Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Match Made In Seven: Our Music Icon

Music Icon(s) From The Seventies

Hello everyone, and welcome to another edition of Match Made In Seven. If you are new to the blog, here is a review of what we do here at Match Made In Seven.

We are an international group of fashion bloggers who meet once a month. One of us chooses a theme in turn, and that can be anything. A book, music, a color, a movie. And then we style an outfit based on that theme. The theme of this month is chosen by Nancy and is: Our Music Icon! Also, take a look at the other bloggers and how they have interpreted the theme this month. (See list at end of post)

When Nancy told us her choice for this month's theme I started pulling CD's off the shelf trying to figure out how to choose just one music icon! I'm pretty eclectic when it comes to music and what you see displayed here doesn't even touch on classical! My upbeat musical tastes were honed during the seventies when groups like the Bee Gees, The Carpenters, Captain and Tennille and the musical styles of disco were all the rage. But, one icon seemed to stand out as I perused my collection and I have chosen her for this post; Olivia Newton-John. 

Olivia's career has spanned decades and along with loving her songs such as "Hopelessly Devoted to You" and "Let's Get Physical" I also admire her strength as she has battled cancer three times. I loved her in Xanadu and Grease. As I researched photos of her I noticed that often her clothing style is casual, yet stylish, like you see in the CD cover above. I also remember that in the seventies when I first began listening to her music, I was most often seen in jeans, a tucked-in tee shirt and tennis shoes. So, that's how I'm styling myself for today's post. We'll call it "Flashback to the Seventies" styling!

So, here I am in my favorite 1970's outfit....oh, who am I kidding, it's still my favorite outfit!  I chose my thrifted yellow tee with butterflies on the front, my Vintage American Blues jeans and my New Balance running shoes for my icon outfit. My hair is styled similarly to Olivia's on the CD cover. 

I chose simple, small blue earrings to wear. I didn't go in for big earrings or lots of jewelry in the seventies. 

I loved to dance and found the disco vibe of lots of Olivia's music easy to dance to along with the music of my other icons. 

As I've been reading up on Olivia I have been impressed by her positive outlook on life as she battles cancer and her love for her daughter and her husband. She still performs today and is loved by so many fans around the world. 


And, she certainly is lovely, inside and out!

Please be sure to stop by the other lovely ladies' blogs to see how they are styling this month's theme! And, I would love to hear about your music icon when you leave me a comment! 

Until Next Time,

Monday, August 26, 2019

Easy DIY Flower and Paper Crafting Projects

Sharing Recent Craft Projects

Happy Monday!  I thought today would be a good time to share some of my recent craft projects with you. I've been busy in my craft room working on some more paper crafting/sign making as well as doing some new flower arrangements for the foyer table. I hope you enjoy!

I just haven't been inspired over the summer to change up the foyer table until a few days ago when I was browsing instagram and saw a pretty flower arrangement in a vintage type box. I began thinking how pretty such a box arrangement might look on the foyer table, so I went looking for a box to use. I ended up buying one on, of all places, the wedding aisle at A.C. Moore. The box you see above is one of those boxes you see couples use at weddings for guests to place cards inside. It's a whitewashed gray color and has a removable top with a slot. I simply turned the side that says "Cards" toward the wall. 

I wanted to choose flowers that would pull out the colors seen in my pretty quilts that hang above the door. I already had a few such silk flowers but I need more, so I went hunting at the Dollar Store to see what I could find.

I'm really pleased with the addition of the green and orangey/gold flowers to the mix. Just what I wanted! I decided to enhance the box arrangement by adding my faux succulents to the front and moving my succulent wreath to the hanger behind the box. I didn't like the hanger pole showing through the wreath, however, so I draped a crochet doily behind the wreath and added my wooden house as an accent. What do you think? Would you rather see the pole or do you like the doily and little house addition? 

I'm trying to decided if this is too much for the foyer table and if I should just have the box display without the wreath. What do you think, readers?  You will also notice that I switched out the door wreath and added the "R" I created awhile back underneath the wreath. 

Next up, is some paper crafting I did to create a new sign. I used some brick style scrapbook paper to create the background design and then added 3-D homestyle stickers on top.

Here's a closeup of the stickers.

And, here is the completed sign. Not sure where I will display this, yet. For now, it is gracing my craft room!

Hope you enjoyed my crafting today. Be sure to let me know your thoughts in the comments. Have you signed up to follow me by email yet?  It's so easy and you won't ever miss a single post! Just look for the sign up on the sidebar of my blog.  And do be sure to stop by Wednesday for another edition of "Match Made In Seven" an international blogger group collaboration.  See you then!

Until Next Time,

Saturday, August 24, 2019

My Upcoming Online Courses Through Be A Disciple

Online Courses I Am Offering

I will be teaching two online courses through beadisciple.com coming up in September. One is a course I personally wrote entitled, "A Daily Dose of Faith, Hope and Love," which is a five day course that focuses on I Corinthians 13. The other course is a book study on Trevor Hudson's book about The Serenity Prayer. The course is entitled, "Finding Serenity" and is a two week course. No book needed for Faith, Hope and Love but you will need the Trevor Hudson book for the Finding Serenity course. Cost for each course is $50. Link is attached for the Be A Disciple site if you are interested. I would love to have you in my online classes! See links below. 

Until Next Time,

Thursday, August 22, 2019

The House That Love Built Series Four Before and After

The Before And After Photos and A Few Final Thoughts 

Hello everyone and welcome back to the fourth and final installment of my series, "The House That Love Built." I hope you have enjoyed the three previous posts in which I have given you a behind the scenes look at our sixteen year renovation project on our current home. Along the way, I have shared construction images, favorite spaces and told a few tales about our adventures in this house. I even gave you a little history of where we lived before moving into this house. Today's post will be a bit of a review (teacher talk) in which I show you before/after photos and talk a little bit in general about the concept of sweat equity. Hope you enjoy!

Kitchen Before

Kitchen After

Living Room Before

Living Room After

Master Bedroom Before

Master Bedroom After

At this point, I'll pause the pics for a bit and talk a little about the sweat equity concept. Have you heard of that term? The first I heard of it was back in the 1980's while watching the "This Old House" series on PBS. Bob Vila, Norm Abram and the rest of the This Old House cast would take an old home and show the viewers how they could do the DIY work in order to renovate the house. By doing many of the restoration jobs themselves, the home owner could save a lot of money and, therefore, have more of an investment in their home. My husband and I have applied this idea of sweat equity to all three houses we have owned. We did as much of the work on each house as we could, learning a lot along the way. I think sweat equity is an interesting concept in today's "gotta have it now" world. This concept takes hard work, the ability to learn and, most importantly, the ability to wait on something being completed. Sweat equity does not produce fast results. But, it does produce projects done by yourself with fewer costs and gives so much pride in the completed project! Naturally, each person must make up their own mind about how much DIY work they are willing to do and how much they wish to hire out to others. I have to admit that, on my own, I most likely would not have done the amount of sweat equity work as we have done together as a couple. My husband enjoys this type of work and not everyone does. There are also certain jobs with house renovation that need to have licensed people doing the work for safety such as electricians and plumbers. It's very important to do DIY home projects safely and to also know the permits that are required in your area. 

Craft/Guest Room Before

Craft/Guest Room After

In the end, sweat equity can be a satisfying way to achieve your home renovation. I know that the Mr. and I feel true ownership of our home because of the countless hours of work that have gone into transforming this house into a home. It hasn't been easy along the way, but we both know that it has been worth it! 

Thanks so much for going on this "memories of renovation" journey with me in these last four posts. Next week I'll be back to styling life with you as I share a recent craft project and on Wednesday, August 28th, be sure to stop by for another Match Made In Seven international blogger's post. I think you will get a kick out of this month's theme!

If you missed the previous posts to The House That Love Built:
Part One
Part Two
Part Three

Until Next Time,

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Nature Photography At The Arboretum

How I Did Nature Photography

On a very hot day yesterday, I walked around the North Carolina Arboretum, camera in hand snapping photos of amazingly beautiful flowers, plants and butterflies. I have been working to improve my photography skills this past year and I'll share a couple of hints with you. 

I am not a professional photographer by any stretch of the imagination. My husband is an excellent photographer, however, and shares tips with me. Plus, just from doing four years of blogging with my little camera, I have picked up a few tried and true things I think about when doing photography. 

First off, I look for interesting features that catch the eye-things like the water dancing upward  in this water fountain. I shot this picture with the sun behind me which made for a clearer picture. Having people in the background gives some scale and interest to the photo as well.

Notice how this picture of the same water fountain looks different. The dancing water is not as crisp because the sun is in front of me. There is more of a shadowy effect which brings out the swirls in the water. I wanted to highlight the mountains in this pic, but the swirls in the water seem to stand out more. For me, photography is still often trial and error.

I also like to zoom in on points of interest. Here, I am zooming in on the beautiful butterfly while making sure leave greenery and flowers around the butterfly for framing. Framing the main point of the picture is important.

I also try to follow the rule of thirds. My main focus in this picture is the tree trunk filled with lichens. I centered on the tree trunk and tried to have one third green on either side. 

Depending on what you are trying to capture in your photo the rule of thirds may not work. In this photo I wanted to highlight the kinked tree trunk as well as the dramatic drape of the pines. 

This picture shows a variety of heights which is interesting. I decided to zoom in on the pink flower you see in the upper right. Look at the next picture to see the zoom effect. 

Wow, you can really see the intricate details of the petals can't you?!  I also got a little bit of bokeh which is always exciting for me. Bokeh is when the background of a picture is blurry with the main focus of the picture being crystal clear. I do not use a camera that has changeable lens like my husband's. My camera is digital-a Sony Cyber Shot. It does have different settings I can use by turning the setting dial which is a nice feature for a little camera. I was using "Superior Auto" for these pictures.

These plants reminded me of Florida. The angle I shot at shows one behind the other giving a little depth to the picture.

This is an example of a not so good picture. I love the color of these flowers but, unfortunately, the wood stick on the left and the metal something (not sure what it is) on the right take away from the pretty flowers. Oh well. Not framed well.

Good bokeh here focusing on the bumblebee on the pink flowers.

And, finally, finding a cluster of objects such as these three flower containers together provides an interesting picture with the variety of colors and foliage! 

Hot as it was, I enjoyed walking around the arboretum and looking at nature through my camera lens. I hope you enjoyed walking with me and, perhaps, I gave you a helpful hint or two about taking pictures. If you already knew all of this, I hope you enjoyed the photos!  Do you like taking nature pictures? Hope you'll leave me a comment. I love hearing from my readers. 

*All photography in this post by Debbie Ross

Until Next Time,

Monday, August 19, 2019

The House That Love Built Series Part Three

A Little History and Currently

Hey Everyone and welcome to Part Three of my series about our 16+ year renovation of our home. It has been quite the journey and if you have read Part One and Part Two you have seen several finished areas of our home. Today, I will share our current renovation project, take a look back at our previous homes and share my thoughts on house renovation in general. I hope you enjoy! 

The pic you see above was taken as my husband was removing the walls in our dining room. This is our current reno project and I am happy to say that, for the most part, it is coming to a close. Isn't this lovely? This is what house renovation looks like when you are living in the house at the same time as the renovation is going on. For much of the sixteen years that we have lived in this house there have been similar projects going on within our home. I will be honest in saying that living in a house while such extreme renovation is happening is not easy! I'm not trying to be over-dramatic at all when I say that the smile you see on my face in the above picture was my attempt to give a lighthearted approach to what I was feeling inside which was, "here we go again!!" I am a person who really does not like disarray and confusion going on around me. Renovation of a home is the epitome of disarray and confusion because walls get knocked down, furniture is moved and has to be put someplace else in the house not to mention trying to live without particular areas in your house (like the kitchen) being able to be used. And, don't even get me started on the dust that is made!! In the end the renovations are worth it, but going through them can cause even the hardiest soul to cry a tear or two! At this point, some of you may be asking yourself why on earth we have lived through almost 36 years of home renovations? To that I can only reply this.....it's a little thing called life. Let's go back in time and look at a little history shall we? 


Welcome to 1985

This is our very first house that we purchased in 1985. I'm taking pictures of pictures to show these to you so forgive the quality, which wasn't great to start with. This first home was a tremendous 950 square foot two bedroom one bath house with a good sized yard on a quiet little street. This is what it looked like soon after we moved in and that's the Mr. standing in front of the house. We never even thought we could afford to buy a house so we were thrilled and I thought we were moving into a castle!! The house had good bones with pine knot panelling inside and a wall sized stone fireplace that I absolutely loved! We wanted to do some painting, add carpeting and make it look like ours. 

When we sold the house seven years later this is what it looked like. During our time in this house we had both returned to school to change careers; me to get elementary teaching certification and the Mr. to get high school math certification after leaving a career in architecture. In addition we had done extensive painting inside and outside of the house, added attic stairs, renovated a back room into a dining room, refinished the hard wood floors and carpeted two rooms. I cried when we moved from our lovely little cottage. But, it was time to move on.

Welcome to 1992

This is the house we moved to from our little cottage. Sixteen hundred square feet upstairs and downstairs with a carport attached that opened directly into the kitchen. Talk about space! I remember that on the day we moved in I was putting things away and I told the Mr. that I felt like I had moved into Barbie's Dream House! This house had about 2/3 of an acre of property with a nice yard in back that climbed a hillside and had a stone wall along the edge of the property. However, it was located on a busy street with a double line on a downhill meaning lots of traffic going by most of the time as people entered and exited this very busy neighborhood. Our mailbox was run into numerous times by people speeding too fast and there were other things that, over the years, made us realize that, perhaps, this wasn't our forever house. 

This is what the house looked like when we moved ten years later. It looks pretty much the same on the outside except you can see the bowed picture window we installed and trees we planted but, inside the house, we did extensive renovations. The kitchen was redone with new countertops, painted cabinetry, new appliances and an eating bar built by my husband. He installed wood parquet flooring, redid both bathrooms and painted throughout the house. We created a family room in the basement and he built a basement storage closet. At the same time that all this renovation was happening, I earned a Master's Degree in Elementary Education and both the Mr. and I went through the process of earning National Board Certification for teaching which is no easy feat. Plus, we were teaching full time, playing in music groups, being with family and living life. And, yes, I cried the day we moved. But, it was time to move on.

Welcome To Moving Day 2002

Ah yes, moving day sixteen years ago. How well I remember that day. This is the living room of our current house a few days after we moved in. Boxes and furniture everywhere. As you can see my husband had already knocked down the wall shelf I told you about that was black, orange and gold. You can look through to the hallway where wood is leaning against the walls. Remember I said earlier that I don't like disarray? But, I digress. Let's get back to our move-in day. 

We moved in at Thanksgiving of 2002. I remember we were packing our previous house up and ended up eating turkey sandwiches at Subway for our Thanksgiving meal. The Mr. had rented a truck to move our things the following morning and we had some friends who had agreed to help us. What we didn't expect was that the next morning, as I was following behind the Mr. as he drove the truck to our new house, that I saw smoke billowing out of the back of the moving truck. The truck was malfunctioning and had to be pulled over on the interstate where my husband ended up stuck. Our friends came to the rescue and the truck had to be unpacked on the side of the interstate with our belongings put in their pick-up trucks to be brought to our new house. On top of this snafu, there were several other things that happened that day. We were on a time crunch to be out of our old house as the new owners showed up with their moving truck before we were finished moving out! The fact that our moving truck had broken down had put us behind schedule and we were moving things out of our old house while the new owners were moving things in! My husband had also contracted to play with his brass quintet for a downtown festival that evening which started off the holiday season city-wide and as time got closer for him to leave to go play we realized all of the "moving" we still had to do. We had imagined that things would go much more quickly than what was happening!

We finally got things moved into our "new" house and the Mr. rushed off to play the concert while a friend and I tried to get the bedroom in some semblance of order for sleeping. (Picture above with the mirror). We had decided to sleep in the second bedroom rather than the master bedroom and I wanted to vacuum the floor. So, I plugged in the vacuum, turned it on and......flames shot out of the wall. At that point, I had absolutely had enough for one day and my friend took pity on me and took me out for a rest and a well deserved meal. That, my friends, was our move-in day. It's a day that I will never forget! 

The picture you see above was what our kitchen looked like originally. I mentioned in Part One that I was not a happy camper moving into this house. Move in day did not help me to feel better. The house had no working heating system as the boiler system was defunct and there were massive issues to be dealt with. But, what this house did have going for it was good bones, gorgeous acres of property and one determined husband and wife team who knew that this house could be made into a home. We got busy right away.

The Years of Current House Renovation 2002-2019

There's no way that I can show you pictures of all that has been done to this house in the last 16 years. But, I can tell you that it has been practically rebuilt from the inside out and that it is a project that has been ongoing these last sixteen years. The first thing we did was to install a new heating system and all new windows followed soon after. 

Inside walls were re-painted which also involved repairing areas of rot, removing drywall, wallpaper and wainscoting and fixing ceilings where shelving had been removed. A licensed electrician checked out all of the electrical wiring in the house. 

My husband totally gutted the kitchen area back to the studs and installed new drywall, repairing years of damage. This is the area where our stove, sink and countertop now stand. 

And this is where our eating bar, round dining table and desk are located now. 

And this is what our master bedroom looked like when we moved in before the walls were redone. And so on it has gone. In addition to all these renovations, though, other things were also happening in our lives which added to the time it has taken to redo our present home. You know, that thing called life? Since we have lived here, we both continued teaching full time, playing in music groups and being with family. The Mr. also decided to earn his Master's Degree in math and then he ended up having triple bypass heart surgery. We certainly didn't see that one coming! He recovered well and we both went on to re-new our National Board Teaching certification which was not easy the second time around either! In the meantime, I retired and now the Mr. has retired as of this July. And....we are still renovating!

Our Current Renovation Project

Remember the first picture I showed you on this post of our dining room? Well, this is what it is looking like now...

Fresh, newly painted drywall and baseboard. This is the same corner I am standing in with a smile in the first pic at the top of this post. As we speak, the furniture is going back into place. I can't wait to show you the totally completed room!

So, a few final thoughts for this post. I hope that if any of you dear readers are going through renovation projects of your own, that you will take heart and be encouraged by reading my series. Renovating a house is hard, people! Moving to new houses is also hard! And, it doesn't always happen overnight...or even in a few weeks....or months....or, even....years. Patience and understanding is key when going through these times, especially when "life" can get in the way! Which brings me to how I contribute to our house renovation projects. You may have noticed that I speak a lot about what the Mr. is doing. What is Debbie doing? Well, I call myself the "gopher" for our reno projects. I do a little bit of everything including, but not limited to, holding ladders, supporting wood pieces being nailed or cut, cleaning up messes, carrying drywall pieces out to the truck to go to the dump, cooking meals, bringing water, fetching tools, participating in endless conversations about how projects should be completed and, most of all, being PATIENT. And, oh yeah...avoiding flames when they shoot out of the wall....and there was that time I was in the basement bailing water while the Mr. rushed to the hardware store to get a new pump for the sump pump. Since then, we have had the basement floor dug up and an underground drain system put in. But, that's a story for another day! 

The point I am making in this series, is that I have truly loved every house we have lived in over the years. We worked hard to make each home its own unique place. Each house holds a special place in my heart. And, I love the house we live in now. There has been a whole lot of living happening in each place we have called "home." I have cried when I had to leave each of our homes and go to another. We both feel that this house is our "forever home" and we have no plans to move. But, if that should ever happen, I know I will cry on the day I move from here. That's just the way I roll. 

I hope you will join me for the final entry in this series (Part Four) in which I hope to show you some before/after photos and reflect on the whole idea of putting sweat equity into a house. Hope you will take time to leave a comment and if you are doing any renovation or other type projects in your home I would love to hear about them!

Until Next Time,