Friday, July 13, 2012

Cow Appreciation Day--2012

Something we participate in every year is Cow Appreciation Day at Chick-Fil-A. Basically, if you dress up like a cow and go to Chick-Fil-A on their designated Cow Appreciation Day, you can get your food (chicken) for free! It's a great deal and a lot of fun! 

This year Evelyn was old enough to sort of "get into it" and she was so excited to see herself and many others around her all looking like cows. She has been saying "Mooooo" all day and at bed time when Kane changed her into her PJ's she looked at him and said, "Daddy be a cow??" Kane said, "I'm all done being a cow". She said, "Daddy be a cow later." Yep--he will--next year! :)

Here are some pictures of our little cows. And yes, I took the girls to the mall for a free lunch (after MK's last day of VBS) and then we dressed up again and met Kane at the Dwarf House location for we took total advantage of Chick-Fil-A's generosity!

Chick-Fil-A in the food court at the mall had a deal that anyone dressed like a cow could "jump" for free today. Evie would have done it too I'm sure, but she wasn't over the weight minimum. I was a super fun mommy and let Mara Kate jump before I made her sit down to eat. :) She loved it if it's not obvious from the picture.

Two sweet sister cows after they came through the little red door. Evie is now ALL ABOUT the little red door! Thanks to their babysitter Lydia for putting together their cute masks!

MK with the Chick Fil A cow. Evie was quite frightened and didn't want to go near the big cow.

Daddy cow and baby cow.

 And...just for fun, here are our little cow-girls from the past two Cow Appreciation Days...we sure do love Chick-Fil-A!

July 2011

July 2010 (Evie was just 5 weeks old)

Monday, June 04, 2012

Dear, Evelyn.

Happy 2nd Birthday to our precious daughter, Evelyn.


This morning as I washed your blond curls during your bath I was taken back to the day you were born. The first thing that struck me the first time I laid eyes on you was your blond hair. When your cousin Grant saw the first picture of you he said you had golden hair...and you did. You were beautiful on that day and your beauty remains. 

Evelyn, you don't know it yet, but we prayed for you for many, many months before you joined our family. Mara Kate prayed every night for another baby and Mommy and Daddy did too...for almost 2 years we prayed before God answered our prayer. When we found out you were on the way we were 'over-the-moon' excited. Our prayers had been answered and we were beyond thankful. 

A little while later we found out that Mara Kate was having a little sister...another girl! We were all surprised and thrilled. In the final months while we waited on you we finished preparations for your arrival. It was June and we were ready. Your name was on your bedroom wall and on your diaper bag as well (such a Southern girl!). Your closet was filled with summery pink, girly outfits and your cradle was ready with clean sheets and soft blankets.

You arrived before 9am on your birthday and you were perfect. You quietly laid on my chest and we had 45 minutes of bliss...then...the nurse came to give you your first bath. About 15 minutes later a whirlwind began that lasted for the next 9 days. Something was wrong. Your heart and lungs were not working properly. Something wasn't connecting and functioning as it should. Oxygen wasn't going into your blood like your organs so desperately needed it to. Twelve hours after birth you were transported quickly to the children's hospital in Atlanta--in an effort to save your life. Your heart was so weak....and truthfully, you were barely hanging on. 

Evie, angels surrounded the ambulance as it took you to the hospital that could help you. Your life was being sustained by God Almighty Himself and it still is. The doctors and nurses in Atlanta took excellent care of you (and of Daddy and me too). They gave you the best care they could give and we were thankful. We cried out for God for Him to heal you, to help strengthen your heart and your lungs. We pleaded with Him to allow the treatment they gave you to work and for you to recover...fully. 

Evie, you need to know that God answered all our prayers--completely. After 9 days in the NICU you came home. You were healthy and whole and your heart was healthy and strong. Only because of God, baby girl. Only God.

Now 2 years later we are still reminded of the little fighter you were when you were brand new...because you are still full of fight! You are a strong, feisty, energetic little girl. You are talking like crazy and adding new words daily to your vocabulary. Although, you have no problem getting your point across even without words. You are a little fireball and we LOVE it! We praise God for your spunk, drive and energy. You are the picture of health and we are amazed at God's mercy and grace He has shown us through your life. You are a gift.

The past 24 months have flown by and have been so full because of your presence in our family and our home. We pray the Lord will bless you and us with many, many more years together. 

You are loved, baby girl....and always will be. By us and by your heavenly Father. 

Love always,


Monday, May 21, 2012

DYI Spanish Moss Topiary

I have wanted some nice topiaries for my dining room for awhile and when I looked at the price tag on most pre-made ones I decided I could make some for a much more reasonable price. I bought all of my materials from Michael's except for the bamboo sticks and the thinner branches, which came from my yard. 

Here are my finished topiaries.

Here is a step by step tutorial...

Supplies Needed:
Terracotta pot
paint if you want to paint your pot as I did
Styrofoam square
Styrofoam ball
Spanish moss
hot glue gun and glue sticks
dowel rod or straight branch from your yard
thin "bendable" branches from your yard
sheet moss

Paint terracotta pots and let dry.

Cut Styrofoam square to fit tightly into your terracotta pot.

Place Styrofoam square into pot. You want it to fit firmly so cut it so that it barely fits into the pot, then push it down until it is a little below the rim of the pot.

Cover your Styrofoam ball with Spanish moss. Dealing with the moss made quite a mess, but it was easy to clean up afterward. Just cover a small portion at a time with hot glue, then press a bunch of moss onto the glue and hold. Leave a tiny portion uncovered at the bottom so you can insert your branch. Once you are finished gluing you can use scissors to cut off any long strands that stick out too far. Glue the moss together tightly so you cannot see the green Styrofoam underneath.

Before you insert your dowel rod or branch into your pot drill a pilot hole (see picture below). This will help the branch to go down straight.

Also, drill a pilot hole into the ball so the branch will go in a bit easier and stay straight. 

Once you have the holes correct take your branches back out and put hot glue onto the branch at the bottom (around the bottom couple of inches) and stuck it into your Styrofoam square. I also put a thick blob of glue around the edges of the branch and onto the Styrofoam...this way the branch didn't have any wiggle room. Make sure that you are holding your branch completely straight and that it is at the height you want so that once that thick glue around the bottom sets it is holding your branch exactly the way you want it to stand. Also put glue onto the top of your branch before you put the moss ball onto it. This way it will be held tightly together from the top and the bottom.

I took some very thin wispy branches and cut them to the right length. Then I hot glued it at the top (had to hold firmly against the thicker branch until the glue set. Then I wound it around the branch until the bottom. Then I hot glued it to the thick branch at the bottom. If you don't want to use hot glue for this step you could also use some thin floral wire to attach the thin branches.

Once the thin branches were set, I wanted to cover up the place where I glued them into place. So, on the ball I just added a little more moss around the base of the ball and glued it around to cover all the glue I had used. I did the same at the bottom with some sheet moss. This moss worked great in the pot to cover the Styrofoam square. You would never guess that under that moss was just Styrofoam!

Finished topiary!

I'm very happy with the way they turned out.

I would say the total cost for supplies was about $15 per topiary.
not bad compared to other retail prices!

Monday, April 16, 2012

"Special Dates" Painted Pillow

I've been wanting to revamp/update/freshen up the throw pillows on the couch for awhile. I think I'm finally happy with what I have, especially the newest addition which I worked on yesterday and today. I'm very pleased with the way it turned out.

These "old world map" pillows have sat on our couch since we first got married. Kane really liked this fabric and I liked them fine too, but after almost 8 years I was really ready for a change!

This fabric was a hand me down from my mother in law's scrap fabric stash (total cost to me, $0). I liked it because it was neutral and light. I simply sewed a basic "sham" pillow case I could easily slip the old pillow inside. Here is the back of the sham.

Here is the front. At first I wasn't sure what I wanted to do to "liven it up", so I looked on Pinterest for some ideas. I saw that people had painted on fabric before, so once I got the idea that I could paint on the fabric, my creative juices started flowing. My mother in law had also mentioned stencils, but I just didn't know what I would stencil.

I finally decided to implement another Pinterest idea I had seen where people printed out "special dates" and framed it as art on wall. I decided to put our "special dates" on the pillow instead. Step 1: I laid out my sham flat on the table. I might also want to put a layer of paper behind the fabric you will be painting on. I taped the edges down so the fabric wouldn't "scoot" around while I was trying to paint.

I bought my stencils for really cheap at Home Depot. I had looked for stencils at Michael's but they didn't have the size/font combination I was looking for. Home Depot only had one option, but it was exactly what I was looking for. (Stencils are 3" tall and my pillow is about 22" tall). I liked the more "industrial" looking font. All the ones at Michale's were too frilly/pretty. These stencils gave me exactly the look I was going for.

I used random numbers to map out my spacing/measurements. It really helped that almost all of the numbers were on cards the exact same height and width as the others. That made the spacing really easy.

First date done. I worked from the left to right, from the top row down. The first date by the way is the date of our "first date".

Mid effort. Coming along well. I used regular (cheap) acrylic paint I already had on hand and a regular paintbrush with fairly short/small bristles.

Lastly, I free-handed a little heart in the center (which happens to be in the middle of our anniversary date).

All my updated throw pillows (all except the maroon one---already had it).

The "special" dates I used were. First Date, Date we got engaged, anniversary/wedding, birthdate of baby #1 and birthdate of baby #2. 
I also read somewhere that it is good to iron the backside of the fabric you painted once it is completely dry and this will help "set" the paint.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

World of Pinterest

A while back I got an invitation to join the website Pinterest. Pinterest is basically a site where you can have your own virtual "pin boards" to keep track of online ideas you see or other items that you like or that inspire you.

I went ahead and joined, but my boards sat empty for months. I didn't really understand the point and didn't really want to take the time to get too involved with it. After some prompting from friends I decided to log in again and just browse. There was a idea/project I had in mind that I wanted to do and I pretty much knew what I wanted it to look like, but I did want some help with inspiration and direction. I didn't know at first that you can search Pinterest for specific ideas--not only see the popular pins among your friends. This was cool.

I wanted to make some sort of small, pretty wreath, so I searched for that and many fun and pretty ideas popped up. Many of them were actual tutorials on how to make the wreaths myself (even better). I pinned a few to remember what I saw and which ones I liked. This was fun!

Once I decided on which tutorial I wanted to follow, I bought the supplies and got to work....

 1 yard of fabric (the tutorial said you needed on yard. I should have bought a little more, but it worked out in the end).

 Foam wreath form wrapped with strips of fabric and secured with a bit of hot glue.

 The beginnings of my flowerets...made simply from strips of fabric I cut, folded and pinned directly onto the wreath, one right next to the other (to cover the pins).

 Finished wreath.

 Awhile ago a friend gave me an old window pane that was just sitting in her garage and it's been sitting in our shed for months...probably over a year actually and I had just never decided what to do with it. Kane helped me by tacking the ribbon to the back of the window before hanging it on the wall.

 My dear husband always makes sure everything he hangs is perfectly centered and leveled. This is one of the many reasons I love him. His accuracy in math helps to make our home beautiful! Thanks, Babe!

 Finished result---it's simple, but I'm very pleased with how it turned out.

And now that empty spot on the wall is no longer empty....thank you Pinterest!

 (If anyone would like an invitation to Pinterest, I'm happy to send you one. Just let me know!)

Tuie's Asian Green Beans

I made these Asian style green beans last night for the first time and they turned out great. They were really easy to make and very tasty. I plan to make them frequently in the future so I decided to share the recipe.

This is my mother in law's "recipe".

Tuie, they were delicious! 
I used 1 bag of whole frozen green beans (I bought the Steamers bag, which allowed me to steam them in the microwave before finishing them on the stove). 

1) Steam your beans, either on the stove top or in the microwave.
2) In a skillet heat 2 tsp. sesame oil with about 2 Tbls sesame seeds. (no beans in the skillet at this point). 

3) Once oil and seeds are heated and sort of sizzling, add your (already steamed and drained) beans, 2 Tbls soy sauce, a pinch of sugar and about a 1/2 tsp minced garlic (more if you like garlic) and saute in the skillet for about 5 minutes. The soy sauce should soak into the beans so they aren't "swimming" and as you toss the beans the sesame seeds will sort of coat the beans. 

Easy. Simple. Yummy. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Art Party---for our 6 Year Old!!!

Today we celebrated Mara Kate's 6th birthday even though her actual birthday was this past Sunday. She is completely and totally into all things creative these days, especially drawing with pencils, crayons, markers, paint and cutting and pasting with felt or fabric to make pictures, so we decided the most appropriate kind of party would be an "art party' or an "artist party". She has been waiting over a month for the day to arrive and this morning she got to hang out with some friends and a some family she got to paint and she got to share and eat her cake---it was a fun morning for her! And, thanks to the help of Crissy Ward at Created By You, everything on my end was pretty stress free as well!
So before further are pictures...
Yes, it was a bit tedious to make 6 different colors of icing for such a little amount used, but it was totally worth it for my girl!

The artist with her cake. :)
Example painting Crissy painted for the kids to use as their example. Mara Kate was able to design what she wanted to paint and this is what she came up with!

Kane with Papa Dog

Mara Kate with sweet cousins Grant & Olivia.

Mara Kate with Tuie

Little sister, Evelyn hung with Papa Dog for most of the party...they even did a little shopping in the mall together. :)

Ready to PAINT!

The beginnings of their hot air balloon painting---they sort of resembled Mickey Mouse at this point. ha!

Sky done, working on her pastures.

Kids hard at work on their artwork.

Olivia with her "zebra" hot air balloon!

Other paintings---each one so unique and original!

Present time!

Evelyn snarfing down some cake with our dear neighbor and friend.

More cake!

Finished products! I loved them all!

Girls' artwork

Boys' artwork.

Mara Kate's finished painting already hung on the wall!
It was a great day!