update on things

So I really just wanted to let you know how excited I’ve actually been to wash my dishes since I super glued the stopper in! It’s kinda sad, but I love it! I’m not so mad when I go to do dishes anymore. Which is good for my kitchen. I’m trying to keep up with my dishes. (That is NOT a resolution. It’s just what I’ve been doing!) I’m not into resolutions. But I have some goals.

  1. Go to Rwanda. (I’m signed up to go, I just need to get there and in one piece too.)
  2. Do a daily Bible reading every day. (Right now it’s every day unless something comes up. I try to get one in usually, but it’s not like it was last fall.)
  3. Exercise and eat healthier. (This is always a goal in my life, but I’ve fallen way behind lately, especially because of the holidays.)

All things Rwanda are going pretty well. I’m behind on my support raising, but that’s because I waited so long to officially sign up. I’m still waiting on my pastor to sign something, but I plan on checking up on that today or tomorrow. I have passed out a few support letters, but I have SOO many more to hand out. I forgot to take mine to church yesterday and I was SO stinkin’ mad!! Oh well. I can’t forget next week though!

Also, I think I have crafters’ block. I sit down to do something and there’s nothing. Nada. Zilch. GONE is my inspiration. I bought a lot of neat things at Hobby Lobby this weekend, but I can’t even use them!! I think I need more chaos in my craft room (but only after I organize the stuff I’ve been just throwing in there).

On a lighter note, I found out a sweet friend got engaged on New Years Eve! And a dear friend found out she was pregnant on Christmas Day! Congrats to both!! 🙂

lessons from this Christmas

I’m NOT working (well at my job) today! I’m home cleaning, cooking, and prepping for our Christmas party tomorrow. My house is disgusting (well half disgusting now). We’ve been so terribly busy that I just barely stay on top of dishes, laundry, and keeping the kitchen, dining room, and living room “picked up.” Just ask my husband. He hates for the dining room table to be covered in stuff, but I don’t have time to put things where they go because I can’t get to that one spot it goes because it’s covered or unorganized. So everything ended up in a box. Then I had to go through that box this morning.

I made just a few Christmas cards this year to send to grandparents, parents, and a couple of other people too (if you didn’t get one, I’m sorry… Call me and I’ll send you a random card then). BUT I can’t find my stamps!!!! My motivation for cleaning and going through paperwork today was to find those stamps so I can get those in the mail TODAY. But no such luck yet. Dadgumit!

Ok, now on to lessons I’ve learned this Christmas:

  1. Be prepared when sending out cards. (See explanation above.)
  2. Make sure you have plenty of confectioners sugar on hand when baking cookies. (1/2 bag could end up on the kitchen & dining room floors, you, your friend, your friend’s baby…)
  3. When you buy a set of nice Pier one white with gold trim plates from a thrift store, run them under hot water to easily remove the tape. (Don’t just sit and try to peel off every little piece. You’re wasting time and energy doing so. Hot water, soap, and some elbow grease do the trick!)
  4. Prepare EARLY for a procrastinating husband. (I think next year I’ll start in August asking Nate to help me with things…)
  5. Use a hair dryer to remove stickers from the glass of a picture that is going to be a present. (It came off VERY easily.)
  6. Be careful when moving presents around when you buy them in September. (One present got nicked on a corner and I did “save” it (maybe) by painting over it with a similar color. I can tell but it’s not as noticeable as the nick.)
  7. Start making your Christmas wish-list in July. Write something down as you remember it. (Google docs is wonderful for this. Saves all the hassle of trying to think up things for family to buy for you.)
  8. Just remembered one more lesson… Superglue can be your friend when something else isn’t. (I hated that my little stopper kept coming out of my sponge wand with dish soap in it.)

Ok. I think that was a pretty good list. I thought I had a couple of more lessons, but those might come when I can think of them.

Dude. I like this whole staying at home thing… I actually had time to blog and clean and cook. I might try to make this a trend…

Update 1 hour later… I found my stamps in a bag with the stuff that I thought it was with but I couldn’t remember the bag… It’s like the box I just threw everything in. It’s already organized!

holiday decorating

It’s the holiday season (holiday season)…

I love the holidays, starting with my birthday (Oct. 28), then Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and finally New Years! So many parties & festivities going on! LOVE it! We’ve already got 4 Christmas parties, 1 baby shower, 1 b’day party, and lots of visiting with various friends and family all before Christmas actually rolls around.

A couple of weeks ago, my friend and I went to a Christmas/holiday decorating class at the Huntsville Botanical Gardens by the folks at In Bloom (in the Five Points area for those in the Huntsville, Alabama area). I took notes with my little Android phone. So I’m gonna try to make things full sentences now. (Bare with me if I overlook something.)

So, I just cranked up Pandora with my Christmas channel and my fingers are ready to work! The only thing that would make this perfect is a cup of hot chocolate and if I was at home working on this. I’m gonna also add my own thoughts and notes to this so it’s gonna be MY own Christmas decorating post instead of just notes.

Organize. That’s where we start. The speaker said, “You’re too late with organizing; you should have started last year.”

First, you need to decide when you’re gonna decorate and how much you’re gonna decorate. Once you’ve got that decided, you need to plan for 3 days to decorate. I’ve never done this before, but I am this year! I work full time, so I can’t really do it during the week. So we normally go cut down our tree the Saturday after Thanksgiving, but this year, we’re going the day after with some friends. So I’m doing this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Day 1: Put up the tree (fluff it if you decide to go the wrong fake route) and light it. That’s it. No more. Even if you want to. Stop. I mean it!

Day 2: Decorate. Decorate your tree, your foyer, your whole living. Just do what you want.

Day 3: Finalize. Put all the finishing touches on everything. If you see something out of place, fix it. Make a list of what you need and go buy it.

Note: If you’re doing outdoor lights, plan for another day for this too. Or if you’re like me, I’ll just send Hubby out to do it while I’m decorating. That’s our rule anyway. I take care of the inside of the house and he gets the outside.

That all sounds easy enough. Better than me trying to cram it all into one Saturday. I’ve already planned to go get the tree Friday and get all our decorations down out of the attic (or get hubby to). We’ll put lights on together and then go to watch the Iron Bowl game (War Eagle). On Saturday, I’ll pull out the rest of the decorations and decorate that morning. My family is coming up that evening to go out to eat for our Thanksgiving. Everybody seems to be so overwhelmed and tired this year, so we’re getting someone else to do it for us. And we’re going fancy too! My day 3 will consist of me visiting a local florist (the people that actually did the demonstration/talk about decorating) and do the finishing touches of decorations. We’ll see how it all goes.

Now as you go through your decorations this year (and at the end of the season) grade them. A. B. C. D (for donate). F (for trash). I like this system. I went through my decorations last year, but I’m really excited about this method! Also, you should invest in one quality Christmas item a year. So this is our 2nd Christmas together and last year we had to invest in a lot since we needed a lot of our own things, this will be a good start. I’m planning on buying mine Sunday hopefully.

Accessorize. This is the next step in your Christmas decorating (or any kind of decorating for that matter).

One thing he said that stuck out in my mind was to rethink key surfaces and rethink how you use your items. I definitely will. I don’t know what this will look like just yet, but I will!

Start with a clear area. Take everything off your surface (unless there’s a lamp or something that will stay). Then you just work your items in. And I did note that he said to use an odd number of accessories (not including a lamp or something that will stay). Then mix textures. You should also make sure your eye dances over the height of every object. Use books, logs, etc. to add height to things. I have a few old books I will try to use. I do that with normal decorating anyway. Don’t make anything symmetrical. That’s something I tend to do, especially with an even number of objects. You can also add a mirror underneath something to give more light to a dark area.

This class really inspired me! They did some sample decorating on a small table with a lamp. He did one monochromatic with silver. Then he worked some gold into it too. He said it was very ok to mix silver and gold, something I’m terrified of! Mr. Speaker Guy did a fall table (wood logs, acorns, squirrel, silver leaf, current fall photo) and a Christmas table (mercury glass, silver tree, deer, silver ball, silver picture frame).

The Tree. Now that we have everything organized and accessorized… Let’s move onto decorating your Christmas tree! Lights. One idea somebody gave was to do inner lighting on your tree where you just wrap the inside stem with a C9 size bulb strand. I’m not sure we’ll do this this year, but it sounds kinda fun! He did say something about the technique of lighting the tree and I know after hearing him, I do it ALL wrong! Ornaments. Organize ornaments by same style, same size, then go down in size its more visually appealing. I didn’t know this either, but you’re supposed to put the bigger sized ornaments to fill the holes! I have 1 and it’ll fill a whole instead of hang down at the bottom and just get knocked around by gifts. You have a base of handmade ornaments, but hang matching colored balls in the inside of tree to reflect your lights better. A good idea for old ornaments you don’t want broken: put them on a special tree where it won’t get knocked off. Or put them in a shadow box and display this as part of your decorations somewhere. Garland: Garland should be out on the tips of the branches. And they said tinsel is ok to use, but use sparingly.

The speaker touched on fresh flowers and arrangements, but I’m not even going to attempt explaining this because that’s nowhere near my forte! But he did say to make sure you always have fresh flowers at any kind of social gathering. I’ve not really done this. Ever. So here goes another new thing for me.

Finally, we’re at the end of this post. But I will post some words of advice from the speaker: “Share your Christmas. Think of others during the holidays and support local businesses. Remember those in need. Have fun. Make memories. Control the holidays, don’t let them you.”

Happy Thanksgiving!

lovely things

In the crafting world, I think one of the things most coveted is a machine to cut things out for you, whether it be in the form of a die cutter, a computerized cutter, or just some fancy scissors and some mad skillz. My mom has a CriCut. I love everything that she makes anyway, but some of the stuff she gets from there is cah-ute!! But what I covet most crafting bloggers is their uses with the Silhouette! The things they create using this machine… MAN!! It’s just amazing what they each come up with!! I’ve entered to win a Silhouette on several occasions and I’m just so excited that Thrifty Decor Chick gets to do another giveaway!

I am absolutely in love with how their system works (no bulky cartridges, just hook it up to your computer and buy whatever design you want), their choices of designs, letters, and shapes, and what it could do for me and my cardmaking, creating, upcycling, decorating, gifts, and so much more!!

By the way… It’s gonna be on HUGE sale on Cyber Monday (Nov 29) for $100 off (apparently, this is the cheapest it’s ever been). So if I don’t win it for some WEIRD reason, I’m asking Santa for it!

So for sanity’s sake… Let’s just hope I win! 🙂 (I’m fully qualified… obviously never won one, don’t even know anybody that owns one [so maybe I can start a trend in my area!], and I live in Alabama which is in the US!) Cross your fingers!!

lions and tigers and zebras, oh my!

Well, it’s not officially official yet, but it’s semi-official so I can announce to the world… I’m going to Rwanda next year!! I was waiting to ask off before I made any kind of announcement about it. But I asked off this week for possibly going March 17-27. My boss was very supportive about it, so I’m very thankful for that. I was so nervous about it that I kept pushing that part off. I have several people on my prayer team for me through all these little things and then finally the actual trip. If you’d like to pray for me & this process, I won’t stop you!

Next on the agenda: Get a passport! Raise support! Get shots?!?!?

Shots: I’m so so SO scared of needles, blood, anything medical really. My sister a nurse, so she got all those kind of genes… I pass out SO easily. I can count on both hands (almost out of fingers too…) how many time I’ve passed out. Over the most random and ridiculous things too!

Passport: I’m just waiting to get everything pulled together to apply for one. My mom is supposed to be looking for my birth certificate tonight (she was supposed to do it this week though). Gotta go get a mugshot pic taken.

Support: I’ve raised about $350 so far! I’ve had 2 craft booths and a halloween contest! Everybody has been really supportive (except that one church that I had a booth next to at my last festival… We won’t get into that!)… So part of that will go toward my passport ($165) and the application fee ($200).

I’m going with a group called e3 Partners. The group leaders are Mike & Mary Wagner. They go to my church and I’m so blessed to know them already. : )

So, I can’t wait to go. I’m nervous and excited about what God is gonna do with me there and in me before, there, and after!!

Matthew 28:19-20 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you…

Oh and edit: I’ll be in Africa on our 2-year wedding anniversary…

birthday post

So. My birthday was last Thursday and I just have to tell you about this!! Last year, I signed up to get free food from several restaurants for my birhtday. I had found a couple of websites with lists of these places that will give you free stuff, so I’m going to do my own by the places that have sent me coupons!

First, Starbucks sent me a postcard in the mail (love getting snail mail!) that got me 1 free drink of my choice from them any time in my birthday month (October)! I think you have to register your Starbucks gift card though. I got 2 for Christmas last year and registered them this summer (better late than never). I earn some points for every dollar I spend, I think.

A week before my b’day: I got several emails exactly one week before my birthday. My favorite of those: Denny’s! I’m not a huge fan of Denny’s, but they are giving me a free build your own grand slam, no questions asked! But the only catch with that one is I have to go ON my birthday. Still, free food without actually having to buy anything… Real free food for me!! And side note: I just read the email again and it says it’s a build your own, so I get to choose what I want! I don’t have to get the bacon because I don’t like bacon! Woohoo!!! I had 2 eggs, over medium, some turkey bacon, some fresh fruit (that I was actually impressed with), and a biscuit.

My email from Coldstone Creamery came later in the day but it’s a free creation of my choice for FREE (again, loving the no strings attached gifts) that expires a week from my birthday. This just might trump Denny’s since I can use it between now and a week after my b’day!

I got an email from Bruegger’s: free cookie with the purchase of a sandwich or salad (expires 2 weeks from my b’day). An email from Arby’s: free 12 oz. shake w/ ANY purchase ($1 menu fries maybe?) that expires a week after my b’day. And an email from Bruster’s: buy one get one free Waffle Cone (expires a week from my b’day).

Not too bad… I like these people that let me plan it all out though!

Do you know of anymore? (I tried to sign up for one from Red Robin, but you have to go in to get a card, and I don’t eat there that often, so I haven’t had a chance.)

*Please note, I’m sure there are several other good deals out there, but this was just relevant to places open in my area.

chipotle ketchup

So, I got creative last week… I made homemade ranch fries (fresh potatoes cut up like french friends, tossed in olive oil and hidden valley ranch, then baked at 400 for 30 minutes or whenever they’re purdy!). I usually eat mine plain and N8 eats his with ranch dressing and Texas Pete hot sauce.

I was kinda bored with eating them plain and we were having Southwestern Meat Loaf (Pampered Chef recipe). The meat loaf calls for you to mix ketchup and Pampered Chef Chipotle Rub together and put it on the top during the last few minutes of baking. So I decided I wanted to try to make a Chipotle Ketchup… It was awesome!! I just squirted the amount of ketchup I wanted into one my Petite Squares and just sprinkled some Chipotle Rub on it and stirred it with a fry. YUM!!!!

I can’t wait to try this with so many other seasonings now! Let me know if you try this or any others!!