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Last week I switched out the art print that was above our kitchen sink for this photo I look last May (with my iPhone!) of one of my favorite places in the entire world — the creek in my parent’s backyard in Southern Illinois. I liked the print that was there, but after over 4 years of seeing it daily, I was ready for an update (see the old print and some old pictures of our kitchen, here). I was inspired to change it up after seeing this photo of Jess Lively‘s kitchen on Instagram, here. I just love the simple, but sophisticated feel of her kitchen.

I just started working through the 52 Lists Project journal (which I’m really loving, by the way) and List 3 is “List the happiest moments of your life so far.” I had initially put this list off, because what a big question to answer. But last night as I was thinking about it, the first moments that came to mind were of my childhood in this magical creek. It was my favorite place on earth, one that I retreated to when I was stressed or just needed a bit of peace and calm. I waded through this creek with my little sisters, Kelsey and Jill, my childhood best friend Molly, and our neighbor Michelle. In the winter when it got cold and snowy and the top of the creek froze over, we would push each other down it in our sled. We had a “Tarzan vine” for swinging back and forth from one bank to the other and it was in these woods that we climbed lots of trees and made forts and played “house.” We dressed up in play clothes and played “Little House in the Big Woods” and drank water from the natural spring that fills this creek. Molly and I walked barefoot through it at all times of the year, even when it was cold outside and especially when it started to warm up and we probably should have been more scared of water moccasins. We even dared each other to skinny dip in the deepest part of it (which to my knowledge, she is the only one that ever followed through on. Sorry for outing you publicly, Mol. ;) Looking back, I wish I’d had more of your bravery.). I fished for crawdads with my brother Blake there too. I’m a fifth generation Wallace to live on that land, so I even imagine my Papaw playing in this creek as a boy, or my great-grandmother out there in her dress and apron picking blackberries (see the bottom of this post).

I love that having this photo hanging in my kitchen reminds me of all those memories every time I see it. It brings me so much joy.

What can you add to your home that brings you such simple and magical joy as this?

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Magical: beautiful or delightful in such a way as to seem removed from everyday life – extraordinary, remarkable, exceptional, outstanding, incredible, phenomenal, unbelievable, amazing, astonishing, astounding, stunning, staggering, marvelous, magnificent, wonderful, sensational, breathtaking, miraculous. 

Joy: a feeling of great pleasure and happiness – delight, great pleasure, joyfulness, jubilation, triumph, exultation, rejoicing, happiness, gladness, glee, exhilaration, exuberance, elation, euphoria, bliss, ecstasy, rapture.

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This weekend, I finally finished up a simple little project that had been on my to-do list for a long time. Making over this side table with a little bit of spray paint and the wooden stump cake stand from our wedding.

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I bought this table on clearance at Target for $10 a couple years ago. I love having it in the living room, as it is super convenient to pull over to set my laptop on or whatever while I’m working from the couch. However, the style could’ve fit in better with our decor and I didn’t love the cheap laminate top.

If you remember from our wedding (three years ago!), I bought this thick wooden tree slice to use as our cake stand.

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Since our wedding, it has just been sitting around our house with no real purpose. I didn’t want to throw it out, but I didn’t have a good use for it as is. So when we went back to our hometown a few weeks ago, I brought it with us, in hopes that someone we knew with a chainsaw could cut it up for me into more usable pieces.

I was over at my friend Tonya’s house chatting with her and her mom, when I remembered that her brother, Tyler, had cut several wood slices for Tonya for her wedding. The cake stand just so happened to still be in my car and her brother agreed to cut it down for me. He even cut it into three slices, so I have other pieces that I can use in the future for other projects. (Thanks Tyler!!)

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Tonya also helped me scrape off some of the bark that was falling off. (You are the best Tonya!!)

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Then once we got back to New Orleans, I sanded down the wood top (no one wants to get splinters from your side table!) and added three coats of satin finish polyurethane, while Drew lightly sanded and spray painted the base with oil-rubbed bronze spray paint.

It really takes a village sometimes!

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I love how it turned out! I think the wood and black combo make it look a lot more sophisticated and fit in a lot better with our style. I love the thicker top and that I was able to use something with sentimental meaning!

feb-15

Right now in life, I am:

MAKING some thrown clay cups/bowls/wonky looking pots in the ceramics class I’m taking with a friend of mine. I took a hand-building class in college and loved it, so I’m enjoying working on my wheel throwing techniques this time around.
COOKING White Cheddar Mac and Cheese, GF biscuits and GF sausage gravy, chicken tortilla soup, and these GF Nutella brownies (so good and so easy!).
DRINKING a cup of hot water with a large spoonful of honey and a couple drops of lemon essential oil in the mornings. I don’t really drink coffee or tea, so this is becoming a nice, healthy, morning ritual (thanks for the suggestion Blair!).
READING Simple Abundance every morning and this month I also read The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton. LOVED it!
WANTING to be able to make more time to read! I read so much during college (English was one of my majors) that for a little while after college I didn’t read much at all. That passion has come back full force lately and I just feel like reading all the time! I wish I didn’t have so many other things to do that I could just sit and read more often!
PLAYING Night Changes and Uptown Funk.
SEWING nothing, again! I have these gold cloth napkins from West Elm that I washed and seam-ripped, just waiting for me to sew into throw pillows for our living room. I ordered the pillow inserts this month to get them done, but then they sent me the wrong ones! I sent them back and now need to re-order more. This simple project has taken so long to accomplish!
CROCHETING a scarf that I started in December that I still need to finish…
WISHING for the weather to stay at a nice, consistent warm temperature. I’m tired of these dipping back into the cold days. 

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ENJOYING the lovely warm weather the Saturday before Mardi Gras. Blair, Drew, and I watched the day parades (Iris and Tucks) Uptown (photo above), and it almost made up for the less-than-stellar Muses experience we had the Thursday weeknight before.
WAITING excitedly for our trip to California we have planned this spring to visit Drew’s brother, his wife, and their baby girl! We have everything lined up and ready for our trip, we just can’t wait for it to get here!
LIKING Copperplate Calligraphy so far! I’ve been wanting to learn real calligraphy for a long time and it came in full speed this month! Last fall I joined the New Orleans Lettering Arts Association and this month’s meeting was on Copperplate Calligraphy. Then just a couple days later I started Melissa Esplin’s online I Still Love Calligraphy course. It was a Christmas present from Drew (I’ve wanted to take it since she started teaching it), and I’m so happy to finally have the time to dedicate to it!
WONDERING about efficiency, beauty, and creativity.
LOVING the things that I have discovered about myself and what I like over the last few years. Read all about my thoughts on clothing.
HOPING for a great March! I’m looking forward to completing my ceramics class and my calligraphy course, in addition to making patterns, blogging, reading, and prepping for our California trip!
MARVELING at the fact that two of my sisters made separate trips to visit me this month! Kelsey came for her birthday the first weekend of February and Blair came for Mardi Gras a couple weekends later. It is so rare that I get to spend time with them individually (very rare that it happens in New Orleans) and it was so nice!
NEEDING to get back into making patterns! I made so many in January that I got a little burned out. I took most of February off and now I’m ready to get back at it!
SMELLING the lovely smell of lemon essential oil as I put it in my honey water in the mornings. 

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WEARING leggings underneath my pants because I get cold so easily!
FOLLOWING along closely to the weather every morning. It is just so jumpy lately! It will be in the 40s/50s one day and then into the upper 70s the next! I never know what to wear or how warmly to dress!
NOTICING that my legs are finally starting to get better! I’ve had problems for a couple years with them being dry, itchy, and getting eczema patches. I finally got an appointment with a dermatologist here and she recommended I use Vanicream soap to wash my body (my dermatologist in IL also recommended the same for my face several years ago) and CeraVe SA cream for lotion. So far both are working really well. If you have dry, itchy skin, you might give either of those a try!
KNOWING how cute and sweet this little kitty is. Goodness, I love her so much.
THINKING about starting “Morning Pages.” Basically, it is the practice of writing 3 entire pages by hand every morning. They aren’t supposed to be good writing, mostly just “brain dumping.” The ritual is supposed to clear your head, free your mind of all the worries/distractions/emotions that are constantly bubbling to the surface, and help you focus. It is supposed to be life-changing. (more info here, here, here and here.) I’m just not sure that I can get up earlier every morning!
BOOKMARKING lots of amazing patterns!
CELEBRATING MARDI GRAS!!! Of course! (photos above)
OPENING this runner rug for our hallway. It was our Valentine’s day gift to each other. So romantic, I know. ;)
LAUGHING at this video
FEELING a little bit of joy at this little handpicked camellia flower given to me (and all the ladies) at our church supper one Wednesday by one of the old men of the church.

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Click to check out June, July, AugustSeptemberOctoberNovember, and December of 2014. And here to check out January of 2015. 

Crochet Baby Blankets

February 8, 2015

In the last few months there were two new babies born in the family, so I used that as a good excuse to get my crochet up and going again. I made both of these granny square blankets as gifts and I love the way they turned out. For one, they weren’t finding out the gender until birth and I think that teal/mint color combo is a great gender neutral color combo (that isn’t yellow and green!).

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Classic Granny Square Baby Blanket
adapted from these directions for a basic granny square

Crochet Hook: H/8 – 5 mm
Yarn: 3 colors of your choice, one skein of each

Directions:

Chain 4; join into a ring with a slip stitch.
ROUND 1: Ch 4, (3 dc into center of ring, ch 1) 3 times; 2 dc into center of ring; join to third chain of beginning chain with a slip stitch. Slip stitch from the end of the round until you reach the ch1 stitch at a corner. Continue with the next round.
ROUND 2: Ch 3, work corner (dc2, ch1, dc3) into the same stitch, work remaining corners: *ch1, skip over the 3 dc from the previous round, (dc3, ch1, dc3) into the same stitch; repeat from * two more times, ch1, join to third chain of beginning chain with a slip stitch. Slip stitch from the end of the round until you reach the ch1 stitch at a corner.  Continue with the next round.
ROUND 3: Ch 3,  work corner (dc2, ch1, dc3) into the same stitch, work remaining sides:* ch1, skip over the 3 dc from the previous round, dc3, ch1, work corner (dc3, ch1, dc3); repeat from * two more times, ch1, join to third chain of beginning chain with a slip stitch. Slip stitch from the end of the round until you reach the ch1 stitch at a corner.  Continue with the next round.
ROUND 4: Ch 3,  work corner (dc2, ch1, dc3) into the same stitch, work remaining sides: *ch1, skip over the 3 dc from the previous round, dc3, ch1, skip over the 3 dc from previous round, dc3, ch1, work corner (dc3, ch1, dc3); repeat from * two more times, ch1, join to third chain of beginning chain with a slip stitch.

IF YOU WANT TO CHANGE COLORS: Cut yarn, leaving a tail, and draw it all the way through the slip stitch to secure it.  Join the new color at a corner by drawing a stitch through a ch1 stitch. Continue with the next round.

SCALLOPED BORDER: 5 dc in same stitch, slip stitch in next space, skip 1 space, then continue with next 5 dc. 7 dc in each corner scallop.

I did 18 dc rows of cream, 1 dc row of mint/pink, 7 dc rows of teal/peach, then 1 sc row of mint/pink, followed by a scalloped row of mint/pink.

ABBREVIATIONS:

dc: double crochet
sc: single crochet
sl st: slip stitch

Christmas Cards & Decor 2014

December 19, 2014

Merry Christmas from the Rowlands!

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Sending Christmas Cards might just be my favorite Christmas tradition. I love getting them in the mail from our family and friends and I love looking back at our past Christmas cards and seeing how much we’ve changed over the last few years. Ours this year includes our sweet little Violet. It also includes my hand-lettering again! See last year’s card, here.

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Here are all the Christmas cards since we’ve been married! 2012, 2013, and 2014! All washi taped to our French doors along with the other cards we’ve been receiving. We’ve gotten several more since I took this picture and now almost the entire door is covered up.

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Our tree looks pretty similar to last year, with just silver, gold, and white ornaments. I love using the beads we’ve caught at Mardi Gras parades here in New Orleans on our tree.

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My favorite part of our simple Christmas decor is the sparkly, white, metal snowflakes we hang from the curtain rods in here. The closest thing to real snow we see here in New Orleans!

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This year I also added some homemade Crochet Snowflakes to our tree.

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I also finally bought a tree skirt as well! (The last few year’s I’ve just bunched up a quilt under the tree.) I bought this metallic gold fabric one while shopping with my sister and mother-in-law the day after Thanksgiving.

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We also have a sweet little wooden nativity scene out this year. It was a Christmas gift last year from my mother-in-law.

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Love my Lindsay Letters print of one of my favorite Christmas songs.

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Of course, the most difficult part of this Christmas has been keeping this little kitty out of the tree! I’ve hung lemon slices along the bottom of the tree and we daily spray it down with orange citrus spray which helps, but she still gets in there. I didn’t put breakable ornaments on the tree this year, so I’m less worried about the tree and more worried about her unwrapping all the gifts. Eating paper is her favorite. So far, most of the gifts have a few bite marks and a few straightened bows, but only one gift has had the paper ripped off. Hopefully it stays that way!

Past Christmas Posts:

Merry Christmas 2010! (the Christmas we got engaged) and Christmas Eve that year

Christmas Shortbread Cookies (from before I was Gluten-free)

Christmas Decorating (our first year in this apartment)

Doily Christmas Wrapping

Our First Rowland Family Christmas Card

Our Second Rowland Family Christmas Card

Last Year’s Christmas Decor

Scenes from Last Christmas

Christmas Memories, Heartache, and Peace

Crochet Snowflake Ornaments