Sunday, June 27, 2010

Ironing Pretty

I love when you are out and about and you find that perfect item, that's even better than what you could have imagined, when you aren't even looking for it.  Some people have those discoveries all the time, but for me, they're rare, so it's exciting when they do happen!

I've slowly been working on making our laundry room cozy as I find little things here and there.  I painted the walls a beautiful shade of robin's egg blue.  During one of my mom's visits, we stopped into TJ Maxx and I found this beautiful ironing board cover in the clearance aisle!

It is exactly the colors I am using in our laundry room and I adore the pattern.  (It's hard to capture the true color in photos because there is no natural light in this room.)  Our poor ironing board cover was thin and loose and I had been thinking we needed a new one.  If I have to iron, I'd much rather do it on a pretty ironing board!

What fun discoveries have you made lately?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Painted Plate

The number thirteen is often thought to be unlucky, a bad omen, a number that most people frown upon. Hotels skip the 13th floor. Airplanes don't have a 13th row.

For us though, 13 has become a number for good things.  I explained in this post why the number 13 is actually a meaningful number for us.  My birthday is April 13th.  Truman's is December 13th.  We were married on May 13th.  We closed on our first home together on November 13th.

For almost a year now, I've had a blank white plate mixed into the photos  on the shelves in our dining room.  I've been planning to paint a number 13 on it.  People have asked if there was significance in the white plate.  Not yet.  But, I finally got around to painting it.  There is now!

I thought I would share a tutorial for how I glazed a permanent 13 onto the plate.

Prepare your glass or ceramic item by wiping it down with rubbing alcohol to make sure it's good & clean.  Remove any stickers since you'll be baking it later.

I used this Folk Art Enamels paint.  The bottle says "Acrylic Paint for Glass and Ceramics."

First, print out what you would like to paint on your glass or ceramic item.  Play around with the size until you get it the way you want.  I used the Engravers MT font.  Cut around each number or letter leaving just a little white space.  If you are using more than one number or letter, I found it easier to cut them into separate pieces so you could space them however you want.

Next, you need to use a pencil and trace the outline of the number or letter on the back of the piece of paper.  Holding it up to a window makes this step a LOT easier!

After both are traced, position them where you want to transfer them on the plate and use a piece of scotch tape to secure them in place.

Take your pencil, and scratch with pressure over the outline of the numbers to transfer the pencil outline on the back to the plate or whatever glass/ceramic object you are using.

When you've scratched all of the edges well, carefully peel back the paper, and you will see your pencil outline on the plate.

Now, you will use a paintbrush to fill in your transferred outline with the ceramic paint.  Be sure to use a tiny brush and make sure the bristles are smooth and there aren't any errant bristles poking out to the side.  If there are, it will be very difficult to get a straight, smooth edge.  This is not the time to use your preschooler's water color paintbrush.  I promise you will get so frustrated if you try.  Find the smallest brush you can!  If you think it's too thin, it will probably work perfectly.

After your text is filled in completely, allow the item to air dry for one hour.  After an hour, and following the directions on the bottle, place it in the cool oven, then heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Bake for 30 minutes, cool in the oven, then remove.

Your paint will be permanently set!  Do not use your painted item in direct contact with food and handwash it or put it on the top rack of the dishwasher. 

It's right at home on the shelf and surprisingly, even after almost a year of having a plain white plate displayed, the 13 fits in like it's always been there.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Freebie Fire Pit

One of my absolute favorite summer treats is s'mores.  We also love an evening spent sitting by the fire, relaxing and chatting, or hanging out with friends.  Ever since we got married, we've been talking about having a fire pit.  After we moved Colorado, we decided it was time to make it happen.  The evenings here are cool, even after a hot day, which is the perfect recipe for a fire pit evening. 

Our budget has been extremely tight the last few months, so we were on a mission to build a fire pit in our backyard for free.  After looking on Craigslist for free materials for a few weeks with no luck, our patience paid off and we scored when our teammate offered us free rocks that he had dug out of his yard when installing a retaining wall.  (Thanks, Hullah's!)

We enjoyed our first evening by the fire pit a couple of weeks ago.  Complete with delicious fire roasted s'mores!  We are looking forward to many more evenings by the fire after we return from our summer travels.


What do you enjoy in the summer?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Leaving On a Jet Plane

Our bags are packed, our house is clean (we have houseguests who will be staying in our home while we are away), and in just a few hours, we will be boarding the plane that is going to take us to Italy, and then on to Africa!  We are so excited! 

Because flights from the US to South Africa typically connect through Europe, we were able to schedule a layover in Italy on our way to South Africa.  We are very blessed to have a time of refreshment and relaxation before we kick into high gear and lead 25 college students in serving the people of South Africa.  This time will also allow us to break our travel into two 10-12 hour segments, rather than one long flight, and allow my body and health some time to recover from the travel and time to adjust to the time difference before our summer project begins. 

 (picture borrowed from Adam Go)

Several people have asked if I will be updating my blog during our summer adventures.  I hope so!  We will have limited and inconsistent internet access, but I hope to post a few updates, (prayerfully with photos!), so you can be a part of what we are experiencing this summer.  We believe that God has some huge plans for the next two months!  We would love your prayers during our time away, so I will try to post some prayer requests with our updates. 

I have scheduled some fun, crafty posts for while I am gone, so if you come back throughout the summer, there will be some creative inspiration, along with some summer updates!  I didn't want to leave my readers with an empty blog for 2 months!

Food For Friday is taking a break for the summer, but will be back this fall, with lots of delicious new recipes. 

 (picture borrowed from Adam Go)

I hope that the next time I sit down to write, I'll have a tan from the Tuscan sun and be enjoying some homemade gelato as I post from Italy!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Countdown to Africa: 5 Days!

As people around the world are turning their attention to South Africa and tuning into the World Cup, which kicks off in Johannesburg tomorrow, we are literally packing our bags to leave for this beautiful country.  Back in November, I announced that we will be spending 6 weeks in Pretoria and Cape Town, South Africa on a mission trip with Campus Crusade for Christ.  At the time I wrote the post, our departure seemed so far away, but in exactly 5 days, we will be on a LONG flight, making our way towards Africa!
In the coming weeks, as you see images of South Africa all over the news, remember that there is another story behind the striking beauty of this country and it's people:  A story of brokenness, a story of redemption, and a country in need of the Good News of the Gospel.  Did you know?

More people die of AIDS in South Africa every year than anywhere else in the world.

20% of the South African population is infected with AIDS.

A South African little girl has a better chance of being raped than she does learning how to read. 

For the first part of our trip, we will be working with Beam Africa, a faith-based, South African run development center.  Daily, they feed and invest in the lives of 100 orphaned and poor children, including children with AIDS, providing at least one healthy meal (for many the only meal they will eat that day), as well as a safe environment for them to learn and experience needed love and support, from help with their homework to job skills training and clothing. 
We will then travel to Cape Town, South Africa where we will be working on 4 college campuses throughout the city.  Through initiating spiritual conversations, building relationships with South African college students, and outreaches, our students will take the Good News of Christ to college students in Cape Town.  The future leaders of South Africa will come from this generation of college students. 

In 2009, 54% of college students who heard the Gospel in South Africa made decisions for Christ!  Most students have not yet had the opportunity to hear the Good News, but when they do, they respond.

In the coming weeks, as you hear about South Africa in the news, will you remember to pray for us?

I rarely talk about opportunities to give on my blog, but I also want to mention that we are still in need of additional financial support for this mission trip and are trusting God to provide all of our needed support before we leave on Tuesday!  If God is tugging at your heart to be a part of what He has called us to be a part of in South Africa, you can give directly through Campus Crusade for Christ here.  All gifts are tax deductible. 

P.S.  Because we live in a world of sin and I've heard the blog horror stories, I have to say, if you are reading this post and are thinking our home would be a fantastic target to break into while we are away for 2 months, be advised that family members are housesitting for us.  Our house will not be empty!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Chalk Art: Gallery in the Streets

Last Sunday, we spent the afternoon at the Denver Chalk Art Festival on Larimer Square in downtown Denver.  More than 200 artists spend hours throughout the weekend creating amazing works of art that turn the streets into a chalk art museum.

There were 3-D creations,

and reproductions of classics.

Vibrant pieces

and whimsical, playful works.

One of the most intriguing creations we discovered was an amazing reflection piece that used distortion through a mirrored tube to turn a stretched ground image into a face.

The personality and style of the artists shone through their work, and there was a little something for everyone.

We had a fun afternoon wandering through the "gallery" and watching the chalk artists at work.  As we headed back to our car, we were already wondering what the artists will create next year.

One of the things we love about Denver is that there are always great festivals and events going on around town, and many of them are free!  Even better, the beautiful summer weather means you actually want to be outside enjoying those free events.  We have a whole list of events around the city on our list of "to-do's" and we are excited to check them off one by one!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Three Sweet Years

On May 13th, we celebrated three sweet years of marriage and were blessed to get away for a couple of nights to the beautiful mountain town of Steamboat Springs!  When we purchased our home last summer, our realtor gave us 2 free nights in her condo as a gift at our closing, and we decided this would be the perfect time to use them.

 The view from our condo


We "unplugged" during our stay and enjoyed time to relax without a schedule.  As snow fell outside our window, we stayed cozy inside and played games by the fire, read in bed, slept late, and made a delicious brunch.

One of the highlights of our time in Steamboat Springs was our visit to the Strawberry Park Hot Springs.  They are natural hot springs tucked into the mountains, surrounded by evergreen trees and mountain views, and are the perfect spot for hours of peaceful relaxation.  It is a sometimes treacherous 15 minute drive up a steep mountainside to arrive at the springs, but totally and completely worth it.  (Before May 1, you must have chains or 4 wheel drive plus snow tires to drive up, but you can also catch a shuttle from town.)  If you ever find yourself in the Steamboat Springs area, you must experience the Strawberry Park Hot Springs.  Fabulous.

The pools are fed by the hot springs and soaking in the rock pools is like natural hot tub bliss.  The water cools as it moves through the tiered pools, and the bottom pools are cooled further by river water that is added into the pool.

Is this not the face of pure contentment?

We experienced the insanely unpredictable spring mountain weather first hand while we soaked in the hot springs.  It was sunny when we arrived.  Then it rained.  Sleet came next, then hail.  The hail hurt a little pelting our bare skin!  After the hail, snow began to fall, covering the whole area with a fresh white blanket.  Within minutes, the sun came back out, and it cycled through every one again.  We didn't mind as we were nice and warm & relaxed, floating in the hot springs.  By the time we were ready to head back, it was snowing hard!

We made homemade pizza together for dinner, listened to jazz, watch the snow fall outside our window, and reflected on this past year of marriage and our hopes for the coming year. 

We had brunch beside a creek on the patio of a cute local cafe, before wandering around the shops of the little downtown.  It was a beautiful morning, sunny and warm, with no hint of the inches of snow that fell overnight just hours before. 

I had to capture this sign on the door of one of the shops... 
Only in the mountain towns do you have a "powder clause" in your hours of operation!

After a pleasant short-sleeves afternoon in downtown Steamboat Springs, we headed back to Denver.  Believe it or not, on May 13th, we drove through a crazy snowstorm with visibility so bad we could barely see 10 feet in front of our car!  I was praying like crazy the whole drive home!

After a sigh of relief when we arrived home safely, we kept our annual tradition of watching our wedding DVD on our anniversary.  We feasted on fruit & baked brie, remembered the joy and love of our wedding day, and were reminded of the vows we made to each other 3 years ago. This is a sweet tradition that we began on our first anniversary and that we plan to keep for years and years to come.

I baked us a delicious chocolate chocolate replica of the top tier of our wedding cake, which was a sweet ending to a fun anniversary getaway.  We were so thankful to have the opportunity to enjoy a few days of R&R as we celebrated our life together!