I am so ready for spring! I love winter and snow, not that we got any snow this year. It was just cold. I am ready to see the leaves on the trees, the flowers in the garden and sit outside on the back porch a enjoy the warmer weather. That said, I started planning how I wanted the patio to look. I made a pallet bar last year, my first! It was turned out great and very rustic. Keeping with that theme, I decided on farmhouse-inspired lanterns. YES! Lanterns are great to decorate with, beautiful on their own or you can dress them up with items for the season.
Check out these beauties. Love. Them.
Here's what you will need.
If you don't have a way to cut the wood to size, your local hardware store will usually cut them for you. We tried it out and Lowes was able to cut all the wood to the sizes we needed. Because there where so many cuts they charged .25 cents for 10 cuts so $2.50 in addition to the wood. If you've got scrap pieces of wood, or pallet wood at home you can use that too. Your look and size may vary, but you get the idea.
Also, my favorite stain is Minwax Gel Stain in Chestnut. I love the consistency of the gel, how it goes on and the color.
These knobs tho! The knobs are what really make the lantern stand out. We found these at Hobby Lobby and snatch up a few while they were on a 50% sale.
Check out our Date Night DIY video as we tackle this project, show you step by step how to put it together and have a little fun.
Let's make something!
When we landed in Texas, it was June. Honestly, I thought they made a mistake and took us to Iraq. The heat was crazy as we existed the plane and the sun was blinding. We weren’t in Texas but a few days and I started feeling sick. When I went to the doctor he asked where we had moved from, I told him Germany. He decided to do some blood work and learned that I was feeling so bad because of the sun. REALLY-the sun was making me sick! I have never heard of such a thing. Sunlight to be exact, he said. With my hot flashes, I was sure he meant the heat from the sun, but no he meant the light. He then schooled me on the effects of light on our bodies.
I learned there is a whole psychology of lighting and how our emotions and bodies react to it. Who knew. Germany doesn’t get much sun yearly. Apparently, coming from a country like Germany to a state where the sunlight engulfs you almost 90% of the year, it can make you sick. Just shows too much of a good thing isn’t always a good thing.
Now, I work with light every day in photography and filming. I make a living using lighting. I know how important and amazing different lights and lighting techniques are. But I never knew the effects of lights on our psyche all the way to our cellule level. It is a thing, really.
So, after being schooled and doing some research on my own, I learned that the types of lights you choose for your house is important. Restaurants intentionally set the mood using this lighting psychology, so why should we not in our homes?
Military housing is not known for beautiful open floor plans with big bay windows, that allow large amounts of sunlight- which is the best kind of light source there is. Natural – God created – light is always the preferred way to go. So, what can we do in houses where natural light is not prevalent?
Mix-lighting! It is a must!
Ambient Lighting is the most general lighting. It’s basic and easy to do. Most rentals (including military housing) are most likely going to be covered in it. You can do this type of lighting with chandeliers, ceiling or wall-mount fixtures, track or recessed lights and table and floor lamps. This type of lighting to your foundation…you will build most of your other light types on this type of lighting. According to the American Lighting Association, ambient lighting provides an area with overall illumination.
Task lighting is important, why… well because it is your bright lights. Studies have shown the brighter the lights the more intense your emotions are. Therefore, if you are in a happy-go-lucky mood then you are going to be really-happy-go-lucky. If you are feeling-sexy-needing-some-hubby-alone-time then you are going to REALLY…get the point. You can achieve this lighting technique by track lighting, pendant lighting, specialty lighting, vanity lights, and floor, table and desk lamps. Task lighting helps you perform specific tasks.
Accent Lighting is another type of lighting that is used. This is the kind of lighting that will help you highlight the positive things in your home. You can highlight houseplants, your favorite paintings, the special sculpture (you bought from Italy), or your favorite spot in a room. The important thing to remember about accent lighting is that it is NOT to be used as the focal point in a room. It should be about three times the general illumination level. You can get this by using track lighting the right way, chandeliers with dimmer switches, over-and specialty lighting, and wall sconces.
A great solution for accent lighting is to use battery powered light fixtures like this LED battery operated picture light with remote control.
Living in houses (and apartments) I don’t actually own and moving every three or so years, the one thing I have learned is; NEVER be afraid to change things up a little. Just because the housing department put in that awful plain-jane light fixture, doesn’t mean you have to keep it there. I always have a box labeled “original house stuff”, in this box I have shower heads, knobs, lighting fixtures, and whatever else I want to change. I don’t get rid of it, I tuck it away and when the time comes to move again I pull it out and put all the original stuff back up. No harm, no foul. I also invest in beautiful lamps. I invest in lamps for every room, yes even the kitchen. There are some great battery saving efficient light sources out there…look around. This kind of investment will never be useless. Lamps even do great at yard sales if you get tired of them and want to change things up a little. I have used my lamps in every place lived from the U.S. to the over-seas. In my family lamps are even something that is handed down to you…my grandmother gave me her lamps.
The key is don’t be afraid to invest in your home. Lighting in the home is huge and can really change the mood of the house. No matter how short lived “home” is, enjoy it, lighting and all. Caution: when changing your lights…make sure not to lite yourself up (maybe a sad joke, put I did make you smile -_-).
We've all heard the old adage, "out with the old, in with the new." But what happens when life gives you a big ole bag of some crusty old lemons and you're left with the task of making them new? Do you give in and use those lemons to make a of vodka soda (guilty) or do you remember what your momma said and turn those crusty lemons into lemonade (add the vodka if you'd like :/)?
Y'all I had the perfect kitchen and I know it was perfect for me because it was my design. I mean I had a blank slate and went from the ground up. I picked the floors, the lighting, designed the cupboards, picked out a gigantic slab of quartz...I did it ALL. That space was my sanctuary. I know ladies usually love their master baths, but I'll be honest in saying that I hate taking baths. I mean if you think about it, it's really a disgusting practice of sitting in your own filth for an extended period of time...yuck! So the kitchen is my retreat. As and Army wife, I move a lot. This is where I come home and feel at home. It is where I spend most of my time and it is where I enjoy spending time. I make meals for my family, I sip my coffee and read the good word, I help my boys with their homework. It's my space, or it was my space.
ENTER God's funny sense of humor. He sent me to a place with arguably the least design friendly kitchens on the planet. Fort Hood, Texas and Military Housing. Don't get me wrong, they are great and very functioning (notice I didn't say functional). They have newer appliances and are clean, just not what I'd call my sanctuary space. So here's where we get back to the lemons vs. lemonade and also where I did throw in that towel and make a cocktail...or two. But at the end of the day I trust God had a plan and I know this is where He's brought me so, I decided to put on my big girl panties and deal with it. It is a work in progress and I still have some big ideas for the space, but we are one step closer to sanctuary status and that's all right by me. Here are a few of the things I've been working on.
My coffee bar, in addition to being extremely functional and adding desperately needed storage, was the only thing I could think of that fit well on that wall. I plan to paint the stand, which is a bottom to an antique hoosier.
These copper baskets are a great, trendy way to add some additional storage to your small kitchens and add a nice bit of texture to a otherwise bland space.
This wreath is a simple way to push those hideous, government issued, vertical blinds to the side and still have a bit of privacy while letting in that sunshine and vitamin D. And when you PCS again all you have to do is remove a command hook, slide the blinds over and walk away. It doesn't get much easier than that.
January 10th is National Houseplant Appreciation Day. No really, it's an official day, and why not. The Gardener's Network proclaimed that January 10th as National Houseplant Appreciation Day. Winter is the perfect time of year to appreciate our green friends. With most plants outside dead or dormant your beautiful indoor houseplants are thriving and full of life and Houseplant Appreciation Day the perfect opportunity to brighten up your home with a splash of green of a living plant.
Some people say, I don't have a green thumb or I kill every plant I touch, but it has been said that caring for and having indoor plants is very therapeutic. Houseplants offer many benefits. For example, Aloe Vera grows very well indoors and helps with minor burns and moisturizes the skin. You can improve your well being by decorating your home with healing plants.
Here is a list of air purifying plants:
How about an herb garden? One of my favorite ways to bring the outdoors in is to create a fresh herb garden with basil, cilantro and rosemary growing under glamours glass cloches. Cloches are commonly known as glass bell jars or domes. They are so beautiful and add a very stylish design element. A little history about the glass cloche. In 1623, the glass garden cloche was invented by an Italian glassmaker. It is a bell-shaped glass cover that works like a mini-greenhouse. The French quickly adopted the cloche, followed by English and Dutch gardeners. Thomas Jefferson also used cloches in the gardens at Monticello. Source
Don't forget to use a mister the leaves could use a spritz or two of water every day or two. This antiqued metal spray nozzle mister adds a touch of nostalgia.
How about a Fiddle Leaf Fig? This houseplant is a hit with all the top designers and is an insta-star, but many complain they can't keep one alive for very long. The key is bright, filtered light by a window, but make sure there is no draft of cold air. The Fiddle Leaf Fig is a tropical plant and likes warmer temps. Water only when the soil is dry, then water thoroughly and let dry again. You'll find more tips here on how to care for this plant.
So, how will you celebrate National Houseplant Appreciation Day?
Here is a list of easy indoor houseplants that are pretty tough.
It's January, a great time of year to play in the snow, if you are somewhere where it is snowing and the perfect time to think about new furniture. I am fighting the winter blues and and trying not to decorate for spring too early. It's not time yet, but it is time to get a much needed new couch. We've are still decorating our new home and have been eyeing a few choice pieces, but I have been waiting until this month, January to commit to the purchase. So why January? January is a great month to buy new furniture. New furniture designs hit the showroom floor twice a year (in February and August). Some might say that July is the better month, but I have found both months to have great discounts. Since stores need to make room for the new items you can see some serious price cuts on all remaining inventory, the floor models too. Even if you don't see a tag on the item be sure to ask about it. Most furniture stores are willing to negotiate, so let's make a deal. Also, don't be afraid to ask for further discounts or even a "throw that in" option.
Used furniture is a budget friendly option and late spring and summer are prime PCS (moving) season, so thrift stores and consignment stores are usually flowing with inventory. If you don't see what you want, keep checking back in your favorite thrift stores since new items come in all the time. Also, look at online market places for some great finds. I have stumbled upon a few keeper pieces on Facebook Marketplace. Used furniture is great to chalk paint and unleash your creative mojo on. So to don't be afraid to try something new and different. Inexpensive thrift store items are good pieces to start working on.
photos via Pinterest
I used to make new year's resolutions. I don't know about you, but they never lasted very long. Three days into the new year and I was already off my diet or doing the exact opposite of what I had set out to achieve. I should have decided to do the opposite of what I wanted to do like eat only sweets, then perhaps I would have kept my resolution. The fact of the matter is, I never fulfilled the intention and I would beat myself up about it. As I sat here looking at the blank pages in my journal (good old paper and pen in hand) I couldn't help but reflect on 2017 and revisit all the things I enjoyed about the year and all the things that drove me batty. 2017 was a year of incredible risk and effort. Putting everything we had into creating something that could help others. 2017 was a year of commitment and hard work. Looking back at the year allowed me to look forward into the new year and think about what I wanted it to look like. I wanted to peer into the future and visualize what it would be like. What was the plan? What was the bigger picture? The word I kept hearing was "believe."
My word for 2018 is BELIEVE. Believe that I am exactly where I am supposed to me. Believe that I am enough. Believe in things yet unseen. Believe in my instincts. Believe in the people God has put in my path. Believe that anything is possible.
I wondered about that word. I wondered why it was such a powerful word to me. Why at that moment could a word bring me to tears? I realized at that moment that I struggle so much with self-doubt. I don't want to let anyone down. I don't want to make any mistakes. But, life isn't perfect. It's messy! And sometimes my hot mess life is exactly where I need to be so that I can learn and grow from it. “Belief" implies a firm faith, conviction, and confidence. To believe is to elicit positive approval or manifestation of something or an event that is true, real, or possible. Believe is a verb, an action word. It is a word that must be applied, applied every day.
1. accept (something) as true; feel sure of the truth of.
2. as to have a firm conviction as to the goodness, efficacy, or ability of something.
To believe requires effort. Sometimes more effort than anything else because you may be believing in something that you haven't seen, but I knew that believe was the word. My word for 2018 because it would effects how I would view every aspect of my life. The word believe brought me joy and peace.
I believe in you. Thank you for believing in me.
So the holidays are over, you did it! You've taken down all the decorations, put everything away and organized your home, but something is missing. Right? Or is it just me? I MISS CHRISTMAS! It's my favorite holiday. It is the most wonderful time of the year (hehehe), and this may sound strange, but it's hard to let Christmas go. We put so much effort into decorating, shopping, and baking, (repeat) then it's over in a month. Should I put a tree up in October? Just saying. There is something so special about the season, I hate to see it go. I don't know about you, but I love wrapping gifts too - the papers, the ribbons, the embellishments, oh my. The thought behind the details, clever gift tags and beautiful details says so much.
It takes a little planning, so I get a head start each year by stocking up on supplies during the after holiday sales. Most stores discount their holidays items the day after Christmas. You'll find 50-75 percent off sales and that's when I SHOP! My favorite stores to shop are Ross, Home Goods, Marshalls, TJ Maxx, Target and Hobby Lobby. I know, it's an addiction, but I get a jump on next year by purchasing essentials on sale that I can use for any occasion.
I like to wrap gifts in solid colored papers. Brown craft paper is one of my favorites, but white, red, black, gold, and blue make beautifully wrapped gifts as well. I found rolls of wrapping paper on sale for a $1.00 and snatched up a few to stock up.
Whether your gift wrapping style is simple rustic or vintage glamours, it can get expensive. Ribbons can be pricey at $9.00 a roll and more, depending on what you buy. I found all these decorative ribbons and cords for 50% off at Home Goods. The wooden spindles also double as a decorative display that can be used in your home decor. Winner!
I enjoy using natural items too. Pine cones and greenery add a nice personal touch. Star anise, cinnamon sticks and dried orange slices are also lovely to add. You can create visual interest by working in layers. Start with the paper, then add a layer of mesh, ribbon and greenery to give is a 3-Demensional look.
.Can we talk about this buffalo plaid though? This ribbon was on a huge roll on sale at Hobby Lobby for $3.00. Yep three bucks. I sense a theme brewing. Even better, lets talk about transitioning all these gorgeous wrapping ideas for other holidays, birthdays and events. Lose the acorn and add a beautiful white ceramic heart for a Valentines Day gift. A Father's Day gift for your daddy, or a cotton branch for any occasion.
Don't forget your gift tags! Here is a link to the Ultimate Guide for FREE Printables. I hope you got some gift wrapping ideas and are inspired to start your shopping after the season to take advantage of those sales. Merry Everything!
Charcuterie. It's such a neat word. I just like saying it, char·cu·te·rie pronounced
/SHärˈko͞odərē/. Main and Vine describes charcuterie as an array of preserved and prepared meat dishes, such as cured sausages, hams, bacon, pâté and confit. The origins of charcuterie are simple: salting, curing and drying were the most effective ways to preserve meat before refrigerators came along. I won't be doing any salting, curing or drying meats myself, but I will be putting together some cured meats on board for our New Year's Eve celebration.
Appetizers are the new dinner party and a charcuterie board is the ultimate lets gather around the table eat, drink and be merry way to entertain. The holidays are about gathering with friends and family. We've got enough going on that to over complicate it. Festive is our mahantra! Bring out a charcuterie board and your guest will feel at home.
So now the question is how do I put this /SHärˈko͞odərē/ board together? Don't fret. I've got you covered. Here are some basic tips for assembling a charcuterie and cheese board:
Arrange everything on a wooden board. A cutting board works well.
For a large gathering, use your charcuterie and cheese board as your centerpiece across the length of the table. This makes an outstanding presentation. Here we come 2018!!
One of the things I love the most about being a military family is the wonderful people we have the opportunity to meet along the way. These are the friends we call "framily". Even though we may not always live near each other, we always find a way to connect again. When we were stationed at Fort Stewart and then at Fort Benning, both in Georgia, I learned many a Southernism and tradition, like cattywampus or bless your heart, along with that possum's on the stump and eyeballs are floating. If you are from the south, you know exactly what I'm talking about. I also learned about "must have" Southern dishes like pimento cheese, watergate salad and sweet tea. I had never had any of those tasty treats until we moved to the south.
With New Year's Day only a couple of days away, I thought it would be the perfect time to share the Southern tradition of having black-eyed peas on New Year's Day. In fact, it is the first meal you should have before anything else. Why is this? According to legendary Southern food researcher John Egerton’s Southern Food: At Home, On the Road, In History, black-eyed peas are associated with a “mystical and mythical power to bring good luck.” As for collard greens, they’re green like money and will ensure you a financially prosperous new year. https://www.southernliving.com/new-years/new-years-traditions-black-eyed-peas
I started looking through recipes and found a modern take on this traditional dish. BLACK-EYED PEA SALSA. Heck yeah! We added our own twist to the recipe by The Kitchen Girl. Definitely need to check her out.
So how do you cook black eyed peas? Well, I didn't. For this recipe, You can use:
HERE ARE THE INGREDIENTS YOU’LL NEED:
For a little kick, try adding diced serrano peppers.
It's the most wonderful time of year and it truly is better to give than to receive. We were so fortunate to work with PCSgrades on this project. We couldn't have done it without them and all the volunteers who cam to help.
So, what did we do you may ask? We surprised an active duty military family with a Holiday Front Porch Makeover. Oh yeah we did. It was amazing! (I am so glad my husband has returned from his deployment and was able to work on this project with me.)
In November, we hosted a Giveaway with PCSgrades open to any active duty military family in the Lackland/San Antonio, Texas area. We received hundreds of entries and on November 27, 2017 we drew a random winner. Wow! That was crazy. We asked the winner for a photo of the front of the home so I could get started with creating the design. I then made a mock up in Photoshop. This way I would know what we needed to make it all possible. I had to keep in mind the rules of the military installation and work within their guidelines, but I love a challenge.
Once the winner was drawn we had less than 7 days to put everything together, from coming up with the design concept, to shopping, shopping, and more shopping to making all the decor DIY projects. We then packed up the truck and drove to San Antonio where we had 6 hours to overhaul the exterior of their home with holiday magic. Landscaping, Christmas trees, wreaths, lights, decorations, you name it, we made it happen. What a wonderful surprise it was. Check out the video below and see for yourself.
Check out this easy DIY projects.
DIY Project 1 Pizza Box. Wrap a pizza box. We headed over to a local pizza shop and asked if we could have a few empty pizza boxes for a holiday project and they were more than happy to give us a few for free. Thanks for that! Wrap the boxes with wrapping paper and ribbon an use velcro Command strips on the back to attach to the wall and use as decoration.
DIY Project 2 Lantern and Christmas Bulbs
We picked up these lanterns at Kirland's during their Black Friday sale. Great discount. Kirland's also offers a 10% military discount and if you get their app you can even get ore discount. And yes, you can combine all the offers. Fill the lantern with Christmas bulbs and decorate the tops of the lantern with fresh or artificial greenery, pine cones and ribbons.
DIY Project 3 Chalk Painted Bench
I was on the hunt for a white bench. I really wanted to put an antique white bench in the porch, but all I kept finding was black. Well, alright then. I will just chalk paint it. So I did. Chalk painting is so easy. No prep or sanding required. I simply grabbed a pint of white chalk paint and paint on 2 coats. I let the paint dry a few hours in between coats. I then sanded off some of the white painted in certain areas to give it a more rustic look and then used brown antique wax for the final finish. Really easy and just a couple of bucks.
DIY Project 5 Joy Door Decor
Since we were going for a more whimsical look, I didn't want to do a traditional wreath. I decided to make a piece that could go down the length of door instead. We attached a silver ribbon to the front of the door and then hot glued light weight wooden letters that we painted with red chalk paint and covered with red glitter spelling out the word JOY.
Here are some behind the scene photos. Hope you enjoyed this Holiday Front Porch Makeover episode.
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