Thursday, June 30, 2011

Doing good things

Today I feel compelled to share a bunch of quotes from a book I'm reading. A bunch of one-liners really jumped out at me from Chapter 8 in Warren Wiersbe's book "Be Joyful" (a study on Philippians). My friend Faith and I have been reading and discussing this book together and we came to the mutual conclusion that this chapter just wasn't as interesting or engaging as some of the previous ones. Neither of us learned much that was new to us and we didn't feel especially convicted or encouraged by it either. But at the same time I had underlined so many lines from the chapter. If they weren't new epiphanies and didn't propel me into action, why had I underlined them? After thinking about it more I realized that some truths are just very important to be reminded of, especially when Satan is always prowling around whispering "sweet" lies in our ears. And his lies are so easy to believe because they appeal to our doubts and natural tendencies.

Last week, one of my daily email devotionals from Proverbs 31 Ministries (I recommend ladies subscribe to this) reminded me of something that ties into this: Reading the Bible prepares me for life, its not just there to rescue me from it. When I routinely fill my mind and heart with truths from His Word - both the ones that are new to me and the reminders - then I'll be less likely to believe and act on Satan's lies, which are sure to land me in "Rescue me!" situations.

So these are the quotes that I find to be truthful treasures:

"Like most 'religious' people today, Paul had enough morality to keep him out of trouble, but not enough righteousness to get him into heaven!...He had to lose his 'religion' to find salvation."

Didn't REM write a song about that? :)

"...there are only two kinds of righteousness (or spiritual wealth) - works righteousness and faith righteousness - and only faith righteousness is acceptable to God."

"Ephesians 2:8-10 and Titus 3:3-7 make it clear that nobody can be saved by doing good works, even religious works. A Christian's good works are the result of his faith, not the basis for his salvation."

"There is only one 'good work' that takes the sinner to heaven; the finished work of Christ on the cross (John 17:1-4; 19:30; Hebrews 10:11-14)."

I just love how freeing these reminders are. There's no good thing I can do to earn God's favor. Any good things I do are only my response to his love and grace and mercy in my life; they are a result of my faith. 

"When he looked at himself or looked at others, Saul of Tarsus [Paul's name before he was a Christian] considered himself righteous. But one day he saw himself compared with Jesus Christ! It was then that he changed is evaluations and values, and abandoned 'works righteousness' for the righteousness of Jesus Christ."

"Paul looked at his own record and discovered he was spiritually bankrupt. He looked at Christ's record and saw that He was perfect. When Paul trusted Christ, he saw God put Christ's righteousness to his own account! More than that, Paul discovered that his sins has been put on Christ's account on the cross (2 Corinthians 5:21). And God promised Paul that He would never write his sins against him anymore. What a fantastic experience of God's grace!"

Having an accounting and banking background, I especially love the analogy of the accounts. When I put my faith in Jesus, he takes on my sin debits and credits me his righteousness. So when God the Father looks at my account, it's got the "goodness" balance from his Son. And I didn't have to work for or earn that transaction, I just accepted Jesus' gift of grace through my faith. My sin debt paid for without having to work it off. How sweet is that? Satan's lie is that I can claim some glory in this transaction if I try harder, do better and look better. He doesn't want me to think about what's going on in my heart as long as I'm "following all the rules" and measuring up to my own standards.

"When he was living under Law, all Paul had was a set of rules. But now he had a Friend, a Master, a constant Companion!"

This makes such a good point - without a personal relationship with Jesus, the Bible can be viewed as just a set of dos and don'ts.

All of these quotes from the book were reminders that just help me question my motives. What is the attitude of my heart? Am I seeking and following God's wisdom found in His Word? Am I truly showing sacraficial love to other people? If I'm not relying on God's strength and power and Jesus' righteousness, then these are harder than just settling for outward "religious" deeds. But since Satan wants me to fall back on my own strength and power, he tries to convince me that good works and going through the religious motions are a fine substitute for having the right state of heart.

It's not about religion. It's about my relationship with Jesus.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

House on the rock

On the nights the kids are on pace to get to bed at a decent hour, we read books before we say prayers and go to sleep. They each get to pick out one kids book and a story from one of their children's Bibles. The other night they both chose a different story out of the same picture story Bible. The last one we read was a "new one" (as opposed to the same favorites we tend to read over and over). It was the parable Jesus told contrasting the house that was built on the rock to the house that was built on the sand.

This is the passage from Matthew 7:24-28, " 'Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.' When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching..."

I can't remember the last time I read or even thought about this parable though I've come across similar truths in Psalms quite a bit lately. I love reading these popular "children's Bible stories" and being reminded of how relevant they are to me.

I feel very blessed that I have not experienced the number or severity of storms that some have been subject to, though I am sure my turns will come in time. But I have observed people in my life who have built their house on the rock and others who have built their house on the sand. I'm sure everyone thinks they are building their house (life) on a rock. Who would knowingly and purposely build their life on hopeless lies that crash you down when things gets rough? But the aftermath of a storm is the proof of whether someones foundation was built on rock or sand.  I love that this passage defines what the rock is so no one has to wonder. Building your life's foundation on the rock means hearing (or reading) Jesus' words AND putting them into practice. 

I've witnessed the lives of those whose foundations are built on Jesus and the truth of his Word as they've endured some seriously crazy storms that I do not envy. Yet their hope, joy, peace and confidence has remained strong. It is such an encouragement to me as I strive to build a strong foundation, waiting for the next storm. It confirms what I've been reading about joy in the midst of suffering as I study Philippians.

At the same time I am saddened when I see so many others I know get beat on by fierce storms and they fall apart - they drown in depression, hopelessness, sadness, fear, and worry. Apparently their foundation was built on the sand - other personal relationships, careers, money, materialism, religion, psychology, politics, etc. While these "materials" can all be used to build a wonderful house, they make a lousy foundation and are as stable as sand during the big storms.

Within the past year I participated in a comprehensive study of the book of Isaiah. Throughout the book there is continual repetition about many of the characteristics of God and his nature that are especially relevant when going experiencing life's storms. Many times I was tempted to think, "This doesn't apply to me right now. Yeah, yeah, I get it. Let's move on already." At the same time I knew and understood that it was all part of the process of strengthening my foundation. Though I may not have felt the need to cling to certain truths about God during the study, I knew that I needed them beat into my mind and heart so that I will not forget them when I will need them.

Whatever storms may blow and beat against me, I know my foundation has been and is being built on the rock, therefore I will not fall. I love you, Lord. You are my strength. The Lord is my rock, my protection, my salvation. My God is my rock. I can run to him for safety. He is my shield and my saving strength, my high tower. (King David agreed in Psalm 18:1-2.)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Name this room!

Since repainting about 2 months ago, I still haven't finished putting the things I want to keep back up on many of the walls. I couldn't stand the pile of frames on my desk anymore so finally, as part of a very productive day of checking things off my to-do list, up they went. There was one exception to this procrastination though.  I think the day after the painting was complete I anxiously found a home for my beloved Audubon bird prints, previously mentioned here:
I found these treasures at Bernat Antiques this past winter for under $25 each and I used gift certificates to buy them.
I hung them above my desk where a few family photos previously were:

I took the framed family photos and Anagram letter words (more on those game pieces here) that hung above the desk before repainting and I moved them to the other side of the window around the top of our filing cabinet. I added a few other existing pieces that used to be on a shelf on this wall before the filing cabinet made its home here.  This is the display:
The three frames were an Eddie Bauer set I got at a yard sale for $1 each years ago. The framed flowers/vase is also a previous yard sale find. I like it because the vase and flowers are slightly raised so it has a 3D effect. The little wreath was a bridal shower or wedding gift from my friend Naomi that has stood the test of time.
The filing cabinet (which we have no problem filling with paperwork) was actually a freebie from our church when they were cleaning out a few years ago:
Oooh, noticing the third draw down has no label on the front. Good thing I'm not OCD or I'd have to put one in right away. It doesn't bother me that its blank... :)
Though I probably would not have chosen the dark green color for a new filing cabinet, it actually coordinates well with the other colors in the room, all dictated by the rug.
I found this lone design at Ocean State Job Lot a few years ago when all of our trim work was still the original terra cotta color from when we moved in. I'd been keeping my eyes open for a cheap rug along these lines after my oldest was done potty training. :) This was the right size and colors so I snagged it before it was gone. It's actually a very nice quality rug for under $100. Here's to hoping it survives potty training child #2. So far so good.
On top of the filing cabinet sits a yard-sale treasure I've had for many years:
This little wicker and bamboo cabinet has served various functions in different rooms over time but for the past few years it has been used to store some of my most-used blank cards, stationary and thank-you note sets, which now include the two new boxed sets I just got at a yard sale:

So everything is back up on the walls but that's not to say this room is "done." This room has been going through a bit of an identity crisis as its evolved over the last couple of years. Right now, one wall functions as the office with a desk on one side of a window and the filing cabinet on the other side. The opposite wall functions as the foyer with a "table" for dropping keys, a mirror and coat hooks. Since the room opens over built-in bookshelves to our dining room, the only other wall is mainly taken up by the front door and porch windows. This area below the windows with a boot tray and seating functions as the mudroom:
There are are two wicker chairs. One is reserved for sitting in (through anyone rarely does) because the other one becomes a dumping grounds for bags. The ottoman really has no function - it just gets in the way and usually collects clutter. 
I picked up these three real wicker pieces, along with a matching love seat (that's currently in storage), at the Salvation Army a few years back for a total of $75. Though they are a lighter color than I would have chosen brand new, I thought it was a great deal for something I had use for at the time. All four pieces originally made their home on our 3-season screened-in back porch for a couple years until we converted the porch into a finished family room.

I've been hesitant to get rid of the wicker set because just in case someday we move on to a place with a nice big farmer's porch or another screened in back porch, I'll want to use them. Having no long-term storage solution for all the wicker, I've tried to make it work in the house. Well I've finally given up because they are just not an efficient use of space in our little house. Plus, I need to remove them in order to implement my vision for the next stage of evolution in this room - a bench that runs the length below the windows. Under the bench I want cubbies and/or baskets so everyone has a designated spot for stuff like shoes, hats/gloves, backpacks/diaper bags, etc. Something that functions like this:
On top of the bench I want a pad and/or a few throw pillows. I'm about 97% confident of my decision not to put back up any fabric window treatments in this room because I like the exposed trim work around the windows.  I'd prefer to add a little more color and pattern with fabric on the bench instead. And I want to do all of this for cheap and fairly easily but without sacrificing quality (as in not new particle-board from WalMart). If you've got resources or how-to ideas, please pass them along! And if/when this vision becomes reality (my biological clock's deadline for everything on my project list is mid October) I'll be sure to share it here.

An "identity crisis" room like mine is what happens when you have a small house without the luxuries of a separate mudroom, foyer, or office. Even though the room serves these three functions right now, we still refer to it as "the old living room" or sometimes I just call it "the front room." Any suggestions on a new name to give this room a proper identity??? Do tell!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Finding treasures with found treasure

Big bummer! If it keeps on raining all morning I won't be heading out to shop the Mendon townwide yardsale event as planned.  This is an annual fundraiser event for the Mendon Senior Center and they organize it very well. I've been able to go a few years but weddings, work events and rain dates have prevented me from going too many times.

Last Saturday I took off of yard sale-ing so I could enjoy the beautiful weather and go for a nice walk in the woods with the family.

Approaching the historic bridge at Parklands in Hopedale.
 Darren and I love to walk and hike and anytime we go away by ourselves that's usually what we do (what we wouldn't give to go back to Glacier National Park!). Now that both the kids are old enough to walk a decent ways themselves, we want to do more nature exploring with them. And since our plan is for me to try homeschooling Kindergarten next year, I've been extra focused on raising kids who love to learn, finding ways I can make learning fun, and taking advantage of every-day "teachable moments."

Two week ago I scored some great treasures that will help my kids discover treasures for themselves. I hit the jackpot for educational toys when a woman that used to be a rep for some company (she didn't say what company and its not obvious on any of the packaging) was selling all her samples. I scooped up quite a few things for the kids (as well as some stationary for myself). I can't wait for us to use these books and toys to investigate the world around us over the summer and the coming school year.

This $2 Nature Watching Fact Pack comes with a nature watching book, binoculars, insect observatory, inspection jar with magnifying lid, tweezers and 2 informative animal charts. We'll definitely have to take this on nature walks and see what we can find.

This $2 Stargazer Fact Pack comes with a 32 pg guide, activity book, hand telescope, flashlight, stick-on glow stars (so we can put the constellations on the girls' ceiling), a planesphere and a moon map.

This $5 V-Tech globe is pretty cool. On one setting you can use the joystick to move the magnifying glass around the globe and stop it where you want. Then press buttons to hear about the music, people or culture of the continent, country or important landmark where you stopped. Another setting quizzes you to see if you can find certain countries or points of interest.  After fiddling with this by herself for a couple days my 5 year old has learned a bunch about geography and international culture.
 Both of these $2 books will be great for my kids to learn fractions and play math games and they come with flash cards to boot. Hey, anything that makes learning math fun...

 Next there is a $2 kit includes a Tree & Leaf Guide and a Leaf Collecting Album. This will be great to take along on our nature walks. I still remember doing my own leaf collection project in 6th grade I think. Below that is a $2 book is called Squashing Flowers & Squeezing Leaves - a nature press and book. My 5 year old loves to pick wild growing things (just like I do) so this will give us something fun and educational to do with what we collect.

 On top of these educational items, my kids also came home with Hungry Hungry Hippo - a childhood classic. I have to admit I actually found myself laughing and having fun playing it. My 5 year old also continues to add to her Toy Story characters collection. This same week she came home with a reproduction of the old Fisher Price rotary phone character and an electronic Buzz Lightyear.

Oh yeah, and here are the Papyrus stationary sets I got for myself for $1 each:

Papyrus price tag on back - $12.95 for 20 blank cards and envelopes in a lidded box

Papyrus price tag on back - $11.95 for 12 blank note cards and envelopes

Friday, June 10, 2011

Good things come to those that wait

What follows is the story of a shelf.

A couple of Christmases ago my little brother gifted me a pair of these Anthropologie shelving brackets that I had on my Elfster wish list:

We were still in the process of finishing our addition-to-be-family-room at the time, but I already had a vision for a decorating scheme and these brackets were a part of that vision. I like to accent a room with things that are old and worn and chippy and these new brackets were "aged" to perfection.

My next task was to find a shelf to put on top of the brackets. In my mind I envisioned the weathered look of old barn wood. Something along the lines of these old beams but darker:

Pottery Barn catalog image
 I thought I could round up some old wood and maybe use just some wax or oil to darken it. I called my father-in-law, who's a carpenter, to see if he had any scrap wood in the dimentions I needed, but he did not. So I ended up at the local lumber yard, had them cut me a piece of boring-smooth-pine-board, and I took it home to paint or stain. I really wanted a dark brown shelf but was too lazy and impatient to stain it so I just slapped on the same cream colored paint that I used on all the trimwork in the room. The result was a quick and easy shelf that fit on the brackets and looked okay but it wasn't really what I had in mind. (Warning, I took all these pictures with a smudge on my camera lense so pardon the "orb.")

painted pine "for now" shelf

Ever since then I've had my eyes peeled for just the perfect piece of wood to show up somewhere. I haven't gone out of my way to hunt for it, I just figured it would practically drop in my lap eventually. Well good things come to those that wait. As I've mentioned several times I'm a big fan of Bernat Mill Antiques and I keep up with their news on Facebook. Just last week they announced that a shipment of barn wood had come in and would be available for purchase soon. We-e-ell, didn't I march myself right down there to find the perfect piece of wood for my shelf. For $5 I walked out as happy as a clam with this winner:

This piece of wood was almost perfect. The patina was exactly what I wanted. It was perfectly worn and rough and filthy dirty. The length was just right. The depth was about an inch less than ideal but I could make it work.

A close-up of the beauty :)

One of the best features is the tongue and groove, but the groove was packed full of old dirt.

I gave it a good power wash and left it in the sun to dry.
 After cleaning up the barnwood, switching out the shelving was as easy as lifting the old one off the brackets and placing the new on on top. Now this is what I had in mind!

The depth of the shelf doesn't quite come to the edge of the brackets if its flush against the wall. I ended up having to pull it forward so there's a little space between the board and the wall but it works. And in real life, the end is not green.

I power cleaned the groove side so well I apparently neglected the tongue side - I can still see lots of dirt stuck to it! I should probably head back out and take care of that.

Naked new shelf - LOVE it
 Here is the barnwood shelf with my "dust collection" placed back on top:

I think I'm due to freshen up what's on top. I'll probably switch around accessories that are already within the room. But that's for another day. This is for now.

For more background information on the bird stuff and the books, read this previous post.

While I couldn't didn't wait to find old barn wood before I originally put up the shelf and brackets, I knew that in time the perfect piece of wood would show up somewhere when I'd least expect it. I could have just paid $70 per foot ($280 total) and had a shelf like this right away but that's insane.

apartmenttherapy featured this reclaimed wood shelving from an Etsy shop (that no longer sells it). Etsy is great and I'm all for supporting the little guy. Which is why I supported a local "little guy," but for only $1.25 a foot, thank you very much.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Two things I ask

My girls are blessed with the treasures of beautiful children's Bibles that their great-grandmother gave them for Christmas this past year.

They often ask me to read them. My oldest, at night before bed, especially enjoys having me look up new things to praise God for based on scripture. This morning my youngest brought me a stack of books to read, including her Bible, so I started with that. I randomly opened it to Proverbs 30 and started reading in verse 5. I actually really like the simple language of the International Children's Bible version -

"Every word of God can be trusted. He protects those who come to him for safety. Do not add to his words. If you do, he will correct you and prove that you are a liar. I ask two things from you, Lord. Don't refuse me before I die. Keep me from lying and being dishonest. And don't make me either rich or poor. Just give me enough food for each day. If I have too much, I might reject you. I might say, 'I don't know the Lord.' If I am poor, I might steal. Then I would disgrace the name of my God."

What a treasure those four verses are!

"Every word of God can be trusted." We can't be reminded often enough that EVERY word of God can CAN BE trusted. When I read the Bible I don't have to wonder if it is true, if he will keep his promises, if it is really relevant to me. IT IS!!! The more I read and learn and know Him and experience Him I can attest that he is a trustworthy God. Since the beginning of time Satan's biggest lie and temptation is that God cannot be trusted. To this day he tries to tempt us all in the same way. I do not want to fall for that lie.

"Do not add to his words. If you do, he will correct you and prove that you are a liar."  I laughed to myself reading this verse. All I could think of was that crazy Brother John/Family Radio guy predicting the end of the world last month. The Bible is SO CLEAR that NO ONE knows the "final day" and for anyone that dares to come up with supposed new revelation, God will prove him a liar. Yup, that's what happened!

"I ask two things from you, Lord...Keep me from lying and being dishonest. And don't make me either rich or poor."  The more I thought about these the more I realized they sort of boil down my own priorities. To keep me from lying and being dishonest - my character and integrity are so important to me. Not because of who it makes me but because of my how life reflects Jesus. He is always true, always right, always just. If I claim to be a follower of him and I am not like him than I am a hypocrite.  I ask that God would continually make me more and more like him.

Just last night Darren and I were discussing our finances. You know when you get to those financial crossroads and have to make big decisions that will seriously affect your future. Being a financial advisor, he is very thorough in planning for all of our considerations. He's got a great handle on our monthly budget, our net worth (personal balance sheet - assets vs. liabilities), considers current and future value of money in every decision, how it affects cash flow, etc etc etc... While all his spreadsheets and illustrations are very helpful to me in understanding the big picture and all the details, I sometimes find too much information confusing! Just when I start to feel a leaning in one direction, he brings up another angle for consideration and then I start my processing all over again. I just have to ask God to give me assurance and peace about the right decision. And he does.

Quite a few times last night we discussed what we could do vs. what we should do. If we can afford a bigger house, should we? If we can afford a new car, should we? What truly are our priorities? Reading these verses really confirmed some things for me. "Don't make me rich or poor...If I have too much I might reject you." I can't see money causing either of us to reject God but it provides the temptation to rely it instead of God. One of our decisions last night involved discussing our cash savings - how much of a "buffer" are we comfortable with? We are both pretty conservative and like to keep our savings account nicely padded.  But to what degree are we relying on that buffer instead of God? Maybe the wisest decision is to invest more of that than we are comfortable with and trust that God will provide should emergencies arise?

"If I am poor, I might steal. Then I would disgrace the name of my God." I've never been truly poor. I've lived very modestly but never have I wondered where my next meal would come from or how we'd make our rent or mortgage payment. I am truly blessed. As we have saught God's wisdom concerning our money, he has always provided for our needs.  But the attitude of the author (Agur son of Jakeh says verse 1) is one I found interesting. The reason he does not want to be poor is not because of the difficulty he will suffer, but because he will be tempted to sin and thus disgrace God as a result. No matter what my financial position, I want the way I use my resources to glorify Him. I don't want money to cause me to sin.

The end of verse 8 says, "Just give me enough food for today." Sounds familiar...oh yeah - as Jesus taught his disciples how to pray in Matthew 6, verse 11 says, "Give us this day our daily bread." Or in my daughter's Bible, "Give us the food we need for each day." That really is the perfect position. To have what we need and trust God for the future.

Today my prayer is the same as Agur's. Two things I ask of you God: 1. Keep me honest. 2. Provide what I need for today and give me wisdom to make financial decisions that honor You. (Okay, so that's sort of three things, but whatever.)

Why my mom can't quit her job - Part II

As I discussed in a previous post, one of the perks of my mother's job working at the local Salvation Army Thrift Store (aka Sally's by those who love to shop there) is all the treasures she finds for me. However, another perk is all the clothes she's stocked my kids' drawers with over the years. While my second daughter is all set with hand-me-downs, my oldest needs new clothes as each season rolls around. I refuse to pay a lot for kids clothes. They wear them for such a short time and ruin them so easily, and I can think of 1,000 things I'd rather spend money on. A few weeks ago my mom switched departments at work from linens to children's clothing. So of course I knew this would benefit me directly and I asked her to be on the lookout for the sizes my oldest daughter is in now and will be in next year. Since then she has had me to come to look at quite a few stashes she's collected.
This is just one stash - 13 bottoms for $17. Boo yeah!
I don't care if my kids wear brand name clothing but if I can find quality used pieces for so cheap, then so be it!
Lot 1 of adorable summer dresses from Sally's, including one of my favorites, an April Cornell dress that probably cost about $50 new.

Lot 2 of summer dresses, including my least favorite, a My Little Pony sundress. I'm not a fan of most character clothing but I knew she'd love it so what the heck.
I was in Gap the other day picking up some maternity tanks for myself and found myself oogling over the adorable infant boy clothes (this was the morning before my ultrasound when I still had hope of dressing a boy and decorating a nursery like this.) I resisted tempation to buy this ADORABLE little giraffe one-piece "just in case" I found out I was having a boy:
Giraffes are my all-time favorite animal and this is SO CUTE! But $25 for ONE item of baby clothing???? Even with the 40% discount I would have enjoyed that day, $15 for something so easily stainable that would only be worn a few times would have been a big splurge for me. I'm sure I can pick up tons of gently used & beautiful infant girl clothes at yardsales for 25 cents to $1 a piece.
It just boggles my mind the amount of money people dole out on new brand name kids clothes (I'm not judging anyone, I just can't understand it). It's money that could be used to bless others in need, boost a retirement/savings account, pay down a loan or put towards a hobby. I love the feeling I get when I pay under $2/piece for gently used brand name clothes at consignment shops, thrift shops and yard sales. I can usually almost complete my kids' wardrobes this way (along with occasional hand-me-downs from friends) and what I don't find used I fill in the gaps with at WalMart or Old Navy sale rack. And then I only pay $3-5 an item. Between a few yard sales this year and last, a few trips to Sally's, and one trip to The Blessing Barn, I'm pretty much all set with clothes for my oldest to last her through till Christmas (when the grandparents buy them adorable new outfits) and even into next summer.

On one recent visit into Sally's I had my kids with me and after much begging I agreed to let them go look at the toys and books. I'm so glad we did! I came home with a big lot of mostly educational books...including a few about the human body, random trivia/facts, ideas for things to do on rainy days, one about grandparents with Alzheimers, even one about the legend of The Old Man in the Mountain (so when we take the kids up to NH and show them where he used to be...sniff...sniff... they'll understand what we are talking about).

We also scored a few new games and activities including Jenga, an electricity lab kit, and a Ravensburger game called Hip-Hop Hooray (includes charades, funny stories and silly drawings). Oh yeah and two VHS tapes - The Never Ending Story (my hubby's all-time childhood favorite) and Beauty and the Beast cuz our old one broke. I didn't pay more than a couple bucks for any one item.

Of course I spied with my eagle eye another small green glass jar I can use as a bud vase and scooped it up, because I never have enough of was a big splurge at 40 cents. :)

So while continuing to work at Salvation Army Thrift Store, my mom has been seriously hunting for a job in medical coding for a while now. She recently went back to school for coding and is officially certified, but coding is a very competitive industry with hardly any job openings right now, especially for people without previous experience. I joke with her that God isn't ready for her to quit Sally's just yet. I'm half convinced he wanted her to get transferred to the kids clothing department to help stock up our kids closets first and then he'll provide her with a new job. :) 

I'll be very happy for my mom when she can finally start her new dream career. I'll still shop on the cheap at Sally's but instead of reaping the benefit of my mom's 1/2 off discount every day, I'll just have to plan to go on Wednesdays when the whole store is on sale 1/2 off for regular customers. When my kids aren't in tow and I actually have time to browse, I can score some pretty amazing deals on brand name and unique clothes for myself as well.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Photo/plate wall

Last September I went on a weekend retreat up to Mt. Monadnock along with some of some of my favorite friends.

Here's me in the middle surrounded by some of my best buds. I am SO blessed to have such great friends and the opportunities to go away on beautiful and inspiring retreats with them!
 On the Saturday afternoon of that weekend during our "free time" we did some treasure hunting in downtown Jaffrey, NH. I think we could have spent all day in Elaine's Antiques and Collectibles.

This is Elaine, the owner, standing behind the counter in her most awesome curiosity shop. I can't wait to visit her again this year!
 Elaine's shop was such a fun place to poke around in and we each left with a bunch of little treasures and tons of inspiration for what we would do with our wares. I'd spent the most of the time sorting through her stack of individual butter dishes and other mini plates and ended up getting these five:

As I left the shop, my plan was to pick up a few more mini plates over time on other treasure hunts until I had enough to create a small arrangement on a wall. Here are some pictures I just found online that give you an idea of the type of display I was imagining, only on a much smaller scale:

So that was almost nine months ago and I haven't found any more mini plates to add to the initial collection but I didn't give up on the idea altogether either.

I think I mentioned we just had the the three main rooms of our house repainted (a LONG awaited project) and I've held off on a lot of decorating updates until that was complete.  Aside from a plate wall, I've also been wanting to do a new photo display for family photos - something a little random and eclectic along the lines of these images I also just found online:

I decided to start with a frame display on a big empty wall in my dining room. I collected together some frames I already had and then picked up a few more at Ocean State Job Lot during one of their 1/2 off already-cheap-frame sales. My most expensive frame was $5. I tried to stick with all the same wood tone, then I painted a couple black ones off-white and threw in a green one I had as well. As I started to plan out the frame arrangement on the wall, I liked how it was coming along but I wanted something more creative with additional variation in color and shape. Then inspiration hit me - I grabbed my stack of mini plates and started tucking them into some of the corners around the frames. I used four of the five plates I bought in New Hampshire last fall and I added three more yard-sale finds that I already had in use elsewhere or were still waiting for the perfect spot.

This is the collection of plates that I used on the wall, with the exception of the top left plate. That one, the coralbell china passed down to me from my Nana, is actually my inspiration for the whole room. I'd like to keep the room fairly neutral with little bits of green, pink and crimson here and there. Each of the other plates coordinated with this color scheme well enough to include. The bird plate, previously mentioned here, has finally found a home. :)
 I've never been able to find plate hangers (the kind with springs that stretch around the back of the plate) small enough for the mini plates but these tiny stick on DISChangers work perfectly. I've used them before to hang and display other items that didn't have a hook. The discs are cheap, don't show from the front and work like a charm - not to mention they are easily removable.

So after tucking the plates in around the frames, I added some typography:

Over the years I've found myself picking up letter games at yard sales to create and place words here and there around the house. I like to use the wood Scrabble letter blocks and holders but my favorite letters to use are from an old Anagrams game.

The old Anagrams letters are a nice bold cream on black with great patina. They are also thick enough to stand up on their own without having to be propped up in a Scrabble holder.

I used number blocks to make our anniversary date above a wedding photo. I thought these were Scrabble blocks but does Scrabble use numbers??  If not, I have no idea what game these came from.
 So this is how the arrangement looks with the frames, plates and typography all put together:

The typography was an afterthought so they are a little squished, but not badly enough that I want to remove them or move the frames further apart. If I'd thought of it when I was hanging the frames I would have made more room between them. Good thing I'm not OCD, he he. (Since taking this picture I took the Anagrams letters out of the Scrabble holders which helped with spacing.)

This is a picture of my hubby devouring a Ghirardelli chocolate sundae we got in Ghirardelli Square in San Fransisco last year (I was also eating one as I took this picture!). I dug out one of the maps of the city I'd saved for eventual scrapbooking or memento making and used it behind this picture as a matte. I was careful to make sure that Ghirardelli Square on the map is showing.
 I really wanted to get pictures in the frames right away but I didn't have many 5x7s printed to fit all those size frames. So I decided to make some custom "mattes" so that I could use the pictures I already had printed in 4x6. I mounted some pictures on patterned wallpaper to create a little border:

This is one of two frames where I made "mattes" out of a pink and green floral wallpaper I had on hand. It brings in a little bit of the colors that coordinates with my inspiration china.
 Allow me to sidebar on wallpaper for a moment. Any time I've found interesting wallpaper at a yard sale I've gotten it.  Here are some of the patterns I've picked up over the years:

Wallpaper is very useful. I've never actually papered a wall with it but I've wrapped countless gifts with it (you just gotta stick the tape on really well).

It's perfect for lining our dresser drawers:

And wallpaper always comes in handy for crafty projects:

Before I updated my bathroom, I lined the inside of my medicine cabinet door with this Laura Ashley wallpaper. So as promised, here's one bathroom cabinet opened for you. Besides the wallpaper, the other yard-sale treasures within are the little blue ceramic pitcher that holds our toothbrushes and the little tins (mini jello molds? tart cups?) that hold our Q-tips.

I used the same wallpaper as a matte for these silhouettes of my kids last year. I had the silhouette prints done by Susie Harrington at Petite Prints. She did custom square prints per my request. (This reminds me its time to update Faith's silhouette. She was so young then, hers looks like a boy!) Their names are spelled out with some of the old Anagram game letters.
 So that concludes my wallpaper sidebar.

As satisfying as it was to create the arrangement of frames and plates on my freshly painted dining room wall, the best part of this project is having pictures out of boxes and on display. Not only are they great conversation starters with friends and family but most of all I love the memories they spark on a daily basis. I wonder if the frame/plate display will expand across more of the wall over time because there is enough room to grow:

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