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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Inspired by... creativity

One of the interesting things about where I live, in the Hill Country of Texas, is that the soil conditions and climate are very similar to France.  The wonderful thing about this fact is that it's perfect for growing...

... lavender!

Every year in June Blanco hosts its annual Lavender Festival, supported by several area lavender farms - it's a wonderfully unique event!

This year I was absolutely wowed by the creativity of the market vendors.  Lot's of great up cycling here, my friends! and all done so beautifully!  One of my favorites was this jar candle:

With all the glass jars we have clinking around the house, I knew I had to make some of these.  And share my first attempt with y'all!

Here's what I did...

You will  need:
  • up cycled glass jar - cleaned and all adhesive removed
  • modge podge
  • applicator
  • wire
  • beads
  • fabric/lace
Since I was using lace, I wanted it to overlap to produce more depth of color.  So I didn't worry about cutting it to fit the jar perfectly, I just made sure it would cover the height of the jar all the way around.  If your using a print fabric, I suggest cutting it to fit the jar snugly.

First, I covered the jar with modge podge, wrapped the lace around it and then applied layers of modge podge (letting them dry in between) to the lace until it was stiff and "laying" the way I wanted it to.

As it turned out, I didn't like the way it looked at the top (remember, I hadn't cut it exact) so I put a bit of lace around the edge to cover it.

Next, it's time for the wire.  I actually ended up using some old galvanized wire I found on my hubby's work bench, rather than the gold wire in the first picture.  I think the galvanized wire gives it more of a "vintage" look.  I "hooked" the wire and wrapped it, tightly, around the top of the jar 3-4 times.  For the handle, I decided a braided design might look nice, and came up with this:

I attached it to the wire I had wrapped around the jar, added a candle and...

Here's the final result...

I'm pleased with how it turned out and am looking forward to trying other fabrics, wires and bead combinations!  You can never have too many candles... right?

There were lot's of other great ideas at the festival and you can bet they'll be showing up in some of my future projects!  I especially want to try my hand at mosaics and would love it hear about any mosaic projects you've done!  (In fact, I think I'll start a pinterest board right now!)

If you're in the area I highly recommend you visit the Lavender Festival next June!


Linking with:

Tidy Mom   Somewhat Simple   Join  us Saturdays at tatertotsandjello.com for the weekend wrap 
 up           party!  
      Confessions Of A Stay At Home Mommy

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Inspired by... one cool summer

I am so excited to be linking up with Jo and her monster crew over at Smilemonsters for the best Popsicle recipes ever!  They are so easy and so yummy, I encourage you to check out (and try out) any and all that sound good to you!

What a cool way to spend the summer - great idea, Jo!

Love lime?  Then you'll want to try mine...


2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 cup tonic or soda water
1/3 cup lime juice
1 Tablespoon lime zest
1/4 tsp mint extract
1/16-1/8 tsp imitation rum extract (optional)

Whisk together, pour into molds and freeze.

Note: if you're making these for with kids in mind, you might want to omit the rum extract.  I used it in mine and they tasted great, just like a Mojito! but kids may not like the "rum" flavoring.


Don't forget to check out all the other great recipes:

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Inspired by... golden

I had been looking for some inspiration for this photo:

...one of the few I've taken that I think came out well, or at least not blurry [smile].  Through some great photography blogs I was introduced to Kim Klassen - and I absolutely [heart] her textures!  (Thanks, Kim, for offering so many of them free to us "budding" photographers!)

Kim hosts "Texture Tuesdays" a link party every week that is just choc full of inspiration!  I had a lot of fun playing with her Golden texture on this photo! 

What do you think of the result?

Don't you love how it brought out colors that weren't in the original!  Simply because we applied a few layers of gold.  Jesus encourages us to, "...buy from Me gold refined in the fire to make you truly rich," (Rev 3:18)

What colors are hiding just below your surface that need just a touch of the Refiner's fire to help them shine?


Monday, June 27, 2011

Inspired by... a picture

A picture is worth a thousand words... or so they say.  I would have to agree.  I'm no great photographer and my eight year old digital camera works... most of the time.  And, every once in a while, when I'm downloading my photos there is a passable one in the bunch (1 in 200 is usually my ratio - ha!).

But that doesn't stop me from taking pictures... lots of pictures!  I am frequently overwhelmed by God's creation and am constantly seeing things I want to "share."  A picture is a great way to do that.

I was delighted when I came across the Scripture and a Snapshot challenge over at Katie Lloyd Photography!  What an inspiring way to spread the Word!

Here's my first submission:

I love Hyacinths!  It's fascinating to me how they change color depending upon the alkalinity of the soil. In this picture I focused on the leaves.  Don't ya just love the dark veins and different shades of green?  I do!  It reminded of this scripture, Psalm 37:4, which is one of my favorites.  We often have many different "shades" or desires in our hearts.  But until those desires line up with what God desires for us, pursuing them won't bring the joy and blessings God wants for our lives.

I enjoyed discovering ways to practically apply this scripture to my life when I was writing Heart's Desire.  As you can guess from the title, it's a major theme in the story.  Melinda has many "plans" for her life.  But it isn't until she begins to seek God's plan for her that she finds true peace.

So what's your current heart's desire?  Do you think it lines up with what God would want for you?

I'm excited to be participating in:

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Inspired by... serendipity

Welcome to the first...

If you missed my introduction, Serendipity Sunday is all about finding unexpected and wonderful things!  Here's what I found this week:

...found along the Alto Frio River. 
No cell phone service, no internet... 'nuff said.

Inspiration for a last minute birthday gift...
...found at live.laugh.photograph
Thanks, Laura, for sharing this great tutorial for your birds nest necklace!

Subway Art
Janet's done it again!  Another great design! 
Head over to Today's Fabulous Finds to get the free printable!

A Gift from my friend...


...which I plan to fill promptly with this scrumptious salad:

Spinach Salad
(Recipe source: Taste of  Home)

1 package (6oz) fresh baby spinach
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional, we like pecans or slivered almonds best)
1//2 can mandarin oranges (optional)
1/2 to 1 cup feta cheese
1/3 cup olive or vegetable oil
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon sour cream
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

In a bowl, combine the first five ingredients.  In a jar with tight fitting lid (or dressing cruet), combine the remaining ingredients; shake well.  Drizzle over salad and toss to coat; serve immediately.  Yield: 6-8 servings.

What serendipitous finds did you have this week?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Inspired by... summer treats

I'm not really a big on sweets, even chocolate (gasp! I know, but hey, I have met a few other women who aren't big chocolate fans... okay... maybe two) but even I have to admit, there is something about summer and frozen treats.  These pies looked especially yummy...

...and inspired me to make a Key Lime version of my own.  I love lime!  and do better with sweets when they are tart-sweet or salty-sweet... this turned out definitely on the tart-sweet side!

Here's what you'll need:

1/2 cup lime juice (approximately 10 key limes - they are small, but juicy!)
1 T lime zest
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
8 oz cool whipped topping, thawed
2 T honey
1 graham cracker crust, 9 inch
green food coloring, optional

Mix cream cheese and whipped topping until smooth.  Stir in lime juice, zest, honey and food coloring (I used three drops and my pie was "tinted" green).  Mix well, pour into graham cracker crust and freeze.

Mine turned out tart, which I love, but if your cookin' for kiddos, you may want to add sugar in place of honey, or increase the honey, decrease the lime juice, etc.   You can easily alter this recipe to taste before freezing. 

So... now that my creative frozen pie juices are running... I'm thinkin' a mocha-java pie might be fun!

What's your favorite frozen dessert?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Inspired by... summer

In honor of the first day of summer and... my birthday... today... yea!  I'm going to share with you some of the elements in my summer fun display.

The painting was done by my paternal grandmother, Lillian B. Post.  She started painting late in life, in her 80's if I remember correctly and I'm honored to have one of her pieces.  Looking back, I can say I probably got my love of reading from her.  The best way I can think to describe her to you is to say that she was: a lady.

The large starfish was also my grandmother's, I don't remember where she got it, but I love it!  And notice those pink and yellow balls?  Madigan made a fantastic summer wreath with them!

The final element is a free summer art printable you can get over at the ariel rose blog.

I thought it fun to add some 3 dimensional pennants to the frame.  Do you have a favorite quote about summer?

It's pretty neat having your birthday on the longest day of the year!  This year my hubby and I have rented a cabin on the Frio River.  You can bet I'm going to be taking advantage of every last ray of sun!  It promises to be a very fun time - I'll share some of it with you when I get back!

Wishing all of you a very blessed summer!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Inspired by... dads

Happy Father's Day everyone!

I was inspired by the cost of Father's Day cards this year to... make my own!!!  Not that dad (and dad) aren't worth the $3-$5 a card... but, somethow I'm thinkin' they'll like these cards better:

That's my brother in the pail (snicker, snicker)! 

I printed the designs on Avery (3265) White Half-Fold Greeting Cards, the back and inside of the card was personalized as well.

Special thanks to Cami at Trixie Scraps Designs for her great tip on shadowing!  I used the Warm Feeling kit from Ruby Lane for this design.  The car was a vintage freebie I found at The Graphics Fairy.

So what'cha think? better than store bought?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Inspired by... serendipity

Have you ever found something you weren't looking for?  Love, perhaps? or a sale at your favorite store (that never has sales!), a diamond bracelet in a bin of costume jewelry, a friend when you reach out to an enemy, joy in adversity.  You get the idea.  Finding something valuable, where you didn't expect to find it, that's serendipity!


Beginning on Sunday, June 26th (because this Sunday has a special serendipitous-ness all its own!) I'll be sharing with you those things that have serendipitously crossed my path during the week.  These might be other blog posts, pictures, recipes, stories, websites, anything I've discovered during the week that was unexpected and special.

It will be a great way to start the week - don't you think?

PS If you're wondering about the logo, click HERE

Friday, June 17, 2011

Inspired by... mangos

Sweet and exotic, mangos are one of my favorite fruits!  They're in season right now and at 77cents a piece at my local grocer, several found their way into my shopping cart this week!

Don't be intimidated by this exotic fruit!  This video shows just how easy they are to prepare:

See easy, right?  Right!  Let's make that yummy smoothie I was telling you about.  Here's what you'll need:

1 mango = about 1 cup of fruit
1/2 cup yogurt or Greek style yogurt
1/2 cup rice milk (or milk, milk substitute of your choice)
2 T flax (optional)
1 T honey

I always blend my fruit and milk first, then add the rest and blend well.  For me, this method  makes a smoother drink.  However, if you have a VitaMix or Blendtec blender, you can throw everything in together and blend.  I've been using the Greek style yogurt which makes a much thicker smoothie.  If you don't like your smoothie so thick, I recommend regular yogurt.  I love flax, but if you're not a fan, you could substitute chia seeds, but you may want to reduce the amount.  I've been using about 8 cubes of ice, but if you're using regular yogurt, you may not need as much.  This recipe is very versatile!  Have fun experimenting and make it your own!

So what's your favorite fruit smoothie?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Inspired by... food

I love food!  And the easier it is to prepare, the more I love it!  I'm always on the lookout for easy, healthy recipes. 

My husband and I are renting a cabin next week so I've been scouring my recipes looking for simple recipes that don't require a lot of kitchen staples or hardware to prepare. (I don't want to pack my entire kitchen!)

I thought I'd share with you a few of the winners.  These are all recipes my family loves, that I make on a fairly regular basis.

The first one, Baked Penne with Bacon, Roasted Red Peppers and Spinach, comes from recipegirl.  Lori Lange is one of my favorite food writers! Doesn't this look amazing?!

Trust me, it is! You can find Lori's recipe HERE.

The only things I do differently are: I use mozzarella in place of the provolone (budget reasons only) and I use real bacon bits, rather than cooking bacon and crumbling.  Why this recipe is a winner: I can make this ahead and because it makes so much, I can leave part of it home for my dad to eat while we are away.

(Note: if made with gluten-free pasta, this recipe is gluten-free)

Next up are these soft tacos.  This recipe was inspired by the Mission® Foods recipe on allrecipes.com.  I've changed it only slightly, but you can see the original recipe and the nutritional information HERE.  Their recipe includes a Chipotle Cream Sauce, but we love to use Brianna's Chipotle Cheddar dressing on ours!

4 Mission® Yellow Corn Tortillas
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped or 1 Tbsp Penzeys Spices cilantro
1 pound tilapia fillets
2 tablespoons lime juice

1.In a skillet set at medium-high heat, add the seven ingredients from the olive oil through the cilantro. Saute those ingredients for 5 minutes.
2.After the 5 minutes, add the tilapia and cover and cook for 3 minutes or until fish is fully cooked. (I flip the fish ½ way through so both sides of fish are covered with the cilantro/garlic mixture)  Then add in lime juice and let cook for 1 additional minute.
3.Heat the tortillas according to the package instructions. Fill with the fish and your other favorite ingredients. We like lettuce; cheese; avocado, tomatoes and Brianna’s chipotle cheddar dressing on top!

So easy!!  That's why this one is a winner!  It's also gluten-free!! (All Penzeys Spices, with the exception of some of their soup-starters, are gluten-free)

Next is a very easy, Roasted Vegetable (and pepperoni) Pizza.  This recipe is based on one I saw in Cooking Light.  You can view their version HERE.

Here's my version:

1 Mama Mary’s Thin crust pizza
1 cup sliced mushrooms (any kind you prefer)
1 cup (1/4-inch-thick) slices zucchini (or yellow squash)
1 medium bell pepper, sliced (yellow, red, green or a combination)
½  medium red onion, cut into thick slices
½ cup Kalamata olives, sliced in half
½ - 1 package pepperoni
1 ½ - 2 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
1/3 cup marinara sauce
2 tablespoons prepared basil pesto
1 - 2 cups (4-8 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese
½ cup feta cheese
Pepper to taste
2 tablespoons small fresh basil leaves, sliced into thin strips 

1. Combine mushrooms and next 4 ingredients (through olives) in a large bowl; drizzle with 1 1/2 tablespoons oil. Toss. Arrange on a jelly-roll pan. Bake at 500° for 15 minutes.
2. Slide pizza onto pizza stone (or baking sheet).
3. Brush pizza crust lightly with remaining oil (you don’t have to use it all)
3. Spread with pesto, top pesto with marinara sauce, leaving about a ½-inch border
4. Sprinkle ½ cup mozzarella over sauce; top with vegetables.
5. Sprinkle remaining mozzarella (to taste) over vegetables, top with feta, pepper and fresh basil
6. Bake according to directions on pizza crust. For Mama Mary’s it’s 7-10 minutes at 425° or until crust is golden.

Most of these ingredients are optional, I often don't have zucchini on hand and I only include the pepperoni for my hubby – this pizza is so easy! Have fun and make it your own!  This is winner because it's easy and I can prepare (chop, etc) the ingredients ahead.

And finally, one of my favorites!  Spinach and Feta Turkey Burgers!  (Honestly, I don't even like turkey, but I love these burgers!)  Once again, this recipe was inspired from several similar recipes found on allrecipes.com.

1 pound ground turkey breast
½- ¾ bag leaf spinach (3-4oz)
½ cup feta, crumbled
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tsp Penzeys Spices Shallot Pepper Seasoning
2 tsp garlic, minced
Bread crumbs

1. Preheat oven to 500°
2. Sauté garlic, shallot-pepper and spinach until spinach wilts, let cool slightly
3. In a medium bowl, mix ground turkey, spinach mixture, egg and feta. Mix well. (I use my gloved-hands)
4. Add only enough bread crumbs to allow you to form the mixture into patties.  I get from 4-6 patties, depending upon size. (you may not need to use bread crumbs at all)
5. Arrange patties on broiler pan. Cook for 10 minutes, switch to broil for 5 minutes or until done.

I cook these in our toaster oven, which is great in the summer as it cuts down on kitchen heat!

I serve these on Orowheat sandwich thins with a (very) little mayo, lettuce and tomato.  I usually make a batch of Oven Fries to go with them, but will probably just settle for a pickle when we’re at the cabin.  These are a winner because the ingredients are minimal (I'm already packing feta for the pizza!) and they are SO good and SO easy! 

(Note: these can easily be made gluten-free, omiting the bread crumbs, or using gluten-free bread crumbs and serving them without the "bun")

Even with these oh-so-easy recipes, I'm overwhelmed by the amount of food I'll need to pack for our 5 day cabin adventure rest-cation.  I think I would be seriously questioning my sanity at this point if we had kids!  How do you moms do it?  Looks like I'll be cooking and preping most of the weekend!

What special (or not so special) get-a-ways do you have planned this summer?

One final note, the products mentioned above are products I use and enjoy.  I'm not being paid by anyone to mention them here.