Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Green and White Kitchen

One of the fun things for me about this blog is capturing the look and feel of our home and our life. 
Our kitchen is one of the central places where those two converge most actively
and, therefore, it's one of the toughest for me to capture.

 The pictures above depict the look of our kitchen, but they aren't very true to life. 


This one is more the feel and the life part.
So today I'm just going with the look of the kitchen, 
on a rare very clean (for me) day.

 Most of the kitchen was like this when we moved in. 
The main changes we've made have been to add more storage and counter space, 
and to provide some authentic "distressing" (as seen above).
Oh yes, and I "mistreated" the window. Nothing but pins holding that together. 
I'm not even sure the Nester would be proud.

I love the wide farmhouse sink. It's great for soaking linens, 
bathing babies, and holding lots of dirty dishes.

The open shelves are wonderful. It's so easy to put things away and to find what I'm looking for.

The subway tiles help to complete the plain, vintage style. 
Even with open shelves it doesn't end up looking too cluttered ~
partly because the colors and design are so simple, 
and partly because I've tried to limit the dishes to mostly white bone china and glass,
with a little bit of warmth thrown in.


It's oddly satisfying to see the china stacked and hung so neatly. 


 On the single long shelf I keep a little collection of milk glass vases, 
exclusively acquired from my local Goodwill store.

 The turquoise towels were a discount buy from One King's Lane.

 We had these storage cubbies built in the space above the washer and dryer
in the service porch area which leads out to the backyard. 
The baskets house bulky items, dry goods, and paper products.

 I made the little chalkboard signs with wooden tags I found at Michael's, 
painted with chalkboard paint and tied to the baskets with twine.

 I also designed and we had built the corner counter, shelf, and pantry cupboard. 
I matched the style of the existing cabinets and ordered identical hardware.

The wine rack was a discount buy from Anthropologie. 
The pendant lights are in keeping with the arts and crafts era in which the house was built.

And there you have it.
Our kitchen ~ the look.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Grain Sack Bolster Pillow?

 I recently took a trip to Ikea with the goal of buying 
some folding patio chairs to replenish our supply. 
Sadly, they had none. All gone. Oh well.

I did, however, find this woven striped rug--
not too painful an impulse buy at $3.75.
And, I got out of there spending less than $25, 
which is pretty impressive--I'm sure you agree.

Inspired by, Rie at Home & Harmony
I imagined this rug (and it's twin, which I also bought) 
as a bolster pillow with a grain sack look.

So I rummaged around until I found some scraps of dropcloth 
left over from my first slipcover adventure.

I   cut  tore some long strips and tied up 
an old floppy pillow to make a long roll shape.

Then I rolled the pillow up in the rug 
and tied the ends with more strips of dropcloth.

Hmm. Did this work?
Does it look more like a slightly nautical, vintage-y grain sack bolster pillow,

or, like a pillow rolled up in a rug?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Simple Summer Cooking ~ Caprese Salad

Caprese salad is one of my very favorite culinary delights of summer, 
along with all things grilled and ice cream. Lots of ice cream.

It's super quick and easy to make.


fresh basil,
tasty tomatoes, 
and mozzarella cheese

Slice 'em up and drizzle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a bit of salt. 


Monday, June 20, 2011

Red, White, and Wicker ~ Simple Entry

 Our entry is simple and functional, if not always this neat.

It's usually strewn with toys and shoes (especially during this sticky summer season).

{original door hardware}

 I've tried to make it work for us ~ a crate to contain said toys,

{thrifted Pottery Barn "found" crate}

a comfy place for me to sit in the shade while the kids play,

{Ikea chair and toile pillow from Marshall's}

 a cheerful mailbox, in keeping with the vintage feel of our home and neighborhood.

{post box came with the house}

and a limited color palette of reds, whites, and greys.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Rest and Persevere

Justin Taylor recently summarized a conversation between Kevin DeYoung and Tullian Tchividjian about law and gospel, sanctification and justification, and how we describe and understand the interplay between these things in the Christian life. 

At our church we have recently begun a sermon series on prayer, and already these same questions and concerns are being raised and discussed as we digest and apply the preaching of the word. My reflections here stem from a response to and consideration of these strains of thought and conversation. This is what I think I need to remember.
. . .

Christians should make every effort toward righteous living. 

We should long to live holy lives and we should welcome godly exhortation to holiness. We should be sensitive to the conviction of sin, and we should struggle against our sin as we strive toward righteousness. 

This should not be winked at or taken lightly or swept aside. Any denial of these things would be antinomianism and would presume upon God’s grace. However, exhortation toward effort without intentional, specific grounding in the gospel can leave us, believers, confused and uncertain.

When we are awakened to and convicted by the law and in the face of our failures to measure up to the law, we must remember the gospel. We must re-orient our understanding to the bedrock security of our present identity and our glorious future in Christ.

This remembering and re-orienting is one of (if not the) primary activity of Christian soul. Without the word and sacrament to aid us in this we flounder and sink, so easily forgetting or downplaying or misappropriating our gospel security.  Exhortation to work out our sanctification without grounding it in clear gospel ventures into the quicksand of works righteousness—

Instead of adeptly recognizing and applying the gospel to our inevitable failure, we are likely left

                                                                                    anxious—about what? 

About our performance
                                                   ability to measure up, 
                                                                                       failure to grow sufficiently in sanctification.

We should be grieved by our sin, but let us not be anxious and burdened by the law. 
Let us remember that his yoke is easy and his burden is light.
The necessary fulcrum of our understanding of sanctification must be 
Christ’s sufficiency 
and the security of those who are in him. 
Despite our constant failures of feeling, thought, word and deed,
it is he who works in us to justify and to sanctify. 

And so I need to remember to rest in that truth—and persevere in the struggle against sin, 

                                       against laziness, 

                                                            against disappointment, 

                                            against greed, 



Rest and persevere in the struggle. 

Rest and struggle. 

Rest because you are secure. 

Struggle because your flesh and the world are fallen. 

But don’t struggle because you are not secure. 
And don’t rest because you don’t recognize sin. 

A true understanding of the law and the gospel would lead us to be ever more clearly  
detecting and detesting our own sin (and therefore struggling all the more against it)
                                              and then ever more deeply resting in the assurance of God’s favor,
                                                       of our justification and sanctification in Christ, by his merit and God’s grace.

So let us pray with Paul, “that our God may make [us] worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in [us], and [we] in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Pray that God would do it, knowing he will.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Free Desk ~ from Ugly to Umm...Better

A few months ago I picked up this desk. A neighbor was giving it away.

It was pretty damaged from being left next to a humidifier, and the finish was scuffed and stained.

The leather top had nail polish spills and scratches.

So, gaining confidence from the ugliness and the certainty that it couldn't get any worse,
and with some tips and encouragement from Holly (she was so kind to email me back!),

I painted over all that mess.
I started with grey auto primer. (It was what I found in the garage.)  

Then I painted on some Kilz white primer, and some green paint leftover from my table revamp.

Then I brushed on a few coats of white interior wall paint 
and sanded it a bit to reveal the green undercoat.

Finally, I gave the top a quick coat of wipe-on poly.

Presto-chango ~ new bedside table!

I picked up the lamp at a second-hand store in Santa Barbara--
turquoise blown glass, brass fittings, and a milk glass base.
The locker basket is from Home Goods 
and the artichoke votive is from Anthropologie.
The books are some of what I've been thinking about and dreaming about lately.

So, again, ugly . . .

and better.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Opening the Door ~ Some Thoughts on Cultivating a Love of Reading and a Few Recommendations

 I grew up loving to read, stacks of books, late into the night. 

Before Elizabeth was born I taught high school English--especially literature, 
hoping to communicate some of the joy that books have brought me. 

And now, as a mom supervising my kids' incremental exposure 
to the mysteries and wonders of the world, 
books remain a primary means of opening the door 
to adventure, imagination, beauty, and critical thinking. 

 This is Van's bookshelf. 
We love all sorts of books, but for picture books 
I look for that perfect combination of great text and beautiful artwork.

Some of my favorite illustrators are 
Michael Hague, Barry Moser and Trina Schart Hyman.

I love Margaret Hodges' version of Saint George and the Dragon, illustrated by T. S. Hyman.

Other favorite picture books are Cynthia Rylant's When I Was Young in the Mountains
Barbara Cooney's Miss Rumphius, and Kim Lewis' Days on the Farm.

We read together every night before bed, and throughout the day as time allows. 
As they have grown in what they are able to understand 
some of our favorites have been Kenneth Graham's The Wind in the Willows
C. S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia, J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan
and Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons.

The stories, even those words and details that go over their heads, 
fill them with all kinds of matter for play--
battles to fight, journeys to travel, discoveries to make.

I often overhear Jack or Elizabeth narrating his or her own play 
(or even narrating something they are playing together),

 "...and then, in the dark of night, the wicked dragon swooped down and snatched up the knight...."

They listen to me read as much as I will and then they listen to audio books. 
I think this is how they've been perfecting their English accents.

You can download free audiobooks from these sites:

(Charlotte's Web, read by E. B. White)

(they have The Wizard of Oz and Kipling's Just So Stories, among others)

(everything from Little Women and Peter Pan 
to Homer's Iliad and Odyssey and The Poems of Robert Frost)

How do you cultivate a love of reading?
What are some of your favorite books, illustrators and resources?

Happy reading!

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