I picked up these purple flowers from Lowe's this week...I couldn't help it! I LOVE the look of these flowers! If I buy something, I usually have a spot for it in mind, but this time I only knew that I really wanted them. I love how whimsical they look and the color is beautiful!
Calvin fell sleep at some point after school one day this week and it was the sweetest thing. The lighting in his room is so dreamy during late afternoon, so it's almost impossible for me not to take pictures.
This little goof ball has an unlimited amount of energy and spunk! Also, look at her hair below...the curly frizz! I LOVE it! It's exactly what my hair does during the more humid days.
Calvin was moon watching below. I love that summertime brings longer and brighter days.
So we laid down together on our driveway and watched the moon and enjoyed the peace and calm.
Mini is quite the character. He is so independent and if you are lucky enough to get cuddles from him, it's always on his terms. This is his "high alert" face ;) I am thoroughly enjoying watching my landscaping fill in. I worked hard on it last summer (starting from scratch - except for the trees of course) and so it's always very rewarding to watch it grow.
We are officially signing our final fostering paperwork this coming Monday! We are so excited to have a new end/beginning in sight. I'm thankful for this time I've had to prepare, but now that we are here, I am ready (as ready as you can prepare yourself for fostering) and excited to begin this adventure. The timing couldn't be more perfect as our kids have one more week of school left and then it's SUMMER BREAK. I have been planning some fun activities for us to do together, but no set schedule as I know that we are going to have to be pretty flexible as we learn and adjust to new kiddos joining our family. God is so good!
I spotted some pretty flowers hanging over our fence and snipped them off to put in a vase. Look at these cute tiny flower petals that fell into my hair!!! For a brief moment I felt like a hippie/flower child. It was awesome...and then they wilted and it just looked like I had really bad dandruff! FYI....I hate posting pictures of myself, BUT I am going to try and do it more often. I feel like we are all too hard on ourselves over the way we look...I know that I am. My hope is that my kids see me as a confident woman who is comfortable in her own skin! I want to do my best at teaching them to be thankful for the way God has made each one of us and to focus on our differences in a positive light. I LOVE seeing my kids faces light up when I have given them encouraging words! Watching their self confidence rise (in a healthy way of course) is such a gift!
A little update on the personal side of things at the Taylor house....we are SO close to being an official foster family. After all of our paperwork was turned in and our training sessions were completed, we waited a few weeks without any word from DHS or St. Francis Community Services (this is who we are doing the fostering through). I had been told that it might take a while to schedule the last two home visits, as I believe they are very understaffed. Well, it did take a while to finally get the phone call to schedule, BUT we got both visits finished in two days this week! So, now we are waiting for them to file all of the new paperwork we went over during the home visits. When that is done, they will come to our house one more time for a final safety inspection, to go over the paperwork one last time, and then we sign the very last approval document. I don't like to assume time frames anymore, so I honestly have no idea when that will happen, but I am hoping for "soonish" ;)
What are your plans for the weekend? I am going to try and till some dirt. Yes, exciting huh?! The better part of our weekend will be moving a playhouse/swing set from my sister in law's backyard to our backyard. I am really excited to bring it home. I've got some fun ideas for it and can't wait to show you some pictures! It will make a fun little spot for all the kiddos that come play in our yard!
Welcome to our backyard :) This is one of the two decks that we have in our backyard (the deck is on the left side of the picture above beyond the trees and also in the picture down below). I have some grand plans for this area, but I needed to tear out the deck before I could start anything else. Some of those grand plans involve: vertical garden, move hot tub, plant hydrangeas and other shade loving plants alongside the bottom edges of the house, relocate all the green plants you see in the picture below and replace with a fine gravel walkway... BUT before any of that can happen, I have to do a lot more then just remove the deck. That was just the beginning. There will be tilling the dirt, leveling and compacting the dirt, moving plants, making a level concrete platform for the hot tub, lay some sort of ground cover down before we pour gravel, build a frame for the concrete edge we want to create for the border around the gravel, and the list goes on and on....OH, AND OF COURSE SAVE UP MONEY! I was able to tear the deck out by myself, but for some of the other things, I will need Johnny's help. This will be a long and ongoing project, but I am really excited about it!
Here it is mostly torn out. I really love being able to see more of the brick! It was actually really fun to tear out...it took a full Saturday, as I was doing it by myself, while Johnny worked on some other projects. I guess I'm kind of weird like that, as I also enjoy building fences, laying stone pathways, landscaping, mowing and edging the lawn, etc. ;) I like to get my hands dirty and I don't mind a little back breaking sweat! Hahaha!
Notice the piece of wood propped up against the house...well, that's where the hot tub is going. It fits perfectly there, between those two windows. I already moved two of the large hydrangea bushes over a bit in order to fit the hot tub and I hope to plant some more of those to surround it.
Here is a peak at the vertical garden. It's hard to see as the metal frame and terra-cotta pots blend in with the bricks. We get really nice morning sun in this spot, so I will be hanging a lot of herbs here. Plus, it will smell really good, as it's right next to the kitchen window and breakfast nook window.
We bought one cattle fence panel from Atwood's. Johnny came up with his own genius way of mounting the panel onto the brick which included concrete wedge anchors, washers, and sections of copper tubing to space it off the brick. I have already added a handful more of pots with plants in them. It's already looking much prettier then the picture below. I am also hoping to plant a couple vines (possibly clematis) in the dirt below the panel and train them to grow up the "trellis" and in between and around the pots.
Here is a close up of one of the anchors and now you can see how I temporarily attached the pots. I need to use wire to attach them more securely, but for now jute is what I had on hand.
This gives you some perspective. This picture was taken from our other deck. We have plans to remove this deck as well in order to gain more grass/ yard space, so that we can have a designated "bad-mitten"/volleyball area, but that will be later down the road. I will be reusing the deck wood on future projects. There are so many more plans for the rest of the "fine-gravel" area, which will extend all the way over to where you see the chiminea and chairs. I will save those plans for another post.
I want to plant a long vegetable garden in the back open area right up against the fence....the one and only area in the yard that gets really good sun. We are also wanting to build a pergola at some point and attach it to the covered back porch area and train grapes to grow over our "outdoor dining table". I know...I know....so many dreams. None of these plans are going to happen any time soon, but I really enjoy planning for future projects ;)
None of these pictures are glamorous, but it's the reality of working on a house with little to no budget. We have never had a lot of money and I am totally ok with that. Johnny works crazy hard to support us and he does a fantastic job at that, but as many of you know, living on one income is challenging, but it's a sacrifice that we chose to make when I decided to stay home with the kids. I have learned to be very resourceful and I take pride in that. Anyone can be resourceful....it just takes extra time and energy, more planning, research and willingness to get your hands a little dirty!
This is my $5 basket I picked up at one of my favorite thrift stores. :) I know I had posted a before picture of it a while back, but here is a refresher. It was a simple kind of pretty as is, but I wanted to get my creative on and try my hand at making my own stencil.
I gave this "craigslisted" rubber plant a new plastic pot that was taller and skinnier, so that it could fit nicely into the basket. Next up was paint. The paint was leftover from another project. The pattern is nothing fancy, but gave it some interest and it was fun to do something quick and crafty. Most projects these days aren't quick, so this was nice!
This is a very awkward wall right now. Everything is clumped together with a mess of instruments to the right of the piano. There isn't much styling yet. I have plans to build a HUGE built in bookshelf along this wall from one side to the other, BUT that's definitely not happening anytime soon, so for now this is it. I am also thinking how fun it would be to paint this wall a dark color, to give it some depth and coziness. Still undecided.
Here is another quick and free craft....driftwood art ;) I had this piece of driftwood lying around and got the idea to mount it on a rod with a wood base. I saw a product from an online shop that looked a lot like this and I decided to replicate it for free. We had a metal rod in the garage, I cut two pieces of wood and glue them together, sanded and stained the base, drilled the holes, and stuck it all together. Yup...really easy project. Sometimes you just need a project that you can get done in an afternoon.
Look at the picture below. Isn't this the saddest piece of marble ever??? I pulled this out from the shed this weekend. We picked this table top up a few years ago for $125 ish. I had saved up some craigslist money and was so excited to bring this beauty home! When we got home we found that the whole top had broken into pieces...still not sure how exactly that happened :( It made me sick. I couldn't even look at the thing. So, we just stored all the pieces away and tried to forget about it. This weekend I was looking in the shed and saw some of the pieces of marble sitting on the floor, so I decided to pull it out and see what I could do with it all. Well, it looks like I have all the pieces except for the one tiny piece on the upper right. So, I am thinking I can salvage this. I plan on adhering it all to a round piece of plywood and then grouting the cracks with a color that matches the veins. We will need to fill in that one missing piece of marble and then buff it and seal it really well. There are some stains that we most likely won't get out, but I don't mind. This table is our "everything" table, so it's going to get messy and stained and will most definitely not look perfect anyways. I am so happy that we saved all of these pieces...even if it took me this long to work up the courage to pull it out again. Maybe I can convince Johnny to make a new base for it...I'm definitely picturing it with a different base ;)
Next blog post I will show you what I started working on last weekend. It is only in the beginning stages, but I am really excited to have started and I am really hoping to work on it some more this weekend. What projects are you working on? I would love to hear about it!!!
Here are some things I enjoy making in my kitchen...first up is homemade granola. This is my moms recipe and I love it! It consists of oats, raisins, coconut, and some other yummy spices mixed together. I stir all the ingredients in a bowl, bake it in the oven, stirring it occasionally and that's it. So easy! Down below is a picture of my home made almond milk. This was delicious, but I sure don't have time to make that regularly, so that was a one time treat. Maybe I will try it again this summer .... or maybe not ;) Another "drink" that I didn't photograph is my morning shake. I have had this shake almost every morning for over 3 years. I throw these ingredients together in a blender: 2 raw eggs, 1/2 cup yogurt (the real creamy Nancy's goodness...I buy big containers of it from Sprouts), 1/2 cup frozen blueberries, 1 banana, and a teaspoon of honey. I crave it every morning and oddly haven't ever gotten tired of it. Weird, I know!
We all love our tortillas! I buy whole wheat tortillas from Sprouts (no bad ingredients). These pictured are the white tortillas that I don't buy as often anymore (same brand from Sprouts and also very tasty and healthy). We eat through our tortillas very quickly! Every once in a while I make my own, but really, that hasn't happened in a while either. This concoction below is just a simple mix of red onion, egg, kale, ham and a sprinkle of salt. It's simple, but really tasty and very healthy.
I love radishes. I enjoy eating them plain with a little salt or throwing them into a salad like below. Another lunch I have regularly is my green shake. I have also made this shake for years..probably having it for 3-5 lunches a week. This consists of: 1 banana, 2 TBS of PB2 or real peanut butter, 2 tsp. honey, 1/2 almond milk, a big handful or two of either kale (leaves it a little on the bitter side) or with spinach (I prefer the spinach, but it is usually whatever I have left in the fridge).
I don't really view myself as a health nut, but I definitely enjoy eating healthy. I say this ALL THE TIME...this should be my life moto: "everything in moderation". I never cut specific food items out of my diet completely. I still enjoy sweets. I drink tea twice a day and that usually consists of a happy helping of half n half....just the way I like it. I used to put sugar in it, but just recently switched to agave, because it's low glycemic...not really sure if I will notice a difference, but I am experimenting. I treat myself to sweets every so often and I love making zuchinni/banana/blueberry bread with sugar and real butter...thank you Betty Crocker for the yummiest recipes! Actually, to be completely honest, I made a Betty Crocker banana bread the other afternoon and that's what we ate for dinner. We ate 2 loaves of banana bread for dinner. Haha! Speaking of butter, I love eating popcorn with butter. However, Johnny just started making it with coconut oil and that is really good too. And speaking of coconut oil, this is our go to for everything ;) Actually, I even oil pull with it for 20 minutes every morning. Go look up oil pulling and it's benefits. It's amazing! I also drink a shot of apple cider vinegar 1-2 times a day and that keeps me from getting those nasty stomach viruses. Ok, I guess I am sounding a little health nutty, but I promise, it's not as crazy as it sounds, because it has just become a part of my every day routine. I don't think much of it anymore. It actually feels weird when I don't do those things....like when we travel.
ANYWAYS, I don't even know why I am writing about what I eat. I guess it's just to say that I enjoy eating and I don't ever want to get to a point where I am obsessing over what I can and can't eat. Sometimes I do that with exercise and then I get burnt out....like I did recently with running. Anytime I missed a run, I was really hard on myself and that in turn would start the negative thinking/comparing/terrible body image of myself. NOT GOOD! Then we got really busy with all the crazy involved with getting approved to be a foster family and then I got really sick with strep and some awful cough that just didn't want to go away (now I'm thinking I have allergies on top of it all...never had that before, but this stuff isn't going away and my head doesn't feel that great) and because of it all, I stopped running. I didn't have any energy to really do much of anything, BUT it gave me time to think about how I was obsessing over exercise and it was taking the fun out of it. So, now I am slowly getting back to it, but I am not getting serious about it. I am trying to separate the way I view myself from how intense and how often I exercise, which was not a healthy way to go about it and I sure don't want my kids to think like that either. Yes, exercise is definitely important, but FOR ME, it needs to be done "all in moderation" and I want to enjoy it. Plus, I have this adorable little lady sidekick who has decided that she wants to tag along at the end of my runs. I think we may start off with half a mile together and slowly build up her endurance. She is only 6. Does anyone else run with their kids? This is a new interest for Maya and I could not be more excited about it. Last night it was Calvin, Maya, and I with our two sweet neighbor girls and our two dogs. We only ran around the block, but it was awesome! Maya said she wants to run every day...we will have to wait and see how long her enthusiasm for it will last ;)
God is constantly reminding me to find joy in the imperfections of life. He is full of grace. This is a way of reminding myself to look back and see His faithfulness in it all.
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