The Life of Jennifer Dawn

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Simple Garden Ideas for Spring & Weekly Link Party

I'm running a little behind on getting the link party up this week. I guess the same thing could be said for my spring garden. I started seeds weeks ago but haven't replanted, weeded, or tended to anything pertaining to the garden.

 Anyone else still working out the logistics for their garden? You see...I have these lovely hens roaming around that enjoy taking dust baths in my garden beds. A solution to this problem has been found that will be all finished up on Saturday. And that means I can finally get my garden going without fear of it all being eaten up or dug up.

I'm so excited to get outside and to dig in the dirt. It's something that's very relaxing and therapeutic for me. And I need a little "garden therapy" in my life right now. Dear friends, I've been having a really hard time. The kind of hard time where I'm clinging onto my faith for survival, just trying to get through each day, broken-hearted kind of hard. Perhaps that can explain why things have been so slow here on the blog. To get out into God's beautiful creation, enjoy morning prayer sessions in the garden, and feel the warm sun on my face... Yes, that's therapy for me.

My little family has had a lot going on lately. Some things I haven't openly talked about. Other things I've shared. If you've followed along for a while you may have read about my sister suddenly and tragically passing away last May. With the one-year anniversary of her death coming up, my heart has been feeling more burdened than ever. Despite popular opinion, there is no expiration date to grief, friends. Sadly I'm sure many of you have also experienced this. The rest of the world seems to have moved on, but you're left still trying to pick up the pieces. I hadn't even intended to talk about this, but I started typing and the words just started coming out.

Maybe you've been going through a hard time, too. Maybe your life feels like that barren garden that's been neglected. Maybe life's circumstances have pecked and clawed at your heart.  But maybe...just maybe it would be encouraging for you to know that you are not alone!

Perhaps there are life lessons to be learned from gardening. We plant seeds with faith, hope, and anticipation that something beautiful will emerge. Time passes with much prayer and patience and those seeds become seedlings which then become plants. Usually, it's gentle showers and sunlight that rain down and nourish the plants. But storms do sometimes come where the winds and rains test its strength. But if we don't lose our faith and we keep tending to the garden, a harvest will emerge.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Galatians 6:9

Listen to me. Here I am getting all philosophical about gardening. Ugh! Truly I had not intended to launch into this little parable. I guess I was feeling a bit chatty. So...let's chat.

What's going on with you in this season of life?
Anything exciting?
Anything you'd like me to pray with you about?
Are you planning to do a little gardening this spring?

Perhaps these sweet and simple garden ideas will give you some inspiration! Below you'll find several lovely garden ideas to try this spring. I'm sure you'll create something beautiful, and I'd love to hear about it when you do...
1. Paper Bag Spring Planters / Somewhat Simple
What a super simple and affordable option for planters! Whether you try this with live plants or the faux kind, it's sure to give your space some farmhouse charm.

2. DIY Cedar Window Boxes / Maggie Lois
It's impressive what window boxes can do to add curb appeal. And these are stunning!

3. Funny Painted Planter Pots / Find It, Fix It, or Build It
These painted pots with their humorous encouragements are so cute! And who knows?! Maybe they'll help the plants grow a little better. If nothing else, they add an element of fun to the garden.

4. Stone Walkway / Just Measuring Up
Looking for a budget-friendly and easy way to add a walkway to your garden? This method might just be your answer!

5. DIY Vertical Succulent Garden / Thistlewood Farms
What a conversation piece for the front piece! This vertical garden adds loads of visual interest.

6. Vertical Succulent Garden / Lolly Jane
Here's another take on the vertical garden. This one adds a fun pop of coral color!

You might also enjoy these Stamped Garden Markers!

Or these Mini Decoupaged Flower Pots. They are a great craft for the kids to make for Mother's Day!

Now it's time for...

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

DIY Wood Craft Projects & Weekly Link Party

My dad was amazing at building things out of wood. I could show him a picture of anything, and he'd come up with the design and plans to make it. Through the years, I picked up a few things from him, but I'm still working on building my confidence when it comes to crafting something with wood and tools.

Whether you're a seasoned pro or just getting started, here are some fantastic woodcraft projects to try. From wooden signs to wall shelves, you're sure to find something that would look incredible in your home! These projects certainly have me excited to pull out the tools and paint.
1. DIY French Country Mirror / The Navage Patch
Wow! We're starting this round-up with an impressive piece. Click on over to see the step-by-step tutorial on how this amazing mirror was built.

2. Painted Patterned Wall and Wooden Shelf / Thistlewood Farms
This Ombre Herringbone wall is stunning! The wooden shelf mimics the pattern and gives the room storage that's both functional and decorative. Click on over to read how this unique look came together.

3. Wood Picture Frame / Find It, Fix It, or Build It
True to the name of her blog, Sara shows how to build beautiful wood frames that can often cost way too much in stores. Be sure to check it out! Oh, and don't forget to grab a copy of the sweet, spring printable while you're visiting with her.

4. Laundry Room Chalkboard / Lolly Jane
Maybe it's the teacher in me, but I adore chalkboards! And this DIY chalkboard that was included in Kelli's budget laundry room makeover is no exception. LOVE it!

5. Vintage Bakery Sign / Repurpose and Upcycle
With about $10 in supplies and this fantastic tutorial, you can create a vintage-inspired sign that's sure to be a statement piece in your kitchen or dining area.

6. Established Signs / Lolly Jane
When was your household established? Commemorate the year with these gorgeous signs!

7. Tiered Stand / The Navage Patch
This beautiful tiered stand could be used in so many ways! Where would you put it in your home?

Now it's time for...

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Free Printable Mini Easter Basket

My family has long enjoyed the tradition of gifting baskets of trinkets and treats at Easter. When I was growing up, my mom would fill baskets to the brim with candy and treats to give to my sister and me--and even one to my dad. She'd use the same baskets of colored, woven plastic year after year. You know! I think I still have my pastel pink and purple basket in storage somewhere. I'm not sure I could ever get rid of it. It's been through way too many Easter mornings, egg hunts, and Sunday picnics. My own kids get a double dose of this basket gifting tradition with a basket from me and one from their Mimi--my mother who's still carrying on the tradition today.

Whether you already have a gift basket tradition in place or you're wanting to start one, this Printable Mini Easter Basket is an adorable way to gift goodies and share smiles at Easter!
There's one Easter, in particular, that stands out to me. There was nothing BIG or important that happened that day. It's just one of those days from my childhood that's forever etched in my memory. The things I remember about the day may be a bit random. It's often funny...the things you remember from childhood, isn't it? Perhaps I'm a bit more sentimental about my childhood days now that my dad and sister are no longer with us. My mom now refers to them as "the good ol' days." And they were!

In true Southern fashion, my mom would dress my sister and me up in gunny sack dresses, hats with satin ribbons, ballet flats, lacy socks, and gloves. This particular Easter saw us extra frilled-up. This didn't seem to matter to my sister Allison, though. As mom and dad were finishing preparations for going to church that Sunday morning, she went ahead and helped herself to her Easter basket. There she was--dressed to the nines--with her legs sprawled out and the pillaged Easter basket in front of her. Sticky candy dripped from her tiny, toddler mouth all over her pale pink dress. I remember thinking that surely she'd get into some trouble. What could my mother do, though--other than to snap a picture, call it a memory, and try to wipe as much chocolate out of the frilly layers of the dress as possible? We still have that picture today, and the look on her face was one of pure joy.

On the way into church on that humid Georgia morning, I tugged and twisted on my tights the entire way across the steaming parking lot. They don't call it Hotlanta for nuthin'. Going to church was always an important part of our Easter Sundays. Even in the midst of egg hunts, chocolates, bunnies, and baskets, it was the story of Jesus and his resurrection that my mom most wanted to pour into our hearts on Easter. I don't think I realized it at the time, but those songs and sermons were soaking deep into my soul and building a foundation of faith that I still stand on today.

The rest of the day consisted of lunch with friends, egg hunts through lawns shaded by Georgia pines, and memories even sweeter than the candy in those baskets my mom would give us. That was it! Nothing spectacular had occurred that Easter. It was just a simple Easter Sunday comprised of dozens of ordinary moments that collectively formed a perfect day. Like most of our Easters and holidays, it was just being together that mattered most. That was the real gift!
This Mini Easter Basket Printable makes it simple to share smiles, goodies, and memories with others this Easter. Enjoy putting the basket together, tucking treats inside, and gifting it to the special people in your life. Are you hosting Easter brunch? Taking treats to a class party or Sunday school event? Or just looking for a simple gift idea for your family and friends? This is a sweet and simple way to let others know how special they are to you! Print, assemble, fill, and share! It's that easy to honor an Easter basket tradition with your family this year.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Easy Pasta Recipes & A Weekly Link Party

Make it a pasta night with one of these delicious recipes! Pasta dishes are one of my favorite things to make for my family. What's not to love about a meal that's cheesy, saucy, and oh so good?! The recipes being featured this week fit that description perfectly. If you're in need of some dinner inspiration, this post is your answer. Enjoy trying one or all of these flavorful pastas! There may even be one that becomes a new family favorite.
1. Sweet Tomato & Broccoli Rabe Bake Penne / Strength & Sunshine
Packed with nutrition and flavor, this is a healthy dish that the whole family will love. It's gluten-free, allergy-friendly, and vegan making it an excellent pasta option when you need to make accommodations for multiple dietary needs.

2. Lasagna Tater Tot Casserole / Simply Stacie
Here's a unique twist on lasagna. It's all the flavors of lasagna with Tater Tots filling in for noodles. This is sure to be a hit with kids and adults alike!

3. Three Pepper Pasta / My Southern Health
This heart-smart meal is a great option for those busy weeknights. It's super simple and can be made in minutes!

4. Creamy Chicken Farfalle / DIY Budget Girl
This recipe from New South Charm is part of a round-up of easy weeknight meals. Doesn't it look amazing?

5. Homestyle Goulash / The Life of Jennifer Dawn
Here's a fresh twist on a long-time favorite. It's a savory pasta that's super simple to make.

6. Stuffed Pasta Shells / The Life of Jennifer Dawn
Whether you're feeding your family or entertaining a large group, this dish is sure to impress. It's an excellent option for a make-ahead freezer meal, too!

Now it's time for...

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Cute Crafts for Easter and A Weekly Link Party

Hop into the season with some fun Easter crafts! This cute collection of crafts includes eggs, bunnies, pom poms and more! Featured below you'll find crafty ideas that the whole family can enjoy together this spring. Which would you want to try?
1. Chalky Easter Eggs / Lolly Jane
It's amazing what a little chalk paint can do for plain, plastic eggs! These eggs are the perfect pops of pastel color for spring!

2. Stuffed Easter Bunnies / Grandma Ideas
Here's a sewing idea that quick and easy--my favorite kind! And the bunnies at the end are oh so cute!

3. Easter Bunny Banner / Of Faeries & Fauna Craft Co.
The pom pom bunny tails on this garland are absolutely adorable! The best part about this craft is that the banner pieces are all ready for you to print out. Just click on over, print, cut, and put it together.

4. Easter Candy Topiary / Lolly Jane
I'd have a hard time not eating the candy, but the end result of this topiary would be worth it! It's the perfect table decoration for the Easter meal.

5. Easter Basket Tags & MORE! / Just Measuring Up
Here's a super fun post! It's 12 Easter crafts--including these sweet tags--that can all be made using the same bunny template. Click on over to see them all!

6. Coloring Page Decoupage Easter Eggs / The Country Chic Cottage
Turn boring plastic eggs into an adorable keepsake decoration with Mod Podge and coloring pages. This is such a creative idea!

7. Easter Wreath / All That's Jas
I love a good yarn craft! And this one is adorable! It's a yarn-wrapped wreath that's perfect for Easter.

8. Easter Egg Ornament / The Life of Jennifer Dawn (right here!)
These 3-dimensional paper ornaments are super cute and super simple to make. Add a few pony beads for added cuteness!

Now it's time for...