Friday, July 30, 2010

::Weekend Bloggy Reading::

Hellooooo, Friday!
I have some fantastic links this week. Please leave me a 'lil comment and tell me which ones are your faves!

~ No one is perfect. Beckie made us feel better about ourselves.

~How About Orange had a great tutorial to make Gift Bags Out of Newspaper.

~Sassy Style's Affordable Kitchen Makeover.

~This Pantry Makeover is totally p*rn for organizers.

~Rhoda shared her thoughts on The Business of Blogging, specifically advertising on your blog. If you've been considering it, please read this!

~Richella shared an easy Treat for Your Hands. She also showed us a clever idea for Stowing Tissues or Plastic Bags with Style.

~Kate showed DIYers everywhere how to create a Painted Trellis Wall. Divine Design, indeed! (Sorry, Candice)

~I'm sorry, did Laura say Cinnabon Cupcakes? Yes, please!
And....I'm sorry, I was really distracted by those cupcakes....

~Loving Jen's Giant Flower Bag Tutorial. Trés chic! Reminds me of my Balenciaga knock-off bag.

~Did you miss anything here this week?
On Monday, I gave a Blogging Tip and talked about how the Russian Mafia was trying to get to me through Blogger. On Tuesday, I showed you how I made a Pizza Box Birdie Wreath and on Wednesday, my Show Me the Progress blog party went live (still open for new links until tonight at 10 pm ET!). Yesterday, I shared my fears that my two year old is Bad to the Bone.

{What do you have planned for this weekend?}

I have major laundry and planning to do before I leave on a trip next week. The girls and I missed a pool play date yesterday due to poor weather, so I'll try to find something fun to do today. Need to head over to Salvation Army and see if the buffet I've been eyeing has come down in price at all. A going away party for friends on Saturday afternoon, and church on Sunday round our weekend off.

Enjoy your summer weekend, friends!
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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Bad to the Bone

"On the day I was born, the nurses all gathered 'round
And they gazed in wide wonder at the joy they had found.
The head nurse spoke up, and she said 'Leave this one alone.'
She could tell right away that I was Bad to the Bone.
Bad to the Bone
Bad to the Bone
Bad to the Bone."

Check out the "bad" tattoo on my youngest.

Yep, it's a Flounder-esque fish. Michaela Byrd says she is never taking it off.
Don't let the giggling face and the Princess pink ruffled romper fool you....

She's Bad to the Bone.

It's only a matter of time before she does hard time for stealing tricycles, smoking candy cigarettes behind the Sunday School nursery wing, or drinking too many juiceboxes.

We're looking into toddler military schools to see if we can't get her turned around.

On a serious note, my Show Me the Progress party is still going strong, and it's been really fun to see what other bloggers are working on. Thanks to the girls who have stopped by so far! You can link up any time before 10 pm (ET) on Friday. Beth is also hosting a chalkboard paint linky party today...should be fun!

Off to make sure my kids aren't spray painting graffiti on the neighbors' fence or some other delinquency.

{Are you enjoying your summer?}
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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Show Me the Progress! (Party)

Welcome to the Show Me the Progress party! This post is open for new links until 10 pm (ET) on Friday.
Show Me the Progress

I thought it might be fun to invite anyone in Blogland to link up and proudly display the Progress they've made in any area of their home or life. This party is all about encouraging other bloggers to reach their goals!

Progress can be a "Before" and "After" photo, a list of ideas you'd like to implement, or a post detailing the strides you've taken to reach a goal, whether it be for work, home, or personal reasons. (Did you start a couch to 5k program? Did you choose bedding for that guest room makeover? Are you working on a summer reading list? Have you been working on an activity list with your kids this summer?)

Before you link up with me, please take a minute to review my party rules:
1. Please be sure to enter the link to your specific party post, NOT your blog's homepage.
2. Please include a link to this post somewhere within your entry. If you'd like to include my button, you can swipe the code at the beginning of this post.
3. Please leave me a comment with your party link as well. Check to be sure that it posts correctly on the list! IF you can't get your link added, let me know and I will add it for you. Also, I like comments too. (wink)
4. MINGLE. A party is not a party unless you visit! Please take a few minutes to visit at least one or two other links on the list and leave a thoughtful, genuine comment.

Really, I can't say enough about going out and visiting some of the other links. It will hopefully bring some traffic to your blog. It is totally okay if you need a day or two, but I'd like for each participant to visit at least one or two of the other blogs by the end of the week. I think that's a doable request.

Okay, that's up and have fun encouraging one another. I am excited to share my own Progress below!

My progress this month sort of involves another Dilemma, which is my very outdated Kitchen and my plans for said Kitchen.
I looove my white cabinets (grubby toddler fingerprints and all), but I do not like the brass hardware. One bit.

I plan on learning to use a drill and testing one cabinet's hardware with spray paint while T is at work. (Sssh. Don't tell.) I know I could just measure and buy new hardware, but I need to this on a shoestring, people.

I'm thinking nickel or chrome (brushed) for a classic look?

This wall used to contain one large framed painting, Van Gogh's Cafe Terrace at Night, which I adore...but it wasn't working there. I've been collecting white platters and plates to decorate this wall with.
I don't hate yellow walls, and the yellow in my kitchen isn't as dark as my computer screen is showing, but I'm ready for change.

Some friends suggested going for chocolate brown walls above the chair rail to make the white cabinets pop, but I think I'm going to go in a lighter direction. That room gets pretty dark in the afternoon, and the hallway the leads into the dining room from the Kitchen is already as dark as a grotto. I have khaki walls in most of the other rooms downstairs, and I am considering going a shade or two darker in the kitchen. light fixtures. Please.
The brass trimmed ceiling fan, which hangs over our table, was actually a hand-me-down from a friend to replace the turquoise one that came with our house! Wasn't that thoughtful of the previous owners?

Nothing says "my kitchen is visiting from Back to the Future" like a turquoise ceiling fan.

I'd like to replace it, but want to make sure it jives with whatever I choose for the light above the window (see it in the background?). Maybe something like one of these IKEA pendant lamps for above the window?
Not sure about the second ceiling fan (near the window), because it actually does help when the oven range hood thingie doesn't do its job during dinnertime.

Stuff like new window treatments and accessories will come as the project (hopefully) moves along.

So, there you have it. I do have a plan of action, which is more than I could have said a few weeks ago. I'd say that's Progress!

{What about you? Can you Show Me the Progress?}

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Pizza Box Birdie Wreath

My family started ordering "S_'s" Pizza when I was in middle school. Every Friday night. Same order. Delicious.

The T family often continues the tradition when Mimi (my mom) comes over on Fridays. Everyone is tired from the long week and pizza just makes sense.

I got really bored last weekend. So bored that I didn't feel like ironing or weeding the garden. I was in a crafty mood and decided to make a wreath for our back door using only items I had in the house. Meaning I would not spend an extra dime on it. I had an old grape vine wreath to use as a base, but beyond that I was stumped.

I really wanted to use some cardboard to make an embellishment, but it usually takes T about 5 or 60 reminders before he'll bring something like that home for me.

Then my eye's fell upon the holy grail of trash to treasure: pizza boxes.
I considered carving a monogram out of the cardboard, but everyone does cardboard monograms these days. That's when I got the idea to try a bird.

I found a silhouette I liked on Google images and freehanded the outline onto a piece of paper, which I cut out and traced onto the cardboard. Very carefully, without slicing any major arteries, I used T's box cutter to cut out my bird.

My next brilliant idea was to wrap the bird in twine and hot glue it in place. I spent the better part of naptime saying very bad words under my breath and ended up with a big wad of twine in the trash can.

So next I spray painted it.
Meh. You could see the places where I stabbed the bird with a stapler in a blind fit of twine rage.

I ended up Mod Podging some scrapbook paper onto the bird and distressing the edges with a black ink pad.

And adding a small black button for an eye so it can stare at me watch over us as we play in the backyard.

The twine that wasn't destined for the trash can was used to tie the pizza box birdie to the wreath. I hung the wreath from a burlap strip and added some faux berries for a little somethin.'

Not bad for a pizza box that was a real "roadkill rescue." And the price was even better since it didn't cost a cent to make!

Linking to The CSI Project for their Roadkill Rescue Day.

Have a wonderful day!

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Never Heard That One Before (A Blogging Tip)

As any blogger who's been writing for more than a year or so will tell you, I've seen my share of interesting comments.
But by far the most frustrating are those annoying spammers.

Most are just a bunch of links promising busty ladies or appendage enlargements (I am so gonna get killed by search engines for this!). But someone sunk to a new low last night when I received a comment that, roughly paraphrased, went something like this:

Help! I'm currently being held hostage by the Russian mafia (insert link with illicit wording here) and am being forced to post spam comments on blogs and forums! If you don't approve this, they will kill me. (insert link with more illicit wording here) They're coming back now! (bad link) Please send help! (more bad links)


Dear Anonymous Spammer Kidnapping Victim,
I believe you, and I am certain that the Russian mafia has branched out and set their sights on small blogs in a new plot to take over the world (or my Sony laptop). I will be more than happy to post a new 911 message on the Blogger help board that already contains 3,546,872 messages that Blogger has not read. Perhaps they will track you down with the help of the KGB in ten years or so. That should give the Russian mafia plenty of time to make money off of the spam comments they are forcing you to enter.

Dear Readers,
I hope it works out for Anonymous Spammer Kidnapping Victim. Really, I do. I hit delete.

And that's all you need to do.

Ask anyone who's been blogging for a year or more, and they'll tell you that word verification is a huge no-no if you are aiming for readers to comment on your work.

What is word verification?

It's when you've typed a nice, friendly comment to praise someone's blog post, hit enter, only to be greeted by that ugly pop up box asking you to type in 536 characters before it will post your words.

I can't tell you how many times I've typed a lengthy comment on someone's blog post, hit enter, and exited the site just as I see that annoying pop-up box. I make an effort to do a lot of visiting when I link up to a blog party, but those word verifications are just one more step for a visitor to leave you some feedback, especially when the words are sometimes hard to read or aren't really words but a string of 53 letters.

Please, please, from one blogger to another...consider removing word verification from your posts.

When I set Serenity Now up, I added word verification because it just seemed like the thing to do. I removed mine early last year, after reading a helpful tip from a successful blogger. Afterwards, I noticed that the number of comments on my blog went up bit by bit, and the amount of spam comments I receive is not enough to make me want to turn it back on.

Somewhat Simple had a great post on how to change your settings.

I have all of my comments emailed to me so that I can be sure to respond to as many as I can. I may receive one or two spam comments a day, and they are so easy to delete. I check my email fairly regularly, and spam comments don't get much air time on my blog.

I made an Anonymous Spam Comment on my own blog to show you how easy it is to get rid of these. It will be worth the time you are saving your readers if you take these few quick steps if you see a spam comment pop up on your site.

Here's how the Comment looked when the blog emailed it to me at AOL:
*Just deleting the email won't work. You need to be sure you are logged into your Blogger account!*

Click on the link to the post title in which the offending comment was left. In this case it was "Hometown Seeds Discount," underlined in blue.

It will bring up the post on your computer screen. Scroll down to the comment and you will see a small trash can next to the date and time in which the comment was left. Again, you'll only see the trash can picture if you are logged in to Blogger!:
Click on the trash can picture and it's going to give you the option to delete the comment.

*Be sure to click on "Remove Forever" before hitting Delete. If I hadn't checked that box, my blog would still reflect that a comment was left and that a blog administrator had deleted it. I prefer the cleaner look of not having anything there at all.'re done!

I am not in any way trashing bloggers who prefer to use word verification. Just wanting to pass on some information that's been helpful to me.

You'll make for some happy readers when they see they don't have to type in "hoytahkbuta" every time they want to leave you feedback. It has totally been worth the 30 seconds it takes me to remove the occasional spam comment!

{What's your take on word verification?}

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Hometown Seeds Discount!

I was a little bummed that we didn't get our vegetable garden in this year, until I received an email from Hometown Seeds.
I've heard about them on the radio, and read about them over at Kim's. I certainly don't want to sound like one of those people who stands on an actual soapbox on the National Mall with a cardboard sign that says "The End is Near!" But I will say that we live in uncertain times, and I very much liked the idea of having something to fall back on to nourish my family in a time of crisis.

Hometown Seeds sent me a Survival Seeds Pack, which is their best seller.

These aren't just packs of seeds that you can pick up at Wal-Mart. Non-hybrid seeds allow you to plant a crop (3/4 of an acre's worth in the pack I was sent!), harvest, and then replant using "true to variety seeds" for future harvests. It is, quite honestly, the gift that keeps on giving, as corny (no pun intended!) as that sounds.

The very best part? The seeds will store for 5 years on a shelf, and 10 years in a freezer! 

When I saw that the set they were sending would include 16 varieties, I was expecting a large unwieldy package that would be impossible to store. I was pleasantly surprised that my seeds arrived in record time and they were very efficiently packaged in one large bag containing separate seed packs. Hometown Seeds also included a detailed and helpful booklet of instructions.
(I didn't want to open my package and have the kids running around with seed packs, so I swiped this photo from Kim.)

Here's what everything looked like all neatly bagged and stored in my deep freezer:
The pack easily fits in the top basket section, and I included the booklet with it so we don't lose the information.

Their Survival Seed Bank includes 35 heirloom varieties--over 24,000 seeds with the same storage life as the pack I received. Enough to plant over 2 acres.

You, my readers, know that I don't review or endorse products on this blog that I don't think are worth my time (or yours!). I hope those of you who spend time gardening, canning, and cooking will enjoy this post...and the discount that Hometown Seeds is offering my readers!

*Between now and July 31st, 2010, you can receive 20% off the total of any order by adding the coupon code thanks. 

Happy gardening!
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Friday, July 23, 2010

::Weekend Bloggy Reading::

Happy Friday, y'all! Hope you enjoy this week's reading...leave me some comment love and let me know which ones are your fave!

Before I launch into this week's list of amazing links, I wanted to remind you that the next Show Me the Progress party is coming up next Wednesday, July 28.
If you're new to the blog, this party is all about celebrating the little steps we're all making on projects, whether it's an update to a Decorating Dilemma, a Before and After Makeover, a personal weight loss story, you get the picture.

The beauty of the party is that you don't have to have a completed project! We want to see the progress you're making so we can encourage you and give you helpful feedback. The last party, which you can view here, was lots of fun! If nothing else, share your ideas and plans with your readers to not only keep yourself accountable with your goals, but also to receive advice and encouragement.

On to the linky love!

~Kelli made my dreams come true with her Chocolate Covered Surprise Cookies.

~Darcy shared her Biggest Blogging Pet Peeves. Are you an "offender?" {wink} You'll find some excellent blogging tips!

~J'adore Amanda's Luggage Tag Tutorial. Trés cute!

~I was very impressed with Stephanie Lynn's DIY Party Deck. Great space for entertaining!

~Kimmie made some cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Icing. Yuuuum.

~Paula gave us an update on the Walnut Avenue Home.

~T will die of sheer bliss if I give Jenni's Peanut Butter Big Cups a try.

~Beth turned a junky garage potting bench into an Updated Outdoor Buffet.

~Heather's Patio Makeover inspired me and also made me want a pool.
{What's on your agenda this weekend?}

I finished up the book I talked about on Wednesday and now I'm working on the sequel! Girls Night Out excited! We also have an Addition that has exploded with My Little Ponies and Polly Pockets and needs some tlc. Last, but not least, I promised my mom that I'd feed her evil, sadistic cat, Mr. Darcy, while she's in Texas. I guess I must risk losing an arm or leg to fulfill my obligation. Hope I make it back to blog on Monday.

Have a fabulous, weekend!

*Special thanks to today's Sponsor, The Shabby Chic Cottage!
treasures to transform your cottage, castle or casa

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

It Wasn't Just a Rumor...

There have been whispers of rumors here in the 'Burg for several months. I heard from a friend who heard from a friend that a Hobby Lobby might be on its way to town. I didn't dare hope too much for fear that my dreams would be dashed to pieces.

Then, yesterday, my friend Nadir emailed me to tell me that a coworker saw a sign for HL in a local vacant store window. I broke the news to my 'Burg friends on my personal Facebook page and met with two camps: girls who were wildly insanely excited (as they rightfully should be) and girls who were like, "huh?"

My friend Michelle asked, "Is it a craft store?"

I couldn't blame her for asking because she didn't know about the fabulousness to come, and maybe you don't know. So I will tell you. Not because I am in any way affiliated with Hobby Lobby but because I feel as if it should be some sort of public service announcement for everyone to know how awesome this place is.

Scrapbook paper for miles, crafty stuff, lamps, fabric, home accessories, holiday decorations...they have it all, peeps. And the best part is, they run coupons often, so you can get some great bargains along with their regular sales. I found some good stuff there during my last Black Friday shopping extravaganza.

To say that I'm excited would be a bit of an understatement, I'm afraid. I envision some really neat new Christmas decorations this year to replace ones that having been floating around the T house for 9 years. I can bet that Nadir and I will be in the HL parking lot on opening day, giddy as school girls.

{Are there any stores or restaurants you'd like to see move into your town?}

I know we could use a PF Changs and a Cheesecake Factory. Maybe a Williams Sonoma too? I'm hoping that writing this will make it happen. Dreams do come true!
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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Dear Family,

Dear Family,

I suppose it is my own fault for asking my readers to recommend some Summer Reading.

I became thoroughly engrossed in Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games yesterday, and I expect to spend the better part of the day neglecting you finishing the story.

You're hungry? We have goldfish crackers.

You're thirsty? That's why I bought juice boxes. (Okay, those were a rare treat for a play date, but I am assuming you're desperate here)

You're sleepy? Fine, fine. You don't need a bath. Just grab some baby wipes, go to town, and climb into your bed and crib, respectively.

Collins may have written her novel for a younger audience, but the suspense, political intrigue, and allusions to the mythical Greek character, Theseus, hooked me. I want to find out if Katniss and Peeta make it.

So I suppose you'll have to endure your own "hunger games" today as I finish the book.

Okay, maybe not so much.

But I really do want to find out what happens. I haven't been this absorbed in a plot since Edward and Bella. That's a lot little bit sad, actually.

So I'll bide my time until you go upstairs for naps/quiet time today. I know you'll understand. You're bookworms too.

{Have you read anything lately that you haven't wanted to put down?}

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Trashy Ghetto Neighbor House Update

All this talk about outdoor makeovers has me thinking about my stolen borrowed thrifted for free picnic table that originally held court in the trashy ghetto neighbors' yard.

The neighbors were always sort of questionable, but the trashy started and held on until they finally moved out last summer. I thought it would be neat to show an update on a house that looked unsalvageable as of last June.

If you read this post from last summer, you'll remember that when "Jane Doe" (who rented the home from her father) and her husband moved out, they left mounds of trash piled up in the yard, no flooring/carpet in much of the house, holes in drywall, a dismantled kitchen with flies buzzing everywhere, and a dark dank unfinished basement with junk piled high.

Um, pretty trashy, right? It made the angels cry.

So the heavens opened up and the new owner decided to gut and remodel the home with his own crew. The girls and I spent many a day watching the work from the big window in our living room.

We counted at least 5 giant commercial-sized trash loads.

It started looking better as soon as they peeled the aging peachy colored siding off....

After a year of hard work (they didn't work this winter with all of the snow we had), the Trashy Ghetto Neighbor House has a new look!

Look, you can actually walk in the backyard...and it has grass (greener before the drought)!

New flies! I peeked in some more windows and saw new carpet, paint, light fixtures, everything.

And I am loving the fresh new fixtures out front:

The "For Sale" sign popped up last week, and I'll be honest and say that I am kind of nervous.

Natalie has been praying for a family with a mommy, a daddy, and two little girls to move in so that she and Michaela Byrd will have someone to play with. Maybe it's a tiny bit selfish of us to hope for neighbors with something in common with our family, but I don't know that I can stand another "party house" next door. We're just not "hey let's get trashed in our front yard at 2 am" kind of people.

Here's to hoping that the moving truck brings a fun, crafty mom who knows how to use power tools so she can help me get the hinges off my cabinets! {wink}

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