Sunrise Service

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The world says we are innocent until proven guilty.

As Christians we recognize that just by being born human, we are proven guilty, and must assume innocence – assume the nature of God on a journey to knowledge of, relationship with and faith in Him.

Because that judge and jury of three in one knows our hearts and doesn’t need to presume anything.

The question then becomes this – Will we stand and testify? Will we cower as we wait to be called upon, hoping (often believing) that moment won’t come?

We’re the ones who keep messing it up even though we know better. We wrestle with that which condemns us – intent. As Christians we have a culpability for sin which makes the sin that much worse when indulged upon.

So how do we shirk the guilt on the path to innocence? Coincidentally, it starts with today. It starts with believing that everything wrong you’ve ever done – even the things that cannot be written off as crimes of passion, but were calculated, purposeful offenses – can be forgiven. God’s forgiveness was hard-won but readily offered.

To mix church and songs that might as well be sung there, I’ve always loved these lyrics:

Regrets collect like old friends
Here to relive your darkest moments
I can see no way, I can see no way
And all of the ghouls come out to play

And every demon wants his pound of flesh
But I like to keep some things to myself
I like to keep my issues drawn
It’s always darkest before the dawn

And I’ve been a fool and I’ve been blind
I can never leave the past behind
I can see no way, I can see no way
I’m always dragging that horse around

Our love is questioned, such a mournful sound
Tonight I’m gonna bury that horse in the ground
So I like to keep my issues drawn
But it’s always darkest before the dawn

Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh whoa
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh whoa
And it’s hard to dance with a devil on your back
So shake him off, oh whoa

And I am done with my graceless heart
So tonight I’m gonna cut it out and then restart
‘Cause I like to keep my issues drawn
It’s always darkest before the dawn

Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh whoa
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh whoa
And it’s hard to dance with a devil on your back
So shake him off, oh whoa

And it’s hard to dance with a devil on your back
And given half the chance would I take any of it back
It’s a fine romance but it’s left me so undone
It’s always darkest before the dawn

Today’s the dawn. Jesus has risen. It’s hard to dance with the devil on your back, so shake him off.

Labels & Love

I wouldn’t so much call myself a label whore as a label escort. I like my label use to be subtle – I want the things I go out in public with to look like they’re good quality, and beyond that if people notice the brand (I guess in this metaphor it’s the equivalent of being able to spot a hooker?) then so be it. She’s still a damn fine hooker. Then there are times when I like to parade around with them simply because I’ve found a good deal. (That part doesn’t really work with my metaphor at all…)

WOW. This is some Grade A writing. Let’s reset.

According to Carrie Bradshaw, the search for labels and love is the reason why people move to New York. Coincidentally, it’s also why I shop at TJ Maxx. I have quite the penchant for finding that Marc Jacobs needle in a haystack of rayon.

Even so, it’s rare that I find labels or love at TJ Maxx, but sometimes? I find both.

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Yep, I now own Coach sneakers. They go great with my (non-seethrough non-Lululemon) yoga pants I wear to Walmart to buy groceries (hello, my life is sad.)

As with most discount-shopping experiences, I’m able to find the most expensive thing within 20 feet in a matter of seconds. I’ve often impressed others with this ability. I’m still obsessing over a kelly green leather Ralph Lauren crossbody I nearly bought that was literally THE most expensive purse in the entire handbag section, even at its highly discounted price. Oh, and it also came in coral. Seriously, dying.  It’s like a superpower I can’t turn off.

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Can there be some sort of career where I discount shop for frugal rich people? You’d think that’s an oxymoron, but you’d be wrong.

Design-spiration: Calico Tabletops

My parents have had this adorable little side table in their attic for the longest, and like most things antique, I never really appreciated it until my sister and I were working on updating her room and decided to dust it off and try it out as a night stand:

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Coolest thing. Problem is I don’t exactly know what that design feature is called. I’ve haphazardly stumbled across a few more examples on Pinterest, but so far, nada. So I’m calling them Calico tabletops. Patent pending. (click images below for original)

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Five Things

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Cheap, sugary nostalgia

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Accessorizing your personal goals

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Asking a store if their display furniture is also for sale (because it’s that awesome)

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Curating your own junk pile crafts corner

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Unexpected gifts from someone who knows you too well; weird people romance.

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The New Coffee Table is Here…. Sort of.

After the unfortunate (and hilarious) incident with our previous coffee table, Aaron and I had a hard time finding something we really liked, at a good price, that was not made out of particle board but REAL wood.

We finally settled on this table from a company called International Concepts because they sell solid wood, unfinished pieces that you can customize yourself. In theory, a fantastic idea, and a golden opportunity to use the gray wood stain I’ve fallen in love with.

In reality? We basically have what we started with – a broken/disassembled pile screaming PROJECT and nowhere to put our drinks or prop our feet. I feel like I’ve finally (momentarily) overdosed on DIY.

Blah.

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Copycat Recipe: Cafe Brasil Chicken Verde Pizza

It’s one of those menu items I miss terribly since moving away from Houston. Here’s three reasons why:

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Yeah, you’re welcome.

Anyhow, while not quite the real thing in terms of complexity and fresh amazing dough, this recipe will do the job:

Ingredients:

  • Grilled chicken (seasoned simply with salt, pepper, olive oil)
  • Pre-made thin pizza crust
  • Pesto. A lot of it.
  • Mozzarella or an Italian blend with mozarella in it
  • Fresh baby arugula
  • Green onions
  • Lemon slice

Prep:

  • Spread the pesto on the crust instead of tomato sauce
  • cover in chicken slices and cheese
  • Bake until everything is melted/warm/whatever the crust container says
  • Chop up arugula and onions and sprinkle over cooked pizza
  • Squeeze lemon over the top
  • Done.

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From Houston, With Love.

My trip, in (poorly taken) photos…

Coming home and knowing instantly my sister (and her green thumb) were just there.

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Chillin’ with my other baby sister. (She really classes up an outfit.)accesory

Seeing the new office, its amazing views and delightfully modern, zen interior.IMG_4986

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Catching up with all of my wonderful, dear friends.

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Raiding Phoenicia and its pastry counter.

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Terribly taxing client “research.”

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Thanking the Lord my regular date with Gate 28 is Dunkin’ Donuts adjacent.

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Design-spiration: Beverage Tins

You know those times when you want to buy something purely for the aesthetics of its packaging? Meet Bellagio Sipping Chocolate.

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…and Max Brenner chocolates…

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…and the random must-haves you find at the supermarket (that oh-so perfectly coordinate with your vintage animal crackers tin)…

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…and that one tin your mom keeps in her pantry and won’t let you have already no matter how much you plead…

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…and those “vintage” spice tins you attempted to plant things in, then threw away when they didn’t work (then wished you hadn’t because they seem to be selling at a good price on Etsy.)

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Free Elle Earrings

I’d like to say this was in honor of my blog, somehow named after it, but the giveaway is merely coincidence. Either way, I love me some Kendra, and the fact that she’s a Texas girl from that “little” college town I miss so much who just happens to make some kick-ass (albeit expensive) jewelry.

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Kinda, Sorta, Not Really.

So.

I made an attempt at being artsy. I had something in my head along the lines of one of those I SPY books but somehow, didn’t quite make it there. Regardless, I wasted way too much time putting this together not to share. Consider this my low-tech version of a Pinterest board:

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In a related story, one of my favorite cafes in Houston has been rocking some kinda-sorta-not really art of its own:

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Creative, yes. But a little bit creepy. And maybe it’s the just that – either go cute or go all out headless-babydoll -with-no-eyes creepy, but I think it’s the in between that bothers me.

IKEA Hack: Sidewalk Sandwich Board

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I’m a big fan of the website IKEA Hackers. I love design, I love being inventive, and I mostly love-hate IKEA. IKEA and I have the same relationship as a teenager and parent. I know I need them, they know I need them. I can’t really afford anything without them, but it doesn’t mean I’m happy about it.

ANYhow. For the second time in my life, I found myself with a broken (albeit very poorly assembled) IKEA dresser ready for the trash. This time, it was the Hemnes 3-drawer, updated with Hobby Lobby knobs:

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After letting it sit in our garage for six months, unwilling to trash something that (besides the broken drawer) was generally in good condition, Aaron and I finally decided to disassembled for the dumpster.

As we were breaking it down, I was holding one of the sides of the dresser up, and it dawned on me – the left and right side back to back look exactly like one of those chalkboards you see outside bars and cafes announcing the specials.

So we decided to make it into one.

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I suppose this is the point where I should say that isn’t so much an IKEA hack in the strict sense, since it pretty much involves destroying said IKEA piece. But if you’ve already got a broken dresser (or find one cheap on Craigslist) well, this one’s for you!

Supplies:

  1. Chalkboard Paint. We decided against spray paint after reading a few reviews that it isn’t as durable, and thought it might be a little more manageable to get in the right places since not everything was going to be painted. Granted, the can of paint was $14, but for this hack we barely put a dent in it.
  2. Two Hinges. It doesn’t really matter what kind of hinges, they just need to be about 1.5 inches in length.
  3. Two Eye Screws.
  4. Some Twine. You’ll only need about a foot/foot and a half, so just use whatever you have around the house.
  5. Painter’s Tape. Scotch blue, NOT that Blue Hawk brand. I’ve done enough DIY painting projects to be able to tell a difference in quality/results.
  6. Cheap Paintbrush. Any kind. I think mine was about 2 inches wide.
  7. A Sharp Knife. Definitely wait until the paint entirely dries before peeling off the painter’s tape. Even so, you might have to score along the edge with a sharp knife before attempting it -the paint is thicker than most, so even with the good tape you might hit some patches where the paint wants to peel into the board area.

Total cost: About $20

How To:

  1. Take the dresser apart. Keep the left and right side panels and remove all the leftover screws and hardware.
  2. Add the hinges. Lay the two pieces face down with the tops together and screw in the open hinges. Make sure you don’t put them on backwards – you want the sandwich board to be able to completely fold flat when done.
  3. Add the eye screws. Drill a pilot holes on either side of the center bottom interior beam. Then screw them in and tie the twine to either end, to the length you want.
  4. Paint. Tape off the edges. When you start your first coat, you have to work fast so that it dries smoothly. I’d recommend painting one vertical section at a time, going left to right and making sure to swipe your paint brush from top to bottom across the whole piece when you’re done with that section, so the paint has minor vertical lines.
  5. Wait. Wait a full 24 hours before applying a second coat. And another full 24 hours before drawing on it with chalk.
  6. Write some drink specials. Then enjoy them. The end.

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Experimenting with Wood Stain

Every since I saw this dresser on Etsy and bought this frame at Hobby Lobby for Aaron’s beer diagram poster (below) I’ve been dying to emulate the silver/gray sheen finish. Enter Minwax “Classic Gray” wood stain…

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First I tried it out on some cheap pine crates I bought at Hobby Lobby. They came with the words “WOOD BOX” stenciled in black paint across the side, which besides being redundant and dumb, made them look brand new, which was not exactly what I was going for. So I sanded down the one panel on each side until it looked a bit more weathered, and almost eligible. Then, just slapped on some gloves and wiped it down with a washcloth dipped in stain.

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Next up – red oak boards for some floating shelves to go in Aaron’s recently painted man cave ready room:

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And I’m officially sold/in love. Here’s are a few more DIY projects other bloggers have done using the same color stain (click photos to be routed to original blog):

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close up of Minwax Classic Gray stain

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Incident Report

Reconstructing the Crash.

As of Wednesday morning at precisely 7:43 am, our family was short one coffee table. I’m not pointing any fingers, but apparently when someone gets ready in the morning they like to sit on said coffee table to put on their shoes while watching Sports Center.

I must admit finding a 6’4” man dressed in a suit and tie, trapped inside a wooden shell struggling like an overturned turtled was almost worth it. Reconstructing the remains proved futile, though it did elicit some sympathy once I learned the severity it took to crash through the middle support beam and saw the matching massive bruise across his back.

Little black box recovered, new furniture shopping commenced. 

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Two Deaths.

I’ve heard of sweet old couples whom when one passes, the other is not far behind. Either from parallel lifestyle habits, real, true love, or the innate complete helplessness of a man to take care of himself after so many years with a woman in his life (hah) one never lasts long without the other.

Well, it would seem my Jetta and Aaron’s F-150 are one such pair of star-crossed lovers because within 10 days of buying a new battery for my Jetta, Aaron’s truck decided it could no longer go on without the same.

So the Mack family is down two car batteries and a coffee table. Let’s hope we can make it through Friday without further incident.