Wednesday, December 30, 2009

More Good News!!! (And lots of holiday ramblings)

I have to begin this post with this miraculous "good news" in the video. What an incredible story!

God is so good!
As for the holiday ramblings....

Well, Christmas has passed and a new year is just on the other side of tomorrow...Where the heck did the old year go???? I feel like I must have fallen asleep and missed something. However curious it may be, it's true....just two more days left of 2009!  And I'm so very excited about our plans for New Years eve.
My girls and I are having a little "80's theme" slumber party with my friend Terra and one of my oldest daughter's friends. Yes, an 80's party!!! Complete with side ponies, bright, plastic jewelry and pegged pants. We're still not sure about the movie for the night so if you have any suggestions, do share! We've seen movies like Labyrinth and Goonies a million times so they won't do, but we're thinking maybe Hairspray, E.T or something??? Did E.T. end well? I can't remember. Anyway, I'll also be looking over the board game section at the local thrift store for Girl Talk. That was a must-play at all of the slumber parties I ever went to in the 80's.
Anyway, we had a very nice Christmas and I hope you did as well. As I mentioned in my last post, Christmas eve was a bit different this year for us. We usually make the drive in the evening to my mother-in-law's house about an hour and a half away, but due to my father-in-law's recent heart attack, icy roads, and a long work day for some, we stayed home. It just didn't feel quite right. But we did have a fun, albeit a rambuctious, evening with the kids.
My husband and I were still able to enjoy our own little Christmas tradition. The one where we wait up so we can put the last of the gifts under the tree, only he falls asleep in his chair and I do it alone... that one stayed the same, so I was comforted by the familiarity of it.
...and Christmas day was quiet but nice. My husband's former step-dad is still close to our family and spent the afternoon with us, then we finished it off with our traditional dinner at the Oriental Garden (A Chinese buffet).
We celebrated Christmas with my husband's family the following Sunday. As always, it was a cozy evening, full of food and laughter. My mother-in-law always decorates her home so beautifully. Years of Christmas decor that she's collected over the years fill each room.
Here are a few pics of Christmas over the weekend....We'll chat again soon! ~Jen
Christmas Day!!!

It was a little early for my oldest.

My youngest daughter gets her Capucine T-shirt.

Kye is in wrapping paper heaven!

My son- I don't know how he wears shorts around the house in the winter!

The Sunday After Christmas...

Arriving at my in-laws...

The pool table turned buffet!

My mother-in-law w/ my son and niece

Great Gramma w/ my girls...

Husband, daughter, brother-in-law...watchin' the game.

Love this pic!  My sis.-in-law w/ nephew...

My father-in-law...(and the blur is my nephew)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmases & Times Past

Once upon a time there was a family that moved from the city to a quiet clearing on the tippy-top of a hill, surrounded by forty wooded acres. Their new home was nestled between two small towns in the heart of Michigan. There was a mummy, a poppy and two little girls.
The summers were suddenly filled with barn kittens, fire flies and day trips through the woods, lunches in hand, to the old maple syrup shack. The oldest girl couldn't remember ever hearing the leaves of the trees applauding their creator so beautifully as they did in this magnificent place.
The winters were glorious as well because not only did they live on a hill that was perfect for sledding (right through the woods if they felt daring enough), but the Lord decorated the trees that surrounded them so beautifully each year and covered the ground with a thick blanket of snow that made everything sparkle. It was truly a place of wonder for the little girls.
Christmas had always been a time full of delight and curiosity for the oldest girl, but it was even more lovely atop the little hill. Not so much because of the gifts left by Santa Clause~ By now she had a hunch it wasn't he that placed the gifts so particularly around the tree~ It was special because of the people that surrounded her and the joy of having their own winter wonderland in the country.
Of course, the little girls are my sister and me and the hilltop is where we lived for most of our childhood. I'm so thankful for the memories I have of growing up and especially of holidays spent with my family.

(The orchard in our backyard after an ice storm)
I know I never fully appreciated the sacrifices my parents made by moving us to the country or even in countless things they did for us in everyday life, but I always get more sappy and mindful of these things around Christmas. Of course part of that is because I have children of my own now, but also because the old saying is true that you don't know what you've got until it's gone. My parents and younger sister are still alive, but we live in separate states and my parents sold their property the same year my sister and I married our husbands. Around the holidays I long to go back to that little house on the hill, but because of sacrifices we still choose to make for our own families, it's not possible.
Even more important than these sacrifices, however, is knowing the biggest sacrifice was that of my heavenly Father's in allowing His perfect son to become sin on that cross and die in my place (2 Corinthians 5:21), later to arise victorious over hell and death (Revelation 1:18), and having that revelation makes me appreciate absolutely everything so much more! Because I'd have nothing without him. No hope and not even the air I breathe. And it's incredible to look back over those years as a child (who didn't know Him) and realize that He was there the entire time watching over, leading and sometimes nudging me closer to meeting Him.
I remember the time we had this magnificent lightning storm… I had a huge bedroom window that looked out towards the edge of the woods, and I remember lying in bed, looking out at the blackest night, until the lightning would strike. Suddenly those huge trees lit up like it was day, bending under the force of the wind. There was a flutter in my chest and I wanted to weep at the beauty of it. I had no idea where this feeling came from, but I know looking back it was my spirit's build-in desire to worship the God who created the storm and also created me.
I can recall a similar feeling after an ice storm in the mid 80's. The storm had passed and the sun was shining. It was a world of sparkling crystals! It was so beautiful and quiet. But then a breeze would blow and the icy branches tinkled their music throughout the woods. My eyes and ears were amazed at the beauty, but my spirit was what was compelled to worship. I just didn't know who it was I should worship yet. I'm so thankful that He has shown me now, and has allowed me to see that it was Him that was there and that it was Him in so much of what I experienced as a child.
All the wandering and all the searching that followed those childhood years and He had been there all the while…What a glorious, & good God.
My prayer for you this holiday season if you don't know Him yet, is that you will. I hope you have A wonderful Christmas filled with family & friends… but above all else, I pray it's filled with Jesus.
...Some pictures of Christmases gone by...

Me n' my dad

My little sister

My dad & grandma helping me open my new Fisher Price record player!

My youngest daughter meeting Santa for the first time with big sis. Wonder what Santa was thinking?

My three sweeties & some new toys... 9 years ago.

God bless & Merry Christmas! ~Jen

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Little of This and A Little of That...

What a whirlwind of activities this week! Whew! We've been busy over here making candies and baking Christmas treats for neighbors and friends, trying to keep up on the house cleaning, making sure the gifts under the tree are even between the kids (maybe you know how tricky that can be), a couple side trips to see what's going on at the local thrift shops and then here I am today...not any big plans, just lots of little loose ends to tie up before this Christmas eve storm begins. I hear we're getting slushy rain/snow, then rain, then slushy rain/snow...I wonder if it'll still be white. Hmm...well, I just pray we don't lose our power. (And I really hope it's still white!)
I also have some last minute handmade soap orders to fill before the day is through. I have been so busy, yet totally thrilled that people have enjoyed my samples enough to bombard me with orders for Christmas!!! If you'll remember my humble beginnings just a couple months ago, I really just wanted to try it out, see if I enjoyed it, and have some stocking stuffers for Christmas. Well, I did enjoy it...ALOT! So I made morE...and moRE...and MORE!  I  upgraded my molds, bought more essential and scented oils...And so many people were curious about what I was up to that I shared some of my sample/scrap pieces... they apparently liked them as well.  Because I've sold about 70 bars in the past 3 weeks!!! Yay! How lovely right before Christmas! And that's without even getting a chance to put them in my Etsy shop. I only got one Fig & Brown Sugar up in my shop and it was gone by the week's end! I will be adding some to my shop after Christmas. I just don't dare before. If you're interested in seeing what I've done so far you can see some of the pictures I've taken on my Flickr.
With everything else going on I didn't get a chance yet to share what a relaxing, friend-filled reprieve we enjoyed this past Saturday evening at  Farmgirlcyn's home. Cindy and her DH had invited us to their lovely home for an evening of food, fellowship & was a wonderful break at the end of a very long week. Although this week has been good, last week... not so enjoyable.  I'll spare you the details, but lets just say we're making some big changes around here. Good changes, but changes never the less. I DO NOT do change well at all. Maybe after the holidays I'll let you in on this big life-change. (No it's not divorce or leaving the Christian faith) Anyway, I was drained and in need of some laughter and relaxation. I got both at Cindy's!

I so want a fireplace! Look at her adorable 'gleeful garland' much like that of Dottie Angel's, only Cindy felted hers.... Lovely!

 Our hostess for the evening, Cindy in her cute little apron...

Mmm...sushi! Along with several other yummy hors d'oeuvres.

Even the guys were a bit feeling festive! 

I brought the bacon wrapped dates. No recipe needed. Just half of a slice of bacon wrapped around a pitted date, hold with a toothpick and voila! Pop it in the oven intil bacon crisps and you've got a party favorite.

Dar & Cindy pose for a snapshot...

I was opening an early birthday gift from Cindy. How sweet! A personalized long, wrap apron, a wonderfully scented candle and some homemade granola...

I found that Cindy's cute little crocheted trees could also double as cozy hats for her camels! Don't they looks toasty!

Ollie, her GINORMOUS cat...

Hoping today you'll consider making the time to take a deep breath, take inventory of your many blessings, and give thanks to the God who gave you those blessings (not to mention the deep breath you just took ;) 
Happy Wednesday before "Christ"mas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The things we look forward to...

I love the little traditions that we look forward to enjoying as a family each year... like picking a new "oddest ornament" for the year, dinner at the Chinese restaurant on Christmas day...Spending Christmas eve at my in-law's. Although this year we won't be able to do it on Christmas eve (it will be the following Sunday instead), my mother-in-law has always been so wonderful at creating a warm and inviting atmosphere. This Christmas eve my husband and his brother will both be working late, there's supposed to be a snow storm of some sort, and my father-in-law had a substantial heart attack last week so late night visits~ probably not the best idea. We thank the Lord that we'll all be getting together~ period. He is home and healing now and that's the important thing. We treasure the memories we have of Christmastime at grandma Luann's no matter what day.
From here I'll let my photos do most of the talking. These are a few snapshots of the days that lead up to Christmas in our home....

Child #2's odd ornament

Child #3's odd ornament

Child #1's odd ornament

The ornament below would belong to the cats.
It's purpose is to divert their attention away from the tree...

...It didn't really work.
This guy ate it a few days later anyway.

Here is the littlest one, ready to conquer an artificial branch or maybe an ornament.

Looking quite proper sitting upon my ornament crate...

And of course, outside every window, there are children rousting about in the snow.
My rug by the back door never has time to dry with all of the traffic,
and it's quite cold in here with all of the vents covered in snow sopped hats and mittens.

Hoping you have a blessed day today! If you have some of your own Christmas traditions please share them! I have so enjoyed reading about them on many other blogs. ~Jen

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Good news for a change

I don't know if you're like me, but I get so weary of BAD news! It seems that's all we get these days. I hear the same monotone voice every morning on the radio rolling out the long list of tragic news stories that developed over night. What a way to start the day! No wonder 18.8 million Americans are diagnosed with depression each year! Geesh!
Well, this was the topic of discussion this evening as we finished dinner and began to wander into the living room. We all love to hear good news, and Lord knows we need it these days.  So as my little clan settled into their seats to relax a bit together, my younger daughter noticed a story on Yahoo! about A "magical chain reaction" at the diner in Philly. A "pay it forward" story if you will. Maybe you saw it? A young couple paid for someone elses meal, then in turn, that person did so for another, and so it went for about 5 hours! What a beautiful chain of good will.
We've been perplexed for some time about the lack of "good" news in the media. Now I'm not saying we don't need to know what's going on out there. I do not believe our heads should be stuck in the sand about the reality of some of the issues we face as a nation or a planet.  But there has to be more going on out there than deficits, war and adultrous Hollywood scandal, right?!  The question then arose, "Is anyone out there reporting exclusively on good news?"
As we do with many things we are perplexed or curious about, we Googled it: "GOOD NEWS!" and you know what? We found some. No... We found a lot!
The thought immediately crossed my mind that I should spread some of this lighter-hearted news by posting it in my blog. Maybe even a couple times a week!
This next story is that of Chinese twin girls that were adopted out to two different American families. One in Chicago and one in Birmingham, Alabama. The orphanage, the adoption agency and both sets of parents were unaware that they were twins, but as the Lord would have it, they would be reunited under miraculous circumstances. What a breath of fresh air~ Enjoy!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Happy Happenings

I was doubting our weather experts last night when no snow was falling, but this morning I awoke to the blizzard they had been predicting.

So today was filled with snow... hot chocolate... a warm cozy home filled with the kids... and that is the recipe for a wonderful day!

The kids played ping pong & board games... didn't even turn on the TV for a movie! Yay!

My youngest even played his violin for me! Isn't he adorable?


We're still under the blizzard warning but it looks like tomorrow will be back to work and school as usual. Tonight, however, I'm going to bed feeling blessed for a day shut in. It was full and fabulous!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

It's that time of year.

Yep- winter is upon us here in west Michigan and the snow is delighful! So long as I don't have to drive in it. My husband does, so I'm not crazy about that part. But it's already snowing and blowing and the weather report is that we'll be getting a blizzard this week. The storm system looked HUGE on the radar! When I took the dog out earlier I was getting smacked in the face with teeny tiny snowballs falling from the sky. It's a regular winter wonderland!
To add to the beautiful snow, the Christmas lights are glowing throughout the neighborhood. The old fashioned lights on the round shrubs remind me of gum drops on frosted cupcakes underneath their thick blanket of white.

At my house the special ornaments have been retrieved from dusty boxes in the basement and the kid's handmade decorations from Christmases past are displayed about the living room. My cinnamon, spice and fir scented candles are filling the air with the aroma of Christmas. My #2 offspring seems to think there is something inherently wrong with you if you don't want Christmas music playing 24/7 so when she's awake there's music filling the house as well.
I'm not so convinced that "Jesus is the reason" for this insanely commercialized season anymore, which deeply saddens me, nor am I sure it ever was after looking into it's origins. But I can say that I do still love this time of year. It's just...cozy. I think tomorrow I will turn on the Bing Crosby Christmas music and work on my Christmas cards for a while. Then it's out to the backyard to build a snow man! I found the most adorable little book called Snowmen that I think we'll refrence.

Ahhh...and right now I think I'll grab myself a cup of hot Chocolate.
How's the weather in your neighborhood?  Any snow?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

And we begin again...

  How did I ever let such a long string of days slip by me without a single blog post? Where did they go? This seems to be my reoccurring theme these days. Well, if I'm going to be honest, maybe my entire adult life. But especially so in the past few months. Minutes blur into days and then into weeks and just like that! …Those little moments are gone and it's nearly a new year.

  It's not that I haven't been "noticing" the little things. Rather I've not been "noting" them. I would sit down to my laptop, feeling hopeful that I would be able to eloquently get my ideas and visions from my head to my blog, but alas…nada thing. Instead I would fret over what I should or shouldn't blog and then dissect every word and every sentence until none of it would do and I would click "delete".
  I think one of my problems, aside from my own writing insecurities is that I had read something somewhere a few months ago that sort of warped my idea of what my blogging "should" be. The writer believed that if you were going to blog you should never surprise your readers by veering from your "theme", that you should always leave out the personal and so on. Looking back, I probably misunderstood some of what they were trying to convey. But, when I started this blog I guess I really thought its primary purpose was to share my creations and vintage findings, however I couldn't resist writing about other things that mattered to me or inspired me. So it got messy (in my mind anyway).
  So what was my "theme" anyway? Perplexing…Was I blogging to share my Etsy, vintage finds, artful-crafty tidbits? Or to share my stories, my life- me? Herein lies the problem. I can't divide the two. My life (like everyone's) IS art. Hand-crafted and shaped by a creator... and at this point, yes, I'm vintage too. On top of all this I'm definitely a "veerer"! I much prefer the rabbit trails over the expressway. So the answer has to be- Blog about both!
  I know. You're probably thinking "Why all the drama? Of course you can blog about one, the other or both." But that is the big deal! Me, the newborn blogger, has just found her wings. She has been freed from such a narrow "theme". I've recently found other bloggers who have been where I stand. And they've inspired me to not only look at the things I post about as art, but also to look at the one who's posting as art. (Now that I think of it; my husband has always told me I'm a piece of work ;)
  To make sure we're clear; this is a blog about the very imperfect life of an A.D.D. girl who loves God, crafting, family- life! Call it eclectic. That sounds much more impressive than A.D.D.!
  So this is my "tabula Rasa" post. (meaning "clean slate") No more nit-picking over words, phrases or that picture that can't be posted due to the pile of dishes in the background. Nope. Just the real stuff. Art- Imperfections and all.
  My life is full of surprises, art, God, family, adventures, photography, mishaps, crafts, vintage treasures, handmade lovelies, handmade disasters, laughter, tears ...and it's all wrapped up into one big wonderful-weird package! I just cannot divorce my crafting from the everyday life stuff! They're intertwined.

Friday, November 20, 2009

My soaps...almost ready for my Etsy shop!

Just wanted to share the soaps I've prepared to sell in my Etsy shop in the next week. I'm hooked! I absolutely love making each and every bar and love using them even more. So far I've got Autumn Oat & Honey, Amber Romance, Tea tree and Cashmere & Cotton.
I'm going to have to do an update post here pretty soon about the happenings around the homefront. Lots of happy things to report! A busy but blessed autumn season.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Tale of Two Soap Makers...

I've been quiet lately, but not idle! My company has stayed fairly busy lately so I've been working, tending to sick children here and there (all of them just fine now), playing with food and textiles when I've had a chance... but the coolest thing I got to do/make was natural soap!
My friend Cindy and I had a soap making adventure earlier this week (that she detailed quite nicely on her blog).
Neither of us had ever made cold pressed soap and I really thought it would be a lot more difficult, but with the instructions we followed it was pretty simple and straight forward.

We were a little nervous about handling the lye, but found that it was really not that scary.
(We still, however, took that part out to the garage.)

Came back inside to mix in the oils,

...poured it into our fancy, wax paper-lined molds,

... and swadled in a blanket for the night.

...and then place on a rack to dry for 2-6 weeks! I can't wait. It smells so good!

If you've been thinking about it, but haven't known where to begin, check out the link for the instructions above or another help we had was the book Natural Soap Making by Susan Miller Cavitch.

Two batches down and hopefully a few more before Christmas is upon us!