Green Smoothie Twerking - I Mean Tweaking!

Haha. Okay, that was my failed attempt at a catchier post title.  ( :

I said last week I was gonna try the same green smoothie but add a banana. Well, this morning I did just that! And it turned out seriously delicious. I thought last week the smoothie tasted good. I was wrong. Adding a banana made it perfect to me. Plus I blended this one longer, which eliminated some of the crunchiness of the green apple. So I'm happy with this morning's concoction.

Here's the recipe, just in case you missed it last week:

  • about 1 cup spinach (mine was frozen)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 green apple
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 banana

It works best to blend the spinach and water first (with my blender, anyway), then add everything else. And I dice the apple pretty small, too.

This recipe makes 2 cups of smoothie. I drank 1 cup for breakfast, and was hungry about an hour later. Bummer. I'm researching other sources of protein, though, and I hear that chia seeds keep you full longer. Again, I'm not tryin to lose weight, but it sure would be nice to not be starving all the time! I eat 5-6 times a day. I am always hungry!!

Anyway, I'll be enjoying the other cup of this smoothie later as a snack. I'm looking forward to it!

Tomorrow starts the Simple Green Smoothies 30 Day Challenge! I'm excited to try new green smoothie recipes, and start feeling healthier! (Is that even a thing, feeling healthier?? Haha.) I actually feel pretty energized today, and that's amazing, cause I got barely 6 hours of sleep last night and was absolutely dragging when I got out of bed this morning. I'm thinkin my green smoothie perked me up. ( :

I've got the shopping list for my first week of smoothies, and in a bit I'm headed to Harris Teeter to gather what I don't already have. (Kind of excited about that, too, cause I've never been to Harris Teeter. My city just opened one. Yes, I am a country bumpkin!) Here's some of the ingredients I'll be using the first week of the challenge:

  • bananas
  • oranges
  • pineapple
  • apples
  • pears
  • avocado
  • mixed berries
  • lemon
  • grapes
  • spinach
  • kale
  • basil
  • almond milk
  • ginger root

Sounds pretty good, right? I feel healthier just lookin at that list!

Last week, my husband bought a ton of bananas. There are bunches of bananas all over my kitchen! I've been researching how to properly freeze them, so that's my goal tonight, cause they're turning brown rapidly. Freezing bananas, doesn't that sound like fun?? I hear frozen bananas are perfect for smoothies!

I hope green smoothies stick with me, cause on Saturday DH planted a LOT of spinach for me in the garden! He's never grown spinach before, so he's skeptical. I'm excited for it to grow. He also planted stuff like turnips and rutabagas, which are things we rarely eat (mainly because I don't know how to cook them so that we actually like them, haha). So I'll be researching recipes for that soon. And you better believe I'll be sharing them here! ( :


Green Smoothie #2

Hmm...I need to come up with a better title to these posts. ( ; I'll work on that!

After my serious post this morning, I thought I'd lighten things back up and share my most recent green smoothie experiment. This one I was really happy with!
Pretty color, huh? My husband thinks drinking something this green is appalling, but it really appeals to me. One of my friends said "I wasn't expecting it to be quite so green." haha!

This one was pretty simple. Wait, all green smoothies are simple. My bad. You just gather your ingredients, throw them in the blender, and turn it on. Doesn't get any easier than that.

Here's what's in this smoothie:

  • about 1 cup of spinach, frozen (I froze a bunch a few weeks ago so it wouldn't go bad; frozen is not a requirement)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 large green apple
  • 1/2 avocado

First, I added the spinach and water and blended that until the spinach was smooth. Then, I diced the apple and added that. I just plopped the avocado in there. If you have a better blender you could probably throw everything in at the same time, and throw in bigger chunks of apple.

This one tasted basically like the green apple, but the avocado added a nice smoothness to it. Its hard to describe, but I really liked it. I intend to try it again, but add a banana next time and see how I like that. Because I definitely needed more substance (or protein?). I made this for breakfast and less than two hours later I was hungry. I'm not trying to lose weight, but I do like the idea of using green smoothies as a meal replacement - otherwise, this is too much extra food to buy for just a snack. So maybe an added banana will do the trick. I'll be sure to share my results next week!

Since I was hungry after the smoothie, I ate a snack at work. A patient brought me a few donuts this week, and its rude to turn down food that people bring you, right?
I'm sure that baby totally negated any health benefits I reaped from the green smoothie. Whoops. It sure was good, though! ( ;


Discipline of children is controversial topic. I'm not known for shying away from such topics, though! (As evidenced by my entire blog page dedicated to Natural Family Planning, and my frequent mention of breastfeeding - and I have a post (or several) in the works about breastfeeding and "extended" breastfeeding, too!) In "real life," I love to get into topics like this with friends. Most of my friends have the same views as I do, but I do have friends who are Atheist, different Christian denominations from me, or very liberal (hello, I am the most conservative person you'll ever meet), so from time to time I find myself in a riveting discussion. I love it. ( :

What I don't love is having to actually discipline my child. Its hard. Growing up, Mama always said "this hurts me way more than it hurts you." I never believed her, of course, but now I see that she was right. I want to just love and cuddle with my daughter and never have to discipline her. BUT, she will never grow to be a good Christian woman if we don't raise her right. Can I get an "Amen?"

My husband and I were raised pretty much the same way - you obey your parents, don't give them any lip, and don't misbehave. Or else you got a spanking (or a whippin, as some people call it).
Ephesians 6:1-3 - Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. "Honor your father and mother" (this is the first commandment with a promise), "that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land."

I know a LOT of people nowadays say that spanking is wrong and evil, and makes children grow up to be messed up in the head or abusers, but I don't agree with that. DH and I are perfectly normal (gasp! Despite having been spanked!!) adults with no inclinations towards physical abuse. We don't hate our parents for disciplining us the way they did. And I know tons of people just like us. Maybe its just a Southern thing. Maybe someone in California will read this and be completely appalled. *shrug* My suggestion, if that's your opinion, is to stop reading now. ( :

We spank our child. She is not abused, we do not hurt her. But when she is being blatantly disobedient, she will get popped on her hiney.

Proverbs 12:24 - Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.
 Now, I realize she's only 2 years old (well, almost 3 now!) and she doesn't always know the difference between right and wrong yet. But my husband and I both firmly agree that she does know quite a bit, and when she knows not to do or say something and does it anyway, she should be punished. Now, here someone will say "put her in time out" or "take away her toys," or even "just ignore her bad behavior and reward her good behavior." Sorry, folks, that kind of "discipline" doesn't always cut it.

"Time out" doesn't work yet for us. C doesn't quite understand what I mean and there's just no way she can sit still on command for any amount of time. I don't expect her to do that, anyway (hello, she's a toddler - they can't sit still, like, ever). In order for her to actually sit in time out, I'd have to sit beside her and physically restrain her from moving. Not happening. Besides, doesn't that go against "ignoring bad behavior?" Hmm...

Speaking of that, that's the silliest thing I've ever heard in terms of discipline. (Sorry if that offends anyone.) I'm not saying that sometimes I don't overlook C's temper tantrums - cause sometimes I do. If she's clearly overtired from skipping a nap or from a big day, I can expect at some point before the day's over she'll have a meltdown. And when I say meltdown, I mean she'll throw herself on the floor, kicking and screaming. I can ignore those tantrums. Even if I think her reason is dumb, I know she's exhausted and really can't help herself. So if I'm in a position to ignore her, that's what I do.

BUT, if she's having a tantrum because she made a mess with her toys and I told her to clean it up (which she is totally capable of doing; she cleans up her messes all the time), I'm not going to ignore that. That's disobedience. And she knows better. Yes, she's not even 3 years old, but her mental level is higher than her physical age. (I know lots of parents think their kid is a genius, but seriously, my kid is super smart. Not bragging; it just is what it is. Physical stuff is more challenging for her.)

Sometimes, C will throw a fit (as we say down here) if I don't do something exactly to her liking. Like this morning. I was eating breakfast and C wanted a bite of my toast. No problem, but I told her I would hold it for her (it was peanut butter toast, and I didn't have time to clean up the inevitable mess if she held it herself). Well, she didn't like that idea at all. Threw herself down and completely lost it. It was probably one her her worst tantrums ever (and that's saying a lot, cause she's had some doozies!). Exactly what I don't need first thing in the morning. At first, I ignored her. After all, she had just woken up, and since I'm totally not a morning person, I can sympathize with waking up on the wrong side of the bed. But then she just kept getting worse and worse - and louder and louder.

I guess technically I employed several different methods of discipline this morning. First, I tried the ignoring method. Didn't work. Just made her up her game (i.e, throwing her beloved stuffed animals at me). Next, I tried the spanking method. (Really, just a quick pop, not a beating like you're probably picturing.) That didn't phase her at all. Finally, I snatched up those animals and threw them on top of the fridge. That really ticked her off. *sigh* The entire time, I was trying to calm her down and reason with her (ha! Reason with a toddler?! Yeah, right.). I finally went to my bathroom and shut the door. Yeah, I probably won't be winning any Mom of the Year awards, but sometimes you need to get some distance and gain a little perspective on a situation, you know? And sometimes when its 7:30 in the morning and you're already not a morning person, you just need a 10 second break from the screaming so you can calm yourself and not completely lose it.

Well, that got through to my daughter this morning. She immediately calmed down. She was actually good as gold until I dropped her off at her grandma's. I did have a talk with her about how it is not acceptable behavior to act like she did, even if she was mad about not being able to hold the toast (which I'm sure was extremely important to her). That's the second or third talk we've had to have this week about her behavior. I hope this phase ends soon!

On the way to work, I talked to my husband, who is just as lost as I am here. We're not quite sure how to handle these tantrums our daughter is insistent on having so regularly lately. We just know that we can't allow her to get away with acting this way. I think with our child, when she's a little older time out will be pretty effective. I also think in certain situations, taking away toys will work now. But if she's not actively playing with a toy, taking away something won't have any affect, in my opinion.

I know some people would tell me to just give in and not be so stern. After all, is it really that big of a deal to let her hold the dang toast and just clean up the mess? No, its not. BUT, I had already told her no. End of story. I (and my husband) have no intentions of giving in to our child's every whim. She needs to know that you don't always get everything you want, when you want it. Our job is not to be her best friend, but to raise her so that she'll one day be a God-fearing, Christian woman with good values and morals.
Proverbs 22:6 - Train a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. 
It has to start now, when she's still young and impressionable. We can't wait until she's a wild teenager with no respect for her parents. Its too late then.

And you know what? I might not have all the answers (not even close!), but I know I'm on the right track. How do I know? Because every single time C calms down from a tantrum, she comes to me, apologizes, hugs me, and tells me she loves me. She doesn't want to disappoint me or make me angry. She wants my approval and my affection.
Proverbs 29:17 - Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart. 

Yes, I know Bible verses can be taken way out of context. Not the case here. God was pretty clear on this topic - we have to discipline our children to save them from Sheol (Hell).
Proverbs 23:13-15 - Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol. My son, if your heart is wise, my heart too will be glad.
I don't think "strike him with a rod" means to literally beat your kid with a metal rod, either. Nowhere does God say "knock your kid out when he misbehaves." So don't take that part so literally, like some people do. I can't tell you how many times I've heard the argument that "the Bible condones child abuse." Nonsense. God wants His children to obey him, and if we don't He will punish us. As parents, our children are expected to obey us in the same manner, and if they don't, God expects us to punish them.
Hebrews 12:11 - For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
And that's the goal. "The fruit of righteousness." Children are a blessing from God, and our job is to train them in God's ways. Every child and adult of God is one less in Satan's army. 

I know this sounds terribly "old-fashioned," conservative, and maybe ignorant to some people. That's okay. As Christians we are called to live apart from the world and its gray areas. The world has made us think its okay to be lackadaisical in our faith and our Christian walk - but it's not okay. How we are to live has been laid out for us in God's book. No, its not easy, but its what we are called to do. 

Please don't think that me saying this means I'm already "there;" on the contrary, I struggle with this very thing. Following God's Word is often "against the grain" of society. And I'll be the first to admit I often fail. Luckily, God knows I'll never be perfect and has already forgiven me. I just have to keep trying - and I have to do my best to make sure I raise my daughter according to His guidelines. 


Breakfast Casserole

Breakfast casserole is one of those dishes that I love but have never attempted to make. And really, the only time I've ever had it has been on holidays. My aunt almost always makes them at Christmas. I think my parents made them a few times when I was growing up. So breakfast casseroles have always been a "special" dish for me.

But the other day, I saw a recipe for one and thought, why does this have to be reserved for Christmas?! Unfortunately, I didn't save that recipe, and later couldn't find it - bummer. Last Friday night, I decided it was the perfect night to attempt my very first breakfast casserole.

I searched the web and found one that sounded delicious: Country Breakfast Casserole at Allrecipes.com. It made way more than my little family needed, but I froze quite a bit, so hopefully it will taste just as good in a few weeks. It was delicious on Friday night, and even more delicious the next morning for breakfast.

Of course, I tweaked the recipe just a bit (cause that's just how I roll). I'll add my changes in italics:

Country Breakfast Casserole

1 (16oz) package breakfast sausage - I have no idea how much I used. I used "our" sausage from the hog killing earlier this year. I had some links in a Ziploc bag, but I didn't count how many. I just thawed them out and cut the casing off to make bulk sausage.
1 chopped green onion - Who keeps these on hand? I just used regular yellow onions.
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese - I used cubes of cheese, cause that's what I had on hand and it needed to be used.
6 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup water
1/2 cup milk - I used Silk, just in case.
1 package country gravy mix
I also added about 6 small potatoes, diced
6 slices of break, cut into 1 inch cubes - I omitted this completely, as we only had a few slices of bread and DH needed it for toast the next morning. I bet it would have been a great topping, though!
2 tablespoons melted butter (optional) - I think I added butter, but I really can't remember now...
paprika to taste (optional) - Totally forgot about this little ingredient!

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 11x8 inch baking dish (I used a bigger one; it was all I had close to that size.)
Brown sausage in large skillet; drain fat.
Combine sausage with green onion and spread evenly across the bottom of the baking dish. Top with shredded cheese. Whisk together eggs, water, milk, and gravy mix, add mixture to baking dish. Arrange bread squares evenly on top. If desired, drizzle butter over bread and sprinkle with paprika.
Bake for 40 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Set aside 10 minutes before serving.

We ate it almost straight out of the oven cause we were starving by the time it was ready. It took longer than 40 minutes, too. More like 50-55. Next time I'll bump the heat up to 350. As good as it was that night, I think it actually tasted better the next morning.

It certainly didn't turn out beautiful, but it tasted amazing! I'll definitely be making more breakfast casseroles in the future, especially if it tastes good after being frozen (we'll find that out sometime soon).



This is officially the last post about my living room curtains. (Insert fanfare here.) I made my decision on Friday, and as soon as I got home that afternoon I took "before" pictures, then hung the new curtains. And was extremely pleased with how they looked!

Not much to say here, so I'll let the pictures speak for themselves. ( :


You'll have to excuse the multitude of pink toys in here. I've tried several different storage/organization solutions for them, but nothing has worked. So I gave up! Normally, C's toys are confined to that one space. She's good about picking up after herself (most of the time). So I've learned to just live with it. Our house will not be featured in any magazines, and we actually live here, and this is our life. ( :

And now for the "after" pictures! (Sorry, I was having trouble getting great shots. The lighting was terrible! But you can get the idea.)

What do you think? Its a HUGE difference to me. The new curtains make the whole room look lighter, more fresh. And a little bit more modern. Which is not really my style, but I like the little touch of it here. In the store, these curtains looked off-white, so I was a little worried they would look dingy next to the white trim, curtain rod, and ceiling in the room, but they look white in there.

For now, we're still living with the old throw pillows on the couch. One is red stripes and the other is green stripes. (The couch is on the opposite side of the window.) I'm gonna take my time and find pillows that I really love. Or just some pretty fabric and make my own covers.

At Christmastime, I'll probably swap out the new curtains for the old red ones. Because I really do love the way the red curtains look during the holiday season, especially with a pretty Christmas tree right next to them! ( :

And that, my friends, is THE END of the story of my living room curtains! ( :


Green Smoothie

So, yesterday morning I made my first green smoothie. I follow a ton of blogs, and I keep reading about how awesome green smoothies are. Since I recently tried my hand at making smoothies, and it was such a success (!), I decided to go ahead and try a green one. DH bought some spinach for me the other day, so I had to do it!

I can't decide my reaction to it. It tasted good. But I couldn't get over the color (mine turned brown, as you'll see in a minute). And I think maybe I put in too much spinach. Or too many flavors? Something was off, though not enough that I thought it tasted bad. I also didn't like the strawberry seeds in there, so I won't be adding strawberries anymore (which is also what ruined the cool color). Maybe I was just thinking about it too much, but I felt kinda sickly all day yesterday. I think it was the strawberries though. I'm gonna try again tomorrow with a different recipe.

At first, I was really excited. I'm finally doing it!, I thought, so proud of myself. I'm gonna be so healthy and have so much energy! That's what everyone claims, anyway.

First, I blended some spinach with my Silk (soy milk).
I only used about a half cup of Silk, and I think that was one of the problems, too; it was super thick. Next time I'll do a whole cup. Once this was blended, I had a beautiful color:
For whatever reason, this looked delicious to me. I knew it wouldn't taste good, though, so I refrained from taking a sample!

Next, I added some diced, frozen strawberries (I later found out they had also been sweetened with sugar, which probably ruined this smoothie - plain strawberries would have been much better), a banana, and some peanut butter. I didn't measure anything, just dumped in whatever looked good (which also might have been my problem!).
And I was left with that nasty-lookin stuff. I was pretty put-off by the color, but I decided to try it anyway. I was surprised to find it did taste pretty good. Like I said, though, I just couldn't get past the color and the thickness.
That's how much it made. A pretty decent amount. I sent DH this picture and he was disgusted, haha. I did drink the whole glass yesterday for breakfast, and I put the Mason jar in the fridge. This morning, I took it out with the intentions of drinking it, but one look and my stomach turned. The smoothie is now gray and even thicker! No, thank you. So no smoothie today.

So it sounds like that I didn't really like the green smoothie at all, doesn't it? I just need to keep trying and come up with a recipe I like. My plan for tomorrow is either bananas and grapes or bananas and apples with the spinach. We'll see how it goes!

I think in my last post about smoothies, I said I was gonna try the Silk instead of milk to see if I noticed a taste difference. Well, I tried it and it still tasted just as delicious! That was good to know. It seems Silk and cow's milk really are pretty interchangeable. So far, I haven't tried any other concoctions. I just love the Silk, banana, and peanut butter mix so much.

I'll be back next week with Round 2 of Green Smoothies. ( :

Decision Made!

I promise, I am almost done talking about my living room curtain situation! ( :

When I get something on my mind to do, I want to do it NOW. It consumes my every waking (and sleeping) thought - well, not quite, but it feels like it! I might have an idea to do something and hang onto it for a few months (or even years), but once I make the decision to do it, I want it DONE. Like ASAP. I guess there are worse character traits to have, right?

So this is why I've been obsessing over my living room curtains this entire week. Every night while rocking C to sleep I imagine what new (blue) curtains will look like in there. I've thought about it and thought about it. And thought about it. Even though I can see it plain as day in my head, I know blue curtains in there might actually look ridiculous. Which is why I've been hesitant to buy the ones I've been blogging about all week. (Sorry.)

I had the bright idea the other day that making my own curtains might be cheaper. I researched no sew tutorials and felt confidant that I could handle it myself. I'm pretty handy with an iron (haha). So today on my lunch break I hit up all the fabric stores in town. I just knew I'd find the perfect fabric and it would be the perfect price.

Yeah, right!!

I was completely overwhelmed in the first store. So many fabrics in there...I'll probably dream about that tonight. I looked and looked, but nothing was screaming I'm the one! at me. On I went to the next store. I actually found a fabric I was in love with. It was an outdoor fabric, but I figured that doesn't matter. It was a gorgeous blue and white pattern, similar to the blue curtains I had picked out at Lowe's this week. Unfortunately, it was $18 per yard. Way too pricey. My goal was to make the curtains myself if I could make them cheaper than I could buy them ready-made. At the third store, I didn't find a single thing I liked. My friend J suggested shopping online, but I wanted something TODAY. I either wanted to hang curtains tonight, or start making them tomorrow.

So I headed back to Lowe's. I looked through all their curtains, just to make sure there was nothing else there that caught my eye. Thank goodness I did that! I stumbled across these beauties:
(That's a picture of the packaging.) The design is navy blue. Once I saw them, I was torn between them and the original blue ones I liked.
Furious text messaging with a few friends ensued. I even grabbed a Lowe's employee and demanded her opinion! I probably hemmed and hawed over these dang curtains for a good 10 minutes. I was leaning towards the pattern on the left, but I kept thinking, what if I regret not getting the other blue ones?? (I know, first-world problems, right?!)

In the end, everyone I asked voted for the one on the left in the picture above. And the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. Since that blue is a true navy, it will be easier to match. The other blue is more of an indigo. While I love the pattern and the color, it will probably be frustrating to find fabric or pillows in that color - and that will drive me nuts (just like my wall color does when it comes to decorating!).

Plus, there was a nice price break with the new pattern: $19.95 versus $26.95 per panel. Sold!
I can't wait to get home and put these babies up to see how they look. I hope I'm not disappointed. Its gonna be tragic to have this much lead way and then totally hate them in my living room! We shall see. And then, I promise, that will be the last time I talk about my living room curtains! ( :


Again With The Curtains

Still trying to make up my mind on the curtains for the living room. I'm still in love with the blue ones I posted about earlier this week. Actually, I'm still in love with the multi-colored floral ones, too, but they're definitely out of the running (sadly).

Monday night, I showed DH the pictures of the 4 curtains I had selected from Lowe's. He immediately nixed the multi-colored floral pattern. Its pretty girlie, so I didn't argue with him. Its his house, too, and while I have the main "pull" when it comes to decorating, I don't like to do things that he absolutely hates. (Although I do put my foot down on some things, like colored walls. When we were fixing up our house before we got married and moved in, DH wanted every room to be painted white. Boooooriiiing!! I knew I'd hate plain white walls everywhere. So I put my foot down and said we were having colored walls - and a different color in every room! After we were done painting, DH admitted it looked good. Boo-ya.) Anyway, he wasn't in love with the brown and green floral curtains, either. But the blue ones, he seemed to actually like!

Of course, he immediately said I don't need to be spending money on things like that right now. He's right, which is why I haven't ran back to Lowe's to purchase those babies yet. Then he said "and what else will you have to buy after you get new curtains? Pillows for the couch??" Umm....well, I can't exactly have the same red and green striped ones if I get blue curtains, now can I? ( ; He just rolled his eyes. Which means if I come up with the money for this little upgrade, I'm good to go.

I have dreamt of curtains every night this week. I'm such a nerd! But I'm still basking in the fact that this is the biggest decision I have to make right now. Something so trivial and meaningless. Its wonderful. ( :

BUT, I am now havin a hangup over these darn blue curtains. My mother pointed out that they don't "match" my rug. Grr. Do curtains have to match the rug??! The colors "go" just fine, but now I'm concerned that there will be too many prints goin on so close together... Help me decide!
The middle picture there is what my floors in the living room look like. And there's my rug. A new rug is completely off the table. The curtains won't be touching the rug; there is maybe a foot or so of exposed floor between the rug and the curtains. Does it matter, though? I can't decide!

These blue curtains have opened up a whole new world of decorating in my living room. I'm kicking myself for not considering blues before now. So I may keep looking for a subtler pattern in the same rich blue color. Or I may go to the cloth store and see if a blue fabric sings to me, and have someone make curtains for me. (Or find an easy DIY tutorial online...hmmmmm!) That would probably be the cheapest route, huh?

Regardless of what I decide for the curtains, blue is gonna play a part in this room eventually. Lately, I've been obsessed with peacock colors. I don't have anything in my house in those colors, but I find myself admiring decor in them. So my plan is to make a wreath for the front door with peacock feathers and flowers in that color family! I can see it in my head, and if money wasn't an object, I'd have already started on that little project. ( ;

So, yay or nay on these particular blue curtains??

DIY Autumn Wreath

I did it! I made my first wreath. I said the other day I was inspired by another blog's DIY tutorial for an autumn wreath that looked pretty simple, and I went that day and bought supplies to make my own. I started on Monday night, but didn't get very far since I didn't buy enough ribbon (more on that in a sec). I really wasn't expecting to finish the wreath last night, but I did! And I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out:
Not bad, eh? Naturally, there are a few little things I would do differently if I made another one, but I'm pretty proud of my first attempt! Right now, its hanging on the pantry door in the kitchen. I originally intended it to be hung on the front door in the living room, but I think its too small for that door. I may or may not make a bigger one. Actually, I have an idea for a different front door autumn decoration.... ( ;

Autumn is my absolute favorite season. I love the warm days and the cool nights, and the crispness in the air. And I love the fall colors. I'd decorate with fall colors year-round if I could. So this baby will be hanging around until the very end of November, when I'll bring out my Christmas decorations. Surprisingly, DH really liked my wreath, too. He's skeptical of DIY projects like this, and he watched me making this last night with a "look" on his face. But when I was done and held it up for him, he was impressed. He even wants me to make some to sell at our church's annual Harvest Sale (all items are donated and the money goes to the church, and people love to buy crafty stuff like this!).

So here's a quick tutorial of how I made this wreath. It couldn't be more simple.

I started out with a styrofoam wreath and some pretty ribbon from Michael's:
Then I just wrapped the ribbon tightly around the foam, using hot glue at the beginning and end of the roll to secure it. I only made it halfway through with one roll of ribbon:
So the project was put on hold until the next day. Yesterday, I bought two more rolls of the ribbon, just in case. And thank goodness I did, cause it took a whole second roll and just a bit of the third! Next time I'll choose wider ribbon and be more careful about the spacing - I think I overlapped this ribbon a bit too much. It has a sparkly edge, though, and for some reason that made it difficult for me to get the overlapping just right. Anyway, here's a shot of the whole wreath wrapped:
I didn't get any pictures of the rest of the process. It went pretty quickly, and I was so excited to finish, haha. But I had purchased several bunches of fall flowers from Michael's, and I used wire cutters to snip the flower heads off and try to get them as flat as possible on the back. Besides the flowers (mostly mums), I also bought some fake fall-colored leaves and some adorable miniature pumpkins. One of the bunches of flowers had some pretty sunflowers and some random fall-like details (not sure how to describe those, haha) like the feathers you see in my wreath.

Next, I laid the flowers in a circular pattern on my rug and played with them until I liked the arrangement. Then I just started hot gluing them onto the wreath. I found that its much easier to put the glue on the flower back and then press it into the wreath (I started out by putting the glue on the wreath first). The hot glue dries really quickly, so like I said, this was a quick project. I did go through about 4 tubes of the mini glue sticks, though! I ended up having to snip off more flower heads to fill up empty space, since I didn't account for the roundness of the wreath in my planning. No worries, though. Then I just kept adding extras, like green leaves, until I was satisfied with the wreath. And voila!
I originally thought I'd leave some open spaces so you can see the ribbon underneath, but I didn't like that. I liked it fuller! You can see the ribbon from both sides though:

You could fill in more flowers and stuff around the edges to hide the base, but I liked being able to see the pretty ribbon.

This wreath is so cheery in my kitchen! I don't decorate the kitchen much with the seasons, so I love the little pop of color in there. Now I'm itching to do more projects like this! ( :

Here's a couple of detail shots, just cause I like it so much.  ( :


New Projects!

Today on my lunch break I did some exciting things! Okay, so they probably aren't exciting for anyone but me, but that's okay. ( ;

First, I headed to Lowe's to look at curtains. Lately, I've been itching to get new curtains in the living room. We've had the same ones since we moved in (going on 5 years!). I've never really loved our curtains, they've just always "worked" and I haven't looked too hard or been too inspired to think about it much. DH actually picked them out. There's absolutely nothing wrong with them, they just haven't been "the ones" for me (haha). I read a ton of blogs, and I've really been inspired lately by all the gorgeous curtains I'm seeing in other people's houses. All I've ever know is simple, single-color curtains, or those really country lookin ones with lots of ruffles (shudder). Or maybe lace panels, which is totally not the look of my living room. Anyway, here's what we have now. Please excuse the Christmas picture, I don't have just a picture of my curtains (yet).
Its hard to see in this shot, but the curtains actually have green in the plaid, and it matches perfectly with our walls. (Our walls are pained La Fonda Plaza Green by Valspar, by the way.) I am in love with our wall color. It was a bold choice, but I've never once regretted it. I get so many compliments on this color! It is hard to decorate, though. Its such a specific green color that I can't just go to a store and find something that matches. Which is why our couch and chairs are just brown. Safe. The pillows on our couch are striped - one is green stripes and one is red stripes. It sounds hideous, but I promise it looks good! I think I'm just tired of all the red in here. It constantly feels like Christmas, you know?

I'm ready for new curtains (and new throw pillows, of course!). I want a different look in this room, and with such a big window area, curtains will quickly do the job. I've been casually looking for a few weeks now. Saturday afternoon I looked at Lowe's website and decided today to see it all in person. I found 4 curtains that I love.
Completely different looks, huh? The flash of green in each picture is the color of my walls. Luckily, Valspar still makes that color. I think I can eliminate the green and tan flowers on the lower left - too plain, and I want more color. I worry that the red flowers on the top right will be too much red for me again.

I am totally in love with the bold floral pattern (bottom right), but worry that the greens will clash. What do you think? If the greens "go" together, I think it would be so fresh to see these hangin around my windows! It would also open up a lot of color options for me to decorate with. I could do throw pillows in several of those colors to tie them to the other side of the room...

Finally, the blue. For some reason, it has never occurred to me to use blue in my living room. I thought my options were green, white, or brown/tan. (I also love the way yellow looks with green, but that's too much like John Deere for us red tractor lovers! lol) Orange would look nice with the green, but I'd get tired of that I know. But blue....I'm kinda diggin how it looks! My friend R says the blue curtains may be a bit too formal for my space. But maybe that's just what I need in there to balance out the countriness of the room. I do love that its a classic pattern and so crisp. And I could do blue throw pillows on the couch...

I'd welcome any opinions from blogger land on this! Help me choose my curtains! ( :

Keeping with the decorating theme....I also stopped by Michael's today. This morning I read a post by a blog called A Beautiful Mess about preparing for fall. Fall is my favorite season, though it unfortunately doesn't last long around here. We go straight from the dog days of summer to the bitter cold of winter (even though Northerners would argue that winters in North Carolina are not so "bitter"), it seems. I like to decorate the house for fall as soon as possible - which means I decorated on Saturday. ( : I have a ton of fall floral arrangements that come out of hiding this time of year. Anyway, the girls at ABM linked to an older post of theirs about making a fall wreath and it really inspired me. Its never occurred to me to make my own wreath before. I have an every-day wreath that hangs on the back of the living room door (our door stays shut most of the time to keep the cool air in) and a Christmas wreath (both of which my aunt made for me), but a fall wreath? When I saw this DIY tutorial I knew I had to have one.

While I was at Michael's, I took note of their fall wreaths. 40 bucks for the same size I wanted! No, thanks. I can make it cheaper than that, I know. I gathered my materials and it turns out that I can make a wreath for around $25. I splurged a little and bought some extra goodies to throw in there. ( ; I can't wait to get started! I probably bought way too many flowers, too, so $25 is probably overstating it. I'll definitely share the final result, hopefully later this week. I wanna get this baby hanging on the door ASAP!

I also went to Target today. (Target and Michael's - a deadly combination for someone with little money to spend!!) I needed some hair spray (since I am not pleased with the Not Your Mother's spray), but of course I had to look around while I was there. I ended up buying a few things for C: a few new puzzles (which I think are good for her brain), some watercolor pages to paint, and this:
I am super excited about this! (Even more so cause it was on clearance, haha.) I'm sure there are better preschool books out there, but this one looks pretty good to me. Some of it I think will be a little too advanced for C right now, but a lot of it she can dive right into: Colors, Shapes, Patterns, Pre-writing, Letters and Sounds, Beginning Writing, Reading Readiness, Early Math, Science, Social Studies.

C won't be going to preschool, but I want her to learn what she can before kindergarten. If I was a stay-at-home-mom I'd definitely have a daily plan for this in place by now. As it is, though, we'll just do what we can, when we can. She loves learning, so I know she'll enjoy this. I'll probably make some sort of binder for all this, and make copies of each page so she can do them more than once. And I'll probably send some with her to my mother-in-law's house so they can do some work there. I figure the more she knows by the time she'd ready for kindergarten, the better off she'll be. Especially because more than likely, she'll be heading to kindergarten when she's just 4. Her birthday is in December, and if we hold her back until the next year (when she's almost 6), she'll be one of the oldest in her class, and I think she'll be underchallenged and bored at that point. She already knows all her letters and their sounds, and a bunch of colors and shapes, and some numbers. So I feel like she's already ahead of the game. Maybe I'm rushing it with a preschool program, but I don't think so. I think my kid is kinda gifted and needs to be challenged. We'll see how it goes. I can't wait!

Lots of new stuff goin down around here. Exciting! ( :

Weekend Recap

Is anyone else completely bummed that its Monday again? I know I can't be alone here.  ( ;

This weekend was awesome, and it flew by way too fast (as weekends generally do).

Saturday was a busy but relaxing day for me. How can it be both busy and relaxing, you ask? Well, I got a lot of housework done, which means I stayed at home all day. I'm always relaxed at home. ( : I've been really slack lately about getting any cleaning done during the week; the past 2 Saturdays I've had to do some major cleaning. This week I'm gonna try to get back on track and clean a little each day so I can have more play time on Saturdays.

Cleaning time kept getting interrupted due to chickens. Yep, you read that right - chickens! DH has been selling a lot of chickens lately, and Saturday he brought home 25 to resale (resell? hmm...). So while I was cleaning up inside, he was rigging up a temporary holding pen for them. Well, I guess the first time he didn't make the pen quite sturdy enough, because quite a few chickens escaped. He called me to come outside and me and C helped him round them back up. Chicken wrangling is fun, let me tell you. Later, it happened again! I think they were flying out. DH and his brother came home to pick up a tool or something and noticed some more chickens were out. Luckily, we caught them all and they didn't escape anymore. So far, DH has sold all of them but 5, and he thinks they'll be sold this week. He's makin money so I can't complain!

Saturday afternoon when C woke up from her nap, I took her to my mama's house. Normally, I stay with her so I can visit with my grandma, but this time I dropped her off and headed back home. And I rode Sunshine! I haven't rode her in a couple of weeks, so I was curious as to how she'd do with cantering. I rode her in the back pasture (which is about 5 acres total) and she did great. We cantered quite a bit! She picked up both leads with no hesitation. Her right lead was very ugly, though. It felt like her back legs weren't extending like they should. So obviously she has some tightness in that ligament still. But its such an improvement from where she was! I know if I was able to ride her more often she'd be so much better. Normally my riding picks up in the fall, so I should be having more saddle time soon. ( :

Yesterday we headed to the coast. Somehow, its September and we've only been to the beach twice all summer. (The 3 of us went back in May for our vacation - to the Outer Banks - and then me and C had a girls' day at the beach a month or so ago. We went to the Pamlico River a few times in July, but that's not really the beach so it doesn't count.) Considering how growing up I was at the beach practically every weekend all summer, it amazes me that I haven't been more often. Especially now that I've finally found a sunscreen that doesn't get me sunburned (Mary Kay!). Not having a place to stay this year has been the main issue, though. My parents sold their place last year, and we can't afford to get a hotel room all the time. Anyway, maybe next year we'll make it out there more often.

We decided to head to Topsail Island/Surf City. My uncle has a trailer there and we planned to use his private outdoor shower to change into our bathing suits. Luckily, when I called my uncle to ask permission to do that, he told me where his key was hidden and said for us to go on in and make ourselves at home. ( : We spent a couple of hours on the beach when we got there, then headed back to the trailer and got cleaned up a bit. We had a nice lunch at my favorite restaurant at Surf City - Island Delights. After that, C took a nap on the couch at the trailer and me and DH enjoyed quiet time - and I enjoyed not having to hold C while she napped!!

Late yesterday evening, we headed back to the beach for a sunset stroll. We went to the south end of the island and it was truly magical. The beach just has a different feel on that end; the sand is softer somehow. The light was gorgeous with the setting sun, and there were very few people out there. We walked for quite some time and C picked up seashells the whole time. It was perfect.

The whole day was just perfect. The weather was beautiful - not too hot, but warm enough we could get in the water without freezing. We laughed all day and made some good memories. And I didn't get sunburned! All in all, it was an awesome day.

It sure has made today miserable, though!! I hope everyone else had a great weekend! ( :


Labor Day Project

We had a pretty uneventful Labor Day weekend at our house. I had thought about heading to the coast, but in the end decided to just stay home and relax, and that's pretty much what happened!

On Monday, I decided to tackle a small project that's been on my mind for a WHILE now: my desk in our office. It had really gotten out of hand:

Yikes. Actually, this is not as bad as it has been in the past. Since I completed my Master's degree in 2011, my desk has been used as a dumping ground for all types of stuff (as you can see!). Anything I didn't have the time or energy to deal with got thrown onto my desk for me to handle "later." Since I graduated, I've been going through phases with this desk. I'll clean and organize it really well, keep it that way for a month or two, then it goes right back to the mess you see here.

My plan to stop that cycle (cause let's be real, I'm never gonna be good about immediately putting things away rather than just dumpin them on that handy flat surface!) is to get rid of the desk. I'll still need the storage for important papers and what-not, but I think a small bookcase can accomplish the same thing. We'll see what happens. Its not a huge goal on my list right now.

In the meantime, I decided to clean my desk (again). It took me about an hour, but I was so pleased with the results!
Ahhh, much better. The only thing left on there are my laptops (neither of which I use very often at all), a Mary Kay magazine (the current one - I throw out all the old ones now), and those 2 shoe boxes (which I'll explain in a minute). I was amazed at how much junk I was able to throw away!

I didn't do any organization of the drawers. Believe it or not, they're pretty tidy. Not perfect by any means, but I know where everything is in there. Not that I use most of it anymore, but still. There are, however, a ton of papers in both of the bottom (deeper) drawers that really need to be organized and filed better. At some point I'll come up with a system for that - probably when/if we ever get rid of this bulky desk.

My plan is to decorate those shoe boxes so they look prettier. But for now, they work so they're fine. The bottom box is full of craft stuff for C - coloring books, colored pencils, stickers, Modge Podge, etc.
I realize at some point I'll have accumulated enough craft stuff to warrant a much bigger storage solution, but for now this is fine. Its nice to have everything rounded up in one spot!

The other shoe box now houses my hair bow-making supplies: ribbon, scissors, wire, etc.
Such a big improvement over the grocery bag I was keepin this stuff in! I think I'm doin pretty well on the ribbon front, too. I've been making hair bows for C for several months now, and this is all the ribbon I've bought! I thought once I learned how to do it I'd go crazy, but I just don't feel the need to have a bunch of patterned bows for her. I like hers to be solid and simple.

So that's it! It was a simple project for the holiday, but it makes a huge impact on the office as a whole. Now I gotta do the same thing to my Mary Kay space on the other side of the closet..

I didn't take a picture cause its disgraceful to the Mary Kay brand (lol). My husband had a gorgeous shelf custom-built for my MK stuff, but something fell over and knocked a lot of stuff around, and I've been too lazy to fix it. It looks awful! One day I'd love to completely redo the office - get rid of my desk, get DH a new, nicer looking desk, pretty up the filing cabinet, get some curtains, etc. But the space is so unimportant to me that its not even on my list of house-related things to do (though maybe because its such a long list...haha!). ( :