Sunday, December 20, 2009

Pine Cone Topiary: Tutorial

When we were looking for rental houses last January and decided to move into the one where we now live, I knew it was going to be fun to bring out my decorations for Christmas. It had all the makings of a cozy, rustic Christmas....

The sealed brick floors....

The large stone fireplace....

Lots of wooden shelves perfect for displaying my Christmas decor....

And of course...

A large front window that faced the street (perfect for a Christmas tree!). I just love it when you go by someone's house and you can see their tree all lit up's like a cup of hot cider on a chilly day...warms you up inside. ;)

So I'm guessing you're expecting me to show you pictures of my holiday decor...actually no. I will (I promise!) in a day or so...but for now, I'm going to show you how to make a simple pine cone topiary using inexpensive craft store materials. Like me, you may already have these on hand. ;)


{ Pine Cone Topiary }

Things You'll Need:

  • Lots of miniature pine cones (I gathered these in Lynchburg, VA while on vacation)
  • Hot glue gun & sticks
  • Wooden rod measuring about 2 ft
  • Styrofoam to stick rod into + 2 3" Styrofoam balls
  • Bucket or pot
  • Gold craft paint
  • Moss (could use material, cranberries or pebbles)
  • Ribbon (optional)
Plug your glue gun in to get it heated up. You'll be using a lot of glue,
so make sure you have enough. (I used nearly a whole bag of mini sticks).
Start by wedging your Styrofoam (I used a ball that I had) into your pot.
Make sure it's not going anywhere, and if needed, glue the side to make sure
it's secure.

Stick your rod right in the middle of your Styrofoam, then paint it gold.
This will dry in minutes. Hot glue around the hole to make sure it's secure.

Skewer your Styrofoam balls and place evenly apart. Hot glue.

Paint the top 2 balls with the gold paint. This will
disguise the Styrofoam if the pine cones don't cover it completely.

Starting with the top ball, glue pine cones on beginning
at the top, then working your way down to the bottom, gluing cones
intermittently with the layer before it.

When you are finished gluing all the pine cones,
take your gold paint and gently brush all over the cones.
This will give it a little Christmas glam without taking away
from the natural pine cone texture and appeal.
Push your moss around the base and finish it off with a fun,
Christmas ribbon. :)

And there you have it!
Ain't she lovely?

Note: Cranberries, peppermints, or small Christmas ornaments would also look fabulous. Let your imagination run wild! ;)

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


This past week Alice, the dear lady I cared for, passed away.

She was a special lady. I'll miss her and will always cherish the memories I had with her.

She would make me laugh with her funny sayings, her New Orleans accent, and unique outlook on life. She used to always say, "laugh and the world laughs with you...cry and you cry alone."

I think Alice had a lot of sadness in her life. I think she felt very alone. I know she did. She didn't like to talk about her feelings that much, but occasionally I got a sneak peek into what she was dealing with........

She would talk to me......

...and I would listen.

I never felt like I had done enough for this lady. There was always something more I wanted or wished I could do for her, to make her life brighter...and her sadness go away. But at her funeral service I heard something that encouraged my heart....that made me think, "maybe I did make a difference"....

When her son got up to speak about his Mother, he spoke about the lady she had been, the people she had touched....and interestingly enough....the people who had touched her.

When people die we often ask, "did I do enough...did I tell them I loved them enough....hug them enough....listen to them."

I know I'll never feel like I did everything I could have ever done for her....but this past Monday made me realize that I did do something. Every flower arrangement, lunch or dinner outing, shopping trip, conversation, kind word, shower given, dry cleaning was something....and more importantly.....

It was consistent.

A few weeks ago I had decided I was going to leave my job with Alice at Caruth Haven Court to pursue my floral designing. I was only working 2 hours a day, 3 times a week...and I needed to be working a little more.

Then she passed away. And you know what? After being with her for two years....

I'm glad I never had to tell her I wasn't going to be seeing her on a weekly basis....

I'm glad I was a constant in her life and that she knew I was going to be there for her....

I'm glad I never got to say goodbye.

When her son stood up and spoke about how I had influenced his mother by my consistency, I felt humbled, and it made me realize how much we all need consistency. We need people in our lives that will always love and be there for us no matter what, we need people that are consistently prodding and pursuing us, digging deeper than the surface, and seeing our hearts. Consistency brings security, and although Jesus Christ is the One who brings true security, I firmly believe He uses believers to meet one another's needs.

We see what happens when there is a lack of consistency in a people's lives:

*Children whose parents leave them end up with lowers self esteem and insecurity as adults....

*People who move around a lot from place to place end up feeling restless and without having a sense of "home"....

*People whose friends come and go tend to feel disengaged, scared of closeness, and alone....

*Children (or adults) who get mixed messages from peers, parents or spouses (I love you, BUT...) may end up struggling with their identity and feel insecure....

*People who do not have somewhat of a daily schedule (children especially) will feel bewildered, chaotic, insecure, and inharmonious.

And on and on it goes.

We all need consistency. Yes, Jesus Christ is the Meeter of all needs....but how might he be wanting to use you (and live through you) in someone's life to meet this need?

How are YOU consistent?



Friday, December 4, 2009

Skitsofrenic Holiday?

Weird title? I know. I thought so too.

These words in conjunction passed from my lips the other day while I was pulling out the Christmas decorations. I was trying to reconcile why I was feeling so "blah" about decorating our house for the holidays. But I love Christmas! Why was I so down?

Maybe it's because I was doing it alone....

Maybe it's because I had hoped to be expecting this Christmas and it was settling in that I wasn't...

Maybe it's because I'm not a little girl anymore (I was last year, right? *wink*) and the magic was gone...

OR maybe....

Maybe it was something completely different. Okay, it was.

Do you ever feel like Christmas has a "split personality"? There's the festive side of Christmas tugging you one decorating, ice skating, baking, Christmas partying, gift-giving, tree-trimming, music listening, Christmas light viewing, Secret Santa-ing, shopping, cookie icing, the eggnog-ing...and on and on and on. What is this? Is this Christmas???

NO. Not exactly.

Then there's this entirely other side of Christmas that we as Believers all's the solemn side of Christmas that focuses on the birth of Christ. Around the holidays this shows it's face as singing Christmas carols in church, reading Luke 2 around the Christmas tree as a family, reaching out to someone in need, displaying a manger creche, reaching out to neighbors, or performing in a Christmas pageant. All good things. But is this Christmas?

NO. Not exactly either.

As I was decorating I was trying to bring both worlds together....trying to bring the JOY & MAGIC of the festive Christmas together with the solemn and peaceful Christmas, and it wasn't working for me. I wanted to feel magical and spiritual all in one...and I was failing. Key word: I. (remember that).

So what did I do? I went to the source I knew would bring immediate perspective and logic to the situation: MATTHEW. Isn't that what husbands are for? ;)

I told him what I was feeling, and within minutes I knew my problem. Thanks, Hun! He made me realize that yes, Christmas is a holiday where families get together and do fun things and yes...Christmas is a time to remember and celebrate the birth & LIFE of Christ our Saviour. But it's more than that. The only way to reconcile both "personalities" of Christmas was to go right to the One who brings all things together. (right after Matt in this case).

You see, I was trying to feel something or be something on my own. I was trying to conjure up magical "sugar plum" moments while at the same time being an adult and wanting to "bring Christ into Christmas"...after all, He's the Reason for the Season, right? I had forgotten that Christ in me could mean any number of things. Why is it so hard to remember that "bringing Christ into Christmas" doesn't mean ME DOING things? All it means is to let Christ live through me...and if HE wants to bake cookies, then let's bake cookies! Or if HE wants to decorate the house, then let's decorate the house! Or if HE wants to sing carols, trim the tree, have a party with friends, then that's what it shall be! We make it it so hard when really.....

It's sorta easy.

It's nice to read Luke 2 as a's kind to reach out to people in need....or do good deeds...or give to Salvation Army.....

But if this is YOUR're missing the out on the whole picture.....

Anybody can read, or give, or say the right things.....but their motive are all wrong. They may just be going through the motions cause it "feels right".

So what is Christmas???

It's like any other's Christ in YOU.....doing what He prods and leads you to do...

(with a little tinsel on top!) ;)



P.S._Matthew and I are going to pick out a tree today, and Christ in me is going to love it!

Monday, November 30, 2009

A Weekend of Thankfulness

I'm thankful. So thankful.

This past Thanksgiving weekend was very, very special. On Thursday I got to spend time with my precious family in to cousins I hadn't seen in awhile, hug grandparents and in-laws, and enjoy some of the best food you'll ever taste in a lifetime. Food that good should be a sin. *wink*.

I got to reminisce old memories with my sisters and brother, share new experiences with my dear Mother & Daddy, play with my dear, little nephews, and talk with my sweet Sister over the phone that couldn't be there. I love that girl.

I got to look into the eyes of the best man in the world and tell him how much I loved much I was thankful for him in my much I was glad he was MINE.

Yes, I am thankful.

I'm thankful for long weekends with family....for the hard times that bring you closer together...for the good times that keep you laughing....for genuine & deep friendships...and for God's unfailing faithfulness that has always brought me through each step of the way.

Thank you, God. I am truly blessed.



Matty with sweet Nephew Levi

Silly, messy Nephew Miles

{Greta} Mom & Gwen

Me & Greta
on Black Friday madness!

Glo & Me :)

Glennie, Me & Gret

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

{Anthro} on a dime

A couple of days ago while I was reading one of my favorite blogs, I came across this tutorial for how to make a wreath out of an old book. I knew immediately that I wanted to make it! It looked like something from an Anthropologie display...and if you know me....I just LOVE me some Anthro!

So yesterday after work, I headed straight for the Dollar Tree. I didn't want to destroy any of the books I had at home. Awhile back I sorted through all the books I didn't want and donated or gave away a bunch, so what's on my shelves are here to stay.

Back at the Dollar Tree I found a sturdy book with off-white pages and nice, black print. I already had the other materials, so this entire project cost me only $1! How amazing is that? But even if you don't have the materials, you may pay as much as $5...still not bad, eh?

It takes time (it took me several hours) but the process is fun and easy. You could easily do this while watching a movie, listening to the radio or music, or what-have-you.

Here's the finished result:

It doesn't look exactly like the gal's in the tutorial, but I think I actually like mine better! ;)

One last thing I need you to help me decide...does it need a bow, or does it look good plain?



Homemade Biore Face Strips

Last night, I was feeling the need to pamper myself (heehee) when I remembered my sister, Gwen, sending me THIS blog tutorial on how to make knock-off Biore facial strips in about 1 minute.

All you need is milk & unflavored gelatin. ;) And hey, it really really works! So cheap. So effective. I even coaxed Matthew (or rather slathered the goo on his face before he could object) into trying it. Ha!

Isn't he just the best? What a man.

Try 'em out! You won't be disappointed. Quick tip: make sure they dry completely before you tear them off. If they are even slightly moist, it'll take forever to peel off and they aren't as effective. If you do try them, write me a comment and tell me how your experience was!

Happy Tuesday!



Sunday, November 22, 2009

Never Assume

We've all heard it said and we've said it ourselves...

We've written it in notes....

We've left messages on the phone about it....

It wasn't until recently that this thing, or phrase really, started me thinking. And thinking hard.

Okay, so what am I talking about, you say?

I'm talking about the phrase, "if you need anything, just let me know."

Like when you hear that a friend isn't feeling too well. Maybe they just broke up with their boyfriend, or maybe they just had a bad day. You may call them and tell 'em you're thinking about them and that you'll pray for them...but what does the conversation end with?

"if you need anything, just let me know."

Or maybe you hear that someone dear is in the hospital and isn't doing too well. You call them and tell them you're thinking about them...and of course...

"if you need anything, just let me know."

Or perhaps you hear that a friend is moving. You call to wish them all the happiness in their new home, but before you get off you make sure and add...

"if you need anything, just let me know."

Or or or...maybe maybe maybe....I could go on and on.

Why do we say this? WHY? Let's be honest for just a minute....

When we hear that someone is having a bad day, hurting in the hospital, moving...or whatever it may be..........

We know in our heart of hearts exactly what they need. Why? Because God made us that way. He made us to be perceptive and relational people.

And we KNOW that if we were in their place, we'd want it too. someone who is having a bad day going to call you and say, "can you come over? I just need a hug and someone to cry with."

Is someone in the hospital going to say, "come visit me! I need encouragement today because I feel like my whole world is crashing in."

Is someone that that is moving going to say, "come help me move, please? Lift heavy boxes to and from a van until you're sweating like a pig...."

Well maybe they will! BUT...the point is.......

Nobody likes having to ask. And nobody should. Not really.

When someone tells you their having a bad day.....ppssstt......little hint....

they ARE asking for help.

Now I know we're not all super-humans and can't do everything. I get that. And sometimes geographical distance prevents us from truly being there for someone on a whim. Maybe we'd all love to, but financially we just can't. I totally understand that, too. But
sittin' here at home, I bet you'll find a handful of people who are in need, and may have already "asked", only to be "thought of" or "prayed for."

Now I'm not saying that praying for people is bad. Not at all! Maybe praying is the only thing you can offer up and if it is...God bless you for it. ;) But if you have hands and feet, USE them!

I need to be reminded of this myself.....

I need to not just think or pray...but allow God to use me when He wants to and HOW He wants to. Even if it means getting off of my comfortable sofa and going to someone who is in need. Maybe just a hug. Maybe someone that needs a good talking with. Or maybe someone is happy and wants to share it!

I don't have to worry about that. God'll show me, and He'll show you, too.

Never assume that someone is going to ask you.

Maybe they just did.

What did you say?

"If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and be filled," and yet do not give them what is necessary for {their} body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, {being} by itself. "

James 2:15-17

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Autumn Party

The party on Saturday was delightful! My Mother Cindy, 2 of my sisters (Gwen & Greta), and Gwen's 4-month-old son, Levi came. It was an afternoon to remember, complete with cinnamon hot cider, warm pumpkin soup, and as always...lots of laughter and good conversation. :)

Here are some pics of the afternoon:

I set the table with an embroidered leaf tablecloth,
cloth napkins that my sweet sister Greta made for
me last Christmas, and some pretty leaves and candles.

Greta enjoying a sit on the sofa :)

The guests. :)

Me and the sistas. (and sweet Levi!)

Gretty & Levi.

Like Mother like Daughter.

For lunch I served pumpkin soup in pumpkin
guards; a mixed salad with cranberries, oranges and
pecans, and a yummy zucchini quiche with a crescent roll crust.
Delish! Oh, and remember those silver goblets Matt and I got
and an estate sale awhile back? They sure clean up when you
get some silver polish to them! We used them for the cider. So fun!

A tip for using salad dressing at a party:

Make it fun and re-purpose your egg cups (or any small saucer,
such as salt cellars) and fill each with dressing. That way, if your
guests don't feel like eating the salad first thing, the rest of their food
doesn't get soggy from the liquid of the dressing. You can even ask
guests for their choice of dressing if you prefer (maybe only offer 2 varieties
so it doesn't get complicated).It fun to do it this way because it feels like
you're in a restaurant or tea room!

And because we all have a little kid in us ( or because we

didn't get to go to the State Fair this year),

I made some scrumptious caramel apples for the finishing touch.

They were YUM!

Gwennie about to munch on a caramel apple!

And I can't forget our littlest pUnkiN. Isn't he a sweetie?

Have a fantastic week!



Friday, November 13, 2009

My Autumn Home

Seeing how Fall is about to turn into Winter and the season of Christmas, I thought I'd share with you some pictures of my Autumn decor before I decide to pack it all up and start decking the halls with boughs of holly! My personal rule is, you can't decorate for Christmas until Thanksgiving is over (although in my head I certainly start to! But that's not cheating! *wink*). But boy by Black Friday I certainly get going at it!

Anyways, like I promised....My Autumn Home:

In the middle I have some bush branches
that I clipped and spray painted white and put in this
red ceramic pot with green moss. It's sitting atop
my old Singer sewing machine that I scored at
an estate sale. I just love the yellow details!

A grouping of gold pillar candles make
themselves at home on these brass candlesticks
that I got at a....of course....garage sale! (I think I paid
$10 for 5...good deal, eh?) and nestled among Autumn
leaves that I collected in Lynchburg, VA. Also, a little
candy corn for the sweet tooth. :)

I didn't buy a single orange pumpkin this year because
I already had these babies! Ceramic pumpkins! You can use
them year after year and they don't rot. ;) Here I have one inside
a cheese ball dome dish sitting atop a mini cake pedestal with
a garland of berries encircling it that I made using brown ribbon and
assorted faux berries from the crafts store.

More leaves, candles and pumpkins
on the mantle!

Coffee chest with a large ceramic blue (which I love)
pumpkin on a vintage cake stand. The elevation makes it stand
out and say, "look at me! I'm pretty!"

Glass vase with dried hydrangeas that I sprayed
blue (after the color faded) alongside one of my
collected ceramic pumpkins.

No Autumn decor would be complete without
a cornucopia! Here I have it sitting on an ornately-carved
antique plant stand that I got for $10 at a flea market
in Cleburne, TX.

Displaying our Virginia apples are 3 tart
pans sittin' cozy on my tiered plate tree. The middle
tier has an antique jelly mold in it which I got at an
estate sale for cheap. At the bottom is more
of the pretty Lynchburg foliage that I gathered.

Well I guess that's about it! Have a delightful 2 more weeks of celebrating the scents, colors and warmth of Fall! It's sad it gets the back burner to let's give it all the thought and recognition it deserves!

Happy Fall, Y'all!

P.S._Today I had a fantastic Autumn party with my Mother and sisters...I will make sure to post pictures and details soon!



Monday, November 9, 2009

There's No Place Like Home

Well, it has been so long since I last posted and boy there's a lot to tell! Over 2 weeks ago Matthew and I packed up the car and, braving all odds, took a loooooooong road trip all the way from North Texas to Lynchburg, Virginia and New York City! Although the trip was planned months in advance, we had no idea it would be so timely, all things considered. Praise the Lord for that!

Here are some photos of our 9-day adventure:

The Fall foliage in Lynchburg was just stunning!

Matty & Me

We visited an old church that one of our favorite
authors, Sheldon Vanauken, who wrote "A Severe Mercy",
used to attend while living in Lynchburg and writes of in his book

Matty "jumping off" of a cliff
in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia

We picked apples! This is me
with the bounty :)

Matt's sister, Joy (who lives in VA),
Matthew & Me

Times Square
Such a happenin' place!

Central Park
There were so many cool bridges
and beautiful trees!

Quality time with the Gaffin Grandparents
in New Jersey. They were sweeties!

NY taxi drivers are everywhere and boy
are they craaazy!

We ate at this cute restaurant, of
which the movie "Serendipity" (one of our faves)
is named for. It was scrumptious!

Me about to get run over at a crosswalk
by a NY taxi! Heehee :)

It was a delightful trip, full of adventure, relaxation, and new experiences. But as Dorothy says in the "The Wizard of Oz"....

There's no place like home.

I whole-heartedly agree. :)

P.S. The song "Lucky" that is first on my playlist (scroll down) was Matthew and I's theme for our trip. I think it is quite fitting, don't you?