My most valued possession is my family. Even if you are living in a box
somewhere, and you have the love and support of your family, you will always be
wealthy. Love really is all you need. From love, great things will emerge. From
your thoughts, you can create greatness.This is what I need to remind
myself of everyday to be the best person that I can be. Live your life with
gratitude. Be thankful for all that you have everyday, even if it is your eyes
to see or your ears to hear or your feet to walk or your hands to create.
Understand your place in this Universe; how infinitesimally small you are, but
how huge a contribution your Spirit is. Don't wear blinders to the world around
you, you're not the only one here. Be kind, considerate, don't be judgmental,
love others, and yourself. Know that you are perfect inside; that you are

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Back from a much needed vacation...

Hello Everyone!

I have been away for a while...10 days in Florida! Did you miss me? I missed you, and blogging. I will be posting my adventures very soon, so just bear with me. Our house is getting under way for a major remodel, and my suitcase isn't even unpacked yet! It's super busy around here, and it's about to get busier, but I'm glad to be back home. Our weather here in Illinois has been fabulous; we have all the windows thrown open and can fall asleep listening to the Midwestern bugs outside in our yard. I LOVED Florida, don't get me wrong, it was a dream vacation, but I can't live without my husband, son and little fur girls. See, I went on vacay with my sister and niece. A "girls getaway", if you will. My sister and I have had this planned as a "relief tour" after all the disorder and heartbreak we have gone through these last two years; sort of a closure to our mothers death.

I thought about my mom a lot. Every moment I had, she was with me. She would have loved this vacation. We did things that would have thrilled her, like it did me. I can't wait to share it all with you. 10 days worth...don't worry, it won't be like the 70's when people used to drag the movie projector out and make their friends watch all their boring vacation movies and photos after!

So, I'll get on that...I'm going to break it up as an 'each day' kinda thing. That way, it's easier on the both of us ;)

I also will have remodeling tips and, I'm sure, trials and errors to share along the way, as well.

Until next time!


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Side Table beautification using, you guessed it, Annie Sloan Chalk Paint®

Hello again!

I have one more Annie Sloan® project to share with you before I delve into the chairs I want to work on. There's so much going on in this house, I don't know when I'm going to be able to get around to them. Besides, I need the practice, so I'm starting small...

I also need to upload the photos from our Fourth and share where we enjoyed the fireworks this year. 

But, first, this table. Here is the only *before* photo I had, but you get the idea, right? This table actually came from my mom's house; I brought it home after she passed. It's just a cheap little table that I think she and my dad put together from a kit then stained and poly'd (quite heavily), but I couldn't part with it. It was still in great shape and it held sentimental value. 

I hadn't attempted to paint it in the two years I've had it, it just seemed like too much work. Now I know was meant for Annie Sloan Chalk Paint®! I just had to wait until I discovered it and how easy it is to use.

So, here is the before:

And, here is the *After*:

And here is all the {in-between} 

Unfortunately, I don't have any progress photos. I sort of explain why that is at the end of this post...

To get the grasp on how to prep (surprise! There is none!) and paint this piece, you can check out my very first project using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® paint.   

This time, though, I went ahead and purchased the medium sized Annie Sloan Paint Brush. All of the tutorials I have watched really praised the dynamics of this brush. I wanted to see for myself. I tried the flat brush I used in my last project, and the round ASCP brush. Lo and behold, the AS brush won out. It really did cover the best and the brush strokes were more random, unlike the "too uniform" flat brush. Does that make any sense? ASCP is meant to have texture, brush strokes, and look shabby chic. The beauty is, you get to choose just how shabby, or chic, you want your finished project. And, if you don't like it, you can just slap on another coat, and start all over again! (Which is what I actually had to do this time).

Take a look at the post linked for you above. Go ahead, I'll wait...

        You back? 
                Okay, so, after I put two coats on, with a very short drying time in between, I went ahead and sanded using my 220 sanding block. Now, you can wax it first for a less distressed look, or just go for it before waxing. I just advise to go slowly until you reach your desired effect. However, you can always go back over your project with a little more paint and start again from scratch.

This table came with a lot of detail that was perfect for sanding to show wear and tear. I just sanded all the edges, went over the screws, and along the grain on the table top and flat bottom piece. 

I went all around the table edge, lightly at first, then adding more distressing where I wanted it. 

I then waxed the whole thing. I used a soft wash cloth and the small stenciling brush shown in my last post.  I will be getting a waxing brush very soon, but for this project, I did ok with the smaller brush, as my surfaces were smaller, but for any bigger projects, I will need the ease of use that the waxing brush gives. I've seen a few on Amazon, or you can visit your local Annie Sloan stockist. Don't know who sells ASCP and supplies in your area? Just do a quick Google search!

As I brushed on the wax, I buffed it in and wiped off the excess with an old wash cloth. I let it set up over night before I set anything on it. You want to be sure to let it 'dry' all the way before you set anything atop your furniture, as the wax will still be soft and you probably don't want little *divots* in your surfaces. 

After it was dry, it was good to go. Or so I thought. I had these beautiful orange lilies (no pictures, sorry) that I separated from a larger bouquet that I placed in a vase on this table. Now, with this paint and waxing technique, you are supposed to be able to live with it as normal as a "dipped" piece of furniture. Practically indestructible. 

IF you wax it correctly. 

Which I apparently did not. 

I think I must have put too much wax on, or didn't buff it enough. It was a tiny bit 'sticky' when I was done, but it dried up really well. Maybe I just shouldn't have put one of the most pollen dropping flower I have ever had in my house on this table. Then again, maybe it's just the flower, and not my table. Apparently, you aren't supposed to rub or wipe the pollen off of the surface. (Learn how to remove your own pollen stains here).

Anyway, I did just that. And smeared it. A lot. Then I tried to wash it off with warm water and a cloth, a magic eraser, paper towels, all of which made it much, much worse. I even tried to lightly sand it out. When that didn't work, I just rolled up my sleeves and started sanding away. I just sanded the areas with the dark orange smears as much as I could. I knew I didn't have to go overboard, because, with the miracle that is Annie Sloan Chalk Paint®, you can just paint right over any mistake...wax or not. 

So, I did. I just opened my can, dipped my brush in a little, and swiped a little coat of paint right over the pollen stains. I set it in front of the window to dry, and rechecked it to be sure no stain was seeping through. It didn't, so I moved on to waxing. 

I just put a light coat on with the cloth and buffed it in really good. Let it dry, and it is perfect. No stains, no stickiness. And I'm able to set anything on it.

Well, I think I'll pass on the lilies....

I'm sorry I don't have more pics showing the process, but I didn't know how it was going to turn out. I wasn't even sure I was going to share it. But, I am happy with it, and I now have the practice, and confidence, to jump into those big projects that are waiting for me.

I can't wait to get the chairs done. We have a ton of other projects we need to get under way, including a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom...

But, I'll continue to share as we move along. I hope this encourages you to try this painting technique for yourself. It's so much fun, aside from being easy and quick. There's nothing like instant gratification!

Thanks for reading today and have a great weekend!


*The opinions in this post are entirely my own. I have not received any compensation from Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® or any other company mentions in this post.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Is That Chicken...?! (No, I don't eat meat and why it's totally not a big deal...)

Hi Everyone!

I hope you all had a wonderful Fourth! I will be posting a little about ours here later in the week, but until then, here is a little recipe that has been sitting in my queue and I wanted to share it with you real quick.

Now, I am a vegetarian. I have been for a little while. Why? (Everyone wants to know why.) I know it's mostly curiosity, especially because I come from a place where almost no one ( if anyone) is vegetarian. 

               Cow town...
A place where people love their biscuits and gravy, bacon and fried chicken (and pork chops and corn bread and ham and beans, etc. etc...) 

Anyway, I was raised on meat. I've been a vegetarian before. But this time, it's for different reasons altogether. 

Don't worry, I won't preach. I won't try to gross you out with all the Peta enhanced documentation of animal cruelty cases and big corporate no-no's of what you are all doing wrong (because I don't think you are wrong...). I care, but I just don't have the stomach for it. (For now...*big cheesy grin*) But, it is the reason for my conversion. The cruelty in which manufacturers pump out the production of their "product" is just so wrong, and all for money. That goes for product testing, too. Who can stop it? Who can restore the balance between necessity and gluttony? Only us, the consumers. That's all. Opening our eyes to the possibility of a kinder way of doing things. *Big happy grin* heart heart rainbow rainbow butterfly butterfly kiss kiss 

Now I'm done. Soapbox put away....

Ok, so...that's why I am a vegetarian. It's simple. I can no longer eat animals. That's it. If you know me really well, you know that I love animals, have rescued all of ours, feed the birds outside, compost, save worms and turtles, and even feed the slugs outside. I do. Am I weird? Maybe to you. But to me it has always been a normal way of life. Is it so weird to love that much? I'm still working on the human to human love. It's a bit harder, sometimes. Animals are innocent, most humans are not. But, I'm learning and growing and realizing everyone has pain and reasons for being the way that they are. Love and patience; it is a very good start to a wonderful recipe for life, I think.  

All of our animals have lived to ripe old ages, except my little tadpole Grow-a-Frogs. Something was up with those. So I won't have anymore. The one I had years ago when Tyler was about 10 years old would have probably lived to 25, but my cat, Thor, climbed up on top of the huge entertainment center, knocked his habitat down, and ate him. I was very mad. And I looked for that frog all day, in hopes of finding him. I didn't  :'( 

But, I digress. Since my spiritual shift in 2008, and then my total transformation after our mothers passed, it's been a change in the making. But I was never a big meat eater. I loved bacon, and I was a cheeseburger connoisseur. I really, really loved both of those things. But, over time, it just left me. How can I feed the slugs outside bits of banana and turn around and use leather, or animal tested products and eat meat?! 

I can't. So, the natural progression for me was to stop. And I did. Just like that. No missing it. No problem finding something to eat. In my house there is no meat, except the turkey meat breakfast sandwiched Noah buys for himself and Tyler. And I buy cruelty free dairy ( Organic Valley milk-NOT Horizon organic milk because it is not cruelty free.) And Cruelty free eggs. Preferably from that small town I live in. (We are allowed to have chickens in our yards right in town. Cool. And these people LOVE their yard birds. They are pets, not really 'eating' chickens).

So, how do I get around this? No meat? What about protein?! What about NUTRITION?! Oh the horror!!! 
My sister insists that I will starve to death and be protein deficient. *SMH* Human beings really need about 46 grams a day (for your daily needs, and a little info on protein, click here, if you like).

So, I get more than enough. Most food has a bit of protein, and I eat soy protein on top of that, so I'm loaded. I'm good, really. I eat enough, believe me!

Now, for a typical dinner to show you I am not starving my family or myself, I'm not a "fad" lover, and not falling in the "trend" category of what's popular at the moment. How many of you even knew I was vegetarian? My own best friend didn't know. Our closest family friend didn't know, I bet none of my family knows. It's a private choice that does not need to be broadcast. So, why am I broadcasting it now? Because I have awesome recipes to share if you dare, and I wanted to clear up any questions and get it out of the way. And to shed some light on the not-so-weird personal choice of being a vegetarian or vegan. Some people just have allergies and have to be vegan. As I've gotten older, I've started having funny break-outs and it could be a dairy thing, who knows. And, yes, some people latch on to whatever is trendy at the moment, maybe for attention, maybe because they are just not satisfied with whatever, but who are we to judge, right?

There, out of the way. 

We can begin. 

 "Chicken" and Quinoa with Mushrooms, Broccoli and Brown Butter Balsamic Asparagus

Yum. Seriously. 

Now, what does that look like to you...?

Smells like it, too...

This is the magic maker...

Looks like chicken, doesn't it? Tastes like it, too. Smells like it. Feels like it. Grills up like it. It's a miracle. Here's the breakdown of protein on this ONE plate. All of our plates were the same. Yep...Noah and Tyler ate this, too. UNFORCED. 

And they loved it.

Soy protein "chicken": 20g
1 Cup Quinoa: 24g
1/2 C Broccoli: 1.3g
1/2 C Asparagus: 1.5g
1/2 cup Baby Bella mushrooms: 2g

Our ONE meal had just under 50 grams of protein in it. More than my daily need. That's strong. That's pure muscle building healthy protein. And it was SO gooood!

I love this balsamic brown butter asparagus. Here's how to make this up for your family. Go ahead and use chicken if you want. I used to eat chicken, but when I did, I always bought antibiotic free, steroid free, cruelty free chicken. Hard to find? Not really. Our little "mom-and-pop" grocery store in town carried it, so did the local Wal-Mart and Shop 'N Save. If you live near a Dierbergs, Schnucks, or Whole Foods, they will definitely have it.

Here is my asparagus recipe from Allrecipes. I just washed and cut up the broccoli and roasted it in there with the asparagus and covered it in the same sauce. Oh, so delish!

I followed the directions on the bag for the Chick'n and grilled that up and then, I sauteed the mushrooms in a little butter and salt and pepper in the pan right after the Chick'n. I bought a box of quinoa and cooked that right up according to the directions on its box, and viola! Done. Time to eat. They loved it. It was delicious, filling and good for you. You can even have dessert.

Interested? Let me know if you try it and how you like it. You know, I've read for years in magazines (Woman's Day, Family Circle, All You...) to cut down your grocery costs and try to have at least one or two non-meat meals per week to be healthier and save your hard earned dollars....

Give it a try!

Have a fab week!



*All opinions are my own. I received no compensation and am not affiliated with from Deirbergs, Walmart, Schnucks, Shop'nSave, Gardein, Grow-a-frog, Allrecipes, Woman's Day, All You, Family Circle or Peta at the time of this post.