I ran out of apples in mid-February. I cried. They had tasted like of autumn all winter. Yesterday I picked my first bushel of apples for fall. With some help, they’ll all be eaten by the end of the month. I’ll go again, probably twice, to pick more. For the last trip, I will carefully wrap each apple in brown paper and store it in the deepest, darkest, coolest, corner of my basement. I hope they make it till March this coming year because I take the saying seriously, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” I chop up an apple in my porridge every day.
These particular apples are part of the snacks I’m putting out for all the company arriving next week for my youngest daughter’s wedding. After I washed and dried them, I needed something to hold them. My large bowls will all be quite busy with cooking for the wedding. I considered making a brown paper basket with a design from Pinterest, but my time is precious right now. I remembered my old bushel basket which had seen better days after being forgotten in the cellar tool room–or had it?
A nearby shelf held a can of green spray paint from a garage sale. The lightbulb clicked on.
As far as I can tell, every state has nature centers. Not all are created equal, but all of them offer great information and activities.
We visited the Howell Nature Center in Michigan which has to rank as one of the best. They asked for a minimal donation. Right now they face a funding crisis at their rehabilitation clinic for wildlife. Big Bro, Little Sis and I were glad to help them out while enjoying a day at their facility.
Since pictures are worth a thousand words, here’s a book to describe our jam-packed, fun time!
If you aren’t sure where to start, check out the list of nature centers Wikipedia offers. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_nature_centers_in_the_United_States.
A shower isn’t complete without food! I needed to plan a late lunch. As ideas swirled around my head, the nautical theme kept pushing me toward tuna fish. Spreading it over croissants gave it more appeal. With that as a jumping off spot, I planned two other types of sandwiches. The ham and turkey roll ups came from Kroger. The third was a hot open-face artichoke sandwich. Although all of them received compliments, the artichoke cream cheese sandwiches stole the show.
A dear friend brought tomato slices fresh from her garden.That can’t be beat! I also picked up three regular size bags of chips: cheddar cheese, vinegar and rippled. Along with the fruit salad and veggie trays, they completed the meal. The veggie trays I shaped into anchor designs using cucumbers as the base.
I used a watermelon to hold the fruit salad, scraping out the middle and carving a double anchor as a handle over the top.
I found a super-simple, packed-with-flavor, pink punch. It called for strawberry Kool Aid and strawberry soda. The light pink color matched Jenna’s wedding colors.
Ashley mixed the cake from scratch. She baked it up as cupcakes and frosted them to match Jenna’s wedding dress. It tasted as good as it looked.
My mom made a gluten free chocolate cake for the wheat intolerant guests. Many people with no gluten problems enjoyed it because it too tasted fantastic.
Everyone went home with full tummies. Jenna went home with a full carload of gifts including many, many pillows–because of a glitch in her registry. Fortunately she likes pillows!
Tell me the story of Jesus, Write on my heart every word; Tell me the story most precious, Sweetest that ever was heard.
My godly mother took me to Sunday School before I could walk. There I learned the stories of the Bible that still fascinate me. As I learned to talk, I also learned who God is. And when He called me to become His child, I walked into His arms because I knew He loved me. Sunday School holds a very dear sweet spot in my heart.
My favorite Sunday School teacher, Patricia Brown, inspired me to seek God with all my heart and soul and mind and might. She taught the teen class in my home church–not an easy age to teach. I can’t thank her enough for her influence.
I’ve taught every age level of Sunday School class except adults, unless you count the jail ministry to women on Sunday afternoons. I enjoy teaching wherever God puts me.
The blessings of learning and teaching
The amazing part of Sunday School is how God uses it in my heart. I have to know what I’m teaching before I can teach it. That’s a huge blessing. And God gives it to me every week!
I have incredible students who stretch me with their questions. For the past several years I have taught 3rd through 5th grade. Last week Kole asked, “Where is God? Is He in another dimension?” And Javier asked, “How did God create the world? How could anyone do that?”
What I’m trying to say is: Go to a Bible-teaching Sunday School. Take your children to Sunday School. Let God stir your hearts.
The girl’s room they affectionately call their “new BLLUUE room.” When we’re out visiting family Tiger talks about going back to her “new BLLUUUE room.” I love the color. She loves the color. And, now that we finally have the furniture arrangement figured out, it’s time for some finishing touches. This week I created one of those touches.
A couple weeks ago I haggled at a garage sale where they were selling a Christmas Tree for $15.
“Would you throw in the mirror over there too?” I asked, fully expecting a counter offer.
“Sure!” And so, a beautiful gold framed mirror made it’s way into our car along with a Christmas tree. I knew it would be perfect for the girl’s room. I added it next to the closet, and placed their little pink crown chair in front of it. Tiger has already taken to sitting in front of it, and trying out the various hair ties I recently organized.
But, above the mirror seemed too bare. Then I saw a friend’s project on Facebook. She made beautiful silhouettes of her children and framed them for her wall. That would be perfect! I really wanted a gold color that would match the girls’ dresser set, and the gold mirror. But, I checked 4 different stores for gold wrapping paper for the back with no luck. Finally, I chanced to see some gold crepe paper. It would have to do.
Here’s how I created it.
Take picture of the girls
Use daddy’s tablet to backlight a piece of card stock paper, and outline the girls’ silhouettes in light pencil from the picture that I took.
Cut out silhouette using Exacto knife and cutting board.
Cut our square of crepe paper using picture frame glass to guide size.
Replace picture frame glass
Place cardstock silhouette in frame, then place crepe paper directly on top of it being sure to have the colored side out.
As soon as the shower invitations left through the back door, decorations took over the kitchen table, passthrough room and parts of the living room. Although I wanted to save money, making them myself let my heart overflow as the wedding draws closer day by day.
I started with confetti. While searching for general ideas, I saw an anchor paper punch and the thought clicked that I could match the paisley (a traditional family pattern) on the anchor of the invitation to confetti around the table centerpieces. I used a half-off coupon to buy the punch and then ran off pages of pink and blue paisley background to punch. I also bought a roll of shiny gold wrapping paper and punched some from it. I’ll use the rest of the roll to wrap gifts.
I asked Jenna for photos of her fiance, and herself. What would I do without selfies? She sent me a good amount. I had to ask for a few more and since they just got a puppy, the next batch included him. Since I needed even more, I loaded the photos onto my phone which has PhotoStudio. There I was able to do some editing. I turned some shots sepia, others I added bokeh, light flashes and streaks or posterized, and a few I was able to transfer to a pencil drawn effect. I used these photos in the center of wreaths I hung from the ceiling to two feet above the middle of each table and also in mason jars below the wreaths.
I added a few shells inside and outside the jars with the anchor confetti. Alternating pink and blue table cloths added color. After a bit of searching, I found one gold table cloth for the head table which covered all her wedding colors.
The wreath idea came from Pinterest. Fold a coffee filter in half three times, bend the pointed end and hot glue it to a cut-out cardboard circle until the entire circle is covered. I started by dying some of the filters pink. I was surprised that it looked much darker once I assembled it. The rest I left white.
I bought most of the filters on sale. Each wreath cost under a dollar. For a finishing touch, I used a paint brush to apply gold glitter glue. Once it dried, I hot-glued the wreaths back to back, and inserted photos in the middle opening.
My sister had found blue burlap ribbon stamped with anchors at Walmart in South Carolina. She brought them up at Christmas when Jenna still planned an anchor-themed wedding. I was happy to use them as accents on the serving tables, in the windows, and my daughter-in-law Carol tied almost a dozen up in bows and hung them around the hall on the walls.
I had found a few rolls of wide blue striped scrubbie mesh on sale. Carol helped me put them in the windows with wooden anchors I painted gold, blue and pink.
At the head table, I didn’t hang a wreath, but added some round gold candles. Then I didn’t think to light them!
Overall, the decorations did not overwhelm the hall, but added a nice balance of color and feeling. Jenna surprised me by asking to reuse them for the rehearsal dinner. Anchors Aweigh!
Our last house had just two bedrooms upstairs. That was perfect for a family with just a little girl, until the holidays when family came to visit. I really wanted a convenient place, with a bit of privacy, where visitors could stay. When I happened to see a picture of a murphy bed the lightbulb went on in my brain. Perfect! Space saving, but perfect for space sharing.
Then I saw the prices. A “cheap” version” ran over $1000. That was way out of our price range! Surely there was some way to DIY that would be less expensive. There was! Rockler offered a great Murphy Bed kit for a little over $300. That was at least a $700 savings. The kit came with the fold out legs, the spring loaded joints to pull the bed up into the wall, and the hardware for the bed. We still had to purchase all the wood we would need, and the stain and finish for the bed.
My husband was up for it! We began gathering supplies. Now, for this particular project, my husband is the star. He is the one that cut the pieces on the table saw. He is the one who measured twice and cut once. He’s the one that screwed the pieces together. And, he even stained and finished the bed. I was responsible for gathering materials, picking out stain, and finding a mattress that would fit the bed.
We did collect a few tips for the avid DIY-er who chooses to attempt a murphy bed.
Don’t run a table saw in the dining room. (I was cleaning out sawdust for months afterwards)
Home depot has some nice wood veneer that you can put on the edges of the plywood to give it a better finish.
You will need a large vehicle to cart home the wood supplies. These did not fit in our little Mazda and we had to borrow a different vehicle to get the stuff home.
All the trouble will totally be worth it when you see that finished bed. Don’t get discouraged along the way!
When we made our cross country move we had to leave the murphy bed behind. It had been built for the space, and was too bulky to bring up the stairs. But, my husband has promised to make me another one for our new guest room. I’m hoping for a murphy craft desk too.
Is there any way for a mom to prepare for her baby girl to fly off and build her own nest? No, I don’t really think so. Instead I just have to jump in and do all I can to make the transition work which her wonderful young man is helping to happen as we welcome him into our family. He certainly knows how to multiply the love and laughter.
After the fun of the engagement, a shower came next. I was happy to be able to help with it and enjoy my sweet girl’s happiness.
Two parts of her shower I truly love, love, loved! First were the favors. Jenna had originally planned an anchor-themed wedding but changed her mind though we had already purchased several anchor items. Sliding them into a bridal shower worked perfectly. As soon as my daughter-in-law’s baby shower was done, I started searching for favors for Jenna’s shower. I found a really cute anchor charm with the word “love” stamped on it that would work as a pendant. The same sight sold miniature organza gift bags in pink (one of the wedding colors) and lace-type cords, all in bulk. The guests could choose a color. Ordering them from the same sight saved shipping. Of all the items, I worried I wouldn’t like the cords, but I was pleasantly surprised when they arrived. I hadn’t realized they had several strands. The colors were very pretty, too.
I could tell that I would need a connector between the lace cord and the anchor pendant. My parents often make jewelry and own several tools for the craft. They knew immediately what I needed. They also volunteered to attach the jump rings to the anchors and the cord. Making each one was a gift of love though they say it was no trouble. It didn’t take them long to do 40 of them.
I knew they were a hit when I saw them being worn the next day to church!
My absolute favorite part of the shower was the devotional brought by a dear treasured friend, Jenna’s former Sunday School teacher. She reminisced about Jenna’s girlhood and then gave verse after verse from the Bible to encourage Jenna in her future marriage. I had to blink back the tears several times. Although she had been hesitant to speak, I am very glad she agreed to do it. We had both prayed about it individually and God gave her the message to say. It was a joy to hear it and a great blessing.
Sun, sand, and sparkling water. What could be a better way to spend a birthday? This year our family took a long weekend to Charleston for my birthday. We spent most of the time at Isle of Palms, and Sullivan’s Island- two of our favorite beaches. And, my daughter discovered a new favorite activity- building sand castles!
Tiger and Wren had never been to the ocean before. Wren loved the water right away. She really took off with independent walking… er splashing! Tiger… not so much.
“The waves are so loud mommy!” She preferred splashing in the little tide pools the water had left behind.
Thankfully, she did love the sand. She tried making sand angels. She dug in the sand with her shovel. She enjoyed being buried in the sand (and then burying daddy!) and she loved it when we built sand castles together. She ferried buckets of water over to try to fill the moat. She helped us scrape the sand out of the moat to fill her bucket for sand towers. She searched for seashells to decorate with. What fun!
Our second day at the beach I took the time to take pictures of other people’s sand castle creations too. What variety! There are so many different ways to express yourself in sand castles. Here’s a few of our favorites:
What you need to build a sand castle:
Really, that’s all you need. You don’t have to have anything fancy as long as you’re fine with getting a bit sandy.
If the sand is too dry it wont stick together. Building a castle a bit closer to the water works best. But, don’t build too close, or those waves will knock down your work!
Super helpful for filling moats, and making very straight walls- a bucket is so versatile.
Shovels help you dig faster and deeper as your create the foundation for your castle, or dig up fresh sand to fill the bucket for castle towers.
Seashells and driftwood are great for accessorizing your creation. Sometimes we’ve used a bit of seaweed or a leaf wrapped around a stick for a turret flag.
June and July disappeared this year. Suddenly the day for the Sunday School picnic was–eek! TOMORROW! With temperatures hovering in the upper 90s, I didn’t want to turn on my oven to bake a dessert. I started scanning Pinterest for no bake recipes. I had bought a box of cream cheese packages for the upcoming shower sandwiches, and I had too much. The excess would make lovely cheese cake bars. I have a fantastic cheese cake recipe I love that goes together in the blender, but my kitchen already sizzled in the heat.
As I looked through no bake recipes I found they all had one thing in common–ingredients that would force me to make a second trip to the grocery store. I should have checked out recipes earlier.
Then I remembered a box mix a friend had given me which I had put in my pantry. It still required baking, though it would take less time. And a bank of storm clouds started to roll in cooling off the atmosphere by ten degrees. As the rain poured, I assembled the ingredients. The mix looked pretty good, but I wanted to tweak it since I had a craving for coffee. I added a white mocha drink mix to the batter before spreading it over the graham crust. To top it off, I sprinkled espresso chips over it when I pulled it hot out of the oven. They softened just enough to melt in your mouth.
Not every creative recipe works out. Sometimes plan B means stopping at the grocery store en route to the get-together for a tray of cookies and later hubby eats plan A saying, “No, really, I love it, honey. It’s delicious.”