Saturday, September 8, 2012

Fire Safety Learned Firsthand

     Last week as I was washing some dishes, I smelled smoke and went outside. The whole side of my house was on fire! I am usually pretty calm in stressful situations, but all that went out the window on this particular day. I shouted at my boys, "Fire! Get out of the house!" Their sweet faces read confusion, but they obeyed as I chased them out the front door.  I was able to grab the phone and my keys and I called 911 as I ran. I loaded the boys in the car, and moved it a good distance from the house.
     I went close to the house to survey things. The fire was on one corner only, so I did what everyone tells you not to do. I went back inside. Once in, I grabbed our important paperwork, some family jewelry, my purse and Cooper's car seat. By then, the first responders were there giving me directions and clearing us away from the area. Thankfully, the fire was easily subdued, and the damaged contained to the outside. None of our personal property was even damaged! After things settled down and I realized how incredibly blessed I was, I thought about a lot of practical advice I learned from my experience. Here it is.

1. It is super important to discuss fire safety with your kids. I was blessed to have everyone in the same room when the fire broke out in the daytime. Circumstances would have been much different if it was nighttime, or I hadn't smelled the fire right away.  Discuss escape routes, what to do if you see or smell smoke, how to call 911, etc.

2. Have the right equipment. This one seems obvious, but I for one was very ill-equipped.  You need working and recently tested fire alarms, a fire extinguisher, and if you live on the second floor, a rope ladder for at least one window. You can find these online.

3. Keep your landline phone. I know it's the era of cell phones, and we often get rid of our house phone to save some cash, but 911 responders can have a hard time finding you if you live in a well-populated area. When I called 911 from my home phone, and I was shouting hysterically at the man on the other end, he calmly said, "Ma'am, are you calling from "such and such" address? We're sending someone there right away."  If you use your cell phone, they have to triangulate your call, and this process can be innaccurate in a densely populated area, especially condos and apartments. If you are not able to easily communicate in a crisis, respinse time may take longer.

4. Keep important paperwork in a Ziplock bag in an easily reached location.  Should an emergency arise, you can grab passports, birth certificates, social security cards, etc in one shot.

5. Likewise, keep valuable or sentimental jewelry in an organized fashion so you could grab it in a hurry.

6. Keep your photos digitized! Have them saved on an external hard drive, or better yet, upload them onto a site that will store them indefinitely. This way, you will not be lugging around boxes and boxes of photos in an emergency.

7. Check your insurance policies. Make sure they are up to date, and cover all your high-ticket items. It may be necessary to purchase riders on certain items, such as jewelry. They are inexpensive and sooo worth it! Never ever go without renter's insurance. You can not afford the risk, and most policies start around $25 a month.

8. Never ever risk your life for stuff. If it is too smoky to see and breathe clearly, your only thought shoould be getting out safely. Yes, it will be inconvenient or sad to lose items, but never risk your safety for stuff.

I hope these thoughts will help you prepare your family for a fire. You never think you will need it until you need it!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

How to Make Unhealthy Food Look Like Other Unhealthy Food

     I had a spare minute one evening, so I took it to do something creative. The only thing better than getting time to be crafty is ending up with something edible and delicious.  I saw the idea for these little burgers on Pinterest, and knew I would love giving it a try.  Not only was it easy, it was nowhere near as time consuming as I thought it would be. Here's what I did.
     I started by baking white cupcakes.  At the same time I poured a small amount of chocolate cake mix into a pan. You will only want it to be 1/4" deep. You will want to keep a close eye on the chocolate batter since it is so shallow and doesn't need much time to bake.

     Once the cupcakes are done, cut them in half with a bread knife. Use a small circular cookie cutter to cut circles out of the chocolate cake. This will be the meat part of the burger.

I layed the bottom part of the cupcakes out, then place the "burgers" on top.

I mixed three colors of frosting to look like lettuce, ketchup and mustard. I poured the frostings into ziplock freezer bags, snipped one corner a little bit, and squirted each color randomly across each burger.

I then placed the cupcake tops on the burgers, and made the finishing touch by sprinkling sesame seeds across each lid. Just moisten your fingers and rub the bun lids, and the sesame seeds will stick like magic!

These were fun to make, and only took me about an hour to create!  They would be so cute for a child's birthday party or cookout!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Awesome Deal on Amazon Local

     Today I want to give everyone a heads-up on a sweet deal offered by Amazon Local. Amazon Local is set up smiliarly to Groupon in that they have daily deals that save you lots of dough. Today's deal is for, a toy website that offers books, baby gear, bikes, educational toys, etc.  The deal only costs $12, but allows you to purchase $25 worth of goods, and get free shipping!  Better yet, new customers get an extra 10% off by entering the code YOYONEW10. That means you can get $25 worth of stuff for only $9.50!  Baby Einstein brand toys are also an extra 15% off, if you're in the market for something baby. This is the perfect opportunity to put something away for your own child, or an upcoming birthday party!  Head over HERE to get started!  I bought my new baby an activity mat for almost 50% off the list price!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Things You Never Say to a New Mom

     In honor of the arrival of my sweet little bundle, I thought I would do new mothers a service by compiling a list of things you should not say to a woman who has just undergone one of the greatest roller coasters in life. Here is what I've come up with. Please feel free to add the ones that bug you to the comment section.

Disclaimer: This is the list of a sleep deprived, cranky new mom. It is meant as a joke. If you are easily offended, this is not the post for you. :)

1. When will you have more children? Or Will you keep going for a boy/girl?
Folks, I know this is a well meaning question. You are curious. However, a woman who just suffered from back pain, heartburn, constant nausea, and labored for what seemed like three years does not want to think about the next time she will undergo these things. Furthermore, questions about trying for another sex insinuate that you're not satisfied with the children you have, and should strive for more. I find this question especially comical beacuse I have three boys. I am just trying to survive, here, people! Making more babies is not on my agenda right now!

2. How much weight did you gain/Are you exercising yet?
For real? Look, a general rule of thumb is to not ask a new mother anything you wouldn't ask a regular person. Would you go up to someone at work and ask how much weight they've gained? Of course not! And as far as exericse, why don't you go take a few laps?

3. Is your baby sleeping through the night?
This question is generally asked by someone who either has no children, or hasn't had any for decades. It is not the norm for a newborn to sleep through the night, and a baby who does is the exeption to the rule. Heck, I haven't slept through the night since I started having kids.

4. I don't believe in pacifiers.
Look, it's not a religion. There's nothing to believe in here. And I'm not sure what makes you think I care what a stranger in the grocery store believes in. Go on your way before I karate chop you.

5. He needs a hat/he's too cold.
My boys are little ovens. If I wrap them too tight, they will sweat like they're in a sauna. I don't expect you to know this, but could you trust that I've got it covered? P.S. If it's 80 degrees outside, they will survive without a hat, mittens, and those ridiculous snow suits you can't even buckle their carseats over.

6. They're out too soon.
Well I've got things to do, and unless you're volunteering to be a wet nurse, beat it.

7. You look tired.
That's because I am. FYI, to someone who is a little on edge, this is translated as, "Wow, you look like crap." It may be the truth, but we don't need reminded of it.

So that's what I've come up with. What drove you nuts when you were a new mom?

My little peanut. And no, he doesn't sleep through the night.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Introducing My Newest Little Nugget

     If you've noticed my absence, know that it has been for good reason.  I was away having our third little blessing, Cooper Dawson. He was born on April 6th at 8:16 am, weighing 7 pounds and 9 ounces. He was eight days late, but worth the wait! We appreciate your thoughts, prayers, and kind words!

 My sweet boy

 So precious

 Chubby little monkey

Ha! Love this one!

 Nolan, Daddy and Cooper

My boys!

I am one lucky girl!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Scripture Canvas Tutorial

     After seeing canvas after canvas on Pinterest, I decided to give handmade art a chance for my upcoming nugget's nursery.  I searched for quotes about kids, boys, babies, and finally found a scripture I loved.  It is from the book of Samuel, and the speaker is Hannah, who thought she would never have a child, but was blessed with one after years of heartbreak.  God rewarded her faithfulness, and her words were immortalized in the Old Testament.  I knew it was the perfect verse because I, too prayed for my precious little one, and am so thankful that he's about to be in my arms! 
     This project is simple, but slightly time consuming.  However, it was fun, so it made this fussy little project go fast.  Here's how I did it.

 I started with a large canvas from Michael's.  It was only $11 after I used a 40% off coupon.
I cut letters out of cardstock on my Cricut machine to get a feel for how the layout would look.  This gave me an idea how large I wanted the letters to be, and how the spacing would look.  If you do not have a Cricut, you can still wing it by buying letters at your local craft store, and skippping this step.

 Once I was satisfied with my layout, I cut the letters out of vinyl on my Cricut, and put them in place where the paper ones had been.  This allows for (almost) perfect spacing.

 I wanted my background to be a navy color, but I didn't want it to be plain blue, so after mixing various shades of blue, I liberally spread the paint all around the canvas, covering the letters.  You want to ensure that the letters are stuck very well in this stage, so your paint doesn't bleed where you don't want it to.

After you have allowed your canvas to dry for several hours, peel the letters off, and behold!  I colored in one word with a permanent marker because I liked the way it looked.  Your letters should have pretty clean edges, but you can always touch them up with a paint pen, or some White Out.

Obviously, there are many inspirational quotes and scriptures you can use, so get those creative juices flowing!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Month of Challenges: Day 18

     Today's challenge is to get your craft on.  You may take the next few days to plan out your craft, and work on it this weekend if that is what your schedule allows.  I always feel so accomplished when I finish a project, and can stand back and say, "I made that!" If you need some inspriration, hit up Pinterest.  Here are a few easy and cheap projects I found as suggestions.  Check 'em out, and get crafting!

 This bulletin board, shown by two twenty one, can be made simply by covering a cheap bulletin board with pretty fabric, and adding tacks along the edge.

 These coasters are made with cheap ceramic tiles from any home improvement stores.  Decoupage any napkin, paper, map, etc, and have personalized coasters!  I think it would be great to have a map of every place we've lived, so we take a little bit of that place with us on each move.  See Carolina Cottage if you would like to purchase them instead!

This lip gloss is made with only two ingredients!  How much fun would this project be to include the kids?  See Meet the Dubiens for instructions!

What kind of craftiness will you get into this week?

Thanks for following our month of challenges.  I hope it has been a fun time for you!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Month of Challenges: Day 17

Today's challenge is all about your wellness. As women, we so often put others ahead of ourselves, often to our detriment. Today I want you to focus on something you have been putting off that really needs to be done. Especially when it comes to our health, we tend to prioritize ourselves right off the calendar. No more! Take the time today to call up your dentist, gynecologist, family doctor or counselor. Get that mammogram or teeth cleaning you need! Has your back been killing you for the last three months? See a chiropractor! What have you been putting off? Make your health a priority TODAY!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

A Month of Challenges: Day 16

Well, it's tax season, and if you're anything like me, you filed the absolute second you could. Why let the government hold on to my money any longer than they should, right? Here is your challenge. If you are getting a return, I would like you to at least consider giving a bit of it to a charitable cause. It doesn't have to be a ton, but even a little bit goes a long way to the people who really need it. It seems we most often think of the needy at Christmas time, and not other times of the year. Well, here's your reminder! Make a difference in someone's life today!

Friday, February 24, 2012

A Month of Challenges: Day 15

So, unless you've been living under a rock, you know that elections are around the corner, and if you're a Republican, the primaries are happening right now. Your challenge for today is to research a candidate you're interested in. Go to their website, or even Wikipedia, and see what there is to know about him. Where does he stand on the issues that are most important to you? What is his voting record? Be an informed voter! Go!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Month of Challenges: Day 14

Okay, so I haven't gotten around to posting a challenge every day. Guess that's what happens when you live with all boys. Hudson is home from school this week for Winter Break, and our days have been filled with fun. These boys have tuckered this Mama out! I apologize if you were counting on a challenge every day, and were disappointed, but here is a challenge for today. We all have a junk drawer, or closet (or house!). Today is the day to tackle it. It's one of those things that we dread, but really doesn't take that long, and you'll feel so good afterward. It might even inspre you to do more! Give it a shot!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Month of Challenges: Day 13

     This weekend is President's Day, and I hope you are lucky enough to have Monday off.  If you are, here is your challenge.  Fight the winter blues by getting out and doing something.  Take the kids to the zoo, go for a walk, head to a museum or out to lunch.  Hudson has this week off from school, so we are using it to get in some activites we've been wanting to do, like head to the local aquarium and movie theatre.  What can you do that will recharge your batteries?

Mason Jar Edibles

     If you know me, you know I just love the homey, old fashioned feel of mason jars.  They used to be used only for canning, but now people are using them more and more for creative purposes, such as storage, utensils, and home decor.  I actually made a post a while back about different uses, which can be seen HERE.  Glass jars are inexpensive, and can be used for so many things. Today, we will focus on edible uses, which are many.  Here are a few I've compiled from around the web. 

 This clever person poured cupcake batter in a jar, baked it, and when it cooled, frosted it for a unique look for parties.  Go HERE for full directions.

 Check out these adorable pies for one HERE.

 This jar holds a mini pot pie.  So cute!  HERE is the recipe.

Here is my favorite of all.  This is such a cute way to make your own corndogs.  Pour batter around a hotdog, and when it rises, it covers the hotdog completely making a corndog.  Love it!  HERE is the tutorial and recipe.

Do you bake in your mason jars?  What have you made, and how did it turn out?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Month of Challenges Day 12

     Today's challenge is not really a challenge at all.  It's just a silly activity that will hopefully make you laugh.  Head on over to  Scroll through the tragic photos that people have posted of their family's awkward moments, and realize that maybe your childhood wasn't as bad as you thought!  Have any funny family stories to share that will put a smile on someone's face?  Leave a comment below!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Month of Challenges: Day 11

     In honor of Valentine's Day, today's challenge will be a little mushy.  Valentine's Day is a happy, fun-filled day for many, but for others it is lonely and sad. (I really don't mean to be Debbie Downer, I promise!)  Your challenge for today is to think of someone who has no valentine, and let them know you care about them.  It could be a widow, a single person, the spouse of someone deployed.  Some people care nothing about the holiday, but others care a lot, and are sad by the reminder that they are alone.  So get to it!  Give them a call, shoot them and email, heck, drop off some chocolates!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

     Happy Valentine's Day!  I hope today will find you feeling loved and cherished!  Hud's kindergarten class is celebrating with a party, and instead of buying some boxed valentines, I decided to get a little crafty.  What can I say, I am nesting, and have odd bursts of random energy which I use for projects that have no real value or bearing on my life. :)  I found this idea on Pinterest, and knew it was perfect for his little buddies.
     I took a photo of Hud holding his fist out.  Word to the wise, the lower your child holds his hand in the frame, the easier it is to punch the hole for the sucker, as a hole puncher will only go in so far. I had the photos printed at Walmart. I then glued cardstock as a backing for him to write his message, punched the hole, and threaded a sucker through it.  I placed a sticky dot on the sucker so it would stay in place, and not come loose in transit.  You know how kids are!  Here is the finished project.

24 Valentines
Cost: About $8 for photos and suckers
Time: 1 Hour

A Month of Challenges: Day 10

Have you ever seen the hilarious Jim Carrey movie, "Yes Man?" The plot is that Jim Carrey's character agrees to say yes to things he normally wouldn't. In fact, he's not allowed to say no to anything. Today, and for the upcoming week, I want you to find something you would normally say no to, and say yes instead! Your kids want you to read one more book? Yes! An aquaintance invites you to lunch and you're not feeling quite like it? Yes! The possibilities are endless. Who knows what our lives have been missing? Give it a shot!

Friday, February 10, 2012

A Month of Challenges: Day 9

Today your challenge is simple. Give a genuine compliment to someone. It can be at work, at the grocery store, or anywhere else. Take a second to make someone feel good about themselves! For extra credit consider going the extra mile and making the compliment a personal one. Instead of saying, "I like your shirt," how about, "I really respect how seriously you take your work," or, "I'm really impressed with how patient you are with your kids." Get to it!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Month of Challenges: Day 8

Today's challenge will enrich the life of someone else. Your challenge is this: Do a random act of kindness for someone around you. Pay for the person behind you in the drive thru. Anonymously leave flowers on a friend's porch. Stop and give money to a homeless person. The possibilities are endless. What will you do to make someone's life better today?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A Month of Challenges: Day 7

My family was sick yesterday, so you all got a pass for yesterday's challenge. :) Today's challenge is simple. Do something for yourself. Take a long bath, sit down and read a magazine. Go grab a Starbucks. Carve out a little time to watch a favorite tv show, or go for a walk. You're worth it!

Monday, February 6, 2012

A Month of Challenges: Day 6

Well, New Year's is now a month past, and you have likely succeeded in or completely scrapped your resolutions for the year. Here's your second chance. Now that you have a better idea what is actually do-able, how about a do over? Your challenge for the day is to set one goal that you would like to attain in the near future. You already have figured from January that that 250 calorie a day diet isn't going to work, so how about something realistic that will boost your confidence and enrich your life? Set out to read a book you've been wanting to read, or finish that project you started last September. You can do it!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

A Month of Challenges: Day 5

Today your challenge is planning for this coming weekend. Choose some friends and invite them over for dinner or games. We love entertaining, and while it can take some work, having friends over to visit is a nice break, and something to look forward to during the work week. Want an extra challenge? Make your evening together themed, such as Mexican food night, Greek night, etc. Have fun catching up!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

A Month of Challenges: Day 4

     Here is your challenge for today: Try a new hair style.  It doesn't have to be dramatic.  I'm not suggesting a Billy Idol look, unless that is what you want to try.  Maybe you've been bored with your regular ponytail, or just brushing your hair and going.  Why not try a braid, an updo, a tease?  Pinterest is a great resource for this, but if you are not yet a member, Google some ideas!

Want to try this?  Go here for the tutorial.

Or follow this picture tutorial.

Or maybe you're feeling reaaally adventurous!  Kidding, of course! This kind of reminds me of a hair style from Braveheart, minus the pink.

Get crack-a-lackin!

Friday, February 3, 2012

A Month of Challenges: Day 3

     Today's challenge is one of a personal nature.  What do you want to accomplish in life?  What is most important to you?  What are some fun activities you want to do before you "kick the bucket?"  Your challenge is to create a Bucket List of the things to want to do before it's too late.  Dream big, the sky's the limit!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Heads Up!

Just wanted to inform you of an awesome deal on Living Social today (and for the next 2 days!). You can buy a $20 gift certificate to for only $10! Overstock has everything from baby stuff to home goods, jewelry and more. They even have a clearance section so you can make the most of your voucher. You will definitely be able to use it. I already snatched mine up. If you're interested, go HERE to get yours!

A Month of Challenges: Day 2

     Today's challenge is this: Send a letter of encouragement to a member of our armed forces.  A Million Thanks is an organization that organizes and distributes mail that caring people write to our troops.  So how do you do it?  Simply write a letter (or more, if you're feeling inspired) letting a service member know you are thinking of them.  You can include personal information, encouraging words, bible verses, poems, quotes, whatever you have on your heart.  Stick it in an envelope, and send to the address below, and take a simple step to show gratitude to those who sacrifice so much.  See for more info.

A Million Thanks
17853 Santiago Blvd #107-355
Villa Park, CA 92861

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Prayer Journal Tutorial

     I have been so blessed the last few months to be leading a bible study at my church.  The women are terrific, and I am learning so much in the process.  One important part of our meeting is prayer time when each woman can share what is going on in her life, and the other members remember her in prayer throughout the week.
      Prayer is a huge part of our faith.  It is our way to commune with God, and petition him our requests.  What an honor to talk to the maker of the universe, and a priviledge to lift up others' troubles to him.  In my quiet time last week, I started thinking about prayer and our daily walk with God.  I have been reading through the Old Testament, and one thing that has stood out to me is God's desire for us to remember him, and what he has done for us.  So often we pray and pray, and when we get an answer, we say a quick thank you, and forget about it soon after.  There are numerous times in the Old Testament when God actually commands his people to do things in remembrance of his mighty works.  In Deuteronomy, when God instructs the Israelites how to tithe, they are to bring their offerings forward, and they recite a speech of sorts, listing the ways God had been good to them.  They are to recall how they were saved from the Egyptians, were given the Promised Land, and shown many miraculous signs.
     Jewish traditions that still exist today orginated in God's command to remember a certain event.  Passover is celebrated to remember their escape from Egypt, and the death of the firstborn.  Purim is celebrated to remember how God delivered the Jews from destruction during the Persian Empire.  Countless festivals were instated so people would be routinely reminded what God had done for them.
     Often in the Old Testament, God commands someone to build a monument to something, or name a place something as a tribute to what happened there.  When Joshua led the Israelites across the Red Sea, God instructed him to have each tribe pick a large stone from the center of the water and place it on the other side.  He also instructed the Israelites to tell their children and childrens' children the story of God's divine intervention.
     Why am I making such a big point of this?  We know God is the same God yesterday, today and forever.  I think God wants us to constantly be reminded of what he does for us, too.  When we attended  a bible study in Virginia, we were given prayer journals.  On one side, you wrote down the prayer request of your own or someone else's, and on the other, you made a notation when and how that prayer was answered.  It was so interesting to look back and see God's undeniable hand on each person's life!  I still look back at my journal from time to time to be reminded of just that.  I wanted the ladies from my current bible study to experience the same thing, so I made a (slightly prettier) version of the prayer journal.  Here is how I did it.
     First, I cut a cover from a 12" piece of sturdy scrapbook paper with the dimensions of 11 1/2" x 8 3/4".  I took a piece of letter sized cardstock and folded it in half.  This became my page divider.  I cut tabs at 2 1/2" x 2" and folded them in half.  I used a corner rounder to make them look like tabs on a file folder.
     Next, I formatted a Word document for the prayer pages.  I made the orientation a landscape, and chose a 2 column format.  I typed the words, "Name and Prayer Request" on the left side, and, "Way prayer was answered on the right side."  I printed 5 of these double sided. (We have 10 women in our bible study, so this allows for 12 people's requests.  Make more if you have a larger group.)

On a second page I made a cover for the prayer request journal which had a title and bible verse.  On the back I printed the first page again.  This will all make sense when you do it.  It ensures that your book will read like a book without any missing pieces.

Once all the pages were printed, I folded them in half and organized them like a book.  I placed them in the folded cardstock sheet that serves as a page divider (with tabs on each side), and placed that inside the cover.  I stapled everything together along the spine with a super big stapler.  If you do not have access to one of these, you may want to bind your journal with a piece of tied ribbon.

I left a place in the back for the handouts I give during the course of the study.  They are loose, but stay put pretty well.

Here is the stack of finshed books ready for Friday's study.  Now we are all set to record the concerns of others, and remember months and years from now how faithful God is to us.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

A Month of Challenges: Day One

Who's up for a challenge? How about a whole month of them? February is the month of love, and a challenge a day is just what we all need to love on ourselves and others! These challenges will range from things that will enrich your lives, to putting a smile on someone else's face. So who's game?

Your mission today, should you choose to accept it, is this: Try a new recipe. It can be anything, from an appetizer, main dish, or dessert. Just do something new! Some resources to get you started:

Let me know what you decide on!  What's on your menu?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Cheap to Chic: Finishing Touches

     We moved to Rhode Island last June, but I am still putting the finishing touches on the boys' room.  Nothing like the impending arrival of yet another boy to get you in gear!  You may recall my personalized oar tutorial, which I used as a piece of decor to tie together the nautical theme.  I still have a ways to go, but I wanted to show you a couple of new additions to the room.
     Months ago, I saw the cutest little wooden chair, and I knew it would be an adorable addition to the room.  All I had to do was sneakily cross the street, and nab it from my neighbor's trash pile out for pickup. (Don't judge, it was very sturdy, and I couldn't bear to see it go to the landfill!) I gave it a new coat of paint, and it is like new! Nolan loves sitting in it while he watches Thomas the Train.

 Here is the chair to start.  It needs a little TLC.

 Here it is after a coat of spray paint.  Note: I couldn't find the red color I wanted in satin finish, so I bought a glossy paint, then shot a layer of clear satin over it.  Easy!

Here is a close-up.

Next, I took an old cracker crate and made a book shelf out of it.  It was as easy as putting some anchors into the wall, drilling two holes in the crate, and hanging it on the wall.  Look how cute it turned out.

I put some old books and a little globe inside, and I think it adds a lot of visual interest to the room.

 I bought the crate at a flea market for $5 a while back.

I love the old lettering on the side of it.

My husband Brett had the idea to frame a nautical chart for an authentic feel for our little sailors.  He's in the Navy, so he knows about these things. :)

Next up is a new bed for Hudson and and quilt, too.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Tribute to My Grandma

     My grandma was one of the most complex people I've ever known.  She could be syrupy sweet, baking pies and teaching you to sew, and she could reveal her fiery Irish temper in a hot second.  She held to her beliefs as if they were the air she breathed.  My grandma never wore pants, only skirts.  She never cut her hair.  She would buy 5 cent flower vases at flea markets to sell for a 95 cent profit at a florist while she was at the same time squirreling away thousands of dollars in envelopes on her closet floor.
     My grandma loved to cook, and her meals were extravagant.  At Christmas or Thanksgiving, there was often several kinds of meat offered, from roasted turkey, ham, or roast beef.  Her mounds of mashed potatoes were legendary.  Her specialty was baking pies, and when she got a bee in her bonnet she would make an entire pie for each person in attendance.  She always wore the same apron when she was preparing meals, one my mom had made her, with apples representing each grandchild.  We were her life, and she would do anything to make us happy.  That included driving hours to see a volleyball game, sending a card for every little holiday (especially St. Patty's Day), and coming up with crazy nicknames to call us. (I was always known as MacDougal.)
     Her life was spent serving others.  Even in her eighties, she would show up at her church when they asked for volunteers to clean or work.  She had a heart for animals, and would take in strays, feed them, take them to the vet, keep them, or find them homes.
     My grandma was so supersticious.  She would never hand you a knife, step over you if you were on the floor, or open an umbrella in a house.  She hid a half dollar in one of my presents at every birthday party, and every Christmas.
     I once watched my grandma laugh so hard at a Three Stooges skit that she slid to the floor and cried.  These are the memories that sustain me.
     Many adults do not have the blessing of grandparents, and I was extra blessed for my kids to have had great-grandparents.  The realistic side of you realizes it's only a matter of time before aging loved ones pass, but it didn't make her passing any easier for me.  When I lost my grandparents last year, there was a pain I wasn't expecting.  The grief washed over me at unexpected times: the playing of a hymn, the glimpse of a picture, and a thousand other subtle reminders.  The impact of their lives have been permanently imprinted on mine.
     I am so thankful for my grandparents, and the example they were.  They worked extemely hard, and knew what was most important in this life.  They prayed for each of us every night on their knees, pleading that God would bless our lives, protect us, comfort us. I often wonder what blessings God has granted me because of their earnest prayers, said with bent head, clenched hands, and humble hearts. I simply cannot put into words the gratitude I have to them, and to God for placing them in my life.  I miss them, but I am assured I will see them again one day.  In the meantime, I have memories that will last me a lifetime, and recipes that will make my belly (and yours!) happy.  On that note, I have posted the recipe for Grandma Carter's applesauce cake, which was always a fan favorite.  Grandma would have been 86 this week.  She couldn't live forever, but her memory will.

 My grandparents at my graduation from Ohio State.

 Grandma plays with Hud when he was just a little guy.

Grandma and Grandpa in a moment that represents them best.

Grandma Carter's Applesauce Cake

1/2 cup Crisco
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 cups applesauce
4 cups flour
2 t. baking soda
2 t. cinnamon
4 T. water
A pinch of powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together Crisco, butter, sugar, and applesauce.
2. Add and stir dry ingredients. Batter will be very thick.  Spray cooking oil in 9" x 13" pan. Spread mixture evenly.
3. Bake for 45 minutes.
4. Dust top of cake with powdered sugar when cool.  Enjoy!