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The content in this blog has merged from TrashtoTreasureDecorating.com and from FaithCreativityLife.com. Updates and content are still being migrated. Watch for more updates to come soon!

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Fall Trash to Treasure Decorations

Before the snow flurries arrived in northern Wisconsin, which was ridiculously early this year, I decorated with some repurposed finds. I made some pumpkins from old books, and painted a pie tin with chalkboard paint.

It’s hard to see, but that Sedum is growing out of an old oil can. I filled an old milk delivery cooler with fall blossoms from a bush that needed pruning.

 The rusty wheelbarrow holds mums in an enamelware bathtub.

An aluminum teapot filled with the remaining summer flowers.

I filled an enamelware pot with fall blossoms. The pumpkin books are easy to make when you tear the binding off an old book, and round the corners of the pages. I fluffed and ruffled them to get the dimension, and to make it stand better.

I love the candle holder that fits in a wine bottle, or in this case an olive oil bottle. It’s a great way to repurpose an old bottle.

Have a happy repurposed and upcycled fall!

Michelle

Trash to Treasure Decorating

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When Life Hands You Crumbs…

I saw this basket of cookies at a place called Mana Sushi Teriyaki Wok in Port Orchard, Washington and it made me smile. The “misfortunate” cookies are broken fortune cookies wrapped in plastic.

Isn’t that a perfect example of what we can do when life hands us crumbs? We can choose to get upset, feel discouraged, or quit. Or, we can turn it around into something clever.

That’s a #repurposed and #upcycled life!

How Many States Have You Visited?

Have you ever calculated how much of the United States you have visited? I just returned from a long road trip, and thought it would be fun to do the math. I’m not certain if I traveled through additional states as a child, but these are the states I have visited as an adult.

Someday, I will visit the East Coast!



Create Your Own Visited States Map

How about you? Where have you traveled?

I’m So Sorry for Your Loss…

Have you ever wondered what to say when someone has just experienced the death of a loved one? I’m not even sure what I would want someone to say to me, but here are some well-worn lines that often come to mind when words elude me:

  • I’m holding you in my thoughts and prayers.
  • We’re praying for you at this time of great sadness.
  • I’m so sorry for your loss. 
Worn out phrases, but heartfelt, I promise!
That leads me to wonder; just how do the ones left behind express their experience to others? How can they begin to capture and describe the life-changing event?
  • My daughter passed away…
  • My mother went to be with the Lord after a long battler with cancer…
  • I lost my husband last year…
I once heard a well-meaning pastor give his analysis of that last phrase. His response to a widow who used that very expression was, “Oh, did you misplace him? He isn’t lost! He has gone on ahead of you, but he isn’t lost if he knew Jesus.” 
He explained how we ought to avoid expressions that refer to death as a loss, and instead we should look for alternatives to express our sympathy.
An attempt at lightheartedness, I guess. No malice intended whatsoever. But…
I’ve thought about this often. He meant well, but I have to wholeheartedly disagree. After watching several close friends and family go through the painful process of outliving a loved one, I can’t think of a better thing to say. 
I’m an outsider looking in. So, I could be completely off-kilter with my observations. However, death is a loss. Yes, I have hope knowing the truth of what the Bible says about eternal life. I know exactly where Jesus-followers go after they die. Of course, they aren’t misplaced. 
But for the ones left behind, it’s still a loss.
Death is a loss of communication. It’s the end of conversations and tender words.
It’s the loss of daily phone calls to mothers and sisters, and friends. Fathers, brothers, and sons. 
It’s the loss of dishes done side-by-side and glances across steaming coffee cups and warm apple crisp.
It’s the loss of mundane banter about weather and politics, newspaper articles, and reality TV shows.
It’s the loss of potential resolution for tangled up relationships and harsh words.
It’s the loss of possible restitution and redemption. For wrongs to be righted. For restoration.
For many it’s the loss of the other half. The part so entwined with our own selves we can’t tell where one begins and the other leaves off. 
It’s the loss of future road trips, laughter, and family reunions. 
The absence of knowing smiles. 
The loss of plans. 
It is a loss. 
Let’s call it like it is. When someone dies, we suffer a terrible loss. But in the midst of it, we have great hope. And that calm assurance is what makes the loss bearable. 
It’s what makes it possible to smile even when everything is shaken. When hearts are broken. When we’re torn up inside.
In the midst of the great emptiness of loss, there is also great possibility. For it is when we are the most empty we have room for God’s love and hope to fill the void.
If you’ve lost someone dear to you, I can’t begin to fully understand. I’m guessing you don’t understand it all either. I care. I might not say the right things at all. But please know my heart breaks for you as you discover new losses each day. I’m so sorry for your loss.

Scouting for Junk in Princeton, Wisconsin – What Fun!

I attended a family reunion this summer near Princeton, Wisconsin. The town hosts a flea market every Saturday all summer, and crowds flock from miles around to the town square for the weekly festivities.

Venders sell their crafts and fresh produce while shoppers wander the jagged aisles looking for treasure. But Princeton visitors don’t need to wait for Saturdays to come around to find some fantastic treasures.

I stopped in at two neighboring shops on the main thoroughfare through town and found a heap of fun stuff I would have bought if I had unlimited funds. If you’re ever in Priceton, Wisconsin, I highly recommend you check out these two shops.

The first one is Needful Things. Check out Debi’s Needful Things on Facebook to see more pictures of the wonderful projects in progress at the shop.


I love the whimsical style of the inventory of this shop. The hand-painting is one-of-a-kind.

When I stopped in, this piece was in progress, and now it’s finished:

I want it!
The other shop I checked out was one I stopped at several years ago when I was in the area. Huser Daddy Antiques has made some great improvements at the shop. I loved it before, but now there were some cool brightly painted items and the pile of treasures outside has been organized and arranged. Love the changes! Find out more about the shop at the Facebook page for Huser Daddy Antiques and have fun looking through the photos. 

If only I had unlimited funds….
What fun it is to stop in local resale shops. The next time you’re exploring Wisconsin, be sure to check out Princeton…any day of the week. But especially on flea market Saturdays. 
Thanks to the shop owners for letting me scout around. I’ll be back again, for sure!
Michelle

Trash to Treasure Decorating
View the full post at http://www.trashtotreasuredecorating.com

The Christian Chick’s Guide to Surviving Divorce

The Christian Chick’s Guide to Surviving Divorce:
What your Girlfriends Would Tell You if They Knew What to Say

Imagine you are newly divorced, or have just been served papers. You are a solid Christian and never imagined you’d find yourself in this position. What do you do next? Where do you turn for help? Now, imagine you walk into a Christian bookstore hoping to find something that would help you. You hope no one sees the tears on your face, so you keep your head down. You don’t want the world’s version of coping with divorce, and you hope you can find something here…

This is exactly what happened to author Suzanne Reeves. She says she didn’t want “the usual version of surviving divorce—have a glass of wine, slash his tires, head to Jamaica, and party like you did in college. I needed godly advice from a woman who had walked in my shoes and lived to tell about it.”

Suzanne wants to share hope with other women who are just where she was. She’s lived to tell about it, and she wants to encourage other women going through divorce. The Christian Chick’s Guide to Surviving Divorce is the book to give a friend who needs help processing the pain, praising God in the midst of the storm, learning how to forgive, and moving forward. She addresses how to learn from the pain and grow into a better person from the experience of divorce. Instead of bitterness, she urges her readers to be teachable.

One of the most important topics this book addresses is that of children. Suzanne’s biggest piece of advice is, “You must love your children more than you hate your spouse.” Hurt, anger, bitterness, and sorrow over the betrayal doesn’t need to become the pain of the children as well.

The other important topic this book addresses that many won’t is how to reconcile divorce with being a Christian. Suzanne talks about going to Bible study and asking for prayer, and wondering in her heart if she would have to break her own beliefs about divorce. It wasn’t what she wanted, and she struggled with coming to terms with that loss. This book addresses divorce from a Christian perspective, with solid advice based on what scripture says about God’s love and mercy.



The book also addresses some practical questions that many hope they never have to face. What do you do with the rings? What happens with mutual friends? What happens when ‘your song’ comes on the radio?

The author’s raw honesty, conversational style, and her ability to find humor in her experiences make this book read like a letter from a dear friend who understands. Suzanne has repurposed her own pain into coaching other women through the emotional struggle, shame, and discouragement of divorce to find the courage to move forward.

Find Suzanne on Facebook.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author for my objective review. I also wrote an endorsement for the book. 

All My Belongings: A Book Review

Many Christian authors are off at the International Christian Retail Show (ICRS) this week, hobnobbing with all the names in Christian writing. Which means, it’s the perfect ‘cat’s away, mice will play’ opportunity for us to talk about their books, post a bunch of praise on social media, and stir up some new readers for them. Did I lose you at hobnob? Sorry. I love goofy words.

Author Cynthia Ruchti is among those happy ICRS hobnobbers, and I’d love to tell you about her new book, All My Belongings. It’s won a couple of awards recently, including a first place Golden Scroll Award from the Christian Author’s Network just this week. So, while she’s off collecting awards, let me tell you about her book.

Back Cover:

Where do you turn when changing your name doesn’t give you the anonymity you want? When running hundreds of miles away isn’t far enough? When you search for a place to belong lands you right back where you began? 

One phone call destroys all the hope Becca Morrow has for a life beyond the shame of her past. Further discredited by the death of her elderly, ailing patient—the mother of the influential businessman, Isaac Hughes—Becca’s new life is shattered and her longing for love slips away. Working to clear her name, Becca must learn to see the beauty in the ugliness of dying , to accept the tenderness in forgiveness, and—at last—discover that where she belongs isn’t as much about her family history as it is about her faith in the One to whom she’ll always belong.



My Review
All My Belongings is about forgiveness, the longing to belong, the beauty of being loved, and the wonder of godly friendships. But the thread that ties it all together is healing from a painful past. Becca, the main character has suffered from loneliness and rejection embodied by her comment, “Sometimes parents give you away, but they make you stay.” In the midst of loneliness from a painful relationship with her parents, and the fallout of her father’s “occupation” as a Kevorkian-like mercy killer, Becca has found a dear friend, Geneva, who has taken a mother-like role in her life.

As Becca’s friend Geneva helps her change her name, relocate, and find work caring for one of Geneva’s relatives, Becca begins to open up a little about the pain she has experienced. She carries few belongings, but much emotional baggage when she moves across the country to start over. Why the name change? She doesn’t want people to know of her connection to her now imprisoned father, a connection that stands in the way of her desire to become a nurse. Without giving away the plot, I can summarize the rest of the book by saying it’s an adventure in caretaking accompanied by new friendships, a shot at finding love—at last, and some bumps in the road to starting over.

How’s that for summarizing more than 300 pages in a paragraph or two? Speaking of plot, let me tell you what I liked without giving it away. When Geneva meets Geneva’s handsome nephew, Isaac, I had more than a sneaking suspicion of where the book was going, and I thought it odd that the foreshadowing of the ending would be so strong in the first third of the book.

Wrong! Just about the time I had the ending of the book all planned out, an unexpected twist caught me off guard. Halfway through the book, it seemed as if the whole story was wrapping up, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Again.

A whole new development led to several additional twists that kept me riveted to the plot. And near the end, when I again figured the story was winding down, and additional twist made this stand out from other fiction. 

Many stories end with a happily ever after and leave readers with an unrealistic picture of life and relationships. In this book, the author ventures headfirst into confronting the pain of the past, rather than smoothing on some icing and calling it cake. Again, I can’t explain what exactly this means for Becca without giving away the plot, but let’s just say that she learns what real sacrifice and real forgiveness look like.

The realistic solutions to some of life’s nasty problems make this book stand out from other fluffy fiction. There’s nothing fluffy in true forgiveness and sweet freedom from regret. Ruchti engages the reader with a touch of humor and a delightful writing voice. Her unconventional—and not the least bit cliché—descriptions will satisfy the reader who enjoys a more literary style. I highly recommend the book, and Ruchti’s other books.


7 Elements of a Great Nonfiction Book Proposal: A Guest Post from Nick at Grammarly


Today,we have a guest post from Nikolas Baron at Grammarly. Not sure what Grammarly is? Watch for a review post coming soon. In the meantime, if you’ve ever thought about writing a nonfiction book, you’ll find Nick’s guest post below helpful.


7 Elements of a Great Nonfiction Book Proposal

Writing a nonfiction book isn’t as simple as sitting down to the typewriter, pounding out two- or three-hundred pages of brilliant work, sending it off to a publisher, and waiting for the checks to start rolling in. In fact, most nonfiction books aren’t written until the idea is sold to a potential publisher. The book is sold on the strength of a book proposal. The book proposal greatly streamlines the writing process, allowing the editor to make any required structural changes early, before the author has invested a great deal of time and effort into the writing.

The book proposal is the author’s opportunity to sell the idea of the book to the publisher. Proper spelling, punctuation, and grammar are critical, as the proposal presents the publisher with not only the idea and details of the potential book, but also a sample of the author’s writing skill. A quality proofreading software should be used to go over the proposal with a fine-toothed comb before submission, to help ensure that the presentation is of the highest quality, increasing the chances of acceptance.

There are as many opinions as to formatting, order, and parts of a book proposal as there are blogs and books on writing, but most agree that there are seven basic elements to the average book proposal. Formatting is generally accepted as double-spaced, in a 12-point classic, easy-to-read font like Times New Roman.

1) The Cover Letter
The cover letter should include a very brief but compelling selling point, also known as a “hook”. The query letter is the writer’s chance to present the editor with the “elevator pitch”. Imagine stepping into an elevator with an editor, and having only a few floors’ ride in which to sell him or her on an idea. There is no need for extensive detail, but a few compelling statistics or other points should be included if applicable.


2) The Title Page 
The title page should include a paragraph strengthening the sales pitch, along with an approximate estimated word count of the finished manuscript. The title itself should be brief, informative, and attention-getting. Unique, one- to two-word titles are usually best, depending on the subject matter.


3) Synopsis
The synopsis gives an opportunity to expand upon the subject matter, but should cover no more than two single-spaced pages. This is the author’s opportunity to delve deeper into the subject matter and sell the book based upon the more detailed points.


4) Author Information
The author biography is not a history or resume. The focus needs to be on the sale – this time, the sale of the author themselves. This is the opportunity for the author to highlight expertise, blogging experience, number of followers reached, speaking engagements, or other selling points. Years of experience as an expert in a particular field, consulting work, or a blog which has a solid following and daily unique view counts in the upper thousands are examples of strong points for a bio. Personal experiences that don’t include professional expertise, or plans to blog are irrelevant, unless the personal experience is extremely unique and interesting, or relevant to a wide audience.


5) Market and competition 
The writer needs to demonstrate knowledge and familiarity with the audience to reassure the publisher that he or she understands the potential reader. The marketing section should contain research and statistics on the market, as well as a brief synopsis of 3-5 competing titles, with a brief explanation of the differences in the proposed book.


6) Table of Contents and Chapter Outline
This section lays out the blueprints for the book so that the editor can get an idea of how the ideas will be presented and in which order the information will be laid out in the finished book. Each chapter should be represented by a paragraph detailing the major points to be covered.


7) Sample Chapters
Typically, three sample chapters are included with the proposal to give the editor a “taste” of the book and provide proof of concept that the writer is, indeed, capable of producing quality work. Three chapters are usually a sufficient number for the editor to get a feel for the writing.


Bio: Nikolas discovered his love for the written word in Elementary School, where he started spending his afternoons sprawled across the living room floor devouring one Marc Brown children’s novel after the other and writing short stories about daring pirate adventures. After acquiring some experience in various marketing, business development, and hiring roles at internet startups in a few different countries, he decided to re-unite his professional life with his childhood passions by joining Grammarly’s marketing team in San Francisco. He has the pleasure of being tasked with talking to writers, bloggers, teachers, and others about how they use Grammarly’s online proofreading application to improve their writing. His free time is spent biking, traveling, and reading.



Tips for Decorating with Yard Sale Finds

I recently wrote a piece for Queen of the Castle Magazine titled “Upscale Junk: Tips for Decorating with Yard Sale Finds.” I thought I would share with my T2T readers. 


Flip over to page 54 to read my article, but be sure to check out the rest of the magazine too. It has a lot of fun content. 

Michelle

Trash to Treasure Decorating
View the full post at http://www.trashtotreasuredecorating.com