Thursday, August 30, 2012

last of the summer

Last night we had some of our oldest and dearest friends over for dinner.
I guess it was our last official dinner party of the summer seeing as how Labor Day is rapidly approaching.

This summer has been good to me, and I am slightly nostalgic about bidding it goodbye. I will miss my afternoon retreats to my pool. The long sunny evenings. The crickets and cicadas singing their songs. Sundresses and flip flops.
I know September will still include most of those things, but somehow, after Labor Day, there is a shift inside me. Summer is over and all it's loosy goosey ways are gone with it. I am not going to lie. I am ready for fall. Ready for sweaters and boots and camping trips that involve more blankets and less sweat. I am ready to start thinking about all the autumn holidays and holy days. Ready to put on my thinking cap and burrow a little deeper into thought and reflection as they days get colder.

Last night our friends the Curreys came over to have dinner with us and chat about life, church,  ministry, and  what we are all watching on television. It seemed appropriate to wind up our summer this way, with friends who have been with us through every season of our life as a family. 
Autumn is approaching and with it will come some changes, some we have gotten a slight glimpse of,  and some we cannot even dream up, because that is autumns thing- bringing change. It is always good to know that in our seasons of change there are friends who will come over and eat spaghetti and drink wine and discuss the new TLC lineup on a Wednesday night, because ultimately they are more than friends, they are your family.
Can I get an amen?

Speaking of changes. This is Caroline. Isn't she gorgeous? I can't believe she is in 10th grade. So grown-up. Many autumns ago she was potty training during the months that we were hosting a small group at our house. And now she can drive and go on dates and probably run a small country.

And this is Ellie. She is gorgeous too. I was there when she was born. Like actually there. And now she is in 6th grade and she is almost as tall as me. Cheez and wiz time goes fast.
Don't those Curreys make pretty girls?

Maizy is not used to having so much competition of prettiest girl in the house so she had to get in on the picture action too. Silly.

Sweet Man made his famous West Wing Spaghetti and I whipped up a salad and some super easy bruschetta. And yes, this is how we convince people to stay our friends for decades. We bribe them with food.

End of Summer Bruschetta 

Slice one skinny baguette into thin pieces and place on a cookie sheet, set aside
Dice 2 vine-ripe tomatoes, 1/2 of a medium red onion, and 1 package of fresh basil
Mix together in a small bowl. 
Add 2 tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil and 1 tsp of sea salt to the veggies and herbs
Mix well
Using a spoon, top each slice of bread with a bit of the mixture until you have used it all.
Drizzle any remaining liquid over the veggie-topped bread.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
After it has baked, remove from over and sprinkle each piece with crumbled feta.
Cover with foil and place back in oven on the bottom rack for 10-15 minutes (if you like your bread soft skip this last step.)
Place on platter to cool slightly and serve. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

my very first time

This weekend I did something I don't always do. I gave in to peer pressure and I joined up.
Now, I know that I probably seem like the join-up type. After all, my blog is the adventures of the jolly goode gal. Not the adventures of the socially inadequate and awkward gal. But when it comes to some experiences - especially brand-spanking new ones like a blogger conference, it is the second phrase that sums me up. All those latent adolescent insecurities sprout like weeds in the garden.

But I am sucker for being with my friends. And for really great swag. And for getting away for a weekend. So at the very last minute, I joined up with the Arkansas Women Bloggers Unplugged Conference (after being happily pressured by some of my best girls who are bloggers themselves) and hitched a ride with Melissa and headed two hours north for a weekend of R and R and Blogging 101 at the Ozark Folk Center.

Unfortunately I had a cold the whole weekend. A cold that left me in a bit of a fog. And left me looking like a puffy, tired version of myself.  But despite all of that, despite how bad I felt at times, and how bad I know I looked (jeez I am being vain, but trust me, it was bad) I must confess that I had an amazingly fun time. How could I not? This was a great gathering of women.

Sidenote: Because I was sick I didn't get to really enjoy all the Ozark Folk Center had to offer, but I am hoping that Sweet Man and I can take the boys there sometime this fall. They already love Mountain View, and I am pretty sure if Miles was ever shown how to whittle properly he may never stop.

Because of my cold, which only enhanced, or perhaps brought to the surface, my social awkwardness, I stuck pretty close to the gals I knew. I hid behind their sunny smiles,  and outgoing dispositions and enjoyed getting to know each of them a little or a lot better than before - especially Kyran and Natalie.

Laughter and silliness was never far away. Neither were great tips, ideas, encouragement and possibilities. In fact I came away from the event with more ideas for my blog and future blogging endeavors than I could have imagined. 

I have to also give a huge shout-out to the pioneering ladies at ARWB. They put together a fine conference and did a wonderful job at pulling in sponsorship. I also have to give props to whomever was in charge of decor because the ARWB colors were solidly represented in all of our events. From table decor, to swag, to even our folder colors, the sherbet orange, blue and greens of ARWB gals were everywhere. And if you know me at all you know that I seriously adore this kind of consistency  in branding, and the attention to detail.

And as to the swag... Well there was Ziploc, for starters. So much beautiful Ziploc.  This is just the tippy tip of the Ziploc iceberg. I cannot wait to throw away everything in the drawer where we keep such things and start over. Oh happy day! Why is it that something like to-go containers can make me so happy?

Another favorite of mine was the Mrs. Meyers products. Can you believe I have never had any Mrs. Meyers in my house before? Tis true. I tend to land in one of two camps when it comes to cleaning products - Generic or Homemade as springing for fancy cleaning goods is just not in the Greer budget. So when I spied these bottles of liquid gold in my bag I think I probably squealed loudly. I know I did a little dance. 

If you live in Arkansas and you blog or you are thinking of blogging, you must check out the ARWB group and do some joining up of your own. I promise it won't hurt.

Monday, August 27, 2012

make do {and make lovely} mondays- postal

This weekend I went away with some of my best girlfriends to the Arkansas Women Bloggers Unplugged conference. It was great. I was sick. I had have a cold, which meant that I neither looked nor acted like myself much.  Some of my blogger pals didn't even recognize me. Looking at a group picture I didn't even recognize me. Now that is bad.  But more on the conference later, after the cold meds fade and I have a chance to review my notes and swag bags.

Today I am showing off  my first mailbox make-over. 
A can of spray paint and some stick on letters was all it took to give this mailbox a little lift.

We will be repainting the rest of the house soon (should we go white again or paint the whole thing the green we added to the end? I am on the fence, feel free to vote!) and the concrete stoop. Maybe even the door... I have to confess that once I get painting it is hard to stop. Once that is done I may make-over the mailbox again depending on the colors we choose. Or find a vintage style one to re-do.  But for now this little make-do blue number suits me fine.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Blogger conference

So I am at the Arkansas Women Bloggers Conference Unplugged at the Ozark Folk Center.

I have a bit of a cold which means I am running at half speed and looking for nap sized holes in the agenda.

So far all is well, mostly because I am with some of my favorite peeps.

That's all for now.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

wordy wednesday - pieces and the whole

I read these verses this morning in The Message. They resonate so deeply with me because today I am filled with both songs of thank you, thank you, thank you, and prayers of help, help, help.   For myself, but mostly for others.

I am praying for the family who are fighting for the child they have cared for in their home for over two years, that he would be able to join their family forever.
I am praying for the mother who is working towards getting family housing for her and her daughter. That they can once again have a home of their own. That they can settle into a safe life.
I am praying for the child who is being admitted into in-patient treatment today. I am praying for her parents, her siblings, her heart. 
I am praying for the blended family trying to find their footing.  That they will find trust, grace and tenderness with each other.

I am celebrating with the couple who has found hope, love and joy in their new life together. For the healing that has come out of literal rubble. 
I am celebrating with the teacher who found a new job and for the new lives she will be able to impact. For her new beginning. 
I am celebrating with the family who sold their house when they least expected it, who now get to travel a new and unexpected adventure.
I am celebrating quiet moments with friends over warm bowls of curry, a weekend away in the Ozarks and a home I love.

All of this is happening in the same week, the same day, the same hour.  All of the tears and the joy are both the pieces and the whole. They are the crust and the filling.  They are the broken bones and the foot-tapping tunes and they cannot be separated from each other. They are all part of the same.
 Today I needed these words to remind me of that.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

random tuesday smiles- the rules

During a recently deep-ish cleaning purge I found this XL writing pad, the kind teachers use to teach handwriting and reading, buried in the back of a closet. You know how much I love both over-sized items and anything school related, so when I found this writing pad last year, I obviously fell head-over-heels in love.  My  idea all along has been to write a variety of sayings and quotes on the different sherbet colored sheets and hang it on a wall in the kitchen or my office. But then this weekend, I noticed that the space above our new towel bar looked a little forlorn and blank, and I was suddenly inspired to write down some of our house rules. Equal parts silly and serious, I think these rules pretty much sum up life here at Casa D'Lovely.
Which makes me smile every time I see them.


Monday, August 20, 2012

make-do {and make lovely} monday- evolution of a shelf

I love finding a new road-side treasure. It pretty much makes my day every time. I seem to be drawn most often to chairs and storage receptacles. It must have something to do with their utilitarian natures. They are both functional and (if I like them) pretty.

This long, short, simple shelf was just such a treasure. She was on the side of the road one neighborhood down the hill. We think she either held potted plants or paint cans based on the marks and scratches on her surface. 

While not the finest of furniture pieces, I couldn't help but see her loveliness beneath the dirt.
The potential in the castoff.

So I gave her a good scrubbing. I washed and a bleached and oxi'd and rinsed and washed some more until her true colors - not dingy gray- came shining through again. A bright, gleaming, albeit chippy,  white. 

I even did some light sanding, which brought out the prettiest bits of aqua paint here and there. I have wondered if I should sand some more and try and pull out as much aqua as possible. Maybe I will. Later on.

Currently the shelf is residing in our living room. It is pretty long and there are not many places it will easily fit. I think the arrangement makes this wall a little strange, all the linear pieces lined up and shoved against one wall. But it is what it is.

And I have decided not to care about it too much for now. After all I am not trying to win a Best Decorated House in the World contest.
  I love the way my globes look all lined up across the top, and I adore how the light flows through the open  back.  I like that it's old and worn. That it is funky and distressed. That there is more than one layer to it's patina. And of course that I found it on the side of the road.

 Sitting on my sofa, admiring my little shelf, I am reminded once again how this story - this side of the road rescue and restoration- is also my story. I am, like my shelf,  scuffed and worn thin in many places, I am pretty open, but I am still far from perfect. Luckily for my little shelf, and even more for me, this that is not the best or most important bit in our stories. No, the best part is this: We were found. We were plucked up, rescued, taken home and loved well.

This is something I need to remember a lot more often.  Like every minute of every day.

Friday, August 17, 2012

hanging up

Recently our one towel bar took a dive thanks to the help of a very strong little boy who wanted to practice his gymnastic skills.
Because there are four of us, and there was only one bar, I wasn't terribly sad to see it meet it's final end. But I also wasn't about to shell out $20 plus for one bar that would only hold one towel.

So I got creative. One piece of wood remenant, 2 cans of spray paint, 4 thrift store door knobs and one handy husband later, voila! Our new towel(s) rack.

Now we can dry 4 towels at once. All for under $10.

Take that overpriced single towel bar makers.
Oh yeah.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

things I am doing on this thursday

Today I am hanging out over at the At Home in Arkansas Blog . If you can, come join me and check out some of my favorite reading-inspired ideas for a book lovers wedding. I think I need to throw a bookish party of some sort just to get to use all of these ideas. I am especially in love with these hanging books, and the book page pompoms.

I will also being trying to line up a babysitter for Saturday night so I can go to the Field Hands  concert this Saturday. Sweet Man will be playing in two of the bands and I have serious plans to be shaking my groove thing around 9PM. The proceeds are going to The Field so you can understand why I think you should all come out and shake your groove thing as well. 

I will also probably be hanging out a bit on Pinterest later today, adding to my Octoberfest board. Recent coolish temps around these parts have stirred a deep longing my bones for all things Fall related. I am ready to cook pies, burn pumpkin spice candles, wear plaid flannel and plan a huge harvestfest-esqu hoopla in my backyard. If you are as lonesome for fall as I am, fill free to join me. I would love to know what is on your fall-to-do list as well.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

tuesday's smiles- bed

"I like to do things in bed. I fold the laundry on the bed. Food tastes better to me when I'm under the covers. Bed is the only place to read, the best place to talk on the phone." 
— Elizabeth Berg (Range Of Motion)

And I thought I was the only one....

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