Saturday, July 30, 2011

A Whooping From The Lord

Have you ever had a whooping from the Lord? I first read about this in a book by christian author Patsy Clairmont when she talks about those times that God can give us a swift kick in the pants.

Yesterday, I got my whooping from the Lord. And can I just say this? I didn't like it. Not one bit.

You see, just the day before I had received four separate rejection letters in the mail That's right. FOUR! It was as if God was saying "No, no, no and by the way, if you didn't get it the first three times, then here's the fourth...NO!"

At first I laughed. Out loud! And then I sulked.

Sometimes when God closes a door, he'll open a window.

And then there are the other times when God closes a door, and he slams that door on your fingers so hard that you'll never go near that door again. (I read this funny quip in MAD magazine. Maybe I should be looking for other sources for my sound theology, but don't see this one stitched on samplers, do you?)

So what's a sulky, pouty girl to do? Go shopping, of course. I went to my favorite shop, Always in Stitches. I just needed to see all the lovely fabrics and colors and patterns to get me out of my funk. I had a gift certificate from my birthday, and I vowed to spend it in full.

The clerk was ringing up my purchases when I saw the note at the register. An address for Shana, one of their employees who is battling cancer, for anyone who wanted to send her a card of encouragement.

Shana, who taught me punch needle. Shana, who greets me every time with a "Hi Hon! How are you doin'?" Shana, who has sons, just like me, in college.

I teared up, right there in the store in front of the clerk who doesn't know me from Adam.

Ouch. Yes, God, I'm listening. And yes God, I'm feeling it, right in my sore behind. It's time for me to care about others for a change, more than I care about myself.

I made this card to send to Shana, and I'll add her to my prayers. Would you say a prayer for Shana, too?

{recipe: Quilt Quips (SU), sentiment from Vases in Vogue (SU), October Afternoon papers, crushed curry card stock and polka ribbon, eyelet border punch, choc. chip ink, prisma markers}

"Blessed is the man you discipline, O LORD, the man you teach from your law." Psalm 94:12

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Crafting, Coffee, and Cozies

I'm working on a new stitching project this week. This pillow wrap is from Pine Mountain designs. It's been a joy to stitch this project as it's on a ten-count Tula linen. Talk about easy on the eyes! After working on my last 28-count two over project, this one is a breeze! I've been taking my stitching out to the front porch with my coffee when I need a little break.

(For those of you wondering about cloth counts, here's the formula. The count refers to how many stitches, or holes, in one inch. The bigger the count, the smaller the stitches. The smaller the count, the bigger the stitches.)

I'll give this to my mom when I see her next month. I've made her pillow wraps for lots of holidays, and right now she has the Fourth of July pillow wrap on her pillow. But she really needs something that will work from now until Autumn, and I think this Flower wrap is perfect. I know that she will love the peachy pinks and soft sage greens.

When I'm not stitching, I'm usually reading a good book. This week, I read the newest Kiki Lowenstein mystery from Joanna Campbell Slan called "Make Take Murder". This is the fourth book in her scrapbooking series, and it was a great read. I like reliving my St. Louis days through this mystery series. This book takes place during the holiday season, so there are lots of references to favorite places like The Hill (St. Louis' little Italy), Santa's Magical Kingdom in Eureka (I lived not far from here...wowzers, the lines to get into this Christmas lights display were unbelieveable!), and Kaldi's coffee house (my favorite was the one in Chesterfield Valley).

My favorite part of the book? When Kiki defends herself against an assailant using a Crop-a-dile! How funny is that?

Crafting, coffee, and cozy mysteries. A great combination for those lazy days of summer.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Summer House

I finished my summer house stitching project last weekend! Isn't it fun? I think my favorite part is the summer sunflower banner at the bottom. The little yellow bird really brightens up those trees, too. Now I just have to get it framed this week.

This summer, our house is filled with children all day every day. The moms on my street are working moms, both in the home and out of the home. Now that I'm happily unemployed, I've decided to make this a fun summer for all the kids. We're having squirt gun battles, movie days, pool fun, and bike rides to keep them all entertained.

Yesterday, I took the kids to the local splash park and playground. The kids had not been there yet this summer, and this awesome park is free to the community. They had a blast!

Sam told me yesterday he's having the best summer ever. That makes it all worth it, doesn't it?

This is all part of my "bloom" plan to be a better neighbor. I want to open up my home more often and make myself more available to the people in my corner of the world. Weary moms can get a little rest, kids can be kids, and I get the satisfaction of knowing my son is having the "best summer ever." That's all the paycheck I'll ever need!

"Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality." Romans 12:13

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Time to Bloom

I made a really important decision this month. I have decided to bloom right here where I'm planted.

I felt really convicted one Sunday when the pastor mentioned in his sermon that it is our nature to grumble about our place or situation. But God says to us "Look around at the land that I have given you."

In other words, live a life of gratitude.

I've been living a sort of half-life here in Indiana. My husband's work has had us moving or possibly moving for the last six years. This transitory life can leave you feeling like an uprooted plant that's just trying to find some soil to grip to. Truthfully, a part of me has been afraid to plant myself too deeply for fear that I'll just be uprooted again.

But living in fear is no life at all.

Just last week, my husband had been actively seeking another position in the Pittsburgh. I had resigned myself to another move. But God said no, I want you to stay where you are and grow a little. And for this, I am so thankful. With two sons in colleges here in Indiana, I just couldn't fathom the distance that would separate us.

I am living in the sort of small town that I have always wanted to live in...a charming place with historic homes and buildings, good schools, quaint shops and restaurants, farm fields and farmer's markets. Life is good. So why have I been grumbling?

This will be a year of changes. With two sons off to college, it will be a much quieter house. But this quiet will also allow me to concentrate on my youngest son, Sam. Perhaps I will volunteer more and work less. Whatever develops, I know that I need to leave a little room for God to work in my life.

A little more of He who is in me and a little less of me that is in me. (Thank you, Joanna Weaver, for that great thought!)

Yesterday, we spent a wonderful day at Forest Park, a city park that is within biking distance of our house. It really is a beautiful place with so much to do there...a water park, a golf course, tennis courts, skate park, biking and walking trails, a train station, a carousel, putt putt, playgrounds and gardens galore.

Good times, good memories. Here is a good place to be.

{recipe: all products from SU!, Pick a Petal stamp set, Bella's Bloom stamp set, tangerine tango ink and card stock, daffodil delight card stock, pacific point ink and card stock, scallop edge punch, scallop oval punch, oval punch, scallop circle punch and sponge for clouds, corduroy button}

Sunday, July 24, 2011

He Cares For You

I have birds on the brain.

After lunch today, my husband looked out the kitchen window and said "Hon, you have a bird stuck in your bird feeder."


A tiny little nuthatch had managed to slip into the crack of the shepherd's hook that suspends my bird feeder over the deck. I went outside with towels in hand, ready to ease him out of his predicament. But the little fellow was just flustered enough by the sight of me that he gave it his all and fluttered out all by himself.


It is amazing how fear can be such a motivator.

Today in church we talked about how fear can keep us from trusting God. Our natural tendencies cause us to react horizontally instead of responding vertically.

In Matthew 10:29-30, Jesus has this to say about worries and fear:

"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. ..So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."

I'll admit it. I can become paralyzed by fear. Afraid to reach out lest I be rejected. Afraid to try a new pursuit because I may fail. Afraid to say 'yes' to requests because of the unknown factors. Afraid that God has just forgotten about me. I tune my ears to the enemy's lies rather than trusting in God's promises.

I've had my fair share of anxieties this summer. Will my husband's job require another move? Will I find a new job? Will I get everything done that needs to be done for two college sons and one second grader? Will my dog's biopsy come back with good or bad news? I'm just like that little nuthatch, stuck in place and not knowing how to get unstuck.

But you know what? I know that God is here today. And God is in tomorrow. And maybe, just maybe, if I put forth a little effort and try to flutter, then with God's help, I just might be ready to fly.

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's might hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." 1 Peter 5:6-7

{recipe: all products from SU!, Young Vermillion stamp, Frames embossing folder, confetti cream card stock, choc. chip ink and card stock, taffeta ribbons, flower button pearl}

Friday, July 22, 2011

A Little Splurge

I've been very frugal lately, as you may know from reading my posts. Going to the library instead of buying books. Clipping coupons. Trimming my hair at home so that I didn't have to pay a stylist. But sometimes a little splurge is good for the soul.

I've been flipping through the new Stampin Up catalog and making lists, just like everyone else. Wish lists, really. But last week I decided to order a few replenishments. Mr. Brown delivered my goodies to my doorstep today!

I ordered four items from the new catty:

Three new Textured Impressions embossing folders (Houndstooth, Stripes, and Frames). I don't own a lot of embossing folders, and I thought this would expand my options a bit.

One little stamp...Young Vermillion. Had to have another birdie for my flock!

Everything else I ordered came from the Clearance Rack. So many great deals there, folks!

Crushed Curry card stock for $1.49 a pack! That's cheap! I love this sunny yellow! It will work well from summer right into autumn.

Wide striped grosgrain ribbon in ch0ocolate chip and riding hood red...both great colors for the holidays, and at $1.99 a roll, that was a steal.

Dusty Durango polka ribbon for 3.49. I own the crushed curry, melon mambo, and soft suede versions, and I love them. This rust color will be great for fall cards!

Corduroy buttons in seven lovely colors. $2.99 a piece. I've never had the corduroy buttons, but always wanted them. At seventy percent off the regular price, I think this was a great time to stock up!

A little splurge, and a little coffee, are both good for the soul. :)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Summer Day Care

How do you entertain the neighborhood children on a day where the temp is hovering over 100 degrees Fahrenheit? With a double feature matinee, of course! I ran to the library this morning, picked up two kid flicks, came home, and invited the kids via their mothers on Facebook.

We have a great basement for movie viewing. And the best part? It's always nice and cool down there!

We popped the popcorn, poured the drinks, and sat down for a little entertainment. It had been a long time since I'd seen Daddy Day Care, and I knew that it would be a fun show for Sam and his friends.

Oh my goodness! That beautiful yellow house! I fell in love with it all over again!

The interior of the house is just as amazing as the outside! I loved the kitchen (and what's not to love about it? They even featured my Longaberger mugs, sugar bowl, and soap dispenser! Yea!), but I think my favorite room is this living room and foyer. The warm striped wallpaper paired with the soft floral couches made this home so warm and cozy.

Of course, I had to dig through my papers to try to recreate this effect!

{recipe: all products from SU!, Designer Label punch and stamp, Le Jardin papers, tulip embossing folder, always artichoke card stock, river rock card stock and ink, flower punch, circle punch, ivory hardware}

I get my inspiration from some pretty strange places. Tell me, what inspires you in your crafting?

Thanks for stopping by the cafe today!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Repurposed Storage Solutions

I don't know about you, but with the windows closed and the air conditioner running 24/7, my house is starting to smell a little musty. I wish I could open some windows and get some cool breezes blowing through this house, but cool breezes are hard to come by these days.

My solution? Candles! Target is selling some really lovely soy candles right now. My sister gave me one for my birthday, and then my step mom-in-law gave me another. I've burned through both of them in the last few months, and decided to pick up a few more this week.

Not only is the jar shape just adorable, but each candle comes with a really nice lid that has a rubber seal. Normally, I would save these empty jars and give them to my sister, Jenny. She often pours her own candles, and reusing old candle jars is the perfect solution. But these jars were just too cute to part with, so I washed them up and I'm using them for storage in my craft studio.

Isn't this adorable? It looks like something you would find at an Archivers store. This jar was the perfect size for holding my baker's twine from Mark's Finest Papers. I'll use the other jars for holding buttons and brads and other odds and ends. Functional and fun at the same time!

If you would like to repurpose old candle jars, here are a few tips:

*To remove the leftover wax, stick the jar in the freezer for an hour. Set your timer so you don't forget it!

*The frozen wax will chip easily using a butter knife. Remove the chippy chunks and toss them in the garbage.

*The wick and it's little metal saucer are usually glued to the bottom. With a little help from the butter knife, you can usually pry these out.

*Scrape all the wax residue from inside the jar using the knife. Wipe down with a paper towel.

*Soak the jar in hot soapy water, give it a nice scrub and remove the labels. Once it's dry, it is ready for use.

My sister would caution everyone not to allow any wax to go down your drains, as it can congeal and clog your pipes. This is especially true of your wax petroleum based candles. Another good reason to go with soy...good for the environment, and good for American farmers!

Today I am burning a lovely Mint Basil soy candle. It smells like a cool drink on a hot day. Hmm, I think I'll go pour a cool drink now.

Blessings on your day!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Hot, Hot, Hot


Really, is there anything else to talk about in high summer?

It's hard to escape from it. This morning, I took Sam to see a $1 movie at the theaters. I thought a few hours in the air conditioning with popcorn sounded like a good way to entertain a seven-year old.

While Sam and his buddies played in the cool basement this afternoon, I worked on my summer sampler. I like to stitch in the summer. In the nice weather, I'll sit on my front porch stitching and waving at the neighbors who pass by.

I'm hoping to finish this sampler before summer's end. And when it is done, it will have trees, a cute birdie button, and a summer sunflower banner.

When I'm not stitching, I'm watering the garden, trying to keep my flowers alive. We haven't had rain for days, and the grass is starting to get crispy. I try to go out in the evenings, when the sun has set and the plants can keep the moisture without too much evaporation.

Have you ever seen a more beautiful bowl of lettuce? Shirley Ann, my father-in-law's wife, brought me this gift of greens over the weekend. I would say thank you, but then it won't grow. (Old German superstitions die hard!) I'm trying to keep it well watered in this heat, lest it become a bowl of wilted lettuce.

Stay cool and don't wilt, my friends!

Monday, July 18, 2011

I'm Nuts About You!

The buckeye tree in our backyard is LOADED with buckeyes this year. Does this mean that we can expect a harsh and snowy winter? I'll have to check my Farmer's Almanac and get back to you on that. One thing is for certain...where there are buckeyes, there are squirrels. (Can you see the furry fellow perched on top of the picket in this photo?)

The squirrels have become quite brazen. They must not know that Maggie, our nearly eleven year old lab, still has a lot of bark left in her. She's constantly chasing the squirrels off our deck and away from the bird feeders.

When the squirrels aren't making pigs of themselves at the bird feeders, they're digging in my flower beds and potted plants, hiding buckeyes wherever they can.

I made this card yesterday for my father-in-law. He told me yesterday that he has trapped forty-two squirrels at his house thus far, and taken them to what he calls his "animal relocation program". Yeah, my father-in-law's a little nutty. That's why I knew he'd love this card!

{recipe: stamps from Mark's Finest Papers, Cosmo Cricket paper (Nutmeg), always artichoke card stock, kiwi kiss card stock, sahara sand card stock, Tim Holtz woodgrain embossing folder, word window punch, modern label punch, nailhead brads, chalks}

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Faux Beau Chateau

Faux Beau Chateau...can you say that three times fast?

Today's frugal card was inspired by the new line introduced by Stampin Up called Beau Chateau. As a francophile, I took one look at the line and said "Bonjour, Mon Ami!" But did I really need it or did I just want it? It turns out I didn't need it at all! I have all the elements I need to make my very own Beau Chateau in the French Faux style. Mais oui!

I gathered up my supplies for this fun project. For starters, I grabbed a stamp set from Anna Griffin that I'd bought on the clearance end rack at Michael's many years ago. It has an awesome rooster stamp that was just perfect for this card.

Then, I gathered my background stamps. For starters, I used a chicken wire background from Cornish Heritage Farms. I decided to layer that with French Script from SU. Finally, I thought it could use a little " je ne sais quoi", so I added the speckling stamp from Itty Bitty Backgrounds (I think that's the first stamp set I bought from SU, circa 1998!).

That beautiful rooster needed some presence, so I stamped him inside a frame from Label Classics to make him the work of art that he truly is.

My color combo was stolen right from the Beau Chateau papers...soft suede and pink pirouette. My only problem was that I needed a soft suede ribbon to match the elegant look of this card. No problem at all! I took my soft suede grosgrain polka ribbon and used the plain side! Voila!


{recipe: Chicken Wire (CHF), French Script (SU), Itty Bitty Backgrounds (SU), Label Classics (SU), rooster from Anna Griffin, soft suede ink and card stock, pink pirouette ink and card stock, vanilla seam binding, soft suede polka ribbon, brad from Making Memories}

I've had so much fun making my old stamps and supplies feel new again!

The Great Recovery!

Have you heard about The Great Recovery that is set to begin July 21st? No, I'm not referring to anything governmental. I'm referring to individual. Dave Ramsey is kicking off a new program next week that will empower individuals, churches, and spiritual leaders to walk the walk and talk the talk of financial recovery and independence.

I have never done FPU ( that's Financial Peace University), but I'm a big Dave Ramsey fan from his radio program. I'll be interested to see what his new plan involves.

For more info, you can click on the link here:

The Great Recovery

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sam's Summer

I can hardly believe that Sam's summer will be over in just four short weeks! Where does the time go? With the longer school years that are being implemented across the country, it seems that summers have gotten shorter and shorter for our children.

That was a big reason for my decision to quit my part time job and enjoy this time, as brief as it is, while all of my sons are under one roof. Before Sam starts school on August 17th. Before big brothers Luke and John head off to college.

Thus far, we've managed to pack a lot in to a little time. We've visited Grandma in Michigan not once but twice! We've visited two art museums. We've been to garden tours and festivals. Sam's been to a week of Vacation Bible School and five different sports camps.

Today was Sam's last day of bowling camp. Cosmic glow bowling! How fun is that?

Yesterday, we did a little toy shopping in our basement storage area. By toy shopping, I mean that we looked for some fun things that older brothers once played with, and brought them out for a new audience. Now I want to state right here that I'm not a person that saves every precious artifact from my children's youth. But some toys were just too cool to get rid of. KNex, Legos, Thomas and Brio trains, Fisher Price castles and pirate ships. Sam has enjoyed playing with these hand-me-down toys just as much as the shiny new toys from the store.

Yesterday, we discovered some awesome puzzles that big brothers had enjoyed when they were young. These 200 piece puzzles were called Buried Blueprints, and each puzzle had a theme. Sam and I had a lot of fun putting this pirate puzzle together and reading all of the facts about pirates.

Today, we worked on a colorful Ocean Critters puzzle. Notice how Sam is wearing his swimming trunks, just in case a friend stops by and wants to have some water fun.

Ding dong! Can Sam come out to play? While many aspects of subdivision life just grates on my every last nerve, I do love the fact that we live in a safe neighborhood where children can roam and play together and just be kids without a lot of parental interference. No organized play dates for us! Our play is all spontaneous all day long. The other day, I was comparing notes with one of the neighborhood moms. Does your son come home exhausted and hungry at sundown? Yep! And they sleep like they've just spent all day in the sunshine, which they have.

When Sam has a quiet moment before bed time, we like to do a little reading. Tonight, we will finish The Mouse and The Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary. I think we'll move on to one of the classics by Roald Dahl. Sam's also doing some journalling, writing down his summer adventures and drawing pictures to capture the memories. I'm doing my best to combat the summer brain drain that teachers complain about at the beginning of every new school year!

I hope Sam will have fun memories of this action packed summer!