Thursday, December 29

Mawmaw's Dining Room Makeover

Well, I promised Mawmaw that I wouldn't post the before pictures. :)
It was basically a shell of a room filled with boxes. No light fixture, no draperies, no table and chairs.
We had to demo some corner shelving, then start from scratch.

So here's the finished product!!!!

We painted EVERYTHING, I installed a bronze chandelier and ceiling medallion, re-upholstered the chairs to this dining set she found at a garage sale...

(Side Note: Don't be scared to mix and match dining chairs! That is very in style right now... If it scares you a little, try what we did and just use different chairs on the ends- sticking to a similar finish. If ya wanna go a little fancier, nice arm chairs- even small wing back chairs are great on the ends! Just make sure the seats are close to the same height as the other chairs- proportionate to the table. :)

I found this rug in the clearance bin at Home Depot (SCORE! Large rugs can get SO pricey! Tip: Neutral rugs really warm up a dining space. Just make sure the rug is large enough for you to pull your dining chairs all the way out.

I added casing above the window to give it a finished look and eliminate the need for a valance. Mawmaw's biggest complaint about this room was the afternoon sun streaming through when they were trying to rest, so the draperies were made with black out lining.

The 3 ring mirror, traditionally called the "wedding ring" style, had an outdated gold finish. Rather than spray painting the entire thing, I sponged it lightly with a silver color to create a 2 tone affect.

Giving a nod to the "wedding ring" mirror, we placed family wedding photos of their children and grandchildren on the opposite wall.

In the center of these photos: the couple who started it all; cutting the cake at their 50th wedding anniversary celebration.

Wednesday, December 21

How To Re-cover Dining Room Chairs

My grandmother bought a dining table with these chairs at a garage sale:

If you're thinking they don't look that bad, you should have tried sitting on them :)
The foam was deteriorating, making for a rather uncomfortable seat.
Also, the fabric looked kinda gross up close.

Remove the old fabric (however many layers you find, :) and old foam with needle nose pliers.

Purchase foam (I bought 2") at your fabric store.
Simply set seat base over foam and trace with a marker, then cut to size.

Glue foam to base. If you want a rounded edge, just glue around edges and sort of fold it over as shown in the picture above.

Next, cut squares of fabric leaving plenty of inches for stapling. My fabric was a tiny stripe, so to ensure I got it straight, I nipped the center of each side with my scissors. It helps you line it up to the center.

Next: Start stapling!
(Pereferably with an ELECTRIC staple gun! I used a manual, and it was a PAIN!!)
Pull as tightly as you can, starting from the center and working your way out. I stapled a few times in the center of all 4 sides then finished each side. It helped my fabric not to move around too much. You can play with the corners. There isn't really a wrong way, just fold and pleat till you like it, then try to make sure all corners are as identical as possible.

When finished, screw onto the chair and walah!

There's the finished product!
I just re-did this entire dining room for my grandmother, and I'll be showing y'all the pictures soon! It was a lot of HARD WORK, and I'm SO excited it's almost ready to show off! 

Thursday, December 8

Making your own All-Natural Household Cleansers (For pennies!)

Lol... don't vintage cleaning ads just crack ya up?

I've wanted to switch to all-natural chemical-free household cleansers for some time now. The only thing stopping me was money. See, I'm a penny pincher... and I coupon. I was getting most of my cleaning products for free or close to it with my couponing... so I just couldn't bring myself to pay (a lot) more money for the natural stuff I saw in health food stores and catalogues.

Well, I've finally gotten to the point where I realize our health is more important than money. I'm tired of holding my breath while I clean, and knowing my kids are inhaling those dangerous fumes.

WELL! I've finally discovered a solution!!! MAKE THE STUFF MYSELF. SO cheap, SO eco-friendly, SO healthy, SO effective.... Am I missing anything?

The thing I use most is an all purpose disinfectant (for wiping down counter tops, toys and baby stuff, laminate floors etc.) So I decided to mix 1 part hydrogen peroxide with 2 parts water, adding a few drops of lavender oil. If you aren't familiar with hydrogen peroxide: it's simply amazing. It kills more germs than Lysol and it's actually safe to ingest. In fact, if you do ingest it, you'll be a little bit healthier. *smile* The Lavender oil is a naturally anti-bacterial as well, and it smells SO nice! You can play around with different essential oils for whatever smell you like in your cleansers.

You know how name brand chemical cleansers "smell good", but if you breathe in deeply it kinda burns your throat? Well, now when I clean I can NOT stop breathing in the smell. There's no burning; it just smells so pure and clean and WONDERFUL! Nick keeps commenting on the great smell as well.

Okay, so I've been researching recipes for other cleansers too and here's what I've found:
(Let me know how they work for you if you try them... also let me know if you have a fantastic laundry detergent recipe. I'm "shopping around" :).... the cheaper to make, the better! 

General Cleansers:
1.Vinegar and Salt: Mix to make a good surface cleaner.
2. Baking Soda: Dissolve 4 tablespoons baking soda in 1 quart warm water for a general cleaner.
3. Baking soda on a damp sponge: Cleans and deodorizes any kitchen or bathroom surfaces.
4. Liquid castile soap and baking soda or Borax: Use in different ratios. Try a little soap and soda/borax with large amount of water for floors, walls and counters. Try more soap, soda/Borax for tubs and sinks and anything that can be rinsed well.
5. Paste of baking soda and water: Makes an effective scouring cleanser.

1. Half-cup of borax and 1 gallon hot water: Add a few sprigs of fresh thyme, rosemary or lavender. Steep for 10 minutes, strain and cool. You could also add essential fragrant oils instead of fresh herbs. Store in a plastic spray bottle.
2. 2 tablespoons Borax, 1/4 cup Lemon Juice, 2 cups hot water: Combine the borax and lemon juice with the water in a spray bottle. Use to replace any commercial all-purpose cleaner.

Wood Furniture Polish:
Try a mixture of olive oil and lemon juice. (Always test your mixture on a small out of sight part of your furniture first!)

Glass Cleaners:
1. Undiluted vinegar in a spray bottle
2. Equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle
3. 1/2 lemon juice and 2 cups water in a spray bottle

Oven Cleaner:
Sprinkle baking soda all over stuck-on food and grease in the bottom of oven. Spray with water until moist. Continue to spray every few hours keep it moist. Let set overnight. By morning it should wipe clean easily.
(I have to inject here that I bought a commercial oven cleaner a few months ago. I thought I had no choice- had to get it clean somehow... the fumes were SO incredibly bad I felt we should all be wearing hazmat suits. I'm not kidding. I hope this recipe works as well as I've heard it does, but either way: I will NEVER buy that other stuff again!)

Toilet Bowl Cleaners:
1. Baking Soda and Vinegar: Sprinkle baking soda into the bowl, then squirt with vinegar and scour with a toilet brush.
2. Borax and Lemon Juice: Mix enough borax and lemon juice into a paste. Flush toilet to wet the sides, then apply the paste. Let sit for 2 hours and scrub thoroughly.
3. 1 cup borax, 1/2 cup white vinegar: Flush to wet the sides of the bowl. Sprinkle the borax around the toilet bowl, then spray with vinegar. Leave for several hours or overnight before scrubbing.
4.Liquid castile soap and baking soda or Borax: Scrub with a toilet brush.

Drain Cleaner:
1/2 cup baking soda
1 cup white vinegar
1 gallon boiling water
1/2 a used lemon

Pour baking soda down drain/disposal, followed by vinegar. Allow the mixture to foam for several minutes before flushing the drain with boiling water.

Tub And Tile Cleaners:
1. Baking Soda: Sprinkle baking soda just like scouring powder. Rub with a damp sponge. Rinse thoroughly.
2. Vinegar and Baking Soda: Apply vinegar full-strength to a sponge and wipe. Then use baking soda as you would scouring powder. Rub with a damp sponge and rinse thoroughly with clean water.
3. Vinegar: Use 1/4 cup (or more) vinegar to 1 gallon water.
4.Baking Soda: For grout cleaning, use 3 cups baking soda in a medium-sized bowl and add 1 cup warm water. Mix into a smooth paste and scrub into grout with a sponge or toothbrush. Rinse thoroughly.

Porcelain Cleaner:
Rub with cream of tartar sprinkled on a damp cloth.

Plumbing Fixtures:1. To clean stainless steel, chrome, fiberglass, ceramic, porcelain or enamel fixtures, dissolve 2 tbsp baking soda in 1 qt of water. Wipe then rinse.
3. Hard lime deposits around faucets can be easily removed by covering the deposits with vinegar-soaked paper towels. Leave the paper towels on for about one hour before cleaning. Leaves chrome clean and shiny.

Metal Shower Heads: To remove deposits combine 1/2 cup white vinegar and one quart water. Completely submerge the shower head and boil 15 minutes.

Plastic Shower Heads: Combine 1 pint white vinegar and 1 pint hot water. Completely submerge the shower head and soak for about one hour.

Rust Stain and Hard Water Deposit Remover:Apply full-strength vinegar or lemon juice and allow to set until spot disappears, rinse and repeat if necessary.

Pretty sure this goes without being said... but in case you're wondering: just purchase some spray bottles for your homemade cleansers, and label them accordingly! :)
Oh yeah, and I'd recommend using distilled water in your recipes for less residue left behind.

Friday, November 4

Benjamin's Testimony

One night last week, I was sitting in the living room with the baby, while Ben played in his room. About 10 minutes before, I heard him ask Nick to turn on his Fisher Price piano game that hooks up to his tv. I could hear him laughing and repeating various shapes and numbers back to the television. Then all of sudden I heard a loud crash. I raced down the hall to Benjamin's room. Nick, ran from the other end of the hall, and we met at the doorway. We stopped and stared for a second, not saying anything. There was a pile of glass in the middle of the floor.

The glass globe over his bedroom light had fallen off and broken into a million pieces. Benjamin, sitting on his rocking horse in the corner, was just barely out of harms way.
"Are you okay?" I asked Ben. "I okay Mommy", he said; his eyes as big as saucers.
I handed the baby to Nick and carefully stepped over the shards of glass to pick Benjamin up. Nick watched the kids in the next room while I cleaned up the mess. After a little bit, I looked up to see Nick checking on my progress. Neither of us had said much- I think we were in shock. I finally said, "Nick, it was the Lord that this didn't hit Benjamin. He was playing his game all this time, and it was right above where was standing." "I know." He said. "He never sits on that rocking horse."

I hadn't even thought of that. Nick was right, Benjamin never played with the thing. Something had prompted him to stop playing his game, and go sit in the only place in his room where he would be safe.

I started thanking God over and over that Ben hadn't been hurt... or killed. Tears formed in eyes while I cleaned, just imagining what could have happened. "Why did the globe fall?" I wondered. I took it down to clean it about a month before that... I must not have screwed it in good enough. I needed to check every other light in the house! Why did it take an entire month to fall down? Why in the world did it shatter so badly? It fell onto a thick shag rug, on top of thick carpet. My mind continued to race as I began freaking out about this "near miss" and the safety of my children.

Thankfully, the Lord quickened my mind and helped me snap out of the downward spiral I had started mentally. I reminded myself that I am only human. No matter how hard I try to be a perfect parent and protect my kids from everything dangerous, I will make mistakes. We need the grace of God just to make it through each day. Some days it is much more obvious to us than others- like when our child almost gets hit in the head, or we nearly get into a car accident. But, truth is, even the days we don't realize it, God's grace is the only thing getting us through. He gives us breath. We MUST depend on Him for our safety... for our life.

Otherwise we could go nuts (some people do) trying to do it on our own. Putting our trust in God to take of us and our families is the only way to really have peace. Worrying about it all the time and dwelling on what "could happen", slowly steals away at your faith and will likely send you into a frenzy! While thinking through these things, my tense expression gradually broke into a little smile of relief. I thanked God again.
I thanked Him for His hand of protection. Then, I thanked Him for the resulting testimony- that would one day be Benjamin's to tell.

Thursday, October 20

A Living Room Update

A couple of months ago, my mother asked if I would "take the reigns" on her living room. She couldn't seem to decide on a paint color, or pin point what wasn't working for her in this room. All she knew was, it WASN'T working!

Here were her complaints:

#1 It was TOO DARK! My mom loves dark colors, but admitted that layers and layers of them had turned her living room into a cave!

#2 It didn't function. The only time this room was EVER used, was when my parents had a party or gathering. Whenever us kids came over to chit chat with my parents or watch a ball game, we would all pile into their master bedroom, sitting on the floor & edge of the bed (since there were only 2 chairs in the room.) The considerably large living room served only as a "passage way" between their bedroom and the kitchen. For some reason, no one wanted to sit in it.

My task: To take this dark, foreboding room and make it fresh, modern, & functional- without losing the western style my parents love.

Here's the BEFORE

Here's the AFTER:

When you have dark trim and doors in your house, going with lighter walls is a must. Contrast is important, and Kilim Beige on the walls really makes the beautiful stone fireplace stand out as the focal point of the entire room.

Switching her dark candles to white ones creates a fresh, clean look. In keeping with the earthy, organic vibe of the room; we added some lightly colored rattan balls in clear apothecary jars.

The brown suede throw pillows got re-covered with beautiful fabrics and even some burlap for added texture, and a pop of color!

By simply re-arranging the furniture my mom already had (and pulling some pieces from other rooms,) we created 3 different seating areas within the room, that beckon you to come and sit.

Before, it was easy to drown in a sea of dark brown in this room. By placing a light colored rug between the dark wood furniture and the dark wood floor, it breaks up the monotony. :)

The over-the-window dark shelves were replaced by floor length panels, which draw your eye up and make the room appear taller. (Tip: Another aid in making the ceiling look higher is painting it 1 or 2 shades lighter than your wall color.)

Bringing in small elements in a mixture of different finishes like pewter, antique brass, straw & pottery helped to create warmth in the space, and makes the darker pieces stand out more- instead of all blending together.

The small (almost non-existent) entry way needed some defining. Mom has always been unhappy that you seem to be stepping into the center of the room when you walk in the door. The furniture helps create an illusion of a small square entry area, along with hooks for a coat or hat, and a small round rug.

Family photos in black and white will be going into the frames in the collage. This myriad of mix-matched frames brings in a small eclectic element (which mom asked for,) without losing a rustic feel.

By the way....
This coffee table is FOR SALE along with 2 matching end tables,
and (possibly) a matching console table! :)
It's taking up a little too much space in the room and will be replaced with some fabric upholstered ottomans.


for hanging pictures in a pattern

First, arrange your frames on the floor... playing with them until you achieve the look you want. Then, lay them out on paper- (I used the backside of wrapping paper, which conveniently had a 1'' grid marked out for cutting.)

Simply trace your frames on the paper, drawing an "X" where the nail needs to go.
Hang the paper on your wall. (Here's where you can move it up, down, side to side, and level it...a lot easier than doing that with the real frames!)

When you get it just right, go ahead and hammer a nail thru each "x" mark, so your holes with already be there. Now, hanging the real pictures is not a guessing game!

If you're doing a collage like this one, and you're not sure about spacing, stick to 1 inch. It's a good place to start. :)

Friday, September 30

September pics

S'mores Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

It's FALL!! 
Well, okay... it's still in the upper 90's here in Houston, but tomorrow's October people! We gotta start celebrating fall some time right? Maybe cooler weather is on it's way!
*fingers crossed*

I tend to think of the seasons in terms of clothing and food.
(What can I say? I love fashion, and I love to eat! ;)

Fall is time for Stews, Chili, Pecan Pie, Heavy Spice Cakes, Hot Cider, Pumpkin Bread....
Oh, and S'MORES!!!

I love, love, LOVE S'mores...
and here's a unique way to enjoy that incredible trifecta of flavors:

You know the drill...
get your marshmallows, chocolate bars & grahams ready...

Mix up your fav Chocolate Chip cookie recipe...
(or use a mix... whatever)

Build your S'more using only 1/4 or 1/2 of the usual amounts.
(Example: I used 2 mini marshmallows, 1 square of a miniature Hershey bar,
& 2 rectangles of a graham.)

Then put a heaping scoop of cookie dough on the top and bottom.

Alright, here's the tricky part. You have to mold the dough around your S'more. Don't worry about the S'more getting messed up, it really doesn't matter just as long as you enclose the cookie dough around the entire thing, forming a big ball.

My mouth is watering just remembering what these tasted like
fresh out of the oven....

Now, I must warn you: These are some BIG cookies! Using the amounts I listed above, mine turned out about 7 inches wide. Sometimes you have to keep adding cookie dough to get it all molded together. You can use less S'more ingredients if you want smaller cookies.
Just be sure to give these babies plenty of room to spread on the cookie sheet!

Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, August 9

Place Mat Window Treatment

I bought these 6 bamboo placemats at World Market for next to nothing.
First I made 2 wall hangings with them for our previous house.
Then, I used them as placemats (imagine that :)
THEN... I repurposed them yet again to make a window treatment for my back door!

First, I hot glued ea. set of 2 side by side, then glued them on top of each other... (over lapping each one evenly to make it the length I wanted.)

Then, I played around with tiering them up, and added velcro in the correct spots so I could "open" these "blinds" of mine. (tip: I place the velcro in the overlapped sections so they wouldn't show thru when the sun was shining.)

Oh, and I hot glued the top around my magnetic curtain rod.

 Here is what it looks like all the way down.
(See what I mean about the sun shining thru? The overlapped sections have to be measured the same so it doesn't look funny, and it does a good job of hiding the velcro.)

Here is the "half-way open" look:

And, here is all the way open:

It looks SO much better than the black valances I had hanging there,
AND it added a pop of color!

Wednesday, August 3

What we did in July

We went to the Ringling Bros. Circus...

Benjamin was a little "stinker" that night, but he sat, mesmerized,
through the ENTIRE thing!
(3 hours, people!)

We played at the Woodlands Mall...

Adalynn and Daddy surfed the web...

Benjamin colored at his desk...

 Benjamin held "baby Addy"...

We watched a really pretty sunset from our backyard...

Baby Addy stayed super cute!

We had a work day at church to get ready for VBS!!

We had a blast all week and dressed in our matching shirts with everyone else
for program night...

When VBS week was over, we SLEPT!!!

Bye July!