Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Money $aving Mondays {No.2}

I'm behind on this post due to the 4th of July Holiday falling on Monday and spending quality time with family. I opted to post about adoption first since the article I read really brought up some feelings and I've been wanting to share the news with you all, so the timing of that post was perfect.

1) In cleaning out our parents' estate, I've found myself having to clean things in order to make them sparkle, whether we are selling them or keeping them. I had forgotten my mom started wrapping her silver in plastic wrap and storing in plastic bags. It sounds ridiculous but that silver has not tarnished and it has been wrapped for close to 20 years. Wrap your silver and eliminate as much air as possible as this is what tarnishes it. It will not tarnish. Wrap it after you wash it, and it dries ~ thoroughly.

2)If you prefer, you may store your silver in flannel bags that have been treated to prevent tarnish. Take these special cautions with silver or silverplate pieces: Rubber may corrode or permanently etch silver. Never leave silver in contact with rubber bands. Also, never leave silver with prolonged contact with the following: eggs, olives, salad dressings, sulfur, vinegar, fruit juices, and alcohol ~ including perfumes or colognes.

3) Gold jewelry has not been that big in the South for years, but it will make a comeback, I know. In the meantime, if you ran out of jewelry cleaner and some pieces need extra cleaning, below is a great recipe. Use caution with fashion jewelry as those costume pieces may just be glued together and this recipe may loosen the glue.
You will need:
1 tsp. mild dishwashing liquid
1 tsp. plain ammonia
1 quart water

Mix the above in a small bowl and get a soft toothbrush that is new or has been sanitized and will strictly be used for this purpose. Immerse the gold to be cleaned in the solution, then brush gently with the toothbrush to get into the cracks and crevices. Rinse in a bowl in lukewarm water and allow to dry. You can also rub with a chamois cloth to restore a lustrous shine.

4) To remove grease from gold (either from baking or automotive grease), simply dip the gold briefly in rubbing alcohol (at least 70% isopropyl), then wipe the grease off with a soft cloth. Rinse briefly in cool water and dry with a soft cloth. DO NOT DIP gemstones, pearls, or other non-gold items into alcohol.

5) Pearls are so extremely delicate and should be treated as such. I have a very long strand that was my mom's and I triple wrap it around my neck. After I wear it, I rub it gently with a soft cloth and store it in a safe place. You can wash pearls in a very mild solution of mild dishwashing liquid and warm water. Rinse them in cool water and allow them to dry. Diamond jewelry may also be routinely cleaned this way.

6) And speaking of polishing, let's not forget the furniture: Lemon Oil Furniture Polish. You will need 1 quart of Mineral Oil + 1 Tbsp. Lemon Oil. Add lemon oil into the bottle of mineral oil. Shake to mix. To use, wipe it on and wipe it off with a clean, soft cloth. Note: Oils are flammable. Avoid open flames and do not smoke!

Until next week, shine on!

These Children Are Our Responsibility: Foster Care Adoption » Adoption » Content —

This post today comes from an article I've read {I've only read a few hundred since fall 2010 on this subject} and I cry Is it because I am sad for these children or is it because my Heavenly Father has awakened my heart knowing that one day Mr. Fabulous and I may be blessed to adopt one or a sibling group of sisters? I say sisters because brother and sister cannot share a room in our 2-bedroom condo, the siblings will have to share a room until the real estate market stabilizes enough for us to move.

At first, the idea of adopting from foster care was a little daunting {read that as scary}. I had the same misconceptions about it that most people have, but I very quickly warmed up to it so much so that hotflashes would be in order here. These children are in foster care through no fault of their own and they deserve to know what love, stability, security, safety, and healthy boundaries look like. While I will never be their birth mother, I do feel God is birthing children in my heart every single day. I do not know what age they will be, what color hair they will have, what color eyes they will have, whether they will smile at us the first time they meet us or cower in fear because we are just another set of strangers to them. So many questions without answers, but I do know this: God knows who are our children are. That alone brings me comfort. He is keeping them safe, warm, loved, and fed until He times everything perfectly for His plan when our world meets their world and they become ours. Will I be mad at their parents for not taking care of them? I think I will be mad at any injustice done to them ~ abuse, neglect, abandonment, etc., but I will be grateful to their parents for giving them life, for that life {or those lives} will be a precious gift to us. That's part of the reason that if you look to the right of this blog, I have a widget that highlights children from the United States Foster Care System that are legally free for adoption. I'll wait while you go take a look... Did you see them? Those are the faces of the fatherless in our country. Not every face is represented here, but you get the idea. Did you see one that just captured your heart? Don't you want to find out how you go about adopting them? :)

The topic of adoption is not a new one for me. Being the youngest child of 4, with an age gap of 7.5 - 10 years between my three older siblings and I, I was begging my parents to have another child. When they said, "No. You are the icing on a 3-layer cake", I insisted they adopt. I had a great reason or two: So I would have a sibling to boss around, and so I would have one closer to my age that I could play with. Well, that never happened. And yes, I am close to my siblings {my sister is sandwiched between my brothers and they were born literally one year after the other}. By the time I came along, Mom had 3 helpers for me, not to mention "instant babysitters". My sister contemplated adoption and I wish she had taken the plunge and done so {Dear Sissy, it is never to late...}. I could be an auntie to one of my siblings' children {none of them have children}. I'm an auntie to Mr. Fabulous' nieces and I think they are wonderful; in fact, they will be great role models for our girls. :) Fast forward to my single-again days in my 30s prior to meeting Mr. Fabulous. While at a Stephen Curtis Chapman concert in December 2005, he mentioned Show Hope, and my friend Emily who was also single and longing for a family, purchased ornaments from Show Hope for every woman in our small group. It was at that concert when I prayed, "Lord, if I am not married by the time I'm 40, can I adopt?" I always assumed it would be a little girl from China. And God has gently pointed the way. From the time adoption entered our world last fall until now, every time we turned on the TV, we'd see a commercial, a newscast, a movie or a show, not just featuring children who were adopted, but children adopted from foster care or children in foster care. We even started laughing about it saying, "OK, Lord, we hear You." So, we attended two orientations in February of this year. One was from our local county regarding foster care and foster-adoptions, the other was from Focus on the Family and our eyes were wide open. We saw God's loving arms wrapped around each person in the stories we heard that day, and those stories were from every end of the foster care and adoption spectrum. And, we learned, you don't have to be perfect to be parents {Thank You, Lord, because I am perfect at being imperfect!}. I still remember at the end of the FOTF event, Mr. Fabulous looked at me and said, "I believe this is a ministry for us in some sort of way." Why yes, Mr. Fabulous, it is. It is redemption for those children and redemption for us. It is introducing those children to Jesus when they might have never had the opportunity to meet Him. It is pouring love into them and letting them know they are finally home. Back to China: the cost and regulations are keeping us from International adoption. I kept asking myself, "How can we adopt overseas when so many need homes here, in our own country?" I'm not condemning anyone adopting overseas as I feel some are called to do so. This was a personal question that came up for us. Believe me, I'd adopt every orphan if I could, but that's just not feasible or realistic.

I believe this one is so close to the Father's heart that He weeps for them. Thankfully, He is a Father to the fatherless... Psalm 68:5-6a (NIV): "5 A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. 6 God sets the lonely in families..." I don't just feel God places orphans (the lonely) in families, but I do believe with all my heart that He placed me in Mr. Fabulous' family. Many blessings have come from our being married. Both of my parents are deceased. In fact, the 10th anniversary of my mother's passing is this August and this year, I find myself missing her more than ever. Anyway, one of my prayers when I was single again, was for me to be close to my future husband's parents. God has answered that prayer. They are kind, loving, good, and most of all, a blessing. Seriously, I have the BEST In-Laws, but then, I'm a little biased. I would love to sit at my Mother-in-Law's feet in her kitchen and just take notes on how she does what she does. I can hear her laughing now as I type this because "she does not really have a system", she would say. I believe she does, she just might not realize it. She is an amazing cook and hostess, and she is always doing for and serving others.

I'm working on getting our house in order ~ literally. Our office is in the 2nd bedroom and that will have to be turned into a bedroom for our homestudies and for our children. Our sunroom will have to become our office. There are things I kept here that will need to go into our storage, and ideally, we'd love to pay off our debt. We've been on one income since our marriage as my industry was real estate and we know how well that has been going {sarcasm}. I feel like all of that ~ the minutia of it all ~ is standing in the way of the adoption process for us. I'm profoundly saddened by that every single day. So, I am humbly asking for your prayers. Pray the resources come in where we are financially able to adopt. Pray that the book I'm writing is a success because that could potentially pay off our debt, pray my brain gets an organized scheme going every day {in my professional life, I am highly organized; in my personal life, it is more sporadic} so I can move mountains to get our place where it needs to be. Pray we have peace about when to take the plunge and dive in, knowing God has our backs as well as our best interest at heart, and He knows our child{ren}. I'm forever humbled and grateful for your prayers.

There are many other scriptures I could leave you with to ponder. Again, this one is so close to the Father's heart. I do recommend reading two extraordinary books: Choosing to SEE by Mary Beth Chapman {I grew to love this woman in that book!} ~ you will need tissues. My Sister-In-Law read it while here for Christmas and kindly loaned it to me {little did she know!}. I would go to open it and quickly close it because I was crying before I ever cracked the book open. It was just that close to my heart. Needless to say, once I started reading it, I could not stop. The other book I recommend is: Fields of the Fatherless by Tom Davis. I read that one in about a day. Both are so poignant and right on target. They are on my list of favorites! And no, I'm not being paid for the shout out.

Finally, the article I linked within this post. Here it is without further adieu!

These Children are Our Responsibility: Foster Care Adoption » Adoption » Content —

Thank you for allowing me to share my heart today.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Money $aving Mondays {No. 1}

This is a new series that I plan on adding tips, tricks, and ideas to each week in order to $ave you money and hopefully, time, too.

Around the House:
1) Contain Pot-Lid Clutter: If you have not been fortunate enough to have the newest kitchen organizing cabinets, then this tip is for you {& myself, too}. Dinner prep would be smooth sailing if only we could find the right lid for each pot without pulling everything out of the cabinet while we search. In order to avoid those lovely search parties: In a deep drawer, insert 2 or 3 tension rods from front to back about 1-1.5 inches from the top. The rods will divide the drawer in 3 slim sections so the lids are stored on their sides and stay securely in place. Use this tip in a not-so deep drawer for plastic lids, too!

2) Turn Yellow Plant Leaves Green: High pH levels in the soil typically caused by hard water are to blame. To resolve the problem, combine 2 Tbs. apple cider vinegar and 1 qt. of water, then water the plant(s) with this mixture as soon as you notice yellow leaves. Do this once/week for three weeks. The mixture will lower the pH level in the soil by increasing its acidity, turning the yellow leaves to green in a matter of weeks.

3) Salt Stains on Hardwood Floors: Do you have salt prints on your harwoods after every snowfall? Give them the boot with this trick: Pour 1 Tbs of apple cider vinegar onto a soft, damp cloth and dab at the marks, starting at the edges and working toward the center. The acid in the liquid will neutralize the salt particles, removing the stain without damaging the wood's finish.

4) Freshen/Clean Your Coffeemaker: Run a half pot of white vinegar, followed by two pots of water through your drip coffeemaker. The vinegar helps prevent the buildup of mineral deposits.

5) Got Belt, Scarf, or Tie Clutter? Use the plastic rings from a 6 or 8-pack of soda to organize them. Simply hang one of the rings over a hanger, then loop belts, scarves or ties through the remaining rings. Great way to reduce and re-use!

Beauty on a Budget:
1) Out of Dandruff Shampoo & Having a Bit of a Flaky Issue? Reach for the apple cider vinegar once again. Apply 1/2 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar to dry hair and gently massage into your scalp, rinse thoroughly with cool water. You can use this trick prior to shampooing. The alpha hydroxy acids in the vinegar will loosen the buildup of sebum that causes the embarrassing problem. Within a day or two, you'll be flake-free and have fabulous body, too! {OK for color-treated hair and there is no residual odor}.

2) Banish "Bacne" With a Bubble Bath: This protein-honey soak contains astringents from egg whites and natural antibacterial agents from honey.
1/2 mild liquid soap {Dr. Bronner's Pure Castille is fabulous!}
1 egg white
1Tbs. Honey
Stir ingredients and pour under running water. Soak for at least 15 minutes.
Note: Don't want to use an egg white? Use a packet of powdered milk instead.

3)Feeling Like a Cat on a Hot Tin Roof? Cool down with this refreshing cucumber mist.
In a blender, combine until smooth:
1/2 fresh Cucumber, chopped
1/2 Cup Distilled Water
2 Tbs. Fresh Mint leaves or 1 Mint Tea Bag
Cheesecloth or coffee filter
Blend all ingredients until smooth. Pour through cheesecloth or coffee filter into clean spray bottle. Chill in the fridge and mist onto skin after bathing. Mist should be good up to 5 days.

4) Whittle Your Waist & Prevent Viruses: Sound too good to be true? Extra Virgin (Unrefined) Coconut Oil is the most powerful virus-destroyer experts have found. It's the monolauric acid - the same protective fatty acid found in breast milk - which attacks germs such as staph, strep, and influenza. Your Rx: Add 3 Tbs to your daily diet. It does have a slight coconut taste and can be used in any recipe that calls for butter or oil. {When I diet, this is my #1 weapon and the only additional fat I use}. It's great for baking, stirring, sauteing, or try spreading or drizzling it on toast. It is solid unless it is below 70 degrees. It won't raise your cholesterol (as long as you are eating healthy = Lots of veggies, lean cuts of meat, fruit). It's one of the healthiest fats around {MUFA ~ Mono Unsaturated Fatty Acid = think olive oil and nuts}, but a proven weight loss aid. Cherie Calbom's Coconut Diet book explains this in-depth.

5) Want To Banish Oil Without Looking So Matte? Oil glands go into overdrive in higher temperatures. To smoothe skin and dry up the oil slick, combine 1/2 Cup Orange Juice {Fresh or Florida Naturals ~ NOT concentrate}, 1 Tbs. Corn Starch, and 1 tsp. Salt. Massage over entire face and leave on for 10 minutes, then rinse. Repeat twice a week. The citric acid in the juice melts dead skin cells, while the cornstarch and salt soak up the surface oil without drying out skin. Your oil glands will give up and say, "We're not needed here".

Until next time, Keep it simple, keep it frugal, and keep it chic!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Encouraging Words ~ A Little Something To Store Them In

The Nester over @ {in} courage is hosting a giveaway for Dayspring, but I love her lead into the giveaway. It's about the fact that we all keeps notes of encouragement or cards of sentiment and if we keep them, where do we store them? This post is about

I have stored all the notes and cards from the fabulous ladies who were in the first ever single women's group that I led for 3 years in a beautiful hat box. I had hopes of scrapbooking them one day, but the nice thing is that I know where they are and I can open that box of love anytime I need a little encouragement.

While I no longer lead that small group and we've all dispersed into other groups, most of us stay in touch and still meet for coffee, lunch, dinner, a movie once in a while. Most of the group has remarried so our hubbies tag along from time-to-time, which is nice. These women and I have been together through sunshine and shade so I love reading their notes every once in a while and I think they need a pretty box to be stored in. That box may one day need to be upgraded to a vintage suitcase. The one my mom had in the 1940s would be great, don't you think? It even has her maiden name initials.

I had a special box for keepsakes from my husband while we were dating. I would store cards, dried roses, random little things. It was a box from Philosophy and it stored the fragrance set I wore at the time, Falling in Love. The photo from Philosophy's website is below. I purposely used that box to store momentos from Mr. Fabulous because I was Falling in Love {sigh}. After we married, my box became our box so it has been upgraded to a beautiful blue storage box with a nice seaside theme {did not take a photo of that one}.

I also am starting a box to store cards from each of my parents or both of them to me over the years. They are both deceased and I'm oh so glad I kept those momentos as they are sweet treasures I pull out whenever I find myself longing for some time with Mom or Dad or both.

I hope this post got you thinking about storing your treasured keepsakes in something pretty...

Remember: Keep it simple, keep it organized, keep it lovely, & keep encouraging!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Tablescapes ~ Patriotic Style

I brought out the patriotic 4th of July decor from storage this afternoon and crafted a couple of tablescapes and a "drink counter". I know it is two weeks away, but I'm patriotic and my Sister-in-law sent me a G-O-R-G-E-O-U-S navy blue patriotic tea towel with fireworks on it for part of my birthday gift from her family, of which I have not taken photos of yet, but it is prominently displayed in our kitchen right now. The main gift was a gift card to Hobby Lobby {I'd say she knows me well ;)}. My apologies to any followers who are not American, but perhaps you will get ideas for celebrations that are specific to your countries. Back to the decor...

Below is how I designed one of the tables {ignore the foam soccer balls, they were in the stash for who knows why?!? ~ Mr. Fabulous said they are from the FIFA Soccer games last year and are to be displayed when we watch the women this year} and I forgot to remove them prior to my photos. The wineglass candleholders I already owned, same with the 8-inch red pillar candle, ribbon, and white milkglass dish that I inherited from my parents {I love, love, love milkglass!}. I also already had the inscribed rocks on hand from Coldwater Creek. The rest was purchased at Hobby Lobby {not with the gift card!}...

I just realized my little wooden flags that were Mr. Fabulous' prior to our marriage are on the display, too {I ended up sticking them in the vase with the flower arrangement, which you will see below}. I also forgot to light the candles for this shot {I'm striking out on this post thus far...wawa}. The whole point of this post is for you to see how cheap and creatively you can pull off a tablescape on the fly.

Details, details... The larger white table mats are stiff felt from Hobby Lobby and I got them half off so they were $1 each! They are 11"x17" in size and my thought was that they can be re-used on Valentines, Christmas, B'days, etc. The flag tablemats are felt and are 8.5" x 11" or close to that size. They are soft felt and I also got them half off for like 25 cents each! The foam stars were also half off for less than $1. The bandana was on sale (think of patriotic subway art). It was less than $1. The tray was from their spring/summer collection and I bought two on clearance for $3 and change. I plan on spray painting them down the road. The ribbon on the candleholders I had on hand already, but I've seen clearance and $1 at Hob Lob, too.

Here is tablescape 2, which is so similar...

The only difference is the milkglass vase is not in this one and a star dish is in its place. The star dish was something Mr. Fabulous owned prior to our marriage. Yes, Mr. Fabulous owns fabulous things and he has great taste {or maybe it is great to me because it is so similar to my own?!? ;)}.

Below is the Drink Counter...

Don't you love the dog bowl that I had unloaded on that counter {it's clean}? The photo displayed is simply an LP Frame I bought at Ross years ago with a patriotic scrapbook page of highlights from the United States Constitution. Thought it would make a nice added touch. The cups are for the hometown baseball team that Mr. Fabulous and I both L-O-V-E: The Atlanta Braves! Besides, their colors are red, white, and blue. Can't get more patriotic than our home team! Bobby Cox, we miss you, but we are adjusting to Gonzalez as Manager. The 2 pillars are from a set of three LED lights for our wedding from a friend {thanks, Ken!}. Notice the wooden flag picks I mentioned earlier? They are in the vase of flowers, which are fake, by the way. The vase is an olive oil jar that I scraped the label off and sanitized. The jars remind me of vintage milk bottles.

Here's a close-up of the scrapbook patriotic page {given to me from my fabulous sister, Kathi's, stash {bad grammar}...

So my point being... use what you have and add to it frugally. Frugal can be chic. It's all a matter of what you like. If you are on the beach, stars can be starfish. You get my point. I'd love to see how you are decorating this 4th of July so post your link in the comments below {I need a Mr. Linky tool, don't I??? And a button for my blog...worked on that button way too long, by the way...).

Remember, keep it simple, keep it frugal, keep it creative, and keep it chic!

Happy 4th of July!

I'll be linking to the below parties... Visit them for inspiration!
The Girl Creative

Keeping It Simple


The DIY Show Off

Tip Junkie handmade projects

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Linking up to Blue Cricket Designs {her button is having issues so here is the link}:

Monday, June 13, 2011

Making Memories {French Memo Board Tutorial}

Our niece, Ashley, graduated from high school at the end of May. One of her gifts was a French memo board I made for her in the colors of her dorm {she starts college this fall}. I did not even think to check blogland for tutorials, and I've never made one. I had one that I purchased brand new, unused at a garage sale 3-4 years ago. It was fucshia pink with orange ribbon. Not my style and not the colors of Ashley's dorm decor. I did not take a before picture of the memo board {sorry, I forgot}. I was thinking more about getting the project done in time rather than a blog tutorial. It hit me after I removed the buttons, removed the fabric panel on the back, ironed my fabric and stapled it on there that I should have taken a picture {Oops!}. Since I have been MIA from blogging, I just was not thinking, but you will get photos and the steps below. :) Hopefully the end result will make up for it.

· Inexpensive memo board
· 1 1⁄4 yards fabric of your choice
· Iron and ironing board, optional
· Fabric scissors
· Staple gun and staples
· 5 yards seam binding or grosgrain ribbon, 5⁄8 inch wide, color of your choice
· Covered-button kit with 3⁄4-inch buttons or re-purpose the buttons as I did
· Wire cutter
· Frame hanging wire
· Fabric for backside of board {muslin or cotton sheeting}
· ½ grossgain ribbon to cover staples on fabric on backside of board.
· Fabric glue

1. Remove and discard the buttons and ribbons from the original memo board. Note: If you are using a template board you made, be sure to wrap it in batting and then fabric. I remembered the ribbon pattern as I drew it on a piece of paper so I would know how to place my ribbon {a large "X" and 4 parallel pieces}.

2. Iron your fabric to remove any wrinkles, if necessary. Lay the fabric facedown on a flat surface {if using burlap, you will need to double the fabric so it is not see through}; lay the memo board facedown over the fabric. Cut excess fabric so there is approximately 2 inches fabric overhang on each side of the memo board.

Wrap the fabric to the back of the board, stretching the fabric so it is tight. Using the staple gun, secure one staple at the center of each side.

3. Wrap fabric over diagonally at each corner, and secure with a staple. Neatly fold in the remaining fabric and staple in place. Finish stapling the fabric around the memo board.

4. Turn the memo board face-up. Cut two ribbon pieces a few inches longer than the distance from corner to corner diagonally. Wrap one end to the back, and staple in place. Stretch the ribbon tight to the opposite corner, wrap the end to the back, and staple. Repeat with the second ribbon, forming an “X”. Add four more ribbons parallel to the first ones {this makes a diamond shape when looking at the “X”}, stretching them tight from the mid-points of each side.

I used two different colors of grossgrain ribbon, but you could use all the same color.

5. Insert a staple at each ribbon intersection. I used scraps of 2 inch wide silk ribbon and made five covered buttons, hand-stitching the ribbon to cover the buttons. I attached the buttons with fabric glue hiding the staples at each ribbon intersection. Furniture brads would be another great idea. Because I was gluing buttons on {used fabric glue so they don't pop off like they would if I used hot glue}, I covered the staples at each ribbon intersection with the finished button.

6. I covered the back of the board with fabric I had from a cotton sheet. I used pinking shears to cut it so it would not fray, stapled it in place, and covered the staples with 2 inch blue grossgrain ribbon {I took a photo of the fabric and did not take one of the ribbon covering the staples}. I glued the ribbon in place with permanent fabric glue. The tape on the unfinished board back was to cover where the staples poked through.

Voila! Here's the finished French memo board. {I put the buttons in place and snapped a photo prior to gluing them down}.

Sorry for the lighting in the photos looking so yellow. Batteries were close to dying and I took the photos the evening I made the board as opposed to daylight, which would have made for better pictures! You get the idea...

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As for our niece, the graduate, she loved it!

Remember, keep it simple, keep it crafty, keep it thrifty, and keep it chic!

I'm linking up to these parties this week. Stop by for some creative inspiration. I'll be adding new party links everyday:

Blue Cricket Design's Linky Party Button is not working so here is the link to her post:

Keeping It Simple

The DIY Show Off


Tip Junkie handmade projects



Transformation Thursday


The Shabby Nest



Boogieboard Cottage