To Alex -

To Alex...who is far away in person, but never far from my heart. I miss you. Enjoy these snippets of everyday family life here in the states.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Tea Time

Sometimes life deals you little blows...sometimes you deal them to yourself. Doesn't matter, both require a pot of tea and some quiet time to think.
Then everything seems to work itself out. Life is so much better with a pot of tea, don't you think?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Decluttering gone awry.

heh heh...I can laugh, you may not. I mean it! It could happen to you too.

So, I got a little carried away in my quest to either use things up or get rid of them. See, I tend to collect free samples. I don't know why I don't just use them right away, but I don't. I was moving things around under the kitchen sink, not that there's much under there, because there isn't, but I ran across a sample packet of dishwasher soap and I thought, hmmm, gotta run the dishwasher so now is as good a time as any to use up this packet. Um hmm, I turned on the dishwasher, went in the other room to work on some project or other, came back in the kitchen a while later and found water....and soap suds....all...over...the floor. This is where you can't laugh. Right, I pulled the empty packet out of the trash and found that is was DISH soap, not dishwasher. Oh, and not just any dish soap. Nooooo, this had to be super concentrated. Crap! I threw towels on the floor, got a bucket and started scooping suds out of the dishwasher. Okay, you can stop your snickering now. The photo below is after I ran the dishwasher for the third time. Let me tell you, there were gobs of suds. Ya think the dishes are clean yet?
I guess there's bound to be a mishap or two along the way. This is the second this year after I accidentally dumped the contents of the compost bucket back into my dinner so I'm hoping I'm done for awhile.

Come on, tell me about some of your messhaps. (Incorrect spelling was intended.) And I promise not to laugh.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Oh, really?

This is another declutter post. You don't get to see everything I declutter because there's just too much going out too quickly and I don't take the time to photograph all of it. However, this bit is about candles. I love candles - really love them. In the past, if I saw a good deal on candles I would buy a whole box because, hey, I love candles. But now, I'm pretty particular about the candles I burn so what was I supposed to do with this whole drawer full I was holding on to? I kept telling myself that I love candles so I would get around to burning them....eventually. Except that this drawer was filled up shortly after moving into my house in 2003 and I haven't burned any of them. I also had 2 full baskets and other miscellaneous candles taking up an entire shelf in the linen closet. That's where I kept the candles I burned the most. So, I emptied out the drawer and the linen closet so I could see eveything I had. I put the candle holders out there too. See?
You know what I found? Boxes and boxes of tapers...but I don't burn tapers. Used to, about 3 houses ago, but I haven't burned one since I moved here. This should be an easy declutter.

There is a candle in there that drips in multi-colors and I bought it for camping because I thought it would be cool to watch how it covers a bottle. The problem is that candle has been in this drawer so I never remembered to take it camping with me. Well, now it's moved to the camping tote. Those boxes of tapers? Yeah, those are double layers, at least, Straight to the Goodwill bin. Sorry, I know I spent good money on them, but I'm never going to burn them. Those pillars in the background? I had a few more, but they never burned well so why am I keeping these? There's also a zip-lock bag sitting there with leftover wax pieces from burned candles, you know, for when I make my own. Hmph! Like that's gonna happen any time soon.

This really was easy. This is what I'm left with.
Yep, once I finished I only had this little basket left of candles and holders. Okay, I also have a jar that holds my tealights, but I burn the heck out of those too. I have one jar candle on my kitchen table, one on my dresser and a pillar on the coffee table. Each of those are burned nearly every day, but otherwise, this little basket is all that's left. I now have an empty drawer, an empty basket and an empty shelf in the linen closet. How cool is that?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Make It Simple

Have you ever been afraid to try something new, worked up your nerve and found that the thing you were afraid of wasn't scary or difficult at all? Happens to me all the time so I suspected it happens to others as well. I hosted a craft class this weekend where everything we did was new for the ladies. Well, except for Julie who has done a bit of embroidery on her knitting, but the rest of the tasks were new to everyone. I heard it, I heard "I'm afraid" a few times, but we forged ahead with simple, easy instructions and the results were fabulous.
It was a simple Valentine's Banner in which I had cut out burlap hearts and letter stencils ahead of time. The ladies then stenciled the letters and embroidered small felt hearts for the ends. Each heart was then strung on twine for hanging. Simple.
My girlfriend trying her hand at embroidery.
While you can see Julie's banner here, this picture is actually an excuse to show off her first finished project for the new year. The Owl sweater. Awesome!
Ah, yes, and here we have my sister being assisted by Tim the cat. Crafting time could never be complete without a little help from him.
This one is mine, but I actually left the design of the embroidered hearts to each person's interpretation. There was such creativity in that room. Julie added little floating hearts, Regina added beads and my sister did this beautiful vine with random leaves containing satin stitches. Did I mention the embroidery was new to them? I saw running stitch, lazy daizy, starburst, satin, backstitch, french knot and stem stitch. Perhaps a couple more, but I was delighted with how everyone took to this.
The finished product. Just a little something to add some Valentine Love to our homes. Pretty cool, huh?

Inspiration is from here. The burlap hearts are 6" while the letters and small felt hearts are 3.5". Oh, and if you plan on cutting burlap with an Olfa cutter, also plan on getting a new blade because it will be shot.

Happy crafting!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Well, that was easy.

Do you follow the Dave Ramsey Envelope System for budgeting and saving money? I do and so do some of my family members. The idea for the fabric envelopes is not original, I found it online, but really, if you're going to save, shouldn't you be saving in an envelope that is stylish and fun to use? That's what I thought. So, here you go J, K, and P. These are for you, made with me, of course. Once the fabric is cut I can put two of these together in an hour, but do you think I remembered to make a few for myself??? Hmph!
Next in queue...what could I possibly be making with this little pile? It's for a sewing class I'm hosting on Saturday. I'll show you the finished product next week along with, hopefully, pics of the class.
What's in your queue? Have you finished projects already this year?

Added: I don't want to seem like I'm copying everything Heather does, even though I think she's awesome, but I did want you to know that I got the idea and the tutorial for the cash budget pouches from here.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Perfectly sunshiney weekend.

We don't usually have much sunshine in Michigan during the winter, but this has been an exceptional year. You will not hear any complaining from me because I thrive on the sunshine. Even better is when I actually get to experience it on the weekend. It sets the tone for my whole day and I feel energized and want to do all sorts of tasks around my house. It started with this view Saturday morning and I grinned. Will you look at that sunshine on the wall? It's gonna be a great day.
Right, I was supposed to be out the door early to run errands, but instead I ended up with a screw driver in my hand, which then caused a few doors knobs to be removed for inspecting.

This task was one of those 'duh' moments. See, I've been frustrated by the fact that my doorknobs stick so badly and I've threatened to replace all of them just to get them to stop sticking. And I would have, except I have this rule for myself and that is to not compromise the original integrity of the house if at all possible, and since I didn't want to spend money on antiques that may or may not work any better, the doors have continued to stick for 8 years. However, the other day it occured to me that the doors just might be sticking because the dear things are over 60 years old and it's doubtful that anyone was nutty enough to take them apart and oil them....until me.
Yep, before I knew it I had cleaned the paint off them (bad previous owner!), gave them a good scrubbing, oiled them good and voila, no more stuck doorknobs. Love it! I open and close the doors now just to see them not stick. I know, you can say it, "who does this wierd stuff?"!
I unpacked the few Valentine decorations I have. I made this heart runner a few years ago and it's always nice to see it again after being packed away all year. Now that was a fun handwork project to make.
Oh, and I sat in my chair and watched the water drip off the icycles, because I could.
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies were baked. Gosh, I love sunny days.
See? Shadows mean sunshine. I did finally get out to run the errands and even those weren't so bad with the sun shining. There were a few more quicks projects crossed off the list, then dinner with good friends to round out my fabulous day.
B and I were planning on a sunrise walk Sunday morning, but it was bitter cold outside, and you know what? After finishing those tasks on Saturday, I felt no guilt about spending the whole day with B alternating between working on a jigsaw puzzle and watching movies while more sunlight streamed through the windows. Made for a great weekend for me. Call me greedy, but may I have another one please?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

All I did...

was walk in the room to put away a paper and the next thing I knew, this was completed. I have no idea how this this must be magic. Funny thing is, I read Heather's post this morning and she had the same thing happen to her. She meant to be doing one thing in 'the room', but the fabric got touched, then matched, then cut and since it was cut, well, one might as well sew it together. Next thing you know you've got something very useful and practical sitting in front of you.

Someone will be happy about this as he has been patiently waiting for me to make it. I made similar embroidered covers here and he asked for one to hold the highlighters at work. I didn't mean for it to take this long, but I suppose I was waiting for inspiration (or magic) to hit. But there you have it. Another item off the ever increasing list of projects I want to do.
Speaking of lists, I'm trying out a new calendar method that I accidently stumbled upon during December. I love lists and I'm a huge fan of the list of three, but December always has a flurry of last minute baking and crafting that should get done, and  I wanted/needed to be organized and know at a glance what I still had to accomplish. I printed a blank calendar page from here, pasted it into a spiral notebook and scheduled tasks or wrote completed tasks in the squares. The opposite page held my list of tasks to be completed. I knew at a glance what I needed to schedule time for, but I could also see my progress and I love knowing how much I've accomplished. It worked so well that I decided to keep going with January. Heck, maybe I'll do it through the whole year. Hey, then I'll have a momento to look back on and see how much I've accomplished throughout the year.

I'm putting everything on the list (and still using a small pad for the list of three), like making up that granola recipe everyone is raving about, making homemade laundry soap for the January One Small Change, making cash budget pouches and scheduling a Valentine Bunting class. I haven't hosted a sewing class in a while and they're always fun. Perhaps I'll even schedule a sledding party. I can do anything as long as I'm prepared and organized. Love it!

So, tell me, how do you keep yourself organized at home?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


I'm a winner....just sayin'. I hope you'll consider joining this fabulous community of change. It's easy, you gets tons of support and you feel pretty darned good about your life. Think about it?

Monday, January 3, 2011

How I spent my weekend.

Peacefully, quietly, serenely.

B and I ditched the holiday parties in lieu of doing what we do best...we headed for the woods. B found a wonderful rustic cabin at the tip of the Lower Peninsula and right on the shore of Lake Michigan. We had the woods to ourselves. The cabin was bare except for the beds, a table & chairs and a wonderful wood stove, which we kept blazing all weekend. Our only light was from candles and the fire in the stove. And then there was the quiet...
The beautiful quiet so we could hear the sound of the rain falling on the roof. We spent the evening tucked inside our warm abode, feet propped in front of the fire, glasses of wine in hand and the occasional sip of Absenthe. A delicious, wonderful evening, just perfect for bidding adieu to the old year and welcoming the new. We loved the quiet.
We woke early, dressed and set out to explore the beach, thinking we would eventually make our way down to the point. Oh, it was beautiful on the shore. The weather hadn't yet turned cold so we took our time gingerly picking our way over the ice and frozen rocks. How was it possible that we were so far North and yet the temperature was close to 50? On January 1? A cold front was on it's way, but for now, it was pleasant and peaceful on the shore and the lake was flat. I collected a few clam shells and a heart shaped rock, but mostly, we took pictures. Pictures to capture our moment and to remind us of the beauty around us.
Slowly, we moved down the beach and as we did, the wind picked up and carried with it a definite chill. I bundled deeper into my coat and gloves. I had left my hat at the cabin, lulled by the unseasonably warm temperatures. Silly me. We turned from the shore and moved closer to the tree line, hoping to block the wind. We walked further, then followed a trail away from the water into the trees, now protected by the deep cedar forest. Do you hear how quiet it is? Yes, we hear the wind, but it is far over our heads. Silence surrounds us except for the sound of our footsteps crunching on the ice and the squeak of the trees rubbing against each other.
We didn't make it to the point. We walked for a while in the trees, but eventually our path opened out into a clearing and the wind buffeted us and bore through all layers of clothing. We could see the front coming across the water bringing snow squalls with it. Time to turn back into the woods and head for the safety and warmth of the cabin. We found Wintergreen and picked a few sprigs for tea. Very tasty.
Later, snugged back in the cabin, we listened as the wind picked up and blew the snowstorm into our little haven of woods. The waves crashing onto the beach broke up the frozen ice we were walking on just a few short hours earlier. Really, it was wonderful. Another quiet evening, another restful night of sleep, and we woke to find this little guy frolicking on the ice in front of the cabin.
He half-heartedly tried to catch a couple of crows that were diving at him, but he really had no chance of catching them. I suspect he was out for a stroll to see if anyone had foolishly left food where he might find it. We did not.

Our morning was spent walking in the woods again, exploring a different direction and then slowly packing to leave this tiny little haven. What a wonderful way to start out the new year. Peaceful, quiet, serene.