Thursday, December 31, 2009

Goodbye 2009...

As I wrote my Christmas letter this year, it was a time to reflect on all our blessings. I do my best to be encouraging, to look to the future with hope, and trust in the goodness of God. But I would be lying if I said I was without fear or always full of faith. I can fall into despair and depression just like anyone else. Sometimes I feel like I have so little to give to others, and that my family certainly gets my worst. If I were more godly, I would be sweeter, more patient, and more cheerful. I think we all go through times where we feel like we are not seeing or feeling the Lord with us. Our faith is a choice, especially during such times.

A couple of weeks ago, I was at church Sunday morning. Just as the service was beginning and the worship music started, I had to pray to the Lord to give me a worshipful attitude because I was feeling nothing. A minute later, a family moved into our pew, causing us all to make room.... and when I looked, it was the family of Ellie Potvin, a little girl who has been battling cancer for the last year and a half. Ellie had to stay home and away from germs, but her parents and twin sister were sitting next to us. It was a sudden a reminder to me of how blessed I am. So very blessed. No matter what I think I lack, I have so much for which to be thankful. Amy, Ellie's mom, is trying to be strong and hold everyone together. But as I hugged her after the service and told her I am praying for them, she just dissolved into tears in my arms.

We have taken meals to the Potvin family a number of times in the last year, my kids going with me. The Potvins have welcomed us into their home, people they don't even know, with warmth and grace and joy, introducing their 5 puppies to the kids. Once, when we dropped off dinner, no one was home and we had to leave it in the cooler on the porch. As we headed to our van, my kids skipped down the porch steps and on ahead.... and it was as if I felt a sudden, hard blow to my chest, watching my three, healthy children skip away, knowing that the mother in that home had a child who was gravely ill. It was indeed humbling.

Just this week, the Potvins learned that Ellie, who turned 8 at the end of October, has been given just 4 weeks. Ellie is about to undergo aggressive chemo and many, many prayers are going up for her healing. I cannot imagine what that family is going through. But I can see how the Lord has used this situation to bring them all into His embrace. It is His strength that carries them.

When I pull myself out of my self-centered focus, I see so many needs, so much to pray for. My heart breaks for the Potvins, and for many others who have had a tougher 2009 than I have. I feel helpless. All I can do is pray. So I pray...
  • For Ellie Potvin, her parents Tim & Amy, and twin sister Grace
  • For my sweet, godly friend who is struggling to balance homeschooling four children with caring for her aging mother as she falls deeper and deeper into alzheimers
  • For a friend who tragically lost her sister, and is now raising her young niece and nephew along with her two young children
  • For a family we love and adore who are being ripped apart by infidelity
  • For a family whose husband and father is fighting cancer
  • For friends who are waiting and hoping for children to join their families
  • For those who are in constant pain
  • For those who in financial distress and seeking employment
  • For so many other needs
Something that encourages me in dark times came to me during our Good Friday service in 2008. As I sat through that service, the reality of what the disciples saw and felt suddenly hit me in a fresh and powerful way. For them, it was a time of disappointment, disallusionment, grief, despair, and darkness. All their hope seemed for nothing. But in that darkness, God was doing His greatest work of all: securing our salvation through Christ Jesus. So when I am in a dark time, I try to remember that even if I am not seeing the Lord at work, He IS there, He is working, and He is GOOD. The resurrection is coming! Blessings to you in 2010.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Our Baby Boy is 13!!!

It seems like just yesterday that I was holding my new baby boy, the answer to my prayers, and marveling over this beautiful child that the Lord had blessed Gil and I with. We have watched Zachary grow through the years into a responsible, trustworthy, brilliant young man. We are so proud of him! We are so thankful for him! Happy Birthday Zac!!! We love you SO much!!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Pecan Tarts

Long ago, I found little mini-muffin pans at a store for a dollar each! I snapped up six of them. While I use them to make mini-muffins, mini-quiche, and to sort my vitamins, my favorite thing to use them for is to bake Pecan Tarts! These are a Christmas cookie tradition in our house.

The recipe is pretty simple, but they do take a bit of time. They are very much worth the extra effort, though! All you need is:
  • pie dough, enough for a double-crust pie (this will make about 4 dozen)
  • pecans, about 1.5 cups
  • just 1/3 of a recipe of pecan pie filling (I follow the recipe on the back of the corn syrup bottle, dividing everything by 3)
  • mini muffin tins
  • a just-the-right-size cookie cutter is very helpful, mine is just under 3" wide

First, make pie dough and chill, unless you are using store-bought dough. Next, mix up the pecan pie filling, using just 1/3 of each ingredient (I'll give you my measurements at the end!). I mix this little amount in a measuring cup to make it easy to fill the shells later.

Now for the fun! Roll out about half of the pie dough and cut into circles that will fit into your mini muffin pans. My cookie cutter has a nice scallop that make my little tarts look so cute! I also use this little wooden tamper tool I got from Pampered Chef several years ago. It makes the process of getting the dough to sit just right in the pan so much easier.

After all the pie dough is in the pans, put about a teaspoon or less in the bottom of each shell. (You will have filling left over.) I find that tipping the measuring cup slightly, but using a spoon to push a little bit of the liquid filling over the edge into the pie shell works well for me. Spooning into the shells can be messy. And pouring the filling will probably result in way too much. So helping it over the edge with a spoon gives more control over how much goes into the pie shell.

Place 2-3 pecan halves in each shell (more if your pans are bigger than mine). Bake for about 15 minutes at 375 degrees. Keep close watch on them so they don't burn! You do want them to be nicely browned.

Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes. Then take the Pecan Tarts out of the pans and let them cool further on the wire rack.

If too much filling was used, the little pies may be stuck to the pan, seemingly forever. I have had this happen, and ended up turning all my cute little pies into crumbs trying to get them out. But, I have since figured out a trick... place each pan in the freezer for about 10 minutes, then the tarts should pop out just fine.

Don't they look good? Each one is about two bites, and not as sweet as traditional pecan pie. These are supposed to go with me tonight to a cookie exchange! If they make it there, I will have to make another recipe of them before Christmas. We love them!

Here is the recipe measurements for the filling:

  • 1/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. melted butter
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract


  • 1 1/2 cups pecans
  • 1 recipe of pie dough

Sunday, December 13, 2009

My Christmas Tour!

I am so not ready for Christmas.... this is going to be a wild week of preparation around here. I have cards to design & order & address, baking to do, gifts to buy, presents to wrap, packages to mail, and more! BUT I have been enjoying our decorations for two weeks, now. My husband and children insist upon having our tree up Thanksgiving weekend. So far this Christmas season I have been a total "Mary" and just basking in the glow of the Christmas tree lights! This week, however, I am going to have to kick into "Martha" mode and tackle the Christmas To Do List! In the meantime, come on in... I will show you around!

Here is our Christmas tree in the family room. I use our formal living room as my office area and part of my workshop, so all of our life happens in this family room and the kitchen! I cannot capture the beauty and magic of our Christmas decor in photographs... but really, they are so lovely in person! (And if you click on the image below, it will enlarge, and you can see one of my favorite things, there on the wall. It is a Mary Engelbreit pie plate that says "Bless this Home". It was a gift from my sweet friend Robin from Colorado... one of my best friends ever!!! I get to think of her everytime I see it!)

I always start my tree decorating with white lights, white beads and white bows. (I have actually tied the same bows on my tree every year for 20 years!) I then add a lot of dark red and some gold ball ornaments. After those basics are completed, out come the assorted ornaments. This year, I let the kids complete the tree decorating. Since we have enough ornaments for two trees, it is quite full of pretty pretties. Many are very bunched together, on top of each other, even. But, you know what? I love it! It is so not perfect, but it is our best tree ever. And I love that the kids made it that way.

When my mother retired, she became a quilter. For my birthday in 2000 her 8th quilt was this beautiful tree skirt she made for me (I love that she labels all her quilts!). I am proud to have it under my tree. And, we do see it for much of the Christmas season... especially these last few, leaner years!

Here is a peek at a few of my favorite ornaments. This one is my very, very favorite, and is from my childhood tree. My mother said it was a gift from my German babysitter, Frau Grau, when I was three years old! We were living in Germany at the time, and my brother was a baby. It is a teeny, tiny Nativity. We always loved that a little tree light would fit into the little hole in the back to have light fall on baby Jesus! Yes, this ornament is almost as old as I am.

I found these little papa and mama bear dolls at a sweet little shop one year, long ago. I have always loved them. I put them in a prominent spot to signify Gil & I. Right next to them, is an ornament commemorating our first Christmas together! I met Gil on New Year's Eve 1995... In 1996 we had our first date, got married, celebrated our first Christmas, and then on December 28th, welcomed Zachary into the world! It was a very good year.

We rearranged the family room to make room for the tree. The kitchen table is over to the right, in front of that window.

And here is a view from the kitchen! I just love my Nesterfied garland on the mantle! I used the same garland last year, too!

Again, I cannot even begin to capture it's beauty, but it is two garlands put together, with white lights and other greenery stuffed in. I have fake poinsettias and feathers in the two corners. I love adding bows, too!

This year, I took other relics from my childhood and added them to the garland... I have these old cookie cutters that are so beautiful. Last year I had the bright idea to use them as ornaments on our tree. But this year I thought it would be more fun to highlight the collection all in one place and put them on the garland!

Here is my last stop on the tour today... a happy little corner of my kitchen counter! I am just loving that in addition to celebrating Christ and His glorious birth, Christmas is an opportunity to reflect on family memories. Merry Christmas!

Christmas Tour of Homes with The Nester

I am so excited to particpate in The Nester's Christmas Tour of homes! Click on her button above to see more "tour" homes and Christmas ideas.

Friday, December 11, 2009

'Tis the Season...

Merry Christmas! I know I have been missing from my blog for quite a while. I have no excuse really... I really do admire those bloggers who post so faithfully and share every little detail of life. I do long to be so transparent. I guess when I get busy, stressed, worried, and unfocused, I tend to isolate myself. And here I have a perfect, supportive outlet I could be utilizing!

We do have our home decorated for Christmas! That is done. My husband (and my kids, too!) insist that we decorate as soon as Thanksgiving is over. I will enjoy sharing our decorations with you as part of the The Nester's Christmas Tour of Homes on Monday! I have a pretty button over on my sidebar that will take you right to the list of all the wonderful bloggers also participating!

As far as other Christmas preparations.... essentially I have nothing done, except for a couple of short lists created. I am heading out later today to do my food shopping. We don't have a Christmas photo of our family, no Christmas card design yet, not one gift purchased, and really, no plans to make anything unless I get inspired very quickly! Did Christmas sneak up on anyone else?!? I am not really stressed about it -- yet. But I realize I have two weeks, and probably, lots and lots to accomplish.

So what did my husband and I decide yesterday morning? We should plan a Christmas party!!! So that adds a couple extra things to my list... I designed the invitations last night and they were uploaded for printing this morning, as well as emailed out. Please come if you can!!!

I also had another divine inspiration yesterday. Allowance for my kids just has not been in our budget for a while, so they are in need of shopping money. So we are offering our services and holding "Parents Day/Night Out" times! Our friends can drop off their little ones and our 3 wonderful children will play games, do crafts, and have snacks for them. (I'll will be here too, of course!) 12/17, 3-8pm 12/18, 3-9pm 12/21, 10am-8pm 12/22, 10am-4pm! Donations accepted, and RSVP's needed!

I want to share this beautiful project I am working on! I was commissioned to create a wedding album. I am loving all these gorgeous photos I have been playing with. I am ready to upload the proofs for approval, then will get page prints made that will be put into a scrapbook album for my client. I love that with digital scrapbooking, you aren't confined... sometimes I have hardcover books printed, and sometimes I print individual pages that go in traditional albums! this project is using our new Black & White Power Palette. I am loving the designs!

Below is a detail from this page that I just love and have to show off!!! The bride wanted Ruth 1:16 in her book. StoryBook Creator Plus 3.0 has this wonderful feature that lets me easily place text "along a path". If you click on the picture, it should give you an even closer view of how I had the verse wrap around the circular photo and across the page! This was my very first attempt to use this new feature! I am so excited at how it turned out!

Have a great day! How are your Christmas preparations going?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sometimes Life is Like Survivor

Our family enjoys the reality TV show Survivor. My adolescent son is especially fond of the competitions the contestants tackle. A couple of years ago our family faced our own series of challenges. We had moved to Charlotte the year before, finally sold our house in Colorado at a substantial deficit, my husband lost his new job, and then I had a miscarriage. It had been quite a year for our family. During that time the Lord put a picture in my mind reminiscent of a set right out of Survivor.

In this vision, I saw our family standing on a collection of platforms in the sea. This patchwork of platforms, like tall wooden blocks, rose several stories above the ocean. The top of each block was square, each a different size and color, lettered roughly with various words representing areas of our life. One said “career”, another, “house”. One said “new baby”… and there were other words like “pride”, “friends”, “income”, and “busyness”. One by one, these parts of the platform started to fall out from under us.

We had a choice. We could cling to those things we held dear, but then we would be flung into the sea as they fell away. Instead, we began to move in, closer to the center. Each piece tumbled away until we could only stand on the one immovable, unshakable, only steady platform which is the Lord Jesus Christ. Our losses were things we couldn’t hold onto. But the blessing in the loss was that we drew closer to each other and closer to God. Jesus truly became our Rock.

Busyness often threatens to take over my life. With so many options, activities, and opportunities, life can be very full. Without thinking, it is easy to lose focus and allow any of these things, even good things, to take over lordship in my life. Daily I have to choose to allow Jesus to be Lord, to trust Him no matter what. I desire to live my life on the Rock of Christ: hearing His words and doing them. (Luke 6:47-48)

No, we aren't through our challenges yet. (This is life on earth --- we will always have challenges!) But we do continue to cling to Christ, doing our best to rejoice in each day He gives us. How about you? What challenges or opportunities threaten to take over as lord in your life? Do losses in your life bring you closer to Christ?

I am sharing this with Emily's Tuesdays Unwrapped at Chatting at the Sky.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Please Lift Up Ellie

Ellie Potvin

I first learned about Ellie Potvin as we were making final preparations for VBS in July of 2008. Her mother Amy had just found a lump in Ellie's abdomen which was quickly diagnosed as cancer. Ellie's twin sister Grace came to VBS; Ellie went to the hospital to start treatment. They were only 6 years old.

As Ellie and her family endured a year of treatments, I was blessed to take meals to them a number of times. Our kids enjoyed meeting Ellie & Grace, and all their puppies. Tim and Amy Potvin are the sweetest, most friendly couple... gracious and open and loving and full of fun. It is heartbreaking that they all have had this terrible disease invading their lives. Amy has been pouring her heart out on Ellie's Caring Bridge web site. As I have read many of her posts, tears have streamed down my face. It is unimagineable the challenges their family has had to bear.

Less than six weeks ago, the Potvins learned that Ellie's cancer is back. Now they have news that new tumors are forming on Ellie's lungs and that the tumor in her abdomen has doubled in size... all in just 5 weeks. Please join me in praying for Ellie, her twin sister Grace, and her parents, Amy and Tim. Below is an excerpt from Amy's latest blog post.

But for now this is what Team Potvin needs from all my loving prayer warriors. I need you to spread the word about our Ellie and her fight. Please send these two sites to others...

Our Ellie needs the power of prayer. Plus, we need specific prayer for Ellie's needs over the next couple months. Our family needs the strength to endure this suffering and stand firm in hope and faith that the fight is not over.

Plus, let us allow our story serve a greater purpose for remind all to cherish their family each and everyday - If you are too busy then slow down!

Life is not a promise, but a gift from God. No matter what your goals are in life... the only one important and everlasting is filling your spirit with love and helping others around you.

I have witnessed this year, this life is a temporary place, it does not last forever... but eternity is waiting for each of us through our belief in God and Jesus Christ. That is my belief and what keeps me strong in a time that logically I should have nothing left to give... but I do. That is God working, not me.


We are thankful for your donations to the Ellie Shoal Potvin Supplemental Trust Fund. Every child deserves the best chance... and a cancer family should never have to worry about finances... we will pay it back through our Non - Profit "Lift up Foundation" we have created over the last year .... we look forward to the time we can help other families fighting pediatric cancer.

Checks can also be mailed to :

ESP Supplemental Trust Fund
9218 Ginhouse Lane
Charlotte, NC 28277

Blessings to all you love.... every single one of them.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Autumn Bran Muffins

I made these great muffins last week, that I thought I would share. They actually started as a pumpkin bread recipe, that I adapted into these muffins. I had a large can of pumpkin, and made a loaf of pumpkin bread. I also made a single-pie recipe of pumpkin pie filling, to use in making 6-dozen mini pumpkin pies. Then, I had 1/2 cup of pumpkin left over... and I got creative and made this recipe up!

I did have some beautiful photos of my yummy muffins to share... but as I was downloading photos from my camera into the computer, the memory card decided to tell me that it was empty! Soooo frustrating when that happens! That is why I am always encouraging people to download their photos often!!!!

Yesterday and today my kids had writing celebrations at school. It was great because my parents are visiting from Arizona, so they got to go to school, too. In fact, we had scheduled in advance for Grampa Jack to make a presentation to Jacob's class yesterday all about his former career as a firefighter! Of course we took a lot of pictures. Sadly, those classroom photos are lost forever due to my recent camera glitch. I am thankful that I only lost those two days, and not any other pictures. I am glad I didn't lose weeks, or months of photos. Just because a memory card holds hundreds of picures, doesn't mean you should fill it up! So, please, please, please.... back up your photos often!!!!

Ok, here is the awesome recipe!

Autumn Bran Muffins
Makes 24 muffins, or 48 mini muffins

Dry Ingredients:
2 cups flour
3/4 cup bran (I use a combination of 1/2 wheat bran & 1/2 oat bran)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Wet Ingredients:
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup soft butter
2 eggs
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup milk

Add Ins:
1 cup chopped nuts
3/4 cup pineapple tidbits
3/4 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter muffin pans, or line with paper liners. Sift together the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, cream butter and sugar together; then add eggs, pumpkin, applesauce, and milk. Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, stirring until combined. Mix in nuts, pineapple, and dried cranberries. Drop by spoonfuls into muffin tins. Bake until browned on top and toothpick tester comes out clean: 25-30 minutes for muffins, 15-20 minutes for mini muffins.

These were so yummy! I made mini muffins, which everyone loved. And, since they are very low fat, I didn't feel guilty about adding a little bit of butter to mine when I ate them.

For more great pumpkin recipes, check out Bridget's beautiful blog!

Bake at 350

I am also linking up with Jen's Tasty Tuesday!!!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Free Digital Designs!

Yesterday I showed off some scrapbook Page Prints I made for Gil's parents. I have to tell you that these pages were SO QUICK to put together! I used Predesigned Pages from Creative Memories Cottage Garden collection! {Click over to see them!}

Aren't these pages beautiful???! Within StoryBook Creator, I just had to drag & drop my photos, click to add my text. I had the pages for Gil's parents completed in about an hour one evening.

I also love the papers and embellishments in the Cottage Garden Digital Kit. Aren't they yummy?

I have sewn almost all my life. I love to walk through a fabric store with my arms out, touching all the fabrics. That is what these designs make me want to do... touch them all! Instead I feast my eyes on them and dream of the next project I can use them for!

And you know what? If you have StoryBook Creator Plus software, an upgrade to StoryBook Creator Plus 3.0 is available. It adds even more features and flexibility to this user-friendly, powerful design program! The upgrade also includes ALL of the Cottage Garden Predesigned Pages, and the entire Cottage Garden Digital Kit {an $18 value}!!!! Right now, through 10/31/09 the upgrade CD or download is only $9.95 (you must already have SBC+). After November 1st it will be $19.95.

Don't have StoryBook software yet? It is only $64.95.

Or, we also have a FREE version that allows you to make beautiful StoryBooks in multiple sizes as well as Page Prints.

Digital scrapbooking really is easy! Ready to give it a try? I am here to help you!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Visit from Mom & Dad!

I am so excited that my parents are coming to visit next week! They will be here for two weeks, two days. They are coming to North Carolina all the way from Arizona. I usually get to see my mom twice a year when she visits it is a real treat!

So then I realized that I had never posted about Gil's parents visit in August. We hadn't seen them for quite some time, so it was especially nice to have them here. They were able to stay a week.

We took them to visit the Billy Graham Library, a must-see for visitors to Charlotte!

The kids loved having their grandparents around! They got to go out to the movies, out to eat, and just hang out. The timing was perfect, too. A week or so later, and the kids would have been back in school. Instead, they got to spend the whole week with their grandparents.

Gil's parents actually met almost 50 years ago in cosmetology school! So Grandpa was happy to give haircuts to Zac and Abbie. Abbie had been ready to donate her beautiful red hair to Locks of Love for a while, so she finally got it cut.

Zachary was also ready for his trim. He sure looks thrilled... {ah, the joys of an almost 13 year old!}

It was a wonderful visit. We so appreciated them making the trip from Southern California to visit us. I put these pages together and had them printed as 8x8 Page Prints.

I actually designed the pages as 12x12 pages, that will go into my family album. One thing I love about digital scrapbooking is that I can create something in one size and print it in another. These pages are personalized for Gil's parents, but before I had them printed for our album, I changed the wording to be more appropriate for us, rather than "to" them.
I love this sturdy PicFolio Max album... each page is a giant pocket. Traditional scrapbook pages or digital Page Prints can be slipped inside. I used an 8x8 PicFolio Max for the Page Prints I made Gil's parents. Every once in a while I can mail them additional layouts for them to simply slip into their book! I love this way to keep in touch. And I love that I could quickly send them a wonderful keepsake of their visit to North Carolina.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A DIY Sign!

I recently shared my fall decor here, and showed off this sign I made. I really appreciate the nice comments I received about it. I have to tell you that I was SO tickled with how it turned out! Truly, I had an idea of what I wanted it to be, but it turned out so much better than I imagined. And best of all, it was practically free!! Love that!

First, I started with this frame that I had forever. It was actually meant to be hung vertically, and had opening for five 4x6 photos. Somehow I had never filled it and it was just gathering dust. Then, after a few moves, the glass broke. My husband tried tossing it, but I was already thinking that it would make a great sign. Of course, first I had to remove the broken glass and spray paint it black.

My inspiration was this vinyl rub-on that says "autumn" and is about 8"x2". Unfortunately, the frame needed some backing on which to apply this word and the other embellishments I had planned. No problem. I figured I could go to the local craft store and get a sheet of mat board. And, that sheet would allow me to make not one, but several signs!!!

I was excited to peruse the vast array of beautiful colors of mat board, to choose one for this project... that would also be adaptable for other signs. And then the guy behind the counter told me that only black and white mat board was sold retail. Ok. I could deal with that. I could alter white mat board and make it work. I could. So I said I would take a white piece of mat board.

"That will be $14.99," he said.

"I have a coupon!" I exclaimed.

Then I got the bad news: coupons were not accepted for mat board or framing glass. "Never mind." I would come up with a different plan.

So I took my cute shoes over to Lowes and walked up and down the lumber aisles looking for an affordable solution. The funny thing was that I had to walk around two employees standing in the middle of the lumber aisle talking to each other. Neither offered to help me. They must have thought I was lost, or just looking for the restroom! But then I rounded a corner and this younger man with multiple piercings and interesting facial hair configurations asked if I needed help.

He showed me a few possibilities and I decided on a 4'x8' piece of press board for only $7! Now that is 1/2 the price of the mat board, and more than twice the quantity! I would have had to cut the mat board myself. Instead, this nice man cut my piece of pressboard to size for me! With power tools. I ordered four pieces cut to 6"x36" to fit in my frame. I could make four signs!!! No, wait, while he was at it, I changed my mind and had him cut SIX for me!

I was thrilled with my find. It is economical and has a smooth finish for painting. Pressboard is something I think I have seen as the backing of bookcases, or a childhood toy box. So not only did I leave Lowes with my six pieces to make six signs, I also had six smaller scraps, and this other huge leftover piece that I barely wrestled into my van. The nice man had offered to cut the big piece down for me to make it more manageable, but I don't know what other wonderful ideas I might have down the road, and I wanted to leave it as large as possible!

With ordinary acrylic craft paints, I put down a couple coats of cream. Then I thinned down a goldish-brown and used a rag to rub in around the edges.

I wanted some fall motif or graphic on this sign, so I decided to pull out an old scrapbooking technique and paper piece some pumpkins. I googled pumpkins and found a simple graphic I liked, printed out a couple of different sizes, chose some patterned papers, and cut out the pieces to assemble these pumpkins. I like the folksy, not perfect quality about them.

I felt like I needed another word or words to go with "autumn" and to fill up all the space I had. I came up with "blessings". I was a bit puzzled as to how I would accomplish these letters since I am no artist. I do have large sticker letters I love using, and considered using them here. The only problem was that I was one "S" short. So then I was inspired to use the used up sticker outlines as stencils! These stickers are thick, like cardstock, so they actually worked like a charm. The empty "S" held up really well as I lifted and reapplied it three times to stencil the word "Blessings". I loved how this part turned out!

Next was my very first attempt to apply vinyl rub-on letters. Let me just say that I was glad I wasn't doing something larger on a wall. I think I got the hang of it, and it did turn out pretty well.

My last step was to punch out a number of autumn leaves from scrapbook paper for added cuteness. I used hot glue to apply the pumpkins and the leaves to the board. I popped the board into the frame, and I was done!

I am thrilled with the results. It was fun and easy... and so rewarding! I am trying to decide if I should varnish it, or leave it natural? I can't wait to see what I come up with for my other five signs. And maybe sometime I will share how I do paper piecing.

I am linking up with Kimba's DIY Day... hop over there for even more ideas!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Stinky socks, soggy towels... and service

A few months ago, my husband received a huge perk at work: the opportunity to use the gym in the office building. Since he enjoys working out, I was very happy for him that he could get some daily exercise and stress relief during his work day. He works out on his lunch hour, takes a shower, and returns to work.

He was working from noon-9pm. Around 11:30am, before he left for work, he would pick up his gym bag from where he had dropped it the night before when he got home, dump out his soggy, stinky towel, socks, shorts, and t-shirt, then stuff new clothes and towel in, and go.

And I was left with this pile. Each day. Yuck.

And, honestly, my attitude was pretty yucky as well.

But God reminded me of how I am seeking to honor and serve my husband.

So often, we wives can come up with our own ideas of what that service should look like. But is it really what would best bless our husbands? Sometimes I am guilty of doing things for my husband that I would like done for me... and then wondering why he isn't more appreciative. God showed me that here was my opportunity. And it wasn't about me being appreciated. It was all about serving Gil with love and selflessness, meeting his needs.

My attitude did a quick turn around.

And, God gifted me with a plan.

First, I gathered up some spare towels and several sets of workout clothes for Gil. I put them into bundles, ready for the week. I had a wire rack with hooks sitting around in the garage that I attached to the laundry room wall. Before bed, I unpack his gym bag, hanging the soggy items on the hooks to dry. Each morning, I pack a fresh, new bundle of gym gear in his bag, ready for him to grab as he leaves for work. As I do laundry, I replenish my basket of workout wear.

Most importantly, I do this in love... without attitude, without feeling put-upon... feeling privileged that I can serve my husband in this small way.

At first, Gil was a little puzzled. He said I didn't have to do that for him. He told me he appreciates it. He certainly doesn't expect it.

I have a basket of love sitting in the laundry room, ready.

And I am reminded of how my Lord takes me and my stinky, soggy mess and He restores me. Now, that is love.

I am linking up with Emily's Tuesdays Unwrapped... check out her blog for more celebrations of ordinary moments.
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