Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Craft Room Remodel

For the record, I LOVE my craft room. Two windows, two closets, two walls of built-ins, and plenty of space. It is perfect!

Almost perfect, that is. The only problem...dark dark wood paneling.

I've lived with the wood paneled room for a year now, just to see if I could learn to love it.

Do I love it? Not so much!

We've begun the long and laborious process of priming the wood paneled walls for paint. I have to say, even with white walls it looks one hundred percent better! Brighter, bigger, and happier.

I found my inspiration from this issue of French Country Homes magazines. Look! A painted paneled room! Sunny, creamy perfection!

I'm thinking of painting the back wall of the bookshelves in a light aqua...just for fun!

We have the paint. We have the primed walls. Now we just need the time and energy to finish the job we've started.

Wish us luck!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Rehab for Tired, Old Moms

I wasn't the best mom in Indiana.

There, I said it.

I had my reasons. For starters, I was sick with chronic Lyme disease for most of those five years. Tired, ill, and depressed most of the time.

My town never had the feeling of community. They were reserved and cautious, the kind of folks who saw that glass as half empty. You were judged to be untrustworthy until proven to be acceptable. In all of my five years, I'm not sure that I was ever "acceptable."

I tried to volunteer, get involved. But even at the schools, I would sign up to help kids, and invariably, I became a teacher's copy girl with no child interaction.

I became close to my oldest sons' friends, and made our home open and welcome to all of them. But when it came to the schools and the neighborhood moms, I never found a place for myself there. After a while, I just stopped trying.

Sam and I vowed to do better in Pittsburgh.

And Pittsburgh, in turn, has been better for us.

It's a town where people are happy, welcoming, friendly. You are judged to be a good person until proven otherwise.

Case in point: Sam's awesome school. I've had so many opportunities to work with the kids. Field trips, class presentations, concerts, art shows. Real interaction.

This week, I was heading up the southeast region for Travel Day USA.

Augusta for the Masters, complete with blooming azaleas.

The real bushes were too expensive, so I made my own using tissue paper flowers.

Jesters hats and masks for New Orleans style Mardi Gras.

Sunshine and sand for Florida.

The kids had a great time today. I had a lot of wonderful mom helpers, and the teachers were so appreciative of our efforts.

Sleepovers and play dates. Piano classes and art classes. Bike rides and walks, just talking with the neighbors.

We vowed to do better, and we have.

Who says you can't teach an old mom new tricks?

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Evidence of a Boy

My husband and I were walking in the yard last night, surveying the property at the top of the hill where there is a small grove of trees. Recently, my husband gathered the piles of stumps and built this "Treehenge" for Sam to play on with his buddies. It's conveniently located just a few yards from Sam's fort, which makes this area the perfect spot for playing spies on a mission, or hobbits on an adventure, or jedis in training.

It's also a good spot to dream big dreams, like the dream of owning an animation studio called "Magic 8 Ball".

This age, this time, this boy. It's all special, I told my husband.

And then I got teary-eyed at the thought. He knew, and he felt it, too.

He calls these "the salad days", those days that are lush and green with the goodness of God's blessings.

The days are long, but the years? So short.

I know this from experience.

So often, we forget about Sam's sweet boyness because we are navigating the tricky terrain of young adulthood with our two oldest sons. College loans, tuition payments, jobs, internships, apartments, automobiles, cell phones. Serious life stuff that has us diligently working, heads down, plowing the field of parental responsibility in the hopes of growing godly men.

But every now and then, I remember to lift my head up and examine my surroundings. And there, in front of me, is this precious boy. Samuel, "asked of God". The lump in my throat tells me "This is special. Tuck this moment away in your heart."

I'm guessing this is how my mom felt about me, the youngest of seven siblings. While she was busy planning weddings and welcoming grandchildren and washing at a sink that was perpetually filled with dishes, I wonder if she paused on occasions, looked out the kitchen window into the yard, and thought "Well I'll be! There's a little girl out there, playing in her little house. And that little girl is mine!"

One day, my house may not be filled with Legos and piles of smelly shoes. Stinky socks will not be tossed on the coffee table, and unfinished games and piles of books will not clutter my rooms.

But today, on this day, I look at the mess and I know. Life. To the full.

Thank you, Jesus! Amen.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

My Favorite Garden Tool

Gardening time! There just are not enough hours in the day to get all of the gardening chores done! Weeding, raking, planting, and don't even bring up the mulching. I thought I'd show you one of my new favorite garden tools. This lightweight and portable garden debris collector is always by my side. It has handles, which makes it easy to tote around the yard, and it also features a nice concave shape, making it the perfect receptacle for all of the weeds and dead leaves that I collect. Did I mention that it also travels over flat surfaces with ease?

Okay, I'm not fooling you. Yes, it's a saucer sled.

But who says that saucer sleds can't be useful even after the winter snows have melted away?

I spent hours in the garden yesterday, and boy oh boy, am I sore today. Hello, glutes! Who needs a gym membership when you have a garden?

I made a clean and simple garden card today.

{Today's Brew: PTI dies (Garden Variety), amuse note card, PTI ivory card stock, Simple Stories papers and stickers}

Gardening day is a happy day. It's the day after gardening day that's painful. :)


Friday, May 16, 2014

PS Sparks Challenge: Picture Perfect

Hello, cafe friends!

Today I thought I'd participate in the Paper Smooches Sparks Challenge for the week. This week is a picture perfect challenge, and here is the inspiration photo:

Ole! Looks like a fiesta! But the color purple instantly made me think of this beauty from my garden:

Don't you wish you had the Smell-o-vision feature on your computer? Ah, lilacs! I love their fragrant blooms so much!

I thought I'd play around with some watercoloring techniques today using Distress Markers and watercolor paper.

I used the markers to color directly onto the stamps, and then spread the color around with my brush, filling in as necessary. One of my favorite tips...scribble with the markers right onto one of your clear blocks, then use your wet watercolor brush to blend the colors and paint right from the block!

Wow! It really looks like I artistically painted all of these images myself, when in fact, I cheated and used stamps to get the same effect!

This was so much fun. I can't wait to watercolor some more!

{Today's Brew: Crystal Clear stamp set (Paper Smooches), watercolor paper, PTI card stock, Distress markers, amuse ribbon}

Look! I picked a bouquet just for you!

Blessings, cafe friends!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

MIM #164: The Curious Case of the Quince and the Orange Bird

I have an a-ma-zing quince bush in full bloom right outside the window of the craft room studio.

The previous owners of the home told us that every year, the grosbeaks will come and drink from the nectar of the quince blossoms.

The craft room studio is in a wood panelled room, which really suited the doctor when he used this room as his office. As far as craft rooms go, the dark really does not suit my purposes. All of this to say that I REALLY pruned the heck out of that bush last summer to get it away from the windows and bring in more light. I was more than a little worried that I'd gone too far. But look! Blossoms everywhere!

I was cleaning up in the craft room last week when I heard the sweetest song. I carefully pulled back the curtains and was greeted by this cheerful fellow.

Hello! And who are you?

A grosbeak? A Baltimore Oriole?

I enlisted my brother's help. Tim has taken up birding in a BIG way in his retirement. He is now our resident family bird expert. I sent Tim the photo, and he seems to think it may be a Baltimore Oriole.  In any case, he gave me good advice. He told me to cut an orange in half and hang it near one of my feeding stations. He promised me that the birds would love it. He also told me to hang up my hummingbird feeders now, because they will come for the quince nectar as well. He was right! A few days later, we saw all kinds of hummingbirds at this bush!

I made a card filled with flowers and birds and music, just like my quince bush. I used this week's Make It Monday challenge at PTI for my inspiration.

{Today's Brew: Birds of a Feather (PTI), ink (PTI), card stock (PTI), die cut (PTI)}

Thanks for visiting the cafe today!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Sidetracked by Spring

Where has the time gone?  I have no excuses for not blogging except this one:

I have been sidetracked by spring.

In just a few weeks, we will be celebrating our one year anniversary of moving to our Pittsburgh home. We officially moved in on the first of June at the tail end of spring, and I missed a lot of the action in the garden.

Not this year!

Every day of spring, something new and wonderful blooms in my garden. It has been such a gift to me! There is nothing more magical than an old established garden, with blooming trees and shrubs and perennials. I wake up each morning, excited to see what new flower is filling the air with its fragrant and heady perfume, with thanks in my heart for all of the hard work the previous owners did to make this place so special.

This morning, my neighbor and I were on the front steps, admiring the juxtaposition of the purple ajuga mixed with lilies of the valley. Such a striking combination and fragrance, too. I told her to pick some to take home and put in a vase, which she did. Smiles all around.

It's been a while since I made a card, but those lilies of the valley inspired me this morning. I find that when I haven't stamped for a while, it's best to attempt something clean and simple and fuss free.

I knew I wanted to stamp these lilies from papertrey ink (Year of Flowers Collection) on kraft card stock so that I could color them in and the white would show. But what coloring medium to use? That's when I remembered an old favorite...prismacolor pencils and gamsol! So happy with the result. Why have I forgotten to use this great coloring technique?

I have taken so many amazing photos of the flowers in the garden this month. I cannot wait to show them to you! Stop back soon and I will give you a tour.

Blessings, cafe friends!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Praying Circles, Praying Through

I LOVE a good God moment.

I had one of those this week. I have been participating in a Bible study with the women at our BIG church. "Daniel: Lives of Integrity, Words of Prophecy" by Beth Moore. This is my second time doing this study, this first time being back in 2006 when we were living in St. Louis. And to tell you the truth, it was much more impactful the first time around. But I continued to slog through the homework...until last week's lesson that practically leapt off the page and into my heart.

The lesson delved into Daniel's prayer life, and I had one of those "a ha!" moments, realizing why God brought me back to this study at this time. This is my year of "In All Things, Prayer", and I have been on quite a journey already. But this study has really opened my eyes.

And then, I read from my new favorite book, "The Circle Maker", by Mark Batterson, and guess who he discusses? Yep. Daniel.

A God thing. Totally.

I am learning so much about praying circles, praying through....praying through my calendar, praying circles around God's promises, praying for God's favor. Big, bold prayers.

I decided to add a few thoughts to my prayer journal. I am learning something about myself in this new art process. When I make a card, I am a freak out- full-on Mr. Monk OCD perfectionist. But when I am sketching and painting, I find that I like it better when I am letting go of perfection. Freedom. Process over end product.

When the page is dry, I will add my thoughts to God here. We've been having some great conversations over cups of tea. I talk, He listens. He talks, I listen. Amen.

Praying circles, praying through.