Feb 27, 2014

Christmas Critter Felt Along

It's time to share my February Christmas ornaments over at the Christmas Critter Felt Along Link Party hosted by Dawn of Creative Cain Cabin and Claudia of Mockingbird Hill Cottage.

February's Ornaments

Each month Dawn and Claudia post two new critter patterns for us to download and host a link party to share our finished ornaments. It's a fun and easy project to do while watching television, and next December I'll have 24 cute handmade Christmas ornaments to hang on my woodland tree.

It's not too late to join in the fun!

Feb 25, 2014

New Kitchen Bar Stools

I was organizing some of my photos from December today and realized I never shared our bar stools for our new kitchen with you. We hunted far and wide for the perfect bar stools last fall and then literally found them right under our noses.

We loved the looks of the industrial style metal bar stools we've been seeing everywhere lately, but they just weren't very comfortable to us.

And we thought we wanted backs on our bar stools, too, until we realized those were hard to turn around in if they didn't swivel just right.


So we sat on a lot of bar stools in a lot of stores and were starting to feel a bit like Goldilocks. Nothing we sat on felt just right.

We hadn't considered this style at all until we happened to sit on them at a shop counter while looking at tables in the shop's furniture catalog. All of a sudden we realized they were cushier and comfier than any other bar stools we'd tried.

They were just right!

We asked if they were for sale, and it turned out they are the store's best selling item. The factory that manufactures them in California was in the process of moving, so we had to wait a while, but they came just in time for Christmas. We really love them. They're solidly built out of hardwood, nice and heavy, with top grain leather seats.


You'll probably laugh, but I was thinking about painting the wood legs with white chalk paint and antiquing the nail heads with rub n buff. When I mentioned it at dinner the night the bar stools arrived my family shouted, "NO!" in unison! I'm glad they did because now I like them just the way they are.

Scared 'em, though! 

Note: I have received a few requests about where our bar stools were purchased. We ordered them from a locally owned shop called Renditions here in Boise. Their website can be found here. I have also seen very similar ones in the Grandin Road catalog and at their website here. Happy shopping!

It's a great day for a party!

Mod Vintage Life 
Cozy Little House 
A Stroll Through Life 
The Scoop 
Elizabeth & Co. 
Our Home Away From Home 
Savvy Southern Style 
From My Front Porch To Yours


Feb 21, 2014

Friday Finds

I hope everyone has had a great week!

Tucker and I have been enjoying our walks around one of the big beautiful Boise parks downtown that's opened to off leash dogs only during the winter. You can see from Tuck's big smile how much he loves it! After a splash in the icy river and tossing the ball around he took a snooze on his bed, while I snuggled up on the sofa this afternoon to share some Friday Finds with you. 

This little chair bought at auction by Angie from Knick Of Time really speaks to my farmhouse design aesthetic. I love the aged patina of the original wood finish and the grain sack-covered seat that Angie made and stenciled to cover the old damaged caning.

At Practically Perfect Home Lisa raided her husband's office for this little nightstand to paint. I admire how some (very talented) people can experiment with paint as they work and come up with such happy endings! 

Zefi at Junk 4 Joy made this rusty old crown (that isn't old at all) from a new tin can. I MUST have one (or ten) of these!

Julie's husband over at EAB Designs disappeared into his shop for a while to design and make her this handy wooden pom pom making tool. That's just so romantic (as in a crafty woman, hey girl, kind of romantic.) I'm pretty sure I could bury myself in pom poms, and my husband wouldn't notice!

At Shabby Love Melissa made these little cement stars with an industrial vibe. I think they're so cute in this wooden basket, and I can picture them in many different vignettes. Hop on over to Melissa's blog to see how to make them, a super fun project!

Only Gail from My Repurposed Life could work her magic on an old dresser and come up with this absolutely adorable and practical children's Lego table. The top of the table opens for storage, as well as the little benches that tuck underneath. SO creative!

Jody and Stan always have something pretty going on at Rooted In Thyme. Jody thought up some wonderful kitchen garden baskets to make for her friends. Isn't this the best gift idea?

Garden Gate eNotes shows how to use milk jugs as mini green houses for sprouting spring seedlings, even in the snow. I'll be giving this money-saving tip a try!

I think I moaned out loud when I saw Yvonne's slow cooker braised short ribs over at Stone Gable. These look SO delicious, and wait till you see how easy they are to make!


If you like cinnamon rolls and cheesecake, hold onto your hat for this Friday Find! Winnie at Something Sweet has shared a wonderful recipe for cheesecake with cinnamon dough balls. Oh my!  

That wraps up today's finds. I hope you have a great weekend!


Feb 19, 2014

A Sweet Suggestion Of Spring For The Guest Room

Here in Idaho the grizzly bears are snug asleep in their warm dens until spring, and every winter around this time I find myself thinking they're awfully smart and wanting to join them. I've had an instinctual desire to curl up in bed under a pile of warm blankets and read a good book.

Until next spring. 

  I haven't been completely lazy this past week, tough. 

We have plans for buying (or making) a headboard for our guest bedroom later this year, but until my winter hibernation is over I thought some easy and inexpensive artwork would make the wall above the bed look less bare. 

 A couple of weeks ago I made five photo clipboards for my family room and shared the tutorial here. I only used three of the clipboards in the family room and had two left over.

 These clipboards are so versatile, I can really use them almost anywhere. It's easy to change the art with the little clothes pins.

And there is so much beautiful artwork available online you can print right at home.

I found these charming birds as a free download at Sweet Nothings and printed them onto some card stock.

A sweet little suggestion of spring for the den, I mean, guest room.

Now, where was my book?

Feb 10, 2014

The Story Behind My Food Allergy Test

I had a hiccup with this blog post over the weekend, and you may be seeing it for a second time around. I apologize if I've inconvenienced anyone. 

I’m beginning a three week food allergy test this morning that I’m really excited about, so today’s post is a little different than what you’re used to reading on my blog. It’s a bit odd I guess, but I awoke at 4 AM this morning filled with hope and an overwhelming desire to share this story 
with all of you.

It’s important to me that you know this post is based on my opinions. My opinions come from things I’ve researched and learned, but also on my own experiences and my life.  I’m not an expert, and I’m not recommending any course of action for you other than to read. I’m simply sharing my story. 


Well, about fifteen years ago I became sick with a fairly common autoimmune illness that’s been getting progressively worse in spite of traditional drug treatment, and new scientific research is giving me hope that I might be able to improve my condition. 

I found out it’s estimated over twenty million Americans are now suffering from autoimmune diseases.  Autoimmune disease is an umbrella term for many illnesses, including rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, type I diabetes, celiac disease, and a very long list of others.

Something alarming is going on here, and I think it’s worth writing about it.

I was about 45 years old when I got sick with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. That’s a not uncommon condition for middle-aged women in which the autoimmune system destroys our thyroid. My doctor said it was no big deal and I just needed to take a little pill every day to replace what my thyroid used to do. But it turns out it really was a big deal, because my thyroid disease was the tip of an ice berg of an autoimmune disease that would effect my whole life, not just my thyroid, over the next 15 years. 

The purpose of a healthy immune system is to protect the body from illness by attacking invaders, like cold and flu bugs. It sends out fighter cells to rid us of those invaders. The “fight” between the immune system cells and invader cells causes inflammation in our tissues, and that inflammation is what causes achy muscles and joints when you have the cold or flu. With a healthy immune system, the inflammation is temporary and a good thing. 

 The traditional theory explained to me by my doctor about autoimmune disease is that the immune system for some unknown reason becomes over protective and mistakes the body’s own cells for invaders. So, in my case, my immune system destroyed my healthy thyroid because it mistook it for invading cells.  That was the beginning of a 15 year long “fight” going on in my body between my overactive immune system cells attacking make-believe invader cells. The battle causes a constant inflammation that makes me feel like I have the flu everyday and that has damaged my joints and tissues. 

The traditional way to treat autoimmune diseases is to suppress the immune system to decrease the inflammation. The problem with this is that by suppressing the immune system to not attack healthy cells, it may also no longer adequately protect us against bad cells, like cancer. Which is why in the ads for the immune system suppressants, you hear all those warnings about the possibility of increased infections and other illnesses. I can’t afford that drug anyway, so I just take Ibuprofen to reduce the inflammation and pain. I take lots and lots of it. Every single day. 

You may have noticed in your own dealings with the medical community that the traditional way to approach illness in our country is to treat the symptoms. For instance, I had thyroid disease, so it was treated with synthetic thyroid hormone and Ibuprofen. No one ever talked about trying to cure it. There was some “unknown reason” women’s immune systems went whacky, but finding out why or trying to cure it wasn’t ever an option given to me. Treatment with drugs was.

In the past ten years or so, there is a new kind of doctor in the medical community, called a functional doctor. These doctors don’t just treat disease symptoms; they also look for causes and cures. They’ve been studying autoimmune diseases from a new angle, and there is now scientific evidence that immune systems haven’t been going whacky and making mistakes attacking our own healthy bodies for unknown reasons. Our immune systems have been doing exactly what they’re designed to do, trying to keep us healthy by attacking real honest to goodness unhealthy invaders that no one had discovered yet.

But what kind of unhealthy invaders could be attacking over twenty million immune systems?

Research is showing that for many of us, our immune systems are attacking the FOOD we’re eating. Surprising and scary, right? I know what good nutrition is and have always fed my family a balanced diet of what I thought were healthy whole grains, vegetables, fruit, protein and fats, but our immune systems don’t seem to recognize much of our typical American food from the corner grocery store as food anymore. Not everyone is affected, of course, but twenty million Americans is certainly cause for concern. 

Food is not always the only culprit in some autoimmune disease. Stress seems to be a trigger that pushes some immune systems beyond their limits and into rejection. I had been a very healthy woman until I suddenly got autoimmune disease. But at that time I was also a full time senior in college beginning an extremely stressful internship while keeping house and raising two little girls. I loved all of it, but it might have been a bit too much for my body.  

The test I’m starting today is a three week long food allergy test. It’s a pretty simple test with no trips to an allergist or needle pricks. I’m just removing gluten, corn, soy, and dairy (common problem foods) from my diet for three weeks, and then I’ll reintroduce each food one at a time and see if my body has any negative reaction to each one. The theory on which the test is based is that my digestive system has been damaged by the food I eat, and my immune system is overwhelmed by that damage, as well as by some of the food itself. First, my digestive system will begin to heal and become stronger, and then the test will help me identify which foods I'm sensitive to and can stop eating permanently to hopefully reduce the inflammation and damage in my tissues and joints from my immune system rejecting them. 

I’m now hopeful that armed with this new scientific evidence I can treat my disease through a healthy diet. I will always have to take synthetic thyroid hormone because my thyroid gland is damaged beyond repair, but I'm hoping to reduce my other symptoms so I can stop taking Ibuprofen to manage my pain. Research is showing that people in early stages of autoimmune disease may be able to heal the tissue damage to their bodies, though, and even be cured.

It’s too late for me, but not for everyone. And that’s why I’m writing this blog post and telling my story. 

So many young children today suffer from allergies that were rare when I was a child. Could it be the first signs of their young immune systems rejecting the food they’re eating? Are we gambling with our children’s future health by continuing to trust that the people who provide our food know what’s best for our bodies and have our best interests at heart? 

It’s not easy to purchase healthy food in our country because our government doesn’t ban from grocery store shelves genetically modified foods and additives that science has proven to be unhealthy, nor does it require labels. In the United States you have to work hard at eating healthy, and you have to be vigilant. 

 Americans typically spend a smaller percentage of the family income on food than is spent in many other countries where genetically modified food and harmful additives are banned. Healthy food often simply takes more effort and costs more to produce. Can Americans give up their cable TV or a vacation or a smartphone to spend the money on healthy organic non-GMO food for their families? 

 Should they?  

 Is it worth it?

I can only answer for myself. If I’d only known when they were little, I’d have gladly taken the time, gone without, and spent the money on healthy food for the chance to protect 
my young daughters from a possibility of future autoimmune disease. 

My own girls, all grown up.

  Thank you so much for reading my story. I hope you find it helpful when choosing a healthy diet for your own family.

And to my daughters: I wish I’d known, and I love you!

{Note: For the science, rather than my opinion, behind what’s been happening to our food over the past fifty years and how our bodies aren’t coping with it, I recommend The Immune System Recovery Plan by Susan Blum, M.D., M.P.H. and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.}