Thursday, September 6, 2012

Twitchy. Time to write. Testimony!

My fingers have been twitchy.  Like they wanted to either write or play the piano.  I think I type better than I play the piano, though.  I've given most of my computer time to Chapel these few months.  I've been watching YouTube videos of preschool songs, so I can remind myself of those distant days.  I'm watching DVDs that have the lessons. I'm carefully crafting "help-me-please" e-mails that, amazingly, are reaping results. It was something that I didn't want to do; take on the challenge of too many kids and not enough helpers.  But after several hours every week for the last 4 months (wow)... I have 40 people who have indicated they're willing to help out every once in a while, and several who have done so faithfully.  There are 50 kids who come from time to time... thankfully not all at the same time!  I started breaking the class up into segments for each person to take (instead of one teacher for the whole class with helpers to usher the kids), I have an MC, Song Leader, Craft Leader, Activity Leader, and assistants.  I need about 8 people each week to keep the kids on track.  We normally have 30 kids per week.  3- to 5-year-olds.  Many of them on the young side of 3.  Many who need laps on which to sit. Or chasing down from the tables/sinks/tote boxes.  And they love to tell stories. To run. To chase. To throw. To sing. To craft. To see the Bible Adventure. To be loved.  And I've loved submitting my will to God and learning that it's WORTH the effort. And I don't have to do it all.  There are many, many people who can share the load and help do more than "manage" the group.  We minister. Miraculously. And I am so grateful for my volunteers.  But I'm more grateful to God for not letting me get away with saying "NO." I would have felt downright miserable to know that I was not submitting to His call.  He was asking me for SO long to take it on.  And once I did take it on, I was overwhelmed with ideas, energy, and passion for the task.  It is a sacrifice.  A responsibility outside of my own family and home.  There's never enough time to clean my home spotlessly, cook perfect meals, fold the laundry, always speak kindly to my children, and do everything else the way I wish I could get it done.  But the things that matter, the eternal things, ARE getting done. Kids are meeting Jesus.  Workers are learning to give of their time and their talent. God is multiplying our efforts. And it's worth every moment. If you're feeling led of God (not compelled by guilt--an entirely different feeling) to do something you really don't feel like you can do, or even want to do... Pray.  Trust Him to provide for you. More than you can ask or think.  I close with this verse from Ephesians 3:20-21:
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.

Monday, May 14, 2012

I can't wait until summer because of many reasons... but close to the top of my list is this reason:  I can't wait to see how my garden grows in.

Any gardener might have gotten the container built in the mild winter we had this year.  But I am not any gardener.  I am the inspiration-hits-last-minute-gardener. So as the azaleas were blooming this spring, I realized I couldn't live another summer with potholes in front of our house from the 20+ shrubs we removed last summer. And I also decided that if I was going to commit to perennials this year, I'd have to put them in a proper container.  Which meant replacing the old retaining wall.  Which is more of a landscaping thing than a gardening thing.

As little gardening as I've done, I've done even less landscaping. But I have this thing called Google on my computer.  And the library still has books. And some of them are on landscaping.  And I also have wonderful neighbors that take pity on a well-intentioned, ill-equipped girl like me in overalls.  They've got tools, skills, and advice. And they share all three freely.  So as soon as my Easter visitors went back home, and as it was creeping up into the 80's this April, I was beginning a project I could have worked on bit-by-bit this winter.

I also have a friends who like to dig in the dirt. One sank a bunch of time and green (both the currency and the plant varieties) into the yard at the home they rented.  But when the landlord did them wrong as they were moving out, he took up all the perennials he put in and shared some extras (over 50 irises and several hostas) with me.  My next-door neighbor needed her hostas divided, and I offered to do it for her.  She sent me home with a bunch. Kim was really really sick of the overgrown fountain grass in her front yard.  Allison wanted something a little nicer than the construction-grade landscaping that came with her brand new house, so she offered up 6 indian hawthorn bushes. Sonja didn't realize the butterfly bushes she bought would get so big. She didn't have room for all of them. I got hundreds of dollars worth of plants for FREE (all I had to do was drive to visit my friends, and I'd do that anyway here and again)! I'm estimating my costs are as follows:

Lumber and rebar: $109
Dirt, Black Kow, and flexible edging: $40
Purchased Plants: $103
2 Delphinium, 1 Dwarf Japanese Maple, 3 lavender, 5 daylily, leather leaf fern, scabiosa (pincushion) petunias (pink and white),  begonias (pink with green leaves, pink with red leaves), coral geranium, 2 basil, two rosemary, 1 thyme, 2 shade plants I can't remember their name, 1 more annual... I'm sure there are more, but I can't remember them right now...
$252 dollars

Given to me plants:
Butterfly bush
Ornamental grass (11 of them!)
Indian Hawthorn bushes (6)
Hosta--three varieties (15)
Bearded Iris, white, yellow, blue, purple (50)
Clover planters (3)
Asiatic Lily (3)

So, without further ado, below are way too many pics of the highlights:

Potholes on the left, old container along the walkway.

The wood was rotting, and I had removed some from the left side.

New retaining wall! And you can see some indian hawthorn on the right!

Once the new wall was in, I thought the walkway looked awfully old with the
original edging.  So I got two more lengths of lumber and installed them.
Look at that nice dark soil! That's miracle gro and Black Kow mixed...

The boys didn't enjoy this part nearly as much as I did!

Where to plant...?

Down in the dirt!

Now all they have to do is grow! 
Shady side

Sure hope these get enough sun!
Coral Geranium


Pin Cushion (Scabiosa)

See my little tree? That was my Mother's Day gift!  Look at the hawthorn! And hostas!

A gift from Kim!

 Cutleaf dwarf Japanese maple

Variegated shade plant. Perennial!  
I'm realizing now that I need to take a couple more photos to show the whole garden, but not tonight! It's already tomorrow, and I need some sleep! So, sweet dreams, friends! And happy almost summer!!!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Spring decor on the "cheep!"

When hubby went away for 3 weeks, I posted once, then got busy with the boys.  I've also taken to reading books at night instead of trying to add to the chaos of the internet.  But, I couldn't stay away.  Troy's been home for a few weeks, and I made some fun stuff over the weekend, and wanted to put pics up somewhere...

I'm pretty excited about trying to come up with ways to use up my scrap fabric.  Though the fabrics I've used may not be the most trendy, these SPRING/EASTER projects have been really cheap... er, "cheep!" Also, my banner didn't use fabric at all and required no sewing.  I used up supplies that I've been holding onto for a while, though.  It feels good to use stuff that I've saved, "just in case..." finally!

First, my scrap felt banner.  I used crazy purple foam from little brother's halloween costume from 2 years ago, and pink and white felt from a Valentine craft earlier the same year. Then, glue-dotted scrapbook paper from Walmart onto it, and glue-dotted the polkadot ribbon to the flags.  I printed out the letters HE LIVES, and colored them with a colored pencil (because I'm too cheap  frugal to use my expensive printer ink) And the flower... well, that is a combination of two tutorials I found late last night... this one is for the felt flower, and this one is for the rosette in the middle. I'm not stellar with the glue gun, and it was LATE, but you'll see a close up of that below.

He Lives!

I was really hoping to add more items to my shelf before posting these pics, but here's where we're at right now.  Come Easter, it will be full of fun reminders of what the EASTER is all about: an empty grave, and a risen Savior! Oh, and my little gnome (I think his name will be Happy) will probably be put in the garden soon.  

Paid about 15 cents for a piece of yellow ecofelt at Hobby Lobby.
Already had the purple from another project.
Just couldn't bring myself to pay $5 for one already made.

Second, I've seen a few really cool displays online and in boutiques of little decorations under glass. The correct term is "cloche." And I love them.  I purchased a cheese dome from Value Village in Anchorage about 2 years ago hoping to eventually make one of my own.  And I finally got around to it! Here and here are a couple of  examples. I didn't have just the right color spray paint, nor did I desire to make a late-night Walmart run... so I sewed a mini fitted table cloth for the old wooden cheese plate.

Cheese Dome from my cupboard
Candle pillar from the guest room
Nest and eggs $2.50 from Hobby Lobby
Mini table cloth from the scrap stash
Gas to get to Hobby Lobby--$10. Really.

I might just be ready to host Easter dinner here at home for the first time in quite a while!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Two Bathrooms Down

And ONE to go!  I have to put some finishing touches on this one still, but those will happen eventually. Here are the highlights...
Gave up trying to scrape wallpaper.  Masked the cabinetry.

Primed.  Could have left it like this.

Puck is laying next to what will become the wall texture (crumpled up tissue paper).

un-crumpled tissue paper applied to a wet coat of paint.

Same swatch of wall after applying second coat of paint on top of tissue.

Just a couple of steps back.

The next day. All the masking down.. post touch-ups.

A close up of my sweet old wallpaper.

Making a pattern for my window shade. Got the idea here. Found the stencil here.
Broke some of the rules, but got the same result.
And for the record,
I didn't really WANT to paint my fabric.  I just couldn't find any exactly like this,
so had to resort to getting WAY more crafty than I wanted to.

Used stencil plastic as a template for tracing even lines.

I was going to use blue paint, but Biggest wants yellow.  I think I can live with that.
It is his bathroom.  But if I change my mind, I'm not likely to do this project again.
Not too shabby!
So the room isn't done, but it has come a LONG way. I'll add more pics once we make some more progress!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Love from Afar

I really wanted to give a hug to someone who needed it this weekend.  But I'm too far away.  So I'm mailing this one.  Put a heart in each hand, wrap the strap around your back like a belt, and squeeze as tightly as you want.  Make sure you wrap it around your BACK. Not your neck. It's not good to try to give yourself a bear hug with a strap around your neck. Wait for the real thing from me when next we meet, okay?

Psalm 73:26 is painted on the strap.  Because nothing I could say would ever be as perfect as God's word...

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Got the idea from this blog! So, thanks, Jodie! You are an inspiration! It's pinned on my pinterest board, as well. ;)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Let's NOT go grocery shopping. Let's make stuff.

I make more when Handsome isn't around. And Handsome isn't currently around. So. I've been making.  I should go get groceries. But making things is so much more fun. And these things I make are for the boys to play with. Thanks to Pinterest, I had a couple of fun cheap ideas cross my path. The other thing I am making is another cute bathroom. But that is for another post.

Angry Birds boxes finished.
I wrapped the boxes.  The boys and I painted.
They just look a little better than random boxes littering the toy room.
Handsome brought the slingshot home from his travels abroad.
Long before we had Angry Birdbrains. 

I upgraded the boys light sabers.
Littlest is choosing his weapon.
I found the tutorial for this project here. 
To keep them away from my fresh rolls of gift wrap.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Fall in February

So. Next fall is the fall we try school AT SCHOOL.  Last fall we tried it at home (and are still plugging away at it). This is a first for me.  Making school plans for the FALL.  It's only February.  I don't think about the fall until July, at the earliest.  And that's usually me wishing for fall so I can go outside without getting blotchy-hot and sticky. But when you have a pre-Kindergartener... February is when you think about what will be happening in the fall.

Littlest will be going to preschool at St. Luke's UMC in the fall. I signed him up on February 7. There were only two spots left for his 3-day-a-week class that starts in August.  No such thing as waiting until the last minute for this school!

Also, we checked out the school Biggest will attend in the fall.  The PUBLIC school!  The free, bus-takes-him-5-days-a-week, he'll-be-wearing-a-uniform-every-day-school.  And I'm over the moon.  We've come so far from a year ago when I was trying to decide if he should start last fall.  It was a hard choice to make, but I'm confident we did the right thing by waiting until he's a young 6 instead of just-turned-5 and starting him in Kindergarten. He's bigger. He's faster. He's tougher.  He's got a better sense of humor. He is almost reading, and knows that he loves math. He's still highly sensitive (prone to burst into tears), and overly perfectionistic (won't try something if he's not going to execute it perfectly--hence the hesitancy to read, I suspect). I still remember my first day of Kindergarten.  I begged my mom to take me early. I stood out in the hallway while she got permission from the teacher for me to come into the classroom.  When my Mom signaled I could enter, I burst into the room, gym shoes and art supplies in hand, ran to the first desk I could, then shoved the shoes and crayons in.  I probably only remember it because both my mom and Mrs. Heart (my teacher... isn't that a perfect name for a Kindergarten teacher?) reacted with smiles and laughter.  There's just nothing greater than the unrestrained excitement of a 5-year-old. I don't know that my Biggest ever does much without restraint. But after the visit on Friday, I could tell he was excited about starting in the fall.  It's going to be a fun year.  

There's a very tiny possibility that he'll be selected for the one year-round charter school in the county, but it's so unlikely that I almost don't want to mention it.  But I just did.  Because it's a GREAT school.  And my friend's kid goes there. And we could carpool.  But we won't find out about that for a couple of weeks.

So here are some of my fave pics from the last few weeks...

Valentine Box. 

Wrapped boxes and painted them to build Angry Birds blocks.  We throw the plush birds at plush pigs when I think they've played too much on my cell phone. Those are pillowcase smocks they're wearing.

This was before he spiked a fever. It's his favorite place to snuggle.  He'll bring me my robe if he needs some snuggles.

Just really excited about green grass in February. Southern Pines, NC.

This was our morning TV time today. He napped right after this.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Recipe: Big Germans

Here's a favorite recipe.  I made them this morning. You should make them soon. We call them Big Germans.  Some call them Dutch Babies.  I guess it depends on who you think tastes better...

What you'll need:
1 Cup Flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Cup Milk
4 eggs
3-ish Tbs. Lemon Juice
Powdered Sugar
3 Tbs. butter (I use salted)
9" x 13" baking pan

Preheat oven to 425* with the baking pan in the oven.  After the pan has preheated, Add the 3 Tbs. butter to the pan and melt it while assembling the batter.  Don't add the butter too soon, otherwise it could burn while the oven is heating up.

Whisk flour and salt together in a medium sized bowl, then add milk and eggs.  Whisk thoroughly, until all lumps of flour are gone.

By this time, your butter will be melted.  Carefully remove pan from the oven and pour the batter on top of your melted butter.

Replace pan into the oven, and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown and puffy.

Remove the Big German, and drizzle lemon juice over the top.  Then sprinkle liberally with powdered sugar.

Once the pancake is cooled, it will lose the height, but none of the taste.  So so so good and easy.  My kids beg for this, and if I served it every night for a week, they'd think they had a fairy godmother as a mom.

We like to top it with fresh fruit and whipped cream, if it's handy.  Below are some pics from this morning...

Try to incorporate all the lumps!

Preheat the pan, then melt the butter.

The batter starts out thin

Ready to come out of the oven.

My littlest asking for his Big German.

It deflates a bit once its cooled. 
Anticipation and strawberries.

Fried Apples and Reddi-Whip.
When I make these, he thinks I love him more.

Full tummies make for a good morning at Chapel Next Linden Oaks!