Hello, again....

9.30.2009

I know that these first three images are forever embedded into so many of our design crazed minds. From the home of Jenna Lyons in the November 08 issue of Domino.
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And now her lovely home is published again the September 09 issue of Living etc. I'm sure you've all already seen this... but I couldn't resist posting. I'm probably way behind (which I know I am. I've been neglecting my blog reading as well as my large pile of magazines). I'm hoping to catch up soon. A little thank you to Design Actually for inspiring today's post and for helping me get back into the loop!
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It's always inspiring to see a house that has been published (especially the areas that you didn't get to see before)- and then see it again and notice the many changes (some large, some small).
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Pet Parade

Be sure to go check out Tanner in the Pet Parade at The Katillac Shack.

Or you can watch it here. This creative idea helped raise $2000 for pets in need.

I can't find the cute photo of him in his scarf that I made for the pet parade... but here he is hanging out underneath a table.
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Blogging vs. Pumpkin Bread

9.29.2009

I signed on this morning to do a post (not sure what on)... and started reading blogs. I started off with Birmingham friends and clicked from blog to blog. I ended up on Melissa's blog and found this recipe.

Then the big debate- do I do a design post or head to the kitchen? Well... the pumpkin bread won. And here it is:

And yes, I am 'that' girl. I'm home alone and I went to the trouble of making it... so why not eat the piece I want? Straight out of the middle.

Here's the recipe in case you want to enjoy (note- I found out that it's actually from my church's old cookbook):

Best-Ever Pumpkin Bread
1 1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 cups sifted flour
2 cups (or one can) of pumpkin
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon allspice
2 (3 oz) boxes of cook and serve vanilla pudding (not instant!!)

Beat together oil & sugars, adding eggs one at a time. Blend well. Add pumpkin. Then add the rest of the ingredients. Pour into two bread loaf pans that have been greased and floured. Bake at 350 for 45 to 50 minutes. Inhale the wonderful aroma! When it's done, sprinkle the top with cinnamon & sugar and slice.

Enjoy!

Smart Start

9.28.2009

Today's house is one that I've always liked a lot... and I think that's because it is owned by someone my age. I love seeing houses that are owned by my peers as it sometimes makes things seem more attainable (does that make sense?). This house is located here in Birmingham and was published in the Fall 2008 issue of Decorating (A Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publication). It's an issue that I've held onto because of this house and finally got around to scanning it in.
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And for those of you who live in Birmingham- Amy owns Suite Dreams in Mountain Brook Village. (update: thanks to Bungalow Home for letting me know that Amy sold Suite Dreams and is now a sales rep for a wonderful line of bed linens)
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And a little information on some elements from Amy's house:
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Rustic Yet Refined

9.24.2009

I am constantly reminded of my love for farmhouses and barns. I don't know what it is about them that just lures me in. I liked the title of this article in the recent issue of Martha Stewart Living... Rustic, yet Refined. That's one area of design that I find myself gravitating to over and over again.
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I love how just a few simple things in this home set the tone for fall/winter. My favorite line in the article is when the owner, Tom Johnson says, "I don't decorate. I just buy stuff I like, and somehow it all works together." That's how I feel about my house. I buy stuff I like... although sometimes I question whether it works together or not!
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*images scanned from Martha Stewart Living, October 2009

a renewed spirit

9.23.2009

I know that I've established this as a design blog... which I love. But I've also tried to show part of who I am. Whether it's running or sewing or baking or triathlons or book reviews or family & friends...whatever it may be. But one part that I don't mention enough is my love for Jesus. We spent some time in Bible Study last night talking about things of the world.... and our need for a Savior. Why do the 'things' of the world lure us in? Why do we find comfort in them?
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I recently came across this blog that I highly recommend you taking the time to visit. To say that I am speechless is an understatement. A true testimony of Katie's love for the Lord. It really is amazing. I know that everyone isn't called into the mission field... but it's just a reminder that where we live and work each day is our very own mission field- whether in Alabama or Africa. It's a reminder to set your mind on things above, not on things of the earth.
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Do I think a design blog is bad? No. Am I going to stop posting on pretty things? No. Does it make me less of a Christian to have a design blog? I hope not. But did Katie's blog put things into perspective and renew my heart? You bet.

I hope you'll take the time to read and see what she's been up to. If you want to read from the beginning- you can start here (just scroll down and read up). She is amazing and her love for God is unshaken.
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In case you don't go visit... here is an excerpt from one of her entries explaining how she got to where she is today. I know it's long but you'll be thankful you took the time to read it. I promise.
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"It is my 16th Birthday and I am eating sushi at my favorite restaurant with my parents when I tell them that I would like to explore the possibility of taking a year in between high school and college to do mission work. This is unheard of in my family and they say they are not sure and will think about it. I am nervous, but somehow I know it is right. He changes their hearts.
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I have just turned 18 and find an orphanage online. I beg my parents to let me visit over break, just three weeks. A month later I am on a plane. I am so excited. I am so scared of being, but I know He is going with me. I fall in love.I graduate high school having made the commitment to teach Kindergarten for a year at a school in The Middle of Nowhere, Uganda. In August I get on the plane. I’m apprehensive and I cry most of the way because I miss my Mommy and my boyfriend. I am eager, but so uncertain. I trust Him. I teach 138 children how to speak English and to love Jesus.
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It is October and I am just not sure I can do it anymore. I live in the smallest room I have ever seen in the back of a pastor’s house. I am more uncomfortable than I had bargained for. No one understands, not people here, not people at home. I am tired. But I am prideful and I am not going to quit. I don’t like this. But I know He has a plan. I learn, I grow, He is there.
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It is December and God has spoken very clearly about opening a ministry that sponsors 40 of the orphaned children in the village where I am working. This involves moving into a different house, ALONE. It is big and I cannot imagine how God will fill it up. I am lonely and I am anxious. But I am still trusting. He fills the house, and we now have 400 children sponsored.
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It is January and I am looking at a little girl, crushed under a brick wall with no one to care for her or her younger siblings. I offer to take the three home with me until we find them a better placement. I am not really sure what to do with them, but I know they are God’s children. They stay.It is three days later and the littlest looks at me and calls me mommy. My heart might break in two. Something clicks. I am even more scared than I was the day I stepped on that plane, but I KNOW. Today I have 13.I have to deliver a baby, give a boy stitches, pull a tooth, give and injection. I am petrified. But no one will do it if I do not. He is present, He holds my hand, they are all fine.
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It is August and I must get on a plane back to America to go to college, as I have promised my father. I do not remember how to be a teenager or what it is to be normal Brentwood, Tennessee. I will have to leave my babies. I will have to make new friends. I am sad and I am terrified. He wraps His arms around me. He puts just the right people in just the right places, and they help me and they make me feel at home.
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First semester is over and He speaks clearly to me that I cannot serve two masters. “Go HOME,” He says, “and stay.” I am uncertain, but I want to be obedient. He squeezes tighter. I am thankful.I have to look at my loving parents who have given me everything and tell them that I will not go to college right now, because I feel God wants me to be in Uganda. I know how disappointed and how angry they will be. I am more scared than I was when I got on the plane and more scared than I was when I took my first children. But I know that this IS the Plan. They love me anyway.

It is February and my daughter’s biological father comes to take her away. My heart breaks in half, and I am not sure I will ever be able to get out of my bed again, let alone foster another child. I am more than devastated, but I want what is best for her, what He wants for her. She comes back and her biological father learns about Jesus.

It is March and a lame little girl is brought to my gate. She is undoubtedly mine, but I am still anxious. What if I can’t do it? I don’t know what to do with a special needs child, especially as my 13th child. I am criticized and ridiculed. I wonder. I trust and praise God for her sweet little life. She starts to walk.

I find myself in a village full of starving people that for some reason seem to want to kill me. God says to serve them anyway. I am not sure how it is going to work, or if it is safe. I can’t figure it out, but I know He can. 1,200 Karamajongs, the poorest of Uganda’s poor, are now served hot meals daily.We keep taking in more children until there are 400 in our program. There is no way we will raise enough funds, but by now I have stopped worrying. He has always provided. Blessings rain from the sky, and all 400 children go to school.
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I am 20 years old and have 13 children and 400 more who all depend on me for their care. Who are all learning to love Jesus and be responsible adults and looking up to me. The reality of it all can be a bit overwhelming at times. However, it is always pure joy. There is a common misconception that I am courageous. I will be the first to tell you that this is not actually true. Most of the time, I am not brave. I just believe in a God who will use me even though I am not. Most mornings, before I even get out of bed I am overwhelmed with His goodness, with His plan for my life; I stand in awe of the fact that He could entrust me with so much. Most days, I don’t have much of a plan. I don’t always know where this is going. I can’t see the end of the road, but here is the great part: Courage is not about knowing the path. It is about taking the first step. It is about Peter, getting out of the boat. I do not know my five year plan; even tomorrow will probably not go as I have planned. I am thrilled and I am terrified, in a good way. So some call it courage, some call it foolish, I call it Faith. I choose to get out of the boat. To take the next step. Sometimes I walk straight into His arms. More often, I get scared and look down and stumble. Sometimes I almost completely drown. And through it all, He never lets go of my hand.
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And another post that touched my heart (among many):
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"... at first glance, it would be easy to feel sorry for these little boys. their clothes are tattered, they sleep on old, dirty mattresses, they walk to school barefoot in the rain. they have no electricity, no running water, and it is raining so hard that the whole compound has become a muddy swamp. but you should not pity these children, in fact, you should envy them. i know i do. at six years old, these children know what it is to be filled with the Holy Spirit. these children know the Greatness, the Wonder of our God.when was the last time you prayed out loud for 30 minutes? when was the last time you spent as little as half an hour listing to the Lord all the reasons that you love Him, thanked Him for all He has done for you, or even simply marveled at his awesome grace? i've had people ask me why africa is so impoverished, even had people tell me that it is a cursed nation. africa is not impoverished. these children are not poor. we are. we put value in things. these children, having no things, put value in God. we put our trust in relationships, these children, having already seen relationships fail, put their trust in the Lord. this nation is blessed beyond any place, any people i have ever encountered. God has not forgotten these people, in fact, i believe He has loved them just a little bit extra."

Let me introduce you to....

9.22.2009

... one of my best friends, Leslie. You can read her blog here. She's pretty funny. Although I hate to write that for all to see because I know she is reading this and she'll let it go to her head.

If you go to her blog you can read about her recent "Twilight" slumber party. Yes she is 30....

Here is a photo of us with another one of our best friends... Leslie, Stacey, and me.

I wanted to introduce you to Leslie because she leaves comments on my blog- like these:

- I demand a recount (referencing today's winner)

- My daughter is totally wearing mine. (referencing Trash the Dress)

- I want to win (referencing the giveway. We know, Leslie. Everyone wants to win)

- stop hatin' on red (referencing my Orange Crush post)

-why is that girl's dress hanging on her headboard?? (referencing my Feeling Blue post)

She is also the one who emails me throughout the week saying, "you put WAY TOO much white on your blog. I have dogs. It's just not practical."

And... one email said, "You will feature my chair before & after on Blueprint Bliss. Except I don't have any before photos."

That's Leslie. And her comments always make me laugh. So I wanted to introduce you to her so you could sense the sarcasm in her comments... rather than thinking I was receiving comments from some bitchy girl. I love you, L.

And the winner is....

According to random.org- #34 which is Christine Lofton from Griffin, GA. I just went to her profile page and wanted to post her cute photo on my blog- but decided not to since I don't know her. She might not be a fan of that!

Congrats, Christine! I hope you will enjoy your Advanced Face Firming Activator. If you will- email me your mailing information to blueprintbliss@gmail.com.

Thanks so much to everyone who left a comment for the Perricone MD giveaway.

On another note- I've been quite the blog slacker lately. Slacking when it comes to posting as well as when it comes to reading blogs. So please forgive me. I promise to get back into the swing of things soon!

Have a great day- Brooke

House Guest

9.18.2009

I don't have time for an official post because my little sister is in town visiting. But I just wanted to say have a great weekend. Here is a sibling snapshot.
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And don't forget to leave a comment to register for the giveaway!

Designer Spotlight: Ashley Whittaker

9.17.2009

I was reminded of Ashley Whittaker recently while flipping through a past issue of Domino. You probably remember her being listed in The Domino 10 in the April 2007 issue. She also had her first solo project make the cover of House Beautiful in February of 2008. Here are some images from some of her projects. There's something great about all of her spaces- but I'm particularly loving these first three of her own NYC apartment.