The Shack - A Review

 <---- Read the back cover for synopsis.

This is one of those books that I feel like I need to make a point to read once a year or so. This is the 2nd time I have read this book and it is just an amazing story that I got even more out of the 2nd time around. In my opinion, the author does a great job answering really difficult theological and spiritual questions in a way I almost understand. This book is by no means a "light read", even if the story moves along quickly. I think this is a really heavy book - tackling issues about The Trinity, forgiveness, God as a father, Holy Spirit, judgment, loss, abuse, and the list goes on...
I will admit, there were a couple things that were odd to me - like the author's choice of personifying God as a heavy African-American woman who loves to cook... but I can look past that and really appreciate what the author was doing with this story. I adore the character of Mack. He seems like such a real person and asks honest, straightforward questions of God (i.e. "Why couldn't you stop this suffering... etc). Mack struggles with his faith and in a very dark time in his life, God brings him to "the shack" and has a talk with him. I want this to be a non-fiction book, like Heaven is For Real, because my heart yearns for the possibility that something like that could really happen to someone. I would definitely recommend this book, but just be warned, it is not a fluffy, brain-candy kind of book, but leans more on the side of soul-food.

Before and After: Ottoman

One of the many projects on my list was to cover this sexy blue jean ottoman:
Tell me how many of you want that sexy beast in your home! haha It was a $10 score from Savers. It is super light-weight and I really liked the shape and softness of it. It will be great as a seat for your bum or your feet. But really - blue jean? There was no way that blue jean was going to have a place in my living room. I had visions of a more sophisticated textile:

A rich, creamy suede. I am drooling just thinking about it. My only problem with this project was that I don't have any real experience with re-upholstery, so naturally, I did what any smart, capable, and crafty woman would do: I took it home to Nana. 

We literally just tossed the suede on top of the ottoman and started tucking and eventually stapling. Papa is very handy with a staple gun folks. I highly recommend using an electric staple-gun for these types of projects. I have done stuff with a manual one and it is just so much more efficient to have the power behind it.

We started by securing one side with a couple staples and then pulled it tight and stapled the side directly across. We did the long sides first because our ends were going to end up with some pleat-type things and we thought it would look better on the short sides.
Observe said pleats above.
I do need to throw it out there that I am no-where-near being a perfectionist. We made them all as even as possible without pulling out our hair. I think it does look pretty cool - even though it may not be perfect.

To finish off the bottom of the ottoman we cut a rectangle out of a bed-skirt that I had also gotten at Savers. This just gave it a cleaner finish.
Just for fun, I think you all should know I was wearing these shoes during this entire project. :)

And for the big reveal:

You like??? I do! I will post some pics in the next week (or 2) of the whole living room, so you can see it in its new home and not on my grandparents' kitchen table :)

Heaven is For Real - a book review

Go to this website to learn more about the book

I had heard some of the buzz about this little book and on a whim decided that I would read it. I don’t have enough adjectives in my vocabulary to describe how wonderful I thought this book was, especially the little boy.
The book is told by the father’s point of view and chronicles over a very dark period of time for his family, culminating in the near-death of his 3 year old son. While the little boy, Colton, is being operated on, he claims to have visited Heaven, for 3 minutes. His account of his journey to Heaven, meeting with Jesus and other relatives he could have never known, comes out over a period of years. His parents were very cautious in discussing this with him and did not want to lead him on with their questions. Colton describes Heaven in such detail, noting things that align with Scripture, that he never could have known. Last time I checked, they don’t teach Revelation in Sunday School….
I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone.
To Christians: This can be a tool to start up conversations about Christ and it can give you a renewal of faith. I know it did for me. The message of love and having Christ in your heart that is spoken from a 3 year old voice is so powerful. It reminded me how strong the faith of a child is and how we should all strive for a more child-like faith.
For non-believers – this book might just change your mind. I know you would be skeptical of the idea that a child would go to Heaven and may even think it is all made up, but I really hope that this little boy can touch your heart and show you the love of Christ.

Living Room Face Lift

Nothing like being MIA for 2 weeks. Sorry folks- I had the worst case of bronchitis I have had in my life and was laid out for over a week. I am still on the mend a little bit now, so, in an effort to get out of my funk, I wanted to share with you a pinterest project that has now inspired an entire living room re-vamp, which I started (along with this post) nearly a month ago. My goal is to do it all in under $100 (HA!).
My project here cost about $20 with the material and hoops, but could definitely be done for less if you have scraps of material laying around. My inspiration was this adorable room and baby girl:

So cute right? I hope my kids are that cute…I found this on pinterest and followed this tutorial.

Well, I really wanted to brighten up my living room and thought that material would be a great way to bring in color. I also had a great pier 1 buy (Thanks to Alli over at Ferguson Finds) and an amazing score at Savers (a goodwill-but-nicer store) with colored glass vases to put on the mantle, which looked something like this before the new wall-art.

Then we add the art:

It was so simple to put the fabric in the embroidery hoops. Just a little bit of tacky glue and trim to fit! I arranged them on the floor before I put them up above the mantle.


Very helpful assistant


When I first had it up I didn’t think it was full-enough, so I ran out and got a couple more medium-sized hoops. But now that I have been looking at it for a couple days weeks, I think it might be OK. Thoughts?

Just to refresh you on the metamorphosis of the mantle:




 And now:

This has now spawned a whole list of projects :
1. Refurbish my $10 ottoman - (done, just need to blog it now)
2. New accessories to being the brightness of the mantle into the rest of the room (done - ish)
3. New DIY wall – art (out-sourced this project to papa…)
4. Paint the TV stand (ok – this has actually been on the list for like 2 years…)
5. Maybe a new wreath to replace my country-fied one
6. Pillow shams from leftover material (also done-zo)

The list could go on and on and on….

Well, what do ya’ll think of the new mantle and art? What's your fav look for the mantle?


I know it has been forever since I posted. I still have a lot of good stuff waiting to go up! I have been busy and now... sick. :( I will be parked on my couch (after work) watching some Mad Men and X-files for the duration of this stupid cold. So, just to keep you tided over for a few more days, here is a little bit of cuteness, courtesy of Pinterest!
They are REAL and not dead! haha toooo cute! (

Any dog in costume is pretty much hilarious. (

I nearly died of cuteness overload when I saw this. (
Hope you all have a great week - now please excuse me while I go hack up a lung....

2 for 1: A book review and a book rant

You get a two-fer here! I am going to sum up The Year of Living Biblically very quickly and then launch into a spoiler-filled rant about State of Wonder. Just fair warning folks…
The Year of Living Biblically is about my quest to live the ultimate biblical life. To follow every single rule in the Bible – as literally as possible (from the author’s website)

I kind of think that everyone should read this book, but especially if you are a Christian. It is funny, touching, educational, and (for me at least) convicting. This man - with no faith to speak of  - launches into a year-long commitment to follow the Bible verbatim. It was amazing to read. I love his humor and really enjoyed taking the journey with AJ as he lived out his year. It also made me look at myself as a Christian and all of the Biblical rules I break every day (i.e. Love you neighbor as yourself – I don’t even know my neighbor’s names) and how I should work harder to really live out my faith. It was great – go read it!
Sometimes being on the vanguard of scientific progress thrusts you into the teeth of danger. For Minnesota pharmaceutical researcher Dr. Marina Singh, that means being sent into the remotest region of the Amazon jungle to track down her former mentor. Finding Dr. Annick Swenson promises to be perilous: The last scientist assigned to find her has disappeared too. What follows is the most ambitious novel yet by Bel Canto author Ann Patchett as its adventure story opens into a penetrating study of personalities, loyalties, and ethics. (From GoodReads)

WARNING: LOTS OF SPOILERS. If you have ANY interest in reading this book (which I wouldn’t highly recommend) don’t read my review. I am going to give away the ending! (Mostly because that is the part I HATED)
Ok- this book starts out incredibly promising. A pharmaceutical researcher working in the Amazon jungle is being checked up on by her company. The man they send to check on her, Anders, dies. So then they send Marina, a long-time work-partner of Anders, to find out what exactly happened to him. The book follows Marina’s journey to Brazil and then into the depth of the Amazon. It explores the strange dynamic between Marina and her former mentor (Swenson – the original researcher) as Marina looks for answers about what happened to Anders.
Swenson is researching a fertility drug by studying an indigenous tribe who are able to bear children well into their 70s. Swenson decides to test the drug on herself and inseminates herself at age 73, in the middle of the Amazon jungle (obviously one of the ethical issues noted in the above summary). This part of the book was disturbing to me because of the flippancy in the attitude of Swenson regarding her miraculous pregnancy. To her, it is simply a science experiment. It’s a cold, callous attitude and one that upsets me more at this point in my life, when I have close friends and family who would want nothing more than to conceive and birth a healthy child.

My other HUGE issue with this book is the relationship between Marina and Anders. They have worked together for more than 7 years. He is happily married and has three children. She is involved with another older man. Turns out, he wandered off into the jungle in a fever-induced delirium and is actually alive. Marina has to rescue him from a hostile tribe in the jungle and then when they make it back to their camp they sleep together… and I think you know what I mean by sleep… WHY? I felt like it ruined the whole story. Throughout his fever and delirium Anders is writing letters to his wife. He is telling her he dreams of her, he sees her in the jungle, and that it is bearable to have the fevers because he sees her. Then, when Marina rescues him, he tells her that he never imagined it would be her, but always thought it would be Karen (his wife) that would come for him. So WHY? WHY? WHY? Did they have to cross that line? It just left a very bad taste in my mouth and I felt like took away from the rest of the story. It would have been so tragic anyway, but then they did that…. Huge, huge disappointment, in what could have been an excellent book.

Any good (or bad) reads in your book life lately?


Well, I gave ya’ll a break from my blogging over the past few days. I felt like I went post-crazy last week!

Anyway, just wanted to check in and give you some stuff to look forward to this week!

1. Book review of A Year of Living Biblically and perhaps State of Wonder, which I am reading now.

2. Sneak peak of an impromptu living room revamp (inspired by Pintrest and The Pleated Poppy)! I have been a busy little bee!

My goal is to completely update the living room for under $100. Plus, I have a new store I must share with you and all of my great finds (including an ottoman for $10!). Also, since I am re-vamping the living room, I dusted off a new-old friend. The sewing machine!! Dun dun DUN! You can read about my misadventures and 7th grade sewing level very soon.

3. General Life and Fitness Update

4. No Spend Fail Summary from July and my new goals for August!

And I shall leave you with this dose of cuteness found on Pintrest (I may have to do a post about that new addiction too!)

I SO want to do this to Sophie!