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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Moving Blogs!

Hey Everyone!! I hope you had a fabulous weekend! It was nice and rainy here in Houston!! Everyone was so happy to stay indoors and relax!! I wanted to let you know that we have decided to move our family blog to Sweet Tea and Salsa! We are moving for a few reasons--1.) We like the wordpress format a bit better 2.) As we are entering the adoption journey and as our family grows up, there are going to be posts that we will want to post as private for the fam and wordpress makes this a snap for us! AND 3.) As we grew and changed in our blogging, we think this will be a better fit!

Don't worry! We will still have plenty of furniture re-dos (a new piece reveal this week), crafts, recipes and random thoughts! !

Thanks for reading and we hope to see you at the new blog!!! Let us know you stopped by!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Flowers for Fall!!

:( Isn't this such a SAD site!!!??!!
We have been experiencing a dry spell/heat wave here in Houston that is breaking all types of records. Every plant, tree, and stem of grass is dead or dying unless it is in someone's yard who is willing to spend the money to keep it alive. After awhile the drab brown colors are quite depressing! So we have been watering the lawn enough to keep it chugging along but have not touched the garden, which has become a barren dust bowl :( Even the weeds have given up!

Last weekend we went to a cactus and native Texan plant competition at the Houston garden center that we had read about in the paper that morning (Yes we still get the paper 4 days a week and no I do not have the desire to go digital in this arena of my life:). Well we ended up coming home with a few baby cacti and some major inspiration for the front yard! No, not the inspiration to make a west Texas rock garden, the inspiration to attack the barren wasteland that was once a lush garden! SO I began checking the local nursery deals and thinking of the layout in my head. I LOVE fall flowers...esp Mums!! All colors!!! They remind me of everything that is fall (my fav season) so I knew that they would be the major centerpiece of the garden!

SO Mason and I loaded up and headed to Home Deeps to check out their flower assortment. **They have a one year guarantee on flowers and will price match from other places. ALSO, the Home Depot by
my house happens to have the NICEST employees I have ever encountered at ANY store I have ever shopped at! Not kidding!

We ended up with some nice soil, pine mulch, new gloves (a must :) and as many beautiful plants as we could fit into our cart! Luckily my darling hubby met us there to help load all of this onto a flat and a cart to share the load!

After a ton of super fun work, here is what we ended up with! I am now in LOVE with gardening!! Thanks to the front yard, I am now ready to attempt to tackle to beast....AKA the back yard.

These are pics while I was in the process of planting everything!! I went back and added another row of mums and begonias as well as pine mulch! 

This is yet another of when I was still working...I would go take a pic of the finished product but it is dark outside  :(

This weekend we are going to be adding natural color stones around the perimeter of the garden as well as placing some sand in low lying areas and sod in the dead areas!!!! COME ON YARD!!! 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Fall Craft--Skeleton on the Fridge

Today while Mason was napping and I was waiting for the repair man to come I thought I would put together one of my crafts that I have been planning on working on all week! Since it is almost October (I know, I can't believe it either!) I decided to make the skeleton from Better Homes and Gardens website! I think it is just what my fridge needs to start the spooky Halloween season off right!

So for all of my friends out there who always claim that they cannot craft, this one is about as simple as it gets guys :) It kind of took me back to elementary school for a minute :) If you do not have magnets around  you could always put it on a window or door as a deco that way too!!

Here is what I used: 
-White cardstock to printout the skeleton
-Black cardstock to glue to the back (the thickness of the two makes it look nicer and sturdier)
-One sheet of magnet found at the local Hob Lob. Don't be like me--I was over zealous and bought 2 sheets of magnet thinking I would MAKE SURE the lil skeleton stuck! I DESPISE when I buy a cute magnet only to put it on the fridge and watch it slide down...
-Scissors--a regular nice pair will cut everything you need!
-Glue stick to put the pieces of cardstock together
-Stronger glue to adhere the magnet to the back of the black cardstock! I used some knock off gorilla glue we had lying around!
This is after I have cut him out and glued the white and black cardstock together! All we need now are magnets!***Please note that you do NOT need to re-trace the skeleton and cut out the black THEN glue to the white. Simply save time by gluing your white pieces to the black solid page, let dry, then cut!!!

AND VOILA!!! Here he is in all his skeleton glory on the fridge!!

**I am going to keep him put away until Oct 1st--I have strict rules about this. Like I am not a fan of people who leave lights up year round or sing Christmas Carols in October.

Happy Friday!


Chic on a Shoestring Decorating


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Decorating for Fall!

Fall is my favorite time of year. It reminds me of heading back to school, football season, leaves crunching under your feet, pretty coats, warm days and cool nights. Nature's color palette is so wonderful at this time of year, I have trouble thinking of an artist that can replicate it :) 

I have been looking forward to decorating the entry way buffet for fall for sometime now!! At the beginning of August when Hob Lobs put their stuff out I was rarin' to go, but I held out...until now. Technically the first day of fall is this week and it is "fall like" in some parts of the country, so why not?? So I am lighting  my fall Yankee candles, putting out my pumpkins and leaves and going to enjoy!! 

I was reading some blogs over coffee one morning and one lady referred to this season as the superbowl for crafters. I think she is right on!! I have so many crafts lined up on my craft table, on pinterest, and in my head that I am not sure what to do!! I am just crankin' em out!! I thought I would kick things off informally with the wreath, but REALLY kick off fall with the entry buffet! 

This is the buffet for summer. Nice and simple..Mail platter, lantern etc.
Here is the buffet ready for fall!

Here are some of nature's pretty fall images to help inspire you! Have a fab Sunday!


Chic on a Shoestring Decorating

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Don't Know Much About Ethiopia!

As I assume you now know, we are in the process of trying to adopt from Ethiopia. While we are in the process we want to learn everything we can about the country. Being the history lover I am, I thought we should start at the beginning :) So here is a BRIEF history of Ethiopia. Please note that I am not an expert in Ethiopian history. We are reading as much as we can on the country, but are still (and always hope to be) learning :) So if there is an awesome fact you would like to add, check out the about me section of the blog and email me!

If you have gotten this far and are thinking oh how nice, but I am not reading history!! It is a quick timeline to skim through. When you talk about African history many people have no idea that major issues were/are going on in their lifetime. Many tend to think of wars etc as very far off, or a long time ago. So as you scroll the page, just check the dates on the left side :) Do me a favor a humor your history loving friend!!

I will do some follow-up posts with more information on Africa as well. There are a ton of books out there on Africa as a whole. One that was required reading for me in college, as well as for the kiddos in my school district when I was teaching, was "Guns, Germs, and Steel" By Jared Diamond. While some of his ideas are considered controversial and you many not agree with EVERYTHING he says, it is a great book to start a conversation on how things have or have not progressed in the world the way one might have thought depending on what century they lived :)

So take a second out of your busy day and ENJOY!!

-3.2 mya- 5 mya "Lucy" discovered in Awash valley. She is the earliest know homonoid that stood upright, adapted to living in open areas vs. just forests, and lived in groups.

-Middle Paleolithic period in East Africa is widely considered site of emergence for early homo sapiens

-300 BCE earliest records of Ethiopia are found in Egypt records.

-5th Century BCE Herodotus (Greek historian)  describes ancient Ethiopia in writings

-Old Testament describes Queen Sheba going to Jerusalem to meet with Solomon. This meeting produces a son -->King Menelik I, founder of the Ethiopian Empire. In Axum was the Palace of Queen Sheba as well as the Home of the Ark of the Covenant which was brought from Jerusalem by Menelik I. 

-4th Century CE, Christian Missionaries reach Ethiopia by way of Egypt and Syria. A variation on Coptic Christianity becomes the state religion in 341 CE. 

-7th Century CE, Rise and spread of Islam isolates Ethiopia from the spread of European Christianity. 

-1500's, Portuguese re-establish contact to convert people to Roman Catholicism. Note that they are MAINLY re-establishing contact to gain control over Indian Ocean Trade. Religious clashes start to occur which leads to all foreign missionaries to be expelled in the 1630's. 

-The result of the religious clashes and expulsion was an overall negative feeling towards Europeans and Christians until the 20th century. A more severe impact of the religious issues in the 1500 and 1600s was the overall isolation of Ethiopia. 

-1700-mid 1800's, "Era of Princes"--period of turmoil with no direct rule in ET. Continued competition for leadership caused long term instability and major unrest. 
            -1869--Emperor Tewodros brought most of the competing princes together. Emperor Yohannes succeeds him and continues on this pattern.
**This continues period of unification helps to fend off the invasions of the Dervish and the Sudanese!!

1889-1913--"Scramble for Africa"--Menelik II rules and fends off Europeans trying to colonize and carve up Africa, namely Italy (in this area). 

1896-major battle of Adwa, FAMOUS battle of 1st major successful battle of an African Nation over a colonial power (Italy)

1916--Christian nobility depose sitting king in ET due to his Muslim sympathies and made his predecessors daughter Empress. Her name was Zewditu, daughter of Menelik II

1930--Empress dies, the regent Haileselassie or Haile Selassie, takes power. He outlaws slavery. 

October 1, 1935, Italian forces invade and occupy Ethiopia. Haileselassie goes to League of Nations for help, but ends up getting no help and having to flee to the UK for safety. 
      Ethiopia is annexed to Eritrea, then an Italian Colony then to Italian Somaliland.
--Five years later Haileselassie comes back and used British and African forces to defeat Italians and rules until 1974.

1974--He is deposed by council of soldiers and a committee seizes power and creates a socialist government in name, but a militaristic government in reality. Major Mengistu "Head of State" takes power and rules for 17 years in a Totaliarian style. He orchestrates the "Red Terror" and thousands of governemtn opponents die. he also starts collective farming.
     --He maintains rule with use of a large military which is funded and provided by the Soviets and Cuba. 
     --These 17 years are plagued with famine and drought 

-People begin to revolt throughout Ethiopia. Major revolts occur in the Northern regions of Tigray and Eritrea. 

-1989, TPLF or Tigrayan People's Liberation Front merges with Amhara and Oromo Liberation Fronts to form the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front. 

-1991, EPRDF forces Mengistu to flee to Zimbabwe. 
A transitional government of Ethiopia is implemented along with other political parties. A council of representatives and transitional constitution are also created at this time. 

-May 1991, Eritrean People's Liberation Front assumes control of Eritrea after a 30 year struggle and establishes a provisional government. This runs until 1993 when the Eritreans vote for independence. 

Since Eritrea's independence there have been continued issues over the border. 

-1998, border clashes lead to war with 80,000 casualties. 

-December 2000, a formal peace agreement reached. UN supplies 4,000 peace keeping forces to patrol border. An international commission creates a new border line and Ethiopia disputes. 

Sources used: 
CIA world factbook

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Adoption Journey Begins!!!!

We are happy to announce that we have turned in our initial paperwork to our agency which starts the process of bringing our baby home from Ethiopia! There is a long and crazy road of paperwork and bureaucratic tape ahead of us, but we feel that it is 110% worth the wonderful gift we receive in the end---a child from God.

So WHY are we adopting if we can have kids on our own?
Libby was adopted domestically at birth and has always wanted to pass on the gift of love and family that adoption brought  her down to her children and family one day. Since we met we have talked openly about the idea of growing our family through adoption and began researching the avenues of adoption prior to Mason being born! Adoption and birth are truly the best gifts you can give a child and a family. So if you are able and called to this, why would you even hesitate for a second?

OK, So WHY Ethiopia? There are children here that need forever homes too!
When we started this process we were a clean slate, meaning that we were open to all areas of the world (including USA) for our adoption. We really wanted to learn about the different pathways of adoption and let the Lord guide us to where we needed to go to get our baby. We fell in love with Ethiopia RIGHT AWAY but wanted to research everywhere else to make sure we were going into this with our hearts AND minds. So we did. And after many discussions and T-charts, we knew where we were meant to be--Ethiopia.

        Here are some facts about children living in Ethiopia today:

720,000 children have been orphaned by AIDS alone, and there are 4.6 million orphans in Ethiopia.
• One in six children die before their fifth birthday
• 44% of the population of Ethiopia is under 15 years old
• 60% of children in Ethiopia are stunted because of malnutrition
• Half the children in Ethiopia will never attend school. 88% will never attend secondary school.
• The median age in Ethiopia is 17.8 years
• 1.5 million people are infected with AIDS (6th highest in the world)
• Per capita, Ethiopia receives less aid than any country in Africa
• In the 90s the population (3%) grew faster than food production (2.2%)
• Drought struck the country from 2000-2002 (first year no crops, second year no seeds, third year no animals)
• Coffee prices (Ethiopia’s only major export) fell 40-60% from 1998-2002.
• Ethiopia’s doctor to children ratio is 1 to 24,000.
• In 1993, after 30 long years of war, Eritrea broke from Ethiopia and became an independent nation leaving Ethiopia landlocked without any major seafaring ports.

OK for the second part--why are you not adopting from USA? We did a lot of research about adopting domestically and thought that is what we would do initially. However, when we spoke to all of the different agencies (way too many to count) and adoption counselors we did not think it was the right fit for us at this time. We felt like the agency we chose to work with was a much better fit. We also looked at the issues that face the children who are given up for adoption here vs. the children in many 3rd world countries and there is simply no comparison. Here children are either adopted right away or are placed in foster care, which although is not always ideal, is meeting the primary needs of the children. The same cannot be said for the children in these other countries. In many places the children do not have food, shelter, or medical care. Many will not even have the "privilege" of living in an orphanage. The health and education rates are much lower for the orphans in these countries than they are in America. All of these facts, plus many more, went into our decision making process of where to adopt from.

We are VERY excited to embark on this journey to bring our baby home!! For those of you that may be reading this that are not familiar with adoption, or just want to learn more, we will work to post some books and articles that you can access.

Here is another link that we think is a beautiful representation of adoption:
Adoption Gotcha Day Video

Thank you all for embarking on this journey with our family! We will keep you posted as things progress!