Friday, February 26, 2010

Kitchen To-Do's...

Hubby and I are gonna be busy this weekend!

Unloading all of our stuff from our kitchen cabinets...

Removing countertops & cabinets...

Drywalling where the old soffits were...

Patching & Painting...

and guess what else??

Our installer is coming on Saturday to open all of our boxes to check out the new cabinets!

Hopefully they all arrived safe and sound.

And I especially pray that we love them as much as we thought we would!!!

We'll also set an installation date!

Things are really coming along, I'm so excited!

What are YOU doing this weekend?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Which Came First ...The "Nest" or the "Egg"?

Home, the spot of earth supremely blest, A dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest. ~Robert Montgomery

The Eastern Bluebird that built this nest in our old backyard had it right.

You see, I watched as the bluebird flew back & forth to the little wooden birdhouse, carrying bits of pine straw found in the woods behind our property, or tiny twigs or bits of animal hair in order to make the softest, most secure, most important spot for it's little ones to arrive. Building the nest was an all-consuming task, lasting for days as Momma & Papa Bluebird got things just right. Tucking in new pieces of pine straw here, pulling and fluffing over there, the bluebird had only one thing on it's mind...building it's nest. It had to get ready!

Soon, Momma Bluebird started laying eggs, one each day for several days. The prettiest blue color you ever did see! Guess what happened then? The focus changed from the nest to their new eggs! The Momma had to keep her eggs nice and warm so that they would soon hatch. The bluebirds stopped making their nest the #1 priority. Sure, it was very important to shelter them and keep them safe, warm, & secure, but it was the little eggs inside that moved to the #1 spot of importance.


We all desire to make a wonderful, warm & inviting "nest" of our own, don't we? I know that I truly love to make a beautiful, welcoming home! It's something I really really enjoy! But what is our true priority when building our "nests"? Is it the "nest"? Glory for ourselves? Or is it the "eggs"?

Is our priority our "nest", our house? Do we spend too much time focusing on the counter that needs to be cleaned, or the pillows that need to be arranged just right, or (dare I say) looking for/writing about ideas on the web? Are we too busy to play legos with our kids because we're consumed with a decorating project? Do we spend so much time keeping house that we fail to notice those people in our house?

Or is our priority ourselves? Are we focused on keeping our house in tip-top shape because we want others who visit to be impressed with our amazing cleaning or decorating skills? Do we spend more time worrying about how our tablescape is a reflection of us as a homemaker than about relaxing and having a fun time with our guests, making them the most important part of the evening? Are we in a subconscious "competition" to be the best *fill in the blank* so that everyone will think we're the most awesome thing since the Dairy Queen Blizzard was invented?

What is your #1 priority when it comes to building your own nest?

I'll be honest with you all here (raising my hand sheepishly) and say that there are occasions when my priority shifts :/. Sometimes I start to care too much about what my living room curtains say about ME, wondering if others will think I'm a good decorator, instead of focusing on blessing my family with my loving choices. Sometimes I get a little annoyed when a family member wants my attention while I'm working on a blog post, or arranging my bookshelves. I'm not perfect. None of us are! :) Now, there's nothing wrong with making your home a beautiful place to be, I'm all for it! But I really try to make sure my top priority remains the people in my life! That's really why we do what we do! Making a welcoming, beautiful home is a wonderful act of love for our family and friends!

What's all this about an "egg"? Well, the "egg" in our own lives is where our #1 priority should be when it comes to Creating A Welcoming Home. It's the people in our lives that matter! Our family and friends and neighbors. Making a home for them to feel welcomed, encouraged, and loved. A home that, yes, looks inviting, but the most inviting thing about it is the smile on your face as you greet them with open arms, saying,

"Welcome! I'm so glad to see you! Please, make yourself AT HOME!!!".

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What Do YOU Collect?

Ever come upon something that is so wonderful you just want to slow down to savor every bit of it?

I just picked it up yesterday afternoon & am only partway through,
but I am seriously in love!

The photos, the writing, the projects, the mix of styles, the attention to every last detail...this is a BEAUTIFUL magazine!

And I haven't been able to say that about a magazine in quite a while!

I was thrilled that one of their pieces was about floral frogs!

I have collected them for several years {see pic below} partly due to my love for gardening, and partly because I am drawn to the variety of these little flower arranging "helpers". Some are spiked metal, some smooth glass, others twirl and swirl, while still other floral frogs are actually shaped like an animal!

What a fun thing to collect!

I love it!!

Do YOU have a favorite collection you've picked up while junking/thrifting/flea-ing?!

Or is there a collection you dream of starting?

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Blessed Nest on Facebook

Wow! Two posts in one day :)! This is just an announcement to let you all know that The Blessed Nest is now live on Facebook! Yippeeeee!!! I've finally gotten with the program & now you can read more fun Home & Heart Inspiration tidbits over on my new Facebook page!

So, sign on up to be my friend/fan on Facebook so I won't feel like a dork. Oh, and so maybe I'll do some fun giveaways over there & write stuff that you won't see here on my blog!!

Go over to my sidebar and click that you want to be my fan, m'kay?!

ps...I am so NOT a if this doesn't work, let me know.

My Top 10 Disney World Tips

We had a WONDERFULLY "magical" Disney World vacation!
Thanks so much to all of you who left tips for us here, they were a huge help!

Now that we've "done Disney" I thought I'd share what our family considered our
Top 10 Disney World Tips:

1. Do your homework before you go.

If you want your vacation to go as smoothly as possible, then Plan, Plan, Plan! Not only was the Disney site a helpful place, there are many other books and web sites that you can check out for free. Your local public library is a good place for the latest books, and there are several free websites too (our favorite is -- free and it saved us a TON of money on our hotel with a special discount code they offered).

The Disney website also describes each of the rides and shows, and lets you know height requirements, whether it's good for kids, if it's scary (...and yes, Snow White's Scary Adventures DID in fact scare the bejangles out of my kids...), if it could cause motion sickness, and just generally cool information about each attraction. Use this to plan which rides your family would like to see & which ones to skip. This will save tons of time at the parks, as you won't be scratching your head & arguing what to see/do next.

Make dining reservations WAY in advance. I believe the window for Advanced Dining Reservations begins 180 days in advance. Trust me, if you want a special Character Dining meal, you'd better make those reservations ahead of time!

2. Celebrating something? Let Disney know!

If you're celebrating a birthday, anniversary, honeymoon, 1st visit, or family reunion, then make sure Disney knows! They'll make sure it's extra special for you! Go to the front information desk area and let them know that "It's little Billy's birthday!" and you'll be given a free button to wear, sure to bring some special attention your way. Also, if you let them know when you make dining reservations too, you just may get a little surprise!

We were celebrating our oldest daughter's birthday while we were there, and she really loved the attention! Not only did tons of Cast Members (Disney employees) and Guests wish her, "Happy Birthday, Princess!", but at our meals they decorated the table with confetti and gave her a free cupcake/or small cake with a candle to make a wish upon!

3. Characters, Characters!!!

Whether you have kids or not, it's just plain fun to see and visit with the Disney Characters! There are tons of chances to see so many characters at each of the parks, but we especially enjoyed these 3 tips:

1. Go to at least 1 Character meal. We did a couple of them, and had to agree that the breakfast at Cinderella's Royal Table in the Castle was our favorite! You'll get a little more time to chat with the characters (but don't expect them to stay for tooo long...they do have many other guests to greet!) and get autographs, as well as pose for pictures. Our kids loved it, and so did their grandparents, it was really fun! Talk about making memories!
{above the girls are "wishing on a star" with Ariel, The Little Mermaid}

2. Camp Minnie Mickey Greeting Trails at Animal Kingdom. We got SO many pictures and autographs there, and didn't have to wait for too long at all.

3. Let your older kids get Character autographs. Honestly, I didn't think they'd care much for an autograph book, but since so many people said "You've GOTTA get autographs!", I came up with a solution -- an autographed photo mat! We LOVED this idea, and so many others thought it was clever, too! This way I can frame & display a photo of each kid at Disney on their playroom wall, where they'll look at it often and remember the fun!

4. Don't be a Fuddy-Duddy!

If you are a royal stick-in-the-mud party pooper, then this vacation is not for you. Be silly! Have fun! Join in & be a carefree goofball! Get in some pictures & ham it up! You'll have a much better time & your family will love it.

{And if the dancers & singers from High School Musical 3 come drag your husband into the act for a minute or two....just laugh & take lots of pictures :) !!}

Chances are that everyone else is too busy having fun with their own family to notice how silly yours is being! :)

5. Beat the crowds.

Ok, this is a big one, people! Plan your vacation so that you aren't there over spring break or holiday weeks like everyone else is, and you'll be SO glad that you did!

We went the 1st weekend in February this year, and hardly had to wait in line for rides or shows longer than 15 minutes at the most! {we pretty much walked right onto the Kilimanjaro Safari ride at Animal Kingdom...see above pic}

Also, I cannot stress enough how important it is to arrive 15-30 minutes early at the parks before they open. If you do you also get to see a parade or little show, too! Most people sleep in and arrive later in the morning/early afternoon. You'll have ridden all the cool rides and be ready for some ice cream by the time everyone else straggles in and waits in line for much longer than you had to!

6. Wear super-comfortable walking shoes -- You're gonna need 'em!

What else can I say? This pretty much sums it up. Just trust me. And bribe someone in your family to give you a foot massage every night.

7. Let Disney know if you have Dietary Restrictions/Allergies.

This was so amazing! Just shoot them an e-mail & they'll e-mail you back a form to send in with all of your allergy info, & where and when you have dining reservations so that the chefs can make sure you will have a safe meal.

Eating counter-service meals or snacks? Disney also e-mailed me a complete list of what I could eat where at each of the 4 parks. Fabulous!

Let me just say, that I had appetizers, meals, desserts, & snacks everywhere I went, and it was flavorful and yummy-good! A chef or manager came to speak with me at each restaurant and would either walk me through the buffet or prepare my meal & serve it himself to ensure that it would not be contaminated and would be safe for me to eat. I was thoroughly impressed with each chef's knowledge about my gluten "allergy", and felt completely at ease.

This will definitely be worth your while!

8. Pack smart!

In your suitcase: Layers, layers, layers. {My kids above are wearing 4 layers on top due to temps in the 40's we didn't see coming. Good thing I packed lots of things to layer!} You never know what the weather is going to be!

In your backpack (for taking to the parks): A couple travel-size umbrellas or cheapo plastic ponchos from the dollar store for when it rains (It WILL rain, and if you're not prepared you'll be shelling out the big bucks to pay for a Disney us. Don't go by the weather for the day...just bring the ponchos. Thank me later!), snacks snacks snacks and some bottled water, camera, autograph item & sharpie, medicines, a printed "itinerary" for the day including meal reservation #'s, a plastic bag for any "messies" or to protect items from getting wet, Purell or wipes, cell phone, sunscreen, etc. Leave some room for jackets coming off and for souveniers.

9. Go with the Flow.

You're not gonna be able to do it all, and THAT'S OK!!! Recognize when people in your party are getting tired and take a break. Get a snack & sit down for a bit, or go back to your hotel for a couple of hours till it's time for dinner & fireworks. Otherwise you'll fall asleep while waiting for a table at meal-time or your small kids (& then you) will have a meltdown.

Just relax & enjoy it moment-by-moment!

10. Best spot to see the Wishes Fireworks at Magic Kingdom: (Probably our favorite tip!!!)

On the bridge between Main Street and Tomorrowland! Just almost under the Tomorrowland sign there is a big bench. Go EARLY & stake your claim! A popcorn vendor was close by & we had popcorn & watched an amazing fireworks show that was directly in front of us! If you want to see Tink fly, you're in luck, cause she'll fly practically overhead. We wouldn't watch the fireworks from anywhere else!

The Castle was lit up with changing colors known as "The Kiss Goodnight"!
Main Street at nighttime was incredible!

Bonus Tip: Keep your camera at the ready!

We were looking at one of the beautiful gardens at the Magic Kingdom, snapping a few pics, when a kind cast member came up to us and told the kids to watch the Castle, cause in 5 more seconds something neat was going to happen....

....What a cool shot of some "Disney Magic"!!! You never know what surprises are around the next corner, or what precious faces your kids may make, so keep the camera ready to go!

Hope you enjoyed seeing some pics of our vacation!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Kitchen Pantry Inspiration

I wanted to catch y'all up on our Kitchen Makeover.

I am SO EXCITED (squeeee!!!) that I will have a new kitchen in just about 2 more weeks!!

We still have to deal with plumbers, drywall, patching, painting, & removing the old cabinets all ourselves before any new cabinets can go in. Oh, and finish unpacking all of our moving boxes still in the garage so the company can have a place to store our new cabinets till they are installed. Which means completely re-configuring our storage room in the basement with new shelves I bought like 2 months ago and haven't done anything with yet.

All within less than 2 weeks.
I'll be eating a DQ Blizzard as therapy now...
....I'm really not kidding. Ice cream can work wonders.
Now why can't I seem to lose those last 10 pounds??
Hmmm ;)...

Well, to keep my mind off of the work ahead of me today :), I thought you'd like to see
one of my favorite things about our new kitchen:

The Pantry

This (above) is the current "before" pantry.
This pic was actually taken before we moved in. The pantry is somewhat functional, but very very very BLAH.

Since you see this pantry space from the front entry and the living room too, it really needed to look as lovely as possible!

Enter inspiration photos:

See that circled built-in cabinet above?
That was my inspiration for our new pantry!
Isn't she pretty?!!

Our new house doesn't have much going for it in terms of "character".
This nest needed some built-in loveliness to make her really sing!

I love how our new pantry will look like a built-in furniture piece, like how gorgeous old homes have built-in china cabinets or butler's pantries.

Here's the line drawing of our new pantry to give you a rough idea of what she'll look like!

Glass front doors on top will hold beautiful baskets with extra dishes or baking items, or pasta, for example.

The plate rack below will be both decorative and functional.

The drawer will be holding small snacks, perfect for school, after-school, or on-the-go munching!
My other idea for the drawer would be to hold placemats and napkin rings to make setting the table a snap!

The lower cabinet will have roll out shelves for cereal & breakfast items, and chips, along with kids' dishes and cups (so they can easily help themselves).

I've already been purchasing a few goodies for getting the new pantry organized!
I can't wait!!!

Keep checking out the Kitchen Makeover area on my right sidebar to see what progress we're making over the next 2 weeks!

Do you have any tips for organizing your pantry you'd like to share with us in the comments?
What would your dream pantry look like?