Friday, April 11, 2014

New Window Valance

If I look back in time, even a short span of time, it's easy to see that my kitchen has come a long way from it's very humble beginnings. If one considers the fact that at one point I had a wooden door leading to the outside and on a cold and windy day, you could feel the draft coming through the crack in it, then yes, big improvement. And if one considers the fact that we had to take out rusty metal cabinets and for awhile I had an old cast iron sink sitting on a 2x4 frame to wash dishes in, and now I have (while not fancy) new cabinets and a dishwasher, even bigger improvement. And I could list a whole bunch of other things like bad wiring and linoleum with huge holes in it and the list goes on. Slowly we're getting there. But in a 100 year old fixer upper, one looks around and says "Where do I start?"

My Dad asked me one day what we were going to do about such and such a project and I was like, "I don't know Dad, and I'm not sure I even want to think about it. As old as we're getting, we'll probably die working on this house." But really, it's more than a house, it's a home and for that I'm truly thankful.

Sidetracked as usual. But the kitchen needs a new window, this summer hopefully. I was sort of saving the whole curtain thing until then, but I got into spring cleaning and trying to get a little more organized by getting back into the whole Flylady thing. It was kitchen zone week, so I went a little overboard and decided that a window treatment for my bare window needed to be on the list.

I have all this painters cloth and so I grabbed a piece and in less time than it took to write this post, (almost) I had a new valance for the window above my sink. The size of the window isn't going to change so if I want to keep it, I can, and if I decide to buy some nice fabric later, it's okay. No need to buy a pattern. I found directions here at the Sewing and Craft Alliance Website. This is a great PDF. One worth keeping in your bookmarks.

So the hubster walks in and I'm batting the baby blues at him trying to get him to notice my work, and he's acting all (fill in the blank) about it. "Oh yeah, nice curtain!" he says. Gotta love em...



Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A Little Gratitude Will Do

I really had a great day yesterday and have much to be thankful for. I woke up feeling rested and had a good cup of coffee. It turned out to be a gorgeous spring day and so I dove into some spring cleaning and got quite a bit accomplished. Later in the day my sweet hubby, of over 29 years, walked up the driveway and while I was making supper volunteered to go get our daughter from soccer practice. The boys had a friend over for supper and even though it was a night that I courageously had tried two new recipes, both turned out well, and the leftovers were minimal and the compliments more than usual. By bedtime I had fresh sheets on our bed, had talked to my sister on the phone, and knew I'd be waking up to a much neater kitchen.

Sounds a little mundane I suppose, but what reason have I to complain. I love my work as a wife and mother and serving my family is part of that job. If it wasn't a "good enough" day, perhaps I need to examine my expectations.

Life isn't perfect, and certainly my life isn't too glamorous. We've raised 8 kids in a 100 year old house that often times seems like it isn't big enough and paying Christian school tuition can be tough. My car has 240,000 miles plus on it. I look at blogs and wish I could do more DIY. There's days when I can get pretty introspective. I can't honestly say that I never complain, I'd be a liar if I said I didn't. It's human nature. I think it's a battle we all have to work on. But complaining only serves to foster discontentment and for what purpose? Am I going to change the circumstances of my life if I whine about it?

From time to time there are problems to solve, times and places to voice opinions about the real injustices of this life, but a true injustice isn't the fact that it takes so long to cross the road at a busy intersection. What good does it do to subject my kids to a whole rant about it while we ride in the car. If we need to find real answers to the real problems in life, we need to do it in the right way.

But on a day to day basis, there are really forces in this life that hinder our joy and what it really boils down to is our lack of gratitude. At home we've been doing the 40 Day Journey with The Words and Wisdom of Deitrich Bonhoeffer from Bible Gateway and today the devotional talked about how we often pray for the "big things" and forget to give thanks for the "small (and yet really not so small) gifts we receive" from God on a daily basis. If we would only slow down and at least make a mental note of all that we have to be thankful for, our relationships would be certain to become enriched as we become less self-focused and less complaining. After all there's no greater downer than someone with a bad attitude, whose problems are always the worst of the worst.

This isn't to say that we shouldn't help those who are going through genuine trials in life and need our help. It isn't to say that we should run around with some cheesy smile and pretend that everything is okay when it isn't. Maybe we found out some really bad news. But then sometimes there is that victim mentality that some people don't get past, no patience, no perseverance, all stress and no joy. Sometimes we can go through long periods of stress and it seems like we'll never get beyond them and back to a more joyful time, but God promises new mercies for each day and we can be thankful in that. (Lamentations 3:22-23)

So let's reflect on the "small things" to be grateful for and show them in our lives. Give thanks to the LORD who blesses you and do it with all your  heart, soul, mind and strength. At the end of the day you'll come to realize you really had the "big gifts", the good and perfect gifts!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Operation Write Home Sketch #219

It's been a busy couple of weeks here. I mailed my first Operation Write Home cards at the end of March and immediately got started at a second batch, including some Father's Day cards. The past week and a half has kept me away from the blog though, with visiting the kids and grandkids, spring cleaning, basket weaving, taking care of my garden transplants, a highschool basketball banquet, solo and ensemble, working concessions to help pay for soccer uniforms and amongst everything getting a whopper of a migraine that lasted three days.

I loved this challenge because it was an easy sketch and it was sponsored by doodle Pantry which introduced me to some neat digital images for using on cards. I used the Reel 'em In COLOR plus set for making a Father's Day card.



I tried to use as many elements as I could from the set. The color on the digital background paper was really impressive and I thought it made up into a nice card. I lined up the "Happy Father's Day" from the images on my Cricut mat and cut it out in a circle to finish it. There was a code for a nice April special in the Doodle Pantry store and some free stuff too, which I can't wait to try.

 
 
 
At least it's been a little more spring like in Wisconsin. We went out to a farm last Saturday where our grandsons could enjoy the spring weather. Here are our guys, with grampy, getting aquainted with the animals.
 
This little guy wasn't afraid of anything. He'd would have been
out of grandpa's arms if he would have had his way.
 
Grandpa and the two older boys petting a lamb.
 
 
 
 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Operation Write Home Sketch Challenge 217

Trying to use up paper that I already have for Operation Write Home cards, and this sketch challenge in particular was part of my challenge this week. As a design challenged person, it's not the easiest thing, but as time goes on I'm spending less time thinking about it, and getting more cards made.The sketch challenges and the videos are so helpful and encouraging.

The background for this card is from the Colorbok Darling Jewel Pack.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Circles Galore Card

I love the challenge cards for Operation Write Home. It's helpful for keeping me focused on making cards for our military service members and even a few that I need.  Every now and then I take a little time to put a couple together and add to the collection. The Midweek Throwdown challenge was Circles Galore-see how many circles you can get on a card. I'm not sure how well I stood up to the challenge, but there are a few circle elements here.

I love the couple on this Graphic Fairy image and so I decided to use it for a "Love You" card. I had just purchased a new Vintage Charm Paper Pad so I decided to put it to work. At first I didn't have any layer behind the shell, but then decided to put one there. I sort of imagined that her parasol maybe had some pink in it, so I slipped a little floral pink in behind.



The other card I made also make use of a Vintage Robin's Nest image, also from The Graphics Fairy, and reminds me that it's the first day of spring. A little short on circles unless you count the dot print. But it was fun just the same.




Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Homemade Snack Crackers

Having been a Wisconsinite all my life, I love cheese. Sharp cheddar has always been a favorite, but I have other favorites. Chevre is also amazing, although I'm the only one in the family who really likes it. Their loss really!

I also like knowing what ingredients are in my food. I'm happier when I can pronounce everything that goes in it, like MSG-monosodium... whatever the heck it is. I found this recipe in a book I found at the library called, The Homemade Pantry by Alana Chernil and I made it from gluten free flour because my husband and I are both on a gluten free diet. I thought he would like these for a snack in his lunch box. I also switched out the Sharp Cheddar and used Colby Jack with success, although sharp is great!

On the next batch I experimented with some dill. He's not too crazy about dill, but "one of us" likes it. The other thing I did was to bump up the temperature of the oven a little so they came out just a bit more crispy. Perfection!

Whether gluten free or regular flour, you are gonna love this very versitile recipe.

Ingredients

  • 3 Tablespoons cold butter: cut into 1-inch slices
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (plus a little extra for the counter)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Cheddar cheese (or another favorite)
  • 2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
  • 1 ice cube
  • 3/4 cup water
  • a pinch of dry mustard works good here too



Cut butter into flour. I used my mixer with paddle attachment.

Add cheese


Dough is starting to cling to the paddle
 
 

Round up your dough, wrap and refrigerate.
 

 

Instructions

  1. Combine butter, flour, and salt in the mixer bowl. A stand mixer like the Kitchen Aid works well for this. Mix on low speed with the paddle attachment until the mixture is crumbly and the butter is mixed in. Add cheese and mix again until the cheese is mixed in.

















2. In a liquid measuring cup, combine the 3/4 cup water, the vinegar and the ice cube and let stand for a minute so that it gets cold. Add 6 Tablespoons to your flour and cheese mixture in the bowl and mix on medium speed for about 20 seconds.  "pulse" this a few times at first until the dough is moistened a bit.

3.Continue adding 1 Tablespoon of liquid at a time, until the dough clings to the paddle in a ball. You may not use all the liquid and that's okay. Mound up the dough being careful not to overhandle it. Wrap it in plastic wrap or wax paper and refrigerate for two hours. Note: It may be kept in the frig for up to 3 days.

4. Remove dough from frig 15 minutes before you are ready to roll it out. Preheat the oven to 325-350 F. and grease two baking sheets. Turn dough onto floured surface, press into a flat disc, and then roll with rolling pin until 1/4" to 1/8" thick. You can use a pizza wheel or sharp knife for square or rectangular crackers or a small biscuit cutter for a round cracker. (I used the end of a drinking straw to make a little hole in the middle) Bake 30 minutes or until slightly golden, rotating the trays half way through baking. Turn off oven and leave trays in as oven as it cools, for up to an hour. This helps to crisp up the crackers.

 

All done except for eatin'.
 

 


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Operation Write Home Sketch Challenge #216

Having kept all my letters from my husband when he was in the military, I know how special it is to get a handwritten card or letter in the mail from a person in our nation's service. It wasn't until recently that I heard about Operation Write Home and decided to get involved. I'm sort of learning as I go and using what I have. I can't wait to ship my package of cards so that someone can use them to send a note to a loved one.

For my sketch challenge card I used K and Company Classic Designer Papers, Colorbok Craft Cardstock, Off White from the Core'dinations Beachside Collection, and for my round element I used the Teacup with Pansies from The Graphics Fairy blog.


 
 
Here are a couple others from my growing pile of cards. Having the Cricut makes the work even more fun.