Happy Feast Day!

Today is the feast day of St. Cecilia, who happens to be the incredible saint I chose for my Confirmation in eighth grade to be the saint I would imitate and who would be my guide and leader to our one, true, and loving God...a.k.a. my heroine.  :)  So, because of her day and her awesomeness, she deserves a special, it's-not-Saturday blog post.

(image found here)

There are so many words I could type to describe this holy woman but I'll stick to the stories that pluck my heart strings and that glorify our Lord, proving His powerful presence and undying love for us.

Cecilia was married to a man named Valerian, an arranged marriage, but vowed to remain a virgin.  On their wedding night she revealed this vow to her new husband and also told him that an angel of God in her presence, guarded her virginity and would let no one touch her.  She told Valerian that if he were to believe in the Lord and be baptized, he too would see the angel that guarded her.  He did and upon returning from his baptism, he saw Cecilia praying in her chamber, beside her an angel with flaming wings who placed two crowns of roses and lilies upon each of their heads.  Can you imagine?  Sometimes I wish God would allow us all to see the angels that roam this earth so that everyone would believe, but I know that we would either pass out or die just looking at their beauty.  And, what's the value of faith if everything is handed to you on a silver platter, right?

So anyway, on to the sad and a little gory, but glorious part of her life...her death.  Because of her outward love for God in a time when religion was persecuted, Saint Cecilia was condemned to die, first by enduring extreme heat and thereby, suffocation.  By the grace of God, and I mean by the grace of God (oh my gosh!), it had no effect on her - she didn't even SWEAT!  Seeing the ineffectiveness of her "death sentence", an executioner was sent in to sever her head.
(image found here)
  After three blows, he gave up trying.  He had succeeded in severing her head partially but she still lived for three days, preaching and praying to God.  After the three days were over and her death came to pass, those around her knew she must be in heaven.  It was around the year 177 A.D.
Now my fave part...in the year 1599, her body was exhumed and found incorrupt - meaning it did not show signs of decomposition!  If that's not proof of a working, magnificent God, I don't know what is?!  Things like this don't just happen! 

Presently, Saint Cecilia is buried in a church built in her honor in Rome.
The picture above shows a sculpture in St. Cecilia's in Rome that was handcrafted by a sculptor who was present at the time her body was exhumed and found incorrupt.  He formed his masterpiece based on what he saw, Cecilia's body 'distored but somehow graceful'.  The pavement in front of the statue contains a round marble slab with an inscription of the artist's statement, made under oath, that Cecilia's body was found incorrupt:
Behold the body of the most holy virgin Cecilia,
whom I myself saw lying incorrupt in the tomb.
I have in this marble expressed for you the same saint in the very same posture.
(Quoted from here.)

Her story takes my breath away every time I hear it and causes me to love God with a renewed fervor, counting on his unending mercy and hoping to one day be in the His presence and that of all of His saints.
Saint Cecilia...Pray for us!
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To read more about Saint Cecilia, click here and/or here.
To read about more incorrupt saints, click here.  (Yes, there are lots more!)
To read more on what the big deal about consecrated virginity is and why it's special, click here and/or here.

Nothing New

Happy Saturday everyone!  I for one am estatic that's it's the weekend because it happens to be the only weekend in three weekends that I've been home!  Last weekend, I went on a road trip with three high school crazies -
- to visit my alma mater, Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio.  The two weekends before that Anthony and I were retreats, one as chaperones and one as 'retreatants'.  All of the days in between it was work, work, work and no play, play, play (which you all know in my case is translated diy, diy, diy).  However, to keep you entertained and coming back, I've got a better-late-than-never AND I promise that next week's post will be 'wall' worth it!  :)

Anywho, let's take a trip down memory lane, circa this past summer, back when our tomato plants were pumping out those little, red, succulent, maters like it was no one's business...
and when more than one of our daily meals consisted solely of homemade salsa and chips.
Well, it was during those hot, humid, glory days that some friends and I decided to have a craft night.  We cranked out a couple of plain-shirts-made-fab-with-embellishments that night (neither of which I have pictures of...shame on bad blogger me) and the much pinned melted crayon art project.  The process is as follows:
1 - Glue

2 - Melt with hair dryer

 3 - Admire
We liked it upside-down.  :)
Twas much fun!

It was also around that same time that I stumbled upon this criss-cross, geometric fabric
at a local discount store (for $5 a yard),  in exactly the amount I'd need to do what I had in mind and proceeded to drive just a little bit over the speed limit all the way home to make these:
(Sorry for the awful picture.)
About a year ago, I adorned our french doors with sheers and this time, instead of replacing the sheers with the new geometrics, I simply layered the two.  :)

And that's all I've got this week...pitiful, I know.  Time has not been my friend.  However, due to Thanksgiving, I have the whole week off next week and I've already got a list started...enough for, hmmm, let's see, five future blog posts?  Busy bee I will be...a busy, happy bee that is.  :)

In the meantime, I'm off to try to steal Anthony away from his studying to help me start reupholstering the loveseat!  :) 

Have a great weekend everyone and a Happy Thanksgiving!  Thanksgiving day also happens to be my beloved's birthday this year so I'll be celebrating my blessings times two!

Words From the Wise Irish Twin

To add some family fun lovin' to our blog, (er, what I really mean is, to distract you from the sad but true fact that I don't have another project whipped up or one of the many I've been "working on" done) I asked my Irish twin sis, Farrah, to guest post this lovely weekend.  She was born ten months and five days after me - me in February and her in December - and yes, we have the same mother.  As the story goes, our mother got a surprise notification at her post-birthing-me exam.  :)  News to us and known by God, we endearingly refer to that blessed surprise as "Peach".  She's one of the most artistic, creative people I know and I'm so excited for her to share her wisdom with y'all.  So, without further ado, here's Peach:
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Well, I'm excited to say, I am one day closer to putting my sister's fabulous tutorials, tips, and tricks to practice! But first, I must CLEAN.
A recent series of events has landed us in this little ditty.
It's a cute, little, three-bedroom house only a couple blocks from the beach. 
As my sister knows, I am a total sucker for all-natural products and all things DIY and budget-friendly; having a new baby only makes me more so.
So, to prepare my canvas (aka new home), I am pulling out all my cleaning secrets (or maybe not so much secret) but certainly all-natural, DIY, and cost-effective cleaning methods. Of particular interest, and for the purposes of this post, I am highlighting odor-fighting tricks and wanted to throw out a couple quick and easy recipes. Bear with me.

1. I use this to wipe down pretty much everything, including walls:
1 part (preferably distilled) water to 1 part distilled white vinegar
Lemon EO (optional)

That's it. So easy right? And vinegar as a cleaning agent rocks. Read more about it here. (O, and don't worry, as you clean, the vinegar smell will completely dissipate.) The essential oil is totally optional. Sometimes I'll even just throw in a fresh lemon peel (makes it pretty). A note though about the benefits of lemon essential oil. It is thought to lift spirits and fight fatigue and psychological weariness (definitely helpful when cleaning), and is a powerful antiseptic - antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal (also good for cleaning). It's also useful for a lot of other cool things. See here.

So, to rid of smells trapped in walls (aside from painting... also very effective, and I'm certain you can find a tutorial about that on here somewhere), I simply wipe them down with this solution using a soft sponge (so as not to destroy the paint).

I also set out bowls of straight up vinegar where needed (particularly smelly areas like closets) and let them sit anywhere from overnight to several days.

*Tip: If you get a gallon jug of vinegar, use half the jug to set out in bowls and replace that half of the jug with water to make your cleaning solution. To this I add about 40+ drops of Lemon EO.

2. To deodorize the carpet, we use this:
(Recipe adapted from aromaweb.com)
1 12 ounce container of baking soda
8 drops Tea Tree EO (optional)
8 drops Lemon EO (optional)
16 drops Lavender EO (optional)

You can always find a use for baking soda so be economical and get a big box. But also get one of the small 12oz ones with the holes in it that permit you to "shake" it onto your carpet and just refill it as needed. Again, straight up baking soda does the trick but I love using essential oils, especially because of their antibacterial and disinfectant properties (the above named are particularly useful). If you choose to use the oils, simply add them to the container and shake it all up really well (you may have to remove a little baking soda first to give you room to do so). 

To use, simply sprinkle onto your carpet, allow it to sit for 20 minutes (sometimes I leave it overnight) and then vacuum it up. That's it!

A few more smell-good tips:
– Sprinkle several drops of your favorite essential oil (mine is lavender) onto your ac filter to get the house smelling fabulous in seconds. Sort of like a giant diffuser. (My husband was the genius behind that one.)
– Also, dry coffee grinds are another great odor-neutralizer and can be set about in small bowls/cups much like the vinegar.
– Dilute several drops of your favorite essential oil in a spray bottle with water and use like you would Febreze. 

So there you have it. Now my sweet daughter can rest her weary head upon fields of clean, aromatic carpet and reserve her energies for things of greater importance, like finding her lost sheep...
Note: She does have a bed. I only do this for pictures. I swear. Check out more here.
Thanks for reading and happy cleaning!

Toothpicks Galore

I recently swiped up this Target mirror
complete with a few dents and a bunch of tape residue due to someone placing some sticky stickers on it's pristine surface.  Happy camper I was though because I took it home for 3 bucks, knowing a little creativity would hide those imperfections and leave me with a brand new mirror.

So, I brainstormed for about a week on what I could do to fix it up; something that would barely make a noticeable difference to the 'ole bank account.  Here's what I came up with:
Should I...modge podge fabric or scrapbook paper on?  Glue on sticks from the backyard?  Cut wine bottle corks into small circles and glue them on?  Glue twine or some sort of string around it's perimeter?  Since it was going in the laundry room, glue on some clothes pins?  Use a silver sharpie to draw on some sort of design?  Glue on tile/rocks/pearls/vase fillers?  On and on and on my brain racked.  

After making two maybe-something-will-pop-out-at-me trips to Michael's, I was almost set on the gluing on tons of pearls option...but I couldn't find any faux pearls that weren't meant to be strung/without a hole in them, not to mention the fact that the amount of pearls I needed would cost more than I wanted to spend.  

So it was that I felt like I was back to brainstorming when I stumbled upon a little box of goodness and inspiration as I was reaching into our cupboard for a can of soup for lunch - TOOTHPICKS!  Perfect!  I could glue lots of toothpicks around the perimeter!  A trip to the store and I was all set!
Out came the mirror, which I first cleaned with a damp cloth.  I really didn't bother trying to scrape the sticker residue off much since it was just going to get covered up, besides, the mirror frame is made out of MDF and I really didn't want to warp it with cleaner and lots of scraping.
 In the above picture you can see penciled lines - I quickly tested the 'draw on it with silver sharpie' idea using a pencil just to see if the design I had in mind would look good.  As you know now though, that idea was scrapped and eventually disappeared behind the chosen wood sticks.

To attach the toothpicks to the frame, I used some craft glue we already had.  I worked in sections, lest the glue dry faster than I could work, and simply laid a thin foundation of glue, threw on a handful of toothpicks, and arranged them next to each other.

To make sure the toothpicks were laid at the correct angles, I laid the top and sides first as a base to go off of.
 When I got to the pegs, I just trimmed some toothpicks to fit around each.

500 toothpicks later, we have this:
 A mini-mudroomesque spot to hang a coat or two and maybe an umbrella.  :)

I really love the natural look of it but if ever the tides change, the toothpicks could easily be stained or I could whip out some of my favorite color in a can and spray paint the entire frame.

It will also serve us well as a memo board of sorts to hold to-do lists, birthday reminders, and whatever else we feel we need posted, all in the name of beauty AND function.  :)

Total cost:
Mirror:  an "as-is" steal for $3
Toothpicks:  $3 (I only used 2 boxes of the 6 I purchased...and will be returning the extra 4) 
Craft glue:  free (already had) 
Grand Total:  $6

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I was anticipating a post this weekend on our 'painted wallpaper' but it's taking much, much longer than I expected.  I only had time to spend about three hours on it this week and I'm only a third of the way done.  Needless to say, it's made me question my sanity and marvel at the beauty it adds to our bathroom all at the same time...  I hope to have it done, time allowing, within the next couple of weeks!  It'll be one post you won't want to miss!  Until next week though, have a great weekend y'all!  :)

Hung Over

No, this post doesn't have anything to do with alcohol...or a self-induced nausea fest as a result of too much of it (I don't see how that's "fun"...never have, never will).  Anyway, it does, however, have everything to do with valances.  And it all began with a little bit of this:

and a little bit of that:

I know some of you (eh-hem, Farrah) were hoping I'd have a post on a finished loveseat this lovely Saturday Friday (I know, I usually post on Saturdays but tomorrow my world wide web access will be a world wide won't), but alas, it still sits undone.  I'm at the point with it where I need Anthony's help and he's been swamped with school and work so - no Anthony, no help, no loveseat...yet.  But back to the valances.  It's been on Anthony's to-do list for me to whip up some valances to adorn our dining area windows for like a year.  Finding the perfect fabric took me a long, long time...one reason for the delay in said project...but I did find it.  It wasn't as cheap as I'd been hoping (actually it's the most expensive fabric I've ever bought at $17 a yard) but luckily I only needed two yards to get these babies made.

Here's how it all went up:

First I painstakingly cut out the four rectangles that would soon be sewn into valances and laid them out on our living room floor to make sure they'd look okay...a.k.a. to make sure that there weren't two side-by-side that looked too similar.
I could've made each valance exactly the same - the same floral pattern across each - but that would've required about 4 yards of fabric and I wasn't willing to splurge.  Besides, I liked that they would all be different and since I was using a floral, I could do that without it looking off.

Next up I cut the lining that would be sewn onto the back of each valance.  All I did was lay a large piece of lining fabric (don't know the technical term) over the future valance and then cut it to be about an inch smaller.

After everything was cut I went back and forth from ironing down seams, pinning, and sewing until I had five almost perfect valances ready to be attached to the wood beams that would hold 'em up.

We used two, long (8 ft. I think?) pieces of the cheapest 1x2 pine strips at Lowe's but made sure they were straight before we bought 'em...very important!  Enter handy man Anthony, who cut the wood pieces to the measurement we needed to fit each window.  Because of my little perfectionist personality, I also gave the under side of the wood beam (the side that would show if you looked under the finished valance) a coat of white spray paint, you know, so in case anyone looked underneath they'd look nice too (okay, maybe I'm crazy).  Then, Anthony attached some corner braces we picked up for 75 cents for 2 at our local ReStore.
In comes the staple gun and newly sewn valances.  First, we stapled the valance to each corner.  Since we wanted the valances to wrap around the entire piece of wood, we did this first to ensure the fabric was centered and that the side seams were straight and would be flush with the wall.

Then, to make sure the valance hung level, I quickly measured along the length of it.  When I had measured twice and was certain of it's perfection, we began the stapling.

I held each valance in place while Anthony did the clickety-clicking.

We didn't use too many staples since the valances were super lightweight - about one every 4-6 inches.

And then, after a tough 20 minutes of holding and stapling, we celebrated our 'hang-overs' with a rousing game of hide-and-seek.  Ten points if you can find Anthony!  :)

 Haha...that was fun.  Anyway, we did get around to putting them up and we're thrilled with them!  While we were staring, admiring our work, Anthony said "They look so good.  I can't believe we went this long without anything up there."  I don't know...how did we ever survive?!  : p

In case you were curious as to what they looked like underneath...

 To get the crease on the corners, Anthony broke out the iron and made his own corner...yep, that's what I said, Anthony used the iron...I know, I'm a lucky woman.

And finally, here's the whole shebang:
We also hung an itty-bitty valance over the window above the sink, but lighting conditions and a not-so-great camera wouldn't allow a good pic.  You can take my work for it though, it's darn cute.  Now I just need to dress up our plain jane table with a runner and decor or something.  And, now that we've got valances up, the wall to the right of the windows is looking a little too blank and bland, but don't worry, I've got a collage project up my sleeve and I'm sure you'll be hearing about it.  :)

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Stay tuned in the coming weeks if you wanna see a curb-side rocking chair make-over and painted wallpaper...and, crossing my fingers and hoping for time, an un-antiqued, antique loveseat finito.  :)  That's all.  Have a happy weekend everyone!