Advent Calendar Idea

As we begin unpacking the boxes of Christmas decorations and getting ready for the holidays. I found a sweet project for an magnetic Advent calendar that you might want to try with your family. It uses decorative papers and little candy favor tins (found at most craft stores in the cake decorations). The idea I found online at Makoodle has a free download for the number papers as well as instructions. It also has a download for papers for little activities to have inside the tins.
If you don’t have the metal 12 by 12 sheet the tutorial mentions, an old cookie sheet or a metal serving tray can easily be spray painted and it will work great!

Having a Safe and Happy Holiday Season

As we prepare for the holidays, I thought it would be appropriate to address the concept of family safety. Today, I’d like to feature a guest blog post that will get you thinking about safety as you bring out your favorite decorations and put up the tree.
Having a Safe and Happy Holiday Season
The purpose of the home is to provide a place of comfort and stability for a family to enjoy and rely upon. This purpose is exemplified and enhanced during the holiday season, as Christmas lights go up and decorations take over. Most would agree that there is little more comforting or satisfying than coming home to a house lit up with Christmas lights, with a wreath on the door and perhaps a fire crackling in the fireplace. 
While the joys of the holiday vibe can be somewhat seductive, it is also important to remember that for your home to obtain and maintain this level of comfort, it requires an adequate home security system. After all, there is no sense in decorating your home to display comfort and welcoming if the home itself is not completely safe. So, here are a few tips for home security during the holidays.
  • Going into the holiday season you should double check to make sure that your security system includes working smoke alarms. With lights strung up all over the place, constant cooking, and likely fires in your fireplace, your risk of a house fire undoubtedly increases during the holidays. So, while it may seem a bit paranoid to consider this to be a substantial risk, you will want to make sure that you have working smoke alarms. This can allow you to relax and know that even in the event of an unexpected fire, you and your family will remain safe.
  • If you place heavy focus on decorating the exterior of your home and your yard, you may be tempted to remove anything that clashes from the front of your house – such as a sign that might advertise that you are protected by ADT Security. However, it is important not to sacrifice your safety in the name of aesthetics. Make sure that protective signs and window decals remain clearly visible through your decorations, as these are important elements of home security that can deter crime.
  • Do not be tempted to set your alarm less frequently during the holidays. Particularly for people who have guests coming in and out of the house during the day and night, it can be tempting to slack off on setting the alarm. However, despite how annoying it might be to deal with managing the alarm while your guests come and go, it is once again important not to sacrifice security for comfort. In the greater scheme of things, the slight annoyance is well worth the potential benefit. 
Guest post brought to you by Article printed with permission. This content may not be redistributed without permission.

Trash to Treasure Decorating
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Muppet Movie Celebration – Fun Everyday Ideas

Tomorrow, the latest Muppet Movie hits theaters and our family has always liked the Muppets. I was born the year Sesame Street started, and I grew up watching that and the Muppet Show. I can’t wait to see the new movie! I couldn’t resist sharing this practical and fun idea for a muppet party. 
Aren’t these cakes and cookies from Amy at Living Locurto adorable?
The post from Amy includes free printables, decoration ideas, lots more snack ideas, and lots of fun. See the full post for tutorials.

Transformation Tuesday- Crochet T Shirt Rug

What do you do with a pile of T-shirts that have a rip or a stain but are otherwise in good shape? Make a rug! At least that’s what Shawna at A Very Dandoislion Life did. She shows how to cut the T-shirts into strips and make T-shirt yarn. Then she crocheted them into rugs. I love the colors.
Photo belongs to A Very Dandoislion Life
Photo belongs to A Very Dandoislion Life
Check out the full post at A Very Dandoislion Life for the tutorial. Shawna bought T-shirts at the thrift store, but I could see cleaning out my boys’ closets and getting rid of ones that are small or have holes. Thanks for the great idea Shawna!

Trash to Treasure Decorating
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Dry Erase/ Chalkboard Vintage Window Message Center

I just finished a customer order for one of my vintage windows, so I thought I’d share with my readers. The top of the window is glass backed with paper decoupaged on. The glass works as a dry erase board. And the bottom is chalkboard paint (applied to the front). A handy little messaging center.
I know it’s a little hard to see the color in the second one. A little too much sunlight in the living room when I took the shots. The little calico pouch is the eraser. I sew a pocket and filled it with batting.

Trash to Treasure Decorating
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Friend Friday – 11/11/11

I thought it would be appropriate to mention on Friend Friday that one of my blogging friends has featured my blog this week. 
She’s got a fantastic blog hop happening over there, so hop on over and link up to Suzy’s site!
Thanks Suzy! That was fun.

Trash to Treasure Decorating
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My Latest Art- Transformation…uh..Thursday.

Um, it’s a little late for Transformation Tuesday. But if you don’t mind, I’d like to squeak a Transformation Thursday in here (it will be almost Friday by the time I get it posted, but who’s counting?)

Here’s what I did with some of my stash of vintage windows. I love how they turned out! Between these and the ones I made last year, I had a nice little stash last weekend to take with me to a local craft show. I sold half of my inventory. Yay!
I started with plain window sashes. Some were really weathered, others weren’t so much. So when they were all done, if they were too white and clean, I used a little tan glaze to make them look more aged.
I planned to use chalkboard paint and the can said it could be used on glass. But I was a little skeptical, so the first window, I primed with 123 Primer. But then, I noticed when I was putting on the chalkboard layer of paint, the primer was coming off, so the next windows I decided to just put the chalkboard pain straight on.

The French door was very old and it was peeling a lot, so I gave it a coat of poly to seal the paint just as it is.

After the WWYD Wednedsay challenge last week, I took your advice and left the top as it was after I had decoupaged paper to the back of the glass. I didn’t add anything to the front.

I decoupaged paper to the backs of the top part of the window sash and painted chalkboard paint on the bottom. I tried different method for paint application. I found that a soft nylon brush worked just as well as a little foam roller.

 I decided to do some with chalkboard on both top and bottom.
 And some were solid glass, so I did the whole thing in chalkboard paint.
 Some were skinny little windows. Notice the cotton pouch hanging there? I sewed little pockets from cotton fabric and stuffed them with batting for erasers.
 The big French door is my favorite!
The paint can suggest conditioning the painted chalkboard surface by rubbing the side of the chalk over the whole thing and then erasing it. The surface can be washed too.
I used Rust-Oleum brand chalkboard paint in Black Flat. Chalkboard Paint can be used to create a usable chalkboard surface on metal, wood, masonry, drywall, plaster, glass, concrete, unglazed ceramic and hardboard surfaces that can be written upon and erased cleanly. This latex-base paint is easy to clean and is formulated to withstand the rigors of daily use.


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Author Interview and Free Chapter from Davis Bunn

About Book of Dreams   
For Dr. Elena Burroughs, life is divided into two chapters—before and after the death of her husband. Today marks the point that her span of being a wife is equal to her span of being a widow. Even her success as a psychologist and her worldwide acclaim for a book on the interpretation of dreams is dimmed by an unspoken “If only.”
Then a new patient arrives, one so private only her first name is given. Impeccably dressed and escorted by two bodyguards, Sandra recounts a frightening series of recurrent nightmares. Elena agrees to consider her case more carefully, convinced that something ominous may be at work here.
Elena’s interpretation of Sandra’s dreams confirms that, indeed, the new patient and her family confront a powerful global network of dangerous forces. As the story unfolds, they face a key question of the Christian life: How do you understand and fulfill the will of God?
Read the first chapter of the book online for FREE: Chapter 1
About the Author 
Davis Bunn did his undergraduate studies at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, where he earned honors degrees in both economics and psychology. He then travelled to London, where he continued this dual approach, earning a Master of Science degree in both industrial psychology and international economics. After teaching at a Swiss university for a year, he entered into a business career that took him to more than 40 countries in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.
Davis came to faith at age 28, and began writing two weeks later. Before that point, he had never written anything longer than a business report. He wrote for nine years and completed seven novels before the first was accepted for publication. That book was The Presence, released by Bethany House in 1991. Davis and his wife, Isabella, make their home in Florida for some of each year, and spend the rest near Oxford, England, where they each teach and write. Visit Davis at

Q & A with Davis Bunn
Your novels usually have a very strong sense of place, and Book of Dreams is no exception. Why did you set this story in Oxford? 

When it became possible for us to live from the writing, Isabella and I moved to Oxford. She had been offered a position to do her doctorate here in Christian ethics and law.
I did not particularly want to come, but she was so instrumental in making my own dreams of becoming a writer take wing and fly. Her dream for years had been to obtain her PhD and teach. That’s just the kind of mind she has.

The city and the university have become a true gift to us both, with amazing opportunities for service and personal growth. I have wanted to place a story here for a long time.

In Book of Dreams, you revisit a theme from one of your earlier books, The Warning. Why did you write about the crisis in the banking industry?

The Warning, published in 2003, focused on the then-current financial crisis. It was about a man who felt called by God to warn people that financial upheaval was coming, and the difficulties he had in getting his message across. That book was in the top five on the CBA (Christian Booksellers Association) best-seller list for 14 months.

 The week I started writing Book of Dreams, the news broke that not one single banker responsible for the mortgage crisis and bank crisis had been convicted of a crime. The banking industry came out of this crisis relatively unscathed while 3 million American families lost their homes — that’s almost 15 percent of all homeowners in America. That, to me, is just not right.
The banking industry is all about self-interest and making money. The American banking industry spends $1 million a day lobbying Congress, while the international banking industry spends another million per day lobbying the American political system. With that much money on the table, there’s a potential for huge profits – the banking industry wouldn’t invest that much money for any other reason.
The question became: “What could happen that would stymie this self-absorbed lobbying?”
The answer: An independent commission that would oversee these transactions so there’d be nowhere for these people to hide. I built Book of Dreams around that premise.

Book of Dreams explores the question: “Where does the human psyche end and God begin?” Why did you choose that question as the framework for your story?

Psychology has always fascinated me; so much so that it almost became my profession. One question I love to explore is why so many psychologists are vehemently opposed to the idea of a personal faith.
Those in the camp opposed to faith and religion say that psychology is about wrestling with and identifying personal issues, emotions, and things from the past that block one from being happy. Opponents believe that when you insert faith into the situation, it serves as an excuse for not looking at the past, not being honest about one’s emotions, and not taking control of one’s life.
On the other side, there is a deepening within a group of psychologists and psychiatrists who are strong in their faith. Rather than trying to convince the larger group about the value of faith, their goal is to look at things honestly, with God and prayer as components of the healing process.
In my story, the main character, Elena Burroughs, is the world’s foremost authority on dreams. A psychologist who is deeply involved in current trends in human psychology, Elena is also a devoted believer. She is in the process of discovering that the barrier between God and the human psyche does not exist.

Your story explores how God uses dreams and visions to communicate with people. What inspired that idea?

My wife and I did a wonderful Bible study on the book of Daniel, in which we explored how dreams were one component of Daniel’s gift of prophecy.

When I wrote the book, I tried to build in two key components about communicating with God through dreams or visions. The first is humility. Rather than using a vision or dream for one’s own aggrandizement, I believe that the less the person is involved, the more God can shine through.
The second component is, “How does this vision tie in to the scriptures?” When I was in the Middle East, I saw beautiful cryptograms of the Lord’s Prayer. It was so telling to see the Lord’s Prayer in terms of artwork. This inspired the idea of a book written in Aramaic – the language Jesus spoke – with each verse of Lord’s Prayer on one page of the book.
As I drafted the story, I looked at the Lord’s Prayer one verse at a time and that became my prayer time. It took three months to write the book and I did not finish the Lord’s Prayer in three months. It was a beautiful experience for me.

When the character of Elena follows God’s lead, her life takes a different path than the one she planned or expected. Davis, in what ways does your own dependence on God’s leading take you in surprising directions? 

It’s remarkable how this question comes up now, because it seems like this entire year has been one of being open to God’s OTHER direction. This has been true both in my creative work and in my walk of service.

Obviously I had no idea what was in store for us when I wrote the Book of Dreams (remember, the story is completed between nine and twelve months before its publication). But this really has been a reflection of what the story has tried to reveal – that sometimes the most important gift is what at first is what we fear.
Change often feels threatening, but so long as we struggle, we can’t see the true divine intention. To arrive at this point, where our prayer becomes one of genuinely seeking God’s call and His illumination, we must first embrace the change that is there in front of us.
Is a sequel for Book of Dreams planned? If so, when can we expect it?

I am this very moment completing the sequel, which is entitled Hidden in Dreams. Howard/Simon and Schuster have this slated for release in July 2012.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

My website, blog, and interactive discussion group are at
I update my blog at least three times per week. To subscribe to my latest posts via your feed reader or via email, click
Twitter: @davisbunn –

Book Review – Book of Dreams by Davis Bunn

Have you ever had a recurring dream? Imagine if you shared a dream with another person whom you had never met? The world of dreams is mysterious and difficult to comprehend, but there are some who attempt to interpret dreams.

In Book of Dreams, Dr. Elena Burroughs, a young widow who is a psychologist at Oxford University, was known as a foremost authority on dreams. Her best-selling book titled The Book of Dreams had sold millions of copies and she made numerous speaking appearances at sold-out events until she lost her husband.

Elena hides in the mundane work of clinical appointments until she receives a referral for a high profile client with an unusual recurring dream. Around the same time, she received a set of copies of a book that is hundreds of years old. The instruction with the books—study one page until it speaks to you. The gilded vellum pages of the books, or plates, contained the words of the Lords Prayer in Aramaic. 

Through the divine power revealed in the ancient book, Elena begins an exciting journey that puts her at the center of an international conspiracy. When she begins to share the dream of several others, their worlds collide in such a way to bring them together for the sake of a cause that will forever bond them.

Davis Bunn has once again created an action-packed fantasy that weaves together scriptural principles with the art of fiction to create a moving story of God’s power. It’s the story of emotional healing for a women consumed by grief as well as a demonstration of how God can work all things out for his glory. At the cost of losing it all, one American Ambassador and a financial advisor to Rome hold fast to their integrity. And they nearly do lose it all. I like how this book can inspire leaders and politicians to take risks to stand up for what is right. It inspires with the message that God is still in control, even when it seems like all is lost.

Some readers might have a difficult time with the fantasy aspects of the book. As with many authors in this genre, Davis Bunn has a fantastic imagination and he takes the reader on an adventure of the mind. It’s important to remember that it’s fiction. If there is any lesson to be learned from the book, it isn’t about any theology related to these supernatural events. It’s from the idea that readers, like Elena, can discover that a life fully surrendered to the will of God is a life worth living.

I think both men and women will enjoy this book, and I can totally see it as a movie.

I received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes from the publicist.

Watch for Q&A with the author plus a free sample chapter from the book on tomorrow’s post.