Wednesday, February 27, 2013

In Which Love Looks Like Hard Work

The irony is not lost on me.  That the love that begins effortlessly requires a great deal of time and investment to maintain.

What starts out as a couple of kids in love grows,

and grows,

and grows,

and grows,

and grows.

And while it all looks very fairy tale on paper, in real life it is hard work.  A lot of hard work.

Social media tends to show the good well they should!  It's good to read things that inspire and encourage.  But the nitty gritty things are important too.  It's important to know that however perfect something might look in a picture, everything outside the frame can be in complete chaos.

And a picture captures a moment.  Nothing more, nothing less.

My nails might be done in my 33 week bump picture, but you need to know they didn't stay like that for long.  How could they?  We are working so hard at potty training a 2 year old and an 11 week old puppy simultaneously.  I am constantly on potty patrol and cleaning up mess after mess after mess is hard work.  

It is also what love looks like these days.  

And I have to tell you, I am beyond amazed when I think that my own parents worked so hard to do the very same thing for me.  Not just the potty training, but the discipline.  How to play nicely with others, how to listen and obey, how to face consequences in the event of disobedience.  All of it is hard, repetitive work.  All of it is done out of love.

How tired we are, the Hubster and I.  How drained and almost narcoleptic we are these days.  And we know we have more hard (and soon, sleepless) days ahead.

But these are good days, just the same.  It would be easy to ignore each other - to just put our heads down and work, work, work.  But to neglect the very relationship which has brought about all of THIS would be tragic.

Words that I will spend my entire life trying to live up to...
"Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."  - 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (emphasis added)
And so it is, I believe, with our heavenly Father.  I think it is entirely fitting that the Church is called the Bride of Christ.  How easy it is to be passionate about our faith in the early days of our walk with Christ.  It's further down the road when we reach the ordinary, mundane days where we feel bogged down in minutiae and forget to spend time in prayer, reading His Word, and living out the faith we profess.

Please do not misinterpret this observation and think for a minute that I have this perfected.  I assure you I do not.

But I would be remiss if I didn't mention Christ and the grace he offers to all of us.  Because I believe it is that grace that teaches us how to extend grace to one another.  By receiving Christ's grace and forgiveness over and over and over, I can learn how to extend grace to those around me.  And often times it's hardest to extend that grace to those we love the most.  Often times we take our families for granted, forgetting how fleeting these moments are and how important it is to show them our love.

It is so hard - this intentional way of showing love to those around us.  I encourage you to stop by Love One More (where the focus is on intentionally loving one more person every day).  And please be sure to visit Edie at Life in Grace where so many of us are linking up with our thoughts on living with intention and with love.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

In The Garden {February Edition}

It's February in Texas.  Which basically means it's Spring.  There's always the chance that we'll get a late cold front and a late freeze...but it's really not looking like that will happen this year.

Hubster and I have been itching to get in the garden and plant our seeds for our Spring veggies, so yesterday we got out in the drizzle and did just that.

Y'all feel free to laugh at my preggo gardening get-up.  Wellies and skinnies and Hubster's fleece = no chance of me getting wet if it started to pour.  (It didn't start to pour...just wishful thinking I guess.)  Everything else in the garden is budding and blooming so I guess it's only fitting that my belly is budding and blooming, too.  ;)

We planted eggplant, lettuce, two kinds of tomatoes, and dill.  We still have parsley and cilantro left to plant, but we ran out of space.  So anything else we plant will be in a container garden.  All our seeds are USDA Organic from Seeds of Change which we found at Lowe's.  We don't always have luck finding organic seeds, so we're super excited about this find.

Never ceases to amaze me how tiny seeds can give us such good things to eat!

The Daffodils came back!  I was sure the squirrels got them last year, but we are so blessed to have them return.

There is nothing like their cheerful pops of yellow to brighten grey February days.

Our Pink Star Jasmine has made friends with one of our Crape Myrtles.

And she is promising to bloom and smell heavenly very soon!

It seems like I've been seeing a lot of early blooming Texas Mountain Laurel lately, so I had to go take a peek at ours...looks like they will be blooming early too!  

The buds go all the way up to the tippy-top.

I was so sure these Hydrangeas were gonners...but they seem to be returning as well.  South Texas and Hydrangeas are not bosom buddies...but I'm nothing if not persistent in my efforts to have these in my garden.

The Phlox is starting to bloom as well...another surprise since these really didn't seem to take last year.

And these Begonias are still fat and happy.

It always makes me so sad to see our gardens die back every year.  But there is nothing like the hope and anticipation that follows every Spring as we watch the colors bloom seemingly out of nowhere.  Instead of mourning the fact that we've not really had a real winter (yes, I still hope and pray for snow in South Texas every year), I'm choosing to be excited and grateful for our early Spring and all it's beauty.  And instead of thinking about how quickly it's going to be insufferably hot, I'm enjoying the extended mild temperatures while they are here.  Who knows?  Maybe we'll be lucky and won't reach the 100s until June.  ;)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Breakfast Nook Chairs {re}Vamp

I'm in love with my new {old} breakfast nook chairs.  I'm just gonna throw that out there.

They didn't always look this fabulous, if you'll remember.

They started out finished in a dark walnut stain, which is a finish I usually am drawn to.  However, in our space, with limited lighting, they just felt dark and heavy.  When I had to pick between the dark walnut breakfast nook table and my Granny's old pedestal table, I knew the dark walnut table would have to go.  But the chairs are sturdy and can take a beating, which makes them keepers in my house which is slowly but surely filling up with little ones.

The chairs are 7 years old this month.  Hubster and I purchased them almost a year after we got married and they have traveled all over this country with us.  7 years later, the chenille upholstery was still holding up beautifully.  But I've never been crazy about the color and I bought the set intending to upgrade the fabric the first chance I got.  The dark walnut stain didn't hold up nearly as well as the upholstery (on the table or on the chairs) and since these are engineered, veneered chairs, and not beautiful solid wood, I didn't feel bad about painting them.  The veneers were so thin that any damage to the stain pretty much went straight through to the MDF, which left drastic off-white gashes in the dark stain.  (I could go on a tangent about how hard it is as a consumer to find well-made products that will last a lifetime...but I won't.)

The Hubster did the honors of spraying these chairs with Valspar's white lacquer spray paint.  Even with a face mask, it was quite fume-y.  Thankfully they didn't take long to off-gas once they were sprayed.  I'd say 24 hours was about it.  

Next we tackled the reupholstering.  I chose Harriet's Kitchen by Amy Butler in a laminated finish.

I ordered through without pre-ordering a sample swatch.  I was a little nervous, but I love this fabric so much.  Pictures just don't even do it justice.  Plus the name is perfect.  I am that girl who picks lipstick and nail polish based on the name...and apparently fabric as well.  ;)

The wonderful thing about DIY-ing a project like this is you have free reign to experiment and see what you like best.  I decided that I loved the fabric so much, I wanted each chair to showcase a different part of the pattern.  That way they are all the same, but a little different.  And I can enjoy all of Amy Butler's fabulous print.

After deciding which part of the pattern I wanted centered, I cut around the chair pad allowing about 3 inches for stapling.

This is where I was so glad Hubster was helping.  My (then) 31 week bump was quite large and it's just hard to sit all balled up on the floor these days.  I made sure the fabric was even and pulled taut while Hubster tacked with the staple gun and then hammered the staples the rest of the way in the MDF.

Even though we've both done this before multiple times, it was a little fiddly the first go-round.  We just played around with how the fabric folded over the corners until we liked how it looked.  The first chair took about an hour with all my perfectionistic fiddling...and honestly it still ended up a little off-center.  We knocked out the last 3 chairs the following evening and they probably took about an hour and a half total.  I stopped trying so hard for perfection and, ironically, I think the last 3 chairs probably look the best!

I love them.  They are so stable and sturdy and SO easy to clean.  I wish I'd thought of this a loooooong time ago.

My favorite!

Each the same, but each a little different.  And the Valspar spray lacquer is holding up so much better than I anticipated.  

The space feels so much brighter with the white chairs, but I still have one more project to complete for this room...

The curtains are lovely and thick...which is fabulous for privacy, but they block so much light.  Since I don't have a window in my kitchen, I really rely on the breakfast nook window to provide natural light in my kitchen.

These will be the next thing to change!  I have them almost finished....I can't wait to see how this room looks when it's finished!  It will be the first of the 4 rooms to be completed and I will breath a huge sigh of relief to finally have something all the way DONE.  :)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Vintage in the Home {Vintage Cane Barrel Chair}

I know lots of people who love the idea of vintage, but have a hard time envisioning how to integrate it into their homes, offices, and daily lives.  Every week I spotlight one of my favorite vintage items and how we use it in our home.  Hopefully, this will offer inspiration to all of you who are vintage novices, as well as the seasoned collectors.

She's here!

I found this treasure at Laverty's in Waco sometime last summer.

Even in her rough condition, I knew she was a fabulous find.

$20 y'all.  $20!!!

She was stained, and tatty, and torn, and worn...and smelled like serious smoke.

But that didn't deter me.

Well...actually it did.  I LEFT her there!!  I completely passed on this fabulous little chair!  And I kicked myself the entire 3 hour drive home.  I couldn't stop thinking about this chair and how in the world had I passed over her?!  

My sweet mother-in-law did me the HUGEST favor ever.  She found out when Laverty's would be open next (because they no longer have regular operating hours) and she went as soon as the doors opened and grabbed this chair for me.  

I am not at all exaggerating when I say I waited by the phone with bated breath to hear whether or not she was able to get the chair.  And with good reason!  It turns out there was another woman interested in the chair and my mama-in-law was just a minute faster.  I will never be able to say thank you enough.

Because...with a little scrubbing (vinegar really does deodorize), and with the help of my favorite upholsterer, my chair now looks like this...

She's still rough around the edges...but I like her that way.  I was so close to painting her Benjamin Moore's Elephant Tusk, but I just couldn't.

I'm so glad I didn't.  I love the contrast of her worn wood and bright new upholstery.

You know you want to sit in her.  I had the upholsterers give her all new batting and foam and I have to say she has uprooted my other favorite chair for most comfortable.  At least that's my opinion in my swollen, pregnant state, where the slightest hint of a recline renders me unable to breathe.  

The fabric is Amy Butler's Lark Kasbah Emerald and, since it's a cotton sateen and therefore not as durable as indoor/outdoor fabric, I used two coats of Scotch Guard before bringing the chair into the house.  A puppy, a dog, a toddler, and a baby on the way...Scotch Guard might just be my new best friend.

I ordered 2 yards to be safe and I have leftovers galore!  So I'm thinking new pillow covers for my sofa pillows might be in order.  And I'm also re-thinking the paint in my studio/dining room.  The sand color still absorbs so much light...I'm thinking grey for the top and bottom stripes.  Anyone have any color suggestions?  I love Fieldstone Grey by Ben Moore but I not 100% sure.  

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Bump Grows {and grows}

Slightly embarrassing.  I really wish 29 weeks looked a little less raggedy.  But someday I will look back and smile and be glad I took these pictures.  I know, because I look back at my pregnancy pictures with the Kiddo and think....I wasn't as big as I thought I was!  Aaaaand I do tend to look at these and think....geez I'm HUGE...much bigger than last time!  Someday, when there are no more babies to be had, I will think "how did I ever do that?".  So this is important business...the documenting of my sweet daughter, who is growing by leaps and bounds {and bowls of ice cream and Girl Scout cookies} every single day.  No matter how rough this time around has been, I am blessed.  And I feel blessed.  And I'm blessed to share it with you, my friends.

Just 7 1/2 weeks to bows and baby cuddles and little painted toes!  :)

p.s. The irony that the picture I look best in is the one where I have full blown shingles does not escape me at all.  I guess I still have the tendency to try to dress better than I feel when at all possible.  I totally turned around and put yoga pants and slippers on after this, though.  ;)  And y'all will be happy to know the shingles are on their way out!  I will be so glad to not feel so itchy and achy!  :)

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Giveaway Winners & Weekend Links!

Happy Saturday friends!

I'm happy to announce the winners of the 31 Days to a Heart of Hospitality eBook giveaway!

Congratulations to numbers 3 & 1...Lady J and Kali Kalinyuk!  

Please contact me with your email addresses {thetidsandbitsblog{at}gmail{dot}com} and I will forward your information to Edie so she can send you the download links!

And, here are some of my favorite reads from this week:

Halfway Homemade: Honey & Buttermilk Pie from Emma @ A Beautiful Mess
Buttermilk pie is hands-down my favorite pie.  I've never made mine with honey, but I'm so intrigued I can't wait to try this one out.

The Lucy Maude Montgomery Journals Read Along with Caroline @ Caroline by Line
I don't own copies of LMM's journals - I didn't even know they existed - but this read along has me inspired to add these to my reading list for this year.  Or to re-read the Anne books.  Or both.

Your Real, New Self by Edie @ Life in Grace
Inspiring and thought provoking.  I think I read this 4 times this week.  And now my conundrum for the day is do I start re-reading Mere Christianity during naptime or work on taxes?  Me thinks reading CS Lewis would be much more restful than working on taxes....and I am supposed to be resting and healing.... ;)

Friday, February 8, 2013

Dining Room/Studio Update

Perfectly staged photos, these are not.  But the reality is that my life is a bit chaotic at the moment.  And I so want to share with you the excitement of how these rooms are progressing.  They are taking on new life, and I think it's good that we haven't "completed" all the changes at once.

First up, the chandelier...

...I went with "Kate Spade" green.

Actually, in the interest of full disclosure, I had Home Depot color match my Kate Spade sunglasses case in a sample size.  Home Depot sells a kit to help you make your own custom spray paint.  All you do is add a little of your own paint and some paint thinner to a glass bottle base, screw the included aerosol can on top, and you're ready to paint.  Sounds easy, right?

It wasn't.  This is the method we used to paint Baby Girl's Eiffel Tower lamp, and it worked well enough for that, but on our chandelier, it really didn't give the even coverage we wanted, even with a base coat of primer.

So, on to my back-up plan: Rust-Oleum Farm Equipment Paint in John Deere Green.  It just happens to match up dead on with my Kate Spade sunglasses case.  And it has a nice glossy it will hold up super well!

If you ask me in the future, my chandelier is Kate Spade green.  That was my inspiration, not tractors and combine harvesters and lawn mowers.  I have nothing against John Deere...obviously they have fantastic taste in color selection.  It's just down-right funny that I was going for this classic, sophisticated, clean green color...and ending up selecting John Deere green.  ;)

You may also notice that we (and by "we" I mean the Hubster) are in the midst of painting furniture.  First up was the tall bookcase, which I wanted to give a lacquered finish.  I was completely intrigued by Jenny @ Little Green Notebook's recent post on achieving a lacquer finish when painting furniture.  In the interest of being a little more "green" and keeping the VOCs in our house to a minimum, I had Home Depot color match Sherwin Williams' City Loft in their Glidden Porch & Floor Paint.  I was assured it would give us the glossy look I wanted to achieve with fewer VOCs.

I love the City Loft color, but it is not a glossy, lacquer finish.  And, if it's lower VOC, I really can't tell.  I should have just stuck to a tried and true oil-based paint for that true lacquer finish.  Plus, it shows brush strokes...which I was desperately trying to avoid.  So, word to the wise...when you're trying to follow someone else's's probably a good idea to actually follow their example and not "tweak" it too much.

Next up, we have a new dining room table/desk!

I am super excited about this find.  I realize this photo is extremely backlit and blown-out, but this table is a fabulous estate sale find.  If West Elm's Terra Dining Table and this 1931 Jules Leleu Art Deco Dining Table had a baby, it would be my new table!

She is STURDY, she has two extension leaves, she is solid wood, she can easily seat 8 comfortably - 10 if we're squeezing in (thereby easing my fears that I would never again host holiday dinners), and at the end of the day, I still have my Granny's pedestal table in the breakfast nook (which also has 2 extension leaves if I ever need 2 big tables).

I'm even loving how my college-days-garage-sale-dining-turned-desk-chair looks with the table.  It echoes the art deco details and I'm thinking of painting it a fun color so it will pop.  I know, y'all are super shocked that I would add yet another paint project to my list the Hubster's list.

Close up of how the edges meet.  Probably should have picked a "prettier" corner, but then again, this table is 50+ years old...she has some worn edges but is heavy on the charm.

I am so thrilled with this find.  The table came with 6 Spanish style chairs, which were in excellent condition, but were not at all my taste.  I asked if the sellers would consider breaking up the set, but since it was the first day of the sale, they said no.  They did offer to take down my information and let me know if it didn't sell by the end of the 3rd day, though.  To my surprise, they called me on day 2 to let me know they had a buyer interested in the chairs only.  Not only was I able to purchase the table by itself, but I also got a 25% discount since the entire estate sale was marked down.  Ironically, this table ended up costing a mere $37 more than the Target desk it is replacing.  Such a treasure!

So the room switch continues.  I haven't made any new progress on the nursery since I've been so focused on making our shared living spaces look "done".  And while this week has really taken a lot out of me, things are getting put together slowly but surely.  The tortoise wins the race anyway, right? ;)


Just a quick reminder - midnight Central time tonight is the deadline for the 31 Days to a Heart of Hospitality eBook Giveaway.  Winners will be chosen using and will be posted tomorrow.  Click here to enter now!