Tuesday, September 23, 2014

31 Days Button Creation

Computer savvy I am not! 
But in the world of 31 Dayers it's all about button creating right now. 
This is my first draft.

{honestly since it took me 2 precious hours 
it's probably my last draft and we'll just have to 
live with the fact that the font 
'One Starry Night' makes 1 look like 7} 




So far only three people whom I love and adore have told me I'm crazy for trying this right now. 

I'm o.k. with that! 




Saturday, September 20, 2014

31 Days






Ahem ...

Hello? 

Are you still here? 

Oh good!I'm so glad! I'm here too!

Wow! That was my longest blog break ever! I really did not intend to leave you all in the lurch for so long, dear friends. 

Really. I had the best of intentions. I totally blew them all.

But here I am again!

Did you miss me? I missed you all! I'll wager that your life has been every bit as full and busy as mine has been. Honestly, I've missed blogging but haven't missed the effort of blogging.

Yes - effort. 

Being a low-tech one computer family has it's draw backs for sure. Sharing the family computer with my Storyteller and Historian was just too hard - too many interruptions.  

BUT I've just done something CrAzY ...

Something that will force me to get the old laptop repaired so that I can follow through with a commitment I've made to WRITE on my blog for 31 DAYS - the whole month of October.

YIKES! {who's laying bets that I won't be able to do this ... besides me?}

I'm taking Nester's 31 Day Writing Challenge because, well ... life just isn't busy enough right now! Ha! Nope - that's not why! I just finally feel like I've got some things to share again! Yeah! 


The CRAZY gold chairs.


I've done some other CRAZY things lately ... these chairs are a prime example. 

I totally forgot to tell my Historian that I was planning to go see these Craig's List lovelies and hoped to buy them if they were in good shape ... he met them on his way into the house. Poor man. 

It's such a blessing that he has both a sense of humor and an easy going nature. 



In other TOTAL craziness ... I DREAMED up this recipe {the muffins on the RIGHT}. In my sleep. Completely a dream - but I got up in a daze the next morning and made them and they were WONDERFUL. My children thought that was the best kind of craziness ever.

They like muffins.

Probably too much.

My sweet Dreamer made me make them again and she painstakingly required me to MEASURE everything so she could write it down. Then she typed it out for me. She's a keeper, that girl.

The recipe for the muffins on the left is in a very old blog post called Muffins That Taste Like Donuts. Yum. Still a favorite.

And now ...

The craziest news of all! 

I WON the Hunter Fan Company's National Ceiling Fan Day's Room Refresh Giveaway this week!!! 


So ... this room is getting a NEW Hunter Fan company ceiling fan {much needed} and a Professional Paint job!  

Can you tell I am EXCITED? 

Do you remember when I made the front room curtains? It took a little Grace Livingston Hill WINDOW INSPIRATION way back in 2007 to get those windows covered! Whew! 






Yeah ... haven't done much in here since 2007. Ahem. 

{Heather hangs her head} 

This room is SO VERY ready to be 'Refreshed'. 

I'm very VERY thankful that I won - this is the best and most useful prize that I've ever received! I'm really hoping that it will start the ball rolling and we'll get tackling some of the other projects that I'm longing to get done!

So for my 31 Day Writing Challenge ... it begins October 1st.

Dreamer's 17th birthday. 

I've chosen an ambiguous topic ...

gathering

stay tuned!

Blessings,
Heather


Sunday, January 12, 2014

January's Simple Joys


 We were only 8 days into the new year when our Storyteller sweetly informed me that I blew all of my hopes of earning the Mother of the Year Award for 2014.  
I forgot to make supper - gulp!
  Pretty serious stuff for a growing 13 year old athlete. 
I was busy in my sewing room and time simply slipped away. 
So many of my good intentions for this lovely new year are already behind schedule,
 and I couldn't be more contented.

Like the Mother of the Year thing - I mean - whew! Now the pressure is totally OFF! 
I can just be mama -  loving my family and making mistakes daily. Receiving beautiful mercies each new day from the Maker of my days, and handing out grace and forgiveness to my precious family when they make mistakes too.



I'm not big on resolutions, but I certainly have a lot of yearly goals.  I like lists. 
I really like checking things off my list when they are done!
 I added 'choose a {life changing} WORD for 2014' to my December list, but then I ended up coming to the conclusion that there are too many good words to choose from. 
One word is simply too limiting.
 I started searching The Word and chose wonderful Scripture verses to focus on for this year instead. 

I took choosing 'A Word' off my list and added 'take THE Word to heart' instead.




I felt badly about not following so many awesome bloggers and about half my Facebook friends with the choosing a Word thing at first, but I had to think about why I was feeling so pressured.

From my experience when it is something that 'everyone else is doing' it usually isn't something that draws me closer to God. If it's popular in 'evangelical Christian circles' or embraced by the world, it's not likely helping me line up my life with the Word of God 
- more often it's just another good looking 'something' to keep me busy at nothing.

 It's the hard things, the uncomfortable things, the unpopular choices that I look for to grow me into the woman God wants me to be. I have so much to learn about the Word, so much to deal with in my own life, so much maturing to do - I just don't have time or energy for following the crowd or being busy with nothing.

 


Life is so full of things to be thankful for right now. 
I've been feeling so much better so much of the time. 
Joy! 
A warm home in the midst of this cold snap has been high on my list of things to praise the Lord for in the last couple of weeks. Just knowing God's care for our needs has been a blessing. 
Having layers and layers of warm clothes and blankets and lots of hot soup and tea to keep us all warmed and fed. I was never so thankful for my deep pantry than when the Historian went to the store for milk and eggs and found many of the shelves bare or nearly so as another storm approached. 

Even our ancient furnace co-operated and did it's very best to blast out warmth to keep the chill at bay.  I really think we need to look for an alternate source of heat and I'm thinking our unusable fireplace might be the answer if we could get a wood burning insert installed.  I added that to the Home Projects 2014 list.



I loved not having to go anywhere during the worst of the ice and cold - just being at home together and doing our school work.  The Historian went to work each day, but with short days and longer mornings at home with us waiting for the roads to be cleared. Home, school, cooking, taking down Christmas and putting everything away in the attic for another year. 
Simple pleasures. 

Saying 'yes' to more Wii and computer time then usual to fill in some hours and even clearing out space in our 'no toys, no food, NO messes'  front room for jumping rope - of all things! 
With high energies and limited places in our home to expend those energies, I decided it was for the best.

We had to heat the Grammy Flat more than usual to keep the pipes from freezing out there, and of course we kept the tap drip- drip- dripping. With it warm and toasty out there, is was a quiet restful blessing to dig through my pile of mending and projects and to start the process of cleaning out every drawer and cupboard. I love having my sewing stuff out there - it's so quiet and peaceful.

I am trying very hard once again to thin out our home and keep only those things which I love or find useful. Dreamer is catching on and has done some serious thinning in her room too. We can't get the guys on board, but they are focused basketball right now, so we'll try again when the season is over. Our Storyteller is playing for the Miami Valley Saints Homeschool basketball team and he is loving it! 
He is learning so much and growing in so many ways.


About 20 years ago my Great Aunt Gertie handed me a stack of pretty linens.  A lovely creamy yellow bullion rose runner that she made in the 1920's for her hope chest was among the pile and it was love at first sight. I used it in our home until it got raggy and torn, then tucked it away because I could not bear to throw it out or use it for a rag.

As I cleaned out a mending basket I saw the ratty runner and decided to rescue a portion of it to re-make a sweet little lampshade for a tiny thrifted lamp that cheers my kitchen counter.  I also found the bulldog clips and step-by-step guide to covering lampshades that I was given at a shade making class years and years ago {maybe 20?}. So fun to re-learn an old skill and make something pretty from something ruined. I turned the last bit into a small zippered case using a vintage metal zipper closure and adding a bit of my own hand stitching. Dreamer and I have decided a white linen cosmetic bag is a bit impractical, but we both loved it!



So many sweet friends have asked if I'll blog regularly again. 
I'd like to. I hope to - my goal is at least twice a month, but we're just in a season where life is happening faster than I can keep up with it sometimes. I will put it on my list and see what happens!  
In the meantime, I'll try to spruce things up a bit and make it a prettier place to visit for those of you who do drop by. I always appreciate your sweet an thoughtful comments and your faithful friendships. 




 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Bacon, Basil & Tomato Pasta Salad


Fall 2013 019























 I often swing past the ‘fancy’ cheese area in front of the deli meat counter looking for really nice cheeses on ‘Manager’s Special’ – it’s a good way to try something new without investing a fortune, and it makes me get creative when I bring home something that I don’t usually have on hand.  We’ve found some yummy cheeses this way – and that’s good because our family loves cheese! One of the things I often see on sale is the cute individual fresh mozzarella balls packed in water in the little tubs. I usually scoop them up because they are so versatile in so many recipes. I had a ton of little tomatoes coming on strong in the garden at the same time that I found the mozzarella on sale, we were headed to a gathering at church and thus a new recipe was born!

Bacon, Basil & Tomato Pasta Salad

1 pound box mini penne or mini farfalle pasta
2 tbsp. light olive oil
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Cook pasta in salted boiling water 7 minutes until just tender. Drain. Immediately submerge in ice cold water for 5-6 minutes. Drain well again. Toss with first amount of lemon juice and olive oil and spread pasta out on a cookie sheet. Place in fridge to cool thoroughly and dry a bit for 30 - 45 minutes.
2 pounds cherry tomatoes, sliced in halves
8 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese bite sized balls (packed in water , well drained) cut in halves
¼ cup feta cheese crumbles
1 white onion, diced finely
½ cup fresh chives (I use scissors to cut these quickly) or green onions
Add tomatoes, onions and first amount of cheese to cooled pasta in a large bowl.
2 small cloves of fresh garlic minced
1/4 cup fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh oregano and thyme, finely diced
1 Tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
¼ cup feta cheese crumbles
¼ cup lemon juice
zest of one lemon
¾ cup olive oil
1 tsp. sea salt
½ tsp. fresh cracked black pepper
Combine dressing ingredients in a jar and shake well until they are emulsified together into a creamy dressing. Pour over pasta mixture and refrigerate overnight.
½ pound low sodium bacon cooked until crisp and crumbled
In the morning add the bacon crumbles and stir well. Refrigerate for 4-6 hours before serving. Garnish with additional bacon, chives or parsley.

Taste before serving – additional sea salt may be needed.

Makes 12 cups of pasta salad.
* Since this was originally for a potluck and needed to be ‘dry’ rather than soupy for traveling and serving, I made a small amount of the dressing. If you like more dressing, double the recipe!
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Monday, November 4, 2013

You know it's time ...

 No doubt about it - it's time to get back to my blog! The blog {that I never intended to abandon so abruptly} has been on the back burner while I figured out this liver cleanse thing. One thing (baseball) lead to another (summer time) which lead to another (homeschool) and got wrapped up in the crazy wonderful mess of  just living simply ... so, my blog and I took a very long break from one another! 


Setting up for the Storyteller's 13 birthday ... baseball theme, of course!

Do you want to know how I know it's time to get back at the keyboard and give you a few tiny glimpses into our simple home at very irregular intervals sharing totally random things about life in our wee corner of the world? Well, it was prayer, Scripture, my Mum, my Dad, three sweet friends and one total stranger. Yes siree - I'd say that I'm pretty slow and sometimes it takes a really BIG push to move me forward!



I've started to actually write down some new recipes I've been  playing with and I've been remembering to take pictures too! I'll get back to sharing some recipes. Soon.

We started studying the spiritual gifts at our church this month - starting with one of those Spiritual Gift inventories. I've done them before, but it's been a while. I've discovered that I've changed a lot in some areas and I haven't changed in others.  God has worked in my heart and life in areas that I didn't really see very well, but I'm learning! I want to share some of that here with you. Soon.

 I still get the most hits on this quiet little blog on a simple little post I scribbled out years and years ago about my Anxiety Relief  and it often leads to amazing e-mails with questions that both bless and challenge me. I need to add more to my blog on that topic. Because you know - I've had a lot to be anxious about, but I've also seen God remove my fears with the TRUTH of His Word over and over and over again and I want to share that here.


Um. I'm 42 pounds lighter then when I last wrote. Yes, that's pretty big! I'm still doing that liver cleanse thing - the one that was supposed to last for 8 weeks that I started in April? That's the one! There's a story there too.


Dreamer turned 16 on October 1st!



Storyteller  aka: My Good Knight


We now have TWO teenagers. One is driving age {but not driving yet} One is driving us crazy! Ha! Not really. Well, maybe a little bit. I am constantly calling out to God for wisdom and strength and patience. Every day. Sometimes every hour. I am so thankful for my husband who pulls me back from the edge and for children who love me and forgive me. Our Storyteller is 6' at 13 and in now playing basketball. He is hungry all the time. All. The. Time.







My sweet Historian and I quietly celebrated 22 years of marriage in October.  We've been on more 'dates' in the past month then we've been on in 5 years I think. All because it's a l.o.n.g. drive to church! I'm not sure they count though, because I've almost fallen asleep on both our dates. Thankfully my Historian is still patient and understanding and he LOVES me. He really does. Even when all I want is hot tea and a warm bed.



 I've been doing a bit of sewing lately. Quite a bit actually. These are some costumes I've recently made. The man in the middle attends the same church we do and is a huge fan of the Renaissance Festival. He wanted a unique costume to attend the festival in and I think he's pretty happy with what we came up with. Dreamer and Storyteller wanted costumes for the Trunk or Treat that was held as an outreach for the first time at our church. Our van was fun to decorate as the 'Ye Olde Amoure' - putting on the full armor of God. Dreamer dreamed it up and did most of the work.  We had so much fun - over 750 kids came through last night. We are praying that many of them will come back and get involved in AWANA and Youth ministry.

So there you have it. I'll be back soon with more and if you have any really pressing questions that you just can't wait to have answered add them in the comments and I'll answer. Soon. It is, after all, basketball season!



 In the meantime I'll leave you with a sweet treat to enjoy! Our Dreamer is moving forward with her music and learning amazing things.  She is so dedicated and committed to practice and learning.  She's preparing for several competitions and auditions right now so our home is filled with beautiful music and not-so-beautiful piano finger exercises which I would gladly do without, but she has deemed absolutely necessary. As I type, I'm enjoying listening to her sight read Canon in D. How blessed am I?  Very, very blessed indeed!






Thursday, April 18, 2013

I never thought ...



In all of those long and painful years of waiting patiently on the Lord to bless us with children, I never once saw myself growling at our children. Nope. Not once!  
I truly thought I would be a patient mom. Yesterday I proved myself wrong. 
Oh, so very wrong!




I've got to give you the back story to my less than stellar mommy moment. I'm on a liver cleansing diet - it's 8 weeks long and I am well into the second week.  It's not an easy diet - in fact I've done it once before and I was downright miserable. For more than a year I've been noticing some things about my health that made me feel like I should really try the liver cleanse diet again, but as you know ... I'm kind of a chicken. I don't like giving up my favorite foods or experiencing the symptoms of the toxins being released from my body, but I finally bit the bullet and started.

Can I just say that even though I love just the act of baking and {usually} use a great deal of restraint when I do bake, I am still a carb addict! Oh yeah. I miss my muffins! My toast and tea. An afternoon cookie. My wee taste of chocolate each day ... This diet consists of no wheat, no sugar, no dairy, limited red blooded meats, limited fruits, lots of raw veggies, wild caught fish and seeds and nuts. Seeds and nuts people! Suffice it say I eat a lot of salad - but I've always eaten a lot of salad so it shouldn't be a big deal, right? Here's a funny thing - I can eat unlimited tomatoes, broccoli and pineapple on this diet - my three worst allergens! Ha!

Needless to say my energy levels are low. Really low. Lower than usual. I enjoyed my first taste of hormone free chicken and the first simple carbs (in the form of 1/4 cup steamed brown rice) I'd had in over a week and suddenly I was fueled! I mean - watch out! I had some energy to burn.

I got ambitious and grabbed the vacuum to rid the house of the inch of dog hair that had gathered since Saturday. I mopped all the floors, washed the rugs and steam cleaned the tile. I was on a roll! I went to bed knowing that the clean floors wouldn't last long - after all the three inches of dust on the furniture would eventually float on down to join the freshly shed dog hair, but I thought 'At least a day of 'clean' floors will be such a blessing!

We woke up Wednesday and started the day as always - faces washed, everyone dressed, beds made, laundry brought to the laundry room,  a quick breakfast, devotions and TREK ( Storyteller's AWANA book). The verses our Storyteller was working on just touched my heart so deeply and brought me such joy!

We were treated to a dramatic reading of Scripture from Revelation 20 - wow! We pulled out the hymn book and sang 'Victory in Jesus' together - perfect for our discussion on the Second Coming of Christ, and then nipped into language arts. In the background our Dreamer was running through the three Sonatinas she has memorized for her upcoming Guild Auditions - amazing! I have to admit that I sat back, sorely missing my morning cup of tea, but with a heart full of thanksgiving, as I drank my oh so boring water.

Ahh.

Before long it was time for a potty break for our dog Bailey and I needed to iron a cooler top for myself. Storyteller took her out, and while I was ironing, he decided to check out the back yard to see just how wet it was. After a long night of heavy rains. Heavy rains. All night. Our already saturated lawn was a mess. I really think that Ohio has the stickiest mud I've ever encountered, and most of it is in our clay pit backyard.

'Yep! Too wet for baseball!'

He came in, took off his daddy's shoes (which are waaaaaaay too small for him) and let the dog off of her leash, while he proceeded to the table for more school work.

All was well until ...

I came back from the Grammy flat with my freshly ironed clothes and saw the white tile floor of our sunroom. That I just vacuumed, mopped and steam cleaned. The day before.

Covered in mud. The mat covered in mud. The floor splattered everywhere. Mud caked shoes scattered here and there. 

Ugh!

This is not an unusual occurrence in the spring so I think I would have been just fine if I had not glanced at the stairs up the to the kitchen. Muddy paw prints. Mud on the walls. Mud on the pantry door. 

Enter Mama Bear.

I growled.  Really, I did. Out loud.

The children heard me and immediately Dreamer sweetly says, 'Brother, I think you are in trouble!' Ha!

Some sharp toned questioning followed.

Facts were entered into evidence.

Evidence was gathered.

The suspects were identified.

The dog was apprehended, but not until she trailed her muddy self through the whole house.

A vigorous dog bath ensued. 

Lots of 'I'm sorry'.

More growling. Mama apologizing too.

Scrubbing, sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, washing of clothes, washing of many towels, washing of the mat and washing of daddy's shoes. Again.


When we got back to school work about an hour later, my blood pressure had returned to normal and I was ready turn this into a life lesson.

The reason for the mud trail ... 'I never thought'.  

In the mind of a 12 year old boy,  a yard that is way too muddy to play in does not necessary mean that that same mud will come into the house on feet and paws. It doesn't translate into hours of work and laundry and frustration for the mama - but maybe it will now.

As we spotted and scrubbed and watched the dark stains ease down the drain, we talked. As we applied the shampoo and  watched the white suds cleanse away the dirt and as we got on our hands and knees and removed the evidence from the carpet, I confessed.

I don't always think either.

I make lots of mistakes every day.  I sin. I agree with God about my sin - it's nasty. It stinks. It mucks up everything and makes a terrible mess. I repent, apologize, enjoy God's forgiveness and start again with a fresh page. Every day I whisper a prayer ... 'Lord, make me more like Your Son today. Let my life bring glory to You.'

I love that my big strapping, taller than his mama 12 year old still loves to hug me hard. Well, except when he stinks, but you know what I mean. God used a 12 year, a muddy yard, a crazy dog and my growling heart to teach me about grace and forgiveness yet again.

And I'm just so very thankful.


















Monday, March 11, 2013

A week at the beach

Dreamer's evening sky over Lake Nippissing
 
I'm not super keen about going to the dentist. It always hurts, it's always expensive, and I rarely get any good news! Don't get me wrong - I really like my dentist. Dr. F is super caring, very gentle and has a big heart. My hygienist is wonderful too - very friendly and encouraging. All in all, it should be one of the more pleasant 'self-maintenance' exercises ... well, apart from the hurting part, right?

I go faithfully every six months for a cleaning and I love the way my mouth feels afterwards.  So clean, so fresh, so smooth ... and goodbye tea stains! I always have to fill out a form - latest health issues, changes in medications etc.. Do you have to do that to, or is this something that comes along with having an existing health condition?  I don't remember having to do a run down of my health history every six months before.

At any rate, I was having a hard time last week - just racking my brain for all of the minor health issues I'd faced in the ensuing six months. I ran out of room on the form. I . ran . out . of . room. Now that's a new one, even for me! So my sweet hygienist starts by apologizing but it's time for the measurements. Aaaaaaaaaah! After two weeks of muscle spasms in my back I didn't quite have my usual ability to block the discomfort, and it was bad. My mouth is a mess - so much so that we took a little tour with the camera and watched as my rich red blood spurted like Old Faithful at each touch of the probe. Now before you get upset with me please know this - I am a faithful flosser, an avid brusher and I always have been. My mouth just tells a different story. Ha!

The Dr. always comes in after the cleaning and we work out a treatment plan.  In fact I've never had a cleaning without a treatment plan and was beginning to think that was SOP until I overheard another lady's post cleaning chat with the good Dr.. No treatment plan for her, or the guy in the chair after her. I'm beginning to think I'm special. The Dr. took a peak and then grabbed my form - you know, the one that I ran out of room on? We discussed my notations, and I added one or two other small things I apparently had forgotten about and then with her hand on my shoulder she kindly said, 

'Oh Heather - you NEED a week at the beach!'

Another of Dreamer's evening sky over Lake Nippissing photos
Well, a week at the beach isn't going to happen any time soon. I am praying that we'll be able to get up to North Bay to visit Mum and Dad again this summer, but flying away to somewhere warm and sunny right now isn't very likely. As appealing as it may be! I had to work really hard to convince them that my life isn't nearly as bad as it looks on paper - in fact I've had a lot of blessings and times of immense thankfulness for those blessings lately.  I gave them my best smile (after the final rinse) and assured them all that I am one very blessed woman! Everyone has challenges and while it does sometimes seem like I have a perfect storm of them during more my difficult seasons, God is carrying us through with joy.

I know when I go back on Wednesday for another emergency crown two hour torture appointment that the ladies are going to ask me if we've booked that much needed week away at some warm beach. I love how my struggles often given me an open door to share the hope I have in Christ with others.  I'm pretty shy at times and not nearly as bold as I ought to be in giving the reason for my joy but I will have an opening and I plan to take it. I'm praying for boldness, along with strength and courage. We were reminded at in a message recently that the hope we have in Christ is not the weak-kneed milk-toast kind of hope that slips away at the first side of adversity, but it is the assurance that God is faithful, His Word is truth and His promises are from everlasting. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. His grace and mercies are new every morning. 



I'll let you know how it goes when I get back from the dentist! I'm getting to be 'old hat' at this but root canals and crowns are never much fun. I'm going to think about warm sunshine and take my gardening magazine ... and this time I won't forget to eat beforehand!