Friday, March 25, 2011

Sewing Something New

So tonight I decided to attempt sewing something new: a skirt...with pockets. For some reason things like zippers and pockets sound scary. They're actually quite simple. The pockets were even easier than my first attempt at zippers.

The whole thing took me about 2 hours. I'm pleased with the end result, but feel like it might be a bit too wide. I could always take it in, but that would mean redoing the whole thing basically since it has pockets. I'll wear it this weekend and see if it bothers me or not.

The pattern is great and I love the black in it so it's easy to pair with things I already have.

This one is a bit blurry, but I wanted to show the pockets. I love pockets. Especially with skirts and dresses.

Joann is having their 25% off (entire purchase, including sale items!) Friends and Family Event this weekend. I was already planning on going for a few miscellaneous craft supplies, and now I think I'll need to get some fabrics for more skirts! :)

Monday, March 21, 2011

One Thousand Gifts

I recently started reading Ann Voskamp's "One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are". While I struggle a bit with the writing style, I am loving this book! Usually I'm a fairly speedy reader, but the style Ann uses is a bit different than I am used to. This slows things down a bit as I need to read more carefully. I fully believe God intended this book for careful reading. At least for me.

I find myself constantly agreeing with what she is saying and stopping to ponder how this plays out in my own life.

One of the first times that Ann really grabbed my attention with this book is on page 22:
"I wonder too...if the rent in the canvas of our life backdrop, the losses that puncture our world, our own emptiness, might actually become places to see. To see through to God. That which tears open our souls, those holes that splatter our sight, may actually become the thin, open places to see through the mess of this place to the heart-aching beauty beyond. To Him. To the God whom we endlessly crave. Maybe so. But how? How do we choose to allow the holes to become seeing-through-to-God places? To more-God places? How do I give up resentment for gratitude, gnawing anger for spilling joy? Self-focus for God-communion?"
I feel like God has been dumping a lot of things in my life to process in this regard. I'm still working through it all, but I feel like this book is going to be very beneficial for me. Lately, I've been struggling with contentment where with my current "life" situation. Don't get me wrong - I love my life...the thing is, I find myself constantly looking forward to what's coming next...No matter what the "next" is. I'm surrendering this area of my life and trying to appreciate the here and now and exactly what I'm doing. Instead of looking forward to the weekend, I choose to try to find joy in what happens Monday-Friday. Instead of looking forward to our next trip or vacation, I choose to try to find joy in random visits with friends, date nights, and movies/PJ nights at home.

Ann writes a bit about this on page 31:
"Isn't it here? The wonder? Why do I spend so much of my living hours struggling to see it? Do we truly stumble so blind that we must be affronted with blinding magnificence for our blurry soul-sight to recognize grandeur? The very same surging magnificence that cascades over our every day here. Who has time or eyes to notice? All my eyes can seem to fixate on are the splatters of disappointment across here and me."

I don't want to be blind to the daily blesses that God gives me. I don't want to focus on the disappointment. I choose joy.

"So then as long as thanks is possible...I think this through. As long as thanks is possible, then joy is always possible. Joy is always possible. Whenever, meaning--now; wherever, meaning--here. The holy grail of joy is not in some exotic location or some emotional mountain peak experience. The joy wonder could be here! Here, in the messy, piercing ache of now, joy might be--unbelievably--possibly!" (page 33)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A weekend that's good for my soul

This weekend was just what I needed. After work on Friday, we drove up to New Castle for Pizza Joe's and games with great friends. Immediately upon arrival, I threw on my lounge clothes, chatted with the girls, and knew it'd be a fabulous night. The addition of BBQ chicken pizza from Pizza Joe's (my favorite!) and hilarious games were just a bonus! We, of course, stayed until very late, and went straight to bed when we got home.

Saturday morning started with sleeping in followed by a yummy breakfast. After that, we did some random things around the house. I read for a while, and watch 2 Lifetime movies while doing some crafts. I had a bunch of old file folder that were going to be trashed and thought I could use my 3" scalloped circle punch and make some punches to use later for gift tags, etc.


Turned into this. Notice the stack of punched circles. I don't think I need to buy craft paper for these for quite some time!

I did some grocery shopping during the late afternoon while Peter stayed home and cleaned a bit. We made yummy steak sandwiches for dinner and watched "Cops" followed by "The Secret Lives of Bees". Such a good movie!

This morning we went to church and since Peter wasn't feeling well, came back home afterwards. We didn't really have any plans, but Peter definitely needed to rest up. While he slept some on the couch, I played Hallmark movies and did more crafting!

I made these 9 glass tile pendants for necklaces. 3 are being sold to coworkers tomorrow. I'd love to start an Etsy store or something to sell my crafts...maybe someday!

I also made this flower from scrap fabric in my stash. I made 3 of these last weekend and they are great. They can be used on headbands/clips, pinned to clothes or bags. Versatile and super cute! I just need to buy some more buttons for the centers. I don't like the look of the buttons with holes for the center and of course I have a thousand of those haha.

I picked up this canvas tote bag at Pat Catan's last weekend. I can easily swap out pins or whatever on it and it instantly matches any outfit. Love it!

This kind of weekend may seem lame to others, but it was full of things I love: Peter, friends, food, crafts, and rest. So good for my soul.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Dining Room Decor Changes

Do you ever get bored with your home decor? I do. Probably more often than the average person. When I was a kid, I used to change the furniture in my room around all the time. My sister and I would make it into a huge project and draw layouts of where things are going to go and then would move all of the furniture into the hall and back in again. We would do this over and over - each time being as fun as the last.

While I don't necessarily move furniture around like that anymore, it is not uncommon for me to move decorations around. Our house is set up in a way that furniture really only works certain ways.

Before Christmas I found some great blue table linens. I thought they'd be good in our yellow dining room, but waited until after we took the Christmas decorations down to try them out. I loved the tablecloth, but it was rectangle. So I had to cut it up and sew it into an oval tablecloth. Then that was the only blue in the room so it spiraled into changing up a bunch of things. 2 or 3 weeks ago I finally had all of the changes done and had something on the buffet that I liked. So, of course, I took pictures!

I wish I could somehow get a picture of the whole dining room, but the angles are just too odd.

This is looking in from the living room. I thought the blue was a nice "winter" tablecloth.

The buffet is really what held me up. I couldn't get something going that I liked. In the end, Peter ended up helping me a lot and we came up with this. The "runner" is just three napkins laid out. The vase used to be on the floor beside our big hutch. The love plate was new from Kohl's back in February. The candlesticks were $3 at TJ Maxx. There were 3 in the set, but one was broken so it was on clearance - love that! The little basket has some of our wine corks in it next to our wine rack.

I also rearranged the decorations on our hutches. I decided to hang our Italian plates and put up a new candle holder on the bottom shelf. The top shelf got grouped together in different ways. The middle shelf is all new. The sugar bowl and creamer we found in Italy last July. We actually found just one of the pieces and had them specially make the match to it. Aunt Grace was kind enough to pick it up for us when she went back in September and we picked it up at Christmas at Mima's. We also received the sunflower watercolor picture as a picture from Aunt Grace and Uncle Michael for Christmas. It's from a shop that we visited while in Italy and looks great with our creamer and sugar bowl. The little sachet is filled with lavender, purchased in Assisi. As you can see, we've been getting great Italian pieces to add to our collection. I also added the white pedestal bowl from a flea market with more wine corks. I love how it all turned out.

The small hutch also got a re-group. Many things are the same, but grouped differently instead of in a straight line type thing. If that even makes sense? New additions are the pear trivet which was a Christmas present a few years ago. I've had it stored away because I couldn't find a good display spot for it. I added a trinket from Orvieto, a candle, and a bird figure from my Aunt Pat to the shelf as well. The tope shelf are all items that were already on the hutch, but were previously on different shelves. The candlestick and book that Peter made me for our wedding got moved from the bottom shelf to the top. I thought they went well with our wedding guest book and my dried bridal bouquet. The bottom shelf is the same, but the candle got moved to the middle and I added a plate that I recently found at Marshalls for $3 and bought with my gift card. I love that little plate!

Well that was a long post about my dining room. I like to write these things for my own benefit though so that I remember where I got things and how I've decorated in the past. I know, I'm weird!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Chocolate Mint Brownies

It's no secret that I love Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies. I mean, who doesn't?? Even Peter, who isn't a huge sweets person, likes them. I was in the mood to try something new for dessert on Friday night and found a recipe for brownies that looked good. I altered it a bit and came up with the recipe in this post. They are creamy, chocolate-y, delicious brownies that taste like Thin Mint cookies all at the same time. Needless to say, this recipe is a keeper!

And because I want others to experience the deliciousness, I'm sharing the recipe! It's super easy, but there is some wait time. Make sure to completely cool your brownies or you might have a big melted mess on your hands with the cream layer.

Brownie Layer:
1 (10.25 ounces) pouch Fudge Brownie mix
⅓ cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons ter
1 egg
Cream Filling:
2½ cps powdered sugar
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons milk
2 ounces cream cheese
¼ teaspoon peppermint extract
2 drops green food coloring
Chocolate Layer:
¼ cup milk
6½ tablespoons butter
1⅓ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


1. Mix brownie mix with vegetable oil, water, and egg.
2. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes in a greased 8 inch square pan.
3. Allow brownies to completely cool.
4. Add the cream filling ingredients to a large bowl. Beat until smooth.
5. Spread filling over brownies and refrigerate for about an hour.
6. Heat the chocolate topping ingredients in a medium saucepan over low heat. Stir constantly until completely melted and smooth.
7. Allow to cool to room temperature.
8. Pour topping over filling. Refrigerate uncovered until topping has hardened.