Friday, December 21, 2012

Faux Holiday Chandelier

Renting poses all sorts of dilemmas when it comes to decorating.  One of the issues in our current house is the light fixtures.  The dated light fixtures, which are not particularly effective, can be a creative and functional challenge.  I have always decorated my dining room chandeliers for Christmas, and I decided to create my own faux chandelier since we do not have one right now.

Project Stats
Time to complete:  1-2 hours, not including the quick spray paint coat I gave the ceiling medallion
Cost:  $9 for ceiling medallion at Home Depot (had all other supplies needed already)

Spray paint
Ceiling medallion
Craft paper
Glue gun, glue sticks
Scissors, hole punch
Tape - Scotch tape and Gorilla tape
Split ring key tags

1.  Spray paint medallion.  I used black for mine.

2.  Make paper medallions.  Fold strips of craft paper into an accordion fold, and then fold in half.  Glue pieces together.  You can choose to decorate the paper medallions with paper shapes and embellishments.

3.  Punch a hole in top for tying ribbon.  Tie ribbon using hole, leaving a long length for attachment to ceiling medallion.

4.  Glue mirrors or other embellishments onto key tags.  Tie a ribbon onto the split key rings.

5.  Begin using tape and ribbon to attach decorative ribbon lengths to the ceiling medallion.  I had to experiment a little with this step.  I threaded some through the center hole and attached some to the outside of the medallion.  I alternated the paper medallion lengths with the mirror/key tag lengths of ribbon.

6.  Using ribbon and gorilla tape for extra strength, I attached ribbon lengths to hold my chandelier and hook it (using floral wire) with a knob on our old light fixture.  I have one tiny knob to work with so it's a bit tricky.  It was important to keep the whole project light so I could safely hang it!

This is the finished product!  Not bad for a faux chandelier made on a rainy afternoon.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Advent and Lent

I'm not sure why this most obvious connection did not occur to me before...but I've been thinking about the similarities of Advent and Lent; the rhythms of preparation, fasting, reflection and celebration.

Photo from
Growing up, I wasn't quite sure what either term meant. I heard Advent and Lent mentioned by Catholic friends, so I thought they were "Catholic."  During Advent, I remember colorful cardboard 3D calendars with doors, each containing a foil-wrapped chocolate.  During Lent, I remember friends missing their favorite guilty pleasures and showing up at school with mysterious ash crosses on their foreheads. 

It wasn't until my thirties that I actually began to integrate Advent practices, and even later until I embraced an observation of Lent. Initially, I decided to investigate both seasons to find out more.  It started with daily readings and prayer, a kind of academic exercise, more head-oriented than heartfelt realization of meaning.  

During Advent, my reflection meant imagining Jesus' entry into this world--the sights, sounds, emotions, and thoughts of those involved.  I reread the story several times.  But what is Advent for me beyond that classic manger moment?  How did I come to believe this miraculous, most supernatural of events?  How would my life be different if it had never happened?  Do I allow the power of His birth to affect my life in months outside of late November thru December?  How?

Advent is a time of reflection and preparation, as is Lent.  I've been using this season to incorporate similar practices of Lent--such as fasting--to help me focus.  Particularly with the emphasis on Christmas shopping and special events, it's easy to make this a season of more, more, more.  However, it is easier for me to truly prepare my thoughts when I have less.  I've never fasted during Advent before, but it has brought new meaning to this Christmas holiday.  It's become deeper, its significance reaching beyond a single day.

I'm still going to enjoy the lights, music, decorations, and exchange of presents.  These gifts remind me of the gifts that come from Christ’s birth and the joy that Mary, Joseph, the angels and the shepherds experienced on that night so long ago.

Advent is here, Christmas is coming. We’re waiting in both seasons of Advent and Lent.  Lent culminates in darkness of grief followed by the Easter light of resurrection joy.  Advent will soon culminate in Christmas Day, a celebration for Jesus' birth.  In both Advent and Lent, we experience the rhythms of waiting and hoping, then rejoicing in beautiful fulfillment. 

How have you found your faith traditions evolving over the years?  

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

What I'm wearing today...

                                                               Newbie to WIWW!     

                       It's just about Christmas, granted, but I'm channeling a little Fourth of July today.

                                               Stripes and skinnies with red, white, and blue.

Boots:  Clarks, Jeans:  Loft, Top:  Gap, Bib necklace:  Etsy

                                                          Not tired of bib necklaces yet!

Looking forward to experimenting with the camera and digging into my drawers and closets for a little fresh inspiration.

Linking up with The Pleated Poppy site
for the What I Wore Wednesday series.

Have a great week!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Hello Monday

We all are aware of the enormous tragedy in Connecticut and the heartbreaking loss of life.  While we ponder questions of gun control and mental health care, we also ask why. I have no answers.  In this imperfect world sometimes evil emerges.  Hopefully we answer by offering love, prayers, kindness, and generosity of spirit to others so we continue to create beauty in our corner of the world.

Hello beautiful boy, so grateful for you in my life. Love this face with all my heart.

Hello Winter Wonderland at church!

Hello pipe cleaner Christmas trees made with our neighbors.  Idea from this lady...

Lighting was rough here...white sparkle pipe cleaners with wooden beads for ornaments.
Green sparkle pipe cleaners with colored beads for ornaments.  Wrap pipe cleaners around a small dowel rod and push down in salt/sugar for the "snow."  Slide beads onto the branches.
I used the tree to dress up our kitchen island cart.
Hello Oma, visiting for Christmas later this week.

Hello Drake Hotel!  Delicious and elegant spot for our annual mother-daughter tradition, holiday tea.
Hello Proverb,
Proverbs 21:5 The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.
We have some big decisions to make right now.  Keeping this wisdom in mind.

What are you saying hello to this week?

Linking here with Lisa Leonard's Hello Monday series.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Indoor Workouts

The challenge of December running thus far has not been inclement weather, but finding safe times to run with the shortened daylight at this time of year. I also find that my attention wanders and I'm ready for fresh motivation.  Some days we make it to the local Y and some days we don't.  Here are some ideas I use to create my own workouts when I exercise at home.

From my Fitness board on Pinterest:

Home Boot Camp

1000 Rep Workout

Fitness at Home

Home Circuit Workout from Fitness Magazine

At Home Circuit Workout

P90X, Beach Body and Insanity workouts have re-energized the old-school "skill and drill" workouts and inspired a host of new Boot Camp fans, including myself.  I combine 7-12  exercises (ideas from above links), usually taking several minutes to finish one round.

While taking a breather from the circuit, I fold laundry or complete another quick task.  If my son is awake, I play with him or help if needed between rounds.  He will often do exercises with me or sit on my back while I hold a plank or push-up pose.  Hello there, core strength. Sometimes he sits on my "lap" during wall sit...picture him laughing and me pretending to smile through gritted teeth.  Hello there, burning quadriceps.  Some days I do three rounds of the circuit and other days perhaps five or six rounds.

Exercise is not a priority for everyone.  Sometimes we are in a season of life that is tough.  But if you desire to make it happen, I encourage you to try even when it's not convenient.  This says it best...

Photo from

Sharing this here at Five Days...5 Ways.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wildflower Story

I didn't pick Wildflower because the uniqueness would set me apart.  There are actually a multitude of Wildflower blogs out there, each with its own interpretation.

I didn't pick Wildflower because I have a long-abiding love for studying them, although I have always loved taking pictures of them.  The photos in my blog header are images I took while hiking in California with my husband, son, dad, and stepmother on Shasta Mountain.

I picked Wildflower because it has intimate meaning to me in terms of learning to like myself, to feel more confident about who God created me to be.

Years ago I knew a small group of women.  While walking through the streets of Chicago with one of these women, she mentioned two other people in our circle.  She talked about their beauty and their accomplishments, the rich and tasteful lives they led.  She described them as red roses.

She described me as a wildflower.  You know (the idea of her comparison, anyway)...a wildflower is still nice with redeeming qualities, but not quite a rose.  A little on the outer edge of high standards.

To be fair, I don't believe she was trying to inflict pain.  I think she was calling out our differences.  She chuckled and I laughed along with her, accepting that of course people would see a wildflower and not a rose.  I don't think she intended for her comment to stay with me.  That was my doing.  The reason it stayed with me is because I did see myself as less and always have.  She just stated aloud what I didn't want to admit about how I felt, because it wouldn't sound centered or spiritual. 

Through the journey of being a mom, raising a son much like myself, I'm seeing myself differently these days.  I see my intensity not as a characteristic to "dial down," but as a large resource for determination, energy and willingness to offer gifts to others.  I see my creativity and imagination not as odd but as part of a unique voice to speak for myself.  I'm learning to see my past failures not as boulders of shame to carry but as stepping stones in my life where God teaches me. I'm truly receiving God's love.  I'm focusing on appreciating the people in my life who love me rather than obsessing about winning the favor of those who do not.  I'm working to dwell less on finding significance from people and instead dwell in God's Word.

So I circle back around to where I began.  Recently when I visited the site of an artisan and blogger I enjoy, she was offering a necklace on sale.  Initially, I confess, I clicked the link because I was interested in the jewelry for a discounted price.  But the necklace caught me off was called Wildflower.  Since I've never forgotten the earlier statement the woman made, the jewelry name sparked my interest.  I loved the piece and was caught by new thoughts.  Just as the artisan transformed the metal charm into the desired shape containing the wildflower image, God transformed the comment and my heart in the process.

I realized I could choose how to receive her comment...and so many other events in my life.  She may not exactly have meant it for harm or for good, but suddenly I saw it as good.  I could choose to love what God created instead of constantly questioning and complaining about His plan for good.

Necklace by Lisa Leonard Designs
I love to be out under the sky, feeling the sun and breezes across my body.  The wind and weather have blown me back and forth in the wide open field, perhaps I've even been stepped on a few times by careless feet.  But I'm rooted now in God's word, growing in His truth.

The thing about wildflowers is that they grow in all kinds of environments.  Green leaves and colorful blossoms burst forth from between the rocks.  Unexpected beauty.  They ornament an dull landscape yet withstand the elements.  Life-giving.  Steadfast.

I'm embracing myself as a wildflower and the richness I have to offer.  I wear my necklace often and it reminds me of truth.

So my new blog name was born...Wildflower.  And proud of it.

Sharing this story here and here.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Hello Monday

Mondays have often been ripe with opportunities for complaint.  I'm not proud of that admission but it's true.  Somehow the hump of leaving the weekend and entering a new week is a transition that is bumpy and even makes me apprehensive, though the truth is that I have many opportunities and blessings in my life.  I love Lisa Leonard's weekly habit of greeting a new week with joy.  It helps me to look at the landscape of my entire week, name the challenges and recognize the gifts I take for granted every day.

Hello to time with my favorite guys after a fun weekend.  I feel like the three of us are being drawn together in a new way, discovering unity and identity as a family.


Hello to changing some old habits.  Part of that means booting out TV time.

Hello to meditating in the Advent season, carving out time to focus on the meaning of Christ's birth for the world and for me personally.
Photo from
Hello Proverb I'm working on this week...
Proverbs 12:18  Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
I'm challenged by the way I answer impatiently, impulsively, without pausing for a more intentional response.  How I would love to bring healing with my words!  This carelessness particularly emerges with my family and I'd like to do better.

Hello to the gym...haven't seen you in a while.  Still pounding the pavement but also starting to move indoors.  Running is wonderful but I can tell there are neglected areas that are sore, sore, sore, from the new challenges in resistance training and bootcamp workouts.  

Hello weekly tasks.  Hello Christmas shopping (didn't even start last week).  Hello to updating my teaching certification.  Hello to a couple of Christmas celebrations.  May I use these days I've been given wisely.

Sharing this here for Hello Monday with Lisa Leonard.  Also discovered Life on LeRoy's blog (life lately link up) and sharing there for the first time. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Mantel Garland

I love garland on a mantel.  I love it even more if I can make it myself!

I found this inspiration here and gathered these items from the abyss in my basement laundry/craft/extra pantry/storage space.

Decorative paper
Template (print below link or draw your own)
Decorative brads
Split ring key tags (any office supply store)
Embellishments (I used mirrors and scrapbook items)
Glue gun

1.  Print the pointsettia garland template found here and cut patterns out.  I used black and white decorative paper to cut out the layers for the flowers. 

2.  Use brads to attach layers together in the center of the flower.

3.  Glue embellishments to the split ring key tags as desired with glue gun.

4.  Adhere paper flowers to the twine with your trusty-ever-present-where-would-I-be-without-you glue gun.  Slide the split ring key tags onto the twine, poking the split ring through the center of the twine so it stays in place.  I alternated the flowers with key tags.

My son's artwork to the right.  He couldn't wait for me to hang it!

Rookie notes for next time...
-Use three layers to make the flowers appear more full.
-Glue the flowers near the top of their shape so they don't have a tendency to tip downward once adhered to the twine.
-Make two strands for a more striking focal point!

I still like the overall effect and will try it again, tweaking with my rookie notes.  That's part of what I love about creating...each time it grows and becomes more beautiful!  There is also fun in the learning process, if you can relax and enjoy the imperfection in messiness.  Kind of like life, I say.
Have a great weekend!

Sharing this project here at Five Days...5 Ways.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Role Reversal...Teacher to Parent

Almost eighteen years ago, I taught my first day of second grade.  In my new-teacher eagerness, I designed a ridiculously complicated scavenger hunt for my students to do upon arrival.  Families came and parents dutifully attempted to guide their children through a dizzying maze of activities, which unfortunately caused much confusion.  In my mind's eye, everyone would be engaged in the fun of learning!  Parents would be ecstatic about the school year!  I clearly had a lot to learn.  The parents, more concerned than ecstatic, finally filed out.   We were running late and feeling flustered.  Thankfully, I can now file that morning under "embarrassing moments to learn by" and laugh at my well-intended but baffling scavenger hunt.

A lot to learn, yes.  Part of my own life education included how to communicate with parents of my students.  As a teacher, I experienced parents who were relaxed, encouraging, worried, distant, involved, critical, driven, committed, and usually a combination of those...and more.  Without children, I could only strive to do my best to understand what parents were going through.  I tried to listen carefully to friends who had children.  Still, it's not quite the same.  Then my turn finally came.

My child is at the start, going to his first year of preschool.  I'm already starting to experience feelings I didn't see coming.  In the corner of my mind where I hold silent thoughts I'm not brave enough to say aloud, I find myself wondering, Do the teachers think I'm a good parent?  Is my child doing okay?  Is he making friends?  Oh crap, I forgot my assigned ingredient of raisins for the Halloween brew project today!  When I heard one teacher use a tone with my son that was not as warm as I would have liked, I bristled.  I bristled even though, to be fair, I use an impatient voice sometimes too.  Because my heart is tied up in this child as his mother, in a million ways that are different from being the teacher.

The lessons I'm learning as a parent are part of my skin and bones, they are part of me as my son is part of me. They will go with me. I think I've gained fresh compassion.  I realize now that when a parent is overly anxious, it might mean, I'm scared for my child.  The hidden truth is that I'm hurting and unsure right now.  On the other hand, I know it's good for my son to take a few steps without me. He will be exposed to new expectations and strategies. He will receive insight via teachers with different strengths from mine, and he will be stretched and challenged.  I'll be there to instruct, guide, support, and cheer as it all unfolds.

I'm untangling my own insecurities, fears, hopes and dreams from his journey so that he is free to grow into the man God created him to be.  I'm becoming more confident in myself, first as a woman and also in my role as mom.  I'm slowly shedding the need for that "gold star" of approval from others, although this is admittedly hard for a girl who likes her invisible gold stars of approval from people.  I can have peace and contentment about the decisions my husband and I make even though not everyone understands or agrees.

Have you ever experienced a role reversal?  Did it impact your life for the better? my friends who are teachers without having your own children, you are incredible.  These thoughts are some of the personal reflections I've had lately.  I've been inspired by you and I'm glad that you bring so many of your gifts to students.  They are blessed by you.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Hello Monday

Hello Christmas decorations...

Excuse the flash!  I'm a novice with the camera.

Had to add this one.  These guys are the best part of any room!

Hello branches gathered at 11:00 pm...

Hello garland, made at 10:00 pm before climbing around the shrubbery hunting aforementioned branches...
Garland inspiration found here.

Hello to my little elf helper...

Hello potty training...

I must hold fast to the advice of those who remind me that "this too" shall pass.  Good thing he's so dang cute. 

Hello to my jumbled craft & laundry space awaiting serious attention this week...

Hello Proverb for this week...
Proverbs 15:5 A miserable heart means a miserable life; a cheerful heart fills the day with song.  Attitude is about choice, not circumstances.  My days are largely determined by how I choose to think and approach each day, each task, each relationship, each moment.

Hello to a few blog entries, a birthday gathering, play time with buddies (for both mom and son), morning runs with a neighborhood chum, Friday night dinner with friends, a little online Christmas shopping, the weekly "to do" list, a holiday project with my son, and generally hanging out with my favorite daily partner-in-crime.

What are you doing this week?

Linking up here.