Tuesday, May 28, 2013

...as promised.

(I just realized that my last two posts have had "little green eyes" as the cover photo.  That kid.  He loves the camera.  His sister has to be coaxed... JJ does not.  Ha!)

I promised to share our teacher gifts.. so "TA-DA!"  (grin)  Both my kiddos said their teachers liked gardening.  This may or may not be true and could also have merely been an impression they got simply by hearing that a teacher did "yard work" all weekend.  I'm just saying.  Kids, you know?  They assume.

Regardless, we're going to go with it for the sake of argument because this is what the hoodlums wanted to make/give.  Potted herbs.  Last year, they got breakfast in a bucket.  Which was super cute but my kids suddenly have opinions on these things. 

 I stamped some cardboard tags and found some really cute magnet letters at JoAnns.  Then the kiddos wrote a note on the backsides, and dangit, but I forgot to read JJ's!  His random, unfiltered notes are always the best for entertainment. I normally photocopy them. I'll have to make them all into a book and give it to his future wife someday.

And then we'll all roll around on the floor laughing our heads off at things like JJ filling out a questionnaire and writing that one of his goals for the future was to "have a fulfilling 401K." 

Adrain may or may not have rolled on the floor when I read that one.

And we may or may not have photocopied the entire thing and brought it out for future laughs.

And I may or may not have snuck a photocopy of it to my parents so they could laugh too.  
 We found (and fell crazy, happy in love with these sunshine-y yellow pots.) Even if we couldn't handle doing the fabric covered ones that I was dying to make, these were so cheerful it was difficult to be sad about that. 

(This is what coaxing looks like.  So you know.) 

This is what "zero coaxing required" looks like.  In fact, there may have even been a, "Hey Mama, get a shot me doing THIS!"  What a ham.
 It got a little messy but they loved it. 

And FYI- he often freezes what he is doing if he knows I'm standing there with my camera so I can get a nice shot.  And I never ask him to do that.  Ever... he just does it!!  See?  A total ham.

Sweet, and simple.  I hope it helped our teachers know that they are so appreciated. Do you do teacher gifts too? 

And now.. for this yummy little recipe! 
 Debbie, from Deliciously Inspired shared a recipe for these yummy looking Stuffed apples.  So simple, quick and fun, and my hoodlums went nuts about them.  Debbie's stuffed apple recipe, can be found here  (We used the toppings we had on hand but hers look so good!) What a perfect after school snack. If you don't know Debbie yet, please click on over to visit her.  She's a sweetheart and I know you'll love hanging out and browsing some of her other yummy-looking recipes! 
 We (as in JJ and Ava) topped them with peanut butter, shredded coconut, sprinkles (thank you Debbie for the AWESOMELY fun idea!) and butterscotch chips.  So yum.  They were gone in minutes.  Which is really too bad, because I want one right now. 
I'm working on more antique mason jar dishtowels and the cute lobster dishtowels (from last summer) this week.. but I've got three of these babies up for grabs (here) for whoever wants them.  Think teacher gifts! :)  I might be completely in love with the polka dotted ruffle. 

Happy Tuesday everyone!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

...and then life happened.

So you know how I said I was going to share a fun teacher gift in my next post?  This post?

Yeah.  About that.

My intention was to create these amazing fabric covered pots for Joe and Ava's teachers, in appreciation for all that they did for our family this year.  It honestly never feels like enough.  I've home schooled.  Two kids.  I know that I don't even have a clue how they do it.  I suddenly realized that both kids really wanted to participate in making their teacher's gifts this year, so at the last minute, we (I was) were forced to scale back all the expectations quite a bit. (Okay, completely. Ha!)  Fabric covered pots... weren't gonna happen.  So in the end, we ended up not doing what I originally planned to do but we came up with something simple and sweet, and though it's not horribly exciting, (like.. at all...) I'll share it here anyway because it's really cute and I said I would.  In my next post. (I also have a fun recipe to share from one of my sweet sponsors.  And it's healthy and my kiddos loved it.  Stay tuned)

I unplugged from everything on Friday night, with the exception of Pinterest and I feel like I'm coming back to the land of the living tonight.  Ha!  (I love flipping through Pinterest right before bed.  I have this theory that it inspires my creativity while I sleep.  Don't laugh.)
Anyway, it's about to get very random on ya.  Including random weekend photos.  I know how you like that. (grin)

Oh this weekend.  I can joyfully say things are good on this end of it.  However, it began with an afternoon from you-know-where on Friday, and the only good parts of it were that I got to have coffee with this blog friend, and lunch with my mama where we had major, deep, heart to hearts, and I felt loved to pieces by her, which is what mama's are all about, and it doesn't matter how old you are because you still need that sometimes.  

Flash forward thirty minutes later and everything kind of flipped upside down on us, one thing, right after another after another, after another.  (Don't worry, we're all ultimately going to be fine but I can't go into detail because little eyes read my blog, now and again. Savvy?)  We had our fair share of awful in the space of three hours where I was suddenly  in tears saying, "GOD, not ONE MORE THING!  Please!!"  I prayed this verse over and over-(Psalm 6:2-3) "Have mercy on me, Lord,  for I am faint; heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony. My soul is in deep anguish. How long, Lord, how long?"

And then my man walked in the door early, because we both knew that we needed to look into each others eyes and know that we were all going to be okay... and just about the time he would normally have been getting off work, an Interstate highway bridge that he crosses twice a day to work and back, collapsed.  It was in that moment that I knew God had answered my urgent prayers for help.  (Thankfully, nobody was seriously hurt in the bridge collapse, FYI.) I just needed Adrain by my side and God knew that.  What a blessing. 

Because we needed a little light-hearted fun, we spontaneously invited some friends over after church for marshmallow roasting.  Adrain made those (gross) banana boats from his boy scout days (of course my man was a boy scout) (I don't like bananas much- even warm gooey ones with marshmallows and chocolate chips oozing out of them) (shudder) and then the kids ran and screamed and kept our neighborhood up late while they played flashlight tag in the dark for hours. 

This is random, but Ava and I decided very quickly, after reacting immediately and painfully to gluten last week, that nope, we're good.  We'll just stick to strictly gluten-free.  I made little GF pizzas for us this weekend.  Can I just share the best pizza ever here with you?  (I use frozen KinnickKinnick GF crusts.)  I brush them with olive oil (we aren't crazy about pizza sauce here.  I know.  Weird.) Then slice some fresh mozzarella.  Thinly sliced onion, chopped mango, crumbled bacon, chopped basil, sprinkling of gorgonzola cheese, freshly cracked pepper, and a light drizzle of balsamic glaze.  (we get ours from Trader Joes.)  Oh my heaven's.  Words can't describe. 

 I got a chance to work on some sweet things for my shop that will be listed this week...
 ... and worked on a project just for me! 

Ava made us these wonderful (and healthy pop sickles) that reminded me so much of childhood!  Except that we were poor so we got the orange juice in an ice cube tray with a tooth pick.  (Best pop sickles in the world.  Ha!) (She used light coconut milk in this recipe because it's what I had on hand.)

So... back to a bit of serious, in order to wrap up the weekend.

Here is what I know and I know it so deeply, it's like I can almost taste it.  God is good.  All the time.  Even in heartache and disappointment and confusion and loss and sadness, and really bad news, and sudden grief, and financial chaos that takes your breath away, and natural disasters, and tornadoes that rip your life out from under you, and cancer that takes a turn for the worst, and children that say things that rock you to your very core.  And any other moment that hits you upside your unsuspecting head in life. And we all have them.

"The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul." (Psalm 23:1-3a NIV)  "So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised."(Hebrews 10:35-36) 

Persevere and He will give you rest.  There is nothing like pressing IN when the world is pressing DOWN.  I am so thankful for that truth.  It's the only way.  It takes a hopeless moment and breathes joyful hope right back into it.  

I'd say that's how you make lemonade alright.  (grin)

miscellany monday at lowercase letters

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Hindsight makes you laugh...

(**You were warned that I had a lot of words and PHOTOS this week.  I thought I'd better remind you of that before you plunge in.**)
Last week, I spray painted an old metal table and chairs that have been slowly rusting on my front porch. (I was completely inspired by this GORGEOUS makeover post by my friend Susan.) I wanted to share it with you all but also thought it would be a perfect opportunity to share a recipe I've been dying to blog about.  I figured I could kill two birds with one stone, by placing the food I wanted to share onto the cute, newly painted table.  Win-win.
I used Rustoleum's "Satin Eden" for the gorgeous green color.  I'm totally in love with it.  And I'm sharing a fantastic gluten free Vanilla Cinnamon Blueberry muffin recipe.  It's killer good.  After I tell you this story, you'll have to agree with me.  (And side note, Ava and I are slowly attempting to work some bits of gluten back into our diets to "see" if our bodies have healed up enough to handle it again.  Who knows.  I've heard many people having good luck with this and keeping an eye on it.  I'll have to watch my vitamin absorption among other things but would love to know if anyone out there has done this?)

Okay so my story- Today, like almost every day, school got out and what feels like half the neighborhood descended upon my house.  I was baking these muffins so I could share them with you and took a big plate heaped with one dozen of them out to the group of boys sword fighting or nerf gun shooting, or whatever they were doing with faux weapons in the front yard.  (Yell "HOLD YOUR FIRE" if you ever stop by my house between the hours of 3 and 5pm.  It's the only way to survive.)

I shooed them all off the porch and began setting up the table so I could shoot a few photos of the other one dozen muffins and the new green paint.  I got it looking almost how I wanted it and had just placed all the extra muffins into the basket, when the girls in the  back yard burst in with a trampoline injury.  I left the muffins for a minute so that I could examine and ice an ankle (everyone is fine) and needed to hug a few tears away from the injured neighbor girl. In the midst of that, a friend stopped by with the materials for a custom order I had agreed to work on for her. 

As she was leaving, we stepped onto the front porch where all the boys, now joined by all the girls, having polished off the first dozen muffins I'd already passed out, were almost finished inhaling the majority of the  muffins I'd left on the front porch table to photograph for my blog. 

I know right?  

After (somewhat) calmly explaining that "this was my job... and I do take it seriously... and you don't just go around gobbling up every last muffin in someone else's house for crying out loud," I sent everyone home.  I'm not gonna lie.  (It was either that or go mix myself a mojito. Oh, I'm just kidding. Mostly.)

After I stopped being mad, which I'll admit took a while, my man laughingly said, "Wow... they must have been some darn good muffins."  I do accept some self-blame here now that I look back on it, because, duh, what kid wouldn't descend on a table full of unchaperoned, fresh blueberry muffins?

In hindsight.  I'll admit.  These are darn good muffins. 

Vanilla Cinnamon Blueberry Muffins: (gluten free version)
2 1/2 cups thai rice flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp xanthan gum
*Combine all of the above dry ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.*

1 cup milk
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean, sliced lengthwise and seeds scraped (optional)
1 cup vegetable oil
*Beat the milk, cinnamon, vanilla and oil in a mixer for 1 minute, and add the following ingredients:
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
 *Beat until combined.  Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until combined.
1 cup blueberries
 *Fold blueberries into batter. Spoon into baking cups, about 3/4 full.  (Dust unbaked muffin tops lightly with cinnamon and sugar if desired) Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.

 (Peacock napkins, available by custom order only $20 for a four-pack + s/h.  Convo here, or by direct email at lemonademakinmama@comcast.net.)

 And also.  These hydrangeas were some of the last things I needed to plant but I thought they were so pretty I plunked them into a bucket and moved them all over the place.  Then as penance for extensive muffin consumption, Joe dug the hole and planted them for me.  Ha!

 (This was all the muffins stock remaining after little human vacuums arrived on the scene.) 

 (Canvas sold here.)

 (Dish towel sold here.)

Up next on the blog, I'll be sharing a cheery end of year teacher gift.  The hoodlums worked hard on them and we can't wait to share.  (First we have to deliver them to teachers.)

And in closing... there's a valuable lesson here for all of us.  Never leave your baked goods unattended. 

Especially after school.