Monday, August 03, 2015

Pumpkin Face Cups

 I found these orange cups at the dollar tree.  Winning.  I just got a new cricut for my summer birthday and there are a bunch of pumpkin face fonts I decided to try out.  This isn't a project that requires the cricut-you can find all sorts of free pumpkin face templates online you can use to cut out some black vinyl.
The end result is a pretty fun (affordable) treat cup.  :O)

Friday, July 31, 2015

Mini Brazil Scrapbook Album

 This was my 5th summer to go on a mission trip to Brazil.  The first few years I added photos to an 8x8 album, last year I made this little album out of a box, and this year I decided to make one of these flip card albums.
I found this premade flip card at Michael's on clearance.  I bought a few of them for an upcoming shower I'm going to help host, and I was going to use one to make the bride an album after the shower (a new 'thing' I've been doing since I feel like so few people print pictures now).  
 I threw this together quickly.  I grabbed a bunch of stickers in the same pastel colors and I cut the pictures down to fit the page.
 I took a small selection of photos from each event.
 I didn't do too much journaling b/c I added a letter at the end I wrote to people who had helped sponsor this mission trip, and in that I explained what we did.
 I didn't add too many doodads so it wouldn't be too thick, but I could resist a few buttons and flowers.
 I made a pock on the very last page and slipped the letter inside.
 I literally used scraps...scrap paper, scrap ribbon etc and it was definitely a cheap way to go.  Not to mentioned-significantly less time was put into the album.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Brazil 2015

 At the end of June I headed down south to Brazil...again.  This was my fifth summer.  Each summer I think it will be my last, but each summer I'm called again.  This year, I went in with the same thought, but every boat trip down the Amazon I fall in love with the people, places, and stories along the jungle and all I can think about is going back.  It's not an easy trip-living in a hammock, no air, lots of heat and moisture-constant sweat, and full days of work.  At the end, I know I've had the opportunity to work with some of the most fabulous people on planet earth, and I've acquired a boat load of new brothers and sisters I'll see on the other side of heaven..if not next year in Brazil...which has happened before.
 This year we expanded the bucket ministry.  Our doctors deal with skin infections caused by the bugs and hostile plant atmosphere, and all sorts of internal problems caused by the river water.  Enough money was raised for 500 filters (50 dollars each) and buckets.  We drew a crowd, taught them how to use the filters.  This year some of our team was able to fly out to the villages we saw last year where our first 100 buckets were passed out, and the locals were proud to show them their bucket filters, and stories of better health that came along with this gift.
We flew into Manaus and headed 24 hours up the river.  We then spent 6 days in 6 villages along one of the tributaries off the Amazon.  
We traveled with a local pastor and the missionaries who spend their time in these villages.  It never ceases to humble me to compare all I was born into versus these people that live with dirt floors, wood walls, and palm leaf ceilings.  Even by America's humblest standards I am abundantly blessed.  Then again, life is simpler along the river-there are fewer conflicts interfering with who God is, and what He offers.  There are no false promises, just genuine faith.  They are thirsty for the gospel.  Yet, there are also universal problems.  We found one lady sitting on a little couch (a rare site) in the family's open kitchen area.  Her family had left for the day to go to the city and she had nothing to eat or drink.  She began crying as soon as we stepped onto her porch out of loneliness being met.  We brought food and water from the boat.  We also passed another house where there was a domestic dispute.  We spent time talking to the husband, and more time nurturing his wife.  She was limping and bruised, but more than that, devastated by her community who all knew that her husband took out his frustration with his fist, but they refused to interfere.  It makes my heart ache still, yet what an honor to be able to tell her she was loved, that we cared, and to step in and be the hug she has needed all these years.  My prayer is that the counseling with stick, and that our compassion will be remembered long after we leave the village.  
 The Amazon is a beautiful place with stunning sunsets, even more beautiful sun rises, daily rainstorms.
 In Manaus, there is a point where the Amazon and River Negro meet, but never quite combine due to their varied densities.
Wild animals are daily sites.  We met monkies, parrots, snakes, and birds of every color.  
...but the Amazon's most beautiful offering are the people.  They welcome you into their homes-each home pulls out their finest chairs, and stops whatever they are doing to entertain their new guest.  It's hard to come back to America with locked doors, and worldly beliefs.  I crave the simpler ways where nobody is a stranger for long.  I've learned a lot about loving others and welcoming newcomers from the people along the Amazon.  We share the bible.  Each member of our team has different ways of worshiping, through different denominations, but we all share the bible and our love of the people of the Amazon.
I don't know if I'll go back next year, but I know I'll be sharing the stories from this year's adventures long into eternity.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Camera Memory Card and The Antique Road Show in Arkansas

     Last weekend I went to the Antique Roadshow in Arkansas.  I took my camera and I took tons of pictures.  I was going to post all about Little Rocks downtown and my experience there at the Antique Roadshow. My Mom and I went to antique stores, flea markets, the Whole Hog BBQ (try the potato salad, and all six BBQ sauces), and a great little New Orleans restaurant called Dizzy's Gypsy Bistro (try the cheese dip and wedding cake), both home runs.
      We went down to the River Market, and to the show.   Then... I came home and realized I left my memory card in my computer AT HOME so I lugged my heavy camera up and down the shores of the Arkansas River with no memory card and I ignored the 'card empty' message that pops up the hundred or so times I took a photo....it would have been a great post.  I'm sure they were the best photos I ever took.  At least, that's what I can say now.
     I did find out, again, I don't know how to shop for antiques and all I've bought are worth what I paid....or much...much less.  I also discovered all my family heirlooms only have sentimental value.  Well, good...I wouldn't have wanted to sell them anyway and now I won't regret the early retirement my imaginary discovery would have brought if I was willing to part with valuable items from my ancestors.
    This is my second time to go to the show.  If you like Antiques, you should definitely get into the pool for tickets.  It's a lottery system that happens sometime in early spring.  The MOST fascinating thing is standing in line (you get a ticket for a certain hour) with all the other people who bring the most interesting stuff.  I particularly like to see people wheel in large chunks of furniture because I think....wow, dedication.  I looked for the smallest items I thought might have value.  They both fit in my purse (each person gets to bring two pieces).
    You wait in line, a preliminary person 'evaluates' what category your things go in (the most popular seemed to be collections and paintings).  You then get a ticket for the lines you will go to, and you wait until they call you forward.  You then get a free appraisal from one of the guys or gals you see on TV (if you watch).  They actually spend a significant amount of time explaining where your object stood in history, how it would have been used/bought/it's significance and value.  I appreciate that my 5 dollar records my grandfather brought back from Japan get as much attention as the next persons never seen before BB King photo.  I didn't find out I was independently wealthy, but I did learn a little more about my ancestors.
   I have no photos, so...you'll just have to take my word for it.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Tea Towel Apron

I go to an annual retreat with a group of gals I've worked with, and the people they know.  We rent a house in Gainesville, eat too many calories, and bring supplies for crafting.  Depending on each gals personality determines what and if any crafting etc done (quilting, scrapbooking, knitting, cross stitch).  This year I brought a bunch of college shirts and random projects that I've wanted to do forever.   I bought a cute little tea towel at an antique store a few years ago...it may not be an antique, but....it wasn't new, so...it'll do.  I wanted to put together an apron....
 I bought some lace and rick rack, and I found some blue fabric at another antique store to use as the tie.
There were a few stains on the apron I could not get out, so I used some red buttons and tried to make them look like cherries to cover the stains.
No reason.  Just because, but aprons never get old.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Crockpot Lasagna

It's July.  I live in Texas.  This means that my soul purpose in life is to keep the house as cool as possible.  I dream of a convection oven, but alas, it's still but a dream.  This means I spend as much time away from the oven as possible.  I really, really wanted lasagna this week, but it conflicted with my life's mission.  I found this recipe on allrecipes and I made a few changes, and I am seriously obsessed.  As in, my mouth is watering while I'm writing this right now and I'm trying to calculate how many miles I'll have to run if I go get another scoop, and the conclusion is...I just don't care.
So, if you want an easy dish, a delicious dish, or to never turn the dial on you oven on again, might I recommend-crockpot lasagna.
Crockpot Lasagna
Ingredients: 1 lb beef (you could also do a mix of Italian sausage and beef), 1 onion (chopped), 2 t garlic, 29 oz tomato sauce (I like to get the kind with onions and other spices), 6 oz tomato paste, 1 t. oregano, 12 oz of oven ready lasagna noodles, 12 oz of ricotta cheese, 1/2 c. Parmesan, 16 oz mozzarella cheese.
Instructions:  
1.  Brown mean, onions, and garlic.  Once it is browned, add the tomato sauce, paste, and oregano.  Cook until heated through.
2.  In a separate bowl, mix ricotta, Parmesan and mozzarella (I reserved a little mozzarella to sprinkle on top).
3.  Spray your crockpot with pam to save dish washing time later.
4.  Layer sauce, noodles (break them up to fit into crockpot-I did two layers of noodles on each layer), and then cheese.  Repeat until you run out of ingredients (I had about 5 layers).  The noodles will cook as the crockpot heats.  I sprinkled a little mozzarella cheese on the top.
5.  Cook for about 4 hours on low (until sides are just starting to brown.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Visiting Israel

      This past June my Mom and I traveled to Israel.  It was on her bucket list.  Up until the last few years, I had not really thought about it much, but having gone-I can truly say it was the trip of a lifetime.  There is no way I could do it justice through writing, or pictures, or words.  The best advice I have is...whatever you dream of doing, move this ahead of that thing on the number one spot.  True, it's probably best enjoyed by Christians or Jewish people who want to go on a pilgrimage, but the mix of cultures, and ancient history is something you can not find in any other place on earth.
     When we decided to go, many people questioned the safety of the decision.  It's my philosophy that I don't take chances with my safety, but I also know I'm under God's protection and He ordained my birth and my death and nothing will take me sooner.  I felt safe in my decision.  The people in Israel are also prepared for danger...more so than most in America.  While I was in Israel, I never felt like my safety was at risk, but I did receive notifications from my national news app about a situation back here in Dallas that involved bombs and an attack on the police force.  It reminded me how fragile life is everywhere we go, even back home.
    We were originally going with the church, but they moved the date b/c of a conflict, so we joined a group called American Israel Travel.  They are geared towards religious groups, though our group was a mix of denominations, so some approaches were what the Catholics would be used to, others the Protestants.  All this to say-read and know your bible before you go-there is one basic truth to Christianity, but other things have many approaches.  What I discovered is how much more I need to be reading, but I feel like now that I've visited the setting of my favorite book, it will pop off the pages even more.
     I won't go day by day or step by step, but these are just a few of my rememberings from this trip!      One, we visited the above city Tel Megiddo.  It had been the home of 26 different groups of people.  I was reminded as we went through how the archeologist discovered each area A)  How new the country of  Israel is...it's only been a state (again) for 50 years + now.  So many of these discoveries are fresh!  Can you imagine what they will discover in another fifty years?  As the archeologist was uncovering this site he used the measurements in the bible for King Solomon's measurements...and they knew where to dig....and found exactly what the bible said the measurements would be.  Wow.  I won't even talk about my math skills, but less my building skills!  It amazes me how so many earthly matters back up biblical statements we believe by faith, but can prove so often as well.  
      We spent 8 days touring all over Israel, visiting ancient sites.  I sat on stones of buildings that have been there for over 2000 years. In America, if it's 100 years old we rope it off and put it in a museum.  In Israel, it's just another stone from another ancient city.  We also set sail across the Sea of Galilee.  Though the towns and buildings are new-I sat there in awe thinking-Jesus sat on these waters and looked at these same mountains.  He gave his disciples the keys to the kingdom.  We visited towns around the shore where He proved his Divinity with miracles and spoke words that would become our bible to the crowds that gathered.
 We spent another day at The Dead Sea.  It would be impossible to describe the weightlessness that comes with this water.  Like an ice cube, it's impossible to stay down...you just sort of pop up.
 We spent three days in the Old City of Jerusalem.  These steps would have been the ones Jesus walked up to leave his sacrifice at the temple.  We explored the different areas of the old city, each unique, yet intermingled with history.
I stood at the Western Wall and watched religious Jews and visitors tuck prayers into the cracks in the wall.  It's the closest they are able to get to the temple mount, which currently belongs to the Muslims.  This is the Muslims 3rd holiest site.  
I've read the bible.   I know what happens.  I felt the pain and the tension standing between those two worlds as well.  I'm praying for the Peace of Israel.  I'm grateful for the time spent in the middle of my bible stories growing up.  I'm thankful for a family that came first, a faith that has never failed me, and the opportunity to experience this beautiful land with my Mom who read me those stories when I was a little girl. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Freezer Biscuits

I teach, which means I get about two months off during the summer.  This is the time I explore recipes.  My dream is to find freezable recipes I can pop out in the winter when I just want to survive most days, and fast food is too often the answer.
I saw this recipe at moneysavingmom for freezer biscuits and I decided to give it a go.  I love breakfast for dinner...or breakfast for breakfast.  These were easy to put together, and I love that I can just pull a couple out of the freezer at a time and I don't have to cook 8 or 10 (whatever comes in the usual canned variety I use).  The original recipe says you should have 2 dozen, but I only got 1 1/2 dozen.
Homemade Freezer Biscuit
Ingredients:  4 c flour, 2 T baking powder, 1 t sal, 1 c shortening (or butter), 1 3/4 c. milk.
Instructions:  Mix the dry ingredients.  Add the shortening or butter and mix until crumbly (I used a pastry cutter to do this).  Add in milk and mix until it forms a ball.
Roll onto floured surface and cut biscuits (I used the edge of a glass)
Place on a cookie sheet for 2 hours and freeze.  Remove and place into freezer bag.
To bake, pull out however many you need, thaw for 30 minutes to an hour.
Bake at 450 for 8-12 minutes.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Planner Band

 I've become obsessed with my new plum paper planner.  I'm only two weeks in and I know I've watched a lot of videos others have done as they plan their week.  I do not have room for all the adorable stickers others use..I tried to go sort of theme-ish each week, but really-I want to use it for my daily to do list.  I spent most of my time just rewriting the list on the next day, but...whatever....every once in awhile something gets done.  I also spent way too much money buying cute stickers on etsy for my planner...only to discover I need more cute stickers....
One thing I did get check off my to do list was to make this little flower book mark for my planner.  A lot of the people I've seen planning have these to hold the place of their week so you can open your planner to the exact right page.
 Instead of spending a lot of money on one little band, I spent a little money and bought my own elastic bands, bows, and flowers for less than a dollar each on etsy.
 I had this for about a month b/c I didn't feel like pulling out my sewing machine.  I put it on my weekly plan so I couldn't put it off any more...
I still was too lazy to pull out my machine, so I pulled out my inner Little House on the Prairie.  I sewed it by hand...novel, I know.  I sewed the elastic together and then sewed two flowers onto the bland to cover the seam.  This month, my book mark matches my planner, but I can dress her up for future holidays now.  This is something I may do for my everyday spirals as well....but first....I've got a few other things to get checked off my to do list.  

Friday, July 17, 2015

Primitive Halloween Sticks

 I spent most of June out of the country.  Getting out of the country required some really long flights.  I don't sleep on planes.  I'm a nervous flyer.  What if the pilot needs my assistance?  Who's going to keep track of the plane on the little screen on international flights?  You.  Are.  Welcome.  So, while I was keeping the plane safe and on track...I brought along some things I could hand stitch...trust me, nobody wants me talking to them for 16 hours...though I would if it was the difference between sleeping or staying away to, you know, keep everyone safe.
I have been obsessed with primitive Halloween lately, so I brought some felt I precut (because the travel scissors you are aloud to take on the plane won't do the trick).  I stitched the buttons and pieces onto the faces and when I got home I added some stuffing and sewed my new plane friends closed.  I poked a stick through each little guy at the bottom and added some ribbon on top.
I think they will be cute in a plant, or just somewhere in the house....I haven't quite decided.  I made five of each, so I think there is a wreath in my future, but four of these are now primitive Halloween wands.  I dabbed some hot glue to hold the stuffed piece on the end of the stick and the ribbon up.  I think the attraction to primitive right now is that it doesn't need to be perfect, in fact, that imperfect stitching is what gives it character!  At least that is the angle I'm going to take.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

El Paso, Texas

 Last December I headed to El Paso to visit my friend, Regan and her daughter, Micah.  They were in Texas for 8 months while her husband trained at the El Paso army base for his new position.  Micah's birthday is December 5th, which fell on a Friday.  I figured this might be the only time we lived close enough for me to be able to fly out for her birthday.  So I did.  Most of the, too short, weekend was spent getting ready for the par-tay, but I had googled searched my heart out before visiting and there were a few things I put on the to do list.  First, the views were gorgeous from various points as we were driving around.  There were many overlooks where you could see the mountains looming in the backdrop.
 We also took a quick trip through one of the nearby passes on our way back to the airport.
 On Saturday, before the birthday fesitivies (complete with princess bounce house) we went downtown to the farmers marker.  There weren't many fruits and veggies, but there WERE tons of local goods-homemade soaps, pottery, vegan breads and desserts, artisan jewelry etc.  It was a really neat walk through the local culture, and the prices were affordable.
 We also drove through some of the colorful streets downtown with a lot of fun buildings.
 Saturday night we headed out to a Christmas parade.  All the floats (and costumes) were covered with lights.  The lesson we learned-we need to head there earlier....an hour before meant expensive (hard to find) parking and little to no views from the back of the pack of all the people who were smarter than us!
 Sunday, before I left, I insisted on seeing some of the missions.  We were able to find two out of three before buying tortillas and sugary desserts at a local market called Vista.
We were there before the missions were open to the public.  We were able to walk around the outside though.
I've lived in Texas my whole life, but hey, even I find three horses tied up outside of an convenience store pretty interesting.  
 
I really was surprised by all there was to do (so much of it we didn't have time for) in El Paso.  The market and the missions exceeded my expectations.  Just another fun stop in Texas.