We’ve had lots of activity around here this past week. Well, to be completely accurate, some of us have appeared to be more active, while others appeared to be more sluggish. That’s what happens when 75% of the house comes down with a stomach bug. There’s lots of healing activity going on, but it doesn’t always appear to be so.
Fortunately for me, I was part of the 25%. Well, to be completely accurate, that was last week. Today is starting to feel like a different story. And just when I had lots of exciting pictures and ideas and dreams to share here!
Alas, they will have to wait while we let the magical apple cider vinegar do its thing. I just bravely swallowed down my dose of the stuff that somehow makes the icky head for the hills. Praying it does the trick, because ain’t no one got time to be sick. Ever.
In the meantime, how about a sneak peek of what our front porch looked like Saturday morning…
Don’t be jealous now, it simply isn’t a very becoming character trait. We have been blessed with a great deal on a house, but the landscaping has been found lacking in the creative department. I’ve focused on the interior where we actually live, but am beginning to get to some of the exterior wish lists. How very fun it all is!
Friday was filled with lots of errands and I brought these beauties home to make this “setting the tone for the home” outdoor space more inviting and in line with the feel of the rest of our home…
Oh the fun ahead! It already looks better, but there is so very much to do. Fortunately, the dreaming and the journey are all a part of the process. For today,I’ll be flopped on the couch perusing Pinterest and reminding myself that it doesn’t have to be done yesterday. I will choose to simply enjoy the journey.
We are officially on spring break here in the Bluegrass. Precisely one minute after the final bell sounded on Friday, it started snowing. Craziness here, people! In honor of spring break everywhere, I figured it would be fun to share some of the lessons I’ve learned over spring break this year….
1. The anticipation of it is half the fun…
2. The time doesn’t always go as planned. ( to be read: sometimes the first fun thing you do is become acquainted with the staff at the local walk-in clinic and pharmacy). BUT, even if it starts rough, there’s usually a way to redeem it (to be read: grabbing lunch and heading to the beach for a little natural saline and vitamin D therapy is always a good idea)…
3. Rip currents, choppy surf, murky waters and stinging sea creatures are not enough to dampen the fun…
4. The beach is always better when shared with a forever friend…
5. Sun, surf and sand are good for the soul… young or old…
When the flakes fall almost as quickly as the mercury does, and the snow piles up enough to free up a full week of days, it’s a gentle reminder to savor the beauty of this winter’s pause…
It’s the moment when your guy suggests grabbing a coffee and going for a drive. And somehow, embracing the still and savoring these moments together provide that mid-winter’s rest that we didn’t even know we needed.
If you live anywhere in the US, save South Florida, you’ve had a bit of snow this year. Having grown up in the Midwest, moving to South Florida was quite a shock to my system. The lack of snow and winter coats, bulky sweaters and fall leaves was quite a jolt for this four-season girl. Being closer to my geographical roots has been great fun, especially watching snow fall, but it has also required a bit of fine-tuning, on many levels. From wardrobe to home decor. Oddly enough the Caribbean decor doesn’t quite seem to fit here in the heart of the Bluegrass. Who knew?
So you will understand my excitement when I came across this sweater that had been my Mama’s.
Having lost Mom 5 years ago, I find comfort in having things scattered about our home that remind us of her. She was an extremely creative soul who loved sewing, decorating & finding great bargains. Some of those bargains included clothes that fit her personality perfectly, reminded me of her, but would never work for me… as a wardrobe item at least. Enter a little outside the box thinking, and you have this..
It was a perfect Sunday afternoon project. They are simple envelope pillows with a soft fleece envelope style opening in the back. Turns out, it’s a quick project for one of those snow days when it’s just too cold to head outside for one more round of sledding.
The first step was to square up the sweater to accommodate for my pillow forms and get the most use of the sweater. I cut up both side seams from the hem to the bottom of the arm piece.
To keep it straight, I used my rotary cutter and ruler to finish cutting the arm edge.
And again across the top of the sweater.
Because I had removed some of the knots from the heavier white yarn that ran through the design, I flipped the sweater over to the wrong side and tied off those loose strands. I didn’t want to finish the pillow just to have it start unraveling.
I chose some soft grey fleece to use for the back of the pillow. Why? It has a great body and texture to it and it’s soft and fuzzy, which is always a nice option for a pillow. But mostly, because it was in my fabric closet, and that’s just how I roll on this sort of a project.
I cut the fleece into two pieces for each pillow. When determining the measurements for your pillow back, just use the same width as your front piece and 1/2 the height + 3” to 4” per piece. This allows for a 1″ hem on the raw edge of the envelope back and a deep enough pocket for your pillow cover to fit your pillow form. The amount of fabric you add to that measurement depends on how deep you want your pocket to be. I have learned to make the pockets deeper than I think they need to be
I typically finish the edge with a 1/2″ double hem. To do that I fold the fabric under 1″ and press, then fold the raw edge under again and press. The result is two 1/2″ folds of fabric with no raw edge. I usually stitch this from the wrong side of the fabric 1/4″ away from the folded edge, so I can make sure I don’t miss the edge of the hem. Once one long edge of each back piece is hemmed, the pillow backs can be pinned to the front.
With the pillow front laying right side up, place the pillow backs, right side down, on the pillow front. Line up the raw edges of the front and back, overlapping the hemmed edges in the middle of the pillow. It should look like this.
Stitch along all four edges with a 1/2″ seam. At this point, you can add another row of straight or zig zag stitching to reinforce the seam, or enclose it in bias tape so seam tape if you are concerned about raveling. Turn your pillow cover right side out and insert your pillow form and you’re done. I love being able to quickly remove pillow covers to wash them and freshen them up with little effort. It’s as simple as that.
Our winter pillows have been a perfect way for us to enjoy snow this winter. And we don’t have to shovel it or tromp through it to get the mail. It also serves as a great diversion when your week has been chock full of snow days.
Years ago, Steve was pastoring a small church and we decided that we wanted to give every family a gift for Christmas.
Hmm… I was homeschooling our four little ones at the time, to be read “not a lot of extra time or money from an extra income to work with here”.
Hmm… We wanted something that would involve the kids help to, so it could truly be from all of us.
Hmm… After some deliberation, and a bit of panic, we finally came up with an idea that we thought would work. We had so much fun with it that it is one we have continued with for years.
We loved baking Christmas cookies & hosted a huge cookie decorating party every year for lots of friends (more on that later). We decided to make up a cookie mix and slip it into some fabric gift bags. I found some fabric that first year when the Christmas prints went on sale and got to work. A 12″ x 12″ square seemed to be the perfect size. With a straight stitch down the side & bottom, and pinking shears across the top, they were cut & stitched up in one evening. As I recall it felt like quite an accomplishment at the time, since there were about 60 of them, between church, neighbors, family, co-op teachers …. Steve designed the tags that year on the computer, but at some point I started doing those, with his input and assistance as needed.
We made snicker doodles that year. One of Steve’s favorites. It was a recipe that would fit in the bag, didn’t set us back too much financially and the kids could help. We set up an assembly line with each person adding a specific ingredient. We also decided that it would be in the best interest of our gift-receivers to have a bit of “quality control” for the youngest ones, naturally. There were a few stressful moments, but we deemed it such a success that we stuck with that main idea for years. Other recipes included: sugar cookies tied with cookie cutters, French breakfast puffs, berry cream muffins, biscuits and banana chip muffins.
Last summer I found a great price on strawberries and blueberries and decided it was the perfect time to start canning. Hours later, this was the result..
Well, technically, this was the next day, when we unanimously decided that all that jam called for some of Grandma’s biscuits. Guess what went in the bags? And what was delivered beside each bag?
May you enjoy your day, and find time for a fresh baked treat in the midst of it!
Traditions can be such a comforting thing. So known. So unique to us and ours. This season is full of them. When a tradition surrounds a particular comfort food, then you know you have a keeper.
Several years ago Rachel Ray did a piece on how to make Thanksgiving leftovers more interesting. One of the entrees she made was a calzone that pretty much included every part of the Thanksgiving meal. I must admit, it sounded slightly odd. Then again, I figured, why not given it a shot. I mean, it is Rachel Ray, right?!
So, I did. And immediately a new tradition was born around here. We like to call them Black Friday Roulades. It just sounded better than “Leftover Thanksgiving Dinner Bread Roll Thingies”. This year we only have three guests for Thanksgiving dinner, but I still bought enough for twice the people we were serving. The reason? Why, Black Friday Roulades, of course!
I think part of the magic of roulades is the pizza dough recipe I received from a friend about 15 years ago. It has EVOO in it, so it is never dry. I usually make a double batch in the bread machine, it’s enough for a dinner and lunches for at least one or two days…
3 cups flour
1/2 Tbsp salt
1/2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 Tbsp yeast
A little less than 1/4 cup oil*
1 cup water
* I fill the measuring cup within about 1/4″ of the top & that seems to work well. If you fill it all the way, the dough seems to be too moist. Dump it all in, set the machine to dough, and enjoy a cup of coffee or trim a tree.
After the second batch is ready, roll them out into as big a rectangle as you can. I usually spray the counter with cooking spray, it doesn’t dry the dough out as much as using flour. My crew seems to like smaller roulades so I make my rectangle long and thin and somewhere between 1/8″ and 1/4″ thick.
Start with the more moist ingredients, like mashed potatoes or sweet potato casserole and spread them within 1/2″ of each edge.then spread or drop on the remaining leftovers. This year ours will include: mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn casserole, dressing, cranberry sauce (but not too much, per my boy’s request) gravy and turkey. The roasted asparagus & zesty carrots went into a soup since they didn’t sound like the best additions to the roulades.
Begin rolling along one long edge to the other. Dip your finger in a little water and run along the seam to seal it and keep the insides from oozing out during baking. Slice them about 1/2″ – 1″ thick and turn them on their side in a greased pan to rise for a good hour. About 30 minutes at 350 degrees should be enough for them to be cooked through and slightly golden on top.
The kids always request these after Thanksgiving. I think all of them have come home from school this week and informed me that their friends thought I should make more. I think they kind of enjoy tripping friends out by having them taste something they’ve never seen before. Those who have felt adventurous have not been disappointed, no matter how weird it sounds. And it’s really easy to grab a few on the way out the door if anyone forgot to make school lunches due to sleeping in from an extremely high level of post-Thanksgiving L-tryptophan.
What sorts of things would you add to the leftover Black Friday Roulade filler list?
With a polar front sweeping across much of the US this week, here’s a throwback from last fall. Here’s to fleece, football, frothy mugs of hot chocolate and all things fall!
I love fall!
The leaves floating gently down
The crisp in the air.
The crunch of leaves underfoot.
The Friday night lights.
The families & friends rooting wildly for the home team.
The bundling up under blankets as we cheer on our favorite D-end.
I try really hard not to be “that Mom”. You know her. The one who screams like a banshee when her child does something on the field (court, mat, stage…) Somehow, I can reign it in for basketball & wrestling.
But, football? Nah! Never gonna happen. Out there in the open air, surrounded by the other Mamas, and Dads and siblings and girlfriends and … Nah! There’s no reigning it in when our guys take the field. We love our football family!
But there is that one particular #23 who stands a little taller in this Mama’s heart. Not because of his athletic prowess, though that is there.. but because he’s ours.
Of all the dreadful things to do, showing up at a game without the school colors ranks right up there near the top. It’s right behind showing up in the other teams colors. Gasp! My solution, you ask?
Why stitching up a little team spirit, of course. With a slightly larger focus on my guy. A main requirement of this football fleece? That it be unique & a little more meaningful than the usual tied fleece. Apparently, I was rather caught up in the excitement of the process and didn’t take many pictures along the way. I’ll share the few I have & try to talk you through the rest…
There are loads of tutorials on how to print on fabric. My favorite method is cheap & easy, because that’s just how we roll around here. I have a big roll of freezer paper in my drawer & I started by cutting off an 8 1/2″ x 11″ piece. For most of the projects I have done I either used a white broadcloth or even an old sheet. I want to branch out into some more textured fabrics, but that’s an adventure for another day. I ironed the sticky side of the freezer paper to what would become the backside of my white fabric. Be sure to use high heat and no steam for the best results. Then I trimmed the fabric to 8 1/2″ x 11″.
Next step? I selected, edited and sized my pictures to fit the freezer-papered fabric (I think I just coined a new adjective there!) I then inserted my freezer-papered fabric, with the appropriate side up, into my printer and pressed print. Voila! That’s it! Tough, huh?
Here is the collection of pictures I used for my boy. It includes some of his memorable tackles & QB sacks *insert “Go Nate” squeal*, some team shots, and some wrestling pins & a trophy *insert a more socially-acceptable-we-were-inside-the-gym “Go Nate” squeal*.
After I printed them out, I trimmed them all up to the same height, spaced them evenly, overlapped the sides edges and ran a wide zig zag stitch between them to make a long strip. I found some great black ribbon with white stitching on the edges that almost made the collection look like an old-school strip of negatives. I stitched that ribbon down one side of each photo, separating them from each other.
I made this blanket double thickness and extra large, big enough to cover a twin bed & keep both my hubby and I warm at the games. The next step was to lay it out on the bed and find where to place the picture strip so it would land at the foot of the bed, and not down near the floor. I pinned the strip in place and stitched the other side of the ribbon on each picture to the fleece. Now they were secured on the blanket where I wanted them. At this point I added the ribbon all around the edge, folding creatively at each corner to get the mitered look I wanted.
To finish the blanket I laid the second piece of fleece right side down and centered the picture fleece right side up over it. I wanted the edges finished so I had cut the picture piece (the front of the blanket) a few inches larger all the way around, so I could fold it over and stitch. So, I pinned and stitched the front & back together.
I laid the finished product out to inspect it and found myself doing a little happy dance. It was not completely unlike the post touchdown / post wrestling pin / post swoosh shot dance that I have been known to do. I love it when a project turns out to be as great, or even better, than the one I started with in my head. It’s not a luxury I always enjoy. Smile
This little blanket has proven itself to be very helpful in keeping my hubby and I warm this season, except for those times when we leap up, dance about & scream wildly because our guys scored another touchdown. But hey, we scoop it up off the bleachers & I can just toss it in the wash and we’re ready for the next game. This week happens to be round three of the state play-offs. Guess where we will be? Let’s go!
* If you’re not up for such an undertaking, you can always print off a picture of your pride-and-joy and add it to an already finished blanket, or pillow, or…. the possibilities are endless.
**We ended up losing to the team that took states last year. But as @HCHSDevilsFB tweeted, “That was maybe the most gutty performance I have ever seen from a high school football team. No one gave us a chance but we made em sweat! Only 1 team will win their last game but if you gotta lose, you lose while playing your guts out and leaving it all out on the field!”
This is a post from a little over three years ago. Perhaps it will provide a bit of our back story, or just a little life inspiration. Either would be good, but I prefer the latter…
You would think that 933 miles north would necessarily be colder. In many ways it has been. Cool evenings. Chilly nights. Windows open wide in the “heat” of an August afternoon. Tights under jeans for the Friday night football game.
Then again, the reception has been so warm. Cards. Dinner delivered.
Help unloading. E-mails. Dinner delivered.
Help setting up. Texts. Dinner delivered.
Phone calls. “Hello movies”.
A gift basket left on the porch. Dinner delivered.
Money tree… oh, and dinner delivered.
On the tree we discovered a gift certificate for the local Farmer’s Market. Several had mentioned the market. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Sounded like something we needed to investigate. It took a good six weeks to find the right Saturday. And there was the issue of a tour guide. It would definitely be easier to navigate the ins-and-outs of the local market with an expert. Or perhaps someone who has at least been there a time or two.
So the day finally arrived. It was a cool one. Perfect for roaming through the booths and bins of fresh produce and cut flowers. Apples, squash, heirloom tomatoes, greens, sunflowers, free range chickens, fresh herbs… the autumn selection spanned a block or two. We learned a lot. Saw new vegetables and decided to be adventurous with a few of them. Patty pan squash – looks great on the table, especially next to the butternut squash for a delicious pie. That one up there on the table. It was worth the raving. Definitely a do-over.
The coffee and conversation afterwards were priceless. There’s just something about a warm beverage that calls us to slow down. To sit a spell and listen. Really listen. To share a few tears and connect on a heart level. To learn about her world.
Turns out, any time is a good one for a warm welcome. To be received so graciously. To walk through routine moments slowly. To learn to do this life stuff with others. To hear their back story. To listen for different heart-languages and learn to speak them.
Can’t wait for the next cool morning… for a warm welcome.
A few years ago my dear friend Carmella recommended a book to me. It took awhile for me to get around to reading it, but when I did, I quickly understood how this book had meant so much to her. Ann Voskamp”s “One Thousand Gifts” was a game-changer for me. It has helped me shift from a more natural negative bent, to one of gratitude & expectancy to see God even in the tough moments of life. Though God still has much to show me in this area, we are on this journey and He has been so very faithful in helping me “get it”.
When her new book, “The Greatest Gift” came out, I actually paid full price for it at a local bookstore, so I could prepare for this journey of advent. As written on the book jacket, “Beginning with Jesse, the father of David, The Greatest Gift retraces the epic pageantry of mankind, from Adam to the Messiah, with each day”s profound reading pointing to the coming promise of Christ, so that come Christmas morning you find that the season hasn”t blurred past you but your heart”s fully unwrapped the greatest gift you”ve always yearned for.”
The book comes with a free download of ornaments to be printed out & hung on a Jesse tree each day in December as we journey to the coming of Christ on Christmas morning. Wanting to add this to our advent preparation each year, I decided to use wood for our ornaments. The imperfect process was pretty much as follows …
I picked up two pieces of 8″ x 36″ x 3/8″ thick beech wood from Hobby Lobby. Ripped them down the middle and then cut each piece into 4″
squares. The “I” is actually somewhat plural here, as my husband helped me figure the circular saw out & gave me the “you go girl” pep talk that I couldn”t really mess it up before this whole adventure started. A circular saw is quite positively NOT the recommended tool for this project, but it is what we had & I almost always prefer to go with what I have…. We did add some tape & draw our cutting line on the tape, in hopes that the wood wouldn”t split too much. It mostly worked.
So … the end result was that some of the blocks kind of looked more “gnawed at” as opposed to “sawed” but it”s all good. When I had fleeting moments of ugly perfectionist flesh rear it”s ugly little head, I could hear myself quoting the Nester, “It doesn”t have to be perfect to be beautiful”. In the end, I rather like the imperfection of it all. It”s a little more rugged and authentic when I think about the humble entrance that the King of Kings made into this world. It seems to fit.
But, I digress …. After the squares were cut Dette er en relativt rett frem spilleautomat uten innviklede bonusspill og funksjoner. I sanded the rough edges off & whitewashed them with some primer I found in the garage. The technical reason for
using primer you ask? Why, because it was the mostly empty can of white paint that I found in the garage paint stash. I added some water to it & put 2 coats on the blocks. I printed out Ann”s 4 x 4 ornaments onto cardstock & put a thin layer of modge podge on the back of each paper & front of each block. There were very few bubbles to press out once I had adhered the paper to the wood.
As soon as they were dry, I inked them with some stayz-on in a medium brown. Yep, it”s what I had in my craft closet – thanks to my Momma! I somehow convinced Steve to drill the holes at the top for me, I was a bit concerned that I would get the wrong angle & drill too close to the edge. I really didn”t want to mess them up & have to start over on any of them. So, I marked the first few & stacked them for him while he used a finished block to determine the exact location of each hole. A little jute twine at the top & voila, that was that!
I had several different ideas as to where to store or display them until we put them on our tree decided the little wooden manger the kids made years ago was the perfect spot. Mason even seems to be curious about the ornaments, but somehow has enough respect for advent to not use them as a chew toy.
Our lives are quite chaotic with basketball, wrestling & the work & school schedules of teenagers. Some days we read “The Greatest Gift”
at breakfast, other days it is at the close of the day and a few days it will be on our own. Not necessarily the plan I would prefer, but it is working for us. With the busy lives of teens, it is nice to have them asking to read and to see them choosing to sit down & spend time in His Word soaking up His truth. My prayer is that we will focus on Christ”s coming instead of our own material blessings.