Friday, May 27, 2011

photo editing

Last weekend I had the honor of photographing this lovely couple's wedding. It was a beautiful, joyful, fun wedding, and I thoroughly enjoyed participating. This week I am in the land of photo editing where I will probably stay for a while. I've been taking a rather leisurely pace though editing land, enjoying the process as I go. I have made good progress, though, and have a few favorite shots of the couple to share today.

[the blushing bride]

[the dashing groom]

[the darling couple they make together]

Thursday, May 26, 2011

nursery nook--mobile

After choosing the art I did for Sweet Pea's nursery nook, I knew that the rest of the decor would have to be unique and somewhat untraditional. After looking at a few mobiles (okay, a lot. I looked a lot of them.), I realized that nothing even remotely matched what I had envisioned. So I decided to do what I was inclined toward in the first place: make my own.

After much thinking, daydreaming, and as-I-drift-of-to-sleep designing, I made a workable plan. Last week I was excited to finally able to implement my plan. The mobile is based on a piece of Naokosstoop's art that I love but did not buy because the colors didn't fit with the others I had chosen.

For the flowering branches I chose a few light and shapely sticks left over from bush pruning in our yard and carefully sewed hand-cut flowers onto the end of each twig. The flowers are made from two layers of mulberry paper (one white, one pale yellow), a vintage sequin, and a golden seed bead. This part of the process was so painstaking and time consuming, and I became a little impatient and decided to make the mobile quite a bit smaller than I had originally planned.

I also made a little Red Knit Cap Girl from scraps of scrapbooking paper. I free-handed the pieces to make her, but she is based closely on the girl in another piece of Naokosstoop's art. Then I made a little bunny friend for her and assembled the pieces of the mobile with clear thread.

[It is surprisingly difficult to photograph a mobile.]

I hope I'm not infringing on copyright with copying the girl and rabbit, but I think I'm okay. After all, it is made from a different medium, and thanks to the picky little flowers I will absolutely not be making any to sell. : )

I do love how it turned out. And all of my guys like it too, which is very satisfying. Benjamin is in hearty consent of the art I chose and thinks the mobile is cute, Little Man keeps requesting to "see that thing you made for [Sweet Pea]" and Brother loves the occasional times he is lifted to carefully touch it and watch it move. Now I can't wait to finish the rest of the stuff for Sweet Pea's nursery-nook so that I can enjoy it all together!

Little Man's vest

Little Man is going to be the ring bearer in some friends' wedding in June. Fortunately my friend has faith in my bargain hunting and sewing abilities and instead of having us invest in an expensive allowed me to make Little Man's vest and shop on my own for his black slacks and white shirt.

My mom found a pair of nice black slacks for $2, and I found a quality little dress shirt for $1 and dress shoes for $0.25! My friend (the bride) and I found the perfect dark sage green fabric in the bargain section of the fabric store months ago, and I finally made Little Man's vest last week.

I enjoy some aspects of sewing formal-wear: the attention to detail, the precise design, the beautiful sheen of the fabric. I must admit to breathing a sigh of relief when it was all done, though. All the lining puckers and slightly crooked front seam aside, I love how it turned out. And I have the completely biased conviction that Little Man will make the cutest little ring bearer ever when he wears it.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

s'more topped brownies

A couple of weeks ago I had dessert duty for our final home group meeting of the year. We were supposed to have a cook-out, enjoy the springy weather, and make s'mores. The unpredictable weather, however, forced us to change our plan. Here is the super-easy oh-so-yummy solution I came up with:

S'more Topped Brownies

1 box brownie mix
1/2 container marshmallow cream
2-3 graham crackers
chocolate chips to taste

~Prepare brownie batter according to instructions on box.
~Bake the batter in a 9"x13" pan also according to instructions on box.
~Take the brownies out of the oven on the doughy side of done-ness.
~Cool the brownies in the pan.
~Spoon dollops of marshmallow cream evenly over the top of the brownies.
~Break graham crackers into bite-sized pieces and distribute them evenly over the top of the brownies too.
~Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over the top of the brownies. (Benjamin thinks that it would be better with no chocolate chips at all.)
~Broil on high for about 3 minutes until the marshmallow creme is golden. (Watch it very closely, though, each oven is different and it can overcook so quickly.)
~Cool again.
~Cut into squares and enjoy!
~Sprinkle chocolate chips to taste over

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

custom camera strap cover

Last week's second custom project was a camera strap cover. The friend who asked me to make a red and white one for her last autumn requested another in blue and white to give as a gift. (I must admit that I find repeat customers quite delightful; it's very satisfying to know that they like my work enough to pay for more!) I, of course, was happy to comply with her request and had a crisp blue and white camera strap cover complete with flower pin put together in no time!

custom calligraphy

Last week I received two custom orders. The first another custom I Corinthians 13 calligraphy. (I hope you aren't tired of seeing these yet...)

I was particularly pleased with how this one turned out; the ink laid down with particular crispness on this paper. You'd think that all parchment papers are created fairly equal, but the more I work with different papers, the more I realize that they really are all very different. Even different shades of paper in the same package interact with the ink differently. Depending on the day, I find this exhilarating and exciting or frustrating and annoying.

My customer was giving this as a wedding gift and requested that the couple's wedding date be added underneath their names. I love how each of these pieces takes on a character of its own! I hope that this couple will enjoy the character of their calligraphy and be encouraged by its message.

Monday, May 23, 2011

monday menu

[pasteis and coxinhas, savory Brazilian treats]

Here's what I'm planning to cook for my family to enjoy this week:

Su-chicken cacciatore, salad (my in-laws are visiting us, so I'm planning Sunday this week)
M-roast with balsamic-caramelized onion reduction, potatoes, and carrots (No, I still haven't gotten to this one.)
T-clam chowder, salad, fresh rolls,
W-leftovers or chicken nuggets and tater tots
Th-grilled chicken, orzo with parmesan and basil, vegetable
F-macaroni and cheese

I am much better at planning warm, comforting winter meals than I am at planning cool, easy summer meals. With the arrival of spring, I'm realizing again that I need to come up with creative warm weather meals. What are your favorite things to make in the warmer months? Do you have a favorite summer recipe? Please share your ideas with me; I could really use the help!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Mother's Day photos

I know this post is a bit late, but perhaps it's better late than never, right? Before church on Mother's Day my precious little guys were convinced somewhat against their wills that they needed to take photos with Mom. When you're three-and-a-half and one-and-a-half it's a very hard thing to take a break in your excited morning running and playing to sit still and pose for the camera. I thought my guys rose to the occasion very nicely, though. Here are my favorite shots of the morning:

[getting set]
I love how unposed and relaxed this one is.
Plus it's the only one in which Sweet Pea's Bump can be seen.

[my precious firstborn]
Little Man gave me a rare cuddle
for a breathtaking photo.

[my darling second]
Brother was more interested in the book in his lap,
but that's okay with me.

[both of my sweet boys]
I love them so much.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Brother's quilt

I have finally been able to set aside some time to work on my sewing projects, and I completed three this past week! First on my priority list was finishing Brother's "big boy bed quilt." I started it quite a while ago when were first transitioning to his toddler bed. Due to irksome back pain, delightful custom projects, and general lack of motivation, though, it was on the back burner for several weeks. It felt great to finally finish it for him!

Brother is pretty much obsessed with blankets, often trying to carry four at once, and protesting in great dismay when he can't quite manage it. He's also crazy about animals of all sorts. I was delighted to combine these two loves by using the Alexander Henry teeny tiny 2-D zoo print in chocolate as the main print in and inspiration for his quilt. The rest of the quilt is scraps from my stash (modern and vintage) in greens, blues, and oranges and natural muslin.

I couldn't resist adding a turtle appliqué mimicking the turtle in the main print. Brother points at it and chants "tuh-tle! tuh-tle! tuh-tle!" in the cutest way.

I'm so glad that I chose to arrange the triangles into asymmetrical diamonds instead of the zig-zags I originally planned. This quilt turned out being a little big for a crib quilt and a little small for a twin quilt. At first I was disappointed, but the more I look at it, the more I'm just pleased with how it turned out. After all, its smaller size will make easier for small arms and short legs to carry it along with three other blankets and a couple stuffed animals, right?

Linking up to Studio Sneak Peek!

Thursday, May 19, 2011


All of the glorious springyness in the air has me itching be do something with the pretty plants I love so much. We won't be attempting to really garden this year since our ground still needs significant preparation involving more time and energy than we have this year. (Benjamin is going to be back in school plus working one full-time job and two part-time jobs plus being an amazing husband and father. Yes, I'm very proud of him. And I have all sorts of things in my summer schedule including taking part in three weddings, investing in the boys, and having a baby.)

Anyway, all that to say that we're sticking to container gardening on our porch this year. I'm a little sad, but overall I'm very relieved to not have the burden of larger-scale gardening right now. Although it won't be warm enough to place the plants in the ground for a couple of weeks still, we couldn't resist purchasing some plants. Until they can go outside, they looks wonderful on our counter.

Brother chose these striking marigolds.
He particularly loves the reddish one.

Little Man chose these cheerful pansies.
He also chose some pepper plants.
I told him that I love him a lot to get pepper plants for him
since I really don't like them. : )

I chose tomato plants
as well as fragrant basil and rosemary.

And I simply couldn't leave my dream geranium behind.
I love the deep, richly colored blooms
and ornate leaves.

I can't wait to see these small plants flourish with a little care over the summer!

signs of spring

i don't mind winter
but am so thankful to observe
ever-increasing signs of impending Spring
I revel in the freshness
the newness
the joy

days grow longer
the sun shines with yellow warmth
spring rains drench the thawing earth
temperatures rise, slow but sure

grass shoots up, thick and green
leaves are budding, tiny and hopeful
flowers unfurl bright banners of color

keen, plump robins hop and sing
honeybees labor, buzzing again
we ache to be outdoors

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

ask. seek. knock.

Today Brother brought me the tin of mints that usually resides in my purse. He looked up at me with trust and hope and asked: "Min? Peeeeeesh?" (translated: "mint please") He clapped his hands with joy and anticipation as I opened the tin and gave him a mint. I love when my children make requests that I can grant, and I love seeing their unrestrained joy in the gifts I give them. As I savored the memory of this interaction with Brother, the following verses came to mind, made poignantly clear:

"Ask, and it will be given to you;
seek, and you will find;
knock, and it will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks receives,
and he who seeks finds,
and to him who knocks it will be opened.

Or what man is there among you who,
when his son asks for a loaf,
will give him a stone?
Or if he asks for a fish,
he will not give him a snake, will he?
If you then, being evil,
know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will your Father who is in heaven
give what is good to those who ask Him!"
(Matthew 7:7-11)

I am so thankful for a Father to takes delight in answering my hopes and dreams, fears and requests. How much worry I would save myself if I always remembered His love and His desire to hear me!

This lesson, which was so vividly real to me this morning was already fading to the back of my mind when I sat down to blog this afternoon. Next on my list of blog-posts-to-write was a review of the product featured in DaySpring's May (in)spired deals that I had been generously sent. I began the ho-hum task of meeting the reviewers' requirements: including the correct links, the header, the photo... I even began to type what would have become a rather stiff and mechanical little article when I actually stopped and looked at the photo of the product I had been sent.

(insert jaw drop and stunned pause)

I do not believe that it was coincidence that this month I was sent the beautiful carved Ask, Seek, Knock wall hanging or that I "happened" to be writing my review today. The truth upon which I was meditating this morning was driven home with new force. I am planning to hang this new art in our master bedroom. My hope is that as I see it each day I will be reminded of God's passionate and tender care for me, of how He wants to answer, reveal, and open for me as I ask, seek, and knock.

Today I am thankful to be reviewing the above product. It was sent to me for free so that I could review it, and all of the stuff I said about it is my own opinion.

bridal shower-the games and gifts

I can't rally take credit for the games since my mom and the bride-to-be's sister planned them, but since they were part of the bridal shower experience, I thought I'd tell about them anyway.

The first game was a bridal shower bingo game. There were the usual numbered squares as well as a numbered list of things about the bride, the groom, and the couple. For example, under Katie's name were things like "has a named car," "was born in [our town]," "is the youngest in her family." Under Jeff's name were things like "loves Mountain Dew" and "owns a business." Under Both were things like "has blue eyes," "loves to farm," "was born in the 80's," and "is a teacher." The goal was to find another guest who had one of those things in common with Katie, Jeff, or Both, and get them to sign the numbered square corresponding to the number of the item in the list. The first three people to finish won small prizes.

The second game was a simple word game: How many words can my make from the letters in "Katie Loves Jeff" in three minutes.

For the third game, 17 different herbs and spices were placed in unmarked, numbered jars. The jars were passed around, and the guests teamed up in groups of two to see how many they could correctly identify by smell, look, and even taste (watch out for the chili powder!) without the telltale labels. We actually had one team who correctly identified all 17!

After the games was present time! Jeff and Katie received many kind gifts, and they loved the calligraphy I made for them. Even though I wasn't surprised that they liked it, I still find myself glad and relieved.

(Isn't she cute!?!) Of course we had to make a rehearsal "bouquet" from the bows and all the gifts.

I had such a good time coordinating, planning, and making this bridal shower happen for sweet and special Katie. I enjoyed planning the decorations, making the food, interacting with the guests... It was so worth the achy feet and back at the end of the day.

bridal shower-the yummy food

Not only did Blogger's problems last week delay my posting plans, they also actually caused me to lose a post and several sweet comments on other posts. Losing the post and not being able to keep on my little schedule was very discouraging, so I just didn't post for a few days, leaving me even more behind. Sigh. Not to worry, though, I'm eager to make up for lost time today. : )

I'll begin by writing about the yummy food my mom and I made for my friend's bridal shower almost two weeks ago. The food just might be the most important part aside from the gifts, and I was determined to make it good. I had fun trying to stick to the color scheme of blues, pinks, and greens that I was aiming for. In addition to the coffee, pink lemonade, and vegetable tray with dip all of which I did not photograph, we had:

a cheese ball and crackers
(recipe coming soonish)

Mexican wedding cake cookies
(they were humorously appropriate for a bridal shower
that happened to be on Cinco de Mayo)
I got the recipe from The Joy of Cooking.

(I tinted the white frosting green.)

Since three of the four recipes I made were new to me, I was relieved that everything turned out beautifully as well as deliciously! There was an abundance of goodies so that I'm pretty sure no one left unsatisfied. I'd definitely call the treat part of the party a success!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

monday menu

[chopped pecans]

Here is what I'm planning on cooking this week. What are you making?

M-roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, vegetable
T-chicken pot pie
W-spicy mushroom pasta
Th-minestrone soup, fresh rolls
F-roast with caramelized-onion-balsamic reduction and vegetables (didn't get to it last week)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

bridal shower-the cute decorations

Last week I had the joy of hostessing a bridal shower for a dear friend who is getting married this summer. I had so much fun planning the decorations and menu and was thankful for the bride-to-be's sister's and my mother's help with all the other stuff; it wouldn't have happened without them.

The next three days I'll highlight glimpses of the evening of fun. Today's photos will feature the decorations which I had tons of fun making. I tried to keep the wedding colors (dusty pink, sage green, and light blue) in mind as I planned.

(thank you, Martha Stewart!)

scrapbook paper hearts
(inspiration found in two places)

garland featuring the happy couple's names
(accordion paper flowers + my own calligraphy letters)

simple food labels
(dollar bin stickers, card stock, and calligraphy)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


when I was small
I loved sprinkles
I was convinced that they added instant
fun, glamor, and deliciousness
to whatever they touched
(yes, even the counter)

now, if possible
i enjoy them even more
as I watch the wonder and delight
in my sweet sons' every expression and action
as they discover sprinkle magic
while helping in the kitchen

Monday, May 9, 2011

monday menu

[parmesan curls]

It's been a few weeks since I have posted a Monday menu. This is not because I have not been planning my menu, but rather I've simply not gotten around to posting them here. I'm happy to remedy that today. Today is wet, chilly, rainy day, and the forecast for the rest of the week says that we'll just be having more of the same, so I've planned a week of warm, cozy meals. Perhaps, after all, spring/summer will finally kick into gear next week, and it'll be my last chance for a while to make cozy winterish meals. Hey, a girl can dream, right? : )

T-dinner with friends (I'll be bringing a dessert which I have yet to choose.)
W-chili and fresh rolls
Th-chicken cacciatore and cauliflower
F-roast with potatoes, carrots, and maybe caramelized-onion-balsamic reduction

What are you making this week?