Friday, August 18, 2017

Crafty People Are The Nicest People!

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Crafty people are the nicest people!

At the time of the big retirement sale at My Favorite Things, I quickly placed items in my shopping cart before they disappeared, neglecting to really check before I hit the "place order" button. And guess what? I ordered a set of dies for Fly By Friends and forgot to order the stamp set that went with it. Aaargh! Of course, by the time my order arrived, that stamp set was sold out.

I boo hooed over at the MFT Insiders page at Facebook.

And a week later, this envelope arrived at my mailbox with this note.

Sweet Jody Morrow had sent me her stamp set and dies! Isn't that just the kindest thing?

Jody, you are one in a buzz-ilion!

And so, to pay this kindness forward, I'm giving away my brand new set of dies for the stamp set "Fly By Friends" at the MFT Insiders page today.

And here's the card I made with this set for my sister's birthday!

I added a little Wink of Stella to make those wings sparkle, and a few Dew Drops to look like honey!

{Today's Brew: Fly By Friends and dies (MFT), Memories ink, COPIC markers, Distress Sprays, Wink of Stella, Dew Drops, PTI card stock and paper}

Thanks for buzzing by the cafe today!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Bee Hive Pin Keep

I made another pin keep from Just Another Button Company this week. This one is a bee hive, complete with flowers, bees, and some fun pins.

I kinda wish I'd filled this one with crushed walnut shells instead of wool roving. I think it might have given it some more heft and stability. I'm going to pick up some crushed walnut shells the next time I go to the pet store. You can buy a bag in the bird supply section, and it works great for pin cushions.

This pin cushion is going to my sister, Jenny. She had a birthday at the beginning of the month, and I didn't have her present finished yet. It's going in this bag of fun summer stuff, along with some Naked Bee hand lotion and soap.

Stop back tomorrow, and I will show you the card I made for her, too!

Blessings on your day, cafe friends!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Create Along With Us: PTI August 2017

Good morning, friends! I spent an hour and a half watering my yard in the dark last night, and guess what I woke up to? Yep. Rain! We can still use a lot more of it, but I'm happy for the rain God sent to my garden today.

Papertrey Ink released some lovely autumn inspiration this week. I loved this card from Melissa Phillips. (Okay, to be honest, I'm not sure if there's a card that Melissa has made that I'm not swooning over! Love her style!)

The little bee! The stripes and polka dots. Ribbons, flowers, sequins. What's not to love? I used this card as my inspiration for the Create Along With Us challenge!

Here's my take on Melissa's card:

{Today's Brew: Tag Its stamp set (PTI), Songbirds dies (PTI), Polka Dot Basics II stamp set (PTI), ink/card stock/paper (PTI), Lawn Fawn tag/scallop/stitched circle dies. MFT cross stitched frame die, sequins, enamel dots, linen thread}

I think Melissa's card has a pretty autumn palette, but my card is still stuck in summer. Enjoying the last of these carefree summer days before they're gone!

Thanks for visiting the cafe today!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Leaves of Three (and other fun things in my yard!)

I thought I'd had a bad reaction to mosquito bites this week. But when they started to blister and rash, I realized...nope! Not mosquito bites. Poison Ivy! Yuck.

We found it along the edge of the woods. I probably brushed up against it while retrieving a frisbee or ball for Jemma.

A naturalist from Fermilabs in Batavia explained it to me this way. She said if you cross your hands over each other, with palms facing down, you will notice a thumb on the left and right, and that's exactly what you will see on the left and right leaves of poison ivy.

I have some nasty spots on my arm and leg, but hoping with lots of Ivarest lotion, they will dry up and stop itching soon.

In the meantime, here are some photos from the yard. It is really very pretty, with woods along the side and a marshy area of cat tails and wildflowers in the back.

Jemma loves the larger side yard. She can watch the walkers and bikers and joggers pass by, and if she's lucky, she can chase a squirrel back in to the woods. Good times.

Note to self: plant more wave petunias next year! These were amazing, and the deer didn't eat them.

We're experiencing some drought conditions here. The grass is starting to get crispy. We could really use about a week of rain.

Sam has a little bird sanctuary at his bedroom window, complete with feeders and a bird bath. He's seeing lots of visitors to this feeding station, including raccoons, as you can see from the photo of the muddy paw prints on the siding below:

The marsh attracts all kinds of birds and butterflies. At night, the bats swoop overhead, eating bugs along their flight path.

And here under the deck is our secret patio, with doors leading in to the basement. I haven't had enough time to really bring this space together, but I plan on getting to it soon. We want to string some lights, set up a table, and enjoy this space, too.

I have big plans for this yard and the gardens. We're hoping to tackle some major re-landscaping jobs in the fall, if the weather cooperates. I see shade gardens, sun gardens, new shrubs and perennials, rose gardens, and maybe even a water feature and a fire pit.

It's fun to dream!

Blessings on your Monday, cafe friends!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

For Mateo

What a great day! We got to attend a baptism today!

My niece's baby boy was baptized this morning, and we were able to celebrate with the family. That's one of the many wonderful things about living close to home.

Baptisms are special. We had a pastor who used to say "How often do you get to see something that is truly eternal?" What a wonderful blessing God bestows upon us through this gift of grace.
 I made this card for baby Mateo, using the Wee Folk kit from Papertrey Ink.

{Today's Brew: Bountiful Blessings stamp set (PTI), Wee Folk dies and papers PTI), Lawn Fawn stitched frame die and sequins, PTI inks and card stock}

Welcome to the family of faith, baby Mateo!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

PTI Make It Monday#294: Monochrome Color Pop

Good morning!

Wow, doesn't it feel like the summer is just zooming by now? I'm getting all kinds of emails and newsletters and catalogs featuring back-to-school news. It's hard to believe it's that time of year again.

I think this summer has been speedier than most, considering we began with a big move back home in June. I've been a little consumed with all matters house and home and family, and haven't paid attention to much beyond that. And truly, it has been one of the best summers I can remember in a long time. A Pure Michigan summer, for sure.

That's probably why I was so slow to see the new Stampin' Up catalog until recently. And really, there were a lot of cute things in the catalog. Prices were all over the map, though ($45 for a stamp set? Is that a joke?).

One of my favorites was the Wood Words set, with its rooster and weathered wood look. So many cute creations have been made with that on Pinterest. And then I got to thinking: don't I own a set that can do the same thing?

Well, let's see. Last time I counted, I have three stamp sets with a realistic rooster, and two stamp sets with a whimsical rooster. I think I can manage. {insert eye roll here}

Papertrey Ink's Farm Fresh to the rescue! I used some wood grain paper from Simple Stories, and stamped Stitches and Swirls over it with Fresh Snow ink. And following the M.I.M. direction, I added a pop of color to this mostly monochromatic card with a little pumpkin spice.

{Today's Brew: PTI Farm Fresh stamp set, PTI Stitches and Swirls stamp set, PTI ink and card stock, amuse stitched ribbon, Lawn Fawn circle die, MFT stencil, doily, Simple Stories paper}

Don't you love being inspired by old tried and true stamp sets?

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

BLT Salad

Last week, I made a summertime dinner of BLTs, with a side of fresh from the the market green beans. I served it to the family on toasted whole wheat buns, and it looked pretty yummy. But I am steering away from a lot of bread products these days (watching my carbs), so I decided to turn mine into a salad.

Oh my!

This salad was so delicious! I think the secret was two-fold: I added a diced hard boiled egg, and I put the green beans right on top. Ah-mazing. I think we often get in a rut with salads, and they all end up looking the same...lettuce, tomato, blah blah blah. But when you add a few different fruit or vegetable combinations, it can really turn it into something special.

I don't know how you cook fresh green beans, but I decided to boil mine in a stock pot with chicken stock. And when they were done, I may have seasoned a bit with salt and pepper, Bragg's Nutritional Yeast, and a few bacon crumbles.

Here's the recipe:

BLT Salad
Artisan Greens
Fresh garden tomato, diced
Hard boiled egg, diced
Prepared green beans
Bacon, crisp and crumbled
salt and pepper to taste
A drizzle of dressing

And this is my dressing of choice these days. No sugar, no trans fats, and only a trace of carb.

There are a lot of BLT salad recipes out there...some easy, some complicated. But I thought this one was not only delicious, but good for me, too. Fiber, protein, healthy fats. It's all there.


Monday, August 7, 2017

A Few Additions to the Kitchen

I've been looking at some lighting updates for the cottage. I have a few that are just not "cottage" style here, and I knew they'd have to go.

We spent a LOT of money on the lighting at the last house, purchasing fixtures from Ballard Designs. We knew we'd probably be flipping the house, and designer lighting would be impressive.

Here at the cottage, we have no one to impress but ourselves.

I was so happy to find three lovely new light fixtures at Lowe's from the allen + roth collection. And we were able to purchase all three for less money that just one light fixture from Ballard. I love a bargain.

Here's the new fixture over the kitchen sink that we installed to replace the track lighting (see photo above). I love the old schoolhouse style in oil rubbed bronze. It looks like it was meant to be here. And the cost? $49.95. That's a great price!

So sweet!

My other deals of the weekend came from the local Goodwill. The boys and I popped in on Friday, looking for a few odd items. And here's what I found:

Three beautiful Longaberger mixing bowls for $3 total. I cannot pass up Longaberger pottery. The bowls are practical (great popcorn bowls!) and will make lovely serving pieces in the future. And the price? A steal! Three bowls in pristine condition (as these are) would cost over $75 on ebay. I know that Longaberger is not nearly as popular as it once was (I still sometimes spot it on movie sets! ha! ha!), but I don't care. I still love it. That's what is so wonderful about getting older. You really don't care about trendy. You just follow what you love.

And another thing I've come to love? Anything folk art and Pennsylvania Dutch inspired. And when I found this sweet tin for $2, I knew it had to come home with me.

I think I need to find a spot to pair this one with my Pennsylvania Dutch Hex sign:

Just a few fun additions to make the cottage feel like home.

Happy Monday, cafe friends!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Keeping It Clean: A Makeover for the Laundry Room (and for my cleaning products, too!)

If you're a regular at the  cafe, then you probably know this: I love laundry. I don't know why. It's the one household job I always enjoy. Dirty things go in, clean things come out. Easy!

One of my favorite features of this house is the main floor laundry. Yay! No more second floor laundry room! I prefer my laundry rooms to be handy and nearby, and this one is in a great location: right off the garage, and around the corner from the kitchen.

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, there was a strange cluster of doors in this little hallway, though. And if multiple doors get opened at the same time, it's a traffic jam.

These shuttered saloon doors served no purpose. For starters, the old washing machine is so loud that it sounds like a 747 is landing on our roof. It will have to get replaced one day. The doors did nothing to help keep the noise down.

I went at them with a screw driver and took them down. Who knows? Maybe I'll repurpose them in some way. They might be a cute decoration on the front porch this fall.

The laundry room also has this little doggie Dutch door. The original owner used it to keep her dog out of the kitty litter box. We've used it once or twice to keep our Jemma in a contained space. And sometimes, when Jemma starts stealing from the dirty laundry basket, I use it to keep her out, too.

I had to remove a faux stained glass window, then hung a temporary IKEA panel in the space. A little art work, a little cleaning, and the space is working well.

 I hung the Laundry sign above some existing hooks.

I hang my wool dryer balls and essential oil here at these existing hooks.

And speaking of essential oils...

Ever since I got my essential oils and diffuser for Christmas, I have been using them non-stop. And here's the thing: it has made me extremely sensitive to any phony smells that reek of chemicals.

All of those chemicals just cannot be contributing to a healthy home. And in my quest to build a simpler, more sustainable, almost Amish life, I figured it was time to find another way.

I decided to give my cleaning products a makeover.

I am now using Mrs. Meyer products all over the house, and I really love them.

The dish soap and hand soaps are wonderful, and I really like the room air freshener. It lasts and lingers so much longer than other products, and the scent is just clean and refreshing. Lavendar is one of my favorites, along with lemon verbena.

Shortly after I bought my new cleaning products, I found that Aldi was selling these really awesome microfiber cleaning cloths. They do a great job!  I also like the fact that I'm not being wasteful with paper towels or wipes and such. I can wash and reuse these again and again.

A cleaner home, a happier home.

Tell me, do you have a favorite cleaning product to recommend?