Happy Anniversary!

giveaway

We owe you a debt of gratitude. If you are reading this post, we are incredibly grateful…especially if you have been a loyal reader from the beginning. Thanks for bearing with us as we learn computer stuff that is way over our head. Thanks for reading our posts that are totally boring, goofy, or just plain useless. Thank you, friend, for putting up with our less than stellar photography. Most of all, thank you for your words of encouragement. They mean so much!

To celebrate our one year anniversary, we are going to try a giveaway for the first time ever. Again, we don’t really know what we are doing, but hopefully it will end with one of you getting a really cool gift in the mail!  We are giving away a Kristin & Company soy candle.  It’s made right here in Michigan, smells like cinnamon and vanilla, and comes in a super cute jar with a pewter lid.  We think the name of the scent, Cozy Home, is fitting as well, since this blog aims to help others make their home the best place to be!

So get your entries in…and know that we truly thankful for your loyalty to our little blog!

Mardi and Megan

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Mardi’s Must Read

must read book radium girls

I just read the best book ever and I can’t stop talking about it!  As I’ve admitted before, I looove to read historical romance (two things I love history + romance, it’s a win-win!).  On occasion, I enjoy reading something a little more cerebral.  Before Christmas, Megan and I were shopping at Barnes & Noble (correction:  we ate lunch there, then perused the books) and we saw the book The Radium Girls:  The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women.  We looked it over and decided we should read it.  But it was Christmastime, and you shouldn’t buy things for yourself…..so I purchased it the day after Christmas.

The Radium Girls:  The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore is the true story of young women who worked in radium watch dial factories during World War I.  Radium was a new, miracle substance which turned up in medicines, cure-alls, and was thought to cure cancer.  The girls painted watch dials with luminous paint (containing radium) so soldiers overseas could see their watches in the dark.  It was a much-coveted job by most girls at the time because it paid well and was considered glamorous.  Not only did the girls work side by side, talking and laughing, they also got to work with “liquid sunshine.”  Sometimes for kicks they would put the luminous paint on their teeth or face, then go into a dark room and giggle at each other.  The dust from the luminous paint settled everywhere on the girls, on their hair, their clothes, on the food they ate at their desks.  Some girls wore their best dresses to work so that the dust would cover them and then when they went dancing with a beau, they positively glowed.

As it was hard to paint tiny numbers on watch faces with a brush, the girls were instructed to wet the brush in their mouths before dipping it into the luminous paint.  That way, the tip of the brush was nice and pointy.  It became a mantra:  lip, dip, paint.  Some girls lipped the brush after every number, some girls after every two or three.  The luminous paint didn’t have a taste, but it was a bit gritty.  A few girls quit because they didn’t like the taste, but most girls loved their jobs.  The girls were told by management that the radium in the luminous paint was not dangerous, it was actually good for them.  It would strengthen their bones and help all of their ills.

The American Radium Company was in New Jersey, then one in Ottawa, Illinois.  When girls started falling ill, no one knew what it was from.  After all, no one even dreamed it was from radium, the miracle substance.  Most girls first had problems with their teeth.  They had tooth after tooth pulled, but their mouths didn’t heal.  Mollie Maggia, the first of three sisters to get radium poisoning, had her jaw break after her dentist gently touched it.  She died a horrible death after the radium ate through her jugular vein.  She was only 23 years old.  Other girls first had hip pain and developed a limp.  They limped everyday to work and home, wondering what on earth was wrong with them.  A dial worker named Edna found out what was wrong with her when she reached for her pill bottle on her nightstand and caught her reflection in a mirror.  She literally glowed in the dark.  She screamed, then fainted.  Yes, the radium settled into the marrow of their bones.

The Radium Companies denied any responsibility, still claiming that radium was totally safe.  They paid doctors and dentists very well to say the same thing to patients of radium poisoning.  Over the course the book, there were a few good doctors and lawyers that were brave enough to take on the fight.  Two groups of workers are highlighted in the book, first from New Jersey, the second from Illinois.  Each group had seemingly insurmountable legal battles, like David taking on Goliath.  Because of these legal battles, important changes were made to workplace safety regulations and labor laws.

These brave young women leapt off the pages of the book.  I felt privileged to read their stories and learn of their sacrifice.  Even 80 years after their deaths, their graves are still radioactive.  Since radium has a half-life of 1,600 years, the girls’ remains will be glowing for a very long time.

Have you read any good books lately?  Let us know in the comments below!  And don’t forget to check out previous posts, Books You Need to Read, and “The Right Stuff” to Read, and for some more great suggestions.

Mardi

 

Delicious Dips for Superbowl Sunday

delicious dips for superbowl parties

The Superbowl is almost here!  That means almost nothing to me except for great snacks.  I don’t even watch the game (gasp!), but I love any reason to get together with friends and family and eat delicious food.  It’s also a great motivation for getting your house squeaky clean, just sayin’. Megan and Chris go to a Superbowl party every year at their friends’ house, David goes to watch the game and play cards with friends, and the kids and I just hang out and snack.  No, don’t feel sorry for me……I’m perfectly happy doing just that.  But even if you’re not having a party on Superbowl Sunday or going to one, the dip recipes below will work great for any get-together.

I love the idea of appetizers and finger food.  Maybe it goes back to my childhood love of finger jello.  When I have a party, I like to make an easy main dish like chili.  Homemade cornbread is a must if you have chili!   You could also have baked potato bar with the chili, so people can put chili on their potato or just have a potato with other toppings.  We did this for our fall barn party.  Appetizers are a great idea because they are self-serve and no one has to wait until the main dish is served (if there is one).  Whatever you do, avoid hangry guests at all costs!  My friend Karla gave me an easy recipe for a cheeseball that I made every Christmas.  It’s fantastic!  I also made mini crescent dogs with little smokies every Christmas Eve too…..they’re simple yet tasty.  Do like I do and have your husband assemble them.  Another recipe with little smokies is to wrap them in bacon, roll in brown sugar and bake.  So addictive and a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.

For the last couple of years, Megan has made a monster cookie dip and brought it to the Superbowl party.  She said there are never any leftovers….a sure sign of success.  My sisters and I love Mexican food, so we like a cheese dip in the crockpot.  I make a recipe called TNT dip and it’s easy and delicious.  Oh my gosh, I’m getting so hungry writing this!  Kendal makes a delicious dip called Neiman Marcus Dip that Megan and I can’t resist.  Buffalo chicken dip always goes over great, too.  Good old cheese and crackers can’t beat, either.  There’s also the sweet and salty Chex mix I make for every holiday.  Sander has been asking me to make it but I can’t be trusted not to eat it in large amounts!

Monster Cookie Dough Dip

monster cookie dough dip

Source:  Skip to My Lou

TNT Dip

tnttexasdip

Source:  Recipe Roost

Neiman Marcus Dip

Source:  Just a Spoonful

buffalo chicken dip

Source:  Bombshell Bling

If you are heading to a potluck or just staying home, the superbowl is as good excuse as any to make one of these treats!

Mardi

What is your favorite party dip?

 

Easy DIY Valentine’s Day Decor

It’s hard to believe that January is almost over and February is fast approaching! I don’t usually decorate much for Valentine’s Day, but sometimes it’s nice to have an excuse to get crafty and make something cute. I’m all about quick, easy, and cheap projects, so even if you aren’t very crafty, you can still make these!  And of course I didn’t come up with these ideas on my own (Pinterest…duh), but I think my versions turned out almost as cute.

Hobby Lobby had a cute heart wreath for $2.40 and a bunch of greenery that was $2.50 on sale. I already had some little red berry twigs and ribbon at home, so I didn’t need to spend a ton.  All I did was pull or cut stems from the greenery bunch and bundled them together on the wreath with some floral wire. I also added some hot glue to help them stick more (excuse my less than articulate directions!).  Repeat this step with another bunch facing in the other direction (downward), and then pull or cut little berry twigs and hot glue them in.  Add a bow (or two) with more wire and glue and your little wreath is ready to hang.

Valentine's craft, heart wreath

heart wreath, Valentine's wreath

The next project is so easy that I don’t think you can even call it a project. I bought paper doilies at Hobby Lobby and strung them together with cute red and white packaging string that I already had. One tip…rub a little elmers glue on the tip of the string and let it harden.  It will be much easier to string.  Your kids could even make this garland for you! Super simple, but so sweet!

paper heart doily garland

paper heart doily garland

I made one more tiny garland from upholstery webbing that I already had. Simply cut five sections, make snips on the bottom to make little flag shapes, and hot glue them on to another length of red and white string. I also burnt my fingers several times folding the top over the string and gluing it down, so be more careful than I was!  You could also sew them, but I was too lazy and impatient for that. I then grabbed a wool sweater that I had accidentally shrunk and cut little hearts from it, and hot glued them on. They weren’t perfectly shaped all the same, but I don’t think it mattered.  It still turned out pretty cute.

Valentine's Day heart garland

valentines day heart garland

Valentine's Day craft, heart garland

And finally, I made a garland out of fabric strips a few years ago for Valentine’s Day and I still love it.  Just grab a few fat quarters or fabric scraps in coordinating colors and rip them in strips about an inch wide.  Loop them on a pretty red ribbon and done!

fabric valentine's day garland

fabric valentine's day garland

So here you go…start crafting a few little projects to brighten up these gray winter days. I finished all of these in no time, and they just make me happy.  Can you tell I love garlands???  In fact, I think I might string paper doily hearts everywhere…

Megan

Parenting Boys is Not for the Faint of Heart

Hiking at the Grand Tetons

Yesterday was a big day for my son Sander and Megan’s son Kimball.  They went to Colorado snowboarding with Megan’s husband Chris and our sister Kendal’s boyfriend Rob.  The boys (not the big ones) have never taken a trip without us except for camping….what will they do without their moms?  I know exactly what they’ll do:  have fun.  We won’t be there to worry over them and nag them.  I’m sure they’ll miss us, though.  That’s what I keep telling myself.

As excited as Megan and I are for our boys, we’re nervous to let them out of our sights.  To give you a little background on our boys, Sander is 16 and Kimball is 14.  But they act like they’re really 9 and 7.  They are a lot alike and get along great when they’re not fighting, that is.  They both have ADD, love sports, junk food and pop, and basically don’t like to use the good sense that God gave them!  We’ve always said that the boys’ guardian angels are amazing and overworked.  They are our button-pushers too, if you know what I mean.  It’s a good thing they’re cute because…..um, never mind.

A year and a half ago, our parents took all 15 of us on an RV trip out west.  Our destination was Yellowstone.  As we researched Yellowstone, we kept reading about the danger of thermal pools.  So Megan and I were nervous wrecks the entire trip!   We kept fearing the boys would go off the path, fall into a thermal pool and vaporize.  It didn’t help that in our cabins, there was a book that was called Death At Yellowstone.  What kind of dummies read that the day before exploring the park?  That would be Megan and I.  Let’s just say it didn’t put our minds at ease!  Now here’s a little background about Megan and I:  we’re worriers.  For some reason, our minds automatically go to the worst possible scenario.  Despite our strong faith in God, we have a problem fully trusting Him.

Grand Teton National Park

We know that God loves our kids even more than we possibly could.  It’s true that bad things happen, but God doesn’t want us to waste our lives worrying.  When I was pregnant with my twin boys, I was in the hospital for three weeks on bedrest.  It was a scary time and I worried that the boys would be born too early.  My Mom sent up a quote from a calendar that said, “Died a thousand deaths, but buried only once.”  Wow, that was written for me!  Worrying does not add hours to our lives, instead it robs us.    My favorite verses in the Bible are Philippians 4:6-7:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

Another verse that is so helpful in remembering to trust in God, Joshua 1:9:

“Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

boys at the Grand Tetons

And one last verse…because you can’t have too many!  Matthew 6:26-27:

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or stow away in barns; and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

boys at the grand tetons

When we start to worry this week (I mean IF), we’ll cling to these verses.  I’ll try to stop worrying about the boys on the chairlift together, wrestling, getting separated from each other, attempting a 360…….Ok, I’m a slow learner!

Here’s a link to another post about anxiety.

What’s your favorite verse to combat worry?

Mardi

Winter Home Tour

Winter in Michigan is awesome!  Ya just gotta love getting in a freezing car, scraping windows, driving on ice, trudging through slush, biting cold wind, and wearing five layers just to leave the house.  No?  Well, I guess those probably aren’t my favorite reasons for loving winter in Michigan, either.  But, seriously, I do love it.  And probably one of my favorite reasons is because I am a homebody, and I love to stay home.  I don’t mind staying home on a Friday night, doing nothing but sitting in front of a fire and reading a good book.

Winter Decor

winter decor, bottlebush trees

winter decor, faux evergreens

winter decor, galvanzed decor

Winter Decor, galvanized

Winter is the best time to relax and enjoy a slower pace if you live in a northern climate.  As much as I love spring flowers and gardening and summer beach days, they also come with a lot of extra work.  Work that I love, but sometimes I miss actually sitting on the couch in the summer because I hate to spend one minute of nice weather inside.  Weird, I know!  But that’s what is so great about a Michigan winter!  I don’t have all of that outdoor yard work, I don’t feel guilty about sitting inside on a nice day (because it usually isn’t nice out), and it makes me appreciate the warmth and beauty of our nice weather even more!  Plus, nothing is prettier than a fresh snowfall.

winter decor, faux evergreens

winter decor, faux evergreens

So as long as I’m going to be inside a lot, I might as well make my home cozy.  It’s easy to make it cozy before Christmas, but a little more challenging after the holidays are over.  This year I left a lot of greenery out because it’s warm and inviting, and green!  And admit it…in Michigan it seems a little silly to put up non-evergreen greenery just yet!  Just think of it as a rustic, cozy, ski-lodge look.  Or Scandinavian.  Or you can just think I’m goofy…which is fine, too, and most likely true.  Either way, I hope you find some inspiration to keep your home cozy for just a little while longer.

winter decor, faux evergreens

winter decor, faux evergreens

winter decor, faux evergreens

winter decor, faux evergreens

I left the string lighting up for a little while in my sunroom, too.  It’s just nice to enjoy white lights when it gets dark at 5:00!  And my new (old) crock looks great decked out in greens.

winter decor, faux evergreens

winter decor, faux evergreens

Everything looks less cluttered and fresh than the Christmas décor, but still homey and unbare (not a word…but bear with me!).

winter decor, faux evergreens

winter decor, faux evergreens

And lastly, you have to have a great candle!  My favorite candle this time of year is Bath and Body Works’ Winter candle.  It smells woodsy and a little smoky, and I like it a lot!

So pile up pillows and throws, throw in some faux evergreens and bottlebrush trees, and don’t forget a candle or two.  Light a fire, grab a book, and enjoy your comfy cozy surroundings guilt free!  And don’t worry…gardening and ball season are just around the corner, so enjoy it while it lasts!

Pin it for later!

winter decor