Monthly Archives: October 2011

a new week

I was in a drugstore the other day and a lady was saying “I’ve spent so long in here, and I’ll probably get home, sort out my meds in their case for the week and still not have everything I need.”  I thought about that for longer than I probably should have – this is what we have to look forward to?!  There are always parts of the season we’re in we can wish weren’t there:  I wish it weren’t so cold, I wish I got more sleep, I wish it was the weekend, I wish things weren’t so tight, I wish I didn’t hurt, you name it…  Spend some time in a nursing home and you’ll start to wonder why we are wishing time away.  It’s true that having something to look forward to may help us get through a difficult season.  But, a very wise lady who deals with chronic pain once told me “I just don’t want to complain because I may look back on these as the good ole’ days.”  


Not that everything in our day is the way we would write the story.  There may be chapters that are harder than others, that we just want to skim.  But, you know the feeling you get when you realized you raced to the end of a good book, and it’s over?  I don’t want that feeling in this life.  I want to pause.  Muse.  Cherish the journey.  Because this is not the end!  Our hope is not in this life.  But in the Author of life who will one day make right every wrong.  There is so much to love right here.  Celebrate the blessings He has given you!  Today.
dance parties
Sunday afternoon strolls
nightly bonding over 3D tic-tac-toe
rainy days with a book
after-school bike-rides in the basement
 lunch dates with littles
boys singing, and air guitar
little toes
more dance parties {their faves: “One day” and “Who let the dogs out”}
little wills
his smile
{I realize that’s alot of pics of our boys, but I posted gift ideas all last week and didn’t want to leave out these moments.}

Happy Monday!
A new week, a blank page, a second chance,
to live for what truly matters.

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“I don’t want to drive up to the pearly gates in a shiny sports car, wearing beautifully, tailored clothes, my hair expertly coiffed, and with long, perfectly manicured fingernails. I want to drive up in a station wagon that has mud on the wheels from taking kids to scout camp. I want to be there with a smudge of peanut butter on my shirt from making sandwiches for a sick neighbors’ children. I want to be there with a little dirt under my fingernails from helping to weed someone’s garden. I want to be there with children’s sticky kisses on my cheeks and the tears of a friend on my shoulder. I want the Lord to know I was really here and that I really lived.”  
– Marjorie Pay Hinckley
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made with care ~ for the rest

I’ve been known to be back in a bedroom sewing a pillow or two on Christmas morning, as the family is waiting on me to read the Nativity story…  
My husband has come home before to find me buried under a table of handmade Christmas cards, trying to make it to the post office before it closes at 2 pm on Christmas Eve…  
That, friends, is handmade gifting gone bad.  
Awhile back, a friend put in a request that I post some handmade gift ideas, hence this little mini-series.  These are the kinds of posts I would rather scrap and discuss over a hot beverage of your choice.  I just don’t want to come across like I have it all together, or that these are the best ideas out there.  But, it’s what I got.  And, I’m happy to share.  


~ soy candles ~
Someone once asked me if I could make candles.  I couldn’t.  So, I had to learn.  I don’t know why, but I do that sort of thing…  I bought a pan from goodwill, soy wax from hobby lobby, and some essential oils {I chose grapefruit-clove}.  I can’t find the exact directions I followed, but these look close, except I didn’t use a double broiler.
I have just been putting the wax into baby food jars, but after a friend made me this, you can know I am on the hunt for vintage tins.  Isn’t this the coolest?

~ cookbook ~
I snuck into my mom’s recipes one year, and put together a “tastes of home”  cookbook with our family’s favorite recipes.  I also included stories from our childhood.  It turned out to be pretty meaningful to them.  (Maybe because it was actually made and wrapped before Christmas day 🙂


~ hanging rack with vintage door knobs ~

I have always wanted to make one of these to hang our towels on.  Instead, we made two and gave one as a gift.


~ cloth napkins ~

You can even make them out of fabric you already have, like an old dress shirt as explained here.

~ washcloths ~

I don’t know how to read patterns; so my knitting is pretty limited.  Plus, I really only knit in the car, and I get bored doing a big project.  So, I knit washcloths now.  Which means, they make it to gift ideas.


~ laptop sleeve ~

Sometimes I don’t even know what I’m knitting.  I just knit.  Then, I start piecing things together and realize it makes the perfect size sleeve for my laptop.  Okay, this has only happened once.  But I still love it.  And, it cost me nada.  I made the yarn from cutting up old t-shirts.  I’m so embarrassed writing this right now, ‘cuz who has time to cut up old t-shirts?!?  Certainly not me!  I don’t have time to watch this youtube clip that tells you how to do so either…


~ t-shirt scarf ~


{Source: julieannart.com}

~ no knit scarf ~


{Source: martha stewart}

~ peppermint lip balm ~

Elf (8)
{Source: Soule Mama}

~ apron in a jar ~

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{Source: pleasant-home.com}

~ chalkboard-painted mug ~
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{Source: 26.media.tumblr.com}

~ burlap and letter in an old frame ~
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{Source: loveoffamilyandhome.blogspot.com}

~ bookmark ~
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{Source: pinterest}

~ tile coasters ~
{Source: apartmenttherapy.com}

~ doily-print bowl ~

I hope these ideas will inspire some of your very own.  Like, the chalkboard-painted mug reminded me of seeing glasses with squares of chalkboard paint on them to identify those glass it was.  Which made me think of the 69 cent mugs we got from Ikea.  Which made me wonder if dry erase markers would work on them.  And they do!  Next coffee gathering at our house, you can know we will be drinking from these.



I also have learned guys are hard to make for.  Unless you know of a DiY tutorial for a power-tool, they may be better off buying for.


~~~~~~~~~~
While it’s fun to create a gift for someone special, I never want to forget why we do this.  Christmas is a celebration of the most remarkable gift of all ~ our Savior born into this world that we. may. have. life!  New life!  Life everlasting!  Life in and through Him!  I think sometimes we settle for celebrating the festivities rather than the honored guest.  It’s like we are so enamored by the glittering tinsel and twinkling lights that we miss the King being in our presence!

The thought of making a gift for someone may stress you out as much as me having to push a cart through a crowded store on Christmas Eve.  I get that.   So whether you buy your gifts at the mall or make them all, my hope is that every heart prepare Him room.  That we don’t chase after stuff to fulfill a longing only He can.  That our days would sing long and loud…
What can I say? 
What can I do? 
But offer this heart, O God, 
Completely to You. 
So I’ll stand with arms high and heart abandoned, 
In awe of the One who gave it all. 
I’ll stand. My soul, Lord, to You surrendered. 
All I am is Yours!

made with care ~ for the kiddo

When I recall what I got for Christmas as a kid, one gift stands out.  “Barbie dream house” was on my wish-list, and I can still remember the unveiling of a dollhouse my parents had made for me.  Complete with custom wallpaper, carpet, stairs, shingles, you name it.  My mom had made furniture out of cardboard and fabric.  It even had teeny-tiny little hand-towels.  I would spend hours in front of that thing.  Just last weekend, Jude was moving the furniture and dolls around.  There is still just something so special to think of all the time and thought that went into that gift.

Which brings us to handmade gifts, part deux.  

.: made with care :.
~ for the kiddo ~
…including, but not limited to…

This week, I decided to revisit these bags I made for the boys last year.  They were a huge hit, but I used cheap felt.  So while they are still being used, they look pretty rough.  I’m going to try out a wool-blend felt this time.  This is truly simple sewing – no hemming whatsoever.  Just sew raw edges together.
 I made them big enough to hold a regular-sized notebook.  
Then we filled each of their bags with items unique to their interests.
It has been the perfect bag for car-trips.
Just enough stuff to keep them busy, without taking up too much room.
Some other handmade bag ideas, 
‘cuz every boy needs a place for his treasures:
 {made from the pocket of a pair of shorts being thrown away}
Speaking of bandanas…
Source:  bandana dress
Source:  bandana apron
ashleyannphotography.com has some great ideas for DiY projects,
like who knew you could turn a bed sheet into a Star Wars’ costume?!?
This project involved a $3 t-shirt, a squirt gun, bleach and rubber gloves 
(NOT optional).  I have seen others make designs rather than letters.  
Endless possibilities here.
A friend sent me a link to these superhero towels selling for $40.
They only cost $5 to make!
If, instead, you have a princess…
Princess children's hooded towel
Source: etsy
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I saw this idea on pinterest, using an old t-shirt.  So, I made one.  
{Sorry, Jude.}
There’s always capes for your little superheroes!
 (looks like someone has picked up a few of my Kristen Wiig moves 🙂

Inspiration for the non-sew-er:
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Source: pinterest {animals superglued to jar lids and spray painted}
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Source: pinterest {fort kit; including sheets, rope, clamps, flashlight, glow sticks}
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Candycaneplaydough23
Vet6
If you still haven’t found anything that excites you to make a kid a gift, here’s 30 more ideas.  Happy dreaming, crafting and surprising!  

~~~~~~~~~~
While it’s fun to create a gift for someone special, I never want to forget why we do this.  Christmas is a celebration of the most remarkable gift of all ~ our Savior born into this world that we. may. have. life!  New life!  Life everlasting!  Life in and through Him!  I think sometimes we settle for celebrating the festivities rather than the honored guest.  It’s like we miss the King being in our presence because we are enamored by the glittering tinsel and twinkling lights.  

The thought of making a gift for someone may stress you out as much as me having to push a cart through a crowded store on Christmas Eve.  I get that.   So whether you buy your gifts at the mall or make them all, my hope is that every heart prepare Him room.  That we don’t chase after stuff to fulfill a longing only He can.  That our days would sing long and loud…
What can I say? 
What can I do? 
But offer this heart, O God, 
Completely to You. 
So I’ll stand with arms high and heart abandoned, 
In awe of the One who gave it all. 
I’ll stand. My soul, Lord, to You surrendered. 
All I am is Yours!

made with care ~ for the foodie

OK, who just turned their page in their planner to this week, and realized Christmas is 2 months away. It’s ’bout time for Santa’s workshop to kick it into gear! I’ve thought of 3 categories of handmade gift ideas to share.  First up, for the foodie. ‘Cuz back in the day, this used to be a food blog…


I may have sold out and joined pinterest.  So some ideas are from there, mixed in with some of my own.  
{Links to the recipes are in red – just click on the title.}

.: made with care :.
The above is a honey caramel corn with orange zest I made last year.  
I also love this recipe and would like to try this one.

~ Christmas Trail Mix ~
This is a mixture of honey roasted peanuts, dried cranberries, 
pistachios, almonds, white chocolate chips, 
pepitas (green pumpkin seeds) and holiday m&m’s (optional)
Great for co-workers, teachers, bus drivers, secretaries.  
And, a welcomed alternative to the token cookie plate.

Moose Munch ~
I’ve never made this before, 
but the picture was enough to make me want to try it out.
(pic from pinterest)

{How cute are these little bottles?}
(above pic from pinterest)
I was pretty skeptical when I made my first vanilla…vanilla beans in vodka for 2 months, and that’s it?  It’s true!  And, it’s a money-saver.  1 pint of homemade vanilla extract costs $10, which is what you can pay for a little bottle of pure vanilla.  



~ Cookie Dough ~
I thought this was a cute idea to give away your favorite cookie dough.  Plus, it would allow for a treat on a later date.
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(pic from pinterest)

I had never had rum cake in my life, until one arrived on a blistery December day in a cute Christmas tin to our front door, all the way from Florida!  
Such a thoughtful, super-yummy gift!  It’s easy to make gluten-free – simply substitute a gluten-free yellow cake mix.  Just sayin… 🙂
REE_2840_5891
(pic from the pioneer woman)

~ Coffee ~
We have officially gone full-blown coffee snob.  We used to spend $8/pound on grocery-store coffee.  Our coffee budget was $50 a month!  {We like coffee, we have friends who like coffee, and we like to drink coffee with friends.}  So, to save money, we started roasting our own coffee.  5 years ago, for an early Christmas present, I bought Andy an iRoast2.  We could get green coffee beans for $1.85/pound.  {Prices of coffee have gone *way* up.  Our last shipment was $4/pound, which is still a savings.}  
That year for Christmas, we roasted coffee for our family and friends.  
I’m still not sure I can come up with a better gift for a coffee lover…
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(pic from pinterest)

Does anyone else feel like they just gained 5 pounds reading that post?
Sorry about that.  
I promise you didn’t.  
We’ll move onto kiddo gifts next…sans calories.
~~~~~~~~~~
While it’s fun to create a gift for someone special, I never want to forget why we do this.  Christmas is a celebration of the most remarkable gift of all ~ our Savior born into this world that we. may. have. life!  New life!  Life everlasting!  Life in and through Him!   I think sometimes we settle for celebrating the festivities rather than the honored guest.  It’s like we miss the King being in our presence because we are enamored by the glittering tinsel and twinkling lights.  

The thought of making a gift for someone may stress you out as much as me having to push a cart through a crowded store on Christmas Eve.  I get that.   So whether you buy your gifts at the mall or make them all, my hope is that every heart prepare Him room.  That we don’t chase after stuff to fulfill a longing only He can.  That our days would sing long and loud…
What can I say? 
What can I do? 
But offer this heart, O God, 
Completely to You. 
So I’ll stand with arms high and heart abandoned, 
In awe of the One who gave it all. 
I’ll stand. My soul, Lord, to You surrendered. 
All I am is Yours!

.:make do:. old doors

.: The making of our guest room with what we already have lying around :. 
We’re revisiting .: make do :. today.  Because our guest room just got a new addition.  This is a special room to us – we want it to be comfortable for loved ones coming to visit, and yet practical for daily use.  
When I saw this, I thought it was the perfect solution.  
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I thought we would put 2 mattresses on pallets in the shape of an L, which could be a sectional couch when the kids watch a movie, but would be 2 beds for guests.  I still love the pallet idea and hope to have it somewhere in this house…  

But, we still had some doors lying around.  One day Andy got out his circular saw and started cutting through some in our front yard.  {I’ll tell ya, we must be quite the entertainment for our neighbors – “honey, there he is cuttin’ up doors again”}  Painted them with the leftover trim color, used a $6 pack of screws and we have a guest room daybed/couch! 
It’s kinda hard to tell from the picture, but there’s a mattress on top, and room for a second mattress that will roll out underneath.  
I made some cushions out of…can you guess?

Old bed pillows, leftover cream curtain fabric, and scrap material.  

There you have our design on a dime daybed.  Cost: $6.
Waste not, want not. 

Or, as a wise man once said:
Enjoy what you have rather than desiring what you don’t have.
Ecclesiastes 6.9a (NLT)



For more old door inspiration…
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It’s fall break!
Which means, we counted on our fingers 5 whole days I get to have my boys all to myself!!!  I’ll be back here next week with handmade gift ideas {for you, Jules!}  
Until then, enjoy your days, 
and the beautiful ones you have to share them with!

homemade pumpkin spice creamer

I remember the first time I read Ann’s words

Today, the moment when I am most repelled by a child’s behavior, 
that is my sign to draw the very closest to that child.

It goes against every parenting grain in my body.  You think when a kid is acting up, they *just* need discipline, not pop.  {Not that we don’t deal with the wrong behavior.  Not that drawing near means buying a special treat – it is often sitting down together with a bug book or a box of legos.  Insert a whole lot of other disclaimers, because this could be way misconstrued.}
But the more I do it, the more I am convinced Ann is onto something.  Entering into their world gives you a platform for talking about heart matters.  
Don’t we want to take advantage of every second we can of that, while we are still welcome?
So, after a big week and a full weekend ahead, I opted to spend the first hour with my boy on a date.  His choice.

 Of course…
Just one hour with the boy who dances to the beat of his own drum, 
who takes the path less traveled,
who over and over draws me outside to take in the beauty in all seasons.
 Just entering his world can do wonders…for the both of us.
Perhaps one of the other best discoveries of the week…

Homemade Pumpkin Spice Creamer!!!

Has anyone else picked up a container of flavored creamer only to scan the ingredients and have no idea how to pronounce them, let alone know what they are?  This may have happened to me more than once…
So, when I saw this recipe, I couldn’t wait to try it.  
Then after making it, it came to me…


Homemade Pumpkin Spice Creamer
(with ingredients you can pronounce 🙂
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 cup homemade pumpkin spice syrup
Mix well in a container.  Shake before pouring into coffee.
Enjoy!

{Preferably in a pink to-go mug on a walk with your middle child, 
letting him lead the way and talk about what he wants to talk about, 
smiling wide when he comes home to tell his dad “That was so much fun!!”}

pão de queijo

12 years ago, a Brazilian man waltzed into my life and swept me off my feet. Well…we weren’t quite that graceful, but it has been happily ever after.  10 3/4 years ago I said “I do” to this man.  And, I still do.  Which means, for almost 11 years, I have made these little balls of Brazilian cheese bread…most unsuccessfully.  He is gracious and would tell me how good they were, but we knew better.  The kids would eat them up like they were candy, but we knew better.  I posted the recipe, but knew better.  Until one 4th of July when I watched a friend pull perfect, freshly baked pão de queijo from the oven.  I got her recipe to make them for Andy’s birthday, and again…fail.  They tasted good, but were flat – not at all like the perfect ones she had made.  Must. not. give. up.  Sure, it’s been 11 years, but they’re that good.  I tried, tried again – bought a gram scale, mixed up the dough, and peeked into the oven one day to see victory!  I may have broken out into Kristen Wiig moves.  Andy may have snapped some pics.  And now I share with you!!

The texture is crispy on the outside, gooey-cheesy on the inside.


pão de queijo 
“Brazilian cheese bread”
(Portuguese pronunciation: [pɐ̃w̃ dʒi ˈkejʒu])

500 grams tapioca starch (Buy the gram scale brotha!  It’s worth it.)
2/3 cups water
2/3 cups milk
2/3 cups oil
2 teaspoons salt
2 eggs 
100 grams grated Romano cheese 
(you can use other cheese – monterey jack or mozzarella work, but Romano is our fave)

Bring the water, milk, oil and salt to boil in a saucepan.  Pour measured tapioca flour into a large mixing bowl.  Pour boiling water mixture over to scald the flour.  Stir until mixed.  (this is so easy with a kitchen aid mixer, but can be done by hand)  Then knead flour mixture when it is bearable.  Add eggs and cheese and knead some more.  This is the part I messed up for 10+ years…If it’s too sticky and you want to give up, drop by spoonfulls onto baking sheet.  Bake, and they will taste good.  But for that authentic texture, work with it.  You may need to add some more tapioca starch.  Don’t get it too flour-y, but make sure it’s plyable, but not sticky.  Butter your hands when you’re getting close to the texture you want.  When it will roll into a ball and keep its shape, you are there!  Place on baking sheet and bake at 375.  This is where the Brazilian comes out in this recipe, ‘cuz I don’t know for how long.  They never put times with their recipes…maybe 20-30 minutes?  I haven’t timed it yet.  I just always watch them.  You’ll know when they’re done – they’ll be crisp on the outside, cheesy in the center, and a light brown on top.  
Makes 30.  I bake 15, then roll the rest into balls, and freeze for later.

Pão de queijo:  A staple in our home, along with rice and beans and smiling brazilians in the background.

P.S.  Happy 1 year Blogg-iversary!  
What I thought would be a place where I could share some GF recipes has become more about sharing our journey. 

Yesterday was the official day.  I thought about the post I could do. Instead, I spent the 83-degree day {in October!} characteristic of how I want this whole blogging-mama thing to be – choosing the faces before me on a gorgeous day {worshiping together, on bike rides, at the park, by the shore, listening to a sister living in Africa share, chatting late over tea} rather than a computer.  Recording our days, but first *living* them!

Tonight I’m back, wishing you a happy blogg-iversary {1 day late}!  
I hope you know my true appreciation for each and every one of you beautiful souls out there.