Wednesday, October 31, 2012

DIY Monogrammed Burlap Door Decor

Alright friends - as promised, today I'm going to show you how to make your own Monogrammed Burlap Door Decor!

The idea for this pretty piece came from Life as a Thrifter. I fell in LOVE with her Fall decor pics, but couldn't find a DIY explanation for her door hanger. So, I got our my craft supplies and decided to figure it out on my own.

For this project you'll need:

  • 1 embroidery/quilting hoop (any size you like, mine was 14 and 1/2 inches  across)
  • Approximately 20 inches x 20 inches square of burlap
  • black acrylic paint & a foam stencil brush
  • 1 large initial stencil
  • Low temp hot glue gun
  • Ribbon

I just happened to have all these items laying around (except for the quilting hoop, which I got from the basement at my parent's house. Thanks Mom!) so my piece was completely FREE! Whoo hoo! If you were buying all these items you could probably make this for around $25, or less. (But check the thrift store for a hoop before you hit the craft store because they're like, $17 new these days.) 

So... first of all, you're going to need to put your fabric in your hoop. If it has any wrinkles, I would suggest ironing it first. Then unscrew the top of the hoop, pop out the round insert, lay your fabric over it, and pop the insert back in. Then screw the top back in until everything feels tight.

Next, prep for painting. If you bought a big stencil, then use spray adhesive (or double sided tape) to stick it down in the center of your hoop. 

Now - here's a little bunny trail. For those of you who don't feel like buying a big stencil, let me tell you that you can make your own! You can do this easily with your printer, a piece of cardstock, a black marker, and some packing tape. Just print your letter the size you'd like it onto your cardstock. (I couldn't get my J big enough, so I actually hand-drew mine and then colored it in with a sharpie :). Next, cover your entire piece of cardstock with clear packing tape (this is so the paint won't soak through. I covered mine front and back, overlapping each piece just a little.) Once that is done, cut out your letter with some sharp scissors. Finally, tape the side back that you cut through, and you'll have both a stencil and a cut out of your initial! (I have heard of people doing this with freezer paper and an exacto knife, but I didn't have either of those and wasn't about to go buy them. The cardstock, tape, and scissors worked just fine!)

Okay - so you've got your stencil attached to your fabric, and the fabric is in the hoop. Double check that the fabric is tight, and go ahead and gently start dabbing your paint on. Be careful around the edges - paint can sometimes bleed on burlap. (If you've never painted a stencil before, take note that you should dab your paint on with the foam brush, don't use brush strokes. Also, hold the sides of the stencil down when you do the edges.)

Let it dry, then remove the stencil and see how it looks. If it doesn't look good, you can throw out that piece of fabric and try again. If it looks great, then you can go ahead and move on to the next step! (Don't be finicky about the edges - most people will see it from the street after all ;)

Next up,  you'll want to cut the excess fabric off around the edge of your hoop. Be sure to leave an inch or two to glue it down, but trim the rest away.

Now get out your hot glue gun and glue it down to the back of the hoop, bit by bit. I would suggest a low temp glue gun so you can press it down with your fingers (and you won't burn yourself). 

Now just add a ribbon to the top, hang it on your door, survey your work and SMILE! 

You just made yourself a beautiful Monogrammed Burlap Door Hanger!

*Post project note :: My Dad recently warned me that the wooden hoop might split because it's hanging outside and being exposed to the elements (cold/heat/rain/etc). He suggested I seal it with something. If you want to add in this step, you can seal your wooden hoop before you start this project. Just paint it with a coat of polyacrylic, spray paint it with a clear coat, or spray paint it to match your door. Mine has been outside for a couple of weeks and seems to be okay, but I still might give it a quick coat of Annie Sloan's clear furniture wax because I'd like for it to last a few years. *Happy crafting ya'll!

Monday, October 29, 2012

It's Fall Ya'll :: Seasonal Mantle & Door Decor

Well, if it wasn't Fall before, it definitely is now! Temps just keep dropping around here, and the leaves keep falling. I've been enjoying pulling out my boots and sweaters, and decorating for the season too!

I thought I'd give you a glimpse of my seasonal decor today. We've never really had the money to decorate for anything except Christmas (the joys of a non-profit budget ;) but this Fall I was able to buy (and make) a few things that I hope to add to each year. We'll start with my mantle decor...

What do you think? I know it's simple, but I really love it! If you haven't guessed already, I used one of my favorite art sources (vintage sheet music) for my focal point. This piece is from 1917, and I just fell in LOVE with that Southern Belle in her antebellum dress!

I think the Jack-O-Lantern adds the perfect touch to make it festive but not too scary (I don't know about you, but I am not a fan of scary Halloween decor!) I got it framed at a great local shop with cheap prices, and I'm excited about using it year after year!

The big candle vases are from WalMart, as are the big Pumpkin Spice candles. I couldn't find candles anywhere that would come close to the price of those at WalMart! And I'm planning to re-use the vases as Christmas mantle decor too.

Here's one more shot at night...

Now let's move on to my Fall Door Decor, shall we? 

I honestly love burlap year-round, but something about it just screams FALL to me, so I incorporated it in my mantle decor and on my front door too!

*Note :: I realize it looks a little sad with only 1 pot of mums, but I am notorious for killing plants so we didn't buy any more. Which reminds me... I haven't watered it in a week and a half... oops! (point proven!) Plus, I have a hard time spending more than $5 or $10 on something that's going to die eventually anyway (even if I do water it. Which I probably won't. Just being honest here.) Also, I probably should've swept the porch... (umm... I mean... I meant for those leaves to be in there... they are part of my Fall Decor! Suuure... that's it.)

There are so many great wreath options, but I wanted something a little more personal to welcome our guests. This project was easy, cheap, and I adore the finished product!

*Stay tuned because tomorrow, I'll show you how to make your own Monogrammed Burlap Door Decor! And don't forget to enter my "Favorite Things" Fall Giveaway!

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Few of my Favorite Things :: Fall Giveaway!

Well friends, it's your lucky day! Whenever I do a "Favorite Things" post, I always follow it up with a FREE GIVEAWAY! Because I like to pretend like I'm Oprah. It's fun.

You're getting a new CAAA---AAAARRR!!! 
                                                                           *said in my best excited Oprah voice.
Just kidding.

But you are getting a chance to win some fun freebies to make your Autumn days just a little more enjoyable. Sound good? Great! Here's what's up for grabs today...

#1 - A hand-knitted, rose-colored scarf

I love this color scarf for Fall! 
This is similar to the scarf I wore in our Fall Photoshoot
It's just beautiful paired with cream sweaters and chocolate brown boots!
This was actually knitted by a friend (not me - I wish) and it's lovely. 
7 inches wide by 54 inches long (not including the tassels)

#2 - 2 packets of Alpine Spiced Cider

One for you, and one to share with a friend (or your special someone!)
Mix together with hot water, 1-2 tbs caramel syrup, and a dash of cinnamon.
Top it with whipped cream, a drizzle of caramel syrup, and another sprinkle of cinnamon!
Now you've got the perfect hot drink for a chilly Fall night!

#3 - NYC's Park Ave Nail Polish

This muted tone goes beautifully with all your Fall fashions!
And the best part is - it dries in a New York minute,
so your manicure won't slow you down!


You've got several options to enter to win. 
Pick one or do them all for a better chance at this little prize pack!

               #1 - Comment below and answer this question: "What's one of your favorite things for Fall?"
               #2 - Follow me on Twitter!
               #3 - Become a follower of my blog (the button's on the right, by all the little square pics).
               #4 - Follow The Sound of Hope on Twitter!

*Remember to add a comment for every one of the entries you choose to do!
And don't forget to include your email address, so I can contact you if you win!

I'll announce the winner on November 1st!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Few of my Favorite Things :: Fall Edition

"Scarves around my neck and boots up to my knees 
Warm apple cider and Pumpkin Spice cream cheese 
Pretty Fall foliage that won't cost a thing 
These are a few of my favorite things..." 

I've been wanting to write this blog for weeks, but honestly, it hasn't felt much like Fall around here! It's difficult to write about "favorite things" like scarves and boots when it's in the 80's every day. But the nights are getting cooler, the leaves are changing, and even though it's going to hit 80 degrees again this week, I'm still going to say - It's FALL Ya'll! So it's time for a post highlighting a few of my favorite things in this splendid season!

#1 - Leaves Changing Colors

Both Rusty and I love this time of year... when God takes out His paintbrush and dabs deep red, rich orange, and bright gold across the typically green and brown landscape. It's crazy to think this is what it looks like when the leaves die... there is such beauty rendered as they succumb to winter. I must admit, I have missed Fall in Michigan this year. It was glorious the last two years... one day it's summer and then suddenly September rolls around and the world bursts into color! It's really extraordinary. (Just not enough to make me want to leave the South again! ;)

#2 - Fall Candles 

When the air gets crisp again, it's the perfect time to fill your house with the warmth of candles! It always seems warmer and cozier when we have candles lit, and I love the way they make my house smell. I usually do a mix of apple, cinnamon, and vanilla candles, but this season I've "FALLen in love" (pardon the pun) with pumpkin spice too! Yankee Candle has some delicious scents but I just can't justify $30 for a candle. So if you're looking for some that smell good and won't break the bank, Pumpkin Spice & Warm Apple Pie from good 'ol WalMart have made me happy this month! *Tip - I'm also using Glade Plug-ins for when my candles aren't lit. Their new Apple Cinnamon scent makes my house smell like I'm baking apple pie everyday!

#3 - Apple Cider

I know most of you are thrilled to death that Pumpkin Spice Lattes are back at Starbucks, but I'm really a Caramel Apple Cider girl! This time of year I crave apple cider all the time (probably because of all the apple cinnamon candles I'm burning! Hmmm...) I've found a great substitute for the expensive stuff at Starbucks though. 1 packet of Alpine Spiced Cider, hot water, 1 - 2 tbs caramel syrup, and a dash of cinnamon. Top it off with whipped cream, a drizzle of caramel syrup, and another sprinkle of cinnamon and you have a delicious Fall treat!

#4 - Fall Flavors

Speaking of Fall Flavors, have you tried the new Pumpkin Cream Cheese yet? I saw it in the store the other day and HAD to give it a try. Good thing I did, because it is DELICIOUS! Rusty and I have been eating it on toasted bagels every morning (maybe not the healthiest breakfast, but gosh it's good!) Pumpkin muffins with cream cheese frosting are another favorite for this time of year. You can get an easy recipe here!

Photo source : David Albers

Photo source :: Nordstrom
#5 - Scarves

If you know me at all, then you know that I adore scarves. Every color, texture, fabric, and length - I will wear them any day of the year! But once Fall goes around, they are everywhere (and I don't have to stick to thin summertime scarves anymore!) Pull out the cashmere, hand-knits, infinity scarves and all the beautiful woven scarves I bought in India and Thailand! They are beautiful and functional this time of year, and I'm one happy, happy girl.  

Photo source : Makeup Masala

  #6 - Gray Nail Polish 

  I know this may sound crazy to some of you, but I'm loving matte    
  gray nail polish on short nails for the Fall! Two of my faves are Pure 
  Ice "Kiss Me Here", and NYC's quick dry polish in "Park Ave" 
  (which is more of a rose-colored gray). 

#7 - Arbonne's Shea Butter Wash & Body Lotion

In keeping with the scents of the season, I always change my bodywash & lotion to fit the time of the year. In the Summer I like fresh and fruity smells, but when Fall & Winter roll around I like to smell like vanilla. Arbonne's Shea Butter has the most delicious, warm, vanilla scent and I LOVE that it's all-natural! Plus, the lotion does a great job of keeping my skin soft and moisturized in the cold!

#8 - These pictures...

When we were hired as iStock models, our photographers did a shoot for every season. Our Fall shoot is seriously competing with our Spring shoot as my favorite! We've seen these pictures on everything - from a billboard, to printwork & web pictures for the National Marriage Institute, to websites advertising mountain vacations! Here are a few of my favorites from that day...

What are a few of YOUR favorite things for Fall?

*Remember to stay tuned for my next blog - I always follow up a "Favorite Things" post with a giveaway of at least one of my favorite things!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Looking for an adoption agency is kind of like dating...

I've been thinking for a few days now about how searching for an adoption agency is kind of like dating. I've got this whole comparison worked on in my head, so humor me while I type it out, okay? Great.

The way I see it, searching for an adoption agency is a lot like dating. It's a rollercoaster ride. It's emotionally exhausting. There are high-highs and low-lows. There are a ton of unknowns. And in the end, you're trying to answer a super serious question...

Could he be THE ONE?

Could he be the man I'm supposed to marry? (Or, with an adoption agency, could this be THE ONE that will bring me my child?!)

So let's talk about dating. It's been a few years since I've done it (going on almost 5), but if I remember right, it starts when you notice him from across the room. (Or if you're adopting - when you find that agency in a google search). Or maybe a friend introduced you? (Or, maybe a friend suggested this agency?) Either way... you start to check him out. Eyes, hair, smile.... (and you check OUT that website... how long has it been since it was updated? Does it look professional? Is there a good amount of helpful information on it?)

Now, if you like what you see... and he likes what he sees, you might move to the next phase of what I'd call pre-dating, or as we called it when I was in high school and college... "TALKING". You know this part right? It's the "getting to know you part" where you flirt and you chat via phone, text, or email. (If you've decided to move into the "talking" phase with an adoption agency, then you've decided to actually communicate with them via email. You know, ask some preliminary questions, tell them a little bit about yourself, and "feel out" whether you want to move forward.) You'll probably ask your mutual friends about him too (and you will call any and every adoptive mom you know to ask what they know about this particular agency!)

Now, if you're lucky enough that "talking" moves into him asking you out on your first date, then you get REALLY excited! (If you're lucky enough to want to move forward with this agency, then you go ahead and set up a phone call to really talk seriously about your next step in adopting through them). You go crazy preparing for the date. You shower, you buy a new dress, you put on makeup. (You go crazy preparing for this phone call. You research and research some more, and then you compile a crazy long list of questions for you to talk about.) The closer the date gets, the more nervous you get. There are butterflies in your stomach! Will the date go well? Will you be asked on another date? Could this really be the man you're going to marry someday?! (The closer the call gets, the more nervous you get. There are butterflies in your stomach! Could this be THE agency for your family? Could you actually submit an application with these people? Could you trust them to bring home your child?)

And then, the date comes. (And then, the call comes). If he seems super sketchy, you might think, "I don't know if I can trust this guy" and make an excuse to go home early. (If the agency seems sketchy, disorganized, or shows that they don't have enough experience, then you might end the call and mark them off your list.) But if you're lucky, that first date goes GREAT! While he's driving you home, you let yourself start to get excited about date #2. You might even let yourself daydream about a future with this guy... (But if you're lucky, the call goes GREAT! You're impressed with the agency, and you and your husband start thinking... "Wow. We definitely want to move forward with them!") 

... and then... he drops the bomb. "I had fun tonight and all, but I don't think this is going to work out. I really only like athletic girls (or musical girls, or taller girls, or girls who want to be teachers - or something else crazy specific that is out of your power to change!) Let's just be friends, okay? (And then, the agency drops the bomb. Oh... you would make excellent candidates but you have to have proven infertility... or you can only specify that you want a girl if you already have a son... (or some other unexpected requirement that is COMPLETELY out of your power to change!) You aren't eligible for our program.)

Cue the tears. And the disappointment. And the "what's wrong with me?!" mindset. You thought things were going great and then he crushes you with this excuse out of left field. You might even start to question if you'll EVER get married - especially if he's the 4th guy in a row to dump you after the 1st date! (Cue the tears. And the disappointment. And the "what's wrong with me?!" mindset. You really loved this agency and you wanted to move forward with them, until they crushed you with that crazy requirement out of left field. You might even start to question if you'll EVER get a baby - especially if this is the 4th agency to stop your progress after the 1st phone call.)

And so it continues. I'm sure this comparison probably applies to people going through the referral process (could this baby be THE ONE?!) people going through the waiting process (ever been in a long distance relationship? It's miserable!) and people who've had adoptions go bad when they were much further into the process (I'll bet that feels like breaking up with someone you were ENGAGED to!)  but it all comes down to the same truth.

These are emotional issues. They are complex. They take 2 people (or with adoption agencies, a lot more than 2 people and a LOT of paperwork!) In the end - they will change your life FOREVER (you will find a husband... or you will have a BABY!) But even with all the pain... all the heartache... all the unknowns.... they are WORTH IT.

And ultimately, both processes are completely, entirely, in the hands of a loving God who truly wants the best for us (and our spouse... and our future babies!)


Just thought I'd remind all of you out there of that truth, just in case you've been facing some discouragement like us! We don't quit dating just because it's difficult and emotional... so don't give up on adopting your child! Your little one is out there, somewhere, it just might take a little more time to find them than you expected.

But I can't end this blog without sharing some good news too!  As of today we've been asked out on a "2nd DATE" with an adoption agency!!! We'll be submitting an application to an agency in New York sometime in the next few days! It's not a sure thing, but we have found someone willing to advocate for us with a specific orphanage and we're willing to give it a try. I'll post a follow up blog with more details soon, but if you could go ahead and begin covering this process in prayer, we would greatly appreciate it! Maybe this "date" will lead us to our "Happily Ever After" as a family, after all!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Our Week in Pictures

Since I'm still behind on blogging, I thought I'd do a quick catch up by hitting the highlights of the past week in a picture blog. Sound good? Okay, great!

Let's start with last weekend. We fulfilled our annual Jackson Family Tradition by driving down to AU for the Auburn vs Arkansas football game. It started out well... we were back on The Plains (my most favorite place in the world) to see the Tigers play. Arkansas was expected to lose terribly, and I was going to get to see lots of my friends!

I'm not sure where things went wrong... but they did. Terribly wrong. Auburn didn't even bother to pretend to play football, and we lost miserably (to what we thought was the worst team in the SEC).

That scoreboard says 7 to 24 Arkansas. My husband was one happy man!

Next, we both got CRAZY sunburned (how could I forget to wear sunscreen to an 11am game?). Then I almost overheated (80+ degrees in October? Seriously?!?) and had to watch the 4th quarter from under the bleachers by the concession stand. And to top it all off, I ended up with blisters on the bottom of my feet! I didn't know that was even possible...but let me tell you, it is painful.

It was definitely one of my roughest gameday experiences to date. But, there's always a silver lining.... and visiting with my sweet friends helped make a crappy day much brighter!

Before the game started, we ran into my friend from high school Randy White, 
and his sweet wife Merritt! It's been YEARS since I've seen either of them!

We got to watch the 3rd quarter with our friends Jefforey and Annah Grace, 
as well as Baby Morgan (present in the cutest baby bump ever!) 
We can't wait to meet Baby M in March! 

 Next up we randomly ran into Brian Keeter - twice! It was great to catch up with him!

On the way out of the stadium we spotted these guys. 
I don't care who you are... that's some funny stuff right there!

Nothing will ease the pain of a loss better than being on Bo Jackson's arm!
He told me not to worry, and to remember that it's always Great To Be An Auburn Tiger!

... and I couldn't walk by Cam without stopping to hold his hand. That #2 is such a stud! ;)

 By this point, I was super sweaty, tired, and sunburned BUT I couldn't leave without visiting Kira & Oliver's tailgate! 
Kira's family throws quite the party, and she also happens to have two super cute kids! 
It was so good to catch up with her...

And to finally meet her precious little boy Charlie! 

Before we called it a day, we had to stop by the KNWA TV van to see Rusty's friend Aaron!

And then we were finally back at the Stoves' house where we stayed. It was nice to spend some time
catching up with Candice (after snuggling and playing trains with Davis and Clay of course!)
And Rusty was glad to have Randall (not pictured) to talk sports with!


The next morning, we were off to Florida! We weren't able to go to the beach this summer, so we were very excited when my parents invited us down for a free trip on their Fall Break! My brothers and their wife & fiance were there Friday and Saturday (we were really sad we missed them!) and then we got to spend Sunday - Tuesday with my parents. We did nothing but sleep, read, lay on the beach, and eat seafood - which was wonderful! We are about to have a super busy few months of work, so it was nice to rest up and enjoy the gorgeous October weather!

 Me and my handsome man!

Me and my Daddy!

A family picture on our last night... if only Brent, Melissa, Jaron, and Michelle could've been there!


And if all that wasn't enough excitement for you... we got home just in time to welcome our dear friends Kevin & Malerie home from Korea with their precious daughter Gia! I can't even begin to explain what an incredible, emotional sight it was to see them walk off that plane holding their daughter!  We are just so happy for them and so in love with their sweet little girl!

Welcome Home Huguleys!!! (Photo by Heather)

Gia's first picture with Uncle Rusty and Auntie Ericka! 

The whole Welcome Wagon at the B'ham Airport (Photo by Heather)


*Whew! Talk about a crazy (but great) week! And I didn't even mention our awesome Community Group on Wednesday night or our fun dinner with new friends on Friday night! We spent today just resting from all the fun. Our hearts are full. Thank you God for all our blessings!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Furniture Makeover :: From Cedar Chest to White & Distressed

*Sigh. I'm behind again. I have SO many fun blogs I want to share with ya'll.... DIY projects, pics from a precious baby shower, a Fall giveaway, and more! But we've just been so darn busy around here! Between work, 3 weddings (in 2 different states), and hosting a weekly community group at our house, things have been a little crazy. But in an effort to catch up, let's do another quick furniture makeover, shall we?

This little beauty was $99 at my local thrift store. (Typically way more than I would spend on a project, but it was REAL cedar from the 1940's, and she just had such beautiful lines!)

I snatched it up for one of my friends, and in my haste I didn't notice that there was a chunk missing from the trim...

Super frustrating! I am normally so careful about choosing pieces that only require a little wood putty (if any repairs), but she was already bought and in my car so I, of course, responded with the 7 words I've said at least a million times in my life...

I'm sure my Dad can fix it!

And he did! I assumed he would find a similar piece of trim and glue it on. But no, SuperDad decided that he would instead carve a new piece of wood to replace the missing trim. Yes, that's right. He handcarved a matching piece! Impressive, no?

Next up was sanding and wood puttying not just scratches, but someones driver's license # that was carved into the top. (I'd seriously like to slap the punk that carved into this beautiful chest.... who does that?!)

Then I painted 2 coats of Annie Sloan's Pure White....

 did some light distressing....

... added clear wax, and TA-DA!!!

Isn't she beautiful? She recently went to live in Baby Gia's room, along with the spotted shelf, and my pretty purple table!

Speaking of Baby Gia, her parents (and our dear friends) Malerie & Kevin leave Saturday at midnight to go get her from Korea! We are just so, so thrilled for them, and we can't wait to meet their precious baby girl! If you think about it, say a prayer for them as they travel (and for Gia as she is about to experience a potentially traumatic time of transition). I know they would appreciate your prayers! You can pop over to their blog to read more of their story here ::