DIY Americana Heart Door Hanger

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I had fun making this American-themed door hanger in preparation for a local make-and-take craft class that I will be teaching in coming weeks. It’s a perfect project for a beginner or intermediate crafter and requires only a few supplies — most of which can be found at local craft stores. This particular door hanger is going to serve as the model for the class — and will hang on an outside door where we can enjoy it through the summer.

The idea came from Craft Cuts though my version, shown above, is slightly different. I found one of their video tutorials while browsing on YouTube, and I am sharing it here so that you can refer to it for step-by-step instruction. Craft Cuts provides links where you can order the heart shapes in different sizes made of either wood or plastic. However, I created my own heart shape pattern and printed it out. Since it’s an 18″x18″ heart shape, it prints out on six (6) sheets of paper which had to be assembled and taped together — this was very easy to do and took only a few minutes. I then cut around the outside of the paper heart to create a pattern that I could then trace onto 1/4″ thick luan plywood.

I am sharing a downloadable, printable PDF file with the 18″x18″ heart pattern if you would like to print it out to cut your own. The printable is free, and here is the link to the PRINTABLE. If you are unable to cut the wood for yourself, you can order the 18″x18″ PRE-CUT WOOD HEART from my on-line store. I can also custom make an entire Americana door hanger for you which will include your family monogram. These take about 2-3 day business days to make and will ship within 3-5 business days. Contact me at thelaughingcabin@gmail.com for pricing and shipping information.

If you will be cutting the pattern using your own wood, I recommend using 1/4″ thick luan plywood because it is a lighter weight. Most building supply stores sell these in 24″x24″ sheets for only a few dollars. The lighter weight of the wood will allow you to use glue to attach the ribbons without the need for screws or nails.The 1/4″ wood is more susceptible to warping, so make sure that the door hanger is laid flat if you are storing it to use year after year. It also helps to place something heavy on it while it is being stored to keep the wood as flat as possible.

If you decide to use wood that is thicker — say 1/2″ or so — I would recommend using some type of hanger hardware rather than allowing the ribbon to support the entire weight of the wood. ALSO… if you will be displaying this on an outer door that will be exposed to the weather, definitely use outdoor paint and/or water resistant polyurethane sealant on both sides of the wood.

If you do plan to make this project, allow about 2 hours to cut the wood, paint the design and attach the ribbons. Glue and sealant will need at least 8 hours’ drying time.

Until next time! ~ Susan

 

 

 

 

Americana Home Decor & Gifts

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I’ve loved Americana themed items since the mid-1980s when, as a tourist, I first stepped foot in a small country store that sold handmade vintage-style country primitive items. Their Americana display made my heart skip a beat. I have since discovered the popularity of such items and the fact that Americana isn’t just for Memorial Day or the 4th of July. It’s become a popular home decor trend particularly in country homes and rustic cabins. Whether a house features a single piece or an entire room full, Americana brings a sense of heritage and patriotism into a home.

The following are my favorite Americana themed items that are now appearing in The Laughing Cabin’s on-line STORE. Use the convenient “Add to Cart” button when you find something you like or visit the SEASONAL collection to view more Americana items.

Until next time! ~ Susan

 

 

CLICK TO VIEW THE ENTIRE AMERICANA COLLECTION

The Day the Well Ran Dry

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It was 1996, and it was a hot summer that year. It was also the year the Olympics were held in Atlanta. We had just moved up from south Florida only a few weeks earlier and had rented a cabin in a neighboring town while our new house was being constructed.

The cabin was situated in a meadow of grass, and having arrived fresh out of the moving truck from the city, this was nothing short of heaven to me. The yard came complete with a clothesline, and I could not wait to get the first sheet washed and hung out to dry. I wanted to smell those sun dried sheets!

There were few houses around us with the exception of an old farmhouse across the street. It was hidden from view by trees and the fact that it sat inside the dip of a small hill. Occasionally, I would catch a glimpse of its occupant — an older man who seemed to enjoy keeping to himself — and saw him when he made the walk to the mailbox every afternoon. I would wave to him. He would wave back, and that was the extent of our interaction for many weeks.

As the summer progressed, the days grew hotter, and we missed our Florida swimming pool. I had the bright idea to drive over to Walmart and picked out a snap-together pool that was no more than 2 feet tall and 10 feet across. I knew our young sons would love it.

That afternoon, the boys and I busied ourselves with putting the pool together. I brought out the garden hose and hung it over the edge of the pool and allowed the water to flow. Judging by the size of the pool, I knew it was going to be a couple of hours until it was filled enough to swim. So, I went back into the house to prepare lunch and checked on the water level every so often.

The boys were antsy to get into the pool, so when it was about half full, I told them to jump in. I sat outside to supervise and noticed our neighbor friend making his usual trek to the mailbox. I threw my hand in the air to wave, but this time, he behaved a little differently. He stood at his mailbox across the street and turned to stare at the pool. He stood, and he stood, and he stared. Then, he put his hand to his chin as though he wanted to say something, but instead, turned slowly toward home and walked away. Considering what happened next, I wish the man had spoken. I believe he knew something important and was debating whether or not to tell me.

In south Florida, I tended to take water usage for granted. That’s because we had “city” water that was provided to us through the utility company, and the supply seemed endless. Yes, we had to pay for any water we used, but even so, water seemed abundant. We watered our grass with it, filled our swimming pools with it, washed the cars and even played in the sprinklers — and never with any consideration for how much we were using unless we were under a drought restriction of some kind. Because of this, I had no experience with wells. I had heard of “well water,” but I truly did not understand what a well was or how it functioned. Our landlord mentioned something about the cabin having a “shallow well,” but those words fell to the ground the moment she spoke them. Shallow well, deep well, it was all the same mystery to me.

The boys had climbed into the pool and were happily splashing around when I heard one of them say, “Hey, Mom, the pool has dirty water.” Sure enough. I lifted up the hose and saw mud chugging out of it. “What is this about,” I wondered aloud. I didn’t know it until later that day, but it would be another week before we saw another drop of clear water coming out of a faucet. The mud that was spewing out of the hose was the silt being sucked from the bottom of the well. The water in the swimming pool represented ALL of the water that our well could hold, and what water was in it was completely brown by this time. Ironically, there was no saving it or using it for anything, and it certainly was not good for swimming or bathing with all of the mud that was now in it. We ended up dumping it out into the yard.

I learned a really tough lesson that day about the nature of wells — shallow wells in particular. I also learned the value of conserving water and maintaining good water quality — and certainly never taking the availability of clean water for granted. But, there was one little surprise in all of this that I didn’t expect.

I had gone 3 or 4 days without a shower in the midst of our well water crisis, and I couldn’t take it a day longer. The well was slowly filling up, and there was finally enough water for a quick shower. The water coming out of the shower head was still a bit on the murky side, but it was more water than mud, by this time. When you need a shower that badly, you close your eyes and try to ignore the fact that the water pouring down on your head and puddling around your feet has a brown tint to it. This was one of those very rare times in life when I actually appreciated being near-sighted.

The surprise came after the shower when I began to dry and style my hair. At that time, my hair fell down the middle of my back, and because it was fine, it tended to tangle and brushing it was never fun. This morning, however, the comb went through my long hair like a hot knife through butter, and I immediately noticed that it was super silky soft to the touch. Once my hair was styled and dried, it had never looked so shiny and pretty. I was in complete shock and awe. Whatever was at the bottom of that well had worked wonders!

I am happy to say that was the first and last time that I’ve had the experience of a dry well. I hope never to experience it again. But if it should happen, I will pull out all of my empty Mason jars and start filling them up with any brown water that trickles out of the faucet. A girl could make a fortune selling that stuff!

Until next time! ~ Susan

Dress a Country Window

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They say that just the right curtain can literally change the look and “feel” of a room, and it’s even more true when it comes to country inspired window treatments. Nothing says “country” like checks, plaids, burlap and 5-point stars. It is my hope that these prairie curtains and panels from VHC Brands will be just what you need to transform your country home or cabin.

These window treatments are made of 100% cotton including many that are made of soft, natural burlap which is a popular decor trend for 2017. All curtains and panels have a 1/2″ header and a 3-1/4″ rod pocket. All are made of a single fabric and most are lined unless otherwise noted. Long and short panels include matching tie backs.

All of the items in this collection will ship within 3-5 business days. Flat rate shipping applies for U.S. orders. If you are looking for a specific fabric pattern, color or design, please contact me at thelaughingcabin@gmail.com — I will be glad to help you find it! ~ Susan

Click on any of the images below to visit the entire collection and read the full item descriptions.

The Biggest Battle That Ever Was Won

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As a person who struggled for 18 years with chronic depression and could barely make it out of bed before noon on many mornings, I can tell you that depression carries you to a very dark place and attempts to convince you that you are better off dead. There is a deep sense of frustration and hopelessness for those who suffer, and the best that you can do is look for ways to cope usually with the help of medications that can often worsen the symptoms.

Depression brought me to the limits of my marriage, and my then-husband gave me an ultimatum to “straighten up” or get out. This was in 1999, and I was 37 years old at the time. I did not know what was causing the depression, so I had no clue how to “straighten up.”

In the years leading up to this point, I had gone from 147 lbs. to 280 lbs.  I could not walk without experiencing pain due to the strain on my ankles. I had not menstruated in many years likely due to a hormonal imbalance and had recently suffered a brain seizure for which no cause could be found. I was told the seizures could happen again and that it might be a precursor to epilepsy.

I was not a particularly religious person, but that day when my husband issued his ultimatum, I turned to God and asked for help. I was desperate and at the end of my rope. I truly did not think God would answer because it did not seem that any of my other prayers had ever been heard. Yet, within just a matter of weeks, God began to bring random people into my life who had answers and knew why I was struggling. They each carried a piece of my healing, and through them, I learned about the nature of sin, the power of forgiveness and the work that Jesus Christ accomplished on the cross so that I could be healed and made whole.

During the process of healing, I learned that my depression was connected to unconfessed sins, anger, unforgiveness and unhealed wounds. To heal, I had to be willing to forgive. It sounds easy enough, but it was emotionally grueling. Even so, I was determined.. For the first time in my life, I began to have hope.

As I put these things into practice, I began to get stronger and my faith grew, but I was still struggling. So, I reached out to a ministry that walked me through the next process of healing known as deliverance.

Deliverance happened immediately even though it was a months-long process to get to the place where I was spiritually ready to receive it. After one prayer, I felt the depression and anger leave my body. There was no more trying to cope. The depression was completely and miraculously gone. That was 18 years ago, and I am still walking in freedom as it says in John 8:36 — “So if the Son liberates you [makes you free men], then you are really and unquestionably free.” (Amplified Bible)

Other things in my body began to heal. I lost 25 lbs. within a matter of weeks without dieting. That month my menstrual cycle returned like clock-work and was never interrupted again until menopause. I was able to get back to the gym and was running and lifting weights for the first time in my adult life. At the end of it, I had dropped more than 80 lbs. without any conscious effort to do so. I went from a size 24 to a size 14 within 8 months. The brain seizures never returned.

The changes in me were so noticeable that it impacted the lives of the people around me. As the darkness continued to lift from my life, I began to see God for the first time, and I began to hear His voice. He was always there, but sin, anger and pain had blinded me to His presence. For the first time, I felt how much God loved me. My prayers began to be answered. I came to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus is real, and He is very much alive. He touched me, and I have never been the same.

The hardest thing That ever was done
The greatest pain that ever was known
The biggest battle that ever was won
This was done by Jesus.
The fight was won by Jesus.

Lyrics from the song “Gethsemane” by Jenny Phillips

Years later, when I was having a time of prayer, the Lord showed me a memory of a day that happened when I was only 27 years old. My then-husband and I had gotten into a fight. He left for work, and I was sitting on our front porch steps quietly crying. As I looked upon the memory, I saw Jesus kneeling behind me. He was weeping over me. So, I asked Him, “Jesus, what were you doing that day?” He answered, “I was praying for THIS day when you could finally hear My voice.” This is when I knew Jesus had always been with me even during my ugliest times and my darkest moments. He did not give up, and He did not forsake me.  All along, Jesus had been working to bring me to the place where I could finally hear and see how much He has always loved me..

May God continue to richly bless you and your family this Easter season and may you come to know the height, width, depth and breadth of His unimaginable and unspeakable love for you.

Until next time! ~ Susan

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How the Air Oasis Improved My Life

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In the BREATHING EASY blog post that was published previously, I mentioned that I would share some of the things that I did to improve my lung health after struggling with bronchial asthma and seasonal allergies for many years — and after quitting a 10 year smoking habit.

When I began to take the first step toward healing, God met me with the tools, information and resources that were needed to continue making improvements. The biggest breakthrough came in the form of a product that was introduced to us through our sales distributor.

Our family owns and operates a heating and air contracting company. Over the course of many years in this industry, we have been introduced to many gadgets and devices that are reported to bring relief to allergy sufferers. None of them had impressed us enough to recommend to our customers with the exception of whole house HEPA air filtering devices that do a great job of filtering the air but are sometimes very pricey for the average homeowner to afford.

On this particular day, our salesman arrived with a set of petri dishes filled with culture medium. He wanted us to use the petri dishes to conduct air quality samples from within our home. To do so, we took one of the petri dishes and set it out in our living room, undisturbed, for an hour. After that hour, we were to place the lid on the petri dish and place it in a closet for 3-4 days to allow whatever was captured in this air sample to have a chance to grow. A few days later, we came back to find that some kind of fungus was growing in the dish. He explained that fungus is one of the many things that probably has been circulating in the air of our home — along with the usual pollen, bacteria and other allergens.

Many of us think of germs such as bacteria and viruses when we think of things that affect the quality of the air that we are breathing. Others of us think in terms of pollen. However, I never considered fungus or how fungal spores could be aggravating my lung and breathing issues. Yet, it made sense when I considered the fact that we are living in a forested, mountainous area that is filled with fungus and mold spores because of the damp, moist conditions of the outdoor environment throughout most of the year. Not to mention the fact that we live in a cabin with an all-wood interior.

It had always struck me as being odd how the fresh fruits and vegetables that we had purchased from the grocery store each week would often rot from mold within a few days if we did not eat them quickly enough. Because of this, I had been buying only a few pieces of fresh fruit at a time to avoid the waste. Before living in this region, it was possible to leave fruit in a bowl on the counter top for a week or two before any signs of mold began to emerge. Back then, I was able to buy whole bags of fruit at a time without any worries of waste due to spoilage.

After the initial petri dish sample, the salesman introduced us to a product called an Air Oasis. Unlike an air filter that only filters out heavy particulates such as pollen, an Air Oasis actually uses “nanotechnology,” that essentially converts air molecules into hydrogen molecules. This produces a sanitizing effect of the air that is similar to wiping a counter top with hydrogen peroxide (which is an exceptional disinfectant and is what hospitals use for sanitizing). This newly “cleaned” air is then circulated in a home’s air ducts through an in-duct device — or through one of their portable, room sized in-house devices.

We were asked to test the Air Oasis device and installed one of the in-duct models into our home’s central duct system. The device was approximately 9 inches in length and weighed only a couple of pounds and was easily installed within 30 minutes by my husband who is a licensed professional. A small hole was made in our ducting through which the device was inserted.

To operate the Air Oasis, we kept our central heat pump’s blower on the “on” position 24 hours a day regardless of whether or not we were heating or cooling the house. The blower circulated air through the ducts and past the in-duct device which allowed the “cleaned” air to be circulated throughout our home on a 24 hour basis.

Petri dish on left shows the air quality in our house before installing an Air Oasis. The petri dish on the right shows the air quality 4 weeks after.

After a month of operating the Air Oasis, we were asked to continue the air quality experiment by using the second petri dish. We set the petri dish out in the living room for an hour, undisturbed, just as we had done with the first petri dish. After collecting an air sample, we placed the lid on the petri dish, placed it in a closet and came back to check on it a few days later. (See the photo at right for a comparison of before and after.)

Guess what? After just a few weeks using the Air Oasis, the second petri dish came back with NO growth whatsoever. No bacteria, no fungus, no nothing. Not only that, but remember the moldy fruit problem I was telling you about? Gone! We could now buy fruit by the bags, leave them in a bowl on the counter, and trust that they would last long enough until we could eventually eat them.

The absolutely BEST part was that ALL, and I mean ALL, of my allergy symptoms were gone. No runny nose. No post nasal drip. No sinus congestion. No coughing. GONE! After years of allergy misery, particularly during pollen season, this was HUGE.

Within a month after installing and using the Air Oasis device, I was able to stop taking a daily dose of over-the-counter allergy medicine and eventually weaned off of a prescribed inhaler within a few months. I have not used any allergy or asthma medications since the spring of 2012.

If you are an allergy sufferer, your daily survival depends on products like this, so you can certainly appreciate the freedom that I am describing. Since November of 2011, I have suffered only one or two minor colds that were easily treated with home remedies and lasted only a few days. Ordinarily, those colds would have turned into bronchitis and kept me bedridden for days. You can just imagination my jubilation.

The real proof came about six months later when I decided to take a road trip to visit a relative in North Carolina over a weekend in the summer. I was only there for two days, but by the end of the first day, my allergy symptoms had returned. I was miserable that night sleeping away from home. I suffered the next day and all during the drive home, and had resigned myself to the possibility of having to make a stop at the drug store to pick up a pack of allergy relief pills.

However, once I was home and breathing “clean” air for a few hours, guess what? The allergy symptoms disappeared! That’s when I knew that the Air Oasis was clearly making a difference.

I reported all of these discoveries to the salesman who had introduced us to the product and told him about my trip away from home. I was delighted to learn that Air Oasis makes a portable travel-size device so that if I ever have to leave home again, I can take it with me. It plugs into the cigarette lighter of my truck to keep me safe from allergens while I’m driving, and it can plug into a wall outlet to be used in a hotel room or guest room or wherever I might be staying. Hot dog!

We have had our in-duct Air Oasis installed for five years as of this writing. Every two years, the special light bulb has to be changed — though our first bulb lasted beyond the 2 year mark. This is the only maintenance and expense that is required after the initial installation. We also have a whole house air filter system installed that uses a 20″ x 25″ x 5″ filter to screen out the heavier particulates such as pollen, dust and pet dander. This was installed years before the Air Oasis, but the two together are a good air filtering combination.

During pollen season, I make sure the bed quilts are washed more frequently, the dogs are bathed at least once every two weeks and the carpets are vacuumed each day. This helps to eliminate allergens trapped in the fabrics, dog fur and carpet fibers. I also keep essential oil blends on hand that contain eucalyptus or peppermint oil because they help clear the sinus passages. My favorite blend is known as Thieves by Young Living Essential Oils. I use this whenever there is the first sign of a cold or cough and have had good success with it.

As heating and air contractors, we are now recommending these devices particularly to our customers who complain of asthma, allergies or upper respiratory problems. Of the Air Oasis devices we have installed, those customers are reporting similar improvements of allergy symptoms. One elderly customer who had received noticeable relief after years of suffering ordered three more for other members of her family.

If you would like to consider using an Air Oasis device, there are two ways you can do so. One is an in-duct device that is installed directly into your central duct system. This must be installed by a licensed professional. You can contact your licensed heating/air contractor to ask them to order one for you through an Air Oasis distributor. Pricing will vary by company and according to the square footage of your house. Most companies should provide you with a free estimate. It will cost an additional $30-$50 every 2-3 years to have the specially designed light bulb replaced. The in-duct systems are perfect for those who have central A/C units and own their own homes.

Portable units are also available that are ideal for renters or for those who live in smaller houses or want to filter just one or two rooms. The portable units stand about 15 inches tall and weigh less than 5 lbs. They are designed to sit on the floor or on a table or shelf and plug into a wall outlet. These can be placed in any room and are sized according to the square footage of the space that you would like to “clean.” These come with a re-usable, washable filter. The bulbs need to be changed approximately every 3 years. Both the in-duct and portable devices produce a slight odor from the hydrogen molecules that are being emitted. If you have ever taken a whiff of hydrogen peroxide out of a bottle, the odor is similar, but more faint. This is normal and usually becomes less noticeable over time.

I know what it’s like to suffer from respiratory ailments aggravated by airborne allergens, and I know what a tremendous difference the Air Oasis has made in my life. I am so entirely grateful for the ways this device has allowed my home to become a place where I can breathe more easily and — finally — live without continual sickness and seasonal misery.

Please note that I am not a medical professional, so please do not take anything I have written in this post as medical advice. These comments are based on my own experiences. Please consult with your doctor before discontinuing or making any dosage changes in your prescribed medications. I cannot guarantee that you will achieve the same medical results that I have experienced because your health circumstances may be different from mine, but I can truthfully say that this product works as described by the manufacturer when used as intended.

Until next time! ~ Susan

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