DIY: Chalkboard Table {For Kids & Adults}

This little table was so easy to make. It barely cost me any money at all. For one, I found the table on the side of the road. So, it was free. If you are looking to make homemade furniture, sometimes checking at various dumpsters is the way to go.

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I would also suggest going to thrift stores like Goodwill for some cute, inexpensive furniture. You can find real gems at places like that. Though, the top of this table was weathered, it did not matter (because I was going to paint over it anyway!).

All you need to do is purchase chalkboard paint for this little craft. You can get this at any craft store for about $6. Or you can buy it online, here.

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Chalkboard paint is super easy to use. Benjamin Moore has a good little instructional write-up on just how you should use this type of paint.

All I did was wash the weathered surface of the table. Let it dry and applied about 3 coats of this chalkboard paint. You want to apply about 2 coats and let the table dry for about an hour and then apply your last coat.

I let the entire table dry overnight before I attempted to draw anything on the surface with chalk. Somewhat skeptical of the promise of a functioning chalkboard, I was super surprised at how well this works.

Kids and adults will like this little table. For kids, they can really geat creative and draw pictures with multicolored chalk sticks. For adults, have a wine and cheese party – and label the cheeses with chalk on your little table. Or use it for an herb garden and outline the pots with chalk and/or label one.

You can even paint a wine bottle with the paint – and use it as a vase. Your choices are really endless. Have fun with this little project.

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Contemplating Gettysburg, War & Sacrifice

etty 3The air was thick yesterday at Gettysburg. It was a rainy, chilly day – maybe that contributed to the depth in the breeze or maybe not. Maybe just maybe it feels this way every day on the battlefield. After all, this farm pasture saw young and old men fall and take their last breaths. Terrified but out of duty, they fell and gave their all. This hollowed little town saw so much death, pain and blood.

Bus ride, museum ticket and movie – I was a tourist in my backyard. However, those things really did not do this battleground, now graveyard, justice. I learned so many facts and figures yesterday in my mini trip to this historic site. Though truly fascinating, these facts did not take away from the weightiness of the death. It was all around us.

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Rows of nameless stones lined the cemetery – buried with a number and no name. Chills. These nubs of white stones meant something to somebody. They represented a life, snuffed out too soon. Unidentified or just forgotten? I guess we will never know.

The picture of Abraham Lincoln standing in the middle of that eerie, lifeless cemetery is not only humbling, it’s heroic. It birthed a feeling of longing inside me – for a leader who cares about lives. Someone who cares about the ultimate sacrifice.

I could not help but think back to high school senior year of speech class to Robert Ingersoll’s solemn words from a speech addressed to the Memorial Day audience in 1866 in Dresden, New York:

“These heroes are dead. They died for liberty—they died for us. They are at rest. They sleep in the land they made free, under the flag they rendered stainless, under the solemn pines, the sad hemlocks, the tearful willows, the embracing vines. They sleep beneath the shadows of the clouds, careless alike of sunshine or storm, each in the windowless palace of rest. Earth may run red with other wars—they are at peace. In the midst of battles, in the roar of conflict, they found the serenity of death.”

These words, now etched into my memory, I recited in my head, walking through this solemn battleground. Relics of a past life and time. Dairies of brave men to their children, mothers and their wives. Eloquent words now encased in a shrine of remembrance. Words once thought in a living, breathing mind – now read, cherished and echoing in a new generation.

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I will forever remember this tour, this place. Tracing steps and paths of the past are significant. They make you realize the men that have sacrificed all – for some. America was birthed out of passion, sweat and blood lest we ever forget. And, the men and women who place their bodies, just flesh and blood houses, in the face of deep evil daily should be praised and respected.

Find A Nature Walk Near You

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Me and my puppy on a nature walk!

I have fallen head over heels in love with walking. But not just any walk – nature walks. There is something serene and absolutely beautiful about walking by a flowing creek or pathway of tiny rocks. Seeing squirrels scurry from tree to tree and hearing birds crisply chirp in the distance is awe inspiring.

Living in the city has really opened my eyes to the beauty in nature. It makes me miss the big open Texas skies and sunshine.

However, thank goodness for technology because there are certain websites and apps that can now help you locate beautiful places in your areas to walk/hike (even if your abode is in a high-rise in the middle of the city).

The American Heart Association has an awesome website: Start Walking Now. Just got to this website and you can enter in your current location and viola – there before your eyes are commonly walked paths with mileage numbers. Pretty great! You can select the intensity level along with the type of walk you would like to go on ie: mall, nature walk, airport…etc.

Trails.com is another good link. Simply choose your state and enter your city and limitless trails and bike paths pop up. It is super easy. You can even customize the website to whatever activity you enjoy the best like biking, hiking, rafting…etc.

Map My Walk is extremely easy to use as well. You can also get this on your phone! Again, just enter your state and city and trails pop up with distances. This interface is really easy to look at and it displays the current weather conditions for the day.

Adding a nature walk, even if it’s just for the weekends, is a great prescription for your health.

Walking in nature can have positive impacts on disposition and memory—researchers have found that students with moderate to severe depression demonstrated a significant increase in both mood and short-term memory after a walk through a natural setting, as compared to a walk through the city.

Also, natural elements like plants, trees, water and sunlight have been said to absorb negative energy.

Start walking in nature today. You really have nothing to lose.

The Night Communion Balcony

The sun sets over the big clunky buildings in the distance. No longer having the U.S. Capitol view I had grown accustomed of, I look at the lush trees framing the interstate. I traded in a city view for more space, longer commute and a balcony. Not a bad trade and on days like today I am so thankful for the change.

Forty-five minutes of yoga and a dog walk under my belt, and I am finally serene. After calming down from a mind laden with work worries, I sip on some red wine (compliments of Trader Joe’s) and think about life – the living breathing life. I think on the heart pumping life that grabs you by the hand and seizes your very lungs and soul.

Here on this balcony, there is no one to answer to. I am lost in my thoughts, in this moment, in this communion with God. My mind goes to him – my friend, my invisible observer, and I am captivated. To onlookers, I look alone and content. But, I can feel his presence near me.

Never alone. That is the title to a Lady Antebellum song. Yet, it is the mantra of a Christian’s life. How hopeful and superbly wonderful! As I listen to the sounds of the night and the last mocking birds chirping song, this provides my chest with much needed rest.

I inhale deeply and exhale in relief. I don’t have to live up to this world’s standards of success. I can just be me and be confident that I was made in the image of the Holy One. High heeled success does not match up to the victory of wearing a crown fashioned by the majestic God. Living up to the crown of honor is my mission.

My heart is wedded to the man who, even before birth, has called me his beloved. He brings peace to the chaotic. He makes sense of the messy and he recycles the scent of my mistakes into something glorious and utterly edifying.

Like broken bottles of oil, I want the fragrance of my soul to delight his heart. I pray the passion in every strand of my hair glows with an aura of the living God. In the silence, these are the thoughts that come to my mind. Outside in the breeze of the summer night, after hard work, I reflect.

What if the world took just a few minutes each day to reflect in the silence? It is said, your heart and mind drift to those who you hold most dear – those that consume that pumping, coveted space in your chest. Let us take time daily to reflect on living, loving and praising. Let’s reflect on life and it’s insanely beautiful purpose – to love God and others.

Where do you think your mind will wonder this evening?

10 ‘Facts of Life’ I Learned From My Mother

momMothers. They can frustrate you sometimes. But, face it – you will always love your mom. She is that friend that will never leave your side no matter how gross, dramatic or pathetic you may act.

I mean really, she changed your diapers and dealt with those sugar sporadic moments when you were in elementary (but, maybe that was her fault because she fed you sugar after all.)

However, at any rate – you love her and she loves you. And she has some good ideas from time to time. Just admit it. Here are some (just a few) ‘facts of life’ that my mom has taught me over my past 28 years of life. Sure she will teach me many more things as time progresses:

1. Add some mint to your unsweet iced tea. Yes, I said unsweet because sweet tea (though the epitome of southern charm) is loaded with sugar. Not only is this garnish girly, it adds a naturally sweet taste. What a great idea!

2. Never go out of the house without looking the best you possibly can. This is true. Like a genuine southern lady, hot rollers are used every morning. I don’t care if I have to add an extra 20 minutes to my morning routine. My hair will be big and look nice. {Ha- however, if it’s Saturday and you just have to wear jeans, T-shirt and a make-up free face, make sure you look put together}. I mean, c’mon ladies, how hard is it to wipe the mascara off from under your eyes and brush your hair!? Not hard at all.

3. Buy expensive flip-flops. Your feet are precious. Take care of them. If you have to spend some extra bucks on some shoes that have cushy soles – do it. Your back and body will thank you. No Walmart or Payless flat footed sandals (those are for the beach, so they can be thrown away). Buy some real, woman flip flops and wear them.

4. Don’t feel bad about getting a pedicure. You need to treat yourself in some way. Why not a pedicure? I used to feel so bad that someone was painting my toes for me; but, you pay for it. And, what better way to relax is there than sitting in a back massage chair and having your feet massaged and manicured?

5. Wear some type of spanx under your dresses, even if the dresses are not super tight. It does not matter if you weigh 2 lbs or 200 lbs, spanx are always needed. Period. Maxi dresses. Mini dresses. Wear them.

6. Sometimes you just have to cry. Don’t feel like a baby. As my mom would tell me when I was younger, let it out! It is not good to hold in and bottle up all those emotions. And for a puffy eye fix in the morning, cold tea bags work great. This girl speaks from experience.

7. Enjoy some good junk food from time to time. Don’t be so weight conscious that you can’t order some tasty French fries from McDonald’s (let’s be honest they have the best fries) and I am going with Arby’s to top the charts with the curly fries. Eat salads most days – but don’t hate yourself over sinking your teeth in a burger from time to time.

8. Hug long and hug often. My mom always taught me that you need 12 hugs a day. While I thought that was funny when I was younger, now that I am older – it’s the truth. Hug those you love long and often. We are set on this earth to love God and love others.

9. Wine and cheese can serve as a dinner {and maybe a vegetable plate too}. Don’t feel bad if all you want for dinner is cheese and wine. If you want to pull some yummy cheese out of the fridge and sip on a glass of wine, do it. You don’t have to necessarily have a four course meal for dinner. For that matter, I have had many a nights where sliced celery, carrots and romaine lettuce leaves dipped in ranch have been my evening meal.

10. Sing in the car. I know you may think that others will think you look goofy; but, who cares, really!? If you like the song and want to sing – bust out a tune. Life is too short to try and impress others. Get your worship on, star in your own country show, whatever. Sing. It makes the heart happy.

Tips on Incorporating Coconut Oil in Your Daily Life

COCONUT OILIf you are a heath fanatic, probably don’t have to tell you twice about the benefits of coconut oil. However, it’s neat to see a little chart and bullet points of just how wonderful this gift from God is! Daily consumption (in moderation, let’s not eat the whole jar) of this sweet oil will keep you in tiptop shape.

According to Dr. Oz, coconut oil can fight off the aging process, keep your weight balanced, fend off diseases, conditions hair and skin and much, much more. You can read the full article from his website, here.

If you are like me, you are rushing out the door in the morning to beat the heavy morning traffic. And sometimes getting your daily dose of coconut oil is not really on the forefront of your mind. Well, here are some great tips on how to incorporate coconut oil in your daily life:

Add ½ a tbsp. to your morning coffee: seriously, along with your creamer or almond milk just stir in a sweet spoonful of this disease fighting oil. It will melt pretty quickly and flavor your coffee just enough.

Apply to hair for an overnight conditioner: no need to buy those overpriced deep conditioners anymore at a beauty store. Just use coconut oil. Use about 2 handfuls of this oil. Let it melt in your hands before apply to the roots and ends of your hair. Pin up your wet locks for overnight conditioning.

Use for the crinkles in your neck: ladies, we all know about those neck wrinkles. You can actually use coconut oil to lessen the effects of the lines. Just rub some on in the morning or night. You will notice a difference in a week.

Use in homemade body scrubs: most of the homemade body scrubs call for some type of oil at the base. Why not use coconut oil? You can have a little tropical body shower scrub that moistens skin and awakens your senses. Recipe for scrubs here.coconut oil

Rub on cuticles for nail growth: yes, you can make your fingernails thicker and stronger with coconut oil. Just apply the oil to your cuticles and watch your nails grow long and healthy.

In yummy stir-fry’s: when your recipe calls for some type of oil or butter, just replace it with coconut oil. Trust me, it will give your dish a nice, little refreshing taste.

Good for soothing sunburn: yep, if you got a little burned on your long weekend vaca, you can use coconut oil to soothe that burn. Chuck the aloe vera from the store and use this oil instead.

Can heal and ease bug bites: summer is here and so are mosquitos! Yikes, so good thing you know that coconut oil can ease the itching of these pesky bug bites.

Put on dry skin areas like elbows, knees and heels: you know these areas are a little bit rougher than others, coconut oil can help those little elbows or heels. Just use it like a lotion and watch your skin glow!

Add a gob to your morning shake: if you make green shakes like me, just add in a spoonful of this miracle oil. You won’t taste it. It will just make your little breakfast a bit creamier and healthier. Yum and score!

Simple Summer Gifts for Outdoor Parties

summer giftsThe heat of summer is here, finally. Being a Texas girl, the winter in the Washington, DC area this year was a little too chilly for my liking. Pools open soon and you can already lay out and get your tan on.

It’s also the season for summer backyard parties. I have my patio decked out for a little dinner party. The only thing it really needs to complete it are some of those cute bulb string lights from Target or Home Depot.

If you attend a dinner party or outdoor get-together, it’s really etiquette and nice to give your host a gift. I put together a little grouping of some great summer gift ideas. You will be the talk of the party when you give these sweet presents away.

Here are a few ideas pictured on the left that might get your creative juices flowing. Homemade gifts are always cheaper and mean more to the person hosting the party.

DIY DRINK LEMONADE KIT: What a cute idea to give a little DIY lemonade drink kit. Just buy a plastic clear pitcher from Target or Walmart, add a few big lemons and a wooden spoon.

BOWTIE WATERMELON: For a real simple darling gift, tie a cute bow around a medium sized watermelon. This is creative and also practical. You can whip out a knife at the party and everyone can enjoy this fruit of the summer.

TERRACOTTA BERRIES: Gather some fresh berries at the farmers market or local grocery store, add them to a cute inexpensive terracotta pot lined with some fun tissue paper.

BEACH PALE FLOWERS: You can get flowers at a pretty good price at Trader Joe’s – but a bouquet for $5.99 and add them to a cute little beach pale. Your host will love this, and they can use them to add some color to their outdoor tables!

 

A Picture of Love: Mother’s Day

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White House Christmas: Kimi, Mom and Kristen

My mom is the picture of southern sweetness and sass. Born in Dallas, Texas, her boots were made for walking. She is a spitfire – always the first to chime in to group discussions, tell stories or share of the goodness of her Savior.

She has taught me to always be a light for God. A flight attendant by trade, she never meets a stranger or shies away from talking about the wonderful righteousness of the Lord’s hands.

She reads voraciously anything she can get her hands on. From health food books to Christian living, she makes the most of every word printed across a page.

As a child, living under my parent’s roof, the image I saw of her every night was that of her in a chair, lamp on – reading the Bible. She was praying for both me and my sister. That is a mom of strength. That is a true picture of greatness.

I often think about how my mom has impacted my life. She has not just impacted me; she has made me who I am. She taught me kindness and introduced me to messy crafts. She’s joined me while playing in mud puddles and held my hand while crying on the kitchen floor.

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I can only hope one day I will be the type of mother she was and is to me. I love her with my whole soul. Her heart is gold and much larger than the size of Texas.

I love you, mommy. You are beautiful and the person I look up to the most. You have been the steady source of love in my life. You are my friend, mother and mentor. You are more than a blessing. And, I truly cannot thank you enough for everything you are to me, Kristen and Daddy!

Happy Mother’s Day.

Sign Up for The Blog’s Weekly Newsletter

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Check out this cute, little newsletter. It feeds your faith, life and provides yummy tips on healthy food!

Today is a great opportunity for you and a little something new I am trying for my blog. Say hello to a weekly newsletter. Sometimes you can’t catch every single post on Trading Paper Crowns, but now you can with just one single e-mail.

You can get yummy recipes, decorating ideas, spiritual encouragement and health tips sent directly to your little inbox! What a joy! You can simply forward these e-mails to friends and family members – because sharing is caring.

The newsletter will feature a faith, lovely life and health section every week. Not to mention, a memory Bible verse for the week and an internet deal at the bottom of the page.

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You can even read it on your phone!

Please sign up to receive e-mails from this blog (top right hand side of the website) and, I can add you to the email list.

Or if you’d like to leave a little comment for me below this post with your email address, feel free, and I will add you to the newsletter list. Another option is e-mail me at tradingpapercrowns@gmail.com. So many options to get on the list!

Life is about encouraging one another. It’s about loving God and others. I truly hope this little e-mail will bless your week and spur you on to share the Lord’s goodness with others – whether it be by health, fitness, motivating words or simply a smile.

Sign up today! I am going to send one out this afternoon – so make sure you are on the list.

 

10 Reasons To Love Your Sister

SISTER LOVE1. She thinks you are pretty and always will.

With a sister you have a built in fan. She loves you and thinks you are beautiful. I mean, you are related so she should ultimately think you are a number one stunner. Those genes run deep.

2. You’re a nerd, and she loves that.

Let’s face it. Your sister will love you regardless how completely nerdy you are. You can talk about Netflix documentaries and not fear her being completely freaked out that you find these fascinating.

3. When you are not funny, she will call you out.

Let’s face it, sometimes you tell jokes and they bomb. Your sister will not give you a pity laugh. She will call you out for your lame joke. She might even make fun of you. But, hey – she is your sister. She can get away with it.

4. You can tell inside jokes with her.

With sisters, you really don’t even have to explain yourself. You can give her one look or show some sort of facial expression and she will know what you are talking about or alluding to. You can tell inside jokes to your heart’s content.

5. You have a double closet.

Most of the time you can share clothes with your sister –glory, glory hallelujah! Hey, and even if she is shorter or taller than you and the clothes or shoes don’t fit just right, there are always mounds of purses, belts, hats and endless accessories to pick from.

6. You can dump your dog on her anytime.

Sisters are great at puppy sitting. Your sister loves you and wants to help you. So, you can feel at ease dropping your furry pets off at her house – at least for the weekend. After all, she the best one to take care of your fluffies! She knows how much they mean to you.

7. You have a partner in crime.

Okay – I am not talking actual crime here; but, you will never have to do stuff alone with a sister. She is there to help you, go to parties with you, run errands with you. You have a built in best friend.

8. She’ll give you glares when you break your diet.

Sisters don’t tread lightly in keeping one another accountable. If you say you are on a diet, she will hold you to that. Just be prepared for heavy glares when you reach for those potato chips or cookies. She is watching you and will call you out.

9. She is the best for straight talk.

Sometimes the truth is hard to hear – even comprehend. Sisters are straight talkers. They are not little friends who tell white lies to make you feel better. Even if it means some tears, sisters will weigh in with a completely honest opinion.

10. She will listen to your heart.

Your sister knows who you are as a person. She has lived with you for at least 18 years and will take the time to listen to your heart. She won’t get bored talking to you about your fears and desires. She wants the best for you.

Do me a favor and hug your sister today!