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Abigail’s Room, 100 yards of Fabric Later!

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It’s been really hot (for Arkansas) during the last few days with heat indexes over 100* and intense humidity, but we’re having some sort of unusual cold front today and tomorrow with temps only in the 80s. It’s so nice! I’ve turned off our AC, turned on fans, and opened the windows for the day!

My 100 yards of sheer “butterfly” chiffon/voile fabric that I ordered online from Ronnie Home Textile for daughter Abigail’s windows and canopies arrived. (Abigail is nine years old.) The fabric is even better than I anticipated it to be from the photos online! It’s soooo soft and drapes splendidly! Abigail LOVES the vibrant butterfly design that repeats up both sides of the fabric!

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Then, our project began! Lol! Oh, my!! I totally underestimated just how much time it would actually take ME to cut and sew all of these panels! (We covered one big wall of windows, and made floor to ceiling canopies for the two daybeds in her room! = 15 white butterfly panels that are floor to ceiling length, 4 solid hot pink panels of the same length, and 4 turquoise butterfly canopy panels at 27′ each!) Wow! Not having a proper studio space, I scooted our dining room and laid it all out on the floor and then took to sewing on the kitchen counter. We were destined to eat fast food for dinner a time or two, but the outcome was worth the sacrifice! I made pretty good time, though, and got it all done in less than three days only working sporadically with three daughters underfoot. That three day time period also included making the three long wall curtain rods!

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I used glass doorknobs and electrical conduit as curtain rods to mimic the ones I liked at a Bedding and Bath big box store. Theirs were like $129 each for the lengths we needed; we made them for about $12 each! The conduit came in ten foot lengths, we left one full length and trimmed two of them to eight feet, spray painted black satin (in our driveway) to cover the steel and brass, then epoxied the door knobs into the conduit! Yay! Easy, peasey, and saved hundreds of dollars!!

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Her room is actually painted a vibrant purple, which only shows here and there. Her room is mostly fabric, now! It’s amazing! I told her it reminded me of the inside of Jeannie’s bottle. She had no idea what I was talking about. Apparently, she’s never seen the show “I Dream of Jeannie!”

In her room, she also has a few other neat features, particularly her neon sign from my dad’s (her Pop’s) sign shop, a purple dollhouse that we’re still working to complete, shelves of photos, … 🙂

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So, what do you think of our new 100 yards of fabric we’ve added to her room this week?
I think we’re going to add l.e.d. twinkle lights to the canopies next, and add a few big plants on either side of the white shelving. I’ll update this post with photos when we do!

Your Friend,
~Amber Hamilton Henson

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This post will link with some great blog hops this week!
Pop into the parties at these links:
ArkansasWomenBloggers ~ Sunday Link Up
my1929charmer ~ Sunday’s Best Par-Tay #64
SavvySouthernStyle ~ Wow Us Wedsnesdays #181
FromMyFrontPorchToYours ~ Treasure Hunt Thursday
SweetBellaRoos ~ Pin It Thursdays
MyRepurposedLife ~ Catch As Catch Can #175
FunkyJunkInteriors ~ PJ 259

Mad Tea Party 2014!

“There are three hundred and sixty-four days when you might get un-birthday presents, and only one day for a Mad Tea Party.”

We’re serving lots of sweets, milk in martini glasses, juice in champagne saucers, and tea! There are plenty of seats left at the table, so please join us!
If you’re hosting a Mad Tea Party of your own, I’d love, love, love it if you left a link in my comments!

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Prose:

A Mad Tea Party about me for my un-birthday?
Just follow the rabbit, he’ll show the way!

Once upon a time, in a mansion on a hill up high,
Where a lady, a man, & three girls love quiche and sweet pie,

They all tinkered and played for many, many days
At a glance, they lost and found time in so many ways!

See, within the new big mansion, there are so many rooms;
There are baubles, gadgets, treats, and perfumes.

And, Inside of it there are three more little houses
Since the structures are new, there aren’t any mouses!

Miss Caroline Daisy has a house that is pink;
She stores lots of treasures within it, I think.

The purple house belongs to Miss Abigail Rose;
It fits in her purple room, where she and friends doze.

The third house of gold, is owned by Veronica Lily;
We try to take her photo, but she’s silly, silly.

We make handmade yarn and jewel flower fairy dolls,
We repurpose windows and doors to hang on our walls.

There are collaged mirrors and frames and gilding galore
with lots of belt chairs and globe lamps sure not to bore!

Each day when the clock says six, it’s time for our tea;
By then the lady has baked and prepared, busy as a bee!

She serves trifle, and cookies, and RUSSIAN tea cakes,
Since the three girls help her whenever she bakes.

Please come join us at our blog, we’ve plenty places for peacocks to sit,
Or gather with us for parades, if you won’t pitch a fit!

We can take tea in the garden, where vegetables grow,
Or inside in chairs, that my man did upholster and sew!

Big or small, indoors or out, we make gypsy style,
and craft lots of jewelry to surely bring a smile.

Lots of baubles and jewels, of the insect variety, too.
For, what good is a garden party without bugs to “boo!”?

If y’all click back through the poem, check out our blue links,
You’ll have toured our whole little blog website! “Wink-Winks!”

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What do you think of my poem? It rhymed! YAY!! Perhaps the poem will make more sense with photos? Try the links to see! (Some links in my poem are our fun projects, some are our recipes, and others are just bits about us and our family life. All are our photos and all are true!)

Your Friend,
~Amber Hamilton Henson

PS
The Mad Tea Party Hostess with the Mostest, Vanessa Valencia, has THE loveliest “Mad Tea Party” happening now, and links to other tea parties can be found in her sidebar and comments, too! A HUGE, “Thank You! Thank You!” to her for organizing this fun blogland event! Her amazing, fantastical, wonderful, whimsical, fanciful tea party:
http://afancifultwist.typepad.com/a_fanciful_twist/2014/07/mad-tea-party-2014.html

PPS
Through the Looking Glass

Happy 4th of July!

Garden. Patriotic Cake. Independence Day! More!
Our family is hanging out at home, today, then tonight we’ll light a few sparklers and watch fireworks! Fun!

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Hubby is enjoying this gorgeous, bright, sunny day here in Little Rock, Arkansas, by repainting our front door and its surround with Gloss Black Enamel. It was a bit tired looking and dull, but not anymore! Shiny, Shiny! Yay! Love him!

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We’ve been picking oh, so many tomatoes and peppers from our garden!
For lunch I put together a lovely Caprese Salad.
(Tomatoes and Basil from my garden, balsamic vinegar reduction, a drizzle of olive oil, sea salt, and my house pepper flakes.) Yummy. Quintessential summer fare.

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Then, this afternoon, the girls wanted to make some sort of patriotic looking treat, so we decided to make a lemonade cake with lemonade cream cheese icing and decorate it with berries!

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The recipe (via Pillows A La Mode):

Our “Patriotic, American Flag inspired Lemonade Cake”

CAKE
• 1 1/3 cup sugar
• 6 tablespoons butter, softened
• 3 tablespoons frozen lemonade concentrate
• 2 teaspoons vanilla
• 2 eggs + 2 egg whites
• 2 cups flour
• 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 1 ¼ cups of milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix sugar, butter, lemonade concentrate, and vanilla with a mixer. Add eggs and egg whites, beating well. Add dry ingredients and milk.
Pour batter into a prepared 9 x 13 glass pan. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool. Chill for one hour before icing.

ICING
• 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
• 2 tablespoons butter, softened
• 2 teaspoons frozen lemonade concentrate
• ½ teaspoon vanilla
• 3 ½ cups powdered sugar
Mix cream cheese, butter, lemonade concentrate, and vanilla until well blended. Add powdered sugar. Thin with milk, if needed.
*OPTIONAL: Last, decorate with fresh blueberries and strawberries for a patriotic design!

Happy 4th of July!

Please, feel free to share, pin it, etc!

Your Friend,
~Amber Hamilton Henson

PS
9pm Update:

It’s that time! Happy 4th, y’all!

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PPS
Love Linking!:
ArkansasWomenBloggers ~ Sunday Link Up

The Oval Window

This isn’t a sponsored post, it’s just a really positive quick review of a product we purchased!

See, we have this pretty oval window on the second story of our house that is about 24″ x 36″. It is centered just above the front door and adds quite a bit of architectural interest. The problem: I could not figure out how to dress it. If I were to add curtains, the oval would no longer be visible from the interior. That would be such a waste of a visually interesting element. However, it NEEDED to get dressed. “Why?” you ask. Well, it HAD to be addressed due to privacy concerns; it’s a bathroom window! The oval window is in a bathroom shared by our three daughters.

On a trip to Home Depot (a local home improvement store,) we noticed this product by ARTSCAPE. It’s a film that clings to the window without adhesive! It comes in a wide variety of prints that offer all levels of privacy from a subtle frost to elaborate stain glass designs. We opted for the “magnolia” stained glass option. It came with easy to follow instruction and installed easily in just a few minutes!

Now, our privacy concerns have been addressed, the architectural interest of the oval is still visible, and the film is really, really pretty. Our daughters LOVE it! Our middle daughter wants to know if we can buy more for ALL of the big windows in her bedroom! We’ll see. I have to research a little to find out if it comes in larger sizes, too! I’ll check their website, www.artscape-inc.com.

The pictures: (click on any photo to enlarge it.)

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Your Friend,
~Amber Hamilton Henson
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Pepper is in the Air ‘Round Here

DIY pepper flakes

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I’m trying to recreate a gift. A friend of my husband’s is an avid pepper aficionado. He grows lots of varieties of peppers from seeds, cross pollinates them, saves seeds, and shares the bounty from his garden. In addition to fresh peppers, last year he gave us a spice shaker full of dehydrated pepper flakes and seeds. It was so good! All through the winter, it was a great addition to chilis, stews, and sauces.

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This year, we’re growing 8 pepper plants of our own in our backyard cedar raised vegetable boxes that we built last year. Our pepper plants are thriving! Yay! (We have red MexiBells, yellow cayenne, jumbo jalapeño, Serrano, banana peppers, and cowhorn peppers this year.)

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We’ve had short splashes of rain everyday this week, at just the right times, my garden thinks. Just yesterday, the kids spent time in our backyard playing, swinging on the tire, flipping on the monkey bars, jumping on the trampoline in the upper part of the yard out in the hot, humidity all afternoon. The air was so thick, you could almost cut it with a knife. Then, right as they came inside for dinner, we had a wonderful hour long downpour, ending about an hour before sunset. This left us the perfect window of time to pull a few weeds and harvest a basket of tomatoes, peppers, and yellow squash.

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I just LOVE that my middle daughter Abigail wanted to come out there to work in the garden with me, too!

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In addition to eating fresh peppers, using peppers for cooking, and freezing peppers, we’re having such a bumper crop of peppers, we decided to try making our own dehydrated pepper spice, like the one gifted to us last year! This is my first time attempting this project! We’re six hours into dehydrating right now (it takes 2-3 days), and our whole house is filled with the scent of peppers from the dehydrator! It’s not so intense that it burns eyes or noses or anything, but there’s definitely a noticeable pepperiness wafting throughout the house. (pepperiness? Peppery-ness? Idk. You understand… 🙂 )

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The white platter is holding the peppers I’ve picked from our garden the last three days. I also purchased a few little orange colored habenero peppers from the grocery store to make our blend have extra heat for our winter chili! Love.

So far, we’ve simply cut the peppers in half lengthwise and placed in the dehydrator (skin side down.)

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It takes 2-3 days for the peppers to dehydrate fully in the dehydrator we’re using. Then we’ll crush/grind them and store them in a pretty little stainless and glass container! I’ll update/edit THIS post in 2-3 days with our results.

Until then, we’ll be here, at home, totally enveloped in the aroma of fresh peppers being dehydrated!

UPDATE!:

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Our dehydration of my garden peppers into pepper flake shaker form is a success!!! YAY!!
The peppers dehydrated for two days, then I put them into my blender. I then just used a funnel to pour them into their new container! It’s a glass and stainless container that is about the same size as a soda can! I’m soooooo pleased with the results! It has intense, fresh garden pepper flavor plus LOTS of heat! (Two trays of fresh peppers yielded my soda size shaker about 2/3 full.)

Your Friend,
~Amber Hamilton Henson

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DIY pepper flakes

PS
Love linking:
Arkansas Women Bloggers ~ Sunday Link Up
SavvySouthernStyle ~ Wow Us Wednesday
NibblesByNic ~ Wonderfully Creative Wednesdays
AnOregonCottage ~ Tuesday Garden Party
FromMyFrontPorchToYours ~ Treasure Hunt Thursdays
ADelightsomeLife ~ Home Garden Thursday
MizHelensCountryCottage ~ Full Plate Thursday
EverydayEnchanting ~ Inspiration Link Party
SweetBellaRoos ~ Pin it Thursday
RattleBridgeFarms ~ Foodie Friday
my1929charmer ~ Sunday’s Best #63 ParTay

These Summer Days

I’m okay with going to bed at 8 pm. Really. I deserve it. I earn it. I’m late right now. It’ll be 9, tonight.
My days start early, are busy, and include at least one long stint of being out in hot (90*+ F) afternoon sun everyday this week.
I start by watering the veggies and roses at 5:30. Shower, start waking the 3 girls, making breakfast, fixing hair, etc.
Then, I deliver my oldest to Rock Band Camp about 45 minutes away from our house. She’s learning to play her electric guitar. Loving it!
We lunch.
Then, my middle daughter has swim and dive practice about 25 minutes away from the house. Really, y’all, I’m a taxi/shuttle service all day, all over town. She’s thriving. She’s worth the commute.
We dinner.
They settle down with books, computers, etc. I photograph my garden or update my blog or …
Btw, I haven’t forgotten to post the changes I’m making to my little sidekick’s room. Baby V. Lil’ Miss Veronica Lily, now 3.5 years old, is my constant companion. Maybe next week I’ll have time to finish sewing her bunting that we’re hanging on the ceiling with twinkle lights in her room.
Oh, and a quilt. Between activities, my oldest daughters and I are sewing a quilt. We started it last summer. It’s a lot of work. A lot of sewing. We hope to finish it THIS summer.
So, anyway, here are a few photos from this week: (yes, our girls all sure look alike! But, these are photos of three different girls, not a time lapse photo series.)

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And, on Sunday we got to hang out with my Dad and Tammy, aka Pop and Grammy. Here they are pictured with our oldest two girls at Mellow Mushroom, a pizza joint near here. Aren’t they the best looking grandparents EVER? Love them! 🙂

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More blog later!
How are you spending your summer days this year?

Your Friend,
~Amber Hamilton Henson

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Rosemary Water

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Surrounding myself with a favorite scent, such as Rosemary, that brings back fond memories is an excellent way to make myself feel clarity, well, at peace, and carefree.

I heart Rosemary. A Lot. I heart Rosemary so much, in fact, I have planted and been raising quite a hedge of Rosemary about 15′ long along the path to our front door.

We always seem to have sprigs of Rosemary laying about in the kitchen. Every week or so, I just cut more sprigs to keep the scent in the kitchen, and as I pass by them, I run my fingertips across the Rosemary to carry the scent with me as I go.

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(Photo of book, Aromatic Herbs, by Jill Norman. Click on it to enlarge.)

When I read, I’m known to keep a sprig nearby to use as a bookmark. When I take a break from reading to tend a few chores, I’m greeted with a wonderfully invigoratingly fresh scent as I reopen my book. For me, it’s such a fresh, welcoming scent.

On that note, I thought it might also be nice make a bit of Rosemary Water for ironing . . . and freshening up linens . . . and so forth. So, let’s do that, shall we? We shall!

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I’m using distilled water, Mountain Valley Spring Water from Hot Springs, Arkansas, specifically, of course, since I’m an Arkansas girl. 🙂 I’m also using Rosemary essential oil.

The cost: less than $5.00
The time: less than 2 minutes to “make” this
Directions: just add 5 drops essential oil to every 5 oz of water. Easy! Then, spritz with joy!

Note:
While fresh rosemary sprigs are beautiful in the water, they are organic and will make the water cloudy pretty quickly, so do I did it for myself only because I’m anticipating that I’ll use it all pretty quickly! Otherwise, the distilled water and essential oil lasts longer without becoming cloudy if the fresh Rosemary is omitted.

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Take care to see which things are spritz-able (is that a word?) . . . able to be spritzed . . . and those which are not.

I’m spritz-ing the lining (backside) of my draperies, under couch cushions, all around the middle of the room as I twirl singing a little too loudly, and then race out to my car and mist all around the carpet floor mats, and . . . Oh, yeah, I’m supposed to save some to spritz the ironing! (I spray the inside of garments, then iron the right side. It makes ironing a pleasure!) Then, I also spritz . . . 🙂 Well, I just spritz and spritz . . . 🙂 🙂

I heart Rosemary and its scent so much. You’ve seen (read) me talk about it before as I use rosemary branches as skewers for chicken, too, yes? and I have a whole board dedicated to Rosemary on Pinterest that perhaps you’ve seen?

My next feat may be to try making a Rosemary jelly! It sounds so lovely to me! (Recipe is in book, Medicinal Herbs, by Patricia Turcotte.)

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Or, I may try extracting my own Rosemary essential oil. I found instructions on eHow.

Or, as an alternative to making Rosemary water in the method described above, I may try boiling it somehow and straining it to create Rosemary Water for my laundry. We’ll see. I’ll be here, just happily playing amongst my rosemary. 🙂

Your Friend,
~Amber Hamilton Henson

PS
It’s raining heavily here, tonight, which makes this spray extra lovely. It seems to just linger in the humid air. Love.

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PPS
Love linking:
Arkansas Women Bloggers ~ Sunday Link Up
SavvySouthernStyle ~ Wow Us Wednesday
FromMyFrontPorchToYours ~ Treasure Hunt Thursdays
ADelightsomeLife ~ Home Garden Thursday
MyRepurposedLife ~ Catch as Catch Can
my1929charmer ~ Sunday’s Best #63 ParTay

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A Story of Roses in Whiskey Barrels

We have exactly 5 rose bushes, all of which are growing in retired whiskey barrel halves.

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My Great, Great Aunt Ruby had the sweetest smelling climbing miniature roses growing beside her carport. It’s been 30 years since I remember seeing them, and they’re probably long gone, but when I close my eyes and think back, I can still smell them, like a faint vanilla with a lot of sweet apricot. Whenever I went with my Gram to visit her, they would sit in the house and talk, and I would check out the roses. My Great, Great Aunt Ruby passed away when I was elementary aged, but I remember three things well about her: her spectacular miniature roses, her long, brightly painted fingernails, and trying a piece of rum cake at her house that I was far too young to appreciate. “Yuck, rum?!” Fond memories of mine are these, even the rum cake. Love.

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My mother in law, Betty, loved her roses and grew several varieties. Sort of. She didn’t follow any sort of those rose pruning rules, feeding or watering schedule, or any such thing. She just planted a rose bush from time to time throughout the years, and if any of them grew a flower, my father in law would cut them and put them in a cup of water on the kitchen table. Upon entering the house during summer months, she never missed a beat, consistently saying two things to every guest, “Do you want a glass of tea? I have Cokes, too! … and … Did you see the roses Bobby picked for me? Aren’t they pretty! Come see!” She passed away a few years ago, and Bobby moved away soon after, so one cold Spring morning a few years ago, Mitch dug up 4 of his mother’s rose bushes and moved them here to our house. Unfortunately, with our house being on top of a hill, sitting in the shadow of Shinall Mountain, our yard is steep, and all rock below the layer of zoysia grass, we couldn’t plant them directly in the ground very well. Needing a solution for how to plant them, we bought retired Jack Daniel brand Whiskey barrel halves at Home Depot to use as planters for the roses!

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The roses had been thriving in their whiskey barrel pots, except for one. It had beautiful foliage for the last three years, but never bloomed. Then, this year… WOW! It suddenly decided to put on quite a show! See the roses from Betty are a miniature pink one that reminds me of Great, Great Aunt Ruby’s, a yellow one, a carnival one that changes from yellow to an orangish-pink, and the fourth was a mystery. Well, mystery solved. It’s a gorgeous deep dark pink that borders on being red. It’s magnificent!

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We have four rose bushes that were Betty’s and a fifth one, a pretty pink florabunda, that Abigail asked to buy at Home Depot, all growing in these beautiful, strong whiskey barrel halves. Abigail loves roses as much or more than I do. Her middle name is Rose. (All three of my girls have flower middle names. Caroline Daisy, named Caroline in honor of my Gram, Abigail Rose, and Veronica Lily.)

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Usually, we just let them live their bloom cycle in the yard and try to take the time to remove spent blooms occasionally. Today, is a new day, though. I think I’m going to start cutting the roses and enjoying the blooms indoors more frequently. Perhaps we’ll let them dry and make pretty rose garlands! We’ll see. Regardless, I can hardly wait for my husband Mitch to come home and see them sitting on the table, again. Love.

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Do you grow roses? Do you have any special rose memories or rose stories? Are there rose books you recommend for us? Please, share in comments!

Your Friend,
~Amber Hamilton Henson

PS
Love Linking! Check out the blog parties:
HowSweetTheSound ~ Pink Saturday
ArkansasWomenBloggers ~ Sunday Link Up
AnOregonCottage ~ Tuesday Garden Party
ElizabethAndCo ~ July Garden Party

Uh, oh! Police got me!

Haha!! Keep reading. Y’all know I love buying and growing Bonnie Plants. I’ve told you before in my Kitchen Herbs and QRcodes post last year, that I am so pleased with the Bonnie plants I buy every year! Basil, peppers, tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, and more. Every year! But did you know that Bonnie Plants is a lot of fun on social media too? They are! I highly suggest following them! There are always lots of great photos, tips, and great projects, too!

Here’s what happened, today:
I posted on Instagram. I usually tag @BonniePlants in my vegetable posts, since my plants are all Bonnie, so they’re pretty used to seeing me and my antics on IG. Well, today, I was having a little fun with an iPhone photo editting app called “Halftone” that allows users to create photos that look like comic strips and BonniePlants caught me slipping from my morning duties! So fun! If I lived in Alabama where they’re headquartered, I’d totally apply for employment with Bonnie. It seems like such a fun group, plus they get to be around all the wonderful plants! Yumm! Love it!

So here are my Halftone comic photos and last is the screenshot of Instagram with @BonniePlants:

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See, BUSTED! Police got me! Hahahahaaaa!
If I go to veggie jail, I’ll just make a salad and be happy to stay!
Love it!

Your Friend and a total Bonnie Plants fan,
~Amber Hamilton Henson

PS
Go follow Bonnie Plants on social media! Love.
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Ornament Window Valance

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When a window needs to be dressed, it doesn’t have to be fabric, right? Right! . . .and, when you enjoy sparkly, metallic ornaments, you shouldn’t reserve them exclusively for Christmas trees for only a few weeks a year, true? True!

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You and I are on the same page. We think hanging a bunch of sparkly ornaments on a curtain rod as a valance in a guest powder is a perfectly dandy form of window treatment! Yes, yes we do!

Which sort of ornaments did I choose for said valance? Well, the most fun and sparkliest ones, of course! Roses, glitter coated birds, bird cages, golden sweet pea pods with pearls of peas, crystal diamonds, and more!

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I’ll refrain from showing you photos of my porcelain sink, manufactured marble shower, and toilet in this little powder room, because well, it’s just a bathroom. However, I WILL show you the gilded mirrors on the wall above a lovely pitcher and houseplants and part of my rock and crystal collection and…

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Speaking of houseplants, I just love them so much! I have to have at least one in every room, multiples in many rooms, and even artificial ones for high shelves where watering would be difficult.

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Do you keep many houseplants? I worry that I may have a few too many at times, particularly when I find myself keeping them in large stainless pots in the kitchen that would otherwise be used to boil a chicken! Haha! With temps consistently over 90*F this time of year, who wants to heat up the kitchen by boiling a whole chicken anyway?! 🙂

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Your Friend,
~Amber Hamilton Henson

Love Linking! Check out the parties:
http://shabbynest.blogspot.com/2014/06/frugal-friday_19.html
ArkansasWomenBloggers ~ Sunday Link Up
SavvySouthernStyle ~ Wow Us Wednesday
EverydayEnchanting ~ Inspiration Link Party
SweetBellaRoos ~ Pin it Thursday
MyRepurposedLife ~ Catch as Catch Can
FunkyJunkInteriors ~ PJ #246