April 30, 2009

Still Inspired



If you think I'm still lacking in inspiration, I'm not. Take a look at that hand up there. That is a teenage hand, lifted high in praise of Jesus. I took that shot at our youth meeting last week. I took more amazing shots last night. It's an amazing experience to witness (the shouting, jumping, electric youth-in-love-with-Jesus-scene), let alone capture on film. So, I've been inspired by this lately. Looking for the meaning. What is God calling me to see in doing this? How can I make them better? How can they make me better? Man, I love Jesus. He is one awesome, awesome Dude.


So, in my last post I griped and complained and let me tell you - the state of my house is no better - yet. I almost took a shot of my sink to show you this morning. Except my mom would have been ashamed, so I did not. Last night was church so we came home late and I hit the hay without cleaning up after dinner. *gasp* I KNOW, RIGHT?! Like one of my biggest pet peeves ever - because this morning? This morning was disgusting in the sink. Ick. And this evening when I get home from work will be even more disgusting. Oh well, I have to let it go. There are only so many hours in the day, Folks. I am but one parent trying to save the world. Here's hoping that Kiki doesn't lick up leftover Velveeta juice and increase her smelly pooting ability.


New subject. When I have inspiration fluttering around inside of me, I make lists. That's how my process starts and smolders. You know I love lists. Yesterday I made a new one. Two at once actually. A list of things I want to find for myself and projects to work on at home. I need to hang these lists up so that I can cross things off one at a time. That will feel good.



Projects
Nip waist on grey jeans & 2 pair chinos
Let down hem on brown and navy pants
Wipe down all shoes and bags (donate!)
Audit bathroom items (old shampoo bottles, etc)
Audit folded clothes, socks
Audit scrapbook supplies in storage (donate!)

Make pillowcase dresses for Moo and Etsy
Change lightbulbs outside garage
Fix hole in green turtleneck sweater
Rebind lavender tag sale quilt
Bind triangle quilt from Mary - yo-yo's
Rebind and topquilt 1st quilt
Remove apple juice stain from living room carpet


To Find
Tag sale lawn mower (SOON!)
Tag sale yard toys (think big plastic fort for Moo) and pool
More scarves (try the Angie knot)
Converse tennisshoes (loving them in grey... and red)


















New heels in red and yellow (OMG it's all I can do to not order these yellow Ed Hardy pumps)



















(Do you see the tattoo markings and the freaking awesome peep toe?!?! Oh Holy Grail of shoes.... please go on sale soon)


Fabulous jackets and hats
Vintage jewelry and skirts
Vintage leather jacket (almost) any color







I have found a new blog to read and admire. You all must go there. She is an awesome fashionista named Angie - from http://www.youlookfab.com/. She has tons of tips and tricks and outfit combinations that are affordable (some are affordable, but I love looking at high fashion) and she offers advice for all body sizes and shapes. She's trendy and modern and ultra cool. I LOVE her. I've been reading her archives and there is. so. much. good. stuff. that I'm on day 4 and have only read back one year so far. Yummy stuff.

April 28, 2009

Stuck In The Mud

I have high hopes for this week, but... I feel like I fell off of the creative wagon and got stuck in the mud.

I want desperately to scrapbook, yet can't get it together to actually unpack any of my scrapbooking notions. They are all *right there* but I haven't done it yet. I have pages swimming around in my head but I'm getting defeated before I begin. Must not be time to scratch this itch yet.

I could make up the yo-yos I want to stitch to my quilt when it comes back from my topquilter. They are already cut and waiting.

I should lay out the squares for BeckAY's quilt. I have them ready, also cut and waiting.

But...

I've got nuthin'.

Seriously.

Every evening I put the kids to bed and then just chillax for hours until I fall asleep. My energy is all used up by then. I've worked all day, ran errands, made dinner, done homework, baths, and bed. I try to do some cleaning once every evening, too - things like laundry, vacuuming, cleaning the countertops or toilets. So... to those friends of mine who STILL ask me, "how do you always get it all done?" - here's the proof that I don't.

I have been meaning to switch my purse out for about a month.

I have a pair of brown pants (on my rear end right this minute) that need re-hemming.

I need to give myself a facial and a moisturizing treatment.

I'll get to it. I promise. After I chillax some more.

April 27, 2009

ONE YEAR AGO: A Small Hiccup

My post from one year ago...

April 28, 2008

Sorry I didn't post much last week. I was busy. Midweek I checked craigslist and found an adorable house for rent nearby. I checked it out and I couldn't believe it was so affordable, in the exact school district I wanted for the kids, AND it had FOUR bedrooms. And a backyard. And a dining room. I told the kids and started dreaming of decorating their rooms. I met with the landlord and we made a deal. I set an appointment to pay the security deposit on Saturday.

But on Friday, I lost my job.

There. I said it.

This was something I was expecting in January - not now! My severance isn't that great, but I've decided to look at this as an opportunity. Clearly God wants me working somewhere else. And you know what? Another mom in Moo's Christian daycare is the head of HR for a large, local company. She already called me. I am saying SO many prayers that God will lead me to this opportunity. If it happens quick enough, I can still get the house. The landlord has agreed to hold it for a couple of weeks.

So, if you're inclined to and you enjoy my blogging :) - please PRAY. Please pray I find a great job. And soon.I'll be back later this week to share some pics of the kiddos and a few scrapbook pages as well.



That was a year ago. Isn't it amazing how God works? "Somewhere else" was here, in South Dakota. God has brought us so many blessings in the past year and we are tremendously thankful. I am also humbled at reading where I was just one year ago.

April 24, 2009

Love Is Not A Fight

Oh, go watch this one as well. It will change you if you let it, I promise. Grab a tissue first.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aivAVbmUQ7U&feature=related

(I couldn't embed this one - just click on the link above to watch the video. It is AMAZING.)



Love Is Not A Fight
by Warren Barfield


Love is not a place
To come and go as we please
It's a house we enter in
And then commit to never leave.

So Lock the door behind you.
Throw away the key.
We'll work it out together
Let it bring us to our knees.

Love is a shelter in the raging storm.
Love is peace in the middle of a war.
If we try to leave, may God send His angels to guard the door.
No, love is not a fight but it's something worth fighting for.

To some, love is a word
That they can fall into,
But when they're falling out
Keeping that word is hard to do.

Love will come to save us,
If we'll only call.
He will ask nothing of us,
But demand we give our all.

I will fight for you.
Would you fight for me?
It's worth fighting for.

While I'm Waiting

It's been a while since I've shared a song that is actively inspired by or inspiring my life right now. Here you have it. And before you ask, the answer is LOVE.




While I'm Waiting
by John Waller

I'm waiting...

I'm waiting on You, Lord.
And I am hopeful.
I'm waiting on You, Lord.
Though it is painful,
Patiently, I will wait.


I will move ahead, bold and confident,
Taking every step in obedience.

While I'm waiting I will serve you;
While I'm waiting I will worship;
While I'm waiting I will not faint.
I'll be running the race
Even while I wait.



I'm waiting...
I'm waiting on You, Lord.
And I am peaceful.
I'm waiting on You, Lord.
Though it's not easy
But faithfully, I will wait.

Yes, I will wait.



I will serve You while I'm waiting.
I will worship while I'm waiting.
I will serve You while I'm waiting.
I will worship while I'm waiting on You, Lord.



About Olive

I need to keep it real on the blog.

A very loyal reader asked me yesterday what Olive thought of Kiki. I didn't mention this on my blog because ... well, the internet can be mean. So I minded my own business.

But now that Kiki is around, Olive's absence on the blog is felt and I want to tell you about it.
Folks, sometimes, a wonderful and darling pet does not mesh with your family, despite all of your efforts. Olive is a good little girl - and so cute I can barely stand to look at old photos of her. However, like Kiki, Olive also had a bad habit... but unlike Kiki's smelly pooting, Olive's habit was causing a very real problem.

Olive barked. (You're thinking, DUH - dogs bark.) People, she barked NON-STOP. For fun. Visitors to my home and my neighbors can support me on this. My landlord was not pleased. The kids and I tried everything humanely possible and available to us to solve the barking dilemma for more than four months. The vet was involved. We tried visual and audible training. A spray bottle. More attention. Less attention. Exercise. A citronella collar. A beep collar. Finally, a shock collar. And you know what? Olive kept barking. She barked right through ALL TEN SETTINGS on that shock collar every single day, several times a day. She kept us up at night, she barked the entire time we were home. In the morning. ALL THE TIME.

It was excessive. And it was more than we could handle. The kids were very involved in trying to retrain her and stop her barking. The boys and I decided together that Olive would be happier (and less scolded) in a different home, perhaps where her barking wouldn't be a nuisance. We wanted her to be loved and happy all the time. Free to be her loud self.

So Olive has a new home. We do miss her (not her barking) and we are glad she is happy.



For what it's worth, I'm certain Olive would have adored Kiki. After all, they look like sisters.




Maybe this is my subconscious telling me to buy a bag of Oreos already!

April 23, 2009

Kiki's Bad Habit




Awwww, precious Kiki.



Did I tell you how Kiki came to be ours? She was dumped at the local Humane Society right after having babies... without her babies. I had read about her on the website before we went to look at cats, but I didn't consider her because I figured she'd be grouchy, separated from her brood and all.


Mabel and I went to the shelter last Friday evening and we played with a couple of kitties that I saw online, all the while walking back and forth past one-year-old Kiki (then named Orion). When I determined that the other two females they had weren't going to be a good fit for my kids I was ready to leave. Then a little white paw reached out and gently tapped me on the leg.


I looked down.


The little white paw poked back out of the cage and tapped Mabel's foot. "KEEE-KEEE!" she screamed and pointed. So, we spent some time with "Orion" and Mabel poked, thumped, sat on, and humiliated the poor cat repeatedly. The cat kept purring and reaching out for us to pet her. She sat on Mabel's lap. She wanted love. She didn't have her babies anymore, but she wanted someone to love her.


So we took her home and all of us do just that. And she is a very, very good girl.





But that's not the end of the story.


Like all of us, Kiki does have some insecurities. She also has a very bad habit that is awfully embarrassing.


She's a farter, Folks. Big ole' pooter.


The cat can leave a stench that will engulf a room in 3 seconds flat. Flowers wilt and Mabel's hair goes straight. The boys (who gleefully relish a good toot) even have to leave the room. I keep looking for poop everywhere, thinking she's had an accident on the carpet. All the time, I'm walking around looking for poop. Nope. There she sits preening herself, looking slightly humiliated. And a little relieved.


Should I be concerned? Is there a remedy for cat gas? IT IS LETHAL, I TELL YOU! They could bottle and sell this to combat terrorism!


I've got it figured out, though. You see, on Kiki's first night in the house she spent a lot of time up and moving around, exploring in the night. She woke me up 762 times. Each time I woke up I thought I had a robber in the house. I sat up in bed and frantically thought of what I could take into the living room as a weapon.


No baseball bat upstairs (mental note: bring Trevor's bat upstairs). A shoe? I could pummel an invader with the heel of one of my shoes!!! I didn't have a lot of choices and it's been bothering me for days.


In the nights since, I snuck out to investigate middle-of-the-night noises a couple of times and sure enough, there was Kiki, prowling around all proud of herself. (Probably pooting, too. Smelly Cat.) I pinched my nose, went back to bed and thought about it some more.


I realized I do have a weapon. I have Kiki.


If a stranger ever breaks into the house, I'm grabbing the cat.




"LOOK HERE, MISTER! I HAVE A CAT WITH LETHAL TOOTS AND I'M NOT AFRAID TO SQUEEZE HER!"


April 20, 2009

Church Day Children

Most of these photos are from Easter Sunday (Moo and Roo), and one is from this past week where it was "dress silly" day at church. Of course, that means a cape plus underwear and a wig on your head.




And, ahem... Nana. Don't you want to nuzzle this cuteness?












Domestic Short Hair






Introducing Kiki. (Pronounced "keeeee-keeeee" - the way Mabel says "kitty".)
And also, I chopped all of my hair off and love it.

April 16, 2009

Not An Evil Ploy To Make Nana Move, I Swear...





Mabel wants this EVERY DAY, Nana.

Oy.

Well, my first few days back to work and back to our routine have been... rough. (But I LOVE my life and am so grateful to be back; perspective is good.)

I have whiplash today from trying to get so many things done at once.

Youth group last night was amazing; it is such a blessing to be a youth leader. I am psyched! The kids are doing great in school and I'm rocking and rolling at work. Thinking about chopping my hair off.

Need to finish the embroidery on my quilt before my topquilter calls me asking for it. I have yo-yo's to work on. A best friend that is waiting patiently for me to start her quilt. A cat to adopt.

Wanting so badly to scratch the scrapbooking itch.

Random thoughts today. Pictures soon, I swear. I have them on my EHD ready to go, but I've been in all-day meetings since Monday and cannot upload at work.

Oy.

April 13, 2009

*Deep Breath*

First I must report to all of you that while I was away in Ohio, I was contacted by several people ready to ship blankets to the CAP on behalf of Mountain Baby Blankets.

How many could there be in just a week, you ask?



FORTY ONE.

Praise the Lord! Please give yourselves a round of applause.


Wowee. I am continually amazed and humbled by all of you women, reading my blog and wanting to help the little babies. It's not too late; there is no deadline!


******************************************

So, Saturday I drove for 13.5 hours. It was a success: the weather was great and Mabel only screamed for 6 hours.

Our visit was nice enough; I know the kids enjoyed seeing their dad. I met Feet. However, I did not come home divorced from this mess (as I was expecting). Not at all. In fact, I sat alone and frustrated at the court house for hours, diving into prayer. Please, please - if you pray, please pray that everything is final very soon. I need to be liberated. I need to move on. I NEED TO DATE.

*Ahem.*

I am still feeling quite overwhelmed after having my taxes done, after driving an accumulative near 30 hours recently, after cranking out a wonderful Easter dinner all by myself. I am overwhelmed but anxious to take on some new creative projects. More sewing? Maybe. I haven't decided. But Lulu told me to scratch whatever was itchin' so I'm going to.

Pictures to come later this week.

April 9, 2009

A Quick Word

Just a quick note to let you know that I am out of town until next week. Those of you who have contacted me about your baby blankets - no worries. I will be answering email when I get back.


Also, if you're willing to throw some prayers my way for safe travel this weekend, I would appreciate it. Jesus himself will be riding shotgun while I drive another 15 hours on Saturday.


Have a happy and meaningful Easter!

April 2, 2009

Recipe for HoneyBaked Ham Glaze





photo from Honeybakedtotherescue.com



HoneyBaked Hams are good quality hams, spiral sliced, and wonderfully lean (which is a requirement if I eat ham). They don't have them here in Da Plains and that is plenty stinky because Easter = Honey Baked Ham, in my opinion. Sure, I could order one to be drop-shipped to my doorstep, but let's be honest, the dang money tree isn't blooming fast enough.







This year, I'm going to attempt to make my own HoneyBaked Ham glaze using this recipe:







Ingredients

1 cooked ham shank, half, bone in (pre-sliced)

1 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon


1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg


1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon paprika


1 dash ground ginger


1 dash ground allspice








Directions

If you couldn't find a pre-sliced ham, the first thing you must do is slice it. Use a very sharp knife to cut the ham into very thin slices around the bone. Do not cut all the way down to the bone or the meat may not hold together properly as it is being glazed. You want the slices to be quite thin, but not so thin that they fall apart or off the bone.





Mix the remaining ingredients together in a small bowl.







Lay down a couple sheets of wax paper onto a flat surface such as your kitchen counter. Pour the sugar mixture onto wax paper and spread it around evenly.





Pick up the ham and roll it over the sugar mixture so that it is well coated. Do not coat the flat end of the ham, just the outer, pre-sliced surface.







Turn the ham onto its flat end on the plate. Use a blowtorch with a medium-size flame to caramelize the sugar. Wave the torch over the sugar with rapid movement, so that the sugar bubbles and browns, but does not burn. Spin the plate so you can torch the entire surface of the ham. Repeat the coating and caramelizing process until the ham has been well glazed (don't expect to use all of the sugar mixture). *







Serve the ham cold or reheated, just like the real thing.









* As I do not own a blow torch or trust one in my home, I will be hoping the broiler does this part for me, at least to some degree.





Sorry, HoneyBaked Ham people. I cannot afford to ship your pigs to my house. I must improvise!



A New Recipe for Dishwashing Detergent

Folks, I have to be honest.



I absolutely love my homemade dishwashing detergent AND how cheap it is to make. Unfortunately, I do not love that it leaves a slight film on my dishes. It's the Borax, I'm sure of it. So the second time I made it, I lessened the amount of Borax and it has helped, as has cutting down the amount I'm using for each wash.



But today, I found another recipe for dishwashing detergent and I'm going to try it!



Dishwasher Detergent

6 cups baking soda
3 cups non iodized salt
lemon juice
vinegar

Place the baking soda and salt in a container with a lid. Add 1 Tbsp of dry ingredients per dishwasher load. Add 1 Tbsp lemon juice to the dry ingredients in the washing cup (I wonder how this would translate to lemonade mix/citric acid powder, which I have on hand). Fill the rinse aid recepticle on the door with white vinegar. Refill when empty.



The baking soda cleans, deoderizes, and disinfects. The salt softens the water to make the other ingredients work better, as well as cleaning, deoderizing, and disinfecting. The lemon juice boosts the cleaning power, and the vinegar leaves the dishes sparkling.





Have any of you tried this recipe? I'd love to hear your results...

April 1, 2009

No Poo and LUSH Product Testing

Have you heard of the No-Poo movement? No, no, no... I'm not talking about (whispers) constipation, I'm talking about the movement designed to motivate us to stop using chemical-laden shampoo!



Have you heard of the Environmental Working Group? They're an organization that independently tests all sorts of products against standards for health, sustainability, and environmental protection. I've known about and used their awesome databases for years. Definitely credited with a big part of my decision to go green. Check it out - visit their Skin Deep: Cosmetic Safety Database and type in the name of the body wash residing in your shower stall. I promise you that you will make a funny face after you read about the ingredients it has and what they are doing to your body. Sorry, but the truth has to come out.


According to the EWG (and hundreds of other resources), shampoo is one of the biggest offenders. The typical shampoos that we see on drugstore or spa shelves typically contain not only ingredients that are harmful for our environment, but also known CARCINOGENS. Companies get away with this because there aren't any current laws prohibiting it. Many of them also include Dioxane and Formaldehyde. Read THIS and THIS for more information on Dioxane and Formaldehyde in bath products. It will make you squick and shiver. Eeeewwww. There is even mineral oil and petroleum in shampoo. Tons of it. It can kill you - really.


So, if you are like me when I first read about this junk, I flipped out. What was I supposed to use? How could I be slathering this nasty mess all over my kids? I did a LOT of research. I wanted to find options that didn't smell bad or use things that didn't get rid of germs or dirt. I also wanted to make sure I wasn't being uptight about nothing (as you can tell by now, it's not nothing).


For the kids, I use Method, Burt's Bees, or JASON brand products. There are others - California Baby is also great - but they can be pricier. Who wants to go broke? Not me! Method also makes some home products that I've been happy with - but honestly - I usually use vinegar and/or baking soda to clean almost every surface in my home. It's the perfect solution. Just being honest.


So, back to shampoo. Did you know that you can use baking soda and/or vinegar on your hair too? Peaceful Cottage has a recipe for homemade shampoo here, and perhaps the most comprehensive how-to and troubleshooting for No Poo can be found on Babyslime's journal here.



You'll probably read this and be curious. Scared of your shower. You should be! Maybe you even want to try something new. But if you're like me you're also definitely very wary of the switchover time when your hair will whiplash from going without the chemicals it's been bathed in for so long - the overproduction of natural oils. I have been told that it should take less than a week for the natural oils to regulate and the hair to start "breathing" again. I would love to know if any of you try this!


However.

I'm not ready to make my own just yet. I started doing some research on other homemade shampoos. Turns out, a Canadian company called LUSH does make vegan shampoos, conditioners, and body washes by hand. Then they ship them in minimal packaging. They promise their bath and beauty products are 100% vegetarian, made by hand and never tested on animals. Fresh, natural ingredients benefit your body.





I wasn't sure what to try (and was weirded out at the idea of some of their products), so I contacted customer service and would you believe - traded emails with a real, live person yesterday until we had decided exactly what would be best for my hair type. I ordered these:










Yes, they are solids (LUSH does make liquids, too). I can't wait to try them. I promise to share the results.


Please, for your own health and the health of our planet, please go check the resources linked in this post and evaluate your potty rooms for nasty chemicals. You deserve better!


*End of public service announcement.*


PS - I am not endorsed in any way by LUSH.
Also PS - We have a 15 hour drive ahead of us tomorrow... please say your prayers for our safe traveling.

Cherry Blanket on Etsy



I have added this lovely "Cherry" blanket to my Etsy shop. AND IT'S ON SALE!


Oh, Folks, this is a yummy blanket. It is made from super soft flannel and is oh, so cozy. All three of my kiddos have blankets like this and have been using them for years. At 68" x 100" (yes, it's really this big!), this blanket is plenty big enough for fort-building and it covers a twin-sized bed. This blanket is all my children sleep under in the summertime.


The details:

My Cherry blanket was made to cuddle your sweet little girl in softness. She'll love snuggling under this warm blanket on movie night. This blanket is sized generously and will cover a twin nicely.This lovely yummy includes a variety of the softest flannel fabric, with red floss ties. This adorable blanket was machine pieced and sewn, and then tied by hand. This blanket can be machine washed in cold water and dried on low heat in the dryer. Made from flannel, you can expect a small bit of shrinkage with the first wash and dry. Made in a smoke free environment. The finished size for Cherry is 68" x 100". THIS ITEM IS ON SALE in my Etsy shop - here.