Friday, January 30, 2015

A Valentine Banner

In my daily blog-reading, KIM'S, ALICE'S, and JENN'S posts inspired me to create a Valentine banner. I decided to use a roll of wide burlap "ribbon" that I had leftover from Autumn decorating.  I also knew that I had some Valentine scrapbook paper on-hand, so the basic idea was to create a banner from supplies that I already had.  I purchased nothing for this project.

I knew that I wanted to use the burlap ribbon for the individual banner-flags.  I started by cutting a small length of the burlap, folding it in half, and notching out the bottom.  Once I was certain that I liked the size, I cut 11 more of the same, making 12 little "banner-flags" in all.

I cut a way-too-long piece of red and white twine, so that I knew I had more than enough.  I stretched it out on my counter, and started folding the banners over it.

I cut 12 hearts out of decorative scrapbook paper, laid them on the banners, and stapled them in place.  I wasn't too worried about the look of the staples.  I knew that when I hung the banner, the staples would be too far away to really be noticed.  Also - the staples are the only way this is held together.  I stapled through the heart and both layers of the folded banner.

Once all of that was done, it looked kind of plain and in need of a bit more dimension.  I went searching for, and found some ribbon to tie in between each banner.

That was all it took, and I was happy with the results.  It's simple, and it cost me nothing.

As you can see, this is no "rocket-science" project.  Maybe it will inspire YOU to create something fabulously simple.

You'll notice that my wreath isn't exactly like any of my inspirations.  Instead, there are elements of each in it, making it completely my own.  My favorite part is that I didn't spend a dime, and I ended up using up some crafty odds and ends.  Win-win!

It's amazing how a little sunshine streaming through the window can inspire you!  It sure inspired me this week!


I'm joining up at Share Your Cup Thursday HERE.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Blessed Beyond Measure ~ Rockin' Babies

Yesterday, I sat in a room with four other ladies, and nine kiddos under the age of two.  [We don't always enjoy those great ratios!]  It was absolute bliss for me.  I was in my happy place.  Now, I know that lovin' on babies is not everyone's "thing" -- though it took me years to catch on to this.  Who doesn't love babies[?] was my thinking.

And then one day, I thanked a church high school department intern for loving on my kids through some hard years, and they said, "OhMyGosh - I SO LOVE working with high school students!!!!"  and I thought, "Wait. Seriously?  They LOVE it?  They're joking, right?"

Here's the thing... they weren't joking.  Just as I'm not joking when I tell you that it totally fills me up to the brim to love on these sweet little ones!  Better than that, I can tell you that the ages of about 6 months to 2 years are MY ZONE!

I have served in various ways through the years -- but when I am in THE ZONE and doing my best work -- I am rockin' the babies [as I like to call it].  I cannot even begin to tell you how freeing it is to know that -- to be able to say, "no" when something is not my strength, and to say "YES" to holding a little one for hours on end --which may or may not include things like lots of crying, and some changing, feeding, or putting to sleep.

And another thing I've learned about baby-lovin'... You're really doing double duty!  Usually, when you are loving on babies, you are allowing their mamas to be doing something that they WANT to do, you know... as in FREE TIME.  Bonus, right?  I have met some of the most delightful mamas just because I have loved their babies!  Big, big bonus for me too!

I'm so thankful for days like yesterday!


Friday, January 23, 2015

BEST Brussel Sprouts (trust me)

Do you like brussel sprouts?  I have only recently learned to love them.  This shouldn't really come as a surprise to me, since I am a broccoli lover from way back, and they are so similar in flavor.

I've tried roasting them on a cookie sheet with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and they are delicious -- but, the other night, I outdid that method.  For some reason, I decided to put them in a foil packet.  This is just a method of steaming [the brussel sprouts] to tender perfection.  There are probably a kazillion recipes out there, but I didn't even look.  I just did my own thing, and I'm sharing what worked for me.

Preheat your oven to 450F.  To prepare the brussel sprouts: rinse them well and remove the outer leaves.  Cut off the stem-end, and cut them in half to [theoretically] make the cooking time shorter.

Place the cut brussel sprouts on an extra-long sheet of foil.  I sprinkled them with a little olive oil, some sea salt, and freshly ground pepper, just like when I roast them.  [You could also add a little lemon juice, or any spices that you enjoy.]

Then, fold the foil in half over the brussel sprouts.  Fold up and crimp the three open sides.  Place directly on the oven rack, and "bake" for about 20-25 minutes at 450F.  Carefully slit the foil with a knife [beware the steam!], and test for done-ness with a sharp knife or a fork.

Not rocket science, just crimp edges tightly.

The result is super-tender, melt-in-your-mouth, flavorful brussel sprouts.  No tough spots or hard edges.  Just pure deliciousness!

I didn't take any pictures when I made them the first time.  After tasting the result, I knew that I wanted to share the idea with you -- and my mouth has been watering just thinking about making them again.  The second time did not disappoint!

Also... I read some interesting information about brussel sprouts HERE.  Imagine that by steaming them, you "up" their cholesterol-lowering power!  Who knew?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Quick Valentine Wreath

You may remember this wreath that I made a few years ago for winter and Christmas.  Since it was so simple, it stayed nice for a long time.  But when I took it down this year, I knew I wouldn't want to use it one more year. It was easy to dismantle without damaging the wreath itself, so I decided to put the grapevine portion to good use for another holiday -- Valentine's Day.

My girl and I hit Hobby Lobby the other day and looked around for supplies to turn our grapevine into something love-y, and came up with these supplies: pink and red bandanas, and felt hearts.

I love using unusual items for the "bow" on a wreath.  I simply rolled the bandanas corner to corner, and then tied them around with wreath in a square knot.

I took the ribbons out of the felt hearts, and used clear fishing line to tie them to the wreath-form.

What I specifically like about this wreath is how it is seen from the street.  It is obvious that it is covered in hearts, and if you're going to go to the trouble, then... well, it's nice that it can be seen for what it is!  

Admittedly, no crafting skills were used in the making (and I use the term loosely) of this Valentine wreath. But also, not much time was used -- and that was exactly what I needed this year.

A friend on FB recently talked about Valentine's Day being her favorite holiday, and reminded her friends that #LoveIsWorthCelebrating.  Since my kids are older, I tend to let these little holidays go, but the reminder was a good one for me.  I don't, however, think you have to celebrate in an "over-the top" way in order to recognize the holiday, and this simple wreath follows that same philosophy.

Do you usually celebrate Valentine's Day, or just let it slip by?
Don't forget: #Love is worth celebrating!

* Linking up with Share Your Cup Thursday

Friday, January 16, 2015

Friday Farrago ~ 1.16.15

Have you ever found yourself at a loss for words? -- specifically BLOGGING words?

I am SO THERE right now.  I am at a blogging low.  I long to post something... anything... to be present here, but people: I got nothin'.

In case you're wondering what I've been up to instead of blogging, I've been:
* drinking hot tea
* wishing the winter away
* rubbing my hands together to keep warm
* circling scarves infinitively around my neck, indoors and out
* trying to keep up with the laundry
* NOT taking pictures
* watching my hubby can applesauce
* wishing for sunshine
* working on Project Life scrapbooks for a friend
* waiting for the sun to come out, so I can take some indoor pictures
* staying home because things have been cancelled
* wishing the winter away again [and again]
* drinking more hot tea
* NOT being creative & wondering where those creative juices have gone this year?
* still drinking out of Christmas mugs
* watching my hubby can MORE applesauce
* finally putting the Christmas mugs & all of the other Christmas stragglers away
* having a friend over for lunch
* baking bread in the bread machine -- though I want to try THIS METHOD!

and last but not least:

* thinking about making a Valentine wreath for my front porch, but haven't gotten to the store for those specific supplies yet

What's new with YOU this Friday?
TGIF ~ and have a great weekend!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Recipe: Teriyaki Pork Roast

A long time ago, I teased you with a peak at a recipe.  This morning, that same recipe is cooking away in my crock pot, and I thought I would finally take the time to share it with you.  It contains a couple secret ingredients.  Don't leave anything out -- and be sure to make the gravy!  It is fantastic -- and oh, so flavorful!

Turn roast fat-side UP for cooking.

Teriyaki Pork Roast

¾ c. apple juice
2 T. sugar
2 T. soy sauce
1 T. vinegar
1 tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. garlic powder
⅛ tsp. black pepper
1 lean boneless rolled loin pork roast (2-3lb.)
3 T. cold water
1½ T. cornstarch

In crockpot, mix juice, sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, garlic powder, and pepper.  Add roast, turning to coat.  Turn fat side up.  Cover & cook on low 7-8 hours or until meat is very tender.

Transfer meat to warm platter.  Cover & keep warm.

Strain cooking liquid & place in saucepan.  Skim off fat.  Over medium heat, bring to a boil.  In a small bowl, mix water & cornstarch until smooth.  Stir into boiling liquid.  Stir, bring to a boil, & boil for 1-2 minutes or until thickened.

TIPS :: Sometimes, I like to shred the meat, and mix with gravy and egg noodles, making a casserole -- but you can also serve the gravy and meat up separately  (sliced or shredded) with noodles, rice, or potatoes.  Delicioso!  ENJOY!

When roast is done, remove layer of fat on top and shred (or slice) meat.

Best gravy ever!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Say It Out Loud!

New Year's Resolutions.  Not.  They have never been my thing.

Words have worked.  JOY.  Trust.  Mostly JOY.

But, I've been noodling over this thought that was planted in my head recently by I-wish-I-remembered-who! Was it a blogger?  Probably.  If it's YOU, claim it in the comments here, will you?

The idea was that when you encounter people (friends, loved ones, strangers) and find yourself thinking something complimentary about them, SPEAK IT ALOUD TO THEM.

While Christmas shopping, I found myself pulling open the door to Panera, close behind another women who had the most beautiful colored coat on.  I don't remember the color now, and the color isn't what's important. It's what I did next that's important.  I touched her shoulder and said, "I love your coat.  The color is gorgeous!"  She smiled and thanked me.  But as she turned away, I saw that her smile stayed.  It cost me nothing.  We both moved through the door together.  No time was lost.  So, why don't I do this all the time?

I know most of the cashiers at my neighborhood grocery store -- even though I tend to go through the self check-out line.  But on this particular day, there was a new cashier, and I went through her line.  And then I saw... her fingernails.  I don't remember the design now, but the design isn't what's important.  It's what I did next that's important.  As she scanned my groceries, I said, "Your nails are beautiful!"  She smiled, and told me a story about them.  It cost me nothing.  I stood still directly in front of her while she did her job.  No time was lost.  Why don't I do this all the time?

"Sir... the black stripe in your scarf
really brings out your beautiful charcoal eyes!"

[The picture may be a bit of a *wink*, but the sentiment of this post is sincere!]

Both of the moments that I mentioned were just a small connection.  It's not likely that I will speak with these women again -- or maybe I will.  But did you notice?  Neither of the "connections" took any additional time. So why don't I do this all the time?

Please know that I am not trying to "toot my own horn."  Rather, I am trying to plant a thought in your head. WHAT IF.  What if when we found ourselves thinking a nice thought about someone, we expressed it?  What do we have to lose?  -- and more importantly, what would the person receiving our comment gain?

How far would this little task go in building people up and encouraging them?

I guess we'll never know unless we try.

My plan for 2015, is to try HARDER.  Will you join me?

Feel free to report back if you have interesting results!

[Linking up to Share Your Cup Thursday.]

Friday, January 2, 2015

2014 in the Rear-View Mirror

I have often scratched my head at these year-end posts, wondering why we choose to revisit blog posts all over again.  With all the tools we have [like Pinterest] to save the information that is important to us, it just seems unneccessary.  However, I read a blog post the other day where the blogger stated that this type of post was mainly for HER purposes -- and that made sense to me.

It IS interesting to keep track [for future blogging purposes] of what was popular -- but it's also interesting to see HOW people came to my blog, and I'd like to thank those bloggers first.

Myquillyn @ Nesting Place
Trish & Bonnie @ Uncommon Designs Online

My sincere thanks to these lovely ladies.  I appreciate your linky parties - or your outright links to my blog, that you include my blog on your "favorites" or "friends" page -- or in your sidebar, the conversations that we share via blog comments and emails, and the wonderful readers that you send my way.

Friends, please click on the blog-names above to check out their awesome blogs.


And now, my TOP TEN POSTS for 2014.  This will be brief, and I'll tell you why...  Positions #10, 9, 8, 7, 6, and #4 are held by posts in the "MY KITCHEN" category.  Heather @BeautyThatMoves held the wonderful "This Week In My Kitchen" blog hops, and they were so much fun!  It was really interesting for me to see other family's kitchens.  It's amazing to realize the things we take for granted that everyone DOES, or everyone EATS!  I've also been intrigued by the different tools and techniques that people use in their kitchens!  If you read my posts there is a link to Heather's blog hops, and you'll be able to see some fun kitchens there.

#5:  The Quiet is Overrated is a fun little post about my daughter, a broken refrigerator, and noise.  I just re-read it, and find it still accurate - LOL.

#3:  Glimpses of Christmas is a look at some of this year's Christmas vignettes around our home.

#2: Ornament w/ Vintage Hymnal Pages - After three years, this crafty Christmas ornament post is still really popular!

AND #1:  Killer Hashbrown Casserole - If you spend any time here at my blog, you know that this recipe has stayed in my side bar as one of my ten most popular posts ever since I posted it after Easter 2013.  It continues to be a family favorite around here, too.

See?  That was relatively painless.  Here's to "good follow-up" on lessons learned here today. *wink

Blogging friends: Have you had a post that has surprised you with it's popularity?  Will you tell me about it??

Thursday, January 1, 2015

A Simple Welcome to 2015

Out with the old... in with the new!

We have a few traditions when it comes to New Year's Eve.  They include:
  • staying in with our kids
  • eating some of our favorite appetizers and snacks
  • watching movies
  • watching the ball drop, and counting down the seconds till the new year with a glass of sparkling non-alcoholic white grape juice in-hand
  • sweeping the front door open to let the old year out, and the new year in
The last is our most recent tradition, and is just a little something I read about.  [I wrote about it HERE.]  At the time (and still) it seemed so hugely symbolic to me... to let go of all that had been in hopes of something even greater to come.  This is not to say that anything in the previous year was particularly bad, it's just that you are freeing yourself from all of it, and moving unencumbered into the new year.

I don't mind telling you that it brings a tear to my eye every year.  On some level, I feel like my family is laughing at me as I sweep the door open, but I think that secretly they all "get" it, and are privately trapped in their own thoughts.  There is usually light chatter about the weather, depending on whether we are met with a bitter gust of wind, or a warm balmy night {One never knows in NEOh.}.  We don't go too deep with the thought process, still I think it's a good [if quirky] exercise.

Whatever your New Year's traditions, I pray that 2015 will be a year of blessings for you and yours.

Happy 2015!

p.s.  HERE'S an interesting list of things NOT to do in the new year!  Have a read...

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