Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Looking For A Life In Grace

One year.

One year of church shopping. One year of being "visitors" and not "members". One year of feeling unsettled every weekend.

It's been a journey. We've been tempted to settle on many an occasion.  Surely this one is fine. I mean, yeah, their beliefs are not in unison with our own, but the preaching is good and the music is first rate. Isn't that good enough?

I don't want good enough.

We had the opportunity to worship with our former church family in Indiana this month, and it was priceless. That fellowship of believers. Just thinking about it can bring tears to my eyes.

We had a great conversation with our pastor and his wife, who understood our trials all too well. Their two daughters are going through a similar process in the Chicago area, looking for a church that preaches the Gospel of grace.

I so want that, too.

I've prayed on it, and I've journalled on it.  My pastor has prayed on it. And then something shifted in me.

I was reading Edie's excellent blog, Life in Grace, and she mentioned in a post that she drives one hour away to get to church on Sunday.


Wow. That's a commitment!

And that's when I began to feel the nudging of the Holy Spirit telling me to cast a wider net.

I did a lot of research and found a church with a nice website, an excellent mission statement, and a vibrant and active ministry. The only problem? It is forty minutes of long, winding country roads to get to it.

We visited on Sunday, and for the first time in a long time I feel hopeful again.

I emailed my pastor and asked him "How far is too far to drive to church on Sunday?"

He told me that when he was a pastor in southern Indiana, most of his congregation drove thirty to fifty minutes to get to church. Yes, it does make midweek participation a little more difficult, he said, but you find ways to incorporate the drive into your other weekly routines.

And then he wrote this:

"The teaching is so important because a hollowed out Gospel with law-driven prescription is not the Gospel. "

Yes. I think it would be worth the drive.

Tell me, have you ever had to put a lot of miles on your car to get to church? What has your experience been?

Friday, July 25, 2014

PTI July Blog Hop!

This month's blog hop at Papertrey Ink is inspired by a lovely photo from Pinterest. Sigh! So sweet! The needle art girl in me was definitely drawn to so many elements in this collage of pretties!

I decided to use the stamp set "Stitched With Love", which I had purchased some time back and had yet to use. I know! Crazy, right? I love this stamp set, and all the pretty little dies and elements that go with it!

{Today's Brew: Stitched With Love (PTI), Background Basics Gingham (PTI), crad stock (PTI), inks (PTI), dies (PTI), DMC floss, Distress Stain in Picket Fence }

I am determined to get this card in the mail TODAY! I need to send this to my sweet stamping friend, Cindy. This has been such a busy summer, and I've missed our inky time together. I'm hoping to get back on a normal routine in August. (Is it back to school time yet? LOL!)

Thanks for visiting the cafe, today!

p.s. If I get inspired, I might just make a few more cards with this set later today, so grab a latte and stop back!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Needle to Paper

I've been working on a small needle art project this week. This pattern, from The Prairie Schooler, is for a fraktur-inspired bookmark.

I sighed when I started gathering the floss for this project.

The colors are so soft and vintage and lovely!

It inspired me to gather paper and stamps and ink and try to recreate this same feeling.

I wanted subtle color on a kraft background, but I think I got a little too subtle. It was hard to see the white ink stitching and the pale pink flower.

It was probably a little more noticeable before I decided to run the whole thing through this embossing folder. But that's okay, I still like the linen look.

{Today's Brew: Stitches and Swirls and Solid Stitches and Swirls stamp sets (PTI), card stock and ink (PTI), die cut (PTI), embossing folder (SU) }

I like to do needle art projects in the summer because I can take them outdoors, where the lighting is so much better, And when I am stitching on a 30 count linen, I need all the natural light I can get!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Tooth Fairy

We finally got around to finding a new dentist here in our Pittsburgh home. It only took us a year! Sheesh! Sam had his first appointment at the new office, where he showed the hygienist that he had a new tooth growing above an old tooth. She promised him that the old tooth would soon be on its way out, and wouldn't you know, by that evening the tooth was out!

Sam's too big to believe in tooth fairies, but he's not too big to believe in financial rewards. :)

I made a little card to accompany his tooth fairy money!

I purchased some new Mama Elephant stamps from Ellen Hutson's store this month, and they are super cute!

{Today's Brew: Love From Above (Mama Elephant stamps), PTI card stock, prisma markers, stickles, sequins (lawn fawn)}

Happy Day!

Monday, July 21, 2014

CAS: A Day at the Beach

I have been coveting this t-shirt from the Sahalie catalog. This long-sleeved tee is made from Saturday Market Tees in Portland, and it is called "Atlantic". The colors, the swirling water, the leaves. I want one!

So I made a card instead.

{Today's Brew: Masculine Motifs stamp set (PTI), PTI card stock, Strathmore watercolor card stock, Distress Markers and Inks}

I made this card for today's Clean and Simple challenge at Splitcoast Stampers. The theme: A Day at the Beach. But now I'm wondering...aren't koi fish fresh water fish? Probably not a salt water fish, so this may not even qualify as a "beach" card. I'm a midwestern girl...we know our Great Lakes, but ocean? That's foreign territory!

Thanks for visiting the cafe today!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Folk Art Bright

The Free for All Friday challenge at SCS: Bright!

I decided to make a bright summer card with some folk art flair!

{Today's Brew: Nordic Spring (Waltzingmouse Stamps), Folk Art Floral (PTI), Simple Stories papers, amuse ribbon, PTI card stock and inks}

I love folk art! As a matter of fact, I'm making it a regular feature at my home and relocation blog. Today is Folk Art Friday! Make sure you pop over and see the folk art that inspired today's card!


Happy Friday, cafe friends!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Flying By...

My son, John, used to spend hours making paper airplanes. He would study the books, make the intricate folds, and then test them out in the yard.

I guess it's not surprising that he's in engineering school!

I made this card for John last week. I do not own the dies for this stamp set, so I just fussy cut the airplanes. Piece of cake! I do, however, own the sunshine die because that is just too darn cute!

{Today's Brew: stamps and dies from Lawn Fawn, card stock from Papertrey Ink}

Thanks for flying by today!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Semi-CASED card

Mom was in town last weekend, and I finally got the opportunity to take her to my happy place, Stamp Fanci in West View, PA!

Mom saw this card there and loved it. I took a photo, she bought the stamp set, and we came home and made our own version.

This card says "summertime"!

The ants didn't quite make it to each corner, so I used a marker and curved their path around the corners to meet up with the next line. I also used some inks (PTI) to watercolor the watermelon, and then I fussy cut them and mounted them with foam dimensionals.

{Today's Brew: stamps from Lawn Fawn, PTI soft stone card stock, Lawn Fawn papers, amuse stitched ribbon, Distress marker, Prisma markers}

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Card For A Koala Kid

My son, Sam, loves koalas! He draws them, he paints them, he creates story lines with them. This is a painting of one of his koala characters that he named Kubchoo. It must be from his "blue" period. ;)

Sam was invited to a birthday party sleepover at a friend's house last weekend. It seemed like the perfect occasion for a Koala card!

Yes, I had to buy this stamp set from Lawn Fawn called Critters from Down Under only because it has a koala! But the good news is that if I ever find an occasion that needs a card with a duck-billed platypus, I'm covered! ha ha ha!

{Today's Brew: Lawn Fawn stamp set, Lawn Fawn papers, PTI kraft card stock, prisma markers}

I decided to pass up the dies for this set and just do the fussy cutting myself. After all, the images will probably be going to ten and eleven year old boys, and they're not all that particular. :)

Did Sam like the card? Well, let me just say that he told me I am "totally koala-fied!"

I think that's a good thing.

Blessings, friends!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Textured Tree

Today's Ways to Use It Challenge at Splitcoast Stampers: Texturize it!

I like that challenge!

But the tough part? Add not one, not two, but three textural elements to a card.

I think this one fits. I started by stamping the tree using three different green inks for the leaves.

Then I used a woodgrain embossing folder over the stamped panel. I diecut a leaf and added a little Glimmer Mist to give it some interest. Then I looped some button twine around the diecut, as you can see here.

And finally, I applied some Crystal Lacquer to the stamped bird in the corner.

Texture! As easy as one, two, three!

{Today's Brew: Through The Trees stamp set (Papertrey Ink), PTI card stock and inks, woodgrain embossing folder (SU), button twine (PTI) }

Thanks for visiting the cafe today!

Pssst! I have another secret to share! My other blog, This End Up, is active again! I'm sharing a lot of the transformations from the first year in our new/old home. Stop by and take a peek!


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Something Fishy

One thing I can tell you about Pittsburgh: we get rain. Like, every other day. Which is wonderful in the summer, because you rarely have to water your garden. God does it for you!

I made a watery card, and without further ado, here it is:

I have just a few old wood mounted stamp sets still in my collection. One that I often find helpful is The Shape of Things from Stampin' Up. I used the circle from that set to create the "pool" for my little koi to swim in. I kinda swirled the ink around the stamp, then huffed and stamped, and went back with a blender pen to give it a watery effect.

{Today's Brew: Masculine Motifs (PTI), The Shape of Things (SU), PTI inks and card stock, Dew Drops}

Thanks for visiting the cafe today!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


Twenty-one. It's a big birthday! That is precisely why we drove the sixteen hour round trip journey to see my son, John. He's working at an internship this summer, far from home, and I haven't seen my boy since Easter.

A twenty-first birthday requires more than a card in the mail. It demanded face to face time so that I could hand-deliver this card!

So what do you think? Too subtle?  Bwa ha ha! I crack myself up!

{Today's Brew: By The Numbers stamp set (PTI), stars and hearts stamps (Lawn Fawn Peace Love Joy), PTI card stock, Lawn Fawn Hello Sunshine papers and sequins, number dies (MFT)}

We spent more time on the road than we actually spent with our son! But a twenty-first birthday only comes once, and I'm glad we made the effort.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

How Do You Save Money?

The best way to save money is not to spend it.

My husband loves this philosophy.

Me? Not so much.

After all, I am the chief purchasing officer of our family. As a stay-at-home mom, I do the jobs that no one else has the time to do. Grocery shopping, clothing shopping, household shopping, home and garden shopping. Husband LOVES it when I stay home and do not spend money, but he doesn't love it so much when we are out of Diet Coke.

What? No Diet Coke? The chief purchasing officer is FIRED!

So for me, the best way to save money is to spend less. That's my philosophy, and I'm sticking with it.

 It works for me!

I have a few tricks that have helped me save a little money during these "still paying college tuition" years.

* Food budget is a big chunk of the monthly spending. I cut coupons for the household items I can pick up at Target, but that's not where I save the most money. When grocery prices sky-rocketed across the country this year, I noticed that my local grocery chain was getting more and more expensive. I would be in the express lane with thirteen items or less, and the bill would still be $75 to $100! That's when I decided to do nearly ALL of my food shopping at ALDI. I checked the other day, and I've shaved $200 off our monthly food spending. That's a lot of money! I find great fresh produce at ALDI, too. We have a new family motto: if we can't get it at ALDI, then we probably don't need it that badly.

* We rarely eat out at restaurants. We reserve this for special occasions, or those times when we are travelling. Otherwise, we make it at home for a lot cheaper.

* I purchase clothing off-season. I buy winter sweaters in July and summer skirts in January. Let me be clear: I LOVE to shop for clothes! But I will be patient. Last year's Fair Isle sweater will not be dated a year later. So I wait and wait and wait. I have a few favorite stores that also have online websites. I sign up for emails and wait for the time when the outlet offerings are all sold for an additional percentage off. I have scored some amazing pieces for 80 percent off original prices. I LOVE a good bargain!

*I purchase used stamps from the Buy/Sell/Trade boards. I try very hard not to buy into the hype of NEW* PRODUCT* RELEASE TIME! Instead, I wait. Three months, six months, a year. Eventually, that stamp set I really love will appear on a forum for a fraction of the price.

So I guess that you could say that one of my big secrets to saving money is to just be patient.

I purchased some great "new to me" stamp sets last month, including this Polka Dot Parade stamp set from Papertrey Ink.

{Today's Brew: Polka Dot Parade (PTI), PTI inks and card stock, Lawn Fawn papers, Martha fence punch, button and twine}

Please, share your secrets for saving money! I need all the help I can get!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

PTI Make It Monday Challenge #170

This week's Make It Monday challenge at Nichole's blog at Papertrey Ink looked like it would be super fun and super easy! Use die cuts to mask on a project. I decided to use the stamp set and die cuts from Leaf Prints for this project. I tend to pull this stamp set out in the fall, but why not use the leaves in the summertime as well? Just swap out the colors, and instead of falling autumn leaves, you have rich, lush summertime leaves.

I started by die cutting the leaves with some scrap card stock. Then, I carefully laid them onto PTI's Naturals card stock. I used Mister Huey spray mists in two colors, sprayed, and then let it dry for a few minutes. I came back a little while later and stamped the coordinating leaves in various shades of PTI green inks. The object here is not to get perfect placement, but to have a fair amount of white border showing. It makes it look more natural somehow.


I brought the card outside to my patio to photograph, and when I placed it on the table I realized that the leaf pattern on the card was nearly identical to the leaf pattern on the glass top of this old Martha Stewart KMart patio table! We've had this set for nearly fifteen years, and I still love it. Sure, it has a few rusty spots, but I call it "patina".

 {Today's Brew: Leaf Prints stamp set and dies (PTI), Beautiful Blessings stamp set sentiment (PTI), inks (PTI), card stock (PTI), Studio Calico Mister Huey mists}

Thanks for visiting the cafe today!