Wednesday, April 21, 2010

 Add a smidge of WOW!

I've been slaving away.
I wish I could say it was on something fun and creative.  But I've been out in the yard removing weeds that are the size of my toddler.  Speaking of "the boy"  I've had to use his nap time, which I consider sacred "me" time, for yard drudgery.  I attempted my outdoor chores with him by my side, however after chasing him as he ran down the street multiple times, a near car verses Momo incident and his decision to jump from the porch ledge in order to grab the window box and proceed to swing from it... I gave up.    Today it's raining.... and I'm thrilled.  Both because I love rain thunder and hail...Mmmmm...and also because it's given me a breather from weed extraction.  
I started to spring clean the girls room instead. As I cleaned I realized I could do a little post about it.  I love their room.  I put it all together a couple years back.  I've got a few inexpensive tricks I learned in the process.  And I'll happily pass them along...
I made the bedspread out of a curtain from target.  I loved damask but couldn't find fabric for it anywhere (mind you this was 3 years ago) target saved the day!  I made a matching window treatment out of a table runner made out of the same print, (it was on sale).  Love that!
Anyway... the wall behind the bed seemed bare.  So with a little black paint it went from plain pink, to...
Swirly Heaven!
I had the paint, so it didn't cost me a thing.
I measured out the window and the wall.
Then I made a mini version of it on PS.
I played with Rhonna Farrers swirl brushes until I got the look I wanted.
Here is what it looked like on paper....
Then onto the wall it went.
(I've done a few murals on walls.  My paint of choice is Liquitex soft body acrylics.
They are vivid colors that go on like butta.  And a little goes a long way).  
I took an old window.
Painted on the words. 
Print off the lettering, lay it under the glass, trace it on with a sharpie and fill it in with paint.  
(I've never paid for vinyl lettering).
I read somewhere that this say's... 
The Polka 
Dot Cafe
Make yourself at home
In french.  I don't speak french (I took a couple years of it in Jr. High, I remember the french name my teacher gave me, Vicky, and... well that's really about it). So if that isn't what it says, at least it looks cute.
I added half circles cut with pinking sheers out of scrapbook paper on the inside edge.  The leftover paper became the little paper chain behind the window.  And did you notice the coffee filter pom poms? They were from Valentines.  I tossed them up there, 'cause hey why not?
I added lamp shades to the chandelier in their room.
I bought cheap lamp shades (you may get lucky and find some at good will) I believe these were from Lowes.  Then I added ribbon to the top, trim around the middle (I get my trims on sale from home fabrics) and the thin black ribbon with a bow to tie it all together.  
Easy. Peasy. Done. Beautiful!

And off I go... to continue the spring cleanse!

Linked up to 

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

 Raising the White Flag

My husband has this habit of telling people what they need.  It's not unusual to hear him start a sentence... 
"You know what you need..."  
I've been hearing this plenty of times lately.  He claims I now "NEED" an ipad.  Hmmmm... he did the same with the iphone.  I objected many times.  However I now own an iphone, and to be completely honest, I couldn't live with out it.  So he was right there.  
I should also mention he's an apple geek.  
When we go to the mall, he puts up with my forever 21 shopping if I don't act too bored at the apple store.  He proudly displayed an apple sticker on my last car.  When I was in labor with Momo he successfully hooked up the laptop up to the TV in the delivery room (so we could watch movies from his computer) after the nurses said no one had ever successfully accomplished said feat. (He felt pretty cool). Then he discussed apple computers for the next half hour with my obgyn.  Really, my doc pulled up a chair they were in deep discussion about their mutual love for all things apple.  Hello... I'm in labor here people... (just kidding, I adore my o.b. really he's the best.  If you need an o.b. I've got one for you)! They were BFF's by the time Momo was born.  
So the other day J is expressing a slew of reasons he feels I "NEED" an ipad.  We were talking about books.  (I've mentioned my love for children's books a couple of times here on the blog).  So I said the ipad may be great for other books, but it would never be able to produce a decent childrens book.  I mean who want's to sit down and read a book to their kids via ipad.  It seems like the magic wouldn't be there.  Then last night J sent me this.

J one Anj zero....I stand corrected.  
That is pretty freaking amazing.  I L*O*V*E everything about it.
I still don't know that I "need" an ipad.  I need a cheese grater because mine broke and it posed a problem with the shepherds pie last night.  I also need a hand held mixer.  It finally died after years of loyal service and I'm sure my neighbor is tired of lending me hers (thanks again Rach).  But J is starting his battle.  It starts subtle, mentioning it, sending me links like this, bringing up how much easier my life would be if only I had one... (his tactics would put Ralphie Parkers quest for an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle to shame... can you shoot your eye out with an ipad)? Until one day he'll just come home with one. 
Apple needs to make a white flag with a silver apple on it for wives like me.  
We'll call it the...
Maybe I'll make them and sell them on etsy;)

Post Script...
Remember I told you I wouldn't have anymore alice in wonderland posts after the birthday party and midnight tea party... Sorry, it seems I spoke to soon.

Monday, April 12, 2010

 Fit for a Queen

Growing up did you have one of these?

The coveted "You are special plate." 
I believe they were all the rage in the 80's.  It's fascinating what  a thrill that silly plate brought to me and my siblings as tikes.  We counted it a big deal. The plate was used by each of us twice a year.  Once on your birthday and also the sunday dinner following.  Which also meant we got to pick where we got to sit at the table, (this was always a fuss because everyone wanted to sit next to my dad).  Thinking about that red plate brings back a flood of mental souvenirs from my childhood.   I wanted to carry on that tradition in my own home.  An updated version of course.  After some contemplation I finally came up with my own spin of the birthday plate.  We had a few unfinished chairs in our basement collecting dust.  With a little leftover paint and scraps of fabric one of those chairs became this…
This is our birthday chair!
The kids use it for every meal on their birthday and for sunday dinner. They also get to use it at their birthday party.  My girls feel like they have a throne.  And not only do they sit on it to eat their cake, but then it's pulled out into the room that they may perch upon it as they open presents.  A little birthday tip that has worked for me To keep kids occupied and from bickering over who gets to give their present next we play pass the present.  Basically everyone forms a circle, present in hand.  Music is played and presents are passed to the right.  When the music stops which ever present the birthday boy/girl is holding they get to open.  (Think hot potato with a twist).  That way all the kids feel involved, and don't ask me why but somehow (so far) it keeps them from crowding around the birthday child.  
I made this chair a year ago, and since have concluded that I should have used a gender neutral color and put "chair" in place of "girl".  Fortunately  I have another chair so I will be making another for Momo.  Which I think is a project I may take on sooner than later.  I've started to realize the poor kid is going to be stuck with first a pink bike then he'll graduate to a purple one. To top it off, he'll  have a pink helmet too.  He'll also be sporting soccer shoes with pink stripes.  (Which makes me think of our neighbors  little boy who wears his sisters old purple snow boots, which I actually think is pretty rad). Because Momo is going to be stuck with loads of pink and purple hand-me-downs (or a few that have a cheap spray paint job).  He at least can have his own birthday chair.

Friday, April 9, 2010

 Spring Up

I love the sound of lawn mowers buzzing in the evening.  Kids giggling on their bikes.  Fresh air running through the open doors and windows.  My hands in the cold earth outside preparing it for life again.  The world is waking up. 
Welcome spring… I've missed you.

I also love…
My grill.
I would grill over baking, sautéing, frying, or any other ing.  It's comfort food for me. My dad has mad barbecue skills.  I have fond memories of him seasoning, basting and hovering over his grill.  It was like watching a student cultivating his craft.   Perhaps that's where my love for grilling comes from.  
That and these added bonuses promote it even further….Tasty food, being outside, less clean up. 
Anj + Grill = Happiness
Yesterday I made one of my favorite grilled dishes.  (I actually salivate just thinking about it).   We ate sitting on the lawn in the back yard, the evening sun warming our backs, a light breeze in the air.  The Girls were kicking the soccer ball (which for some reason required them to be in full soccer uniform).  Momo was in heaven… he's free at last.  Perfection. 

Grilled Bread Salad
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 loaf day-old italian bread, about 1/2 pound, cut crosswise into 3/4-inch slices
2 pounds ripe fresh tomatoes (about 6 medium), cored seeded, and cut into  3/4-inch pieces
1/4 cup minced red onion
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grond black pepper
(FYI, the photo shows a doubled recipe)

1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter and garlic.  Cook until the garlic is just turning light brown, 2 to 3 minutes.  Evenly brush the garlic-butter mixture on both sides of the bread slices.  Grill the bread slices over direct medium heat (350-450 F) with the lid closed as much as possible, until well marked, 1 to 3 minutes, turning once (but check the bread often as it can burn quickly).  Transfer the bread to a cutting board and cut into 3/4 inch cubes.  Place the cubes in a large bowl.  
2. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl.  Mix thoroughly.  Adjust the seasonings if necessary.  Serve at room temperature.
This tasty number is from Weber's Real Grilling

Sunday, April 4, 2010

 Happiness and Hope

Disclaimer; Many years ago, (I was probably 20ish) a kid I worked with made a comment… "Anj, you dress like a different decade every day."  While my clothing style has matured since then, you could still say I'm eclectic.  A little of this and a little of that.  There is so much beauty in the world I soak in what I like and toss the rest.  It turns out (which is no surprise to moi) that my blog seems to be the same.  A little of this and a little of that.  I've spent a lot of time on creative stuff… mainly because it's easy.  I have loads I could share.  And it is a big part of me. However there are many parts of me I'd like to share.  One is my faith.  I don't want to surprise any of my readers that are here for the "crafty stuff."  This blog is about all things that make me happy.  And my faith is indispensable to my happiness.  Thanks!

I recollect sitting on a plane.  It was a small plane transporting an even smaller group of people.  It seemed rickety and unstable.  My nerves were already on end, so this did not help.  Our destination was the Toronto Ontario airport.  I was scared to death.  I was about to begin my 18 month journey as an LDS missionary.  I was apprehensive about what life would be like.  The idea of knocking on doors both scared the tar out of me and made me want to puke.  It seemed 18 months would last an eternity.  That I would never actually return home.  I recall looking out the window, down at the snowy earth below and jotting some thoughts in my journal.  I wrote…"Well- right now I'm looking down on Toronto Canada.  Guess I made it…. So right now how do I feel? Nervous, scared, curious, wondering what on earth I'm doing here.  Am I really a missionary?  I don't know jack. Will I like my trainer? Who is my mission president, what is he like?  It really is weird.  One moment I'm excited- the next I want to go home…  No mountains, flat as can be.  I'm going to miss Mount Olympus.  It always has marked home….I want to be a good missionary. What a truly grand experience.  To grow up- and to serve the Lord as I do it.

Seven years later…

We received some painful news.  I was 5 months pregnant with our third child.  Another daughter.  At an ultrasound we discovered this little girl wasn't like our other two.  We would only have her for a moment after birth and then we would witness her return to heaven.  
My heart broke that day.
In the bible we read a story of Christ and the apostles crossing the Sea of Galilee. 
"And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?" Mark 4:37-38
I felt this way.  Suddenly surrounded by a great storm. Alone, broken, scared.  
I was in a heap, on the floor of my closet.  I was crying.  Bawling actually.  It was the ugly cry… snot and all.  I was heaving, pleading, begging and crying out… "I can't do it, I just can't do it. I'm not strong enough."  I was afraid.  Fear had crowded my soul.  Then a hymn played through my mind over and over, soft, sweet, like a lullaby. Finally the tears subsided and peace filled my heart.  It was quiet.
“And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?" Mark 4:39-40 
Now I could hear what HE was trying to say.  It was at this moment things were clear.  Completely trusting God.   Knowing he loved me.  Knowing there was a reason and a plan.  Knowing I might not be strong enough but HE is.  He would carry me. HE is stronger than the winds, the hail, the storm. Again I said to myself... deep breath - close eyes - move forward.  
 I left my heart on an alter and stepped back.  
This  is when everything changed for me.  I found happiness, understanding, courage and above all hope.  Every kick, every hiccup was special.  I remember telling her I'd miss her as I'd stroke my belly.  I told her about her sisters, her father, me.  I did all I could to bond with her while she slept within me.  It was all the time I had.  And now instead of resenting it, I was grateful for it.  Every moment. This remains the most precious experience I've had in my life.  I count myself blessed for it. I knew my little one wouldn't be healed.   I knew I wouldn't have her for long in this mortal state, But I know I will hold her again in the heavens.  And all because of the death and resurrection of Christ. 

I remember another time, again on a plane.  This time as I glanced out of the window I saw Mount Olympus.  I was home.  The 18 months that once felt they would never end flew by.  I looked back on my mission with fondness.  I gained a perspective of how quickly time goes.  How home is always close.  Sometimes things that seem like they'll never end are the opportunities we need most in life.  Where we learn and grow the most.  

I can't help but wonder, that before I came here to earth, I had the same excitement and fear I felt on the plane to Canada many years ago.  Did I think it would never end?  I now know things end.  The storms will pass.  Time will march on, and one day I will return home.  Perhaps I'll recall those Mountains that marked home for me so many years ago.  I'll look back with affection at the experiences life gave me.  I'll have my Evie.  Her bones no longer bent and small.  Her heart and mind whole.  Then I again will tell her, tell her of her siblings, her father, of me and most of all the healing power of the Savior.
"It is fitting that during the week from Palm Sunday to Easter morning we turn our thoughts to Jesus Christ, the source of light, life, and love. The multitudes in Jerusalem may have seen Him as a great king who would give them freedom from political oppression. But in reality He gave much more than that. He gave us His gospel, a pearl beyond price, the grand key of knowledge that, once understood and applied, unlocks a life of happiness, peace, and fulfillment.
The gospel is the good news of Christ. It is the revelation that the Son of God came to earth, lived a perfect life, atoned for our sins, and conquered death. It is the path of salvation, the way of hope and joy, and the assurance that God has a plan of redemption and happiness for His children.
The gospel is the way of discipleship. As we walk in that way, we can experience confidence and joy—even during times of peril, sorrow, and uncertainty."
Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Happy Easter

Saturday, April 3, 2010

 Last Minute Easter Inspiration

I was going to post this thursday... but life had it's own ideas.  What I've got planned is fairly simple and maybe someone could get some inspiration from it.  For me I can take what someone else has done and alter it to suit me.  Build on or take away from what someone else creates.   So maybe this will give someone some last minute Easter inspiration.
Easter is special to me.  
I've got easter bunny issues (seriously, who invented the easter bunny).  We do baskets and everything, but I don't want my kids to loose sight of what we are really celebrating.  I was talking to my gorgeous red haired cousin yesterday and she feels the same way.  Her statement was that Easter "is the last real christian holiday."
To emphasize this here are my plans for the day...
Morning... of course we'll do easter baskets.  No big gifts just a few little things and candy.  This year for baskets I'm doing something different.  I like to use holidays as an excuse to accomplish or give something I already wanted to.  So instead of easter baskets I found these...
They are bike baskets (from amazon).  I'm planing on making liners out of fabric for them.  Time is tight  (easter is tomorrow... do you think I can do it)?  If I run out of time I'll embellish them with ribbons and trims.
Easter time is family time.  We are having an extended family dinner in the evening so for just my little family I'm planning a breakfast.
(I set up my table early so you could see my plans)...
I use wrapping paper as chargers or placemats.  It's cheap and adds color and pattern.  I take whatever left over fabric I have hanging around and make napkins.  I just cut a square out of fabric and hem.  You could add ric rac or other embellishments if you wanted.  I'm always keeping my eyes open for cute plastic plates to add on top of my white plates.  These are from walmart ($2.00 each).  For valentines I used heart shaped plates (also walmart, but only $1.00 each).  Target always has a darling selection too.   They usually run about .50 to 1.00 more.
Martha Stewart has loads of Easter dessert ideas.  They are so cute (seriously those spring chick cakes are to dye for).  But I don't need dessert... we are doing breakfast.  After viewing these Flowerpot Cakes  a light bulb went on.  What if I just put a chocolate muffin inside the pot.  Costco chocolate muffins. (These are actually from Winco).  Then I made a flower lollie for each one.
You could totally do this for a birthday, shower or other spring party.  I'm thinking you could use the Costco cupcakes instead of muffins.  And it is soooo much easier than cooking cake in the pots. (Oh Martha Martha Martha. While I love her ideas I don't have a team at my disposal to do whatever I need whenever I need it, my time is limited, so I take her ideas and alter them to suit me).
Tomorrows breakfast menu...
German pancake
Fruit Parfiat
Chocolate Muffins ;)
and if time allows I may throw some hash browns in too.
I need to mention how much my daughters LOVE helping me set up the holiday table.  They get giddy as we decide which fabric to use.  And even more excited as they see it coming together. I have a cheering section.  "Oh mom... that is soooo cute." It really is precious time with them.  I hope by starting this now that years in the future we will gather together, with grand daughters in tow, and set up thanksgiving, christmas or easter together.
After breakfast we will spend our day soaking in the good word listening to general conference.  In between sessions we will drive past the Temple.  I wanted to get all gussied up in our easter duds and take pictures at the temple.  But right now I hear the weather isn't going to be friendly. (I have this vision of taking a little family pic infront of the temple every easter.  Hmmm...). After this we'll take a little trip to the cemetery to visit Evie's grave.  There is no better time to explain the gift Christ gave us than on easter day.  Having our little family gathered together, standing above where her little body rests, teaching of the resurrection and concluding in a family prayer.  Precious moments like this far outweigh the easter bunny.