Tuesday, March 31, 2009

WFMW Backwards Edition: Laundry Staining

I was so excited to learn that this week's edition of Works for Me Wednesday is the "backwards edition," where I ask y'all for help with a problem.

Because I desperately need help with this little laundry issue I'm having.

Every now and then, I'll pull some clothes out of the wash only to discover they have blue stains on them.

The stains are impossible to remove. Nothing I've tried (even my beloved Carbona Color Run Remover) has touched them. I'm pretty confident the stains are not the result of another piece of clothing "running" because I don't think a color run would spot stain like that.

At first, I thought it was the laundry detergent. So, I switched to a clear-colored liquid detergent and made a point to add the detergent only after all the clothing was completely submerged in water (so the detergent wouldn't hit dry clothing and spot stain). But, that hasn't fixed the problem.

I'm completely stumped -- and a little irritated. It always seems my favorite items of clothing -- or even worse, my daughter's school uniform -- fall victim to the blue spots.

Does anyone know what is going on here and how I can stop it from happening?

Thanks in advance for trying to help a sista out.

And, after you solve my little issue -- be sure and head over to We are THAT Family and check out the dilemmas other people are having this Wednesday. They need some input from smart peeps like you! :)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Dogwood Tree

Hard to believe just a few short weeks ago a freak storm system blanketed our backyard in white fluffy snow:

Now, the tree branches are covered in white again.

Only this time, the white is of the springtime variety:

There's nothing quite as beautiful as when the dogwoods bloom in Georgia. They bloom around Easter each year, which always makes me think of the following story. It's a great visual reminder of all we celebrate this time of year.

The Legend Of The Dogwood Tree
As a child I heard this tale.
Long ago during the days that Jesus
was here on earth in the form of man
there were many dogwood trees.

The dogwood was comparable in
size to the oak tree and other
monarchs of the forest. Because of its
firmness and strength it was
selected as the timber for the cross,
but to be put to such a cruel use
greatly distressed the tree.

Sensing this, the crucified Jesus in his gentle
pity for the sorrow and suffering of all said to it:
"Because of your sorrow and pity for My sufferings,
never again will the dogwood tree grow large enough
to be used as a cross. Henceforth it will be slender,
bent and twisted and its blossoms will be in the
form of a cross two long and two short petals.

In the center of the outer edge of each petal
there will be nail prints brown with rust and stained with red
and in the center of the flower will be a crown of thorns,
and all who see this will remember."

~ Author Unknown

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Designer Duds for a Song

Every year my husband and I attend a black tie charity gala. And every year I find myself asking the same agonizing question:

“What am I going to wear?”

I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned it before — I’m cheap. It causes me great physical pain and emotional anguish to drop $200 on a cocktail dress I’ll only wear — at best — a handful of times. And, with the economic situation being what it is, it was pretty much a given I’d spend zippo on a new frock this year.

But, turns out, I did snag a new dress for the gala. It was a black, long-sleeved number that hit right about the knee and had a great plunging neckline. I love its versatility — I easily dressed it up for this event, but can also wear it more casually on a day-to-day basis.

Here, see for yourself. This is my husband and I before heading to the gala:

So…wanna know where I got it? Wanna know how much I spent?

Okay. Lean in a little.


Seriously — this is top secret. (read more at Chic Critique)

Monday, March 9, 2009

$200 Bathroom Makeover

It's the big reveal.

I mentioned last week that I've been hard at work redecorating my master bathroom on a shoestring -- $200 to be exact. So, it's time to share some before and afters. Here's the view before I started the redo:

And after:

One of the main components of the "redo" involved adding some fabric to the room. Normally, I'd try to find some remnant fabric, but I absolutely fell in love with a fabric shower curtain from Kohl's. I managed to get it on sale and proceeded to get the most mileage out of it that I could.

First, I made a "skirt" for under the vanity. I ended up sewing it, as it involved the kind of sewing I tend to be fairly decent at -- straight lines.

Here's what it looked like before:

And after:

Isn't that candle centerpiece on top cool? I picked that up on sale at Kohl's, too.

Next, I took part of the shower curtain and did a "mistreatment" on the window:

The weird thing about our house is that we have a ton of switches and outlets. A ton. There are some light switches that I still have no clue what they turn on. Anyway, we had a very odd grouping of outlets on the facing wall when you walked into the bathroom. I'm not sure if you can see so well in this picture. They're above the obnoxious looking radio and half camouflaged by the calendar my husband stuck up there.

My mom had the great idea of taking some shower curtain and making a hanging tapestry to hide the outlets. (Again, just my kind of project -- straight sewing lines.) I also got rid of the super-cheap shelving unit and moved in a wicker piece that I had in my daughter's room. And, remember those cheap pictures I made? You can see them in the next couple shots, as well:

I also made some other "cheap" artwork by taking a Japanese fan that my father-in-law acquired on a trip around the world years ago. The fan was sitting on a shelf in my great room, but was kind of lost up there. I got a shadowbox frame for 50% off at Hobby Lobby ($17) and pinned the fan open inside:

Here is a picture of the unfinished bathroom shelving unit:

And, a few shelves later:

The great thing about these shelves is that I managed to fill them by pretty much "shopping the house." I bought the bamboo boxes on the bottom shelf (clearance $8.99 each). Other than that, everything else was something I already had. The shelves aren't perfect -- but they'll do for now.

On the opposite side of the tub, I had this odd little alcove. Here's what it looked like before:

(That's the baby tub sitting inside the big garden tub, btw. Klassy, no?)

I shopped the house for a few accessories to replace the weird towel basket below and replaced the flowers in the hanging basket with some faux foilage I also had laying around:

Three supa-fab new bathroom rugs finished it off.

Here's the final cost breakdown:

(3) Bathroom rugs @ $20 each
(1) Bathroom centerpiece @ $30
(1) Shower curtain @ $35.90
(2) Bamboo boxes @ $8.99 each
(1) Shadowbox frame @ $17
(2) Framed art prints @ $3.50 each
(1) Wooden dowel for hanging tapestry @ $1
(1) Pressure rod for vanity skirt @ $10
(4) New shelves for unit $32
(1) piece of faux greenery @ $2.50
(1) Turquoise vase @ $10.49

GRAND TOTAL: $223.87

Even though I went a little over budget, I realized I could totally transform a room for a lot less than I would have thought possible. Which really, is quite a revelation for me.

So that's what I learned this week (actually, what I learned over the last few weeks). To see what everyone else learned, head on over to Jo-Lynne's place for the What I Learned This Week carnival!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

TLC for Dry Winter Hands

I don’t know about you, but at this point in the winter season, my hands have pretty much had it.

Cooler temperatures, windy conditions, indoor heating and a lot of contact with dishwater is the perfect recipe for dry, cracked and inflamed hands. So today, I’m sharing two of my all-time favorite products for giving those weary winter hands a little TLC. (read more at Chic Critique)

Monday, March 2, 2009

What I Learned This Week: You Can Make Artwork on the Cheap

I've been watching too much HGTV.

That happens every now and then.

I can always tell when my watching gets a little out of hand because that's when I start dreaming up all sorts of "home decorating" projects -- as if I'm some sort of female David Bromstad. All of a sudden I'll walk into a room and the fact that we don't have say, window treatments, will really start to bug me. So, I begin figuring out how I can get the job done with minimal money spent.

The latest victim of my unbridled creativity: our master bathroom. It's pitiful. It has looked pretty much the same way it has looked since we moved in eight years ago. There's no decor theme -- it's pretty much a mish mash of whatever I happened to throw in there. It's bland and pretty boring.

But, over the last week, I have worked diligently to transform it! I'm thrilled with the results, which I promise to share later in the week (I just need to finish a few last minute things before I post the after pictures). Long story made short: I gave myself a budget of $200.

Now, that might seem like a lot, but the bathroom had a shelving project that had been incomplete for eight years, so I knew a fair portion of my budget would go toward finishing that.

Once I got the major things done, I found I had little left over for finishing touches like artwork. So, I figured out how to make some artwork on the cheap. It's not rocket science (I'm no Nester), but here's what I did -- and I bet it's something you could do, too!

I chose an Asian-inspired theme for the master bath. The color palate was going to include a lot of earth tones and neutrals, with some green and turquoise mixed in. So, I was thrilled when I stumbled upon this set of six notecards in the Target $1 section:

I loved the design and started to think about how I could use the notecard as the basis for some artwork. I went to Walmart and bought two 8x10" frames for $3 each.

Next, I opened the card and cut the front from the back. I made sure to keep the dark brown piece close by -- I was going to use that later.

Then, I cut the front of the card into two pieces. I liked the gold bird better, so that was the part I wanted to use.

Then I grabbed some scrapbook paper that featured the colors I was using in the bathroom. Because I was making two pictures, I used two 12x12" sheets of paper, which cost a whopping 33 cents each at Hobby Lobby.

I cut the paper to fit the frame. I then used the dark brown part of the card to frame the gold bird piece:

Then, I just stuck it in the frame. Piece of cake.

I actually made two of these pictures, one for each side of our bathroom counter. They work perfectly.

Oh, and one last thing. If you do decide to do a similar project, be sure and remove the picture stand from the back of the frame. This will make it lay flatter when you hang it on the wall. All you need to do is wiggle a flat-head screwdriver under the hinge that attaches the stand. It pops right off:

So, that's what I learned this week. How to create great looking artwork for a song. These pictures cost me about $3.50 each.

Now, go visit Musings of a Housewife to see what everyone else learned this week!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Back from the Break

And so, I'm back.

What I had feared would be a difficult week away from the computer actually turned out to be exactly what my weary soul needed.

As my good pal Soliloquy pointed out, "I know you will hear from the Lord. We always do when we just shut up for a pair of minutes!"

Amen to that.

Blogging has blessed me in so many ways. It's a fantastic creative outlet for me. I love and cherish the relationships I've built with all of you. I've learned so many things that have enhanced my life in one way or another.


There's the other side of blogging. Kimba wrote about it beautifully last week when I was on blog break. I stumbled upon her post tonight and what she said sums it up perfectly:

"But, to paraphrase something written by a friend, there is a great danger in blogging especially for anyone who thrives on success and creativity. The danger is that we cannot differentiate between the good that comes from creating, connecting and providing and the evil that comes from being pulled away from the family and into a cycle of NEEDING to succeed for our own egos.

There is a powerful push and pull between the good and bad. I believe that applies to anything that has the power to pull us away from what should be our primary priorities, whatever those happen to be."

That, I'm ashamed to say, is where I was. Stuck in the middle of that push and pull. And -- don't misunderstand -- it's not like I have it all settled now. It's a constant struggle for me to keep my priorities in check. One week off has not set me on the right path forever. But, I'm going to make a few changes to try and keep life in check, because -- if nothing else -- this past week has reminded me that I'm a wife and mother first and foremost.