Thursday, January 28, 2016

Cozy....and Dreaming about Spring

It is important to me that our little home during the winter time is a cozy warm place.  This winter we have had more than enough of our share of gray rainy days.  I delight in the snow, and you might have seen me do a snow dance once or twice during December when we had the most beautiful snowfall. {smiles}  However, since the arrival of January, the weather has been rainy, gray and dreary.  I do venture out for walks with Annie occasionally, if it is not raining.  But for the most part, we have been staying close to home.

Spending so much time inside is a time to get things done, and I've certainly gotten a lot of organizing done in my little crafting space, and that has felt wonderful.

Something else that has helped our home feel cozy and welcoming during the dreary days is this...


I use a candle warmer for a unique use... and that is that I fill a pot with sliced oranges, cinnamon sticks, cloves, anise and a few drops of essential oil and some water and set it on the candle warmer... the result is heavenly!


This is a wonderful way to scent your home with a lovely spicy aromatic smell that is not overwhelming, and just gives a lovely gentle fragrance through your home.  The candle warmer does a great job of scenting the home and not overpowering it. Just what we need to "spice" up the dreary days around here :)


My cactus is still blooming!


But not for long... the blooms are starting to fade. It has been a beauty this season though, a bright spot in the window!


Winter is leaving us, it seems.


One raindrop at a time!


The turkeys no doubt are hoping for spring too, it will be much easier foraging for food than eating wet leftovers from our birds, lol!


 The pitter-patter of the raindrops all day has me looking outside, and dreaming about spring.  :)

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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

A Little Dress

It has been a very loooong time since I've sewed, and a far longer time than that since I have made a wee little dress.  When my daughter was born, I sewed most of her clothing, and oh what fun it was then to create such cute little dresses for her to wear.  Somehow, through the years, the sewing machine began to collect dust, and sat still and quiet.

However, since cleaning my craft room this past weekend, I found some lovely fabric that just spoke to my heart.  My dear niece, who just turned 1 a couple of weeks ago, and whose birthday party was taking place on Sunday needed a special gift.  I was in no hurry to send the gift because I was told by her parents that she needed absolutely nothing, and of course, I know that to be true.  The little princess has just about everything her heart could desire.  So, I decided to wait and think about what to give her for her first birthday.  Amazingly enough, the inspiration hit me the very day she was having her birthday party several thousand miles away from me! While she and all the guests were enjoying birthday cake, I was busy sewing many miles away...

The dust bunnies flew away, and the happy hum of the sewing machine, the soft pfftst of the iron, and the tiny pricks of sewing pins became my companions for the next hour or two...


I found a pattern online at an Etsy shop called ViolaLeePatterns... and oh my!  The incredible selection that she offers was overwhelming.  I was looking for a very simple pattern and the "Olivia" dress was the one I settled on.  I highly recommend buying your pattern like this, because the pattern comes with sizes up to 8, which means one could print the pattern out for each size group.  When buying patterns in a store, once you cut the pattern out in one size, that is it.  This way, you always have the pattern, and can cut it out to the size you desire.


I was incredibly pleased with the ease and detail of the instructions, with great pictures, and easy tips for every step of the process.  It was a pure delight to sew this dress using such a well designed pattern and instructions!


I happened to have everything needed to make the dress on hand... fabric, elastic and thread.  It didn't take me long, from start to finish, to cut out, and sew this darling little dress up.


The pattern did not come with directions for embellishments, but I couldn't help but think that it needed something in the center of the dress.  I cut a large scalloped shaped fabric flower using my Stampin Up Big Shot die cutter and then gathered the center of the fabric.  Then I sewed on the button and flower, and the dress was done!


I have also made a little flower identical to the one on the dress with a hair clip on it for her hair.


This was a really fun and quick project that turned out even better than I had hoped.  I have another sweet little girl in mind who is turning one in just a month or so as well.. and I have plans to make her one too, using this pattern with different fabric.  It was so enjoyable sewing this cute little dress that I wondered why it has taken me so long to get back into doing it!

I found a lot of projects as I cleaned my room that reminded me of all the different crafts I have made through the years.  I hope this time the dust bunnies have flown away for good, and the happy humming sounds of a sewing machine fill the air again, lol!

Have a blessed and wonderful day :)

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Crafting a Blessing/Prayer Journal

Proverbs 10:22 
The blessing of the Lord, 
it maketh rich, 
and He addeth no sorrow with it. 

This week I was thinking about the goodness of the Lord and how He is so faithful to answer our prayers.  And not just the big ones, but the small ones too, that may never leave your lips, but are carried deep within your heart where no one can hear.  Sometimes these prayers are so small as to feel they are unworthy to be expressed aloud... and yet, He hears and knows those prayers too!  

Psalms 5:3  
My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, 
O Lord, in the morning 
will I direct my prayer unto thee, 
and will look up.

He knows our heart's desire, sometimes more even than we do ourselves! Last week I silently breathed a prayer for a friend to share my soup with... and I have been amazed all week at how the Lord arranged that meeting, with quite the adventure to go along with it!  (Story here if you haven't read it).  

Colossians 4:2
Continue in prayer
and watch in the same 
with thanksgiving. 

Prayer and thanksgiving go hand in hand... and as I thought about this, I knew that I needed to begin to document my own prayers, blessings, sorrows, triumphs in one place, a place where I can go back to, if need be, months down the road, and see how the Lord has provided the answer to my prayers.  

Yesterday I found the time, and the creative mindset to do just that!  Some of you who have been faithful readers here, know that I have not done much creating since we've moved because my creating space changed, and I've never been able to find the creative juices to flow productively in that space.  

But yesterday, all that changed. I was on a mission, and with the Lord's help, it happened.  I completely pulled everything out of all the nooks and crannies, and began to rearrange.  I cannot create in disorder. I have to start in an organized space... but once I start, the order ends.  When I'm done, it looks like a tornado hit... but at least in the beginning, everything must be in its place.  

First I began by laying out the paper, tools, glue that I needed... here is how it went... 

















And since I was on a roll, I decided to make two journals.  I have a dear friend who has been shut in for several weeks, and not able to get out due to illness.  I made this journal for her, and took it over to her yesterday.  I thought it might help for her to document the journey with her illness, and to be able to look back too, and see what the Lord was doing through this difficult time for her.





The process went quickly, once I got started. I used Aleene's craft glue to glue the cardstock to the journal.  This particular cardstock is from Stampin Up! and I do not believe they sell it any longer. However, it is called Coreinations because it has a lovely inner "core" that makes sanding it a joy.  The light sanding adds an aged vintage effect, and I was so pleased with how it looked almost like an old leather bound journal!  

After gluing on the cardstock, cutting around the edges of the journal, and sanding the paper down, I then cut out some soft velvet-feeling paper in a beautiful pattern and applied it to the front, and added some ribbon and a tag.  It doesn't take much, just whatever you have to adorn your journal!  I paid $0.79 for these journals back when school supplies were on sale (always the best time to stock up on these things) and saved myself quite a sum of money, considering a lovely journal like this in the store could be upwards of $10-20, and I used supplies that I already have on hand. 

You could also cover the journal with fabric too... so many options for a journal like this.  I enjoy writing in a beautiful journal, it always sparks my desire to write in a journal when it is a delight to hold it in my hands.  

This journal will be used for short little blurbs each day, or whenever I can find the time to write, and in it I will be writing my daily blessings, needs, and little thoughts.  I don't intend for this to be a journal where I write lengthy things, but just little smidgets of notes when I have the time.  But most of all, I want it to be a place where, in the future, I can come back and be amazed at how the Lord has answered the small prayers and provided His blessings in the daily routine and humdrum busy-ness of life.  

Psalms 65:2  
O thou that hearest prayer, 
unto thee shall all flesh come. 

Psalms 66:19 
But verily God hath heard me, 
he hath attended to the voice of my prayer.  

May the blessings of the Lord be with you today, and His spirit poured out in your life in a great measure! :) 

Friday, January 22, 2016

Homemade Taco Salad Bowls... and Stretching Leftovers

Leftovers!  Do you love them or hate them?  Well, in our house, we love them, and that is because every day I try to turn them into something new and exciting.  I like to cook big one day, and eat for several days spinning off that one day of cooking.

I made a large pot of pinto beans earlier in the week, and that served as meal #1.

The next night for dinner, I used some of the leftover beans to make a Mexican Beefy Rice meal for dinner.  I simply fry up a bit of hamburger meat (about 1 lb), add 1 can Rotel tomatoes, 1 can diced tomatoes, 1 cup rice, and 2 cups water.  Let this simmer until rice is done, then mix in the beans and season to taste with salt pepper, and taco seasoning (I make my own, but 1 package of taco seasoning mix would work).  Serve with warm buttered tortillas for a second meal.

Sorry, I don't have pictures of either the beans, or the Mexican Beefy Rice.

However, I did collect myself enough last night to take a picture of the taco salad bowls we had for dinner.  I used the rest of the leftover beans to make refried beans, and mashed them with a few dribbles of olive oil until the mixture was creamy.  I added in a bit of taco seasoning for flavor as well.  I also warmed up the leftover Mexican Beefy Rice.

Then I made the taco shells. This was the fun part!


It is better if you have large burrito-style flour tortillas (I didn't have those on hand).  So I used the flour tortillas I had which were about 6" in diameter.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

The tricky part is finding heat safe bowls to use.  I have this set of ovenware that was given to me for a wedding gift!  They have been such a blessing through the many years.  Spray your ovensafe bowls and then spray both sides of the tortilla with oil ... you could also butter them.


Bake in 375 oven for about 15-17 minutes until they are browned and crispy... instant taco bowl shells! Much cheaper than a Taco Bell salad bowl!  {smiles}|


The lighting is bad, and I apologize, but this is what the shells look like after they are browned and crispy.


Now the fun begins as you layer up the taco salad bowl with all your favorite ingredients... we started first with the refried beans, then the Beefy Rice mix, and then added whatever toppings were desired.
Ours included sliced romaine lettuce, avocado cubes,  diced tomatoes, sour cream, Pace picante sauce, and shredded cheddar cheese.  This can be determined by whatever you have on hand.


Again, I apologize for the terrible lighting for these pictures.... taking food pictures in the winter here is not an easy task! But you get the idea.  :)


For hungry bellies, using the 6" tortillas, you may need 2 per person.  It all depends how much each family member eats.  We found that the tortilla shells cooked this way were very filling, and we only needed one per person because all the ingredients were very filling.

This is just one of the ways that I  try to stretch meals and make those leftovers into a fun "game" of sorts... seeing just how far I can stretch a meal, and how creative I can get.

How do you feel about leftovers? Do they get tossed, or do you come up with creative ways to stretch them? Do share your tips!  :)


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

A Little Home This-n-That

Today I had to rearrange a small space in our home.  Why is it when you just do one "little" thing... it turns into a rather large endeavor?  You move one thing into another space, and then you have to find room for the things you just changed, and then that thing has to be moved, and so on it goes.

I had a lamp in a rather awkward spot, and decided it could be better put to use in the hallway, but then that meant other things had to be rearranged...



Happily, the lamp found a new home in our hallway ...



... it works in this small space, amazingly enough.  This little cabinet is just opposite the washing machine and dryer (all open), and next to the restroom, and so sometimes it would be nice to have a little extra light in this area.



This is a mini-book that I made some years ago, and oh, the nostalgic memories found in it!  It was a fun little project that holds pictures of our family from several years ago.



A little candleholder that was hand painted by myself.




A container filled with other fun little books that I've made through the years.



Another little mini-album created several years ago as well.  Anyone familiar with Stampin Up!? You may remember seeing some of these cute albums sold by them through the years.  I was a demo for Stampin Up! for many years, and still dabble in stamps, paper and such when I have the creative inspiration.



Some more fun creations on display.





Just a quick photo shoot of some of the lovelies I have that were made in years gone by.  It was fun to do a bit of rearranging and finding a new way to display them.

Do you have projects from years gone by that you just can't bear to part with?  Looking at all the little mini-albums as I cleaned and rearranged brought back some wonderful memories.  I still have such a stash of handmade cards from so many years of stamping and creating that I haven't had to make any cards in a while, although I have to say my birthday selection is getting rather limited... that is the one I pull from the most.  :)

Today, I felt some of the old inspiration returning.  Perhaps I will get back to creating with paper, stamps and my sewing machine again soon!


But for today... I was content to see my little hallway space all cozied up.  :) 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Feathered Friends

I have lots of friends, and the numbers are growing!


Feathered friends that is :)


They're quite hungry... eating all the time!


Handsome in their flitter-flattering ways...


I enjoy their company... lots of happy chatter...


I need an interpreter to understand their language  {smile}


Happy sweet cheerful little things they are...



A thoughtful moment?  Or a watchful eye?

Shall we have a chat?



Or is this all really just about food... I think so... but I enjoyed your company anyway!


While I was trying to interpret bird language... these two were jealous of my affections, and a game of tug-o-war was in full swing...


Roger is always the instigator to this kind of show... and Annie the reluctant participator.  Do I really have to? ... uh... okay...  



And they're off and running... Annie with her firm grip on the tied end.  Poor Roger didn't have a chance....


Annie's heart is just not in this monkey business... and Roger just doesn't understand why.  He has the energy to run to the moon and back, I think!


So I played tug-o-war with him for a while, while Annie plopped in the snow and watched.



My furry and feathered friends were quite entertaining... we enjoy all the winter visitors that we have here, and with this new bird feeder that my husband got me for Christmas, it has really added space for a lot more birds to visit.

Only one comes to the feeder at a time, but I have counted at least 10 of them in the trees nearby at one time, waiting for their turn.  I love the sweet "chickadee-dee-dee" sound the chickadees make.  It seems we have two different species of chickadees - the mountain chickadee has the white stripe on its head, and then black-capped chickadee.

I want to get a picture of the woodpeckers who often visit, but the lighting is often not good when they come, which is early morning or late evening.

I hope you enjoyed the visit with our feathered friends... what a delightful happy bunch they are.  :)


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