Thursday, July 31, 2008

Fun wall hanging

When we put in new windows, I had 4 shutters that I could no longer use as shutters but I didn't want to get rid of them. I decided to paint them black and hang three of them in my kitchen! It's been a fun addition. I use them to display pictures and every few months I change out the pictures. After my sister got married, I hung pictures from her wedding, these pictures are some great ones my sister in law took at Christmas time this last year! (I think it's time to hang some updated ones) You can also use them for mail or paper organizing, or whatever you want to use them for! They are just great so I thought I would pass it on to all of you, maybe some of you have some old shutters laying around!
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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Dread

Sometimes I dread things that really don't need to be dreaded.  Like the grocery store.  Or packing for vacation.  Or waking up with cranky kids who woke up too early this morning.  But I wanted to look at the good side of things today so I thought I would find the positive in all these things.

1.  The Grocery Store - It's not so bad.  Sometimes I see people I know, so that is fun.  OH, and it isn't the first of the month yet, so I can't even go today!  Ya, that's great :)

2.  Packing for vacation - That means that vacation is coming soon!  That's nothing to complain about!!  Sure packing is a little stressful and exhausting, but it is worth it to make the vacation extremely enjoyable!!

3.  Waking up with cranky kids - This is a tough one.  Um, they aren't cranky for too long.  And maybe this means early nap time, and then early bedtime!  And I'm looking at them right now, they are doing elephant noises back and forth to each other, laughing and having a great time.  I think I may join the fun.

So, what about you?  What are you dreading today and what's the positive about it?  Please share :)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Faith in God

I believe in God.  I believe that the Bible is true, and that what it says about God is without a doubt the absolute truth.  I count on the promises in the Bible, and it is for that reason that I can always choose to bloom where God has planted me.  I'm not saying that it is easy to see the bright side, but it is possible.  That is how I get through the hard times.

My husband said to me, "Choosing to bloom for you is your way of saying that you believe in the future grace of God - you are believing that God will continue to take care of you today and tomorrow, just like He has in the past".  It made me think.  If I have an eternal perspective, and a big picture of what is important in life, it is much easier to bloom where God has planted me.  If I set my priorities on financial wealth here on earth or on a life without (my current) trouble (whatever that may be), I have a horrible outlook on my daily life.  And the burdens weigh me down.  But if I can keep my eyes focused on the big picture - that what is most important is to love God and love others, it is much easier to bloom.  I can love God and love others in any situation I find myself in, by living in the spirit and depending upon God.

I'm so thankful to know God, and to know that the biggest picture is eternity.  Sometimes I get so overwhelmed by this truth that I just have to share.   

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Freebies!

Who doesn't love free stuff?  I have been discovering that there are tons of giveaways on blogs out there, so I thought I would share a few.  First of all, 



They do lots of giveaways, and they also like to share about other bloggers who are having giveaways. Their current prize is Apple 4G iPod Nano in Silver! So head there and check it out. Their blog is all about supporting one another by commenting on blogs.

Next head to
Photobucket
From what I have seen, every Friday they list some freebies they have found on the web, or that fellow bloggers are giving away. They have a fun site with lots of great info for the "earthy mommy, brainy mommy, crafty mommy, hip mommy, etc." It's a fun one to check out.

There are so many fun blogs out there, and I admit, I like to spend some of my quiet mommy time checking out what other people are up to. It's almost like people watching at the mall, except you get to read a little about what they are thinking.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Recipe Contest!!

Here it is, the first contest/giveaway on our blog!

To enter the contest, here's what you need to do...

1. Make a great dish and take a picture or two

2. Post about it on your blog, sharing the recipe for all of us to see. Be sure to link people back to our blog so that your fans can learn about the contest as well.

3. Leave a comment here so that we know you are participating!

This will be really fun if a lot of us get involved, and we will all get some new recipes! Great huh! The prize is a pound of delicious Starbucks coffee! The winner could be the one with the tastiest recipe, or biggest disaster, or most creative post, or best photographs, or maybe we will just pick at random. So, here is the first challenge...

Main dish
Deadline is August 15th
(yes, the deadline has been extended!)


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Another closet organized

This is not a life changing post, the before and after picture aren't that drastic, but if you look really close you can see the simple yet effective changes I made to my "linen" closet.

Before

After

Now, start at the top shelf. This is mostly my photo/video shelf. The grey box on the right holds greeting cards that are organized by category. This is a great thing to have for birthdays, weddings, etc. We buy cards on sale or I make cards and they are on hand when we need them. The maroon box is full of pictures. The Rubbermaid box on top is for Peyton's craft stuff, the one below that is full of old videos and pictures from high school (very embarrassing box) next to those are old yearbooks, photo albums and scrapbooks. Mainly stuff I don't look at too often but don't want out in storage.

Next shelf down is obviously towels. I don't know why we have so many colors and sizes but we do and it makes a huge difference to have them stacked and folded neatly. In about 2 weeks they will be shoved in there like a big mess but for now, they look nice!

Next shelf is bathroom stuff and decorating stuff. The metal container on the right holds my candles and other little things for decorating.

Next one is obviously movies, I like to have them lined up somewhat by category. On the left I have TV shows on DVD (notice my Little House on the Prairie collection..only 5 seasons to go:), then comedies, chick flicks and action/boy flicks on the right. This helps when we go look for a movie knowing what genre we are in the mood for.

The bottom area is for scrap booking/crafting supplies. The tall Rubbermaid in the middle is my "fire box" even though it is not fire proof:) but it is the container I would grab in case of an emergency. It has our wedding picture negatives, other negatives, all of our home videos and CD's of all of our digital pictures. (I store my digital pictures on my camera for a month, at the end of the month I make sure they are all on the computer and then I delete from my camera to make room for the next month. After about 2 or 3 months I make a CD. If anything happened to our computer I would DIE if I didn't have these discs. That would be 2 years of LOST photos!!) The grocery bag (lovely I know) is our gift bag. Inside are things we collect or buy through out the year that can be saved as presents..there are some sweet Starbucks mugs in there that you'd be lucky to get!! It's just great for last minute gifts or during a month where there are lots of bdays on not so much money:) Don't worry, we don't re-gift...too often:) hehe

And now you know what is in my linen closet and how I organize it. About every month I have to redo it because over time, when I'm in a hurry random things get shoved in there:) Oh and a fun idea if you have an ugly linen closet door like we did (thanks 70's) we took the door off and put a curtain there instead. It's much more cute and we don't deal with a squeaky door anymore:)
(sorry that was such a long post)
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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Table Setting

Last night I had a girl's night with the ladies in my family. I had so much fun setting the table so I thought I would share with you some of my ideas. I have place mats but they are very casual and I wanted a more formal look but didn't want to spend a lot of money so I decided to use scrap booking paper. I know what you are thinking "how does paper look formal?" But I thought it ended up looking really nice and Craft Warehouse has SO many great options..formal, funky, great designs, etc. The best part is that I am hoping to start a tradition with this idea and buy different paper for each dinner party and then use the same paper to scrapbook the event!

(I don't force people to sit where their name is, I just think name tags add a cute little touch

simple name tags tied with ribbon.
I like mixing papers that are different designs but in the same color scheme.

I bought fake gerber daisies and put them in a vase with the moss and wooden pine cones at the top. They are obviously fake flowers but again, they are inexpensive (Craft Warehouse has them 2 for $1) and I think they are cute. The tile is a wonderful gift my friend Alison gave me. She gave me the tile, stand and a dry erase pen. So I can write whatever I want on it! It's great!


The table
I like having a black tablecloth and white plates because it gives you a very basic table to dress up with accessories and color.
(excuse my wrinkled tablecloth..my iron is broken)

Hope this gives some inspiration the next time you set a table for an event. Try new things and have fun with it.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Closet Organization


I meant to do a before and after picture, but I forgot so I will just describe what it looked like before. From top to bottom: Toys on the top shelf. Dresses and sweaters hanging high. Toys on the floor.

The changes I made...

Put a bin on the top shelf - I toss clothes that my daughter has grown out of into this bin. When I notice that my daughter has grown out of something I wash it one last time and then toss it in the labeled bin. When the bin is getting full I do a last sweep over her wardrobe finding any last articles that don't fit her anymore, fold everything, and put the bin in the garage. I bring in a new empty one for the next size of clothes that she will soon grow out of. It's an easy way to keep the clothes organized and ready for the next kid in line.

Shoe hanger - I never found these very useful in my closet but I love it for my daughter. Keeps things organized and saves floor space.

Hanger extender bar - I think that is the technical term :) Anyways, this has solved SO many of our clothing battles. My daughter used to request to wear a dress every day. But now that she can see more of her wardrobe (I hung up some cute shirts too) she chooses from a greater variety and we don't battle as much. (I keep weather appropriate clothing at eye level.)

A clear floor - It doesn't stay clear for long, but it is nice that everything has a place without needing the closet floor to be a storage area. (*the pink box is her dress-up shoes)

So, that's how I organized my 3-year-olds closet. I am always looking for more ways to organize my house and my life. Do you have any closet tips to share?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Poll

We are trying to get a feel for what you enjoy most about our blog, so please take the poll and let us know!  Also, leave us a comment here if you want to explain your poll choice, or if you want to select more than one topic.  Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for choosing to bloom with us!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

All about perspective

I tend to be a pessimist by nature. I look in the mirror and see bags under my eyes. I look at my yard and see weeds. I look at my house and see messes everywhere. I start a vacation and think about it ending. I look at my day and see all the dirty diapers I will change, the snotty noses I will wipe, the messes I will clean up.

Over the last several years I have worked to change this thought process. To see the positive side of things. The bad will always be there, but why dwell on it?! I have made some strides but I still have some work to do in this area.

I often think of how I worry about others seeing the bad in me. I worry that when friends come over they will see all the spots on my floors that I see so clearly. I worry that if people step into my backyard they will immediately focus in on all the blemishes that I can't help but see. Then I realize that I don't pay attention to these things when I visit friends and family so why would they notice it at my house? They probably don't! So I am turning over a new leaf. I am challenging myself to see the positive in myself and in others. Do any of you have a hard time with this? If so, join me in moving in a new direction! I want to glorify the Lord with my attitude and everything I do!!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Some Humor from Miss Manners

I am reading a book by Judith Martin called, "Miss Manners' Guide to Rearing Perfect Children". It is full of humor and good advice. I have only read a little bit but have already laughed out loud several times. Here is something that I could totally relate to, maybe you can too...

"An essential tool, for use in public, is the parental signal to the child that he is getting into trouble. One tries to avoid humiliating a child in front of others, although there is a stage in life when most children consider the mere fact of having parents to be humiliating, and not much can be done about that. Every parent should have a particular facial expression that looks pleasant to observers - it is usually some peculiar type of smile - but clearly conveys to the child that if he doesn't stop what he is doing this instant, the minute he is left alone with his parent, he is going to be sorry."


Top: "Just wait till the company leaves..."
Second: "We're thrilled and proud but we won't embarrass you by kissing you..."
Third: "Please tell your friends we don't do things like that"
Last: "Don't forget to say thank you..."

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Lessons from a weed


I spend a lot of time teaching my daughter to look at the bright side of situations.  You know that phrase, "don't cry over spilled milk"?  I literally had to teach my 2 year old (she is now 3) that spilling milk was nothing to cry about.  She spilled milk every morning for about two months before she finally saw that it wasn't the end of the world.  

But sometimes she teaches me to see the bright side.  With all the hours my husband is working right now, finding time to mow the lawn is tricky.  I would do it, but there isn't a good chance during the day while I am watching the kids to do that task.  So, the grass (which is mostly weeds right now) gets out of control.  My husband and I see ugly brown lawn with tall annoying weeds.  Our daughter runs outside with the happiest of all expressions and is thrilled about all the "wedding flowers" she gets to pick.  Thanks little one for helping us see the glass half full.  

It is a small thing to take joy in something like brown grass and weeds, but it is with these small lessons that God teaches us and prepares us for bigger ones.  

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Oriental Cabbage Salad

napa cabbage/romaine leaves
4 chopped green onions
1 pkg chicken flavor ramen noodles, chopped
2 T margarine
1 packet seasoning from ramen
1/4 c slivered/crushed almonds
1/4 c sesame seeds

dressing:
1/2 c oil
1/4 c red wine vinegar
1/4 c sugar
1 T soy sauce

Brown ramen noodles, almonds and sesame seeds in margarine and chicken seasoning., let cool. Add to bowl of chopped cabbage and lettuce. Mix dressing ingredients together and chill well. Pour as much dressing as you like on salad. Also good with grilled chicken on top.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Homemade Jelly - without sugar!

This was my first year to try my hand at making jelly and it turned out pretty good, so I thought I would share the recipe.  I didn't want to add all the sugar that the recipes call for so I followed the advice of a good friend and made it without sugar.  This recipe substitutes the sugar with natural fruit juice.  I guess that the natural sugars react with the pectin setting the fruit, or something like that.  Anyways, here's what I did:


1 box Ball No Sugar Needed Fruit Pectin
1 3/4 cup white grape juice
1 1/2 cup strawberries
1 1/2 cup raspberries
Follow the detailed directions found in the package and enjoy!  

I followed the directions to make raspberry jelly, but added strawberries to make it sweeter, and used white grape juice instead of cran-raspberry that it called for.  There are recipes in the box for several fruit combinations, and for jar or freezer jam.  

*I just noticed that the first ingredient on the box is dextrose, a sugar substitute.  I wonder if there is a pectin out there that doesn't call for sugar and doesn't use a sugar substitute...

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Weeds

Here's a good gardening quote, "Knowing without doing is like plowing without sowing."

Here are some very basic weeding tips that I have found to be very effective:
1.  Get them when they are small.  It is easy when they are small, you simply need to move the soil around, loosening the weeds from the dirt.  That's it - the "dirt scramble".  Be careful when your veggies are young.  You don't want to loosen their root systems!
2.  Do it often.  It is nearly impossible to keep weeds from growing.  So, every time you are out in the yard with your kids, walk over to your garden and do the dirt scramble in a little section. 
 3.  Get it wet.  If you have a big weeding job to do, I have heard that getting the soil really wet helps (a day after a good rain is perfect!).  I wish I would have known this tip last year when my weeds overtook my pumpkins!  Wet soil will loosen the root systems and make your job a little easier.

Many weeds have the potential of robbing your veggies from valuable nutrients, and even from the sun if you let them get too big! There are lots of ways to deal with weeds, but this is what works for me. If your garden is big, or if you are in a time of life where weeding often isn't realistic, look into covering the soil around the plants with straw.

Do you have any weeding tips to share?

Friday, July 11, 2008

One for the vase


The main purpose of this website, Choose to Bloom, is to encourage us as women to embrace our current situations and to bloom right where God has us.  Constantly wishing for things to be better, easier, or different has the potential to cause a lot of bitterness in our hearts, and sadly we can miss precious moments and incredible opportunities happening around us!  Faith and I will be sharing a lot of what we are learning as we embrace where God has us, but we also hope to share stories from others who are encouraged to bloom.  We wanted to share an email we received last week.  We hope you are encouraged as much as we were by what Bridget has to say.  We would love to share your story as well so send it along (see side bar).  Embrace and bloom!

Hi Faith,

I really like yours and Megan's new blog. You guys have given me new encouragement to bloom where I'm planted. I'm over in Seoul, South Korea for at least 1 more year with the Army, and then maybe to Colorado (my husband might do grad school there), but only God knows. I have a deep desire to get back to the North West and start a family and a garden, but right now God has other plans. And I do complain a lot (about the lack of a yard, about the terrible driving, and how these people like to hawk up phlegm) and say all sorts of I wishes (for acreage, for the same friends year after year, and my list could go on).

But, I just wanted to thank you two and let you know that I'm enjoying having some kind of fellowship with some girls from home (even if it's over the internet). My roommate from college and I would have what we called "susie homemaker days", and I love reading your stories, so keep them coming!

BTW do you have any recipes? I'm always looking for easy and quick healthy dinners.

God Bless you!
Bridget

(Bridget, we will post lots more recipes!  Thanks for reading and for allowing us to share this email with others.  I know it will be an encouragement to many.)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

One of the many jobs of a wife

We get to choose how we treat our husbands, right? We choose our attitude toward them. We choose to be warm, loving and respectful or cold, rigid and disrespectful. How do you treat your man?

My husband currently has 2 jobs and works hard at both of those jobs without complaining. If anyone complains it is me. When Bryan first started working so many hours a week, I often felt sorry for myself. I was frustrated that I was home with the kids so much by myself, that some days I felt like a single mom. I would get angry when he would help someone with a project or yard work. I didn't like it when once in a blue moon he would go play tennis or golf with a buddy. I wanted him and his time all to myself which is very embarrassing to admit. I lost focus and forgot that he needs and deserves a little time to himself after a long week of hard work. And how could I get angry when he helped others? I should have been praising him for being so giving of his time when he had so little to give! I was just caught up in my anger I couldn't see past it. I soon realized if I didn't complain about these things and instead encouraged him to go do them that I got a much happier man in return, and was much more content and happy myself.

I'd like to think I have grown up a lot in our 5 years of marriage. One of the ways I feel I am constantly growing and learning is in the way I treat Bryan. I daily seek to respect him, uplift him, encourage him. I don't always do a very good job at these things but I know it is a process. I would encourage all of you wives out there to really examine the way that you treat your husband on a daily basis. Maybe you have a bad attitude towards him, maybe you have built up resentment, maybe you are a nag, maybe you're still angry because he didn't take out the garbage. As women we have a way of getting upset over stuff that really doesn't matter. I would encourage you to work through these things. It is true that we have so much power over the mood of our entire home and family. Do you want your husband to rush home because he can't wait to see you and spend time with you or do you want him to avoid coming home like the plague? I'll personally take the first choice!

Our husbands don't ask for much. They want to be fed and respected. They want to have fun with us, laugh with us and a few other things I won't mention!:) A little praise and admiration goes a long way with them. It's our choice to give them these things or not. Believe me when I say that if you at least try to do these things you will get SO much in return, it will blow you away. I hope this encourages us all to look at ourselves, our mood and the way we are affecting our families and homes.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Hiking

Looking for something fun to do with your family or friends this weekend?  Go online and find a local hike. Then pack a snack, some water, the camera, and enjoy a fun mini adventure! Some hikes have paved paths so that you can bring your stroller. There's no hurry, so take your time and look for bugs and flowers! Keep in mind what would make the hike fun for the whole family, and then enjoy the time outside together! The great thing about local hikes is that they don't have to be all day adventures, they can even be between nap times!

Here is a good site to help you find a hike near you!
http://www.localhikes.com


Do you have any plans for some family fun this weekend?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

BBQ chopped chicken salad

This recipe is inspired by one of my favorite restaurants down in Southern California.  It is a great one for the summer - bbq a little extra chicken one night, and then the following night you will have the start of a quick delicious dinner!


BBQ Chopped Chicken Salad:
Romaine lettuce, chopped
1/2 can corn, drained and rinsed 
1/2 can black beans, drained and rinsed
5 green onions chopped (use the whole thing, not just the bottoms)
1 Tomato, diced
BBQ chicken, cubed
crumbled tortilla chips
BBQ sauce 
Ranch Dressing

In a bowl add the lettuce, corn, beans, onions, and BBQ chicken.  Pour on ranch dressing and BBQ sauce and toss salad.  Add as much or as little of the BBQ sauce and dressing, to your own taste.  Top with crumbled tortilla chips and serve immediately.  Try it out and tell me what you think!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Story of the Week

Hi there! I am Faith, the other co-author of this blog! This is my story.

In 2003 I married my husband Bryan. We have been friends for about 15 years and have been together for 8 of those. In December of 2004 we welcomed our beautiful dark haired daughter Peyton Grace into our family. Peyton is sassy, smart, independent, friendly, talkative, sweet and a whole lot of fun. In September of last year our little man Luke Delane joined our family. Luke is laid back like his daddy, he cuddles like crazy, he's shy, adventurous, fun and all boy. I have the wonderful privilege of staying home and raising my kids all because of my man. He works very hard to provide for us and for that I am grateful.

I love to use the creative part of my brain and hope to someday make a living decorating and/or organizing, maybe even through some fun collages I make. (I will post about those later:) I love blogging, watching movies and reality tv, being with friends and family and going on vacation even though I rarely get to! I love being with people and people watching but I thrive on my alone time.

I am really looking forward to what this blog has to offer all of our readers as well as myself. I hope we can all learn from it together! Thanks for visiting and please come again soon!!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Growing Tomatoes


Here are 6 tips for growing great tomatoes:


(Tips collected from a few websites and a little bit of experience.)

1. Bury tomato plants deeper than they come in the pot, all the way up to a few top leaves. Tomatoes are able to develop roots all along their stems. You can either dig a deeper hole or simply dig a shallow tunnel and lay the plant sideways. It will straighten up and grow toward the sun. Be careful not to drive your pole or cage into the stem.
2. Remove Bottom Leaves. Once the tomato plants are about 3' tall, remove the leaves from the bottom 1' of stem. These are usually the first leaves to develop fungus problems.
3. Pinch & Prune. Pinch and remove suckers that develop in the crotch joint of two branches. They won’t bear fruit and will take energy away from the rest of the plant. But go easy on pruning the rest of the plant. You can thin leaves to allow the sun to reach the ripening fruit, but it’s the leaves that are photosynthesizing and creating the sugars that give flavor to your tomatoes.
4. Water Regularly. Water deeply and regularly while the plants are developing. Irregular watering, (missing a week and trying to make up for it), leads to blossom end rot and cracking. Once the fruit begins to ripen, lessening the water will coax the plant into concentrating its sugars. Don’t withhold water so much that the plants wilt and become stressed or they will drop their blossoms and possibly their fruit.
5. Tap the stem. When you see early blooms, tap lightly on the stem. This will help with pollination and earlier fruit.
6. Invest in a good cage. I like to stake and cage my tomatoes for extra support (see photo).

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Contentment

Blooming where you are planted and embracing the stage of life you are in can be a very difficult concept. Bryan and I got pregnant with Peyton 6 months after we were married. Although I wouldn't trade Peyton for anything in the world, I often wonder what life would be like if we had just waited a couple more years to start having kids. Could we have travelled? Would we have more money? Would our marriage be different now? These thoughts and many more can consume me at times so I try and not even let them enter my mind.

Instead, I stop what I am doing. I don't think about the laundry and dishes piling up. I don't worry about the floors being perfectly spotless. I forget about all of the pressure from the world to be the perfect wife, perfect mom in the perfect size 4. I ignore all of these distractions and I instead cuddle with Peyton as she climbs in my lap to read a book, I watch Luke's face light up at the sight or sound of me, I feel his tiny hands on my feet waiting to be picked up. I have a conversation with Peyton about how she wants to be a mommy just like me someday. These are the moments when I realize that God has me right where he wants me, right when he wants me there. His timing is perfect. Who am I to question it?

If we spend our time thinking about what could have been we lose focus of what is. We miss out on what we have. The last 3 1/2 years with Peyton have flown by, I don't want these precious years to pass without realizing how privileged I am to be a part of them. So I encourage everyone, no matter where you are in life, to embrace it and live it to the fullest. God has you there for a reason and will do amazing things with you if you allow him. Just stop and realize how blessed you are and don't give into the idea that life is greener on the other side, because it is not.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Gardening

Do you have a small yard or garden? Here are some ways that I have found to expand my limited garden space.

1.  Use big pots to plant things like tomatoes, lettuce, and many other veggies.  Click HERE for a helpful site about container planting your garden.


2.  Give anything that will climb a trellis to climb on.  I made this simple trellis out of pvc pipe and string.

3.  Stake it.  If it will grow upward, help it out!  This will keep your veggies from hogging precious ground, and make it easier to weed.
4.  Place pumpkins and other sprawling vines in a separate area of the yard.  They take up so much space and don't need much special treatment. 

5.  Garden in hanging baskets!  These are my cucumbers.  
Be sure to water the hanging baskets and containers regularly.
Enjoy the fruits (and veggies) of your labor!


Thursday, July 3, 2008

Laughing

I'm sure you have all seen these before, but they are worth watching again. These are precious babies and precious laughs!

Art on a budget

On a tight budget? Can't afford the beautiful art work you see in the stores? Well, I have a very easy project that is fun to make and, I think, nice to look at! One evening while I watched a good movie, I took a stack of my House Beautiful magazines and started searching for beautiful designs, textures and colors. I tore out anything I liked and went back through my pile and started cutting out different sized squares and rectangles. I then took a large piece of cardboard and started randomly gluing down the pieces not knowing what I would end up with. I ended up with a fun collage that I decided to frame (with an old black frame we had in storage) and display. It's not Monet but I think it's different and fun to look at. And it cost me..oh, nothing! I even ended up doing a small, 5 x 7 of oranges, pinks, browns and blues from the same magazines for my daughter's room! So, find some magazines you have around your home and cut away!
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Easy Decorating Tips

I decorate through trial and error. If you have ever been to my house, you know I like to rearrange furniture..a lot. This is partly because I just love to rearrange but it is also my way of finding out what works and what does not. I arrange the furniture one way and the next day (or hour) I realize that it looks better a different way so don't be afraid to play around with it and try things you normally wouldn't try.
Here are just a few tips that I have found very helpful while decorating/arranging.

  • When possible, bring furniture away from your walls. My favorite way to arrange living room furniture is by placing my couches and rugs at an angle. This gives great dimension and character to your room. It also provides a warm atmosphere for your guests.
  • In each room pick one or two pieces of furniture as focal points. In my living room, the TV armoire is the focal point and the couches, coffee table, etc. are arranged around that.
  • Place wall hangings at eye level. This looks more natural than hanging them right below your ceiling:) Pay attention also to the furniture below the item you are hanging, there shouldn't be too much space between the two, I usually leave about 1 1/2 to 2 feet open.
  • When possible, have someone designated to help (not suitable for small children:). They can hold a wall hanging while you take a few steps back to decide where it should go. This is especially convenient when you are screwing something into the wall. You can easily avoid getting out the Spackle and paint for filling in holes!

Hope these tips help you get started, check back for more easy decorating tips!

Cooking tip

                    
The garbage bowl.  It's not my original idea, it's Rachel Rays.  Anyways, each meal I prepare I have a plastic bowl ready to catch the 'garbage' I create - you know, the outer skin of the onion, the twisty tie, the end of the lettuce, all that stuff that can easily clutter the counter. Less clutter always makes me happy! And less trips to the garbage is a huge bonus since I have a three year old helper glued to my side (whom I trip over or step on if I make any sudden movements.)   So, introduce the garbage bowl to your kitchen and enjoy the benefits it brings!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Story of the week

It's my story, megan, one of the co-authors of this blog. I am a stay at home mom with a husband who is gone a lot right now. He works so hard to provide for our family, but sadly that means we don't get to see him much. I daily have two choices. To be bitter about life, frustrated that I am often raising our kids on my own (which is by the way a lie because I always have his support, prayers, and love), complain to my husband when he gets home, and let my frustration leek out to my kids, OR I can embrace this time and figure out how to be used by God in this situation. When I choose the latter, embracing and "blooming" in my circumstances, I see God using me. My times together with my husband are sweeter because they are few and far between. My evenings putting the kids to bed are blessings because it is in these tender moments that I see our relationship deepen. So, as hard as it is some days, I refuse to complain. I will not be enticed by the lie that "if only things were different I would be happy." I thank God for what He is teaching me and how He's growing me as I embrace each day and do my best to bloom.

Choosing to bloom

Have you ever said to yourself, I would be so much happier if... if my husband was more of a leader, or if my kids were out of diapers, if my kids could be in private school, if my kids would quit whining, and the list goes on! The grass always seems greener on the other side. That kind of thinking leads to a lot of complaining, not to mention missing out on the good stuff from day to day!

Our challenge on this blog is to "bloom where we have been planted" and we welcome you to join us by reading along and sharing your stories. We (Megan and Faith) want to enjoy the phase of life we are in, and do our best each day to bloom where God has placed us. We will be sharing ways we are choosing to bloom from day to day, along with stories from other moms who are joining us in this journey. We will also be sharing decorating hints, gardening tips, recipes, helpful resources, funny stuff, and so much more. So, enjoy our website, come here often, smile about your current circumstance and choose to bloom!