Accessory Exchange

Inspired by The Nester's exchange she hosted last year I decided to host one in my home for the girls from church. I put the invitation on Facebook and emailed it to those who aren't on FB.
Each girl was told to bring 3 items that she no longer used to be traded for 3 new items for herself.

There were 7 of us total and while it was a bit smaller than I'd anticipated it was a nice group and we had a great time together.

I completely forgot to take pictures of any of the people, but here are some of the details:

I pulled out my beautiful teacups that I have collected from various ladies in my life.

My sister made cheesecake.
Incredible cheesecake.
Good enough to break my diet for cheesecake.
And she's going to add the recipe to her blog soon.
So watch for it- because it's incredible.

Center piece. 
Fresh from the garden.
I love that we have flowers in February.

A little side track question - Is there a trick to cutting flowers off bushes? I constantly pick the flowers and am starting to wonder if there is a right or wrong way to do it? I do want them to grow back again next year.

Some of the items set out on the table - we had jewelry, a day planner, scarves, purses, hats and hair accessories. 

To chose the items we did three rounds - at the beginning of each round we all picked a number from 1-7 out of a hat and that was then the order of who went in to look at the items set out on the table. The system worked well and everyone ended up with new items to accessorize themselves!

I am going to try this again in the next couple months with the ladies from church and home items, but this would work really well with so many different "themes" - children's books, gift items, games and movies, toys, kitchen items - the ideas are really endless!


Sewing Table - Before and After

Last summer I picked up this table for $3 at a yard sale. It took me up until a few weeks ago to finish it and I love how it turned out! This is in our entrance way by the front door.

I did take before pictures but I can't find them anywhere. I remembered seeing Sarah post the sewing table she found at the side of the road last year and asked her if I could borrow her "before" picture as mine was in similar shape to hers - she graciously said yes. 

So here are her before pictures:
 I honestly thought we had identical tables until I put them side by side and saw that we definitely don't have the same table - just very, very similar! Check out what Sarah did to her table.


I sanded mine down and had every intention of painting it but once it was sanded I liked the look of it and rubbed three coats of polyurethane on it and voila!
I used the MiniWax Fast Drying Clear Gloss and followed the instructions on the can.

You can see the picture of the boys waiting to be hung and a Spring arrangement I came up with last week.
I love my priorities - that picture has been waiting to be hung for months and yet I made the time to make an Eastery/Spring arrangement a month early.
The table still has the sewing machine inside it - it makes it a dead weight to move, but I think it adds to the charm knowing there is an ancient sewing machine inside of it. Even if I am the only one to know it's in there.


Easy Craft for Kids

Blue Beard. Literally.

Sometimes the greatest craft activities are the easy ones.
The crafts that require a box of crayons, a 5 minute attention span long enough to color and then a hearty "Arrr" to chase them out the door for them to lose themselves in a world of imagination.

I picked these masks up at Joannes for $1 each but I know I have seen similar masks at other stores (Dollar Tree? Target? Don't remember.) They would be simple enough to make yourself out of thicker cardboard in a pinch but part of the appeal is how easy these are all ready made up! If you're looking for an easy craft that requires minimal expense, effort or supplies I highly recommend looking for these next time you're out!

I just love how Wesley really has no idea how to hold it! 


My Africa

I read a quote on a friends blog regarding David Livingston's calling to Africa and the amount of time he devoted to that country and I haven't been able to get the thought off my mind all day.

This is the quote I read;
"People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa...Is that a sacrifice which brings its own blest reward in healthful activity, the consciousness of doing good, peace of mind, and a bright hope of a glorious destiny hereafter? Away with the word in such a view, and with such a thought! It is emphatically no sacrifice. Say rather it is a privilege. Anxiety, sickness, suffering, or danger, now and then, with a foregoing of the common conveniences and charities of this life, may make us pause, and cause the spirit to waver, and the soul to sink, but let this only be for a moment. All these are nothing when compared with the glory which shall hereafter be revealed in, and for, us. I never made a sacrifice. Of this we ought not to talk, when we remember the great sacrifice which HE [Jesus] made who left His Father's throne on high to give Himself for us."

I think it is beautiful.

And then I think of my calling. 

To be his mother.
And his mother.

And then suddenly the quote is no longer simply beautiful but entirely challenging. 

I will never face dangers like David Livingston faced - but my calling - my "Africa" - is my home. My husband. My boys. 
And I wonder - am I cultivating an attitude of joy in my service to God that at the end of my life I can say with all honesty "It was never a sacrifice, it was a privilege." 

Linking to Tuesdays Unwrapped


Spoon People

I couldn't like these quirky spoon people any more! 

They were so much fun to make with Judah (age 3) and somewhat of a pain to make with Wesley (1.5) but we did have a fun time sitting around the table together even if Wesley kept stealing all the googly eyes.
These really are easy and inexpensive to make and I would recommend it for age 3 and up - obviously the older the child the less hands on the parent has to be.
I picked up a couple packs of wooden spoons at the Dollar Tree. Each pack comes with three wooden spoons in three different sizes. Have kids that will squabble over who gets the tallest spoon? Buy two packs and then give them each the shortest tallest one from each pack. Problem solved!

The other supplies we used were:
Googly eyes
Permanent marker
Sea shells
These spoon people are rather easy going and would be grateful to be dressed in whatever you have laying around your home.

I started out by drawing faces on the front side of the spoon - Judah didn't want to draw his own and Wesley lacks certain coordination skills to draw his own. 
Wesley wanted two different size eyes on his person and Judah wanted his frowning.
(I actually didn't glue the eyes on until the end as it made it easier to work with the spoons without worrying about drying glue!)
The boys picked out the color pipe cleaner they wanted and worked on wrapping the pipe cleaner around the handle of the spoon. Arms were easily formed using a second same color pipe cleaner. For the pants they picked a different color and then wrapped it around the spoon too. 

Judah chose to use this sea shell as a hat for his spoon person. I copied the idea and did the same for Wesley.

Judah's spoon person.

Wesley's spoon person.

My sister Esther's spoon person.

My spoon person.

Welcome to our lives spoon people! I will do all that is in my power to ensure you are never eaten off of.

A Thrift Store Secret

Here is a secret I have discovered: local business donate their previous seasons items that haven't sold in their store to second hand stores. All of Big Lots Christmas surplus is currently sitting at our local Salvation Army (oddly enough, priced higher than Big Lots final discount of 80% off). Our local Goodwill is the home of Joanne Fabrics extra Christmas surplus (again - priced higher than Joanne's final discount price of 90% off!) 
The Salvation Army has also had a large stock of brand new rugs, undershirts, shoes and books - I am not sure which store any of those come from but the volume of identical, brand new items tells me they must have been donated by a store. A quick Google search told me the rugs were 50% off, the undershirts 75% off, shoes 75% off and books about 90% off. 
And most recently The Salvation Army has become the new home for Catherines Plus Size Clothing Store's extra jewelry - all brand new and marked down by 80% - 95%.

I only picked up these two pairs of earrings priced at $1 and $1.25 each as I don't really need bracelets or necklaces, but I have been thrilled with this realization about brand new items being donated by local businesses. And at the same time I am realizing how important it is to know your prices. While the Christmas items are a great price they were considerably cheaper at the stores themselves. The rugs and shoes and undershirts at 50% - 75% off are only mediocre deals. You can easily find the same deals at stores like TJMax or Ross.

I am developing a great relationship with the workers at our local Thrift Store and I plan on asking them if there is a certain day or month that tends to get more business donations so I can be over there checking them out with great frequency - I wonder if coming up on tax time encourages more generous donations from businesses?

Theme: Hands On

From an engagement shoot yesterday.


Dress Up - Indian Warrior

Over the last couple years I have noticed a serious lack of affordable, manly men dress up clothes for boys. Now that my little manly men are entering the world of imaginative play I have been on the lookout for ideas I can replicate on the cheap.
I love how these Indian headbands (or hippie band as it tends to look on Wesley's head!) turned out. It cost under $5 for the two of them with enough supplies left for 2 or 3 more.
I picked up a bag of leather scraps at Hobby Lobby for $2.50. I also got a bag of long feathers for $2. 
Being that these were scraps the wider pieces of leather were uneven and some had markings on them. The markings add to the 'wild' look and I easily straightened the edges - it won't matter if it is perfectly straight or not.

I held the wider piece of leather around their heads to measure the how long it should be and cut it a bit shy of that. Using sharp scissors I made a hole on either end of the leather large enough for an eyelet - I'm not sure which size they were, but I made the hole large enough for what I had on hand. 
This was hard work to get the perfect size hole in the leather and I was quite thankful that my sister helped me out with it!
I used an eyelet tool kit to set the eyelets and then used the smaller pieces of leather to tie the two ends together.
 I stuck a feather in the back of the headband and called it an Indian Warrior Headdress. 

He sharpened his stick so he could pierce the (imaginary) bad guys.
I kid. 
The stick was found sharp.
 Giving his fierce warrior face. 
Still looks kissable to me. 
I am left wondering - is there a way to secure the feather to the back of this? Would hot glue or super glue bond the feather and the leather together forever?
I have been listening to entirely too many rhyming songs lately.

The next costume I want to work on is a knights helmet and shield - I saw an incredible idea for the helmet in a high end kids catalog (I think it was about $60!!) and then happened to find a wooden shield at the thrift store. Have you seen or made any great boy dress up costumes? I'd love to see!


Love Hate and Bean Soup

**winner announced at the bottom of the post**

I have a love hate relationship with the gym. I really don't mind going. In fact I quite enjoy being there and completing a workout. In my day to day world not much gets completed - the laundry is never quite caught up, the dishes multiply on their own, the beds get made in the morning and by afternoon have been turned into tents or hideaways. So to go to the gym with a 20-60 minute plan and complete it is satisfying. 

The ellipticals and treadmills at our gym are equipped each with their own tv. I enjoy putting on headphones and losing myself in a show while running. More often than not the only thing worth watching is the Food Network - which is where my hate relationship with the gym comes in. I often leave the gym with a craving for Banana Foster, Cheesy dips or a Cheesecake (without any cracks). It is somewhat counter productive to the efforts I am putting in at the gym to leave with a hankering for junk food.

There are, on the rare occasion, healthy dishes created that inspire me to go home and try my hand at it myself.
The other day Easy Entertaining With Michael Chiarello was on and he made a soup that looked incredible.

He cooked a white bean - I never did catch which white bean it was so I picked up a bag of Great Northern Beans and it totally worked for us. 
Cook the beans, then strain them, then stick them back in a pot. 
Add carrots, celery, onion, garlic and a couple pieces of cooked bacon.
I also added a bit of (cooked) boneless skinless chicken I had in the fridge.
Add seasonings to taste.
Cover with chicken broth.
Let simmer for awhile - I left it for a several hours.

This next part I had to do in small batches as we only had a small food processor available for blending, but basically you blend up the soup, adding Extra Virgin Olive Oil to it as you blend. He said you could add up to 1 cup but he only added 2 TBSP. Since I have no idea what portion sizes he was working with I didn't have much to go on so I took a stab at it and added about 4 TBSP.

While I was blending I was also heating up more olive oil in a pan. Once heated I added basil leaves - these sputter and spit a lot so stand back! Once they stopped sputtering I added red pepper flakes to it and spooned the entire mixture on top of the soup.

I don't think I had enough liquid in mine as it was a tad bit too thick but the flavor was incredible! 
Paul, Esther and I really enjoyed it. Wesley (1.5 years) devoured it. Judah (3) thought it was ok and ate just his share.
I think the basil leaves ended up looking so pretty.
And, despite all the oil in it, this is so much healthier than all the tempting buttery dishes Paula Deen fries up! 

The winner of the Kids Paint Markers is Jennifer from One Frugal Lady. Congratulations Jennifer - I will get these in the mail to you soon.

Linking up with Tasty Tuesday


Leaving On A Jet Plane

Paul left today for Nebraska. He'll be gone for two weeks. 
It is currently 25 F where he's headed. 
While I miss him I don't exactly wish to be where he is.
I am so over cold weather.

We took him to the airport a bit early and sat and in the waiting area.
The TV was all about the airplane crash in Austin, Texas.
A tragic incident and not one I particularly wanted to hear about moments prior to my husband boarding his flight.
So I got up and walked around with the boys. Judah drove his truck.

Wesley was still fascinated with the tv.
Poor sheltered child. This is what happens when we don't let them watch it much at home - they cling to it when we're out in public.

They discovered they could see the airplanes through this one window.

Walking his daddy to the gate.

Demonstrating how an airplane flies.

Final goodbyes.

Walking away.

Outside the airplane-ing continued.

Mimicked by the little one.

Watching the planes.

This is the second time this year Paul has been gone for two weeks and he's had several weekend long trips thrown in there too. Sometimes this life isn't the easiest - especially when the little ones cry and ask where their daddy is. But we are richly blessed and thankful for this job. And we'll be watching the sky each time an airplane flies past to see if daddy is in it.

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