how small or inconsequential they may be. Or maybe it was just to give us a chance to brag on how great He is to us. Either way, praise the Lord!

Here's how it went down; One night, a couple of months after giving the problem to Him, I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn't get back to sleep. This never happens. But there I was, wide awake. So I moseyed on over to the computer and checked Lumber Liquidators. Well, by golly, there just happened to be a terrific deal on carbonized bamboo flooring. By terrific, I mean too-good-to-be-true compared to every other option and price we'd seen. And better yet, it was in a color we knew we liked, because we'd seen the same kind in a friend's house. Not only did we know we liked the look of it (which was always uncertain with other options, since we only had small samples to go by), but get this- it was solid! Not exactly solid hardwood, since bamboo is, in fact, grass. (Yet, interestingly not green, like walnut.) But the point is that these were wide, thick planks, not the thin, small planks of the cheap versions of walnut flooring that we were about to settle for before this little big discovery in the middle of the night.

Carbonized (Horizontal) Bamboo

And even though this variety is more of a mid-toned color, there are a lot of beautiful variations in it (excuse the dust);

And it's a nice contrast to our very dark espresso kitchen cabinetry and stair trim;

So, in the end, we think it works better than having really dark flooring. Balance and contrast is good!

So, waking up in the middle of the night and stumbling upon this great deal was a huge blessing. We placed an order that same day, before the sale ended or stock ran out, and voila; floor problem solved.

Praise Jesus. Has He done anything surprising like this for you guys lately?

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P.S. Lumber Liquidators is a great company to purchase floors from! We definitely recommend them if you're in the market for flooring. See the exact bamboo we ordered here (not necessarily on sale though).

P.S.S. Did I mention that bamboo is eco-friendly, just like another one of my favorite things? (Hint; first word- "cloth". Second word- "diapers".)

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Tending the Back Door

After almost a year of gently nudging the man of the house, honey-do list item #2 can get a big fat check! Our back door has officially been moved and we now have an open walkway between our kitchen and attic rooms. (Note: if you're not interested in how to move a door, skip down to the bottom where the real meat of the post is!)

This is where the door was before the move;

And this is the hallway space between the kitchen and the stairwell that leads up to the attic;

I've been wanting this door moved so that I could use the extra hallway space as a kitchen extension to hang our pots and pans. It would also allow us to walk straight upstairs to our two attic rooms without going through a locked door. Let me explain; this door acts as our back door- on the other side of it is the stairwell that goes not only up to our attic, but down to the first floor (which leads outside) and then to the basement. The door that actually leads outside is down on the first floor, and we share that with our neighbor.

So, Thane moved our locking back door to the top of the stairwell instead, directly to the right of the opening you see in the first pic. So, we still have a secure, functioning "back door", but it's no longer blocking our direct access to our two attic rooms. And if that wasn't complicated enough, just watch me try to show how incredibly easy (yet hard via photos) moving a door really is.

Here's the all too-unwilling man of the house, getting ready to knock this baby out without so much as a power drill or- by the grace of God- a single curse word.

See the little pin at the top of this hinge? It has to be lifted up and out, which can be done using a hammer and flat head screwdriver. Just wedge the flat head in the seam, and give it a few taps with the hammer to get it moving.


And out comes the pin!

Give that treatment to both hinges, and it's off with the door!

Now it's as simple as removing the existing hardware;

As well as re-moving the hinge plates;

And then re-installing all of it in the threshold of the new spot (if you plan on putting the door back up in another location).

This is the dead-bolt. We were fortunate that somebody else had already done this exact door-spot-switcheroo before, so hollowing out the hole for the dead-bolt was very easy (it was filled with caulk). Otherwise, we would have needed a drill to hollow it out.


Re-installing the hinge plates;

Then came the trickiest part, for which there is no photo; lining the door back up with the hinge plates so that the big hinge-nail can slide back in to secure the door. This took both of us (hence no photo). But once we were all lined up, it was as easy as just sliding the hinge-nails back in.

And now we have a full, unencumbered view of our not-so-fancy (army house) kitchen and then dining room. Notice the new-ish microwave cart to the right- my latest attempt at better kitchen organization.

And now for the meat. Right around the time I was coercing Thane to complete this honey-do task for me, I came to a sermon preached out of the gospel of Luke titled "Jesus and Demons" (I'm going through the entire series, and it's excellent). And this particular sermon on "doors" came in a timely fashion- just as we were moving our back door. Here's a quick synopsis; 

Sin is the opening of a "door". We either belong to God or Satan. If we are Christians, Satan does not own us, but we are still able to "open our doors" and invite demonic influence into our lives. And this is a checklist of common ways that we do this;

Doors of Demonic Influence
-Sexual sin (1 Corinthians 7:5)
-Marriage between Christians and non-Christians (2 Corinthians 6:15)
-False religion, false teaching, false Jesus (1 Corinthians 10:14-22; 1 Timothy 4:1-2; 2 Corinthians 11:1-4)
-Bitterness (Ephesians 4:17-5:2)
-Foolishness and drunkenness (Ephesians 5:18-21)
-Idle gossip and busybodying (1 Timothy 5:11-15)
-Lies (John 8:44)
-Idolatry (1 John 5:18-21)

I'm guilty of a good number of these things, and by the grace of God I have to constantly strive for obedience so that I'm tending my own doors. Not only for the sake of living within God's will (the most important thing), but for the sake of my family. They're affected by what I do every single day.

So I hope this list is just as helpful to you guys as it is to me. I need these constant reminders and warnings from the Word, to continually strive to put off the things of the world and be conformed to the image of Christ. Praise Jesus for His amazing provision- for His Spirit that allows us to live the lives He meant for us all along.

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Six (No, Make it Seven) Months of Sweet Pea Weekly

Here we are, seven months into Asher's weekly photo project. (I started this post right about the time he turned six months, so the fact that I'm finally getting around to finish it goes to show it's been a busy few weeks...) I lovingly dubbed this project "Sweet Pea Weekly" as a cute pun on the sweet pea rattle prop we use as a growth gauge in each photo. If we'd had a little girl, I would have been tempted to make it "Sweet Peach Weekly", being in Georgia and all (tee-hee).

Anyway, SWP has been quite the endeavor! So far, these photos have been taken in six different states. That's what we get for not only traveling way too much, but for having a baby on a Saturday- if we're traveling, you can bet we're almost always gone over the weekend, which means SWP props get packed and a photo (or 100) gets taken no matter how inconvenient.

Speaking of Georgia, this is the lovely state of Asher's birth, and the scene for the first six weeks of SWP. Here's week one;

Then, things took a turn for the crazy, and we moved to Kentucky for four months. Many a photo were taken there, and this is my favorite from the horse state;

Within that four months, little buddy had his first visit to Virginia to see the family. And yes, his weekly b-day rolled around while we were there;

Then, after finishing out a couple more months in Kentucky, it was back to Georgia. But not for long! A trip to New York for a family wedding followed shortly. Weekly photo? You'd better believe it;

Then, it was back to Georgia. Shew! But wait- it's not over yet- the ranch trip came next;

And while we were there, he turned six months! So, I had to do a little something extra to mark the day;

And as usual, I couldn't just take one...it's no secret that I've officially joined the ranks of the crazy-moms-obsessed-with-(their)-baby-photo-photography.

Notice the painted foot? More on that soon...

After returning back home to Georgia, I swore of all traveling until Christmas. Well, two weeks later we found ourselves in South Carolina, visiting daddy (who was taking a two week course for the army) and some good friends who met us from up north. Try as we might, we are physically incapable of staying in the same state for more than two weeks at a time.

If I'd had any idea that we'd be traveling this much, I might not have started this weekly project. But, ignorance served me well in this case. As not-so-convenient as it's been to have to pack a white onsie, a background fabric, the sweet pea, and a charged camera every time we travel (as well as find the time to take the photo while in flux), it's been a really fun "tradition". And as frustrating as it's been to have no consistency as far as setting and lighting goes, (lighting makes a big difference in photography) it's gone off without a hitch overall.

No, it hasn't been as "perfect" as I might like it to be with the constant on-the-go nature of our lives, but it's taught me that it doesn't have to be "perfect" to be great. Minor variations in lighting or convenience will just be remembered as part of this crazy but wonderful little project, as well as a great reminder of all the places we've been as a family of three. Praise Jesus for such a rich, full life, full of family and friends, adventures and opportunities.

And it's not over yet. Florida- you're next!
But until then, allow me to leave you with one more photo, in memory of Asher's travels in-utero;

This bun in the oven visited four Hawaiian islands. We can't wait until he's old enough to remember things- a trip back to Oahu will make for another great family vacation one of these days...

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P.S. See more about how I do the weekly photo here.

P.S.S. Asher's smiles will be getting a little "toothy" soon- his first tooth is coming in! (On the bottom.) And he turned seven months old yesterday! 

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