Life With Lord Byron- A Review

A little while ago, I ran a couple of guest blog posts by Peggy Nelson that were excerpts of her book, “Life With Lord Byron.” I promised a review, and the book surprised me.
At first, I thought “Life with Lord Byron” would simply be a biography of Byron Nelson. Not knowing who he was, and not being anything of a golf fanatic, I figured I’d have some difficulty getting through the book. However, the book was different from my expectations. What it really is, is a picture of a true gentleman.

Written by Nelson’s widow Peggy, it’s the story of romance, respect, and generosity. It’s not so much about golf as it is about life and living it well. I enjoyed the story and the photos. Peggy Nelson is open about the age difference between her and Byron and she portrays an unlikely romance that blossomed despite the odds. The book also includes a CD recording of Byron re-living his record streak of 11 PGA Tournaments.

The book has a quality cover and binding for an independently published book. If there is a drawback to the book, it rambles just a little and could benefit from some organization. However, the charm of the story off-sets this well. Also, the retail cost is high because of the CD, the independent publisher, and the quality of the binding.

Readers will be inspired by Byron Nelson’s faith and his unbelievable generosity. Peggy wrote the book after he passed away, but his legacy lives on in the people he touched.

I received this book from Kathy Carlton Willis Communications, Peggy Nelson’s publicist, in exchange for my fair and honest review.

T2T Featured on The Best of the Web

Looking for some new ideas and fun blogs to follow? I was featured this week on Be @ Home Best of the Web . You’ll find some great ideas for fall and don’t forget to enter the Halloween Giveaway Contest for a chance to win an Amazon gift certificate. The site has a blend of decorating advice, crafty ideas, practical information, and links to other blogs and websites. 

 While you’re there, check out the rest of the blogs in the Pocket Change family. They have help for electronics, style, home, pets, sports, going green and so much more. 

Thanks Be @ Home for the feature!


Trash to Treasure Decorating
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What Would You Do- Antique Scale #2

Last week’s winning idea for what to do with an antique baby scale came from Late Night Coffee who suggested I paint it with Rustoleum, then roll up towels in it and put it in the bathroom. Your ideas were all great! Thanks everyone for participating. Someone asked what I sold that scale for. I sold it for $5. I had paid $3 for it at a sale when I bought it. Yes, I know, they sell for a lot more than that online. But it’s out of my basement, and sometimes, that’s priceless.

What Would You Do With This Wednesday

Since there were so many great ideas from the last scale, and since I sold it at my garage sale and cannot implement any of them myself, how about another scale for WWYD this week? A friend of mine gave me this antique scale (a friend who still owns her own antique baby scale BTW). She thought I could some up with a T2T idea for it.

I brought it home and mentioned to my husband that it would make a good patio decoration with a plant or something standing on it. However, this caused him to freak out. “This is a perfectly good scale! See how it still works? You can’t put this outside.”

So, now I’m passing the WWYD challenge on to you. What would you do with this antique scale? It has to be an indoor idea to satisfy my husband. And whatever I choose as a winning idea, I will attempt to duplicate and post the results.

Just to appease my husband, I did check online. And yes, these scales, like my baby scale, are worth a little. This one is probably worth around $25.

I’m looking forward to your WWYD ideas. Leave your comments below and I’ll name a winning idea next week.


Trash to Treasure Decorating
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Creative Recycling

I have a basement full, (okay, more of a storage room full) of the old windows that we removed from our house when we did some remodeling last year. I’ve been coming up with art projects for using them. Sometimes the best creative inspiration comes from stuff that you have right on hand. 

Silhouette SD Digital Craft Cutting Tool (QuicKutz)I used my Silhouette cutting machine to cut out sayings on adhesive vinyl and then I created mat board backs for them that are decorated with scrapbook papers. Now, I’ll be looking for a market for my art. Shipping is a little to expensive to put them in my Etsy store, but I think I’ll be able to find a local place to consign them.

I don’t know what it is about artsy projects, but I’m so happy when I’m creating something. It’s hard for the non-artsy people to understand the craziness of a need to create, but for those who share this same personality, I know you understand. And thank goodness the rest of the world appreciates our creations even if they don’t understand the insane drive to have creative time. 

I’d like to do some of these with Bible verses, I think. Or I could do them with custom names or monograms. Oh, the possibilities for these recycled windows are endless!

Transformation Tuesday- Continuation

This week, for transformation Tuesday I’d like to continue from last week when I showed you how I used recycled kitchen cabinets in a new cabin that I’ve been decorating at the camp where my husband works. Now that the faux finish is complete on the cabinets, I’ve been working on making over some donated furniture.

We received a set of pine furniture that’s solid, but dated. It’s made from pine two by fours and fortunately, the design wasn’t so much dated as the look of the finish. I’d say it’s probably early nineties or late eighties furniture. It had just a little bit of a finish on it, but when my husband first tried varnishing right over it, I thought it looked horrible, like varnished plywood. So, I had him sand the varnish back off and I did an old world finish to look like walnut.

Here is what it looked like before: 

For the first layer of finish, I used some old water cleanup stain that I found in my basement. So many stains and paints were left here when I moved in, and I’m trying to be “green” by using them up instead of purchasing new. The stain was a little chunky, but I made it work. The shade of “antique oak” was enough to darken the pine for the first layer.

After letting it dry, I added a glazed layer using the same brown glaze that I mixed up for the cabinet project

I brushed on the brown glaze with the grain of the wood being sure to leave it a little streaky and not solid as if I was completely coating something in paint. 

When the glaze was dry and had a day or two to cure, I coated everything in three coats of polyurethane. I used oil based, but acrylic would work great too. Here’s how the table, bed, and bedside tables turned out. The kitchen chairs still need to be done in the same finish and reupholstered but it will give you an idea of the old finish versus the new, dark finish.

It’s a very peaceful space and I’m so happy with how the donated furniture turned out. All of the windows, doors, and trim in the space is also recycled salvage from a home that was torn down. The following pictures show how additional new purchases complement the donated furniture and finish out the space. 

With a blend of old and new,  you can create a fabulous space on a much lower budget than you would if you purchased everything new. Next, I still need to figure out how to decorate the walls! And maybe scout out a few end tables for the seating area. In the meantime, the space is now ready for guests.


Trash to Treasure Decorating
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Your Money God’s Way

Do you need help with your finances from a Biblical perspective?

When I began reading “Your Money God’s Way,” I thought it was about time that someone who had been through bad financial decisions and made it out of the pit wrote a book. It seems that so many financial books are written by people who haven’t really been through the experience of their clients. My one concern however, is that author Amie Streater hasn’t been free from her past spending habits for all that long and she’s only been in the financial counseling ministry for four years. Still, her advice makes sense and she isn’t afraid to tell it like it is. That’s refreshing. In addition to discussing poor spending habits, she also discusses enabling others to have bad habits. This too is refreshing and often ignored.

Streater doesn’t sugar coat. She’s willing to tell a client, “You’ve done some really dumb things with your money. Really, really, really dumb. We’re doing to spend some time figuring out why you’ve been doing dumb stuff and I will show you how to start doing smart stuff” (p. xx). Her advice is biblically based and filled with common sense. As a stay-at-home mother, I felt a little on the spot as the author talks many times about how living on one income works for few and she makes it seem lazy not to work outside of the home. I doubt that was her real intention, but it does come across that way.

I like how the author has a section at the end of every chapter where she summarizes the important points from the chapter and then offers practical solutions steps for the problems addressed. It’s organized well. Readers will like the many stories that she tells of clients with practical examples of problems. Most readers will be able to identify with one or many of the characters portrayed. I did have an issue with one statement at the end of the book though. “This book is based, in part, on true events, but certain liberties have been taken with names, places, and dates, and the characters have been invented. Therefore, the persons and characters portrayed bear absolutely no resemblance whatsoever to the persons who were actually involved in the events described in this book” (p. 189). That put me off just a little as it seemed to take away from the credibility of the stories a little. I’d rather the author disclose up front that the characters are fictional depictions.

The subtitle to “Your Money God’s Way” summarizes the content well. “Overcoming the 7 Money Myths That Keep Christians Broke.” I think this book will be well received.

I received this book from Thomas Nelson publishers at no cost for my fair and honest review.

Stations of the Cross- DVD Review

Stations of the Cross: An Artistic Portrayal of the Easter Story

I’d like to introduce you to a documentary that follows 15 professional Australian artists as they prepare their works for an Easter art exhibit. I was asked by the producer and director of “Stations of the Cross” to review the film and it’s an interesting film.

The film is a documentary narrated by the exhibition curator, Nadia Turner. Turner describes the stations, which are based on Catholic tradition, and she shows the behind-the-scenes work that it takes to put together such an event. Footage shows interviews with each artist as he or she creates the piece that will be on display. Art pieces are formed from a variety of media including paint, sculpture, 3D, and more. The fifteen stations depicted begin with Jesus’ conviction and follow through to the resurrection.

I enjoyed this film and the 45-minute length makes is perfect for educational purposes. I also enjoyed the artsy background music. The reactions from the artists to their commission of creating a depiction of a station varied. One artist describes the depiction as something that “could have happened,” referring to Jesus’ death and resurrection in a way that it could be a disputable historical event. However, another artists saw this as a worship experience and she danced and praised God as she painted.

I also found the actual depictions interesting. Some of them might be construed as sacrilegious, but they represented how the artist felt. There was an interesting contrast in the piece representing Jesus on the cross. The artist included a quote about a Happy Meal in the painting because he equates McDonalds with Satan.

One powerful aspect of the film is that it shows how some artists were moved by the process of studying the scripture verses describing their station. But one drawback to the film content is that the art show diminishes the depth of meaning in the story of the cross by minimizing the spiritual impact of Jesus’ death. This has little to do with the film and more to do with the particular artists that the curator selected. Those who are not Bible believers did not depict their stations with the same depth as those who do believe in the truth of the Easter story.

I think there is a market for this film in the US. Currently, the film is available in PAL format (which plays on a computer just fine) however, if there is enough demand in the US for a standard DVD version, the producer says it might become available in NTSC version.

I’d like to thank Matthew McNeil for sending me a complimentary copy of the film for review. I had the opportunity to interview him via e-mail regarding the film. I hope you enjoy the following Q & A.

*   *   *
Michelle:  What sparked your interest in making this film? Have you been to the exhibit before?

Matthew: I really like the idea that through art, people who would otherwise not spend time thinking deeply about the Easter story are thrown into contemplating just what it means for them today.
I am friends with the curator so I had a natural connection to the exhibition. This was actually my first year going along as I was briefly out of the country the year before, and living abroad before that.
Michelle: What your intent for this film? Is it purely for entertainment and education, or are you hoping that it has a spiritual impact on people?

Matthew: Before I set out to make this film I realized that it could be digested on a number of levels. The most obvious is perhaps on the visual art level, where it’s fast paced, work after work, artist and studio – it’s interesting and a little bit fun as Nadia attempt’s to organize the Exhibition. The actual Easter story is gently told to the attentive viewer, where as to the unassuming perhaps it’s a little subversive – not that anything is hidden, it’s more a recognition of what Jesus often said, ‘for those who have ears to hear, let them hear’.

So to answer your question, yes I do hope that it will have a spiritual impact on people, but I am realistic that many people will totally miss it (on a conscious level anyway).

Michelle:  How did filming Stations of the Cross affect you personally? Were you moved by the artists or their portrayals in any way?

Matthew: I am a New Zealander living in Sydney, which is an Australian city not really recognized for the arts and culture, so I was really encouraged to discover so much art going on here. So making this film changed my perception of this city for a start. Logistically it was a complicated project, a hundred emails, a hundred phone calls and in the end I was disappointed not to be able to film David Wiggs – but fortunately Nadia was able to help out on his Station. I think all the artists were really interesting and it would be hard to say which one inspired me the most – It may have been complicated in the making but I am really happy with the final outcome.

If you’re interested in getting your own copy of “Stations of the Cross” by FlashFilms, you will find it on the Stations of the Cross website. The website also contains more detailed information about the artists and their pieces.

A Day to Reminisce

I found it fitting that the Merriam Webster word of the day today is reminisce. Today we celebrated the birthdays of both of my sons. Born two years apart, they share the same birthday and they turned 16 and 18 today. As if sharing the date wasn’t alike enough, they were born within thirteen minutes of each other. 

The other day, they got out some home videos of when they were really little. It was fun to watch them play together, sing for the camera, and talk about what they would be when they grew up. As I reminisce, it’s hard to believe one of them is officially an adult now and the other is days away from trying for his driver’s license. Suddenly, “when they grow up” isn’t some day in the distant future. It’s upon us. 
Today, as I remember from a mother’s perspective, I also delight in their sense of humor. From their gifts to each other to the crazy way they chose to decorate their cake with things found in the kitchen drawer, they make me laugh. In honor of their special day, I’m sharing the laughter with you. Here’s a picture of their Dairy Queen mini cake. It came with the cookie dough pieces on top, which reminded them of rocks. So, they added the hunters, the deer, and the crazy little cow climbing up the side. 
The ugly, half melted candles are a family tradition. Every year, they dig through the drawer to try to make the numbers of their year. This time, plain candles had to stand in for the number one. 
It looks as if the hunter already took off one antler of the deer. But this was oh so much more fun than a plain old decorated cake.

Creativity Tied to Inspiration

I had a wonderful time on Monday speaking to a group of women from northwestern Wisconsin at their annual retreat. I spoke for three 45-minute sessions on “Treasures of the Heart.” It’s one of my favorite subjects because I get to mix my love for trash to treasure decorating with my love for helping women see how much God loves them.
In the first session, I showed lots of trash to treasure decorating ideas (many of them from my trash to treasure website) on a power point presentation. Then in the next two sessions, I talked about how God can take our struggles, frustrations, and difficulties (our trash) and turn them into opportunities to bring him glory (treasure). It’s part of helping women connect the dots by seeing how the delight we take from taking yard sale junk and turning it into beautiful art is just a tiny glimpse of the delight God takes in turning our emotional junk into something beautiful.
It might not happen overnight though. It involves a change in perspective. It means that we begin to see everything as an opportunity instead of wasted experience. I showed the women a plastic Wal-Mart bag that we’d normally consider as either junk, or a liner for our trash cans. But then I showed this flower.
I took several discarded store bags and cut them into strips. Then I wrapped the strips around a piece of cardboard, slipped the looped plastic off the cardboard, and tied a string around the middle of the loops. Then I cut the loops, just as I would if I was making a yarn pom pom. I attached the plastic puffball to a wire and wrapped the stem with floral tape to make it into a flower.
It’s still plastic bag. But it’s different. Now, the bag has become something that we can appreciate, something we might consider beautiful, even though it is made from the same material.
Our experiences might seem like junk. Abuse. Divorce. Depression. Losses. Teasing. Loneliness. It’s all difficult. But when we begin to see that as the material that God uses to make something beautiful out of us, we begin to appreciate the role that our difficulties play in making us beautiful examples of the grace of God.
What “junk” do you wish you could see in a different way?

What Would You Do With This Scale?

I had an old baby scale that I kept on hand for weighing packages for E-bay, but since purchasing a digital scale, I hadn’t used it at all. So, last week, I sold it on my garage sale. An Amish family bought it. But before I put it out for sale, I snapped a picture so that I could ask you, “What would you do with it?”
It’s WWYD Wednesday and I’m wondering of any of my readers have an idea for how an old scale could be used for trash to treasure decorating.
Now, I know, I’m taking a risk since I’ve already sold the scale. Some of  you might come up with a great idea that makes me wish I hadn’t. But I’m willing to take that risk. What would you do with an old scale? 
Share your ideas in the comments below and I’ll pick a winning idea in a week.

Trash to Treasure Decorating
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