Sunday, September 27, 2015

Thankful Thoughts....

What surprised me this week?
I've been missing family lately. We had a wonderful reunion with all our children and grandchildren in August at the wedding of one of our sons, but, as great as it was, it wasn't long enough or relaxing enough to get a really good visit with each one, so my heart has been a bit empty lately. I was surprised the last couple of weeks when some of our kids called and plans were scheduled for some visits in the next few months. I love these kinds of surprises!

What moved me this week?
I've watched and read a little this week about the Pope's visit to the U.S. I'm not Catholic, but I can appreciate people of faith coming together to worship and be strengthened. I loved the instances where the Pope stopped proceedings and slowed down schedules to give a blessing or comfort to a particular person. Obviously the demands of administration for Pope Francis are great, so it's especially moving to see those moments when ministering to the individual took precedence over schedules and events. Along those same lines...

What inspired me this week?
Sometimes it's pretty obvious to me when the Lord is trying to teach me something, and lately I've been schooled with "personalized instruction" on the subject of charity. I won't go into the details, but it's become clear to me that I could do better. Today in Sunday School our lesson was on... {you guessed it} charity. In the beginning of the lesson, we discussed the parable of The Good Samaritan. I'd like to think I would stop if I saw someone who was hurt or in apparent pain, but in other less obvious circumstances I fear I've seen myself turning away and not giving attention where it was needed. I want to be better and more compassionate. During the lesson we watched this inspiring video -- "What Matters Most."  I loved the statement at the end of the video... "Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved." Inspiring words to live by.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Realistic Stems for Pumpkins...

I should probably name this "Pumpkin Week on Just Another Hang Up" or some such thing. Yes, I have yet another pumpkin post for y'all! I posted a tutorial on Fabric Pumpkins on Monday, and Tuesday I showed how chalk paint can transform store-bought pumpkins. Today I'm going to show how dollar store {aka "cheap"} pumpkins can be transformed into more realistic looking pumpkins.

Have you ever noticed that the stem on a fabricated pumpkin is one of the most important things that make an imitation pumpkin look more real? Take the item above as an example. It couldn't look more fake with that orange stubby stem. Well, truth be told, there's a lot wrong with the pumpkin above, but the good new is -- {wait for it} -- it can all be changed with a little paint, sisal rope, cinnamon, glue, and a positive attitude.

The other day I was perusing Pinterest, when I came upon a pin that directed me to this website with a post about how to make realistic looking stems on a fake pumpkin. It made my day!

The next day I followed the blog post at Anderson & Grant and made a sisal rope stem for the pumpkin below. I learned a few things. I felt like this first stem was way too thick for the size of the pumpkin...

So, for the next couple I did something a little different. First I separated the strands of the sisal rope a little more thoroughly, so they were just strands of rope. Then I cut some shorter lengths and hot glued them around the base of the stem.

After that I cut some longer threads of sisal and hot glued them to the shorter strands. I didn't use nearly the same amount of longer threads as the shorter threads. As a result, I had a stem that wasn't as thick as the first, but covered the original stem well. {The gourd below is the same one as above, after the transformation of stem and paint...}

Then I used Mod Podge and cinnamon, like the other blog post recommended, but I didn't put on a second coat of Mod Podge {not necessary}. What I got was gourds that looked like they'd been torn from the field...

Well, not exactly like they'd been harvested from the field because I've never seen a blue pumpkin growing in a field {wouldn't that be cool?}, but you get my drift. Now we have a gorgeous display of more realistic-ish looking pumpkins and gourds.

Honestly, I think we've improved on Mother Nature.

Just sayin'.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Chalk Painted Pumpkins...

I have a thing for pumpkins lately. Seriously. It's a bit of an obsession. Yesterday I published a Fabric Pumpkin Tutorial and showed you some photos of some fabric pumpkins I made last week. A few days ago my DIL, Meghann, and I got together to paint some pumpkins. If you follow me on Pinterest, you know that I have my share of painted pumpkin pins.

We started our project by buying some pumpkins from Michael's and Hobby Lobby. Both stores have all their autumn items on sale these days, so they were very reasonable. I like to buy pumpkins and gourds that are oddly shaped, because they look more natural.

Before I started painting I rough them up a bit. Most craft store pumpkins are made of a foam composite, so you can push on them with your finger and make a little dent. They look a little more natural with a few blemishes like real veggies.

I'm not sure I can express adequately how much I love the colors of these pumpkins. We used Waverly Chalk Paint to cover these beauties. I bought the paint at Walmart. Most chalk paint that I found at craft stores were $10 each. The Waverly paints I found at Walmart were only $6 each. (Many people use acrylic craft paints too.)

For this type of a project I would buy the colors you like and add a couple of neutral colors like gray and white. That way you can mix the more colorful paints with neutral colors to make them lighter or darker. This will help you shade and give definition to the pumpkins.

Here is a "before" photo. Frankly, they weren't very inspiring...

Now they are a mix of beautiful soft autumn colors...

This is the first time I'd used chalk paint. I know. I know. I'm way behind the times, but I did love using this medium. Chalk paint gave these pumpkins a matte chalk finish. The paint layered beautifully and was easy to distress.

We used the clear wax and the antique wax to seal the paint. A little buffing after the wax has dried creates a matte finish.

Meghann sent me these pictures of her creations the day after we got together. Seriously, don't these photos look like still life paintings?

Seriously. Gorgeous.

Sneak Peek...
Have you ever noticed that the stem is one of the most important things that make 
an imitation pumpkin look more real? 

In the next couple of days I'll show you how to change a cheap dollar store pumpkin into a 
more expensive looking, realistic pumpkin. 
It's all about the stem...

Monday, September 21, 2015

Fabric Pumpkin Tutorial...

A girl has to keep herself busy somehow, and last week while our house was being painted I had plenty of time on my hands. I got busy making some of these...

Years ago I helped plan a women's conference for our church. Along with workshops and classes, we hosted a lunch for about a million and three women. {A slight exaggeration, but that's what it felt like.} I can't remember how many of these types of pumpkins I made for table decorations, but after that event I swore I'd never make another. It's taken me approximately 15 years to decide I could have another go at it.

These fabric pumpkins are a cinch to make. 
You don't even need a sewing machine!


Pumpkin: Scraps of fabric, like: linen, corduroy, satin, velvet, muslin, faux suede, etc.
"Leaves" (optional):  Scraps of fabric
Sewing needle
Thread: heavy-duty quilting thread or DMC-type embroidery floss
Filler: white beans or rice
Filler: polyester stuffing
Jute or Twine
Stem: tree branch, cinnamon sticks, or brown felt


1.) Cut a circle out of fabric for the pumpkin. Look for objects in your kitchen for a quick circle -- pizza pans, round trays, etc.
  • Small pumpkin - Cut a 12" diameter circle, (for a 5" diameter pumpkin)
  • Medium pumpkin - Cut a 16" diameter circle (for a 7" diameter pumpkin)
  • Large pumpkin - Cut a 22" diameter circle (for a 9" diameter pumpkin)
2.) Hand baste 1/4" from outside edge of fabric with strong quilting thread or cotton ball thread found by the embroidery floss in craft/fabric stores. Use a double thread for both.

3.) Gather edges of pumpkin by pulling the basting threads till it is in the shape of a "ball." Stuff the inside of the pumpkins with 1 to 3 cups (depending on size of pumpkin) of beans or rice. To that add polyester stuffing to the pumpkin until full.

4.) For stem: A piece of a dead tree limb is ideal. Cut the limb in 3" - 5" length. A bundle of whole cinnamon sticks would also work, or cut a piece of brown felt about 10" long and 4" wide. Fold in half lengthwise. Roll felt lengthwise and stitch edge to make a stem.

5.) Finish gathering the top of the pumpkin, insert stem, gather and tie threads in a knot around the stem. If you made a felt stem,you may want to baste the stem to the pumpkin at the base of the stem.

6.) Use jute to divide the pumpkin into six or eight segments and tie at the bottom. I pull the jute tight so it doesn't show much but is in the creases of the pumpkin.

7.) For "leaves": Tear fabric about 10" long by 3" wide. Tear strips along the length of the fabric every 3/4" or so and baste the top of the fabric, like this:

Gather and tie the "leaves" around the base of the stem. See below...

You can also hot glue twine around the base of the stem to hide the jute that is used to divide the pumpkin into segments.

These pumpkins are pretty throughout the fall -- for Halloween or Thanksgiving.

I think they'd be beautiful in a centerpiece or a big basket on a hearth...

Later this week I'll publish a post about some artificial pumpkins that I painted with chalk paint. Here's a little teaser...

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Thankful Thoughts...

A few years ago I was introduced to the idea of a gratitude journal. What I found as I wrote in my journal every week, was that it helped me to focus on the more uplifting events in my life and ignore or put into context those that were negative. It made me aware of the many tender mercies and kindnesses that were evident in my daily experiences and helped guide my thoughts toward more positive actions. I hoped that by starting this journal it would help me to cultivate a spirit of gratitude in my heart that would bless my life and those around me. For the last couple of years I made this journal private as I worked through some hard issues, but I'm back on the bandwagon and ready to share on my blog once again. My journal consists of answering one or more of these three questions each week...

What inspired me?   What surprised me?   What moved me?

This week...What inspired me?

I really like listening to Christian radio. It inspires me. It calms me. It teaches me. Simply put, it makes me happy.  The other day I was listening to the lyrics of a song by Casting Crowns called "Just Be Held." It's a song about putting your troubles in God's hands. A lyric in the song states,

"Your world's not falling apart, it's falling into place...." 

Now there's a positive attitude. Hindsight often gives us this perspective, but it's a hard concept to accept when you feel as if your world is spinning out of control. When you're smack dab in the middle of a crisis, your last thought is that the experience could be a blessing or for your good. Yet, looking back, that has often been the case in my life. It's during those times that I've been taught and learned best, and it's when I've more faithfully relied on God and felt closest to Him. If that isn't having my world "fall into place," I don't know what is. I'm grateful for music and teachings that inspire me and help me remember God's love for me.

"Be still, and know that I am God..." 
Psalms 46:10


Saturday, September 19, 2015

Yummy Floral Fabrics....

I caught sight of these yummy floral fabrics tonight, and I thought I'd share. They are a line by Alexander Henry, called "Bella Strada." I'd love to walk along the beautiful path where these flowers grow...

The dark backgrounds are so beautiful for fall and winter. 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Update: House Renovations

I don't know how they did it, but the painters we hired had the house painted in three days. I am sooo very happy with the results! They worked so hard. We also had the new garage door installed, which did so much to update our home. The first two photos are during the painting process...

We're not completely done with the renovations. We still have to install the board and batten exterior shutters on the second story.

We also have some dark bronze lighting fixtures to install by the front door and over the garage. I'll post when we are completely done, but so much happened this week that I'll give you a preview of where we stand right now...

I absolutely love the colors of the paint. Whew. Such a relief. The blue (Benjamin Moore Hale Navy) front door is just the punch of color I wanted...

I'll be back in about a week to show you the completely finished renovation.