Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Big Boy On A Shelf

You find the darnedest things when you pack yourself.

For example, I've wanted a cute camper for a while now. Guess what? It turns out I already own a camper! I found it in storage. It's an orange and pink pop up camper! But alas, it's too small to tow behind my Pumpkin Spice Subaru Crosstrek.

It's a Barbie camper.


We found this beauty in a box of kids' toys.

Frisch's Big Boy!

I'm so glad we found him! He was a gift from my godmother, Rose. When we were dirt poor and living in an apartment in the city, we would take walks with our baby Luke, pushing him in a stroller along the bumpy sidewalks into the adjoining neighborhood where my godparents lived. We would often pop in to visit and have a cup of tea or coffee.

Rose didn't have a lot in the "toy" department, but one day she found this and gave it to baby Luke. And here I am, twenty seven years later, so happy to have found it once again.

Big Boy has become the official mascot of our move.

Some people put Elf on a Shelf over the holidays. Instead, we have Big Boy on a shelf.

When a job seems too huge, like say, packing the contents of a kitchen, Big Boy is there to remind me to put on my Big Girl pants, pull myself up by my suspenders, and get the job done.

I may or may not have caught myself talking to him on a few occasions. What can I say in my defense? Big Boy gives good advice!

Big Boy may even be influencing some of my design ideas for the next kitchen.

I'm so glad we found a mascot...just when we needed one, too!

Monday, May 29, 2017

A Card For Rosemary

One of my sweet neighbors back in Pittsburgh had a birthday recently, and I made this card just for her. Rosemary has continued to send me sweet cards and letters, along with a postcard from Pittsburgh featuring the clock from the beloved Kaufman building downtown. I sat down last night and wrote her a long letter. I have a pile of cards that I will mail off tomorrow...before they get packed in a box somewhere!

This card features stamps from Papertrey Ink's "Songbirds". I got this set a while back, and I know I will have a blast playing with it in the future in my new craft studio!

{Today's Brew: Songbirds stamp set and dies (PTI), PTI card stock and ink, PTI pastel chicken scratch paper, scallop edge die (MFT)}

I hope you have fun plans for your Memorial Day! We will spend ours doing more packing. Sigh! I would love to work in the garden and plant some annuals and perennials, but alas that will have to wait until we move in to our new house next month. Maybe I will pull a few weeds instead.

Blessings, cafe friends!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Catechism on the Road

Sam and I have been consistently working our way through catechism every week. It has been a joy to pass the faith on to my son. But as any good teacher knows, sometimes things become stale and you have to shake up the lessons.

This week, it was time to get out of the house and try something different.

I have a few adult coloring books for those times when the urge to doodle may strike. We packed up our books and a case full of COPIC markers, and took our supplies to Panera this week.

Soup, salad, and scripture. The perfect combination!

Sam is such a creative type, and I knew this was just the thing that he could really dive in to. He does a much better job with these markers than I do.

Sometimes, when our hands are occupied with a task, our hearts and minds can open up for a different kind of learning. Our conversation that night was varied. We spoke about Nazi Germany and World War Two. We discussed the faith of Corrie Ten Boom and her amazing experiences sharing the gospel in concentration camps and beyond.

The conversation veered to the topic of purgatory, and whether anyone can truly do anything to earn their salvation. Sam informed me that a lot of Japanese anime films include themes of purgatory. Odd.

We spoke of limbo and purgatory as it relates to the TV series Lost. We spoke of indulgences and the Reformation of 1517. We talked about a church that is still reforming in 2017.

Deep, fascinating stuff to ponder over.

We discussed God the creator, and some of our favorite parts of His creation. We spoke of God's fatherly divine goodness and mercy, while offering our thanks and praise over pastries and coffee.

Creating while worshipping the Creator of all things.

It was a good lesson.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Another Skillet Dinner, Protein Included

Do you dread the five o'clock phone call as much as I do?

That's typically when my husband calls to tell me what time he'll be home that night. And invariably he asks "What's for dinner?"


"Great. What's the protein?"

He's not a lover of vegetarian meals. I get it. He needs the protein to feel full and satisfied. So I often have to get creative.

I'm still eating the contents of the fridge and pantry up for the move in a few days. This easy meal helped me on my mission. It has whole grain linguine, lots of veggies, and protein in the form of chicken sausages.

Chicken Sausage Linguine

1  pkg chicken sausage with spinach and feta (from Aldi, four links per pkg)
1/2 box of linguine, cooked and drained
1 cup tri-color frozen pepper strips
1 cup frozen spinach
1 can diced tomatoes
olive oil
koshere salt and fresh ground pepper
garlic powder to taste
onion powder to taste
Italian herbs
parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Slice sausages and saute in pan in olive oil. Add peppers, then spinach, sauteing on medium heat. Add tomatoes and seasonings. Add drained pasta directly to pan, and toss with a little more olive oil. Serve with freshly grated parmesan.


It's garage sale weekend here. We moved a lot of items yesterday, and are hoping to clear put the rest today. It feels good to bless these items on to other homes, knowing that we won't have to pack it and take it with us. Storage and closets are down to the bare minimum now. Less to pack! A fresh, clean slate!

Blessings on your weekend, cafe friends!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Naughty Girls and Crafting Don't Mix

I looked out into the backyard last week and wondered "NOW what does Jemma have in her mouth?"

She has a bad habit of stealing things off tables and desks in the hopes that someone will play "Chase Me!" with her. She thinks it's the funniest game ever invented. The rest of us? Not so much.

It turns out she had grabbed the card I'd made for my Mom. How ironic that it was the card featuring a GOOD dog that looks a lot like her.

Sit? Stay? No way! Play!

I took this as a sign that Jemma thought I could do better.

I decided to make a card with a peek-a-boo window sentiment in the clouds.

I think I like the colors of this second card a little better. They seem more cheerful. I guess Jemma was right.

{Today's Brew: You Have My Heart stamp set (MFT), Peek a Boo window die (MFT), Lawn Fawn papers, COPIC markers}

Y'all know that I totally fake it when it comes to using COPIC markers, right? I promise to take an on-line class one day when I am not consumed with all things real estate. And trust me. That day cannot come soon enough.

Ah, look at that! We can be good...sometimes. Sit....Stay....

Wait! What are you doing? I didn't tell you to steal Sam's hat!

Naughty girl. Back to puppy school for you!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Cross Stitch Scissor Fob From Shepherd's Bush

As I was packing my craft room this weekend (ugh, need more boxes!) I came across this project, fully stitched, just waiting to be finished. I could have packed it away for another day, but I decided instead to take a break from packing and just finish it....because right now, my house is in a state of half-finished chaos, and getting something crossed off my To Do list is just the momentum I need to keep going.

This will stay with my ruler keep in my Stitching To Go bag.

Two weeks to go until we leave Illinois and head for Michigan. We still have a LOT of packing to do, and a LOT of prep for this weekend's garage sale.

I think I need coffee. A lot of coffee.

Blessings on your Monday, cafe friends!

Friday, May 19, 2017

A Spring Bonjour

You don't know what you got 'til it's gone!

I've been packing up my craft room this week. Somehow, just knowing that I would not have access to my stash for a month has sent me into a flurry of creativity. I made all kinds of cards for all kinds of occasions, just to have on hand for a while.

Today's card was inspired by some items I had laying on the table...a pre-cut card base, a few die cuts. Hey, I can work with that!

{Today's Brew: Gleeful Gardens stamp set (Lawn Fawn), PTI inks and card stock, doily, Banner die (Lawn Fawn), Wreath die (PTI), Lawn Fawn Sequins, Wink of Stella}

I added a little Wink of Stella to the hummingbird to make him shimmer. It's hard to see from this photo, but trust me. It's there.

Do you have fun plans for the weekend? It looks like we are expecting rain and surprise! more rain for the weekend. Time to get packing and organizing for the garage sale.

Blessings, cafe friends!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Packing It Up! Seven things I have learned as a DIY Mover

With less than three weeks to go until our big move, we've begun the process of packing up our belongings and preparing for the day when the trailer gets delivered for loading. We are using UPack. They will deliver our trailer, pick it up, store it, and then drop it off to our next home when we tell them we are ready.

In the past, all of our moves have been corporate. A company comes, packs our house, loads it onto a truck, and then unloads it. We've done little more than clean out the empty houses and unpack.

Sounds easy, right?

Not exactly. We've had good moves and great packers, and we've had terrible moves and awful packers.

This move is not a corporate relocation. This is a family decision to move back home, which means we are paying for this one ourselves.

Here are a few things I've learned as a Do It Yourself Mover:

1.) Get the right tools of the trade

We purchased packing paper from UHaul for a good price. It is a necessity when packing breakables like kitchen cookware, dishes, and other fragile items. We are also renting blankets to wrap our furniture. We plan on getting some other moving supplies like dollies, straps, and furniture movers.

2.) Get boxes from anyone and anywhere

We pick up boxes from Craigslist listings, the grocery store...anyone who has a good quality box.

3.) Pinterest has some really great moving ideas

I found this suggestion to buy various colors of duct tape for labeling your boxes. This way, you can easily color code each box, and you will know what room it belongs in.

4.) Pinterest has some really bad moving ideas

Some suggestions sound great. Having a first unpack box. Yes. Must do. But other suggestions? Load up your suitcases with books instead of packing them in boxes? Stupid. Really stupid. You will need those suitcases for your clothes, and you will want your books to arrive safely, if you care about them at all. Wrap your dishes in towels? Sounds great, until you realize that you have to unpack your kitchen just to take a shower the next day. And trust me. The kitchen is the most time consuming room to unpack.

5.) Label everything

One of the benefits to packing yourself is that you can label each box with specific contents, making the unpacking that much easier. The "professionals" tend to write generic terms like "cookware". But if you want to know which box has your Mr. Coffee Ten Cup coffee maker, you better make sure to mark it.

6.) Get rid of anything broken, unnecessary, or unloved

This move has been a cathartic experience in so many ways. As I hold each item in my hand, I have to make the decision: keep or toss?  I realize that I've been holding on to a lot of things, and it's time to let them go. A lot of children's toys. Household goods. Old camping gear. Books and movies. Holiday stuff. In the past, I've held on to some decor because "it might work in a future house." Guess what? This is my future house! No need to hold on to something for staging houses.

We are planning a big moving sale for Memorial Day weekend.It all needs to go. And the pile just keeps getting bigger every day we pack, too.

As I like to say, if you don't have to pack it, then you don't have to unpack it either!

7.) It seems like a huge task, and it is. But if you give yourself enough time and do a little every day, it will get done.

Thus far, I've packed all the books and DVDs (a fraction of what we brought with us on  the last move!). I've also packed more than half the kitchen. If we won't need it in the next two weeks, then into the box it goes!

My husband and I have been splitting up the tasks. He is handling a lot of the financial calls and emails. I handle a lot of the realtor communication. He drops off the dry cleaning ( better to move clean winter sweaters in a box than dirty ones!), and I pick it up. He will drive to pick up boxes and packing supplies, and I fill them up. He is figuring out our accommodations during the twelve days when we will be homeless.  I am making the  calls to schedule carpet cleaning and repair services. The boys are handling their own room packing, too. Team work!

Today, I have to pack up the craft room. That will take some time!

This weekend, we will start hauling the garage sale items upstairs and into the garage so that we can begin displaying and pricing for the moving sale. Big job. I'm hoping to make a little money to defray the moving costs. Traveling much will feel good.

Thanks for visiting the cafe today! Grab a double shot espresso before you leave...we will need it!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Paring Down

We are entering the final stages of relocation as we prepare for our move home to Michigan. Less than three weeks! So much to do!

Finding boxes for packing, purchasing packing materials, gathering items for garage sale.

It's a big even bigger job this time around because we are doing all the packing and loading ourselves. We are looking at everything we own and asking ourselves "Do we really need that chair? Those rugs? That desk?" If we don't have to pack it, then we don't have to unpack it either!

Consequently, we also have to control any spending that brings an unnecessary item into the house. So, for example, if the family runs out of ketchup, we cannot go out and buy a 24 ounce container of ketchup now because we will never finish it before the move. We're starting to look a little desperate in the condiments category.

Chick-fil-A drive thru: "Would you like any sauce or ketchup with your order?'

"Yes, please. Two dozen of each!"

Cleaning out the pantry is part of the process.

I've been doing my best to pare it all down. I cleaned out the spices cupboard, emptying out anything that was expired. I took an inventory of canned goods and staples. Anything that I was not likely to use soon had to go.

Lucky for me, the post office was having their Stamp Out Hunger drive this weekend, and I was able to fill a bag with pantry items that will not get packed.

Dinners are becoming more and more creative.

What can I make with a bag of lentils, a can of diced tomatoes, and some green chilies? Sounds like a Mexican casserole night!

Which brings me to these pink cookies. I found a box of Pink Lemonade cookie mix in the pantry and decided to make them this weekend. Pink, for Moms.

How did they taste? Pink. Very, very pink. So sweet it hurt your teeth just to eat them. Oh well, at least they looked pretty! Another item that won't need packing. Small victory.

Monday, May 15, 2017

On Mother's Day

Mother's Day was filled with highs and lows. Isn't that just the way of life?

We received a sad reminder why we are moving back home this weekend when my sister sent me a text on Saturday. Mom fell and the EMTs took her to the hospital.

To clarify, I'm not one of those wacky narcissists who thinks that every situation is about her. It's not. This is about my sweet sweet mother who fell and broke her shoulder and wrist...the same shoulder she broke when she fell five years ago.

And understandably, she has six children and too many grand and great grandchildren nearby who will help her in the days ahead, not to mention her friends and church family that love her so much.

It's not about me. Honestly, Mother's Day (what my husband calls one of the Hallmark holidays) isn't even about me. It's about my moms and the sons who make me so proud every day to be their mother.

It's not about me, but I want it to be. I want to be one of those people who is caring for my mom right now. Watering her flowers and making her soup and fixing her a cup of coffee.


But in the meantime, in the waiting and preparing time, I can send a little card to let her know how much I love her and that God loves her even more!

{Today's Brew: stamps from My Favorite Things, PTI ink and card stock, papers from Lawn Fawn}

Waiting. May God bless you in the waiting, cafe friend!

Friday, May 12, 2017

One More Mother's Day Card!

There's an old Pennsylvania Dutch saying that goes something like this:

The hurrier I go, the behinder I get!

That's me these days!

I thought I was doing pretty good by getting to the Mom's houses for Mother's Day a week early. And then I got home and remembered "Yes, but you didn't get to see Shirley Ann, and you still need to make her card and send her gift."


Here's a little strategy I have for when I'm pressed for time and running low on creativity:

Have a few pre-cut die cut frames and elements on hand. It just saves you the steps of having to find the die cut, and the paper, and run it through the machine.  For this card, I used the pre-cut leafy garland as the base, and then added the flowers. Pre-cut wreaths (like Rustic Wreath from PTI), and pre-cut words can also come in handy.

Here's another strategy: Have some go-to color combinations that you can grab quickly without having to overthink. I've been using a lot of the colors found in the Papertrey Ink Spring Chicken Scratch Gingham papers: Aqua Mist, Melon Berry, Harvest Gold, Lavendar Moon, Spring Moss. They all play so well together, and the colors look like spring.

{Today's Brew: Fresh Cut Florals (wplus9), snetiment (wplus9), yellow gingham paper and card stock/inks (PTI), ribbon (amuse)}

Here's the inside with the sentiment. Aren't those lilacs amazing? This is one of my all time favorite stamp sets from WPlus9. It's so easy to combine a few colors with two and three step stamping for a really stunning look.

Blessings on your weekend, cafe friends!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Rainy Day Home Inspection

I really, really wanted home inspection day to be bright and sunny. I wanted to be able to wander the outside property and inspect the gardens and the space for Jemma. And I was more than a little nervous because the inside of the house seemed a bit dark to me when I first toured it.

But alas, sunny days were not in the forecast.

I still managed to get a good idea of the house and property. Potential. I see potential.

This creek runs through the woods along the side of our property. Pretty! I love trees, and I can only imagine what lovely views we will have during all the seasons.

Here's a view of the common area behind our house. I imagine the creek and marsh will attract all kinds of wildlife...birds, deer, mosquitoes. LOL! That's okay. I love to feed the birds, so I have big plans for creating some bird and butterfly gardens.

I had a little time to spare, so I drove around the neighborhood and popped in to the local library.

An active  Library Friends group with their own used book shop! I'm so excited!

A fun teen room for Sam to check out!

I also picked up some community catalogs and brochures. We will have a community rec center just five minutes down the road. How great is that?

And just outside the neighborhood entrance...the local elementary and middle schools, along with a community garden. How wonderful!

In just a little over three weeks, we will be packing up the house here in Illinois and moving to Michigan.  My heart is so full of gladness! The Pure Michigan commercials (with Tim Allen's voiceover) have been playing non-stop on the television recently. These commercials used to make me tear up with sadness. But now, when I see them, I'm filled with excitement and hope!

Pure Michigan, here we come!