He gives beauty for ashes, strength for fear, gladness for mourning, peace for despair. ~Isaiah 61:3

Friday, March 30, 2012

Flashback Friday: DIY Canvas Art

Welcome to another edition of Flashback Friday, where I re-post some oldies but goodies from my first two years of blogging. Enjoy!

 ***
Re-post from March 17, 2011

Since I always seem to have a back story, here's the picture first.


Now the story: I was looking for inexpensive art for my condo back in the day when I was a Young Urban Professional. Yes, I was a yuppy along with the best of them! I had just spent Christmas in Paris (go here for a fun story about that trip) and the week after in London, so I had tons of great pictures. I noticed some art in a pastor-friend's office and knew right away I'd found my inexpensive art project! (That pastor later did the premarital counseling for my husband and me. He signed papers at our wedding, his little girl was our flower girl... Sadly he was killed instantaneously while riding his bike a year or two later. I have homemade art on my walls that reminds me of him and how fragile life can be. And yet I was grumpy at my kids this morning...)

Back to the art!


I waited for a sale and a coupon at Michael's and bought six large canvasses.


I printed my favorite six shots from my trip on 8 x 10 photo paper.


I had just helped a good friend paint her house, so I knew she had this amazing brown paint from Eddie Bauer (this was 6 or 7 years ago now, so I don't remember what it was!).


I rolled the paint on the canvas then stuck my picture down where I wanted it while the paint was still very wet. I was worried that the photo paper would bubble, but it didn't!


When the brown paint dried, I used black on the edges and around the picture to act as a frame within a frame. (My friend's art in his office was bright yellow with red accents and used pictures from a calendar!)


Last, I used stickers to spell out the name of the place where I took the picture. 

I love my inexpensive, personalized art! It's been on the walls of three homes now. Hope you enjoyed it too!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Heather's Story

Today I have something a little out of the usual to share with you. I'm sure after you read Heather's story, you'll think she's pretty extraordinary too!

Heather with her husband, Cam, and daughter, Lily.

Heather is a wife and mommy, as well as a cancer survivor! I was able to interview her Q and A style. Here we go!

When did you find out you had cancer? What was going on in your life? Were there symptoms and/or problems that brought it to your attention?
I found out on November 21st, 2005, just 3 1/2 months after my only baby was born. I was a new mom, dealing with all that brings,and then having this dropped on me.. It was a shock to say the least. I had many symptoms that could have been explained by postpartum symptoms.. tiredness, weight loss, anemia... but it was the breathlessness that troubled me. I couldn't walk up a flight of stairs without stopping half way to catch my breath.. I knew that was not normal.

You had to have surgery, right? What was going through your mind as you prepared for it? Did you allow yourself to "go there" and wonder/prepare for what would happen if you didn't make it? 
I had major surgery.. One of the toughest there is. My entire left lung, the lining around it, the lining of my heart, the left half of my diaphragm and a rib were all taken out.. My diaphragm and the lining of my heart was replaced with gore tex. I prepared for the surgery by praying.. lots and lots of praying.. and having everyone I knew pray for me too!!  I never let myself go "there" I couldn't.. I had my sweet baby counting on me.. or t least I imagined she was.. she was only 6 months old at the time.. and she needed her mommy... not making it through was not an option. Not for me.

What did you hang on to that helped you fight and make it through surgery and recovery? What inspired you?
Literally I hung onto a baby blanket of Lily's... And what else I hung onto was a word from God my mom told me.. "This is not unto Death"  She heard that while praying, and I clung to that like a life preserver.. Also a scripture.. Jeremiah 29:11.." For I know the plans  I have for you", declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. "  A friend sent me a card with this on it.. I read it every single day.. sometimes multiple times.. The friend who sent me that card was a huge inspiration.. He survived a horrible car accident, over 200 broken bones, and he is alive and well.. doing wonderfully.. Any story of triumph, I hung onto... and swore I would be one of those stories too.

Heather and Cam


Now you're a survivor! What do you do to celebrate? How did your experience change your world view, or at least your daily focus? 
Every year, on the anniversary of my surgery we celebrate "Lungleavin Day ".. Feb 2nd.. or the first Saturday in February... We have a huge party, and we break plates. We write our fears on a plate, take it out to a bonfire in our back yard and smash them into the fire. We had over 60 people celebrating with us this year.. the 6th one!!

How did it change my world view? I'm much more relaxed about things.. I live my life, and try not to let fear get the best of me.. I have been given a second chance, and I vowed to make it a good one.. and impact those around me. I try to stay positive, and upbeat.. for my daughter mostly... She is my world.


What do you want others to learn from your experience? Precautions about health? Attitude? Awareness?
I want them to know that a cancer diagnosis does not always mean death sentence. Mesothelioma has a dismal survival rate, but the more research, more education, the odds are getting better. Awareness is the first step. Most people know mesothelioma from a commercial on daytime TV... it is not about that.. It is a real, tragic disease.. 1000's of people are suffering because of lack of knowledge and lack of quality care. So letting people know there is hope.. It may not be easy, and the choices aren't always what we want, but there is hope ...


What do you do for fun these days? Are your choices impacted by your experience? 
I spend time with family and friends... I really just enjoy every day. When the weather is nice, I can usually be found outside working in my flower gardens and yard, playing with my daughter.. blowing giant bubbles.. We camp, we boat, and in the winter, my husband and Lily ski, while I stay warm in the chalet. We love to travel and have plans for a few trips this summer.. The only impact my experience has had on my choices is to not put them off.. You seriously never know what tomorrow brings, so live for today.. and enjoy it.


Do you have a favorite indulgence?
Too many!!! I would say flowers... I love growing  flowers, having flowers in the house.. nothing like fresh beautiful flowers.. :) Oh.. and great shoes.


If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? 
Ireland, Scotland and England...   So many amazing things to see, the history is so rich, and I know so many people there because of this disease, would be great to actually meet them. :) I love the internet for that reason.


What is a passion of yours that no one would guess?
Hm.. that is a hard one.. I'm a pretty open person so I don't really have an answer to that one.  If I had to choose one thing maybe it would be Tattoos? :)  My whole left arm is covered..


Please feel free to share anything else that you'd like to!
My favorite saying is, "Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death." I try and live by that..  I try to live with no regrets..  But I'm a normal human, I have my bad days too.. I have fears, I struggle with moments of anxiety, but I always try to put things back into perspective.  I'm here. I'm alive, and I'm happy.

Doesn't Heather inspire you? I know she does me! When she contacted me I was probably whining about a couch I couldn't afford or that my healthy 4-year-old was so rambunctious. Please! I'm so blessed and Heather's story helps me to be thankful for that.

I'm so glad you shared your story, Heather! I'd love to smash some plates with you some day!

To learn more about Heather's journey, please visit her at The Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Blog

Monday, March 26, 2012

Inspiration Files: Blue Kitchens

Who knew that my little collection on inspirational black kitchens would be one of my most popular posts? I focused on green kitchens a while ago as well, and now I have a fun series of beautiful BLUE kitchens--in particular, blue cabinets and/or islands, for your viewing pleasure! 






Source: bhg.com via Ellie on Pinterest


Source: bhg.com via Ellie on Pinterest








Source: bhg.com via Francesca on Pinterest


Aren't they lovely? I think my favorites are the ones with blue islands and white perimeter cabinets. What about you? Could you ever commit to painting your cabinets blue?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Barns of Benton County: Sunrise

Sunrise around here lately has been gorgeous with a capital WOW. I documented another one last Wednesday.


This is the view out the east window in our kitchen. Living in the country has it's troubles but being able to see every sunset and sunrise is not one of them! 
 

Technically, neither of these structures is a barn. (I won't tell if you don't tell.) The taller one is a corn crib while the shorter one is some kind of shed. It's weathered, rough and gray with a tin roof. It's much shorter than a real barn. There used to be a house on this property but it is long since gone. The farmer who owns this land drives by to check on things between 4 and 5 every evening. 


I hope you enjoyed our sunrise this morning! What's the view out your kitchen window?




Friday, March 23, 2012

Flashback Friday: Framed!

I've been wanting to re-post some of my favorite posts from my first two years of blogging. Since my 2nd blogiversary is coming up next month I'm going to start Flashback Fridays at Beauty 4 Ashes. Maybe you'll get to see something you hadn't before!


***
 Re-post from November 19, 2010.
 
Do you ever have procrastination-inspired brainstorms that turn out sooooo much better than you could have imagined? 

Let me show you mine:


Now here's the story: 

I needed a birthday present for a grandparent. It had to be low-budget. As in low. I knew I had taken a couple great pictures of my boys this summer, and what do grandparents love more than pictures of their grandkids? Maybe some artwork by them? 

Enter dollar store frames + paint.


No, my little guy isn't wearing a shirt. 


Oh look, neither is big brother!


Yes, J2 tasted it. No, it wasn't toxic. We used washable tempura in 3 different colors. J2 wasn't telling if the red tasted different than the green!


J1 didn't taste it, but had as much fun painting his hand, the paper plate, the newspaper and an extra paper as he did the picture frame!


Here are the masterpieces laid out to dry on plastic wrap. I did fill in a couple spots so the frame wasn't showing, and I painted the inside and outside edges.


J1's frame has more streaks because he actually brushed the paint on.


J2's frame has a sponge effect because he patted the frame with his brush. I added a coat of poly and wrote their names, ages and the date on the back with permanent marker.


Here's the finished product!


Aren't they adorable?! (Yes, I see that I need to center the above picture!)

Here's a cost breakdown:
frames: $1 each
paint: already on hand
poly: previously owned
5X7 pictures: Kodak kiosk at CVS, $2 each (I know, I could have done better for 5X7s, but I love the quality of Kodak pictures and didn't have time to order from their website which is cheaper than the kiosk option.)
subtotal: $3 each
grand total for gift: $6


This will be a project for more family members in the future, you can count on that! I know they will love it. I do!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Junk Drawer No More!

My Sweetheart gave me the night off yesterday. I went to a couple thrift stores and found nothing exciting, but then decided to wander around Target. I am so. much. fun! Target with no little helpers is my idea of a good time!






Well, you guessed it--a junk drawer organizer for $6.89 came home with me. It's a Room Essentials Junk Drawer Organizer, if you were wondering. I had to do something about this:  

(cue scary music!)





Painful, I know! Quick, look at the after!





Whew! (Sighs in relief!) 

Let's dwell a moment on my organized junk, shall we? 



The tray has a top section that slides up and down along the bottom section. Here's how I organized the top part:


Here's the lower level:
 

 Here is the back of the lower section:


Here's my helper. Isn't he the cutest? The middle drawer above Baby J3 is the junk drawer in question. He's patting it like he knows.


(I would gladly accept a dream kitchen makeover, FYI. Lowe's. Home Depot. Extreme Makeover: Kitchen Edition. BHG. Anyone? You can use the pictures for advertising! See? Doesn't that sound like a deal?!)

One more before-and-after:



I plan to get another organizer tray for my utensil drawer, asap. Have you organized anything lately?



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