Sunday, April 29, 2012

A few of my favorite things.... Giveaway!!

 Okay you fun things!!  I've got a giveaway very near and dear to my heart and it's a bunch of favorite things again.  It's a two-part giveaway (one winner though).  The first part is from me and the second part is from a fellow blogger!  My part is a package of lemonade-inspired items just for you!  This giveaway includes:
Polish in shimmery gold, and lemon scented polish removal wipes. 
 Lemon creme lotion, and a lemon soap that smells amazing.  And it's huge.  And made in Italy.  And comes in a fancy box. 
 Six little lemon note cards that are darling.  You can write your best friend.  And a book titled "God always has a plan B" that is filled with inspiration from people like Max Lucado, Mother Theresa, etc.  Good stuff. 
 One of my "You are my Sunshine" pendants (which I no longer make).
 This stack of petite polka dot plates, in a sunny golden hue.
 And this comes from a blogging buddy who sells these amazing trays!  She contacted me and asked if I thought my readers would like one, and I jumped at the chance to give one away to you!  The reason of course is this; (and I cringe a little showing you the following picture):
You take CLEAN silverware out of the dishwasher and put them into your "clean" drawer... only to realize that over time, they are not sitting in a clean drawer after all.  How does this happen?  It's probably one of the great mysteries of life.  And it's really gross, let's be honest.

But it doesn't have to bug you anymore because someone much smarter than me has finally invented this Crumbs Away tray.  The top portion of the tray has tiny holes for things to fall through, and into a lower tray that removes for easy cleaning.  I'm totally sold baby!! (And please don't look to closely at my icky drawer.  Thanks.)
So much better now. (And if you need one immediately, or don't happen to win this giveaway, you can purchase one of these trays here.)

So, to enter this Lemony-love/Crumbs Away giveaway... Please go to the Crumbs Away site and tell me in comments what items you would organize in the Crumbs Away tray, after seeing the many other possible uses they show on their site!

You can tweet, facebook, and post about this for extra entries, but you know the drill, please be sure and let me know in separate comments.  I'll choose and announce a winner with in a few days!

Good luck!

Thursday, April 26, 2012


 I walked around a few minutes ago, and snapped photos of what was surrounding me and going on at exactly that moment.  I am, after all... a blogger. 
This little friend is sitting right next to me as I type this. I saved and saved for a REAL camera bag.  It's a force to  be reckoned with too... it's massive!  I love the mustardy yellow color.  It has darling little removable compartments and I can carry everything I need, including my lame-o kit lens that I never use.  Just in case I want it.  Which I seldom do.  But still... I can safely carry my camera EVERY where now and it won't get mashed against my papers, tic tacs (of which I'm completely addicted) and lip glosses.  It has it's own little space. 
 My yellow flowers died this morning so I replaced them with this simple hurricane from my bookcase.  I think what I have out says a lot about my mental state.  LOL  I guess I needed simple, clean... minimal right now.  I can't go into why exactly, but trust me... the simpler the better.
 This is our current family reading material.  I'm planning to put my garden in (weather permitting) this weekend, I'm going to skip any further explanations for that next book from the bottom, we are talking about Heaven in our bible study, and I've been dying to read "Bonhoeffer" for months.  I finally found it in paperback!  Adrain is reading the "No longer a Slumdog" and my book club is reading the "Gift from the Sea."  Lastly... we have about five pages to finish in The Hiding Place, that we are reading as a family.  Whew... that's a lotta deep!  I think I need a good romance or something right now!  (I did just finish a darling book called "The House at Tyneford" which reads like the series Downton Abbey.)
 Ugh.  I'm ignoring this sight temporarily.  I got tired of putting some things off and tackled my master bath this am... only I decided that since I was painting anyway, I might as well sand, prime, and paint the cupboard in there as well.  Somebody smack me please.
 And  because I'm painting, this is what my hair (badly in need of a root job) looks like today.  Ugh.  (again.)  Keepin' it real.  (And I do get points for the make up right?  And the earrings I just put in about twenty minutes ago.)
 Apparently I need a lot of daily reminders right now... I bought the darling little print from one of my sidebar sponsors, and you can find one here. Also, the sticky note... yeah... that's been pretty huge in my world lately.
 Kiddos are playing, homework is finished, snacks are done, and I'm starting dinner prep.  Grilled turkey burgers tonight.  Mmm...
And lastly, this has nothing do with anything really... I just felt appreciative that my peeps put these darn things back into the bowl when they are done.  That makes me happy for some reason. 

So that's my world in pictures right now... mostly anyway. I didn't show the dishes in the sink, my messy laundry room, the paint all over my clothes, or the rotting fruit in the basket.  Some things are better left unseen.  (grin)

What does your world look like, right about now?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Pretties for your week...

When I was growing up my Mama called things that were laying out, "pretties."  I remember being a young mom and telling JJ "no," about things he wanted to touch, and sure enough I'd say, "those are pretties... we don't touch."  (Of course JJ still touched them all.)

Anyway, that makes me smile to think about and I have a few pretties to show you today.  I have been really scaling back my Etsy creations the last couple of months because I've been so busy!  And as we wind into the summer months, I know I won't be making/selling much or taking custom orders all summer for sure.  That said, these are newly listed here!
 These dandelion napkins are my favorite fun summery thing right now.  They are fun and colored with bright pops of orange ink.  (My photos show them to be a little darker/redder than they are in actual color.  They are a true bright orange.)
 I also made a couple sets in this delicate silver color, which of course can go with everything.  If y'all don't snatch these up, I'm keeping them all!!  LOL 
 Seriously cute, huh?
 And this... I had a hard time parting with it... I'll be honest.  But I made it for you guys not myself, so I'm being strict with myself.  Coral and turquoise beaded necklace.  This baby would be so cute with a soft white tank top.  Or a solid turquoise tank top.  Or a gray tank top.  (Do you see why I have such a hard time disciplining myself to not keep everything I make?)
And lastly... maybe this is a stupid thing to list, but I took these ranuculus photos the other day and fell in love....
 .... I had these three gorgeous vintage frames sitting in my garage and I could not figure out what to do with them but knew I wanted to put them in my bedroom somehow.  I printed these photos 16x20 size and they turned out so darling I had to list them for you guys.  Though does anyone buy photographs anymore?  I mean so many people have amazing cameras, they can just take good photos for themselves right?  Well regardless, they're in my store if you want them. 

Oh and yes I'll be painting.  See the test patch?  Isn't that funny?  I thought you'd all get a kick out of it.  It's the same Fleur de Sel color we painted the kids rooms...  The plan was to do it in our bathroom too, (which is badly in need of a paint job) but I like things streamlined and thought I should carry the same color from the master bath into our bedroom.  Plus we have a 5 gal bucket of it.  I wanted to see if I'd like it better than the blue so I painted a chunk of wall with it.  I think I do... I'm in the process of dragging every girlfriend that stops by, into my room to stand and look at it with me and help me decide.  No one seems to find this odd behavior for me.  What a relief. (giggle)

Oh... and what do you think? You know... about the paint color? (You're all my girlfriends kinda, right?) 

And about those frames- they had amazing chalk drawings of children in each one.  They were very old... and old fashioned... and I kept wishing I had the story on them!  Who were they?  Are they all grown up now?  Who drew them?  Adrain was amazed that I planned to leave the frames as they were and not paint them.

I don't paint everything....

Just most everything... Ha!

Before I close I have to say this. Thank you to everyone who has shopped at my Etsy store and been a customer in the past.  You will never know just what a blessing that was to us over the past year.  You'll just have to take my word for it... it was HUGE.  I love you all so much and thank you, thank you, thank you! 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

There is no finished product because my men ate it.

What I should have titled this post was, "There is no finished photo of the pie I painstakingly made because my men obviously don't understand that I'm a blogger and every good blogger takes step-by-step photos of her work no matter how trivial for heaven's sake and so they gobbled up a whole pie without giving me a chance to set it out in good light and snap a photograph!"

But... that was kind of long.

And the point is this.  This pie is so good that you won't have time to take a photo of it, because it will be gone and enjoyed, that fast.  So really, I guess they did me a favor because if the pie was rotten, maybe I'd have a photo to show you.  I have to think about that for a minute...
My mama made this pie, (which technically isn't really a pie, it's more of a cobblery-cheesecake-pie-ish sort of dessert) my whole life. And I have never made it for anyone and had them not ask for the recipe when they left.  So when we went gluten free, I was a little sad about this pie.  And then it occurred to me that I might be able to covert the flour and make it work.  I changed the flour, and it was fantastic!  I will be trying it with other gluten free flour varieties in the future to see what I like best, but this was very close to the original pie.
When I got married, I spent a day going though my Mama's recipe box, copying down all my favorites.  (My Mama's a good cook y'all.) This recipe is still written on one of her cards, and I love that I wrote it down days before my wedding.  I'll give you the regular and gluten free version.  (If you're not GF, make this the regular way and don't blame me if you find yourselves eating it right out of the pan.) In fact, my son (in between huge mouthfuls) was sitting at the table eating his pie all alone as I cleaned dinner dishes... and he said, "Well Mom, there's a lot of things I could say about this pie, but they all mean the same thing.  THIS PIE IS AWESOME."  So there ya go.
Mama's Peaches and Cream Pie: 
3/4 c flour (For gluten free version, substitute coconut flour) 
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 1/4 oz dry Jell-O brand vanilla pudding (NOT instant)
3 TBSP butter, softened
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
*Beat above ingredients in mixing bowl 2 minutes on medium speed until well blended. Pour into buttered pie plate and set aside.

(1) 15-20 oz can sliced peaches (drained over a bowl, reserving liquid)
*Place peaches gently over batter 

(1) 8oz pkg room temperature cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
3 TBSP reserved peach juice
*Combine in mixing bowl and beat 2 minutes.  Spoon over peaches to within one inch of edge.  Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.  Bake 350 for 30-35 minutes, until crust is golden brown.  Filling will appear slightly soft.  Cool and chill in refrigerator until cold.  (Or serve it warm if you like your desert gooey.  You can't go wrong.)

Now, go forth and eat pie.

Monday, April 23, 2012

It always comes down to the "but...."

Do  you mind if I post a million photos of my sweet birthday girl while talking about a completely different heart-to-heart topic that I've been writing in my head for weeks now?  Thanks.  You guys are swell.
 I know this is going to sound weird, but I've been really chewing on the topic of fear ever since our dog Lucy was hit in a gruesome accident and died, earlier this month.  And when I say "chewing" what I really mean, is stewing, fretting, praying, and attempting to figure out why something like our family dog dying could unleash such emotional turmoil from my heart when it really had nothing to do with Lucy at all.
 I tried downplaying it.  Putting a fake smile over all the angst in my heart because how could I explain that I wasn't upset "just because of a dog" but something deeper... that was somehow connected to losing a precious pet?  It sounded stupid just typing it out, but the fear has been real. 
 We came home and all I could think was, "if this horrible thing could happen to our dog... what else could happen with our life?"  I had just begun a new bible study book called "Birds in my mustard tree" by Susanne Scheppmann.  After two years of living up in the air, on hold and feeling backwards in every way, I felt like my faith could use an overhaul so I nabbed this book at the bookstore.  (Plus if I'm honest, I liked the cover.  I was pretty and golden yellow.  I hate to admit to that kind of shallowness, but I like to keep it real, so there ya go.)
 I've been really terrified of surrendering all to Jesus because I've been afraid that if I did that... everything bad would happen.  If I said, "yes" (remember that's my word for the year) to Him and said, "take my life, every little part of it...and do what you want with it.. it's Yours," that He would take it. And give me cancer.  Or I'd lose my children to some horrific thing.  Or my marriage would suddenly crumble.  Or our house would burn down.  It goes on and on when you're riding that train.  The point is this; I've never been in control of a darn thing but I give myself the illusion of it by not letting go completely to a God who holds it all in His hand anyway.  I crush it tightly in my hands and though it's breaking and cutting my palm, I can't seem to open it up to the One who could fix it.  Does that make any sense? 
 Okay so anyway, I'm going along, doing this study... and we found ourselves in the book of Daniel.  If you're not familiar with it, there's these three dudes who won't bow down and worship the king's golden statue so he's threatening to toss their hineys into a furnace.  They say, "the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand O king.  But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve  your gods or worship the image of gold  you have set up."  Daniel 3:17b-18
 The prayer that was written out at the start of my study yesterday could have been plucked directly from my heart.  It read, "Lord God, I admit that I am afraid to trust You.  I worry that You will test my faith by allowing hard circumstances in my life...."

Um.  Yes.  I have been afraid of that.  Like cripplingly afraid. 
 Then to make it even more freaky-similar to my thoughts, Susanne said, "...We fear that if we decide to trust Him, He will allow something horrible in our lives.  We ask ourselves all sorts of fear-filled questions.  What if God sends me to Africa to be a missionary?  What if I get cancer?  What if He wants me to live a life of poverty like Mother Theresa?  What if He takes one of my children?  What if He desires I stay single?  What if? What if?  What if?" 
She continues to share and remind us that the three dudes about to get tossed into the fire were facing an enormous uncertainty- like so many of us are, in our real lives... and yet they choose to hold fast to their faith because they had decided that God was worthy of their faith and trust- and she adds "whether they lived or died."  None of us will live lives that are pain and problem free.  After holding this in my lap for hours over the past few weeks, I keep coming back to the same thing.  The key is in the "but..."  God can rescue us here on earth...but even if He doesn't... we must choose to trust Him with our everything.  Even if it's moment by moment.  "God I trust you with my children riding bikes where I can't see them."  "I choose to trust you with this relationship that I may lose."  "I choose to trust you with the unknown job situation facing me."

The "but..." is the watershed moment of truth where you take a stand against all fear and say, "This life might end up crumbling and I might limp across the finish line when it's all said and done, but...He is worth it... and I will choose to trust and surrender all." 

 Do you struggle with this topic like I do?  Do you think you can let go of your fears simply by choosing to do so?  

P.S. I'll be adding a few fun things like dandelion napkins, and beaded necklaces to my Etsy shop today, including these photos you see pictured above my bed.  (They are 16x20 size here). 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

DIY what you need to throw a (GF) Blue Dolpin party. (photo heavy)

Ava is crazy about dolphins right now.
  Surprisingly, I couldn't find much out there inspiration-wise for a dolphin party that wasn't a little bit on the cheesy end. I found a pack of color block napkins in shades of blue at Target, and was off and running.  (Have you noticed this is often how it starts for me?  I have no idea why that is.)  I don't know about you but I love looking at other people's parties so I can borrow some good ideas and make mine a success, so I was all over pinterest, nabbing cute and often random ideas.
Ava decided she wanted "real cakes" instead of cupcakes.  I used this gluten free cake recipe.  We are celebrating both her and Adrain (yes, he gets to celebrate with a pretty girly cake.  He promised he was okay with this and don't worry because I made him Indian food and a peach pie for dessert on his actual birthday.) and having two parties on the same day.  I made a three layer 9" cake and a four layer 6" cake and tinted all the cake batter with the same teal food coloring, but used different ratios so that each layer is slightly different in color.  6" cakes are the cutest cakes on the planet.  If you haven't ever made one, you should go forth and do so immediately.  (Oh and remember this little cake platter that I made super gluing an upside down egg cup to the bottom of a salad plate? I love it so much.)

 I ran out of frosting, (this was my crumb coat, above and Becky, this was the photo I was taking while on the phone with you!) so the finished tiny cake isn't nearly as cute as it should have been.  Dangit!
 I used 2 1/2 batches of my frosting recipe (that comes to nearly 12 cups of butter total) to make these cakes, so it is, what it is. (These are the things that happen when you throw real, not staged, parties.)  My kitchen is now coated in a very fine dusting of powdered sugar.
  I used a ton of fluffy aqua frosting to pipe pretty swirls onto her big cake.
 I wanted to do either the same thing on the little one, with two colors of frosting somehow, or ruffles, but I didn't have the right tip for piping ruffles and I didn't have enough frosting for the swirls, so it's a pretty crappy looking, thing.  Please don't laugh.
  I made up for it by sprinkling edible star sprinkles on top.  (Found at Michaels, in the cake decorating aisle.)
 And then once I began dusting things with tiny, edible stars, I couldn't stop so I put some on the big cake too. 
 I printed little initials, cut them out in circles, glued a cake pop stick in the middle and painted glue and glitter on over the letter.  Somehow it seemed fitting. 
I found these adorable notebooks in the "dollar aisle" at Michaels. (Only they were $1.50. LOL)
We needed a blue drink because everyone knows you can't just have water at a dolphin party, right?  I loved the color of this cream soda (though I hate to think what makes it this color).
Simple and sweet. 
 I printed these labels and then used glue stick to attach them to polka dotted straws.  I got these straws at a local store, but I know you can find both the straws and the milk bottles here.

These are the dolphin shaped, Gluten Free vanilla bean sugar cookies.  And they are fantastic.  I piped some aqua royal icing on top.  To be honest, royal icing is my favorite.  I make one batch, tint it with coloring, and then split it in half.  One half gets thinned slightly so that it flows to create a smooth top and the other batch becomes the edge.  It kind of holds in the thinner icing.  The whole thing dries candy-hard overnight and tastes amazing the next day.  Dolphin cookie cutter found here.  Royal icing for sugar cookies found here
 This was the big pastry bag I used for decorating the cakes.  I used a Wilton 2D star tip and jumbo coupler.  (Michaels Craft store) I used "Teal" icing color, also from Michaels.  You seriously need the tiniest amount to achieve color.

The table full of blue pom poms can be created by using this photo from Pinterest. Ava chose musical chairs and pin the tail on the dolphin for her games.  I love that.  Adrain downloaded the theme song from "Flipper" for the musical chairs.  I might have it in my head for the rest of my life. 

Gluten Free Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookies:
1 cup sugar
1   cup room temperature butter
2   egg yolks
1  vanilla bean, split down the middle and seed scraped out with edge of knife
2 1/4 cups Gluten-Free Flour Blend (To make this, combine 2 cups rice flour, 2/3 cup potato starch, 1/3 cup tapioca flour and 1 teaspoon xanthan gum. Combine and use what you need for this recipe.)
1/4   teaspoon salt

*Cream sugar and butter in large bowl. Add egg yolks and vanilla bean. Continue beating, until well mixed. Add flour mixture and salt. Beat until well mixed. Cover; refrigerate until firm. 

Roll out dough on surface sprinkled with gluten-free flour, and cut in desired shapes.  Place 1 inch apart onto parchment lined cookie sheets.

 Bake at 350 for 8 to 12 minutes. Let cool completely and then remove from cookie sheets.

Fluffy Cake Frosting: (In my world, there really is no other.  It is fabulous.  And fluffy.  Did I mention that?)
*Beat 4 1/2 sticks room-temperature butter and 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar until pale and fluffy.  Gradually add an additional 5 1/4 cups powdered sugar.  Add 1 1/2 tbsp milk and 1 tsp real vanilla extract.  Beat until pale and fluffy.

And that's it folks.  Now I'm off to party.  Happy weekend!!