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Monday, August 30, 2010

Laptop Bling

Does anyone else think that laptops, while incredibly convenient and useful, can be quite boring? I definitely thought so, so I dressed mine up with some bling. :-)  I saw these vinyl decals at my local Michaels, and liked them immediately.

While in the store, I couldn't think of any way to use them, so I left without purchasing them. But, happily, a few days later I came up with the idea of putting them on my laptop cover. I hadn't wanted to purchase a skin for my laptop, but was put off by the price and the overwhelming amount of options. That's why these little flowers were perfect. They're easily removable, so they don't damage the computer at all, and they add a little pop of color to the otherwise boring case. The only catch was, when I went back to Michaels they were no where to be found. I had half expected that, as they were clearanced out on my last trip, but I tooled around the store, looking at other fun stuff and hoping I might find them in some forgotten corner. I may or may not have spent copious amounts of time in the art aisles, admiring all of the oil paints, canvases and brushes. Brushes are my weakness. :-) Anyways, I took one last trip around the store, and voila! There they were, hiding in a dark corner of the scrapbooking section.

Putting them on the computer was easy peasy. I simply cut out around the shapes, and positioned them on the back of the screen.

The decals included a little plastic piece the size of a credit card that worked very well to smooth out any stray bubbles.  Now my 'puter has a little bit of sizzle to it. Isn't it pretty?

Etsy has tons of vinyl decal options, and most of the sellers are willing to customize something for you. Think of the possibilities! :-)

Centsational Girl is having a "Where I Blog" party. Because we travel so much, I don't really have a stable spot that I blog from, which is why I love my super portable laptop with its long battery power. So now the "where I blog" is a little prettier! Go see all of the fabulous spaces that these girls have!

Also linked to the Sunday Showcase @ Under the Table and Dreaming:-), the DIY Project Parade @ The DIY Showoff and Metamorphosis Monday @ Between Naps on the Porch

Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday Fav: One Night with the King

I know that this movie is not a recent release by any means, but I just watched it again last night, and I was reminded of what a great film this is. This is the original Cinderella story. :-) I have always loved the story of Esther, so there was a good chance I would like this movie. But, on top of my love for this ancient love story, there are so many other things to like about this movie. The sets, the costumes, the tender interaction between the king and Esther, did I mention the costumes? :-)  The film is made in the style of the old Hollywood epic films, which I grew up loving. Esther is played by a relatively unknown, Tiffany DuPont. She does a great job transforming from humble innocent Hadassah to the royal and regal Esther. I'd love to see her headlining another good movie.

King Xerxes is played by Luke Goss. The story, according to the movie's website, is that he auditioned for the part of Xerxes, and was told "thanks but no thanks" They told him he didn't really have the look they were trying to find. So he asked his agent to help him get into the character, and flew up from South Africa to audition for the part again, despite being miserably sick. Happily, he convinced the producers, and the role was his. I think he did an excellent job portraying a king who was bound by protocol, but wished for love.

There are a bunch of well known actors who play the other key roles in this film. John Rhys Davies plays Mordecai, each time I see this actor, I am just in awe of all of the different roles he has played. Although he does an excellent job here, I think his favorite role of mine is Gimli the dwarf in Lord of the Rings.

Omar Sharif plays Memucan, the voice of reason to the king.

John Noble plays the evil Prince Admantha, who plots against the king in any way he can. Up until Fringe, I had only seen John Noble play tortured, mostly creepy roles where he is definitely the villain. Do you watch Fringe? As Walter, he is still tortured, and sometimes a bit creepy, but mostly he is sweet and endearing.

Tommy Lister plays the harem eunuch, Hegai. He says that this movie was an opportunity for him to show off a softer side that his size and looks have never allowed him to play before, having always been typecast as the scary huge giant. :-) Softie, or not, I still wouldn't want to cross him!

Oh, and I mentioned the costumes before, here are some of the awesome outfits that Tiffany DuPont and Luke Goss got to wear for this film.

Stunning no? Do you think I could pull this look off? :-) In conclusion, if you haven't seen this movie, run, don't walk to your nearest video store or kiosk and rent it to watch tonight. Trust me, you'll thank me tomorrow. :-)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Deck Makeover

Last summer our focus was on the front of the house. We figured that we had ignored the outside for long enough, and that our neighbors would appreciate us improving the curb appeal a bit. So we slaved and toiled all summer long, and into the fall to take the front of our house from drab to fab. All of our efforts paid off, when we ended up with the front looking like this:

But the back of the house received zero attention. :-) We've tried really hard to balance out our life with our renovations, and not allow them to take over completely. With that in mind, last summer we decided to only work on the front. Which meant that the back of the house still looked like this:

Not quite as pleasant, right? So this summer we thought we would tackle at least part of this mess in the back, and at the same time spruce up a fun little deck area that we could enjoy throughout the summer. My other two goals were to mostly tackle projects I could do myself, and to not spend huge amounts of money or time by changing anything. We would simply work with what we had, using paint, new light fixtures and simple accessories to make everything liveable. And here's what we accomplished:

Quite a difference, right? I need to mention here that we ignored the left side of the house entirely. Its time will come, but we need to kill some weeds, get rid of some garbage and take out some planters before we can even think of "sprucing up." So this is two thirds of the back fixed up. :-) We continued with the yellow and green color scheme we started with in the front, and then added in some fun shots of red, blue and colored glass to make it very festive.  As you can see, the difference is drastic.

Painting all of the exposed wood, and caring for the neglected deck wood really changed the overall look. For all of the wood that I painted, I simply sprayed off any dirt, then followed with a coat of Kilz primer, and finally with outdoor paint. I love how sunny and warm the yellow is, with the bright pops of green. Caring for the wood of the deck floor was a little more tedious. It took me several hours to sand it all smooth, then I sprayed a deck cleaning solution on, and scrubbed that off. Finally, after everything was clean and dry, we spent a Saturday afternoon applying an outdoor deck stain to the freshly scrubbed boards.

The color is super similar to the concrete paint color we used on the front porch floor. Although not intended, I love that there is such a continuity from front to back now. The other thing that made a huge difference was painting the storm door that leads into the house and swapping out the old handle for a new black one. It's just a simple plastic door, so it looks much better painted.

The deck isn't large, just 10x11 feet, so there was just enough room to add two chairs by the door, and a table and chairs on the opposite side. We made the table from a table base found on Craigslist, and an old cabinet door screwed on as a top. Eventually, I'd like to make a nicer top, but for now, covered with a red and white gingham cloth, it looks sweet and allows us to eat out here in the summertime.

See how rich the wood looks now? And it is splinter free, which encourages bare feet. :-)

The plants, other than the silk poppies on the table, are mostly clearance finds at the garden centers. Next year I hope to grow some healthy geraniums and petunias to fill up all the pots, but for now, these bargain babies provide some much needed splashes of color.

These last ones, the red petunias, are my favorites. We found the little red pails at Target for $1.00 a piece, and I filled them with a six pack of red petunias from Walmart. They are the perfect scale for the corners of the deep windowsills, and they make me smile every time I see them.

I ordered a new light from Overstock for the funky pole in the middle of the deck. The halogen spotlight that was previously there was broken, and had way too much wattage for the small area. This little wall mount lantern was a much better fit. We purchased a decorative halogen bulb at Lowes for inside, and I love how it looks through the glass of the light.

The aqua colored votive holders on either side were clearanced out to $2.57 at Pier 1. I used some floral wire to string them from the ironwork above, and they are so pretty with the sun shining through them, or with tealights inside at night.

I wanted this area to be slightly reminiscent of the balconies in Spain, so I hunted down some pretty plates to hang on the wall, as they so often do there. Beneath them are some colored glass jars and bottles I thought were cool, and a metal smiling sunflower from Christmas Tree Shops.

Lover also made up a bunch of glass tiki torches. We simply collected some little bottles we liked, and filled them with tiki fluid. The wick is a length of sisal rope, threaded through a hole made in a bottle cap. Once the sisal is saturated, these torches burn super clean and work wonders at keeping the bugs away from the deck. The green torches below were made from cooking wine bottles, and we repurposed their tops to hold the "wick" in place.

We also painted the front of the entryway, and it looks tons better. I'm slowly building up a pretty flower garden for this planter, and already it looks tons better than it did before. My beautiful morning glories from last year naturalized, and I love how they look climbing up either side of the window.

So that's how we transformed our less then stellar deck into a fun, relaxing retreat. I can't decide if my favorite part is the yellow wall color, the happy red geraniums or those cool plates on the wall. What about you?

Linked to Sunday Showcase @ By Stephanie Lynn, Metamorphosis Monday @ BNOTP, DIY Parade @ DIY Showoff

Friday, August 20, 2010

Friday Fav: Keeper of the Stars

I know you may not love country music as much as I do, but I hope you'll take the time to listen to this song. I consider it one of the greatest love songs ever, and so appropriate for our love story.  It literally brings tears to my eyes each time I hear it, when I stop to think about how God orchestrated our lives to give us a beautiful friendship that slowly matured into a deep, longlasting love. I love the romanticism and lyricism of this song. Don't you just love the idea of thinking about God, the creator of the universe as the keeper of the stars? And that keeper orchestrating the deepest relationship you can ever have with another person?

Here are the lyrics, if you don't know them already

It was no accident me finding you

Someone had a hand in it long before we ever knew

Now I just can't believe You're in my life

Heaven smiling down on me as I look at you tonight

I tip my hat, to the Keeper of the Stars

He sure knew what he was doing

when he joined these two hearts

I hold everything when I hold you in my arms

I've got all I'll ever need

Thanks to the Keeper of the Stars

Soft moonlight on your face Oh how you shine

It takes my breath away just to look into your eyes

I know I don't deserve a treasure like you

There really are no words to show my gratitude

I tip my hat, to the Keeper of the Stars

HE sure knew what he was doing

when he joined these two hearts

I hold everything when I hold you in my arms

I've got all I'll ever need

Thanks to the Keeper of the Stars

Thank you, Keeper of the Stars, for my wonderful husband, and our life together.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Cuteness Award

Every couple of months, Lover and I get that age-old, super annoying question; when are you having kids? While I try not to get irritated about it, after four years I have come up with some snotty little comebacks for the people that just won't back off. :-) That said, I do try to be civil, and I patiently explain, over and over again, that it's not that we don't want kids, it's just that we're not ready for kids. This goes over much better in Spain, where couples typically get married in their mid twenties, and wait to have kids until their thirties. But, we live in America, and Americans love to "do it now!" (Did anyone watch 24, back when it was good and Jack Bauer was constantly yelling "DO IT NOW!"?) so we have to put up with the constant questioning.

Anyways, one of the reasons that we are in no hurry to have our own kids is because we have a whole passle of adorable nieces and nephews. Whenever we need some serious silly time with a bunch of soft skinned toddlers, or  some snuggle time with a little baby, we just hit up the brothers and sisters who have so kindly provided for this need. ;-) There are a lot of not-so-cute kids out there in the world, but none of them are among our nieces and nephews.

Just a little while ago, we spent a great evening with four of our little family members, hanging out a fun kid's play place, and snapping some cute shots of them in the gorgeous light of the setting sun.

This guy is the oldest. He makes sure to keep everyone in line, and he has the privilege of being the very first grandchild so you can imagine how great that was. He just started losing his baby teeth, as you can see here.

Next up is the little brother, this guy is a barrel of laughs. He is the goofiest kid I know, but most likely the sweetest as well. For a while his favorite thing to do was rhymes. You'd ask him, "what rhymes with window?" His answer "finnow". Hilarious.

Getting a nice calm smile like that is a rarity. More often than not, these are the faces he's making:

Then, we have their little sister, who looks exactly like her mom did growing up. She's sneaky like her too. (JK :-) Is she not the most adorable little girl?

I love her little flowery dress. It made her look like such a little lady.

Sweet girl. The baby of the family is another pretty little girl, who I photographed last fall with mixed results. She was cranky last year, but this time she was in a perfect mood!

She is so cute. They call her the little bean, and  I always think she looks like a baby elf. Either way, she is so sweet and adorable.

Munching on some clover.

And then she found a pretty flower. :-)

The two sisters together. I hope these girls grow up to be best friends.

And the brothers - they're both in school this year! When did they get so big?

And then a few of the four of them all together. As you can imagine, this part was mayhem. :-)

So there you go. Adorable cuteness, available whenever we need a baby fix. :-)

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