Thursday, April 29, 2010

Recipe For America

I'm working on a new pillow cover for my Mom. Thus far, I've made her pillow covers for autumn, Christmas, and spring. I think this cover should carry her through the summer. (I guess it's better than dressing a concrete goose, right? bwa ha ha! I crack myself up!)

This cross stitch pattern comes from Pine Mountain Design, and it is called "Recipe for America". Here is what the finished project will say:

recipe for America
1 nation
under God
spread from sea
to shining sea
mix people from
far and near
serve with liberty

Isn't that sweet? I know Mom will appreciate it. Her parents were some of the people mixed into the American recipe. My German grandparents came to America to escape the Weimar Republic. The country had devalued the Deutchmark so badly that it took a wheel barrow of money to buy a loaf of bread. Doesn't sound that much different than what's happening around the globe today.

At the time, my grandparents, like all immigrants, had to be sponsored to come to America. They had to provide proof that they would have gainful employment here. They were basically indentured servants, working on a farm for more than seven years before they were "free" to pursue their own American dream. My grandmother was so proud when she took the test to become an official American citizen.

When you look at the history of our country and how immigrants were grafted into the American society, it really puts a new spin on the debate today.


Okay, Recessionistas, do I have your attention now?

I found a great blog called freebiegallery that showcases lovely needleart projects. Many of the patterns can be downloaded for free. FREE! If you've been out pricing patterns lately, you know what a deal this is! You can visit here:

I will also include a link for this site under my needleart category.

And speaking of needleart...have you subscribed to the Threadworx online journal yet? I recently received the spring edition, and it is lovely! So many pretty fibers and patterns! Click on the link at the right to become a subscriber today!

Don't forget to enter Monday's thread for a chance to win a FREE autographed novel from Joanna Campbell Slan!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Feed The Pig!

Are you a Recessionista? I love this term! I first heard it from Kim at MFT stamps. If you are a Recessionista (and these days, who isn't?), then you are probably already feeding the pig.

Was does it mean to feed the pig? It means feeding your piggy bank, a.k.a. saving money. I discovered a great website at that gives great tips on ways to save money. I've already put a lot of the tips into practice, but I did learn a few new ones, too.

I can tell you that one way I've been saving money on my craft this year is by entering contests and challenges that award prizes. In the last six months, I've probably won over $100 in free stamps! This week, I won a free stamp set from Gina K Designs for entering the box from an earlier post into her new release challenge. woo hoo! Free rubbah!

I love to hear tips from fellow recessionistas, so if you have any to pass along, please share them here!

And don't forget to enter Monday's thread for a chance to win the new mystery from Joanna Campbell Slan!

{recipe: Very Punny (SU), Fina Lace (SU), kiwi kiss ink and cs, pink pirouette cs, Basic grey sugared papers, scallop scissors, pink flower}

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Don't you just love it when things come together? You've been meditating on a certain passage of scripture, and then the pastor makes it a key point in his sermon that week. An unexpected check comes in the mail just when there's a bill that needs to be paid. You think of a long lost friend, and then they call you out of the blue.

Coincidence? The author Squire Rushnell calls them God Winks (and he's written books on this very theme). One of my favorite radio personalities mentioned recently that we should all stop calling them coincidences and recognize them for what they are...the divine hand of God at work in our lives. I'm currently studying Esther, and one of the main themes of the story is that perhaps we are all born for "such a time as this".

I happen to get excited when some of my favorite crafts or hobbies combine. For example, Gina K Designs released stamp sets last month with a needlework theme. Voila! Needle art and stamping combined! And then my favorite paper company, Cosmo Cricket, released a line called Material Girl that also works with the theme. (Although for this card, I used a paper from their older line, Honey Pie). What could be better?

I made this card for today's color combo challenge!

{recipe: Nana's Needlework Sentiments (Gina K), Aida Cloth stamp (SU), Label Classics (SU) old olive ink and cardstock, ballet blue ink and cardstock, barely banana cardstock, Cosmo Cricket Honey Pie paper, Martha Stewart lace doily punch, olive felt flower, red button, dmc floss}

Just recently, I was lamenting the loss of some of my favorite colors from Stampin' Up. Guess what? They're back! SU is retiring a LOT of colors (I used two retiring colors in this card!), rearranging their color families, and bringing back some of the favorite In Colors from the past several years. They're also introducing six new colors into the mix.

River Rock! Riding Hood Red! Pink Pirouette! Wild Wasabi! Baja Breeze! I'm a happy gal! Sure, there are quite a few colors I'll miss (Sage Shadow, for one!). But change is a good thing, and these color families needed a lot of refreshing. I love the look of the new Brights color family now, and I rarely used the old brights color family before. A fresh perspective is always a good thing!

Hey, did you know that two of my favorite hobbies combined in another form? Mystery novels and crafting! If you like this combo, too, then make sure you leave a comment on yesterday's thread for a chance to win an autographed copy of the latest scrapping mystery from Joanna Campbell Slan , "Photo Snap Shot"!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Blog Giveaway!: A Scrap Mystery!

Happy Monday, everyone! I have a fabulous blog giveaway this week. Joanna Campbell Slan, a fellow SplitcoastStamper, has sent me a copy of her just-released mystery novel, "Photo Snap Shot". This novel is the third in her Scrap-N-Craft Mystery series featuring Kiki Lowenstein, scrapper and amateur detective.

You may recall that I read the first book in the series, "Paper, Scissors, Death" last month and raved about what a fun read it was! The novels take place in my former home town of St. Louis, and Joanna does a fantastic job of describing the places and people that were so familiar to me. Each novel has a scrapbooking theme, and the chapters have great scrapping tips at the end.

I love a good British cozy style of mystery, and when it's combined with one of my favorite crafts...well, what's not to love?

Joanna is such a sweetheart! She sent me an autographed copy of the novel (published by Midnight Ink) to give away here on my blog.

So here's the scoop: leave a comment here on this thread telling me about a favorite craft or favorite category of book that you love, and I will draw one winner next Monday morning! I will close the contest at Midnight on Sunday, and will announce the winner next week.

Good luck!

p.s. Joanna told me that she'll be making a book tour stop next month at a library in Mooresville, Indiana next month. Any of my fellow Indy Hoosiers up for a road trip?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Out of the Box

I've been showing a lot of cards here at the cafe recently, but not a lot of projects. So today I decided to think "out of the box" and make a box instead! I followed instructions from Sunshine Mama Designs that were posted on the Gina K blog. This box was part of Gina's Release Party challenge.

I began by following the box directions using a 12 x 12 piece of card stock and scoring. Before taping the sides together, I stamped this lace doily design on each side (from Gina K's stamp set "Nana's Needlework"). I used garden green ink on garden green card stock.

Next, I made the box top using a piece of 6 X 6 Crushed curry card stock. Before taping, I stamped the edges in crushed curry ink (hard to see here) using a little lace stamp from the same set. Then I taped the four corners to form the lid.

I had some fun scraps of paper from Cosmo Cricket's "Material Girl" papers that seemed to match these images perfectly. I made a patchwork design on top of the box. Then, I tied the box and lid together using River Rock stitched grosgrain ribbon. I slipped on a little tag (sentiment from Gina K's set "Nana's Needlework Sentiments") that I'd stamped with garden green ink and dusty durango ink, then sponged the edges with crushed curry ink.

Fast, fun, and ready for gift giving!


Speaking of gifts, I have a really fantastic giveaway that I will announce on Monday! Make sure that you stop back to the cafe with coffee cup in hand!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Thoughts on The Earth

Today is Earth Day, and I have a big confession to make.

I am sick of Earth Day.

Let me explain. I have been recycling for more than twenty years now. When I haul the garbage and the recycling to the curb, there is now more in the recycling tote than there is in the garbage tote.

I haul my cloth bags to the grocery store every week.

I use cloth napkins and dish towels in place of disposable napkins and paper towels.

I care about what I put into the soil and what I put into my family's stomach.

I try very hard to be a good steward of the earth.

But at some point within the last year, I began to become uneasy with the whole "green" movement. It became apparent that our American school children knew more about "reduce, reuse, and recycle" than they did "In God We Trust."

Somewhere along the way, the green movement became the new religion.

We went to the Indy zoo the other week, and we were HAMMERED with green slogans everywhere. One sign said that if we'd all wear sweaters and turn our thermostats down, we could save the walrus, and there is nothing on earth quite like a walrus. Another sign said that if we'd keep our tires inflated, we could prevent the polar ice caps from melting.

Really? I'm mean, seriously?

We now live in a culture that tells us what cars to drive, what light bulbs to use, what to clean our toilets with, what appliances to purchase. We are hyper-informed. Every day, we are told if we don't act now! now! now! the earth will implode and it will all be our fault. What about the earth? Don't you love the earth? Don't you want to pass it down to future generations?

I had an epiphany this year when I read this verse from Psalm 24:1: "The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it; the world, and all who live in it."

Newsflash! The earth is not mine. I cannot pass it down to anyone because it does not belong to me. The earth belongs to the Lord.

Where does the green movement fail? It fails because the basic premise is that we are in control. We must act. We are in charge of the future.

Guess what? We're not. We cannot make the sun rise and set. We cannot bring rain and drought. We cannot force the seasons to come and go. That job belongs to the one who is really in charge.

In Hannah's prayer of praise to the Lord, she said "For all the earth is the Lord's, and he has set the world in order." 1 Samuel 2:8

There is an order to the world, and God has set it in place. There is a balance. He has given this earth periods of cold and periods of warmth. He has given flood and drought, seasons of plenty and seasons of famine. He has given us this ebb and flow of life so that we will learn to put our trust in Him.

I'm not worried about the earth any longer. It is not mine to worry about. I may be a steward, but there is a King who reigns over all.

The earth is good, but do I want my children to "love the earth"? No. I want them to the love the creator, not the creation. If they don't know that this earth is not their home, then I'm not doing my job. Today, my school children will be bombarded by earth day messages. But in our house, we won't celebrate Earth Day. Instead, we will celebrate "In God We Trust".

The earth is the Lord's and everything in it.

{recipe: Tree Swing (Pure Innocence-MFT stamps), Cosmo Cricket Earth Love papers, baja breeze cardstock and ink, kraft and ivory Pure Luxury cardstock, versafine onyx ink, prisma markers, dew drops}

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sunshine and Rain

My Favorite Things had posted a challenge to create a card using the theme "Rainy Days". I could have used the little Pure Innocence girl holding the umbrella, but that seemed too easy. Instead, I decided to use this image of the little girl dancing in the rain. (The original stamp from the set Sunshinny Day has the little girl chasing a butterfly, so I just omitted the butterfly).

When I was a little girl, my German grandmother had a saying for those times when the sun was shining and it was still raining. She would say something like "Der teufel steckt kitzeln seine grosmutter." Loosely translated, it means "The devil is tickling his grandmother." Isn't that funny?

I found this translation in German using a Google search. More than likely, it is in High German, and my Grosmama spoke Low German. There may be some differences, but I think it's close.

(Last year, I was at a Sunday school class at church with a table of much older congregation members. Somehow, the conversation came to a point where I had to insert a few German phrases that I knew from my upbringing. One of the sweet gray-haired ladies giggled when she heard me speak, and said "That's low German!" I'm not entirely certain if High and Low German refers to dialects of certain regions, or if "Low German" was spoken by the farm-folks of my heritage!)

Here's the inside of the card, and this is a close-up of the sentiment:

What could be more magical than dancing in the rain under a rainbow?

{recipe: Sunshinny Day (Pure Innocence-MFT stamps), Fairy Girl (PI-MFT), Spring Sprouts (Sara Williams for MFT), paper from Cosmo Cricket's The Boyfriend, summer sun cardstock, bayou blue cardstock and ink, versafine onyx ink, prisma markers, amuse twinkles}

Monday, April 19, 2010

A Gift for a Grandma

Yesterday, I had to attend the baby shower for a coworker who recently became a grandmother. Yes, apparently grandmother showers are all the rage. Where have I been? Anyhoo, I decided to make a little grandma brag book with some supplies I had piled up in the craft studio. I had a small square chipboard spiral book and a scrapbooking kit from Stampin' Up (I'm Here-Boy). I sat down at my table, and about an hour later, I had a simple, completed scrapbook, ready for gift giving.

The pages were very simple. I just used elements from the kit and tried not to get too fancy.

And after all that crafting, I realized I still had to make a card! So I whipped out my favorite baby stamp from Puns From The Past (SU) and made this fast card:

{recipe: Puns From The Past (SU), so saffron/certainly celery/bashful blue cardstock, Delciate Dots paper (SU), sahara sand ink, scallop edge and square punch, blue taffeta ribbon}

I wrapped up the gift with an archival -safe pen and double-sided tape, put it in a pretty bag, and brought it to the grandmother shower.

Guess what?

It turns out, it wasn't really a grandmother shower after all! The mother and the baby were there, along with the grandmother, and as they start to open presents, I realized "Oh crap! This is a baby shower!" I'd been duped. What to do! I grabbed my present from the "baby shower gifts" table and told the mother of the baby "I hope you're not offended, but this present is for the grandmother!"

I don't think the mother appreciated it, but I know the grandmother did. :)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Rock Stars

Are we ever too old for rock stars? When I was much younger, I remember seeing U2 in concert. It was the Joshua Tree tour (I'm really dating myself, aren't I?), and I recall seeing Bono on stage and thinking "If I could but touch the fringe of his suede jacket..." Yes, I was a bit infatuated. But little did I know at the time that God had another man for me to fall in love with who was in that very same stadium at the same concert. Coincidence or God wink? You decide.

I don't get to attend as many concerts these days, but I still have my "rock stars".

Beth Moore is my rock star! I first discovered her five years ago, and after many bible studies, I can honestly say that if she walked into my house today, I'd probably be more than a little tongue tied and starstruck.

Tonight, my small group is starting the Esther bible study, and I'm totally psyched to be getting into the Word with Beth one more time. But there's more!

Next month, I will be heading to Grand Rapids, Michigan to see Beth Moore and her Living Proof Live tour in person! Truly, the excitement may be too much for me. Travis Cottrell and his band will be there, too, and they are awesome. I can't wait to sing and praise and study for an entire weekend with Beth and my mom and sisters along for the ride. What a blessing!

If you are interested in seeing Beth live or via simulcast, you can click on the link for Beth's website and check out her future events.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Gooseberry Patch Bookazine!

Last weekend, I picked up the newest addition to the Gooseberry Patch line of cookbooks...the bookazine! I found "Our Best Quick and Easy Recipes" at the magazine stand of Barnes and Noble. It's filled with great recipes and photos that will make you hungry. And featured on page 97? My recipe for Mediterranean Pasta Salad!

Yes, I'm tootin' my own horn by including a big new Gooseberry Patch gadget here at the cafe. I've been published in several GP cookbooks...Holidays at Home, One Pot Meals, and the Cozy Home cookbook. I haven't sent in recipes for a while, but I think I have a new stack of family favorites that I'll be submitting soon.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Time and Taxes

Yesterday was Tax Day. Tell me, are you in the group of 53 percent of Americans who pay federal taxes, or are you in the group of 47 percent of Americans who pay no federal taxes? I swear, when I read those statistics, I scratch my head and wonder...why can't this country just pass a flat tax that is fair for all?

The Ways to Use It challenge asked us to create a card using a time theme in honor of tax day. I got really crafty and collage-y with this card! I used my Sizzix embossing folders, my Tim Holtz Distress crackle paints, and some really old stamps for this card!

{recipe: Artifacts (SU), Trintastic (SU), Handbill Headlines (SU), Sizzix folder, Tim Holtz distress crackle paint, large and small tag punches, soft suede and bordering blue cardstock and ink, versafine onyx ink, rhinestone brads, linen thread}

This week, I've been reading the fascinating book "The Millionaire Next Door". It's an amazing book that looks at the habits of real real, I mean the people who have a net worth in the millions, not the people who may make a million but spend two million instead. It turns out, the real millionaires are not who you think they are. They are small business owners, auctioneers, average joes and janes who just figured out how to live within their means and save. The doctors, lawyers, and corporate types tend to spend too much money to keep up appearances that go with their professions.

Millionaire types have a lot in common. They buy used cars. They live in modest houses. They don't have a lot of toys that depreciate in value. They spend a lot of time on their personal finances. They know where every dollar goes and how much they spend on every category from food to clothing to auto insurance. In other words, they budget.

My husband, who is a student of economics, has often told me that the key to wealth is not how much money you make, it is how much you don't spend. And boy, this is so true! Last year, you may recall how I started to budget and write down where every dollar went. I even made a cute little book to record my purchases. Well, nine months later, it's not so cute anymore!

I can now look at my little black book and see how much I spent on Starbucks for any given month. I can chart how much money went to clothing, and if I saved any money on the food budget. I can see areas where I've made big improvements (I'm spending more than half as much on crafts this year compared to last!), and areas where I can still use improvement (thinking of switching from shopping at Target for staples to shopping at Walmart for staples). I can see where curbing the restaurant eating has helped our food budget immensely, and I can also see where adding income from a part time job helped with making the monthly budget go farther.

I guess all those hours spent listening to Dave Ramsey on the radio have finally had an impact! I want to live like no one else so that I can live like no one else. Time to stop paying the stupid tax!

Time for a change

Have you heard? Stampin' Up is changing their color families. They're bringing back some In Color favorites (river rock, wild wasabi, pink pirouette, riding hood red, pacific point, baja breeze, and others), but getting rid of a lot of old standbys. No more Sage Shadow! I'll really miss this one. Time to stock up! Gone are close to cocoa, bordering blue, really rust, creamy caramel, and just about every color from the bold brights family. Soft subtles is saving four colors and changing the rest. Rich Regals and Earth Elements will lose nearly half their colors, too.

I think the change is a good one. Time to freshen up the palette! I'm thrilled that they're bringing back some In Colors, too.

What do you think?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Scripture Challenge 2010: Hymn

Sam came in from riding his bike looking thoroughly winded and tired.

"I just got done singing a really long song to God!" he told me.

Samuel, like another poet warrior that came before him, has a heart for God.

This week, he drew a picture of our back yard and wrote the words to his very own psalm: "Oh what a holy world our God has given us." And on the back of the picture, he wrote "Oh what a holy world our God has given us. The flowers are beautiful, the butterflies and the world above us."

Sam, at the age of 6, perfectly put into words how I feel about spring. And I know why he drew the scene from our back deck, too. It overlooks majestic trees, a nature preserve, and the creek that winds its way through it all. When I step out on the deck first thing every morning, I, too, am inspired to sing a hymn of thanks and praise.

A hymn is so much more than a song. For starters, I know what a hymn is not. It is not the praise band that rocked the house on Sunday morning. It is not the soprano that hit the high note. It is not the organist that stirred the congregation with an old classic.

A hymn, quite simply, is me, lifting my heart up to God. A hymn is an offering, lifted up with thanks and praise. Can a band or an organist help me do this? Sure! But when my heart is pouring out the words to God, I forget everything else. It becomes, in the words stolen from Jars Of Clay, a "Love Song For a Savior".

Psalm 30:4 says "Sing to the Lord, you saints of his; praise his holy name."

In other words, singing is an important part in the process of sanctification. A hymn can set us apart for God's holy purpose...

...a hymn lifted up in the car.

...a hymn lifted up doing laundry.

...a hymn lifted up on a bicycle.

For me, a hymn is an important part of worship, a part that isn't horizontal, but vertical. A hymn is a lifting up of heart.

This week, God used my sweet child to remind me that I've been a little quiet lately. He's been missing my voice. Today, the trees and flowers are in bloom, the grass is green, the sun is shining, and the birds are singing. I think it's time to join them.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Yesterday's Clean and Simple challenge was to make a card inspired by Mackinac Island, Michigan. How ironic, as I'd just come home from Michigan! Not Mackinac Island, not even close! Michigan as a whole is a beautiful state, but the area where I grew up...well, not so much. My sister, Tina, refers to it as the armpit of Michigan...ha ha!

The benefit of living in the armpit is that you want to see all the pretty places of your state that much more. As a family, we often traveled to far flung locales in the rugged wilderness of the Upper Peninsula or the Manistee National Forest. But occasionally, my husband would concede and take us to the more genteel areas of Traverse City, Petoskey, Harbor Springs, and Mackinac.

One of our favorite trips was one we took with my Mom and Dad to attend my niece, Laura's wedding on the island. Great memories! I've always loved this photo I took of the two of them on the eve of their fiftieth wedding anniversary:

You can see the inspiration for the red adirondack chairs in this photo. My brother, David, makes some of the best adirondack chairs! He makes them with rounded backs so that the mold into you when you sit down. So comfy! I told him that when he retires later this year, he should start building these as his hobby and sell them...and I'm putting in the first order!

If you've never been to Mackinac Island, then add it to your list of must-see places. It really is lovely...old Victorian era homes surrounded by gardens, bicycles and horse drawn carriages everywhere (no cars allowed on the island!), and of course, the amazing Grand Hotel (the location of the movie Somewhere in Time with Jane Seymour and Christopher Reeve). And if you like fudge, then the island is a fudge lovers paradise! It's the specialty there.

Today's card is really low on creativity: I reused the same papers and color palette from my last card creation.
{recipe: Lockhart stamp, PL cardstock, Cosmo Cricket Material Girl paper, crushed curry cardstock, scallop square punch, ribbon, flowers}

Thanks for looking today!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Zooin' It

We had a great day at the Indy Zoo this week. The temps were in the 80s, the sun was shining, and the flowers and trees were in full bloom.

The boys enjoyed the animal exhibits, and Sam loved the dolphin show and aquarium.

We even got to touch sharks in the shark petting tank!

I'll be taking a few much needed vacation days from blogging to spend time with family.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A New Bookazine!

I just received my April e-newsletter from Gooseberry Patch. Great news! This month, they will debut new monthly bookazines that you can buy at your favorite stores. But here's the really cool part: they highlighted my recipe for Mediterranean Pasta Salad in the magazine and in this month's newsletter!

You can see the e-newsletter here:

I guess I need to tell the ladies at GP that I haven't lived in Michigan for the last five years! ha ha!

I love Gooseberry Patch. For years, their catalogs have carried an array of fun products, and their cookbooks are the best of the best! And you all know how much I adore their new line of clear stamps!

I made this card for today's sketch challenge at Splitcoast Stampers. This apron stamp is one of my favorites! I think it looks great with the new Material Girl papers from Cosmo Cricket!

{recipe: Apron Stamp from Gooseberry Patch, sentiment from teeny tiny Wishes (SU), crushed curry card stock and ink, Pure Luxury Ivory card stock, Cosmo Cricket papers (Material Girl), scallop edge punch, velvet flowers (Maya Road), brad}

Thanks for stopping into the cafe today!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter Monday

Happy Easter, everyone! Did April sneak up on you, too? Seriously, I do not know where the time has gone these past few weeks! I was on the phone with my college son tonight, and when I looked up at the wall in my studio, the calendar was still showing the month of March! I think that time just slips out of your hands when you have a busy work schedule.

Our Easter was very nice. We spent the morning with our church family, where I helped serve pancakes and sausage to our congregation at breakfast. My husband read the lessons at services ( he has such a nice speaking voice!). Then we came home for a big ham/potatoes/green bean casserole dinner, and then a bike ride to work off that big Easter dinner. The weather was amazing! I don't remember ever having an Easter that was so warm and sunny!

After a busy day at work, I came home to do a little craft unwinding. Today's Clean and Simple challenge? Make a card that features a stamped sentiment and no other stamps. Today's sentiment was perfect:

"God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but on trees, and flowers, and clouds, and stars.- Martin Luther"

Wow, Martin was right about that! This weekend, it was like God showed the story of resurrection in all of nature...the flowers began to bloom, the trees began to leaf out, and the grass greened. This morning as I drove to work, I marveled at how our Bradford Pear trees on the street opened with the sunrise. So lovely!

For this card, I decided to make a flower using punches, and then had some fun doodling with my Sakura Micron pen!

{recipe: Friend to Friend (SU), pink pirouette cardstock, Basic Grey Sugared papers, scallop circle punches, oval punch, circle punch, sakura micron pen, versafine onyx ink}

"Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of His glory." Isaiah 6:3

Happy Easter Monday, everyone!