Friday, February 26, 2010

Free-for all Friday: Why I love Goodwill!

I love Goodwill. It has been appropriately named because it has been very good to me :) Here are just a few of my awesome finds:
Dansko clogs for 4.99(!!!),
Noah's ark wooden toy chest,
a nearly complete set of The Family Creative Workshop,
this solid wood, ginormous,  handmade (I like to believe) cradle,

this gorgeous, handmade plate,

This is what the first box has become...
It is so gratifying to make something out of nothing. I felt this the most when throwing pottery. Taking a handful of mud and making something beautiful and useful is incredible. But it is the same with altering. That box was, um.... not the prettiest and with just mod podge and paper it becomes a treasure. Kind of like Goodwill, too. Taking someone else's throwaway, bringing it home and it feeling like Christmas. Creative energy, in all it's forms, is so life giving.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Project Monday? Reading time...

This week is all about reading...and a little bit of writing. Before I had to quit my job, I taught freshman writing at the University of Kentucky. I used an overall theme of food to give our class something to read, discuss, and write about that we all could relate to. Since I had to quit teaching, I am keeping myself busy doing some writing of my own and reading a lot. Not surprisingly, I am drawn to essays by women. Lately, I've been excited to see so many moms writing about food such as Emily Franklin in Too Many Cooks.

I just started two collections of award winning food writing looking for more varied perspectives on food and I'm doing some writing myself about my relationship to food and having cancer. (Stay tuned for more on tapping into our creative writing selves in the coming months). Right now, I'm writing about donuts--for me, writing about food can be anything from humorous to critical, but always, always nostalgic. My own mama has a blog showcasing all of her wonderful baked goods, but of course, her posts often turn from recipes to memories like this one.

Oh, I am nostalgic this week. All of this reading and writing has made me wish I was back in high school sharing a cinnamon bun with my sister and mom. I had to take out my old recipe boxes and spend some time going through the worn, handwritten cards and torn out magazine recipes. I really don't know how I got a hold of these collections--that's my childhood crayon box below, but why is it holding recipes torn out by my mom and handwritten by my grandmother Helen--or maybe they're written by her mother?

If my computer was cooperating, you'd see that I couldn't just put these recipes away (Jellied Tomato Soup anyone?)! I took a handful of my favorite and color copied them onto cardstock. I then cut them out and simply glued them onto contrasting scrap cardstock, adding some simple embellishments like ribbon and buttons. Now, I have bookmarks that inspire me as I read and write and remind me of meals from the past and the women in my family that I love so much.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Free-for-All Friday: Lent

As you may know, Wednesday began the season of Lent. Peace and Solitude have now taken a deeper meaning, as I embark on a spiritual journey, breaking the unhealthy attachments, habits I have picked up during the year to prepare myself for Easter. I love this time and it begins so appropriately during these last days of Winter.
As a family, we use this time to remember what we mean to one another. To focus especially on treating each other with respect, to love one another as we have been loved. It entails doing small sacrifices and acts of kindness and mercy, spiritually "giving" them to God for another (by a random draw, each child picked a sibling to specially pray for during lent). Purple, the color of waiting, adorns the house again, as during Advent but, this time, without the joyful expectation. Our Lenten days are a bit more solemn as we focus on the ways we need to grow.
As we all need tangible things to help us understand the spiritual, this bowl of beans represent our deeds. The children place them in a jar as they carry out good deeds of their own or witness those of another. On Easter morning the beans are "miraculously" changed to jellybeans. This mirrors what God does with our kindnesses, turning them into grace.
It is easy to start with focusing on how to love each other better, but this naturally extends to our greater family - the others (not in a scary Lost way) outside our home. We use this box to collect money that will be given to a chosen charity at the end of these 40 days.  Purging the things we do not need and giving it to those less fortune is a large part of our journey. We have also committed to making lunches for a local homeless shelter.
I so look forward to this time, especially after the holidays. For though these are things we should do all year long, inevitably life steps in and distracts us. During these 40 days we reorient ourselves to what is truly important and carry the good habits we have formed into and beyond Easter season.

Free-for all Friday: Pillowcases

Forgive me, this is a very quick post. By the time you're reading this, I'll be having another little outpatient surgery (it's not really even surgery) to implant more beads soaked in chemo drugs directly into my liver. While the procedure ends up being pretty painful for about a week, I can't tell you how great I'm feeling and how much I love having a break from systemic chemo. I'll have one more of these procedures in 2 weeks, then I'll have a scan in another month to see what effect it had.

Meanwhile, I'm pretty sure giving up my favorite ice cream for Lent is having a huge impact:)

I am excited about a crafty way to give to your community that I just found out about on this quilting site called the One Million Pillowcase Challenge. The pillowcases go to members of our communities like children in foster care, men and women in nursing homes and in shelters. There are four patterns for pillowcases on the site and one is very simple. I regret that I didn't have time to make one this week, but I promise to post my efforts as soon as possible. If you make a pillowcase, or have a fun pattern, please share!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Music Monday... well almost

I wanted to post this Monday, but I didn't quite make it (there's a very high maintenance, newly crawling, 7 month old teething in my house). So here it is on Thursday, but "Music Thursday" didn't sound as nice.

As Kelly has mentioned, part of our giveaway this month is a compilation of songs. This is a CD of some of our favorite women artists we have purchased for you from itunes.

Who's my Pretty Baby by Elizabeth Mitchell
Winter Song by Sarah Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson
An Ocean and a Rock by Lisa Hannigan
Heavenly Day by Patty Griffin
Chasing Pavement by ADELE
Simple as it Should Be by Tristen Prettyman
Coming Home by Lizz Wright
Black Winged Bird by Nina Persson
Living Prayer by Alison Krause

These songs, all beautifully sung, are uplifting in sound and sentiment. 

Friday, February 12, 2010

Free-for-all Friday: a little at a time

It all started with this sweater...

I bought it at my favorite consignment shop with the intention of felting it and using it to make very special Valentine's cards. The sweater, it turns out, is indestructible. So I made paper envelopes filled with surprises instead...

Got a whole lot of this all over myself and my dining room table...

Made this to snack on:

2 cups peanuts
2 T. Butter
2 T. Agave Nectar
Sea Salt
Pour melted butted and agave over peanuts and mix.
Spread on a baking sheet and roast at 350 for 5-10 minutes.
Sprinkle with sea salt & store in covered container so you
don't eat them all at once.

And it all started with this sweater:

Happy Friday!

Monday, February 8, 2010

February's Giveaway!

When Kandyce and I were talking over this month's theme, we laughed that one of the only ways a mom can truly have peace and solitude is by taking a bath. The bathroom is the only room in the house with a lock after all. My son can push open the doors in our old house in a second, but there's still a sense of "this time is all mine" when I soak in the tub.
So, this month's giveaway includes two different kinds of bath salts made with 100% pure essential oils. You can find a variety of bath salt recipes here. The winner of our giveaway will receive the "Peaceful Bath" made with Ylang Ylang, Rose Otto, and Jasmine oils as well as the "Relaxing and Warming" soak made with Clove Bud, Cinnamon Leaf, Lavender, and Tangerine oils (I haven't been able to find Ginger locally). The bath soaks will be wrapped in the reusable fabric gift bag above. (The photo is a little bit of a cheat--I will make the soaks fresh right before I mail them). Kandyce and I will also be putting together a CD to include with our favorite songs for relaxation. We'll post our play list sometime during the month and we hope you'll make song suggestions too--we're always looking for new music to sing along to.

One quick note about the gift bag. I bought this fun printed fabric at my favorite vintage consignment shop. There was only one little scrap and it looks like someone used it for beginner sewing practice. I decided to leave the original sewer's seam across the top. I like the soft fraying it allowed and I also love wondering who touched this fabric first and what did they make out of the rest of it? The ribbon, believe it or not, is from a wedding gift my husband and I received 3 1/2 years ago. We saved yards and yards of ribbon and are still using it to tie up special gifts today.

We also saved all of the tissue paper from our wedding gifts. If you look at the wall in the background of the picture above, you can see a plaster-like texture. Our house, as I mentioned, is old and most of the original walls were covered in wallpaper. When we took the paper down, we found that the walls in our dining room and up the staircase were damaged and would have needed replastering. Instead, we painted on a flat base color, crinkled up sheets of our wedding paper and stuck it to the wall, and then painted over it again. When that layer dried, we applied a slightly darker glaze. Cheap and easy treatment that really does look like Venetian plaster, reused a lot of paper we really couldn't wrap new gifts with, and made our wedding day part of our first home together.

As this month unfolds, we hope you find a little space and some time alone: maybe to soak in a warm bath, maybe to sit quietly and meditate on peace. I'm using my alone time this month to focus on breathing deeply and making peace with my body with cancer. I had a minor surgery this week (to implant chemo beads directly into my liver). My nurse suggested that I say the mantra "I have a healthy liver" over and over because the body will try to match what the mind envisions. I believe this. Recently, the sentence, "I have the healthiest liver in the world!"came into my head out of nowhere and made me laugh. Now, I say it everyday. My nurse, by the way, gave me a wink when the surgeon came in. I don't think we would be able to convince him that our plan could work as well as his.

If you're willing to share what peace and solitude mean to you, you know we'd love to listen.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Free-for-All Friday: Curtains!

So, I have this window in my kitchen that looks out at my yard. That was one of the prerequisites when we were looking for a home; a house with a window over the kitchen sink, looking out at the yard (I like the outdoors). But what I didn't think about was what or who would be beyond my fence.
When we lived in Hawaii, the houses were so close that when my neighbors phone would ring, I thought it was mine. When we moved here, the houses seemed so far away from each other, comparatively, I didn't even notice the house glaring down on us. It didn't take long. I have lived here for nearly three years now, either peering out of the window through a set of mini blinds or when I couldn't stand the blinds any longer, feeling like I lived in a fishbowl. So, yesterday I made these...
These curtains are made from two pillowcases. I cut off the seams, tore strips at the top and tied them to  a stick that my son found when we went to chop down our Christmas Tree last year.
I love it! I want to make some for the front of the house. I want to make shower curtains, I want to make room dividers! Just kidding about the room dividers, but I do want more. 

Before I go, I wanted to share one more thing. Yesterday was my hubbies 40th Birthday! 
We celebrated by transforming our home into a Japanese restaurant. We hung paper lanterns, ate on the floor
and (my favorite), we made Japanese noren curtains.
I have to say that the bleach pen is one of my favorite fabric altering tools. I love the effect it created on this fabric.
Fun, fun, fun!
I think we will keep them up for a while :)

Monday, February 1, 2010

February's Theme - Peace and Solitude

As you might be able to imagine, I , with 8 children don't have a whole lot of solitude. I don't have a whole lot of peace, in the most traditional sense, either. And being an introvert (someone who is drained by crowds) this can pose a bit of a challenge. I have learned that to be the mother, wife, daughter, friend, (human) everyone, including myself, deserves, I must make time to get some peace and solitude to recharge. I have found that, for me, the best way is to get up before the sun (and the children) and pray. Since the baby was born, I have heavily resisted this. I would stay up late, recharging and then sleep in. It has made for days too chaotic for this introvert to handle. I was inspired by this post at Earth Mama.

She helped me to remember.

The next morning it was I who first greeted brother sun.

It is amazing how quickly the night turns to day. This month of the year, February, is especially precious. It is the calm before the storm.  The storm of the spring, which brings baseball, field trips, park days... the storm that brings rain, wet, mud... the storm that brings life! I love the storm, but I need this calm. In the larger sense, it rejuvenates this introvert for the rest of the year. This last of the Winter, without the holly, jolly pulls of the holiday season and the call for change of the new year is a time peace and solitude.

I hope it fills you.

The winner of our first giveaway is Francheska of bella's grace!