10/1/10 - 11/1/10

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Route 66 Challenge Quilt~ My Art Show Entry

My Route 66 Challenge quilt...all designed and hand quilted by me. This is my most treasured quilt. I had given it to Dad several years ago, shortly after I made it.  While caring for him, I found the quilt all folded up in a drawer. I felt as if I'd found a long lost child!

I'll be entering this quilt in our church's art show this Saturday, even though I won't be there. I'm so sad to be missing it!  Shona of An Artful Life hosts this at her home every year. It's part of our annual Reformation Festival.  I usually set up a Ladies' Medieval Tea Outdoor Tea Room with my friend Laurie. But this year we will be in Galveston at the Texas HoeDown (square dance convention). 

This is the first quilt I ever designed completely myself. It is all hand quilted except for the diner cloth, which my friend, Margie, machine quilted, due to the fact that I was running out of time. (5ft x 6ft)  (Click on quilt to see larger view.)  The inspiration for this quilt was this piece of fabric which I cut apart and appliqued in various places on the quilt.

It was less than a yard of fabric. Out of 24 very experienced quilters who were regulars at the Quilt Impressions store in Sugar Land, Tx....22 voted for my quilt. I'd only been quilting a few short months!

The Jack Rabbit Billboard in  Joseph City, Arizona.

That's when I knew that some day, when the kids were older, I was going to start designing my own quilts or wall hangings.  I couldn't paint and sculpt like Dad...(how I wanted too!), but I 'saw' pictures in my mind and discovered that applique was my method and fabric was my medium.

A Map of Route 66 across the US

I spent several days researching all the exciting stops along the way and picked the ones I liked best from each state. Then I made applique pictures of each landmark. 

The Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari, New Mexico


The Big Blue Whale in Catoosa, Oklahoma

The Gemini Giant in Wilmington, Illinois

Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Tx.


Substitute Teaching ~ A New Experience for a Homeschool Mom

 I've always suspected that it is harder to teach a whole classroom of other people's children..than just to homeschool my own--and I was right! Of course, I'm sure Aunt Joan could have told me all about that. I've always respected her ability to teach. Many classrooms full of first graders have learned to read under her patient and skilled teaching.  And now, my son, Andrew, is teaching homeschoolers in a group setting at a type of co-op school.  Elisabeth and He are visiting and sight seeing with Elisabeth's sister and brother-in-law from Germany, who are here for a week. Andrew needed someone to substitute and asked if I would be available. It is one of the busiest weeks of the year for me, but you don't have relatives from Germany every week, so of course, I said yes.  I taught on Monday and will have the whole family over on Friday evening for dinner.

I must say that although I was a little nervous, I really enjoyed myself thoroughly! I loved visiting with the kids ages 11 to 17 and teaching them. It was very similar to teaching my own five, as I have for 20 years, but there were more of them.  It was by no means easy..just familiar.  My job was just to supervise, but I answered questions, helped the children work on various difficult math problems and was pretty useless for the Geometry questions (not enough background after so many years).

The class I enjoyed most was the younger level anatomy class. Their homework was a creative writing assignment. I had a great time helping the kids aged 11-14 discuss digesting a spoonful of spaghetti and all the various organs and processes that were involved. The children were funny and engaging..and a wee bit energetic but seeing them feel a sense of accomplishment and/or relief as I helped them outline and verbalize  what they were about to write was very rewarding.  I've always loved teaching writing.

I left Christian, my own child and student, at home working under Dad's supervision. But I'm very glad I was able to experience teaching in a classroom setting. It gave me a deepened appreciation for teachers every where..and made me realize that I really do love teaching. Hmmm.. maybe.. someday?

Happy Homemaking!

Oh..and don't forget to enter my giveaway! There are only four more days to enter! I'd love to have you be a part.


Frugal Decorating with Thrift Store Bargains

Ladies, if you've been around since May, you will recognize this post...but I did, so much, want to share it again because it goes so well with my dear friend, Maria's linky party of fun and frugal wall art. If you have some great ideas, then by all means, drop by and share in the fun. Her readers would love to see what you come up with and so would she. :o) And do tell her that I sent you..I'm one of her biggest fans. :o)

Discovering my Unique Style…
If anyone is head over heels smitten with nostalgia, I must admit..I’m the worst!  It’s not that I want to ‘step’ back in time…but I love antiques!  Record players, typewriters , sewing machines, and kitchen utensils just fascinate me!  My family all love to dance: waltz, West Coast swing, square dancing, and fox trot…so we have collected a lot of old records too.  My home is filled with beloved treasures from the past. I know it's not romantic in the pink and frilly way, but I think that there is nothing more so than a rustic family home in the country.  PS. My mom bought this shelf for $5.00 at a local thrift store. It was pure pine..but I stained it oak to match the dining room table. 

Prints from Local Thrift Store

Every Tuesday, Maria Killam of Color Me Happy  hosts a linky party  of fun and frugal wall art  , so I have linked to this great show today. Be sure to visit her blog! I linked up since everything I used to re-decorate came from the thrift store! That's as frugal as it gets!  If you would like to see some beautiful projects and great ideas, than her Linky Party would be well worth a visit.

The best Christmas present I ever got myself, a public school record player ($25 on Ebay) plus .50 records from the thrift store, turned out to be a family obsession! We are re-discovering the music and dance of by-gone eras and even though our house is full of boys…they are crazy about dancing as much as my daughter is!    

Frish Frosh by Henry Mancini

We clean house to the sound of big band music via Henry Mancini and Frankie Carle. (Christian’s favorite is the Can-Can though. He’s never made the association with the dance though. :o)  So naturally, my house reflects this love to some degree but there is a problem….

Ecletic Decor or just Hodge-Podge?

Today, I want to talk about some decorating principles that are helping me to transform my house from hodge-podge to an overall style…and boy, have I ever needed help! I’m afraid I’ve been ‘living’ in transition.

 After 23 years of rental homes and decorating with gifts, cast-offs, and leftovers, my house had split up into decorating war zones…

I jokingly refer to my decorating style as the ‘White House” method. Over here you have the green room…and then the blue room and here’s the country cottage. Ahead and to the left we have the Victorian Era, and then the super-modern  Nasa Control center (four computers in one room!).   In other words, I was breaking a lot of rules for decorating that left the house seeming confused and cluttered with all the doo-dads and gee-gaws ( as we call excess stuff  in Texas).

Antique books from my father, 1950's photo of Grandma, Man and Wife cross-stitch that took over 10 years to complete while raising five little ones. (Tim and I bought it the first year we married. :o) It's so sweet that I thought I'd post this at My Romantic Home's Show and Tell.

Identifying the Problems  

The more I read Maria Killam’s Colour Me Happy blog…the more dissatisfied I became. I had always known something was wrong..but not WHAT. I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately and I think it’s beginning to sink in.  After  reading Maria’s posts and talking with my decorating friend, Laurie,  I came to the conclusion that I had three major problems:
  • No overall color theme or decorating style.
  • Using lots of little decorative objects….instead of a few big things to decorate with.
  • Decorating with hand me downs, gifts etc that didn’t look good together and were out of style—needed good arrangements with the RIGHT stuff.  

Decide on a Decorating Style

Deciding on a theme or style was the easy part. We have lived in the country for five years now and it makes sense to decorate in a way that compliments our new lifestyle. With my love of antiques and quilts, that was something I would enjoy and wouldn’t require a lot of new purchases. The hard part was parting with the decorative stuff from past homes that didn’t go with the new look. I was just too attached to my stuff! 

Tim loves the northwest style of decor but has also developed an affinity for the country life and western style of Texas (after 25 years he’s beginning to acclimate!!) and I love the Western theme and retro antiques.  I recently inherited my father’s western drawings, antique photos, and self-portrait and wanted to work that into the mix too.  I also wanted to emphasize Tim’s love of nature and the outdoors.  We are very classical in terms of music so there will be an instrument here and there but no more formal decor or Victorian stuff!

Choosing a Unifiying Color Scheme or ‘palette’

Choosing a color palette and scheme was harder. I couldn’t decide whether to start from scratch (expensive) or decide which of the current decor and color palette that  I should stick with.  Rebekah and I discussed this at length, and we both agreed that we would transition from burgandy and blue in the living room…to brown and navy (with a western flair) as the main colors.  She wanted to do the whole house that way, but I have to work with some unchangeables. So the living room colors became the MAIN color scheme..and the other rooms have variations of that set of colors.

Actually, the colors we are working with now, for the whole house, are navy, brown, burgandy/red, cream, and maybe olive green. Leaving the olive allows for some of the current decor and especially my sewing room which I just re-did to some degree--though we didn’t paint yet. We aren’t finished here but we are working towards a trend…  I guess you would call these Americana colors.  Read more about the right way to create flow using color by Maria Killam.
Getting Rid of Old Decorating Styles
Until we chose a unifying decorating style, we wouldn’t really know which decorative items to keep and which to get rid of.  Click here to learn more. Well it means that the Victorian bedroom…is out…O-U-T!  I’m selling the bedding, curtains, runners and pillow shams. I’m packing up the trinkets that I can’t part with or meld into the ‘woodwork’ so to speak.  We are transforming it to country but keeping the furniture. (I am frugal after all.) So we will be using quilts that I’ve already made or own, re-covered pillows, and anything else that will work.  Instead of elaborate gold and deep red curtains, I’m re-fashioning a shower curtain (the outer part) which is heavy cream woven linen type material with gorgeous texture into two curtains for the long narrow windows in the bedroom.  The Sante Fe look  in the kitchen and dining room has got to go!We hate it anyway and my husband despises it--Good reason to switch don’t you think? 

Before and After: Changing Styles of Decor

Here’s how we switched the color and style scheme for each room so that it’s ALL country or rustic style.
  • Living room: Before-country style (burgundy and navy)  After-more western style (Brown and Navy w/Deep red accents to allow for antique photos and drawings)
  • Dining room: Before- Santé Fe style (green, rust and burgundy)  to country style (Blue and White checks, with yellow accents)
  • Kitchen: Before- Santé Fe style (green, rust and blue (counters )and red accents)  to country kitchen style (Blue and White with Red accents)
  • Sewing room: Before- Pastels and romantic tea room look to simple pale blue with green accents.

Let’s Go Shopping! Thrift store decor…
Now that we knew what style we wanted and what our overall color palette was, we headed out to the best place for cheap decor ever….our local thrift stores.  Rustic is easy to pick up, but we also wanted texture…wood, dried flowers, beaten metal etc. We found items with labels still on them from Pottery Barn, Michaels, Hobby-Lobby, and other name brand decor stores…all cheap!  A beautiful fake plant (daffodils and leaves..almost looks real that was perfect for the bathroom. ($30.00 from Michael’s). Carved wooden fruit (paid $2.00 for a basket full). The best find of the day caused me to spend a whole $15.00!! It was a gorgeous antique record player stand with slots for the albums. I really needed to get it out of the hutch it was in. We could barely play records because there was so little room for it. I almost cried when I saw the price. I’m still recovering…what a God-send!  

Our hunt was for rustic and BIG!  We were trying to get rid of my little stuff. However our house is small so we did get some smallish things too. With baskets loaded we checked out and headed home.  I knew some of what I wanted before we left because it had been on the list a very long time anyway so it didn’t take us long to get what we needed. When we got home, we packed up everything that didn’t match the Rustic Theme to be sold or given away later.  Then we started pulling out things from the bags. The only thing we bought from an actual store was some large pillar candles for the coffee table and some tapers.  

Introducing the Art of TableScapes….
Our next step was to make good arrangements either on the wall or the various tables and end tables.  This is where Maria’s post about Tablescapes really transformed the look of my home. 

living room 2

I’m still pinching myself  to see if it’s really MY house anymore! I know my efforts are amateurish..but they sure are better than what we had before.  Also her look on Styling for a Photoshoot had such amazing before and after pictures. In analyzing them, I realized how little it takes to transform the appearance of a room!

end table 2

We have a long way to go, but in only one day, we’ve made a major transformation in our home. I always wondered how hotels got it right and what their secret was…well, interior decorators really are the secret. However, we can get some of that ‘look’ by learning some of the rules for decorating.

Monday’s Challenge: 

Last Few Days - Livingroom and/or Den 
O Vacuum everything: furniture, under furniture, floors, lampshades
O Dust high and low: ceiling fans, floorboards, picture frames, cobwebs, steroes, tv and other electronic equipment
O Polish Furniture, bookshelves
O Wipe all glass: windows, knickknacks, tvs, computer, stereo, pictures, telephone
O Declutter magazines, end tables, bookcases, closets (Maintenance decluttering)


Declutter Challenge:  Declutter your DVD’s and CD’s (movies and music).  How many do you really watch or listen to? We keep pretty pared down but I know most people don’t. So this week, let’s get things organized here. :o) Netflix and the library help keep us decluttered in this area. 

New habit for this week:   Keep the living room picked up—all day long.  If someone leaves something, out make them come back and pick it up. Declare the living room a clutter free zone.  I’m not saying not to have fun, but unless you have a maid, teach your children to learn to be responsible for their own mess. If the activity is over…the stuff needs to be put away. This way it stays pretty and is more inviting for the next activity. :o)

I hope you've enjoyed this little blast from the past and don't forget to check out my First Blogiversary Giveaway for two hand-quilted totebags for two winners.  The drawing is on November 1st!

Happy Homemaking!


Answered Prayer~The House is Selling..Today!

Well, the long journey of selling Dad's house will be over by the time you read this post! I guess the paint job  we did on the garage door, posts, trim and door frames must have met the HUD appraiser's standards. (Gee..thanks for telling me guys.) I didn't find out until yesterday morning. I'm meeting a notary at a Starbucks in town to sign my set of papers for closing the sale of the house TODAY. I think I will have to celebrate with a Starbucks coffee..for sure!

God is so good to help us stick with this through all the ups and downs.  After days and days of hard work..someone has actually bought the house, and we are free of this burden. 

It's hard to believe it ever looked like this!

I remember the day Jacob and I drove to Grand Prairie to find this mess on the lawn. I almost gave up in despair..right then and there, but my son said, "Let's pray, Mom!" So we did..and then I began the step by step journey..that led to this... I wrote about that trying day on March 13th of this year here. It seems like a lifetime ago! I was afraid I would never see the miracle that has happened today.

The mess is all gone now and this house has been transformed thanks to the help of my children, husband, mom, sister, Heather, and some local friends who volunteered to help me as each crisis occurred. I could not have done it without their help. Bless you! And thanks to all of my dear readers who prayed and encouraged me when the job just seemed to big for me. You kept my spirits up!

Now, except for the fact that I still have a pile of paperwork to process and utilities to shut off, etc., our family will be able to go on with normal life.  Perhaps we can consider painting our own house! Wouldn't that be wonderful?   So while you are reading this...I'm signing papers and making phone calls and writing checks to try to finalize this whole process. But I'm doing it with peace in my heart. If you are facing 'impossible' situations, I hope this story encourages you not to give up hope. Our God loves 'the impossible'!

Happy Homemaking!

PS. There's still time to enter my giveaway! I'll be picking two winners on November 1st!
“There's nothing half so pleasant as coming home again.” ~ Margaret Sangster

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