Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Piecing Together New Bedding

Have you ever had a duvet or bedding you really loved, but it was falling apart? That was our situation with a Pottery Barn Outlet duvet we've had for nearly 10 years. (You can see the old bedding here if you'd like.) It was time for a new one, but I was totally happy with it! We occasionally looked for new bedding and even ordered a couple things here in Portugal that we ended up returning.

My husband and I happened to find a pinkish linen duvet cover we both liked at Zara Home for a good price. It felt nice to finally find the one!

For Christmas, we got a great wool blanket made in Portugal that was perfect for the end of our bed. 

These two items were great, but matching our headboard, painted furniture and rug to these things seemed to be tricky. It would be easier to just get a new rug that matched. Yet I couldn't NOT use the huge wool rug we had that is still in great shape, especially when there really isn't a budget for new everything.

Options are not as plentiful here as in America with Target or a good size fabric store in most towns. We made a trip to "fabric row" in Lisbon, and I took a leap of faith on fabrics from two separate stores in hopes that some pillow shams with these would pull things together. Here's what I came up with:

This was my first time to add navy in the room but wanted to match that in the rug. I only bought a meter of the toile fabric, so when I decided to use it for the Euro shams, I had to use some navy ticking stripe fabric I had for the backs. This meant the people in the toile were off-centered, but I decided they were not to be the focus anyway!

I would like to repair or replace the floral vintage bark cloth pillow, and I've thought about doing a little embroidery on the coral small pillow I bought on sale. 

We haven't changed much more of the decor than the curtains and the side table toppers.

I found a gingham table centerpiece at the flea market that had iconic Portuguese pictures on it. I cut the piece in two, hemmed them and made toppers for each side table. 

Curtains were an IKEA buy and some careful notions-store searches! I came up with this trio of trims to embellish the curtains on the upper portion of the curtain. Tiny tassels on the top, some large gingham, and then Portuguese handmade looking lace (I'm not sure about that, but it looks that way.). I haven't gotten any great photos of the curtains because of the sun coming in that window. Looks like I need to cut a thread too!

I am pleased with how everything has come together and seems to complement each other, but it did take some time and work!  I hope it continues to evolve as well. I'm currently painting some frames for a side wall. Maybe some new paint on the side tables along with new throw pillows next. 

Our little stinker, Lizzy, likes our room too! If you're in Portugal and are interested in a blanket like ours, we recommend the shop ours came from. 

Friday, January 15, 2016

Narnia Birthday Party

I'm back on here after a nearly two year blog hiatus! It's fun when you have special things to write about!

My nearly 11 year old daughter was having trouble deciding what theme to use for her birthday party. I listed off and asked questions about her interests when finally we came to books! We had been listening to the Focus on the Family Radio Theater Chronicles of Narnia audiobooks. A Narnia party it would be!

We looked at pinterest and found some great inspiration! See At the Picket Fence and Toni Spilsbury. I also found a lion graphic to use with my Silhouette cutting machine. I used it to make the sign on our front door, along with hand copying the Narnia font. We used the cut out lions on a banner too.

We found gold plates, utensils and paper goods, so we set places for each kid along with stick on jewels for their cups. My daughter had hoped to find some goblets as seen on At the Picket Fence. We spray painted some plastic lions from the dollar store gold to be our Aslans.

We attempted to make a wardrobe entrance like Toni Spilsbury had for the entrance into our living room. I used spray paint and the stencil that was made from the lion cut outs. Kind of shabby, but the effect was great for the kids! We cut right up the middle of the doors on the sheet, and you could walk through.

We have to get creative at times with food and ideas being that we're not in the States. Our menu included:

Father Christmas Ham

Beaver Dam Pudding
(Caramel) Apples of Youth & (Kettle Corn) Forever Winter Snow
Acorns (Dates), Nectarines and  Cair Paravel Cupcakes
Mrs. Beaver's Hot Chocolate
While the kids were finishing their snacks, we passed out the treasure boxes to paint. We got the idea from Lisa Leonard Designs blog. We found small wooden ones at our dollar store. A couple of the boys decided to use their stick-on jewels in other spots while they painted their treasure boxes!

Next, we had "Susan's Archery Practice" in our neighbors' backyard (they already had a target spot). All the kids seemed to enjoy giving it a shot! This is the birthday girl's little sister!

I did not get any great pictures of our Scavenger Hunt but wanted to tell you about it! We took copied colored illustrations from the books, cut them into puzzle pieces and laminated them. Then we hid them all over our street and outdoor spaces with Narnia-ized clues as you can see below for one of the teams. For example, number seven was in an olive tree.

Team Dawn Treader

1.     The Clawed Vine Portal
2.                  The Bashful Blush Blossoms
3.                  The Pear Postal
4.                The Elves' Correspondence
5.                  The Royal Footrest
6.                 The Electric Chest Alley
7.                   The Oil Fruit Branches
8.   The Silver Cauldron

Our last activity was freeing the animals from their "frozen" state in a balloon, in the same vein as the White Witch had turned so many of the creatures into statues in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. We had put little plastic animals in the balloons to free with darts.


One more shot of our birthday girl and her sister! She was really pleased with the party!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A Few Differences

Hi friends: Writing from Houston, Texas! We’ve been back in the USA for about a week. Jet lag is starting to break!

My dear American friend in Portugal asked me to let her know things that hit me funny when I got back “home”. I thought I’d write a post about it. I think after flying back home from Europe several times for the past 8 years that I would not be surprised by things. I expect to be overwhelmed by the hugeness of SUV’s and trucks on the highway as well as central air and heat. So it has been fun to take note this time of what was unexpected.
Please don’t be offended by what I’ve noticed or commented on. I know the list might be long if you were to visit my other home in Portugal!  Here we go:

bling belts and purses at the sporting goods store
  1. Girls with messy hair in sports outfits at restaurants and stores
  2. Churches everywhere--not historical pieces of architecture but mainly khaki metal flat roofed buildings
  3. The friendliness of Chick Fil A staff
  4. Extremely soft toilet paper
  5. Souped up cars
  6. Yellow egg yolks! What are the chickens in Portugal eating that is different from here?
  7. Enormous drinking glasses at restaurants and being sold in stores. A Portuguese might mistake them as pitchers.
Note the decal on the windshield!

We're headed to visit my mother-in-law in Alaska next. Another cultural experience ahead! 

Thursday, April 3, 2014


Here in the morning shadows

I catch my breath and sing

My heart is fresh and fearless

And over-brimmed with spring

second stanza of “May Night” from Rivers to the Sea by Sara Teasdale


Our plum tree had a bad season last summer. Some kind of disease that made its leaves turn curly and grow strangely. The few plums that grew blew off in some strong winds. Lots of white buds make a statement for another chance.


Archways to some medieval structure near the castle walls at Obidos, a beautiful relic of a bygone day. What appears to be fireweed has found a sweet spot on top.


What I just threw in a pot a year or two ago because I couldn’t stand to see a viable plant go in the trash after cleaning out some flower beds. It feels like years since we’ve seen it’s color which only opens for the sun.

So thankful for the object lessons that spring offers. Is your heart fresh and fearless and over-brimmed with spring?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Chance to Celebrate Others

Long ago, I knew I wanted a party for my 40th birthday yet I hesitated to ask my family and team to have to do such a thing. One thought kept coming to me though, that I wanted to thank all our local friends here in Bombarral who have helped us so much over our years. A party would be the perfect chance to honor them. So, amongst other great celebrations for this milestone birthday, my family, team and I pulled off the event!

invitation copy

The invitation was the choice that set the décor for the party. It was ordered from the Green Cherry Factory on etsy. She has some of the most beautiful invitations I’ve ever seen! Unbeknownst to me, my friend and teammate, Anne, ordered a matching print from this shop with sweet words for my 40th! She brought it to put out the night of the party:


Anne, Linda (another teammate) and I scavenged our stashes for items that would work with the colors and décor. Anne let me borrow her amazing chalkboard for the wall behind the food table. Linda sewed garlands made from floral and coordinating color scrapbook paper. I added pink glitter to the rims of some green glass votives.


Anne and my girls hung up old photos of me in the shape of 40 on our entry wall. It was a hoot to share my past big hair with others!


We used a recent flea market buy, a pink chenille bedspread, as the table cloth and a bin that normally holds the garden hose for our flower container.


We had lots of yummy food contributed by many people. It was fun to have such a variety! Our menu included Hawaiian sliders, kabobs, orzo salad, spinach dip in a bread bowl, potato salad, a cheese plate, layered dip in a cup and meatballs! We got to use my vintage glass hostess set plates for the party—it  might have been the first time they’ve been used since we moved to Portugal!


The dessert table about overflowed! The pièce de résistance was Linda’s Andes Mint cake (recipe from Bird on a Cake). We also had chocolate almond cake, key lime pie fudge, make your own fruit pizzas and two kinds of cupcakes.


Here I am giving a personal thank you to each guest and sharing about the great things I see in their lives. It was wonderful to see people be encouraged and even shed some tears. It was worth all the effort for this opportunity!


A few shots of guests—not everyone, but you can get a feel for the party!






A special thank you is in order for my family and my team for helping this event be such a memorable occasion! I am so grateful!!!


Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Skirt and Stockings

It’s time to take down our Christmas decorations, but I remembered to take a photo of our new Christmas digs now that the presents are gone.


I finally made new stockings and a new tree skirt from fabric I’ve had for two years! We had been working our way towards a more bright color scheme in our ornaments and such. So glad to have it all come together this year!


Now for a few close-ups:


After considering a few one-main-fabric tree skirts, I went with the pie piece cuts to include them all. I found the cute trim at our local Retrosaria, battled with it a bit trying to find a way to sew it on. I relented and used hot glue.


The stockings were a success in the making only by following the tutorial by Sew Like My Mom. It took a bit of faith to see how it would turn out. You essentially create one solid piece, lining and exterior,


stuff the lining in when you’re done


and fold down the top.


{Anyone remember the red candy fabric above from 1996 or so? My daughter wanted that for hers over some of the “newer” retro fabric I’d bought. Worked with the color scheme though!}


My husband wanted a manly stocking, so I made his from a felted sweater I had. {It really works to wash and dry an old wool sweater on hot to get great fabric!} I used the same instructions but had to piece some of the sweater together for the neck of the stocking which is hidden.


Here they are post-Christmas--not so pristine in shape after being so full! But so nice to have it done and them be well enjoyed!


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