A Little Claire-ification

bright ideas for the busy & budget minded…

The Holidays At Home – Sweet Feature & TGIF!

Howdy everyone!!!   Please raise your hand if you are as happy as I am that it is Friday!!!

I have missed you all this week!!  It has been a crazy week at work with a big launch which entailed a HUGE media Press Event yesterday so I unfortunately haven’t been able to post since Monday.    I am working on my next post now but I wanted to take a moment to share how very grateful I am for all of my new followers on both this blog and on the “A Little Clairification” FaceBook page  and also for Julie, over at Red Head Can Decorate.  Julie posted SUCH a sweet feature about my “12 Days of Christmas” hand painted pillows today!  I am so grateful!!!

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Julie’s post also included some FANTASTIC ideas and tips for outside holiday decorating!!

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To see her post click here:

http://www.redheadcandecorate.com/4/post/2012/12/outdoor-christmas-decor.html

I hope you have all had a wonderful week!   And what do YOU have planned for this weekend?  Anything exciting??  I know that I will be loving on my boys and also catching up here at “ALC” so stand by for more fun craft ideas and yummy holiday recipes!!

xoxo,

Claire

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30 Days Of Thankfulness: Day 30 – A Year To Be Thankful

Thankfulness - 2012 Collage

Here we are at the end of November – wow!  Many of us have been in “holiday mode” for a while now – maybe even before the turkey was cleared from the table. Believe me, I love to see the tree and decorations go up too.   Thanksgiving is by far my favorite meal of the year and Christmas is my favorite holiday overall.

It was important to me, however, to finish the “30 Days Of Thankfulness” series.  It’s been a great year and we have so much to be thankful for.

Every month and every day.

xoxo,

Claire

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30 Days of Thankfulness: Day 17 – Creamy Lentil Soup with Sausage

Today I am thankful for a lazy Saturday at home.  Life has been a little hectic for the last few weeks, and it’s just going to get more nuts over the next 6 weeks so it’s nice to have a quiet, calm day before the full-on crazy kicks in.

And…. Brrr.  I don’t know about you guys but the last two days have been chilly and gray hovering around 59* degrees!!

(I’ll pause here for a moment while those up North laugh out loud (justified) and say “Ohhh, bless her sweet little heart” (or whatever the Northern equivalent is to that little saying).

Ok, alright.  I know it’s not really THAT cold but for Central FL it’s a little chilly for this time of year!  And don’t get me wrong.  I L-O-V-E when it starts to cool off.  Makes us feel like we actually have a Fall season here in Florida and it also makes it easier to get into the Christmas spirit! (not to mention, 90* in October + children’s Halloween costumes = not pretty, y’all).

Anyway, cooler weather always puts me in the mood for good soup.   Oh who am I kidding?  Grrrrl, I eat soup all year ’round – even when it’s 100*  out.  I just pat the cute little beads of sweat off my forehead and upper lip, as any proper lady would do, and dig in.  Tomato Basil Bisque with a melty grilled cheese dipped in??  Come on now.  These are things that we can’t  just save and chalk up as “Winter only” foods.  That’s right up there with the “Don’t wear white after Labor Day” rule.  Pfffft.   I defy these silly rules and eat them for breakfast.  Dipped in soup.

So on this blustery slightly cool Fall day I was inspired to make one of my favorite soups (for the record, you should know that I was also inspired to make about 268 other gorgeous recipes and at least 96 beautiful crafts that I saw on various sites and blog posts today so, lest anyone feel inadequate, you can rest assured I am probably more behind than you are).

Ahhh creamy lentil soup.  This is a super easy recipe.

{Some quick fun facts about Lentils:   Archeological evidence shows lentils were eaten as early as 9,500 to 13,000 years ago.  With about 30% of their calories from protein, lentils have the third-highest level of protein by weight, of any legume or nut, after soybeans and hemp.}

Good to know, right?  Here’s a shot of me in my recent 5K / obstacle race.  Protein is good and makes ya’ strong!  But really only showing this to try and justify why I don’t feel so bad about inviting the sausage to this party (by the way – I thought I might die at several points during this race!).

I have three children. Why am I doing this again??

Let’s get started on the soup, shall we?  The main ingredients:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup green lentils
  • 4 cups chicken stock (substitute water for vegetarian diets)
  • 2 carrots,  roughly chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 lb. thinly sliced sausage (there are plenty of vegetarian sausage options out there too!)
  • 1 baguette or some other crusty bread cut into thin slices (at least 3 per person)

The lentils should soak for at least two hours prior to cooking.  If you are “Miss Plan Ahead” (I humbly salute you) soaking overnight is fine as well.

Another fun fact – French chefs have a term for having all of your ingredients prepped and at the ready:   Mise-en-place (pronounced [miz on plas], literally “putting in place”) means “everything in place”, as in set up.  It is used in professional kitchens to refer to organizing and arranging the ingredients (e.g., cuts of meatrelishes, sauces, par-cooked items, spices, freshly chopped vegetables, and other components) that a cook will require for the menu items that he or she expects to prepare during his/her shift.

I love that there Wikipedia.  😉  My “Mees-On-Plas”, y’all:

On Medium-High heat, add the chicken stock, lentils, carrots, celery, onion, thyme sprigs and bay leaf to your Dutch oven or desired cooking pot.

Once the stock begins to boil, cover and reduce the heat to low.  Simmer for 45 minutes.

In the meanwhile chop your sausage into thin discs. In this case we used Kielbasa because that is what we had on hand.  Chorizo or any other link sausage will work.  Make it your own.

Place a skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil.  Once the pan is really hot, add the sausage rounds.  These need to be watched and loved on (sounds like me on a Target shopping trip).  You want them to get a wee bit crispy so when they really get cooking , flip them over.

Repeat several times until the edges are crisped.  Once you have those crispy little discs of goodness beaten into submission, remove them from the pan onto a paper towel lined plate.  Do NOT discard the pan juices.  Set the pan aside for now.

Once the lentil mixture is done, remove and discard the bay leaf and set aside to cool for about 20 minutes.  {**Make ahead tip –  you can always refrigerate  – or even freeze in containers – at this point.  Just make sure the soup is at room temperature before you put it in the fridge or freezer containers.}

When slightly cooled, pour the lentil mixture into your blender (do not fill more than 2/3 – blend in two batches).  Let cool some more – at least 10 minutes.

Place the top on your blender and release the little section on top so that you don’t have a “big hot mess”. If the top to your blender does not have that feature then do NOT seal the top tightly.  Leave a little room for the hot steam to escape but in EITHER case, keep your hand firmly on the top.  If you have cooled your soup completely you will not have to worry about this, of course.

Blend the soup until smooth (at least one minute).

and then pour the blended soup back into the Dutch oven (or whatever pot you used).  Set the burner to the lowest setting to keep warm.

To serve immediately, ladle the soup into bowls.  Place a few sausage rounds on top and then drizzle a little bit of the sausage drippings over the top.   Serve with a couple of slices of french bread  – great for dipping!  Just yummy, hearty comfort food that is good for the soul!  Enjoy!

I love to read your comments so let me know – what is your favorite soup?   Make sure to pop over and like me on FaceBook too!

Have a great weekend!

xoxo,

Claire

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Linking Up To Some Fabulous Parties!

 

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30 Days of Thankfulness: Day 15 – Hand Painted “12 Days of Christmas” Pillow

This week is flying by and I can’t believe there are now only 7 days until Thanksgiving.  What??  I feel like we were just starting Summer a minute ago and now that’s long gone and here we are barreling towards year end.  Somebody stop this train!

Today I am thankful for my Mom and Dad and all of their support over the years.  You have a lot of time to think when you are hand painting little details for an hour or so.  My parents are always there when I need them and I love them dearly.

Speaking of painting… I just finished a rather fun (and definitely gratifying) little project.  If you are anything like me then you have most likely seen an item in a store at some point and maybe looked at the price tag and thought “I could make that myself”.  The creative wheels start turning and maybe you ventured as far as to actually do it!  Well a couple of weeks ago I saw a Christmas pillow that I thought was sooo darn sweet at Target (Raise your hand if you follow my blog. Keep it up if you are surprised I was at Target.  If your hand is still up you need to go back and read all of my posts!). 🙂

Considering the detail (and the cuteness) the price tag wasn’t really too bad at $19.99 but, in this case, I actually thought “It would be fun to try and make that myself.”  And so I did!  I’ll show you a side by side at the end.

I started with some dark red duck cloth that I already had purchased for another project.  I had 1 & 1/4 yard  ($6.50 after a 60% coupon at JoAnn Fabric) and I didn’t even use half of the material!  I decided to make this pillow cover as an “envelope” or sham style cover, rather than a zipper.  Frankly, I need to go back and practice my zipper sewing skills and I also didn’t want to spend any more than I had to anyway.

My materials:

Duck cloth   $3.00 (approx).

One 20″ pillow (repurposed one I already had)

Metallic Gold Fabric Paint ($1.52 after another coupon)

(2) White Fabric Paint Pens ($1.49 each after more coupons = $3)

Fabric paintbrushes and white fabric marking pencil (already owned)

I started by cutting (1) 21″ x 21″ square from the cloth, and then (2) 13″ x 21″ rectangles for the back of the pillow cover.

Then I got to work on my number stencils.   Now I do not own a fancy CriCut or anything like that (but it’s on my list annnnd they are 40% off at JoAnn right now, so maybe The Husband will read this and I will get an early Christmas present!).  If you do own a machine that will cut adhesive vinyl numbers and lettering, you will spend about two hours less than I did on this project (you lucky dog!).

So I printed numbers in varying sizes:

My Mother taught elementary school for 44 years.   She will be proud to know that my cutting, tracing and “staying in the lines” skills are finally paying off.   I cut the numbers out (yes, by hand using scissors – so stone age, I know!) and laid them out onto the 21″ square of cloth.

Once I had them where I wanted them, I traced them lightly using the white marking pencil:

Then I got to painting all of the numbers gold:

The fabric paint dried pretty quickly, albeit maybe a bit tacky for a while, so I didn’t have to wait too, too long before I could go in and start writing the script with my white fabric marker.  I was just careful not to rest my arms on the fabric.  I freehanded the script in pencil first by looking at the example of the one I had seen in the store.

Oh I know it’s not perfect.   But it’s also not printed on a machine by the thousands somewhere across the world so it’s just perfectly personal and handmade.  As an aside, I told my Husband I wasn’t happy with the way one of the words turned out and he looked at me like I had three heads and said “Are you kidding? It looks perfect!”  Ok, that’s good enough for me.  (And then he wandered off muttering something that might have been about me being a perfectionist.  Or crazy.  Or maybe he was going to search “CriCut” on Amazon.  God love him.)

Anyway I let that dry overnight (not because I am really that patient, but because I had to go to sleep).  The next day I used my sewing machine to do a zigzag stitch on all of the edges of all three pieces of the fabric EXCEPT one long side of each rectangle, as those will end up showing on the back of the pillow and will be finished off.  The zigzag edge will prevent fraying so it’s an important step, especially with duck cloth.  I am NOT a seamstress y’all, but I make it work.   Hey, I’m just glad I remember how to thread a bobbin since I only get to really sew every 3-4 months.  If I can make this, “sew” can you!  This project has re-inspired me.  🙂

I then did a traditional (twice folded, one-stitch) hem on the two unfinished sides of the rectangle pieces.

PS – do try and remove the pins before the needle passes over to prevent your needle from breaking.  I missed a couple and got lucky.   Some machines can definitely handle it (ie: Viking) but it’s just easier to take ’em out and save yourself the hassle.   Once that was completed, I laid the painted square face up, and then lined up the first rectangle (finished side down towards the paint) with the top of the square and pinned it.  I then lined up the second rectangle (again, finished side down) with the bottom of the square and pinned that.  The rectangles will overlap by several inches.

I then sewed the entire perimeter of the three now-attached pieces and turned it inside out, using my finger to really get into the corners because I can’t find my little tool that does that  (FYI – I would not recommend using scissors to poke the corners out.  I have seen bad things happen.  I’m just here to protect you and your projects).  😉

Insert your pillow just like you would a pillow into a sham cover.  Shimmy it, fluff it, love it…  and Voila!  One very merry and festive holiday pillow!

And here’s the side by side.  On the left – a picture of the “inspiration” taken on my iPhone.  On the right – my “made-right-here-in-the-US of A-in-my-very-own-home “masterpiece”.   Pretty fun, huh?  Theirs is really cute and I still adore it (and I will definitely beef up my #5 on the one I am making for my son’s teacher – it seemed so much bigger when I was working on it!!!) but hey, not bad for hand painted and freehand cursive and $7.50 out-of-pocket!

I just hope you are all inspired to get out there and create something this week!   As always, I love to read your comments or hear about any fun projects you are working on!

xoxo,

Claire

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Linking up to some fabulous parties!!

 

Christmas Inspiration Party @ Top This, Top That

Sundae Scoop @ I Heart NapTime

Clever Chicks Blog Hop @ The Chicken Chick

Flaunt It Friday @ Chic On A Shoestring

Saturday Show & Tell @ Cheerios & Lattes

Tutorial Tips & Tidbits @ Stone Gable

Countdown To Christmas @ Dixie & Dottie

Whatcha Work Up Wednesday  @ DIY Crafty Projects

Shabbilicious Friday Link Party @ Shabby Art Boutique

Busy Monday @ A Pinch Of Joy

Holiday Highlights Party @ DIY Showoff

The Inspiration Board @ Homework

Thankful Thursday @ My Crowded Kitchen

Upcycled, Repurposed {Newbie w/ a Twist} Party @ DebbieDoos

Make The Scene Monday @ Alderberry Hill

Mop It Up Mondays @ I Should Be Mopping The Floor

Power Of Pinterest Pinning Party @ Fox Hollow Cottage

Shine On Fridays @ One Artsy Mama

Once Upon A Weekend @ Family Ever After

Party #80 @ Redoux Interiors

Anything Goes @ Bacon Time

Feathered Nest Friday @ French Country Cottage

Lovely Crafty Weekend @ Lovely Crafty Home

Friday Flair @ WhipperBerry

One Creative Weekend @ One Creative Mommy

I Freakin Did It Friday @ Miss Information

Home Sweet Home @ The Charm Of Home

Inspiration Friday @ At The Picket Fence

Fantabulous Friday @ Little Becky Homecky

Friday Happy Hour @ Crafty, Scrappy, Happy

Time To Shine Party @ A Diamond In The Stuff

Catch a Glimpse Party @ A Glimpse Inside

Grace At Home @ Imparting Grace

Nifty Thrifty Tuesdays @ Coastal Charm

Transformation Thursdays @ The Shabby Creek Cottage

Wow Us Wednesdays @ Savvy Southern Style

 

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30 Days of Thankfulness: Day 12 – Best of The Weekend #1

Today, I am very thankful to have “met” so many amazingly talented and sweet bloggers (albeit virtually) over the last 5 weeks.  And of course, thankful to continue being inspired by some that I have followed for almost two years!

 

 

Today is my first ever “Best Of The Weekend” post – a list of 10 blog posts that I read this weekend that inspired me the most-est, even if some were posted prior to the weekend.  DIY projects, fantastic food or recipes, crafts and everything else in between that just tickled my fancy or touched my heart and made me want to bookmark it.   I’ll start by saying that I will probably always have more food posts than anything else because I love to cook and I love to eat good food but I do try to highlight a great variety of things!!

Oh and you should also know – there were WAY (way, way, wayyyy) more than 10 posts that I bookmarked and so enjoyed reading this weekend.  Like, a LOT more, but I have to narrow this down somehow!  Here goes, in no particular order:


Simple Living & Eating: Ground Beef Stroganoff

Not only does this look delish, I was also  touched by Diane’s story about her family being without power for 7 days after “SuperStorm Sandy”.  Her pictures of her family cooking up the contents of their fridge and freezer reminded me of what we went through in FL after Hurricane Charlie with no power for 6 days.  But we weren’t freezing cold!

Fairhope Supply Co. : A Veteran’s Day Story

So glad to have read this today…

Lizy B: Fall Leaf Cookie Tutorial

I am definitely trying these (gorgeous) cookies out ASAP!

Life In Grace: 12 Days of {Handmade} Christmas

All I can say is that I am SO making some of these felt scarves for me AND for gifts.  Talk about adorable AND thrifty!  LOVE!

Country Cleaver: Breakfast Reuben Sandwiches on Pumpernickel English Muffins

Kill me now.  I cannot wait to try these.  I am thinking about Christmas morning with my Dad’s hash browns.  You might see this one again before Christmas!

Living Well Spending Less: Operation Christmas Child

I posted this on Facebook and I will say it again – this is a FANTASTIC way to teach your family about the importance of giving back to those in need!  Ruth gives all of the details out in her great post – check it out and start a new tradition with your kids!

Today’s Creative Blog: Washer Lined Tray

I love this and I know it’s something I could make too!  Pretty darn cute!

Home Is Where The Boat Is:  Mini Pumpkin Pies

I make all kinds of “pumpkin-y” goodness between now and Christmas so these are right up my alley!

Fox Hollow Cottage: Decorating With Thrift Store Finds

Fantastic – I love finding something at a thrift store and turning it into something new!  Great for holidays on a budget!

Life As Mom: Busy Holiday Cooking Plan (Freezer Cooking)

I know – food again!  But, as a working Mom of three boys I have an extra fridge/ freezer AND a chest freezer in my garage – I don’t mess around!   I love to cook and we love to portion things out and freeze them for meals throughout the next few months.  I coupon shop the sales and freeze items for later.  I’ll be posting about this within the week as it pertains to our holiday prep!

I hope you all have a fantastic and blessed week!

xoxo,

Claire

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30 Days of Thankfulness: Day 2… Blessed Beyond Measure

I woke up earlier than usual this morning.   I have already mentioned that I am a (MAJOR) night owl, and The Husband usually handles the morning routine with the little guys  – God bless that man.  I just give sleepy goodbye kisses.  While hitting snooze.  I work in a crazy Media/Entertainment related industry and our deadlines are NUTS sometimes.  I am fortunate right now that some days I can work from home and some days I go into the office.  Today was not an “office” day, however.

Many, many moons ago, back when I was in High School, I remember my Mom would come in the room (at whatever ungodly hour that was) and just flip on the overhead light when it was time to get up.  Gahhhh.  To her benefit, that was usually after me NOT getting up after being asked the first (three) times.

“Can I just have five more minutes?!?”

Still not a morning person.  I am sure it will kick in at anytime, though.  The Teenager is much better at getting up for High School than I ever was.  Another blessing.  But this morning he came in and announced he was out of his disposable contact lenses.  And he didn’t flip the overhead light on but it was the same effect, nonetheless.  I mean, who uses their last contact lens and doesn’t think this might pose a problem, say, the next day?  The same kind of “people” that leave empty orange juice cartons in the fridge, that’s who.  Anyway this “lack of planning” suddenly became my “crisis” well before my first cup of coherency coffee crossed my mind this morning.  Oh, and the fact that it’s the last home football game tonight and The Teenager needs to actually “SEE” the ball, didn’t add to that pressure, nope not one bit.  Pfffft.

So I was up.  I immediately left a message for the eye doctor (who was also probably still sleeping) so that I could get a return call first thing when they got into the office.

Then I started the coffee (nectar of the Gods).

Then I went online.

And the first article I laid eyes on was one about (in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy) the residents of Staten Island and how extremely bad the conditions were for them four days later.   The article opened with the announcement that they had recovered the bodies of the two young boys (aged 2 & 4) that had been ripped from their Mother’s arms as her SUV was overtaken by the storm surge.  She had tried in vain to find them and then finally spent the night on the porch of an evacuated home weathering out the storm.

I sat here paralyzed staring at the screen and just feeling completely shaken for a long while, the coffee forgotten.  And I still feel paralyzed, actually.  The online image of that Mother’s grieving face will not leave me for a while.

Then I felt terribly ashamed.  Since when do contact lenses or a Varsity football game constitute a crisis??  Really?  At that moment, I just wanted all three of my “babies” to come home from school immediately so I could kiss their faces and hug them all over again.  I wanted a “morning do-over”.

And yes, we do “move on” and “we rebuild” after these things – we are “a resilient people”.  But isn’t it so much easier to say such things when you are in FL (or anywhere but there) and not freezing with no gas or electricity like millions of people in NY and on the Northern East Coast?  I bet they would appreciate my working coffee maker right now.

It’s not easy to write about things that you know people may just want to avoid reading, and I won’t apologize for writing what is on my heart.  Whatever post I had planned can wait another day.

30 Days of Thankfulness…    Today I am thankful for my family and for their safety.  I am thankful for working electricity and fresh water.  And yes, I am thankful for fresh coffee on demand.  I look forward to reading what you are thankful for  as well – I know every day might be something new.  Bring on the thankfulness.

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” – Psalm 46: 1-3

Hug your loved ones  – tell them why you are thankful for them.

xoxo,

Claire

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We are on a major tight budget too – even a $5 donation can make a difference.   How you can help if you are able:

And to help “Furry friends and babies”:

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A Month To Give Thanks: To Whom Much Is Given…..

Happy November!   Thank you all for following along so far.  I have truly enjoyed your comments and feedback and have also really enjoyed “meeting” (linking up) with some fantastic bloggers over the last month!!

This October’s “31 Day Challenge” was tough!  If you missed it, you can start with Day #1 here.

It pushed us to make things happen.  Some projects, like the card catalog and the front room, took longer than we thought they would.   We missed some days and some deadlines yet exceeded so many other expectations here in our home!  And, in case anyone is wondering, yes we WILL get back to the garage reveal as we were SO close.  There is a neighborhood garage sale this coming weekend and there are now so many things we have identified as “need to go to a good home” (sounds nicer than “junk”) we will be able to post better pics after that.  We are on the right path and I hope that October was a good month for you all as well!

Now we approach Thanksgiving and Christmas, two of my all time favorite holidays…  I am curious how you all feel moving into this season?  I know that the holidays evoke all kinds of memories, feelings and emotions that are different for each and every one of us.

And as much as I love the season, it is a pet peeve of mine that stores put out holiday decorations before Thanksgiving!   I would just like to simply enjoy Thanksgiving and can’t stand how commercialized Christmas has become.  Clearly, I don’t think I can change the retailers minds so I just try to not look at it until after Thanksgiving.  In fact, a few days ago I was buying Halloween candy and as I turned the corner, on the NEXT aisle there were Christmas trees up!!   Ack!!  One store team member saw me turn my head and shield my eyes in mock horror and he actually laughed.  Ha!

Anyway, by getting organized last month, we have been reminded that we have so much and can give back more than we thought.   This will be a month of Thanksgiving and of GIVING for us.

“…to whom much is given, much will be required…”.  Luke 12:48

I am looking forward to sharing traditions, recipes and also some ways you can give back and get your family involved too!

For now, here are a few fun ideas I found that I plan on trying with my boys (each image is linked to the original source – I think it’s important that when we find an idea on Pinterest, etc. that we give proper credit for all that hard work!!):

I L-O-V-E this thumbprint tree… “Thankful”.  I think I would frame that and keep it up year round!

And these button napkin rings are pretty stinking cute too!

And, I have a bunch of fall patterned and plain colored ribbon and some fabric – I love Leen The Graphics Queen Burlap Rose idea and think I have to try it with some of that Fall ribbon I already have.  I definitely have a now bedraggled wreath I can re-purpose!  and she even gives a video tutorial!  Check it out!

Would love to hear some of your favorite Fall decorating ideas too!  Kid friendly or just for crafty “big kids”  😉 either way!

xoxo,

Claire

Time To {Linky} Party!!

 

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31 Days To An Organized Home: Day 19 – A Place To Belong

Thanks for stopping by!  This is Day #19 of my “31 Days To An Organized Home” challenge.  If you missed it, you can catch up with Day #1 here!

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Happy Friday!! (I think…)

I say that because, in the midst of this sometimes overwhelming “31 Days” series, I realized a few days back that tomorrow is the 5K MudRun obstacle course we signed up for last month. Oh dear.  Granted, this was before I decided to jump off the proverbial cliff and dive headfirst into not only a new blog, but also this very challenging “31 Days” project.   This month I have been both inspired and tired!  Fortunately the “inspired” part weighs out (although you can’t deny your body the sleep that it needs when you are trying so hard to get an area of your home to the “After” photo stage)!

We started on the kitchen and pantry and that was going to be my post today but then a few things happened:

First, I realized that I need to rest up for this (CRAZY) race tomorrow and there is no way I can stay up til all hours getting the kitchen post up (can you believe I am making such a mature decision?!).  🙂   I am such a night owl and my posts tend to go up at crazy hours, but… I am by no means an athlete!  I think I know I need some quality sleep to pull this one off tomorrow!  I may not be able to move tomorrow night anyway!  This will be my 2nd MudRun / Obstacle 5K but this time The Husband is racing too (and The Teenager, again).  I hope they’ll come find me after a few hours if I just keel over.  😉

Second, my parents took the smaller kids for the weekend so we took advantage of a very rare night out to dinner (yay – date night!) !!  Our Anniversary is actually next month but since we’ll be inundated with Family and Thanksgiving, etc., we cheated and celebrated earlier (not to mention, we had a 50% off coupon! Woohoo!!).

Third, I was reading The Nester’s blog yesterday and the post had some links to some pretty amazing other blogs.  Always a treat.  I have found so much inspiration from so many amazing women online over the last year or so (see my BlogRoll).  It’s one of the main reasons I am here and was so encouraged to start my own.  I hope I can inspire someone – even one person- the way some of these ladies have inspired me.   So one of the links in Nester’s post was to a gal named Ellen’s blog called SweetWater.  First, I love that name.  Next, her post yesterday was called “Belonging” and it was just so right on and when I read it late last night I simply just… well, I felt like I could breathe.   I didn’t realize how hectic this month has been and I guess it really just was exactly what I needed to read right at that moment.

There were so many things she wrote that touched me and I love this one:

“Your home? More than it needs to be spit-shined and sparkled up? More than it needs to be glossy page worthy? More than it needs to be liked or likeable? It needs to be a place to belong.”

Wow.  So, I encourage you to take a little visit on over to  Sweetwater –  I know I was truly happy to find this little treasure of a blog and I look forward to reading more!

More to come from my own home front again soon.  I hope you all have a restful, rejuvenating weekend!  I will post a  picture from my race if I survive.  😉

In the meanwhile, I’d love to hear what blogs inspire you the most too!

~Claire

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