October 31, 2010
Psalm 35: 8
Taste and see that the LORD is good;
blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.
I love to cook. I try to prepare just about every meal we eat from scratch, because those home-cooked meals, more often than not, just taste better. Yesterday, I tried out a new soup recipe. It simmered over a low heat for a few hours, and it had the whole house smelling absolutely wonderful! I was really looking forward to finally sitting down over a big steaming bowl and enjoying supper.
When supper time came, I ladled out a bowl full and grabbed a spoon. I dipped the spoon into the bowl, raised the contents to my lips, and… wow, what a let-down. The soup was ok, fair, passable, definitely edible, but not good. Up until that very moment, I had looked at the soup, smelled the aroma, even heard it bubbling in the pot, but until I actually tasted it, experienced it, I really couldn’t tell if it was good or not. And I didn’t have to eat the whole bowl to determine it’s quality, one taste was enough.
I can listen to a sermon in church every Sunday. I can dutifully give my tithe and offering. I can try to always do the right thing. But it’s not until I experience God, and get past all the peripherals, that I can know how truly good He is. And, like my soup, one taste is all it takes to determine His quality. Fortunately, the Bible has already assured me that God is good (thankfully, much better than my soup!). And once I have tasted how good He is, I can’t resist another helping!
October 29, 2010
Halloween is a mere two days away, but the trick-or-treaters around here are headed out tomorrow night. If you haven’t even begun to think about Halloween festivities, no worries! Here’s a little last minute Halloween Party roundup to give you a hand.
Pumpkin Pasties – I found this recipe over at britta.com, a website dedicated to throwing a most awesome Harry Potter party. I made these pasties last Halloween, and everyone loved them! They’re really quick and easy, and are a great finger food alternative to making a whole pumpkin pie. While you’re over there, check out the other recipes that are listed. Those treacle tarts just might have to be made in my kitchen this year…
Pumpkin Whoopie Pies (because at Halloween, you can never have too much pumpkin) – This recipe is brought to you courtesy of Lindsay who blogs over at PACountryCrafts. While I haven’t tried out this recipe yet, rumor has it that Lindsay is a whiz with pumpkin. Don’t believe me? Check out her posts on How To Cook A Pumpkin, and Pumpkin Muffins.
Owl Cupcakes – Here’s looking at you, kid. I Am Momma Hear Me Roar is one of my favorite blogs! It’s always full of wonderfully creative ideas for cooking, crafting… you name it. Many thanks to Cheri for sharing some of her last minute treat ideas. While you’re there, check out the “Crow’s Feet” too. Oh, my tummy is grumbling just looking at all that goodness!
Spooky Glowing Eyes – This first decoration idea is thanks Sister Dianne, who heads up another one of my favorite blogs, CraftyPod. Trust me, you don’t need to have a crafty bone in your body to pull off this quick and easy decoration idea. Click on the link to watch her short tutorial video.
Needle Felted Eyeballs – Yes, more creepy, eerie eyes. This decoration idea is brought to you via Michelle from Etsy and Nguyen Le from KnitKnit. If you’ve got a little extra fiber laying around, I’ll bet you could churn out a few new sets of peepers in no time.
3D Blood Spatter Effect – Think your home could be the setting for a new episode of CSI? This decoration idea is for you! This is a Halloween how-to that Etsy put out last year, with the help of Meg Allan Cole from Threadbanger, and I thought it was so cool, I wanted to share it with you this year. I like their idea of using it as a photo-op area.
These are just a very few last minute ideas. I hope they help get your creative juices going!
October 27, 2010
It was a dark Halloween night four years ago. The jack-o-lanterns flickered brightly and cast their eerie light across the porch steps. Adam and I were enjoying a warm, cozy evening inside, away from the howling wind, and creatures that flooded our street, and occasionally stopped at our door. The candy bowl, by now, had been partially emptied of its contents, passed along to pint sized princesses, pumpkins, ghosts and goblins. It seemed that everything was just as it should be…
SUDDENLY, there came a pounding at the door!
I sprang from the couch, reached for the bowl of candy, and headed for the door. I grabbed the door knob, turned it, and slowly opened the door.
What met my eyes at that moment can only be described as the most terrible trick-or-treat-er I had ever beheld!
“My baby sleeping in the car,” said the large, 25 year-old, 6’3″ man standing in front of me in jeans and a tee-shirt, and holding out a plastic Wal-Mart bag, expectantly.
Who was I to argue with this giant?
I dutifully placed a few pieces of candy in the bag and closed the door. That was the last year we handed out candy.
Now, I don’t usually like to use my blog as a venting platform, but as we have been getting closer and closer to Halloween, I have been remembering this incident. Reading this article this morning prompted me to go ahead and post about it. It was definitely not the first incident of it’s kind. For a few years, it seemed that we had been seeing more and more older “kids” coming to our door with barely noticeable attempts at costumes (maybe a smear of white face paint across one cheek) using Halloween as an excuse to beg for candy. Baby in the car? For some reason, I’m not buying that.I loved Halloween as a kid. Maybe it’s part of the theatre geek in me, but I loved trying to decide what I wanted to dress up as, and then getting the costume and getting into make-up. (heck, Adam’s and my housewarming party right after we got married was a Halloween costume party) One of my favorite Halloween pics from when I was younger, was from the year my mom made me a Smurfette costume. It was awesome! We didn’t live in town, so our parents would drive us around to the houses of family and friends, people that they knew and trusted. My grandparents always had the BEST candy, and it was so much fun seeing the costumes that all of the other kids were wearing. We had a great time!
But, just like visits from the Tooth Fairy and Easter Bunny, there comes a time when we change places. We move from the receiving end to the giving end. These two sides are different, but both can be a lot of fun.
Unfortunately, that fun is no longer there for me. It seems that too many of us have opted not to change sides, and that just spoils it for everyone. We have managed to not be home to hand out candy to trick-or-treat-ers for the past few years, and I have been trying to come up with a reason to not be home this year, too. We don’t know any kids of that age group anyway, but we live in a neighborhood now, so I’m anticipating a few knocks on the door that night.
I don’t know. Maybe I should get all dressed up and hand out candy like I really want to, and have the guts to turn away the “big kids”. . .
What do you think?
October 25, 2010
The smallest of the matching tables that I used in the Man Cave was just the right size to become a foot stool. Once I painted the table, I put together a quick and simple cushion to tie on top.
Here’s what you’ll need:
Enough fleece to cover your size stool
A sewing machine or needle and thread (To be quite honest, you might even be able to use fabric glue instead of the needle and thread if you wanted to go super simple.)
Using the top of the stool as your guide, cut out the two pieces of fleece that will become the top and bottom of the cushion, making sure to allow extra around the edges for the seams. My stool measured 15″ square, and I cut 16″ square pieces. Since I wound up sewing a 3/4″ seam, I should have probably at least cut a 17″ square. As you can tell in the finished piece, the cushion still wound up being a little too small.
After you cut your two squares, cut 8 strips of fleece that measure 12″ long and 1″ across. These strips will become the ties that attach your cushion to the stool.
Lay one square of fabric face-up on the table. Arrange the strips as shown in the picture, making sure to cover the corners of the square. It doesn’t matter how the strips are layered in the middle of the square. The important part of this arrangement is how the strips meet up with the corners of the square.
Place the second square face-down on top of the first, matching the edges. Pin the fabrics together around the edges, making sure to secure the ties well.
Beginning in the middle of one of the sides, sew all the way around the square until you make it back to about 4 or 5 inches away from where you started. Secure your thread, and then turn your cushion right side out through the hole. Your ties are now on the outside, hanging from each corner.
Stuff your cushion with the fiberfill, and sew it closed by hand.
And that’s it! This is a very easy project that can be completed in under an hour. Now, all you need to do is tie the strips around the legs of your stool, and you’re ready to sit back, prop up your feet, and relax.
October 24, 2010
Genesis 1: 1, 26-27
1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…
26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
In the beginning, God created. “Created” is the first verb we see in the Bible. It is the first action by God – the first thing that we know he did. The first book of Genesis is full God’s creative genius at work. Light, dark, water, land, all the stars and planets, vegetation and animals, and finally, people. He spent the whole first week of our history making stuff. And when He made us, He made us in His image.
It’s this last part that I got to thinking about this week. I was asked the question, “Why do you craft?” The only answer I could come up with at first was, “Because I have to.” But, it’s not just about crafting, it’s being creative in general. I am happiest when I am working on some sort of creative endeavor. After taking a look at this first glimpse we have of God, and His wonderful creativity, and then learning that we are made in His image, is it any wonder that I have this innate desire to be creative?
October 22, 2010
In my last post, I showed you the Man Cave makeover that I did for my 49ers fanboy hubby. Today, I just wanted to share a bit more specific detail on how a little spray paint helped turn trash into treasure!
We had a garage sale recently, and after I decided to do the Man Cave, I went rummaging through the garage sale leftovers. You know that if it didn’t sell at a garage sale, it’s really at the bottom of the barrel. Then again….
Here is a silver and gold touch lamp, and two end tables that are part of a three-table set. Each table is smaller than the next, so they can nest underneath each other. I decided that the smallest and largest table would work best for my purposes.
Just add a little San Francisco 49ers colored Krylon spray paint, and voila!
I covered the entire lamp and the tops of the tables in Cherry Red. Then, I sprayed some gold metallic paint lightly over the red lamp to give it a speckled appearance. I used the rest of the gold to paint the metal frame and legs of both of the tables.
As you can tell, the smaller table was turned into a footstool. I’ll be covering a How-To on the footstool cushion in my next post.
If there is one thing that this project taught me, it is that I am no spray paint pro. I had drips here and there, especially on this bookcase:
…and on the shelf:
But, all in all I think it all turned out okay!
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. It’s amazing what a few cans of spray paint can do.
October 20, 2010
Since our very first anniversary, I have gone by the traditional gift list for inspiration on what to give my hubby each year. The first year it was paper, the second was cotton, the third, leather, and the fourth was flowers. This Friday will be our fifth anniversary, and the traditional gift for year five is wood.
So, here’s what Adam unwrapped yesterday:
Why did he unwrap it yesterday, you ask? Well, this sign is intended to go with his brand new man cave that I have been working on. I got it finished yesterday, and decided that I couldn’t wait until Friday to show it to him. 🙂
We have this little 7′ X 7′ unfinished room off of our garage that is temperature controlled, but that hasn’t been used for anything but storage. Adam had commented a few times that it would be the perfect room for a man cave. Here’s what it looked like before:
here’s what it looks like now!:
As you can see by that last picture, this “unfinished” room comes without baseboards. We are renting right now, so I did not do anything with the structure of the room… well, except closing up that fuse box. Don’t worry, there is now a metal box covering all of that wiring behind the flag.
The best part is, a good portion of the items in this room are things we already had, so that really helped to cut down on cost. It’s amazing what a few cans of spray paint can do. I’ll get into a little more details on some specifics in my next few posts, including a “How To” on that super simple stool cushion, so stay tuned!
October 18, 2010
I have been working on a child sized version of my “Did You Ever See A Lassie” hat and scarf. Mostly, during the week, I do my crafting when my sweet little charge is down for a nap. This past Friday, I was doing just that, when she woke up a bit sooner than expected. I sat down my crocheting in the middle of the table, and pushed everything else on the table closer to the center as well, before heading to her bedroom. After rocking her for a few minutes, and then changing her diaper after realizing she wasn’t going to fall back asleep, I walked out of her room and discovered this:
The youngest dog had taken advantage of my absence, somehow managed to get up on the table, and pilfered my crocheting! She had run up and down the hall about four or five times, unraveling and unrolling yarn as she went, and then chewed through a few outside rows of my hat!
Oh well. Back to square one. 🙂
October 17, 2010
Proverbs 31: 13-15 (NIV)
“13 She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still dark;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her servant girls.”
Adam overslept this morning, so we are heading out to the late service today. I, on the other hand, got up and got ready for the early service. I was, therefore, left with a few extra hours on hand that I hadn’t planned on. I went into the kitchen to make a pot of coffee, and wound up also making a pot of grits, a side of gravy, and two loaves of zucchini bread. So, I’m feeling a little P31 this morning.
Proverbs 31:10-31 speaks to “A Wife of Noble Character”. I’m not saying that I’m there yet, but it’s always somewhere in the back of my mind – a goal that I will always be striving to attain.
And on that topic of zucchini bread, here’s a little recipe for you. This is a vegan version of the zucchini bread recipe that was printed in the 1996 Newberry Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church’s cookbook. The original recipe belonged to Mrs. Frances Goethe, but it has been altered to comply with a vegan diet by me.
Vegan Zucchini Bread
3 Tbsp Flax Meal
9 Tbsp water
1 c. canola oil
2 c. sugar
2 c. grated unpeeled zucchini (about one large)
3 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 c. white flour
1 1/2 c. wheat flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
3 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 c. nuts, chopped
In a medium bowl, whisk together flax meal and water and set aside to let stand for at least 2 minutes. In a large bowl, sift together dry ingredients. Add nuts. To the flax meal, add oil, sugar, zucchini, and vanilla. Mix lightly, but well. Add this mixture to the sifted ingredients, and mix until just blended. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour in 2 greased and floured loaf pans.
*The original recipe just called for 3 cups of plain flour, so you can certainly use that if you don’t have any whole wheat.
* I used walnuts because that’s what I had on hand. I’m a big fan of using whatever you have on hand!
*I think if I make this recipe again, I’ll go for one loaf with a longer bake time. These two loaves just seem a little short to me.
And, in an effort to maintain honesty, and full disclosure with you…
…here is how the first loaf ended up when I tried to turn it out from the loaf pan too soon.
Oh well, like I said. P31, still a work in progress. 🙂
October 13, 2010
We interrupt the regularly scheduled program to bring you something far more important.
While we may still be weeks away from Halloween, behind the scenes, many people are already in full swing with preparations for the upcoming Christmas holidays. These people include my parents, whose Christmas tree farm, Shine and Lee’s Christmas Trees, will open for its third year the day after Thanksgiving. They have been busy shaping trees, finishing up some last minute projects, and getting some details taken care of on the business end, which includes a brand spankin’ new website built by none other than my very talented hubby.
Yes, the time has come once again that I need to do a little boasting on Adam.
He has been working around the clock for the past few weeks building their new website from the ground up. And finally, after going through a few different styles and layouts, doing a ton of editing, and tweaking, and tweaking….and tweaking…… Shineandleeschristmastrees.com went live just this week!
This is the first website he has ever built, but you would never have known that if I hadn’t just told you.
Click on over there and check it out! And if you happen to make it over to the About Us page, you can watch a short little video (written and voiced by yours truly) that tells a bit about how the farm came into being. AND, if you live in or around Newberry, SC, head on over to Shine and Lee’s Christmas Trees this year, and say “hi” to my mom and dad. 🙂