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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Personalize your Composition Notebook

I've got a quick little crafty project for all y'alls today. 
This is something I have been doing since college... personalizing composition notebooks.  Michael and I use composition notebooks a lot for bible study, quiet times, and church.  I started decorating my own initially (you know, because I couldn't just enjoy a composition notebook for its functional uses only, it had to be pretty too) but then I started to decorate Michael's too.  Of course the differences between decorating my own and his are vastly different.  So here is the manly journal that I made for ma man. 

And here's how you do it.

Composition notebook
Modge Podge
Paint brush
Paper - 8 1/2 x 11 cardstock works best
Paper cutter or scissors are fine too

Use your computer to pick out a saying/picture/design that you want on your notebook.  This time I used a quote from C.S Lewis.  And I wanted the backdrop of the notebook to have a subtle yet manly pattern to it.  A subtle, yet, manly pattern for Michael?  What about engineering graph paper?! Yes!  Totally Michael.  So I just searched on google images for engineering graph paper, copied and pasted the image into a word doc and increased the size of it so that it printed as far into the margins as my printer would allow (I tightened my margins as far as I could so I would have the least amount of blank space around my pattern).  Then I added my text over the top.

You could also use patterned scrapbooking paper and layer them for a more interesting effect.  I have used a paper bag before, I have painted them before, and I have also used fabric.  But this time around, simple was what I was looking for. 
Once you've got your design, print that sucker out!
I cut off the margins of the the long side that would be closest to the spine of the notebook - so there was no plain white margin showing.  No need to cut the short sides and the other long side since you are going to fold over those sides and glue them to the inside of the cover - you won't see them.

Glue.  Using your paint brush (I like foam paint brushes for this), paint on the Modge Podge onto the entire cover of the notebook.  Line up and place the paper over the top - making sure you have enough margins along each side to fold over (except the one that is nearest the spine of the notebook, that just gets glued in place).  Press down.  Be careful of getting wrinkles in the paper.  You may get some but the best way to avoid it is to use heavier paper.  The thinner the paper, the more likely you are to get wrinkles. 
Fold the sides over and glue down.  I do the short ends first and then the long end.  At the corners I try to get them so that the curve of the cover is maintained.  Like this in the third picture.  
Then, on the inside of the cover I paint on more Modge Podge.  Close the cover so that you glue the first page of the notebook to the back side of the cover.  This just creates a clean look.  If you are a better crafter than I, you could cut some cardstock and glue that on instead.  But I'm lazy, so I'm stickin with the original plan.  You get lots of air bubbles when you do this but they don't bother me much since they are on the inside of the cover (see previous sentence).  
Repeat process for back cover. 

And then you're done and you can enjoy your new and improved and personalized notebook!

 Full disclosure: the above picture is a bit misleading because, Michael doesn't even drink coffee! But it just made more sense for the purposes of this tutorial if there was a cup of coffee sitting there (why? Don't ask me, I just work here).  So I added cream and sugar and drank it myself -maybe some day I will be a grown up and drink my coffee black - but until then I will just keep personalizing composition notebooks, blogging, and drinking my coffee sweet and smooth. 
 I love that when Michael is getting to the end of one notebook, he lets me know and asks me to start working on his next one.  So sweet that he values this little thing that I do for him.  That makes me feel really good. I think I'll keep him ;-)

The great thing about this craft is that there are about a million different ways you could do it! Here are all the ones I have made over the years.
 And another great thing about this little craft? The cost is so close to nothing!

For me?  It was free because I had all the stuff. 
For you?  Maybe $10-15 initially to buy all the supplies which, maybe, isn't an awesome deal but then you can make a million more of them for free, it's a long term win!

I have also done this same thing with smaller composition notebooks and used it as a little engagement gift.  It's great to keep track of bridal shower and wedding gifts, to jot down to-do lists and shopping lists.  This is the one I made one for myself and it was helpful in keeping track of the gifts all in one nice, tidy, and tiny little place.
And now, 4 years later, it is a special little memento full of generous memories of the ones we shared our special day with.   

There really are endless uses for a decorated and personalized composition notebook.  What are your ideas?

Don't miss a beat.  
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Sunday, June 22, 2014

Laura Lately: June Edition

Remember last month when I did a quick and fun little post called Laura Lately?  It is basically a time I thought we could use to connect, you and me, over a cup of coffee and this blog.  I'm going to share a bit about what I've been up to lately, and I'd love to hear from you as well! So comment back with any or all of the following:
- things you can't get enough of -
- things you've been watching -
- what you're looking forward to -
- what you've been thinking about -
- things you've been shopping for -
- what you've been munching on -
- ways you've been feeling -
(utilize the comment section, that's what its there for!)

So here goes!

Lately, I can't get enough of

This thing called blogging and the whole blogging world.  When I started out blogging last year, it was mainly to keep friends and family updated on our home renovation.  I had been reading blogs since the summer we got married, in 2010.  I had thought a lot about starting my own but wasn't sure if I would enjoy writing it or, if I did write one, whether I would stick with it (I had never been much of a journaler).   A year after beginning my own blog, I am feeling more excited, more encouraged, and more motivated than ever to make this place something really special.  To make it a place to gather, laugh, be inspired, and connect. I'm dreaming, planning, and praying for this space and the future of it, I hope you will stick around to see where we're headed!

Also, our kitchen and dining room were featured this week at one of my favorite blogs of all time: Hooked on Houses.  I literally jumped out of bed when I was scrolling down on bloglovin and saw our kitchen!  She had a nice little write up about our renovation.  Be sure to check her out today and every week for that matter! If you, like me, love to go on tours of people's home, admire set design during movies and TV shows, or look at real estate postings (even when you are not in the market) you will LOVE her blog!

Lately, I've been watching

So. Much. Parks and Rec.  Seriously love that show.  I was so against it when Michael started watching it on Netflix.  Why would I want to watch a show about the government... boring.  But one day, last winter, when we were snowed in and painting trim, I watched a couple episodes and got hooked.  I just loved the characters so much for their quirkiness and relationships with each other.  Especially Ron.  Ron Swanson is the man! 

Lately, I'm looking forward to

All our friends who are coming for visits this summer! We are just so blessed to be the friends of such wonderful people and I cannot WAIT to host them at our home. Sam and Beth will be here at the same time as our county fair and we are really looking forward to showing them around all the sights, smells, and tastes.  And then Karl and Bekah come a couple weeks later! I cannot wait to see Bekah and what, undoubtedly, will be her adorable baby bump! Ah! Can't wait!
Although, I do hope they show up sans creepy 'stach (sorry Mario) and mud.  But you have to admit, these people sure do look like they know how to have a good time!

Lately, I've been thinking about

Alaska! We are gearing up for a wonderful adventure vacation to Alaska with our friends Emily and Cory and I find myself day dreaming about breaching whales, massive glaciers, and crystal waters.... and yes, cooler temperatures.  (Call me crazy, but I'm not a summer person).
Look at those two! That's going to be us! We're doin' that!

Lately, I've been shopping for

Paint for our living room. At first I was thinking grey but I just felt like I needed to warm up the space, so now? It's beige, baby! I know it's not the most exciting color in the rainbow but.. honestly, I don't think I would like to have the most exciting color in the rainbow on my walls! (side note: what color would be considered the most exciting color in the rainbow.. orange? hot pink? neon green? hm.. food for thought.) 

I'm also looking for a white jean jacket, know where I can find a good one?


Lately, I've been munching on

Homemade strawberry jam.  It's that time of year to get together with your mom and sister and jam.  Strawberry jam, that is...(you wouldn't want to hear us jam, please stick with tasting our jam #nonmuscialgene).

Lately, I've been feeling

Thankful for days off.  It has been a crazy couple of weeks at work and I am so thankful I have a schedule that allows me to have multiple days off in a row.  I'm finding, naturally, that my days off are so so so important for me.  Working in a profession like nursing and working with cancer patients can be pretty tough, especially emotionally.  So on my days off I highly value the time I get to unplug my mind from work, recharge through good conversation with friends, delve into things I enjoy (like connecting with you all), and spending time with my favorite guy. 

Well that's me, what about you?  I'm going to top off my coffee and then you can tell me what you've been up to lately!

And also, in case you missed them, Here is what I've been blogging about lately!
American Crafters  -  Refinishing my Dining Room Table  -  Getting Rid of the Ugly  -  Decorating Above Cabinets
Oh and I also shared a post with you with the highlights from our 4th year of marriage.
4th Anniversary Highlights  -

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Saturday, June 14, 2014

Decorating Above the Cabinets

Hi there friends.

So last week I told you we had dug some Adirondack chairs out of my mother-in-law's garage.  Well there were some other gems that we found under all that dust.

Check out these blue green mason jars!  As soon as I saw them, I knew what I was going to do with them! I thought they would be perfectly suited for the nook above my cabinets!  Lets talk about that little nook, shall we?  I think it can be a bit tricky to decorate...

So as great as it is having space to decorate above my kitchen cabinets... I have space above my cabinets that I have to decorate.  Meaning, what the heck am I going to put up there!?

It was easy when we moved in, it was Christmas time!
Boom. Christmas Garland. Done. Easy.

And then, after Christmas was over, I moved these little copper guys up there.  
Would you ever guess that those things are Copper Snowflake Christmas Tree Toppers? Well they are!  (And they are actually still for sale here if you are interested.) For a while they were hanging out on either side of our dining room window.  Remember?

 (Whoah! Look how bare the dining room looks!)

So then after Christmas, they found their way above the cabinets. And then I turned around and it was the end of May already, and they were still up there!  I know you might not guess that they are a Christmas ornaments, necessarily, but I knew that they were and it just bothered me.  I mean, I'm as excited for Christmas as the next person (possibly more excited), but it's important to enjoy each season as it comes, don'cha think?

So when I got these pretty blue-green mason jars, I knew just where they were headed.

Up top!

Yes, I felt that I should give summer it's own time above the cabinets.

Mason jars sure do say summer, don't they?
  And I love the way the light shines through them.  

Wanna know a secret?

I needed to prop the jars on top of something so that you would see them above the crown molding of the cabinets.   Guess what I used?

You better believe it.  Putting those old nursing school textbooks to good use!

Notice they are not engineering textbooks. hm....

I'm sure that doesn't mean anything.

What's that you say? More pictures of the kitchen? OK, sure....
  hello pretty peonies..

 And I'm celebrating because I haven't killed off my basil plant....yet!

I think there are lots of other possibilities for above the cabinet decorating. Here are a few ideas I've been thinking about:

  • I love the idea of anything glass because it allows the light to shine through - glass plates or platters would be gorgeous.  Or maybe a collection of varying sizes and shades of antique vases or pitchers. 
  • A loose weave basket would bring in some nice texture- might be a good option for those who don't have lights above your cabinets. 
  • Or maybe something with a nice shine to it - copper tea kettles would be adorable.
  • Any type of garland, of course.  And its super easy to switch out seasonally.
  • If you're not a garland girl, during Christmas time, you could have a glass bowl full of antique glass ornaments, or -like me- pretty tree toppers (and supposedly you can keep them up there until May, which is nice.)
  • For fall you could get some varying sizes of pretty artificial pumpkins (Hobby Lobby usually has a ton of different kinds), or find some bittersweet and arrange them using floral Styrofoam to keep them in place.
  • Or maybe you would leave it bare for a completely open and simple look - I really like the simple and uncluttered look. Unfortunately, for my particular space (since my kitchen is black and white) it needs some color/texture/shine to keep things interesting. 

What are your ideas for above the cabinet decorating?  Don't you just love pretty additions that take minimal effort and time? What summer decorating have you been doing?

P.S. I hope today finds you well and enjoying your dads/grandpas/husbands/dad figures.  Dad's are great! And I don't think they get enough credit for the work they do and the impact they have on the world.  So thanks to you dads! Keep providing, fixing, hugging, loving, and leading.  We need you and we appreciate you! 
Happy Father's Day!

P.S.S. if you are wondering what color the Adirondack chairs are going to be, you'll have to wait until I finish them! Sorry! Gotta keep the suspense alive until the full reveal!

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Sunday, June 8, 2014

Gettin' Rid of the Ugly

A couple weeks back, it was Memorial Day.  The day that we remember those brave men and women who have sacrificed so much for our freedom.  And how do many of us celebrate it?  By spending time in our yards, beautifying the American Dreams that those American heroes allow us the freedom to own. 

So, I guess, in the spirit of that, Michael and I found ourselves feeling the urge to do just that. I have talked a little bit about the sad state of our landscaping - the fact that there really is none.  And when I say that, I usually follow it up with the fact that we don't plan to do any hardcore landscaping anytime soon.  The main reason is that we plan to build a porch on the front of our house, Lord willing, next spring.  So what would be the purpose of spending time, energy, and money planting hostas, crab apples, and boxwoods?  None, no purpose whatsoever.

So our task? Get rid of the ugly for just a little bit of money.

We had already replaced the original wrought iron railings and painted them white, but that is about where it ends for the frontal upgrades.  Things were looking pretty drab around here (other than our pretty siding! We love you, never change.)

(Eek) So we finally got to the point where we felt that something, even if its temporary, needed to be done. 

But what?

I wasn't really sure, so I called the experts for some advice.

These people, they know how to landscape, but more importantly, they know how to grow stuff... successfully... for a living.  I don't know two people more qualified to give us newbies some advice.

Their recommendation? Because everything we are planting is for this year only:  Keep it simple.  Easy.  And inexpensive.

I love that kind of advice!!

So the first thing we decided to do was dig out the existing grass and weeds.

With some shovels and some muscle, we got it done.  And the only picture throughout that process that I got was of me and a little baby turtle that I found.  Cute little guy.

Me?...Not so cute.

Then we laid out the flower bed design with medium-sized fieldstone that we have been collecting and that my dad has been collecting for us from the field across the creek. Thanks Dad!

We had removed an inch or so of top soil in the areas we planned to plant flowers so that we could add some fertilized planting soil.  We spread that around and mixed it in with the existing dirt.  We also spread Preen around to ward off any weeds from growing back.
 We added some small river rocks in the middle area and then laid out our plants. 
We got our plants from a cute little local place just around the corner - Kercher's Orchard.  Do you know it?-good people, great quality, and fantastic prices ;-) (also wonderful family).  We got red geraniums and white allysums - going for a simple red, white, and blue (house) theme.

 Rocks and mulch were from Menards (the mulch was out of stock but they let us place an order at the Memorial Day sale price).  I really like the set up they have there.  They have a display so you can see exactly what you are ordering and compare them, side-by-side, to other products.

Now, the only problem was, what was going to go in the large empty middle area?

 I had been looking on Craigslist for an outdoor bench.  We had just missed out on a L.L.Bean teak bench for $80 and I was a bit bummed (not necessarily a steal of a deal but certainly a better price than something we would find brand new).  So when we were at Menards, we looked around at their outdoor furniture area - hoping to find an inexpensive option.

That's when a little yellow Adirondack chair caught my eye, the price? $40.  Well how cute would that be?! So I plopped myself right down, making myself quite comfortable, and started to imagine how cute two of these would  look once we got them in the truck and in front of our home.  I looked up at Michael, already decided in my heart they were coming home with us, and said "Look! What do you think?!"

"Yeah, those would work...    -pause-    well...."

Heart sinking... great here it comes.

"Actually, I think my mom has some Adirondack chairs in her garage that she has had stored in there for years and doesn't want."

"Let's call her right now." I responded without missing a beat. 

And next thing I know we are headed over there to pick them up!

You know how the saying goes, "When God closes a Craigslist transaction, he opens a garage door with lots of stuff your mother-in-law doesn't want." Or something like that.

So we set the chairs in place.

Now it is two weeks later and it wouldn't be a plant/landscaping job of mine if something didn't die.  Yes, we've already had some casualties (just a couple allysums that got a little too dry, apparently).

 And bless my mother's heart, she tried to tell me it was the weather.  But I know the truth - God thought it would be a funny joke to give a black-thumbed daughter to a farmer and his wife.  He's got a weird sense of humor that way.  Stinker.

Anyway, I will press on, despite my disability.

I added some planters to do a little more sprucing (again from Kercher's Orchard).
 And Michael hung the flag in front of our home. 
Funny story about the flag.  I was planting the plants by the front walk while Michael was working on hanging the flag.  Then all of a sudden I hear the Star Spangled Banner playing.  I look up and Michael is getting ready to place the flag in the bracket and, like a true boy scout, I guess he thought he should honor the raising of the flag with the appropriate ceremonial tunes.

Its fun to be married to somebody well as patriotic. :-)

And now, we get to enjoy our newly spruced up space. 

Who wouldn't want to sit there sipping on some strawberry iced lemonade, perusing a good book, and enjoying the wonderful view?

So for a little over $100 bucks, I'd say we got ourselves a pretty sweet upgrade!

Now, for those of you faithful ones,who made it to the end of this post, I have a task for you..

Actually, its more of a favor.  The Adirondack chairs are untreated wood and need to be either stained or painted in order to be able to resist the elements.  But which one?  I truly cannot decide.  So I thought it would be fun to get your opinion on this one. Should they be  Stained Wood, Red, or yellow? You can place your votes in the comments section.

Thanks for your help friends! You're just the gosh darn best!

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