Friday, July 12, 2013

And the Winner is . . . .

Elizabeth Mitton!!!!
Congratulations for winning and being the first to guess correctly!  Please let us know which prize you would like and we will get it to you as soon as possible.

*On a side note - I(Sharpi) apologize for the horribly random, incredibly vague clues. I tend to get completely confusing when I'm trying to be vague :) Thanks for hanging in there!*

After running the other entries through a random number generator, our second winner is - Rachel H!

Crafting the bows has been great fun and as soon as we put final touches - like paint - in place, we'll post pictures.  Since I (Irish Rose) am not allowed to play with power tools *ahem*, I really enjoyed being out in dad's shop working with the heat gun and a hand saw . . . I think the part I liked most was doing something with my dad.

Thanks for guessing!
We Three

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

New Giveaway clues

Hmmmm . . . you know, when we decided to have a give-away we had no idea it would be so hard.  We thought, "Hey, this will be fun!  People like mysteries and they like prizes . . . maybe we'll make some new friends."  (Or at the very least coax some of the lurkers out of the shadows.  :)

It isn't easy.  Its downright hard and sometime frusterating.  Coming up with clues has proved problematic because when one knows the answer it seems like everything is a dead giveaway . . . like we're painting a giant red bulls-eye on the answer and there is no target to shoot for anymore.

So, we're going to mix things up a little.  Intead of posting pictures (because quite frankly, the materials we used for this project were in no shape or form traditional - and therefore might be adding to the confusion) we'e going to turn it into a word game.  Sort of.  Or maybe an association game . . .

Answer the followig question.  Please.  :) 

What do the following items have in common:



Psalm 44:6


Okay then - now you have no excuse for not entering the giveaway - or at least saying hi.  :)

Hope you're enjoying all sorts of summer adventures!
Irish Rose (on behalf of We Three.)

Sunday, June 9, 2013

A New Year

. . . In June . . . . yes, it is a little late for a New Year's post now that it is almost half over.
Thing is, I wrote this article in the middle of the night about the middle of December, thinking there would be plenty of time to get it ready to post on January 1st.  Time was plentiful, but the problem that arose is the reason this post is really, really, incredibly late - you see, I ran into a different kind of writer's block.  It wasn't that I didn't know how to write it, because the whole thing was already written out, but I was so close to these thoughts that had been running around in my head for quite some time, that I could not take a far enough step back to look at it and see which parts were too confusing and which repeated themselves and needed to be taken out. When the words were re-read I understood it perfectly, because they had all been turned over and over in my mind and I knew what they meant, even if they weren't very clear, but I know very well that the way I think can sometimes be confusing to other people when I try to explain something. (Just ask my sisters:)

To put it very simply, I knew it was rather confusing and not quite clear and polished enough to post, and I couldn't figure out how to fix it. . . . . . so it got shelved in an attempt to let me step away and clear my thoughts before coming back to it. After a couple months of not even looking at it, I opened it up and decided it needed to be finished, even if the year is almost half over I was determined to get it published, otherwise it might never find its way here.

Of course, after all that work trying to get it untangled I realized I should have just posted it the way it was and give you a very real glimpse of what it is like inside my brain!
dizzy smiley photo: dizzy dizzyf.gif

Approach of a New Year

    The years seem to slip by faster with each one that passes. They come and go with a regular rhythm that we have come to expect, simply living our lives and giving the old year a polite nod as it fades away, replaced with the new one to come.
Resolutions are made to fill this New Year that spreads before us, all glistening and crisp. Within us is the hope that perhaps this year will be different.

Certain words are passed around a lot during the approach of a new year:
“A new year is coming! We can start fresh.”
“Begin with a clean slate.”
“Things will be different.”
Perhaps they will be different. As a matter of fact, of course they will be different, but it doesn’t mean that you will not remember what came in the months before that seemingly magical day of January 1st.

I was thinking about it recently, lapsing into one of those philosophical moods I get now and again. And for some reason my mind focused on the particular view (my interpretation of it,that is) that every new year is empty, allowing a new beginning.
Yes, you can change in the year to come, you can promise and work toward making things different. But there is nothing empty about it.

    I began first by doing something that isn’t quite what one would expect. Instead of looking forward, to examine and speculate about what might come in the New Year, I looked back. The Old Year stretched behind me, a rough and crumpled map of everything that had come into my life in the last twelve months.
Landmarks could be seen, some more obvious than others as they were picked out. The joys; the triumphs, small as they had been; the adventures and the wonders shared with loved ones; as well as the hurt, sorrow, and tears that arrive at some point in everyones lives.
These things will not be simply forgotten when I look at the calendar and realize the time to remember them has ‘passed’.  No matter how faded and worn they become they will be with me always, because my history is a part of my life.
You live; you make memories; you make mistakes; and in the making you learn and grow, becoming the person you are now.

    There are things I would rather have avoided, but there they are and there they remain. I have changed because of them, and that alone will have a hand in shaping the way the New Year affects me. Because I have been changed the New Year is changed for me as well. I will never know how it would have turned out, had things in the Old Year been different.

    Sometimes I wish we had the option of retrospect before hand, which, I suppose, would technically be foresight.
The initial thought is that things would be so much easier if you just knew what was coming. Wouldn’t we all, at times, have liked to know what was to happen? If only to be better prepared to deal with it when it arrived?
Yet we aren’t supposed to know that. If we could see what was coming, what would be the point of living our lives? We would not learn from our mistakes, because we would see what would happen, shrug our shoulders, and say what was to be would be, no matter what we did. So we would waffle through the year doing the same, mundane tasks, letting time ripple through our fingers, and never learn a single lesson.

As I look forward into the New Year it seems starkly empty, in comparison with what now lays behind me, the memories of the year that has just taken its last breath. Yet when that year began it looked just as fresh and empty.
    While pondering the meaning of a New Year another thought occurred:
It isn’t empty.
It is full, completely and utterly full of things that we can not yet see. There will be people brought into our lives; perhaps some will stay, perhaps some will appear for a short time. Everyday events will catch our attention and require action. Choices will have to be made, and results dealt with.

    Next was considering just what the phrase ‘A Clean Slate’ meant.
While the idea is a nice one to think about, repeated over and over until we believe it, the carrying out of such a thing is nigh impossible. 
How can you enter into a New Year with a clean slate? Of course you can go into it with the determination of changing, but events of the passing year will not just disappear as though they had never been.
Choices that you made, and the results that followed them, will cling to you, paying no heed to the boundary that seems to be set between the Old Year, and the New Year. They won’t simply let go and wave goodbye when you cross over that threshold. No, they will hold tighter and accompany you, continuing to influence your actions.
To begin with a new slate rather sounds as though the previous lessons you learned will be wiped away, leaving room for new ones to enter, but everything will still be there when January 1st comes along.

    The result of all these musing is that I don’t think that it is quite correct to say you are beginning another year anew. It is continuing the journey you have been set upon. You bring with you all the lessons and struggles that you have already been through, and the things you have learned in dealing with them. Even those problems that are tucked away in the back of your mind that, perhaps, you have been ignoring.
    It isn’t a clean slate, for that speaks of wiping everything away and beginning completely from scratch. No, it is simply the beginning of a new chapter. Full of possibilities and the chance to continue to grow and learn. To become the person that you would like to be. To allow God to continue to shape and mould you through the circumstances and events that will come into your life.
    There will be more mistakes, more triumphs, more struggles, more joys, and more sorrows in this New Year. Not to take place of the old ones, but to settle in alongside of them.
But our Heavenly Father will be right there with us, holding our hand and encouraging us into this new chapter. He will guide us if we let Him; discipline us when we need it; teach us when we forget we do not know as much as we think we do; and rejoice with us when we achieve wonderful things, no matter how small they might be.
He will never leave us during this New Year.
Just like He never left us as we traveled through the Last.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Project Update - More Contest Specifics

Namely, the prizes have finally been figured out! Yay!

Prize Number One -
A mixed package of beautiful Gladiola bulbs!
 They are quite hardy, in our experience, and as long as you dig them up every year they will continue to grow for many, many years! (Some climates you can probably even leave them in the ground all year long:)

Prize Number Two - 
A lovely Pampering Bath Basket filled with an assortment of spa goodies!

Our project has been stalled for awhile now, due to the fact that we can't make up our minds about what color paint we want to use and if we want to wrap the handles with colored cord or not. 
Which brings us to - This week's Clues:
  • The Project is handheld
  • There are many different possible styles
  • Unfortunately there is no photo to go with the post this week, sorry about that.
  • Traditionally made of wood, though nowadays they are made with modern materials

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Heads up!!!

(wait . . . what?  We're having a give-away??  Hmmm . . . obviously I haven't been around lately . . . that needs to change.  Anyway - ahem!  Back to our regularily schedule announcment.)

If you're on facebook - or if you're not and know someone who'd let you borrow their account, *cough* -  and just happen to be interested in healthy living and/or natural healing, you might want to head over to the Vintage Remedies facebook page and check out their really amazing schedule for this weekend.  They're offering free web seminars through Saturday.  Topics include:

Aromatherapy 101 (really great introduction to the safe use of essential oils)
The Botanical Medicine Chest
How to Read a Clinical Study
Fighting Fatigue (determining sources of fatigue and how to holistically treat them)
I listened to two today and they were fantastic!  To my knowledge you can still sign up for the remaining seminars - I realize that this weekend is probably already really busy, but these are well worth the time.  For those who are interested but can't possibly squeeze in one more thing the seminars are being recorded and will be offered for sale later.  If you're interested I can post details on that once they are available.

Hope you're enjoying spring as much as we are!
Irish Rose

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Summer Project - Contest

Hello everyone! I do hope you all had an enjoyable weekend.
Because it got too hot to sit in the greenhouse (amazing that I can actually use 'too' and 'hot' together:) I decided now would be a good time to update the contest that was mentioned in the last post.

As of this moment it does not have an end date, so for now we'll consider it open ended unless otherwise specified somewhere in an upcoming post.

Rules: Not many!  We would like to encourage absolutely everyone to enter! Please don't worry about it if you aren't in the same state, or even the same country, we would still love to hear from you and have you enter!
  •  More than one person in a household can enter, so if a family member has already entered, don't worry about it, you can enter too!

  • If we have somehow let slip what the Project is, and you happened to hear about it, we ask that you not enter, as it wouldn't be fair to everyone else.  (We're being super careful about this so I don't think we've let it slip yet:) 

  • If you refer someone to our blog and they check us out, ask them to drop us a comment (or an entry to the contest!) that includes mentioning your name and you will get an extra entry!
There we go, rules finished, we can get on to the fun stuff!

There will be two prizes offered - 
The first person to correctly guess what the Summer Project is will be able to choose which prize they would like.
After removing the name of the person that guessed correctly, the remaining entries will be run through a random number generator and a second winner will be announced.
In the event that no one guesses correctly both names will be randomly drawn.

Now onto a few clue type bits for you all!
So far we have one entry, and while it is a good guess, I am afraid it is not correct.
While this Project does belong outdoors, it is not intended for the garden.

Not traditionally made from the materials we are using this object is well known, being around for centuries.

Not many clues, I know, but we'll leave it at that for now. The next post will hopefully include just what the prizes are, as well as another photo clue.
Have fun! Can't wait to hear from you!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Project Update

Hello one and all! Today is a lovely, sunny, warmish spring day! (Yes I did say spring, I think it's finally here!!!!!)
The Summer Project is going very well so far. Didn't work on them for most of the week, but we were out there on Saturday doing some more heating, squeezing, filing, and small tweaks that needed to be adjusted.  . . . . . it's really hard not telling you all what we're doing!
So, I think we'll turn this into a little contest! 
If you would like to send in your guess as to what our project is, please leave a comment in any of the Summer Project Posts.
The next post will include another picture, as well as what the prize for the contest is going to be. 
We would love to hear from you, and please spread the word to your friends, we are always eager to 'meet' more people! :)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Summer Project Intro

     Snow is melting, sunshine is beginning to feel warm again, geese have returned, and little green spikes are peeking through the dirt in many gardens!
It's time to begin planning for summer projects.
And if you happen to be us (or, you know, not us but like us:), have been planning for months already, and just can't wait anymore? Then your summer projects might just get started before summer even gets here!
Ours did.
Today, in fact.
Here is the main ingredient . . . item. . . .part? . . .whatever - this is the main bit of our project.
Once it has gone through all the tweaking, smashing, melting, flattening, and various other small things here and there, it is going to look completely different.
They are going to be so COOL!
But we're not going to tell you what they are.
Yet, that is. I promise we'll tell you later on, but right now we're having so much fun we're going to keep it a secret.
Updates will follow as progress is made, accompanied with pictures . . . which I may or may not make incredibly vague and abstract just to keep you all guessing!

Business Speak and Pencil Smudges

 Never in my life did I expect to be taking a business class. . . . . you see, I'm the type of person that is likely to get an idea, do a little research, and then jump right on in up to my eyeballs without coming up with a thorough, concise plan. Which is maybe why I've never attempted to start an actual business. . . .
My inner person/voice/alter ego/what-have-you is of the 'Plan? Why ever would you need a plan?' sort of opinion, which I promptly tried to ignore and reason that it would be good for me.
This all came about when I enrolled in a new course last month. One that came with an extra set of assignments to form a solid Business Plan and everything that goes with it.
*First Thought: Business planning? Hmm, sure, why not? It might come in handy.
**Second Thought: Well, I don't really need to do it, it is optional. . . . 
***Third Thought: Really ought to do this. Who knows, it might be needed after all, and the feedback would be good. . . .

*This was before even looking at the business sections
**After reading through the first business assignment and getting thoroughly confused.
***After reconsidering and slogging halfway through the assignment.

I had actually decided to forget about it entirely, simply send in my completed assignments and forgo the business section. . . . and then I found myself toting around a notebook and a sharpie, jotting down notes and phrases, attempting to pull together a reasonable sounding Executive Summary.
It was only 500 words, after all, how hard could it be?
.     .     .     .     .
Turns out, it can be kind of difficult. . . at least, it was for me. My artist brain (read; disorganized and loosely wired) goes into panic attacks and refuses to work properly when confronted with the idea of neatly organized, structured items all lined up in orderly columns, making complete sense (the entire way through!) and coming to a definite, reasonable point.
Not entirely sure if it was stubbornness or determination that set me down with a notebook and my computer (and finally a quick trip to Google to take a look at examples). But the end result was a fairly orderly Summary that was at least understandable and outlined the points that I thought were important. 
We'll see how accurate it really was when my grades are assigned.

When business terms and theoretical musings become too much, there is always room to distract one's self with dragons:)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

A Grand Fall Adventure - Part 3

I realized this morning that if I were to insert as many pictures from our trip as I could .  .  .  . this was going to be a really long series of posts. So I may just fast-forward through things so you don't have to endure the photographic results of a week and a half.
We'll start off with some pictures of the cemetery that was up the hill from the church. In the middle of cake baking, mixing up frosting, and decorating, a few of us decided to take a walk up to the cemetery.
And while taking a walk through a cemetery may seem a little odd to some of you, it isn't as creepy as it might sound, very nice and peaceful actually.

 See, that's not so bad, right? A pleasant scene overlooking a peaceful cemetery. Notice the elegantly tinted fall leaves offering shade.

 When I die I want to be buried by trees, it is so charming and pretty looking . . . okay, that is starting to sound a little bit weirder. . . 

 See? We've managed to retain a peaceful setting, nothing creepy or threatening. (Of course, if it had been rainy and foggy and dark, I would have totally posted those pictures. . . because I'm fascinating that way:)

The peaceful atmosphere dissolved somewhat when we discovered an innocent looking little hole. Upon further investigation we came to the quick conclusion that it was a hornets nest. 
The increasing numbers of buzzing, striped hornets that kept coming out of the hole might have been a bit of a clue . . .

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Friday Spa Day

The weather has been incredibly cold and dry lately, a fact that severely affects many things, one of which, is a person's skin.
The fact that we could all use some refreshing, plus we are combating Cabin Fever, last Friday we decided to have a Spa Day!

To begin with:
An herbal steam to open pores and flush out impurities before anything else.
A single pot of water had enough water to be split between two bowls - if we were going to steam for just a few minutes instead of 15 min. it might have stretched a bit further.
Herbal Steam:
Your choice of herbs is completely up to you, dependant only on what you have on hand and what you want to feed your skin.  :)  In our case, we used a mix that Irish Rose had on hand, left over from an oil infusion experiment: it consisted of
1 part rose petals - organic, food grade so you don't have to worry about pesticides :(
1 part caledula petals
2 parts chamomile flowers

Turn your boiled water off and add your herbs.  We used approximately 2 tablespoons of herbs per pot of water.  Put a lid on the pot and let it steep for about five minutes before using.

Following our steam we rinsed our faces with warm water and proceeded to use a yogurt cleanser, mixed with sea salt, to clean out pores and gently exfoliate dead skin.
Yogurt Cleanser:
Sea Salt
Squeeze of Lemon juice

Mix just enough for one use, as this isn't the type of thing you want hanging around. 
Test a little bit before you use it to see if you have added enough salt. (I didn't, so it wasn't quite abrasive enough to exfoliate properly.)
Apply to face and gently scrub for 30 seconds.
*Note: It smells, so be prepared for that.
Thoroughly rinse with warm water* and pat face dry.
*Note: It is important through these steps not to use cool water, as you don't want to close your pores until you're finished with the next step.

Following the cleanser comes a mask. For this particular Spa Day we did a Lusty Macaroot Facial.
Macaroot Mask:
1/2 Tbsp. Bentonite Clay
1/2 Tsp. Maca Powder
1/2 Tsp. Cocoa Powder (Yep, there's chocolate in it!:)
Add 1-4 Tbsp. liquid - Milk is the top choice, but you can use water/almond milk/apple cider vinegar/fruit juice if you wanted.

That is supposed to make just one mask, but between the four of us we used about one and a half. So unless you are going to put it on really thick, you might want to find someone to share it with:)

Mix your liquid into the dry until you get a spreadable (but not wet and dripping) consistency. Use immediately because this mask sets up quite fast.
Let sit and dry for 20 min. 
- Unlike the yogurt cleanser this is going to smell really, really yummy! -
Then gently remove with a warm water and a cloth.
Once you're sure you have gotten it all off proceed to rinse your face with cool water to tighten pores.

Follow the mask with a gentle toner and then a moisturizer of your choice.
Activities during this entire process can range from listening to music, painting your toenails, and watching a good girly movie!
Not much talking though, the mask is kind of restricting in that respect:)
*Reference for Mask Recipe: Here (*disclaimer: really great skin care recipes; some of the ideas that go with them should be taken with a grain of salt.)

Originally our idea was to watch Emma while we were 'steeping' in our masks, but it just so happened that we ended up doing it in shifts of two at a time - and then some of us were requested to help in the shop for a few minutes (No, there aren't pictures of that, you have to be related to see us like that:)
So, once the last clumpy bits of mask were washed down the drain and our freshly cleaned faces had been nourished with moisturizing oil, Chickadee put together a special lunch of cucumber sandwiches, melon, and fruit juice (served in flute glasses!)
Warm and relaxed we nibbled on lunch with our girl movie.

This week I think we might do feet . . . .

Monday, March 11, 2013

YouTube and Tutorials

Recently I wandered onto YouTube in an effort to find some tutorials on acrylic painting. The decision to expand my exploration of painting this year, in addition to my pencil sketches, has been interesting, sometimes amusing, and incredibly fun!
A Special Project was started last week, and is turning out quite nicely so far, but it strikes me as being a simply good base for the painting . . . which meant I needed to figure out some kind of technique to take it to the next level. (Because seriously, I have no idea what I'm doing.)
This is where YouTube comes in.

Generally I stay away from tutorials, they usually make me feel horribly insecure and depressed, probably not what the person wanted when they created the helpful video, but then again, they've never met me:)
This time, while I did start getting a little bit depressed, I kept telling myself it was because they'd been doing it so long and I was just starting out, so it would be okay and I could learn some things.
So, when I ran across this video I was incredibly fascinated! There is no way it is as easy as it looks, (unless you've been doing it over and over and over, which I'm sure this person has) but I really want to try it at some point and wanted to share it with you all.
This painter is amazing and the techniques used are so incredibly neat!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A Grand Fall Adventure - Part 2

This is the view from our room at the Cute Little House. 
First morning there and the clouds were hanging so low they covered the top of the mountain that is beyond the trees. (Which is why you can't see much, if you look really, really close there is a tiny little spot about the middle of the picture that is the mountain:)
Accompanied H. family back into Vermont for some site seeing. 
This is a photo of a pottery factory, you could actually go in and see how some of the pieces are made. It was so neat! There were crates and crates of unfinished pottery sitting everywhere!
 In front of the factory part of the Pottery Factory was a large group of odd looking stone objects.
Carefully creeping in between them Irish Rose and I discovered that it was a circle of huge, old kilns that were probably used to fire the pottery years and years ago.
Then we drove into adorable Down Town and parked, everyone spilling out of the van and heading every which way to explore.
Irish Rose and I wandered all over. Our first stop was heading toward what turned out to be an Episcopal Church.

 This building is absolutely beautiful! It had a covered walkway complete with arches that connected the sanctuary to what we assumed was a house for whoever tended there. 
We wanted to go in so badly, just to see what the inside looked like, but it was closed. Oh well, maybe we'll have to go back someday!
I couldn't get over the brickwork or the slate tiling everywhere. It all looked so old and elegant!

In our wanderings we found a tiny little quilt shop where we added to our 'Travel Stash' by each buying a fat quarter of fabric.  Also down that way was a huge, red brick building with white columns and gorgeous windows. 
It turned out to be a library. *Sigh!* It was huge and spacious inside, books lining the walls and comfortable nooks with chairs and couches so a person could settle right in and read. 

Our most . . . . . . interesting, shall we say, find happened when we were walking down the street and caught sight of a sign that advertised and open art gallery and to feel free and come inside.
So, being adventurous, we went inside.

Now. . . when I think Art Gallery I picture some serene, elegant setting. Soft lighting so it doesn't detract from the art, perhaps some quiet music to enhance the experience, elegant frames, hushed atmosphere . . . . 
What we didn't expect, as we trailed quietly up the steps, was the fact that the further we got the more we realized that this was not only a gallery of Modern Art (extremely weird modern art I might add), but that it was spread throughout the entire space of someone's home. . . . . 
The woman welcomed us in and told us to wander about as we liked, flipping lights on for us and turning a stereo on for music. But the more rooms we walked into the weirder we felt. 
Not only were the paintings odd, and some of them downright creepy, we just couldn't get over the fact that we were traipsing through someone's home. 
Needless to say we retreated as soon as possible, trying not to seem rude in our haste to leave.
As we exited the doorway, back into the open air and the calmness of outdoors we looked at each other, giggled, and said that was the weirdest thing we had ever done!

The day just continued to bring forth surprises. Piling into the van in preparation to head back to Cute Little House for some lunch, we were told that a couple of them had been in a bakery and had asked the owner some questions about butter cream.
The long and short of it: The owner was incredibly generous and friendly and actually ended up offering a private class so she could teach us how to make an amazing Italian Buttercream icing! (Something we were going to need for the wedding cake.)
Just, think about that for a moment; God works in such amazing ways, and they aren't always big, flashy things either, they can be as simple as a stranger offering their assistance.
This professional baker, that owned her own shop, was going to open up her kitchen to complete strangers, and teach them how to make frosting! She was an incredibly nice person, telling us that she loves to teach people things and takes interns all the time to help them learn about the baking profession. 
We spent a couple hours tucked in the back of this bakery, listening and helping mix up batches of Italian Buttercream!

  Returning 'home' after a full day of new adventures we settled in to make goodnight calls to the Family . . . . which at one point we ended up having a rather interesting discussion about the time change and things like that . . . . yea, we won't mention that any further. :)

                                                                                 (To be continued . . . . . )

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Cabin Fever

Going through Drafts recently I found this little post. No idea why it didn't get put up on the blog, but I thought it would be fun to do a small comparison - The underlined text will be for this year.

Anyone else have trouble with catching a major dose of Cabin Fever around this time of year?  Well. . . . . I do, so in an attempt to distract myself I've decided to make a post of smileys, just to see how many different ones I can find.

Isn't it almost spring yet?
Surprisingly Cabin Fever has not yet landed that hard upon us . . . strange.

 I don't know about you, but I would love to get my hands in a pile of damp, fragrant dirt right about now. And I can't figure out if all the seed companies send out their catalogs now to try combat cabin fever for all the people stuck inside, or to somehow taunt us because they live in a warmer climate. . . . . . . Yea, there's another symptom, paranoia (occasionally acute)
Another feeling that has not magnified itself yet. The seed catalogs, however, have been arriving since before Christmas, maybe they are trying to induce cabin fever to up their orders . . . . 

 Okay, moving on. . . .

It was Super Bowl Sunday this past week. . .
Buuuutttt, we're not going to talk about that because I don't like sports, and therefore, the only thing I know about it is that the New York Giants won - and I don't even know where I read that.

I still don't like sports, which means we are also not going to talk about it again this year! And I did see on Facebook who won. . . but I didn't pay enough attention to be able to recall who it was.

Cabin Fever has several very telling symptoms - the most prominent of which is the fact that a single activity can't hold attention for longer than a minute or so. (5 tops)
Yesterday I dug out some material and cut some of it up into blocks for a baby quilt. I didn't work on it too long, but now I have a nice stack of blocks waiting to be sewn together.

This year I have moved onto doing some stitching on a lap quilt and finishing up some embroidery that was half finished.
We had a GORGEOUS few days last week where it was really cold and crisp, (Which also adds to cabin fever, by the way) it brought with it a beautiful blanket of thick, glittering frost that coated everything. So, being the photo nut I am I had to go out and take lots of pictures!

Pictures - hmm, not so much. It has been mostly extremely cold and I don't stir outside unless I have too. Come to think of it .  .  . I don't think I have even touched my camera since November.
In addition to working on my daily sketches, I have been working on my reading list.  I always seem to forget how much I love to read. . . until I find a book I've never read before.

Reading? Not so much lately, though there have been a few books here and there. Sketching? Yes, I went ahead and started another Sketching challenge this year and am attempting to make sure they are nice sketches instead of slap-dash scribbles.

How do you combat Cabin Fever?  (Other than taking off for Florida for the winter, that is:)


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Choosing to Remember

Sometimes I wonder why I keep a journal.  I honestly don’t remember why I started one - it probably had something to do with the notion that keeping a journal was somehow an old-fashioned, romantic concept - but eventually I realized a journal was very therapeutic.  It was a safe way to vent the frustrations and joys of life while I tried to figure out who God wanted me to be.  Time passed and I eventually kept writing in the hope that my volumes might be a way for my husband to share my history . . . maybe a way to understand my heart better. 
 More than once I’ve wondered about the wisdom of that.  The longer I write the more material I compile for future self condemnation.  And yet, still, I write.  Sometimes not because I want to, but because I cannot escape the need to write. 

My friend Danielle once referred to her own journaling habits as her “omer of manna”.

And Moses said, this is the thing with the Lord commandeth, Fill an omer of it to be kept for your generations; that they may see the bread wherewith I have fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you forth form the land of Egypt.                          Exodus 16:32

It changed the way I view my own journal.  Suddenly it wasn’t about just me venting and processing the events that make up life: it was about keeping a record of what God was doing in my life - how He was growing, changing and feeding me. 
I’m not perfect.  (Ask either of my sisters – their confirmation will be prompt and detailed.)  And not everything I’ve recorded over the years has value.  There have been occasions when I’ve thought about culling old volumes that demonstrate a discouraging lack of higher vision and paint me in all my self-centered ugliness.  I’ve considered burning offending bits of my history in an attempt to expunge the shame and regret.  But in the end I’ve always chosen to keep them because someday they may provide the opportunity to show my children what path not to choose; what choice not to make; where that attitude will land her. 

More than once I’ve been encouraged by the opportunity to look back and see how God worked.  I can look back and see how a lot of the moments I thought were unfairly difficult were actually not as dire as I thought they were; I can see how God provided for me in many situations; how, oh look at that, my parents were right after all.  (Go figure :)
I do not, as a general rule, spend a lot of time re-reading through my own history.  But recently I have dug a few volumes out and traced back to see where I was at this time last year.  What was God teaching me?  What was I learning at this time two, or even three years ago?  More often than not when I've taken trips down memory lane, I’ve discovered that there are common threads being carefully woven by God’s hand.  More often than not they have been preparation for the path I am currently walking in the present.  Being reminded, by events from my own history that God hasn’t left me yet, that He won’t leave the work He started in my heart half done is encouraging.  And it gives me hope for the shadowed moments that I walk now – hope that this, today, is preparing me for whatever He has coming next.

So I wanted to take a moment to encourage you: whether you choose to keep a journal, a diary, a prayer list, a scrap book, a photo album . . . find a way to keep hold of the lessons God is working in your heart.  Deliberately record the ways He blesses you.  Fill your ‘omer of manna’, not just for the generation to come – but for yourself as well.  We forget so soon.
                                                                                                     Irish Rose

Monday, January 21, 2013

Belated End of NaNo Report

Hi All,
 I just realized the other day that, amazingly enough, it was nearing the end of December - is almost a week into January. - Is January. (How in the world did that happen?!) Not only did Christmas and the New Year creep up on us, but November is long gone and we never let you know how our latest Nano projects went!
It was a rather . . . . interesting month, that is to be sure.
There was a lot of frustration, lots of stress, lots of exclamations that used a whole lot of exclamation points, and gummy words worms (There, you see how it affected me? I can't even use basic words even now! Of course . . . the idea of gummy words is quite appealing . . .it could be inspiration and a reward all at once!) as a reward when word goals were reached. (Or dark chocolate, for those who turn their noses up at the yummy gummies.)


      NaNo . . . Yes . . . well . . . . it was quite an interesting little study.
To begin with, I seem to lack some kind of vital brain function, because not only did I decide to write a thriller for NaNo (something I am entirely unfamiliar with writing), but I also decided to make it even harder and throw the plot smack dab in the middle of a steampunk era . . . . which I also know absolutely zilch about.
Despite the fact that I don't know how to write thriller . . .or Steampunk, my novel took off quite nicely, managing to jot off a respectable word count during the first couple of days that set my finishing goal way earlier than I had expected. Knowing the penchant of Writers Block to pop up regularly, as well as the fact that we decided to schedule our writing so we wouldn't be writing anything on Sunday's, I was happy with my daily word count. I figured that with the days I wouldn't be able to write I would still be able to comfortably finish before the end of the month. (Unlike Camp NaNo where I was writing feverishly at 11:30 the last night to get to the finish line.)

    You learn things about yourself when you are knee deep in spelling and grammar errors, grappling with a deadly case of Writers Block. For one thing, spelling isn't all that important *nods* really, I'm serious, if we writers can come up with stories why can't we just come up with new words? *hopeful look* Okay, so, spelling is important, but you don't have to worry about it until you go back to clean up your first draft, until then? Completely ignore it, if you can. (Which is actually harder than it sounds.)
You also learn more about the little tricks you employ when you have absolutely no idea what to do and need to write something . . . . anything to get going again.
For instance?  This particular NaNo was somewhat easy to go off onto tangents about, well, anything. Why you ask? Because when I hit a block I simply turned around and made my character have a deep, philosophical discussion/argument with themselves as they wandered the shadowy corridors of the place they were trapped in. Or came up with intriguing little plot twists . . . .that never actually came to a conclusion because, well, I forgot where I was going with them . . . or couldn't remember if I had explained said plot twist or not. . . .
   Once the manuscript was finished I sat back, heaved a sigh, and told my sisters that I didn't think there had been one conclusion in the entire book! But hey, why quibble with minor details like that? It was FINISHED! That's what counted.  I could wave goodbye to Writers Block, soothe my inner editor that I had been ignoring, and once again enjoy it whenever my muse decided to flit by and drop a new idea into my lap.
Image used from:

   Another thing you learn about yourself?
You have compulsive problems when you finish your 50k novel in two weeks and find yourself actually picking up and beginning another one. . . . .
Or, perhaps, when the second novel of the month reaches about 25K that you no longer like it, drop it and. . . turn around to start ANOTHER ONE! . . . . . .
It is right about that point when you realize that, perhaps, just maybe, you are certifiably crazy.
(You also begin to talk about yourself in third person, as though no one will figure out who you mean:)

Irish Rose:
      Needless to say, Sharpi's was by far the most interesting NaNo experience of the year.  I deveated from my comfort zone and attempted my hand at mild fantasy - which I figured shouldn't have been all that hard.  It's fantasy for crying out loud - what I don't know about a basic fairy tale I was at liberty to make up, right?  :)  Turns out, making stuff up isn't as easy as it sounds.

       I finished my word count on time . . . but that is about as far as my bragging rights go.  I'd had what I considered to be a really great story idea about a year ago, so I saved it for NaNo . . . yeah, see if I do that again.  I spent time world building, fleshing out characters to the point where some of them had their own sound-tracks.  Last year I had very little in the way of preparation; I figured this year I'd try something different and plan ahead.  Mmmmm . . . . probably not going to do that again, either.

      In my opinion, 2012's NaNo attempt was 50,000 words of pure rubbish.  I hated the fact that I knew exactly what was coming next in the plot and all the characters were behaving just as I had intended them too.  (Writers *shaking head* . . . they complain that when characters aren't behaving, they complain when they do behave . . . they're just never happy!  Unless we're being handed chocolate and/or are mulling over an amazing new plot line that has yet to see the light of ink.)  In short: I overplanned to the point of sucking all life and enjoyablilty out of my plot-line and characters.

      Moral of the story: idealing, in the crazy world of writing, it is important to strike the perfect balance between "planned" and "unplanned".  Planning isn't a bad thing - as long as it doesn't completely take the place of the story that you are trying to tell in the first place. 

      Was last year's NaNo experiment a failure?  Not if I learned a little more about striking the proper balance between life and story, planned and unplanned.  Will I ever do anything with it?  Who knows . . . there might still be redemable bits, but it is going to take a lot of distance before I can see them clearly.  (I am, after all, my own worst critic.  Always have been.)  Will I do NaNo again this year?  Maybe . . . at this point I promise nothing.  It might come too close to making "plans".  :)

*clears throat* My nano was fine, thank you.................................................Alright fine, I know I won't be able to get away with saying just that.

Normally I never plan; I get an idea but after that I just wait until I look for....say, names.

This time, however, all three of us did a "writing lesson" thingy online.  And doggone'it ALL, I WASN'T GOING TO DO NANO THIS YEAR!  But with that writing thing came a little idea..........Thanks a lot Sharpi.
So this time I had names, families names, places they lived, places they worked, etc, etc.
It went pretty well until about half way. Then I got to thinking about my story line, and started thinking of a different way I wanted it to go.  But with this new way I would have had to delete HALF of what I had already written.

Then one of my loving sisters told me about a little thing called, 'Slash-through''s my new best writing buddy:)
At first it felt like kind of cheating in a way, but then I went with my newer way of going with the story and liked it way better.

I finished about halfway through the month and another idea had been forming in my mind.  So when I was a few days of finishing my first one I started my second.
"Why not" I thought and it started good..............................and then it slid down the cliff.
Halfway through my 50k I was going slower and slower.  I did flashbacks, I did a new twist on the story, I KILLED ONE OF MY GOOD GUYS, which I just don't do!
*whispers* but it's okay, he's still alive.
See how desperate I was, I brought people back from the dead!.................correction: person.

It was like molasses trying to write the night before last of writing.  But I finally finished the morning of the last day and I don't think I'll be doing that again thank you very much.
Notice, I didn't say never:)

All in all it was a fun November, complete with an all night pajama party on the 29th to help give our novels that last big boost before the last day. (Complete with chocolate inspiration and prompt slips to help with those moments you just needed a little bit of prodding.)
Will our novels ever see the light of day again? . . . . My guess would be probably not, but you never know!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Two Days Left! (Winner Announced)

Update 1/21:
Here you go guys, I promised a picture to show what we gave away.
A pretty set of albums with a couple pages of adhesive quotes to hold all those special pictures and postcards.
What I really liked about this set is that the second album is small enough it could easily be tucked in a large purse or backpack for when you are traveling and want to take blank postcards and stamps; as well pictures; and maybe even tuck a few colorful leaves from your travels into the sleeves.

UPDATE: With the use of a Random generator, the winner of our Christmas giveaway is . . . . Miriam K!  Congrats Miriam! We will get it to you as soon as possible, and once she gets it we'll post a picture here so you all can see what it is. :)

There are two days left to enter our giveaway, so if you were planning on entering and did not get around to it you have a little time left.
We would love to hear from you!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Those Pesky Things . . . .

    Leftovers - In many cases the epitome of frustration when you are trying to figure out what to make for supper and find that, not only does your pantry seem unnaturally bare, but the only thing you have in the fridge are random containers that hold tiny little blobs of this and that, barely large enough for a snack, let alone an entire meal!
We all have them . . .or, I suppose I'm assuming we all have them. If you don't I would love to hear your secret!

For those of us who suffer from Leftover-ism:
Have no fear! Most of those leftovers (barring soup, that is) can be made into one incredibly yummy baked goodness. This particular form of food seems to be very forgiving; accepting anything from leftover stir-fry to thick beef stew, or simply a bit of cheese topped with that leftover salad that wouldn’t stretch far enough to feed your entire family.
What is this wonderful food?

We eat quite a lot of pizza in our house, as it is a favorite of everyone. We each have our favorite kinds and usually stick to just a couple different variations.
However, on those nights when we really want pizza, or supper time has rolled around with nothing planned on, we will often turn to the fridge, rooting around in the various containers to see what sort of leftovers we have. Depending on what they are they will either be turned into a) An Everything-but-the-Kitchen-Sink Casserole, or b) An Everything-but-the-Kitchen-Sink Pizza!

Last night happened to be the latter.
We wanted pizza, but didn't particularly feel like making one of our standby recipes. Besides, our fridge was currently holding some leftover beef roast and roasted potatoes. Sounded like a pretty good start to a yummy pizza, and everything was already cooked so, other than the crust, it wouldn't take as long to prepare as it would have if I wanted Steak Pizza and had to start with raw beef.

First things first, pizza dough needed to be mixed up and set to rising. Over the past couple of years we have gathered a couple pizza dough recipes that we like. I have begun to realize that pizza dough is just one of those recipes that takes a long, long time to find the Perfect one. We've gotten close, and enjoy the ones we have, but so far I don't know that we've found the absolute perfect pizza dough recipe.
However, turning to my lovely, shiny new cookbook that I received for Christmas, I mixed up the dough that we had tried once before and enjoyed.
The thing I particularly like about this recipe is that the author of the book provided two; the Quicky Method, and the Leisurely Method. While the Leisurely is one of those In-the-fridge-overnight type of recipes, the Quicky takes about 45 minutes to go from mixing to raised and ready to use.
I love quick dough recipes.

    While the dough was rising I asked Chickadee to mix up a batch of barbecue sauce. . . . which I might have shared with you, if it weren't for the fact that my life would be in extreme peril if I dared such a thing.
She started mixing up her Special Recipe of sauce while I began shredding the beef (which is just a fancier term for what was basically tearing it up because that was easier than trying to use a knife and fork), cubing the potatoes, and slicing up onions.

The attempt of caramelized onions didn’t work very well. . . . probably because I don’t know how to do them and was already halfway through and couldn't look it up. So what I ended up with would most likely be described as, for lack of a better description, toasted onions.

    Once everything was chopped, sliced, torn, and mixed up it was all dumped together and mixed up to create the topping for our pizza.

Topping ready it was now time to fetch the pizza dough.
 The dough for this recipe is really nice and soft. 
 I don't think I added enough water to this particular batch, because it was a bit stiff and didn't create as puffy a crust as it did last time. So I guess if you want a thin, crunchy crust, you can get that really easily by using dough that is just a tad drier than it normally should be.
We're almost done!
Because I wasn't sure the meat mixture had gotten enough sauce I spread out a thin layer of barbecue over the crust, then dumped the topping on and spread it out. 
After a generous sprinkling of cheese it was all ready for the oven!
It took longer to cook than anticipated, so next time I think I will up the oven temperature and see what that does to it.
   And there you have it! A Barbecued Beef pizza made of leftovers! Or, you know, almost entirely leftovers. It tastes yummy, stretches food you already have in your fridge, and frees up space all at the same time!

We would love to hear how you all like to use or 'reconstitute' your leftovers!

P.S. I didn't even include the other pizza we made because . . . well, it was somewhat of a flop.
We have discovered that when you mix powdered ranch dressing with some mayonnaise it makes really, really yummy base when spread over your pizza crust before the toppings get put on.
Normally it turns out great. Last night, however, we somehow didn't manage to put enough Ranch in the mayonnaise . . . which meant it ended up tasting like a whole lot of hot mayo . . .