June 23, 2012

Life is an Adventure

You can have plans and things all figured out but how often do things go EXACTLY as planned? Life has a way of twisting and turning in all sorts of directions that you didn't even know were possible. I like to think of it as an Adventure. I'm so thankful that my Father goes before me and prepares the way. You see I believe if we are open to this Adventure and we are willing to walk in faith, then there's no limit to the blessings that can abound.

Today is my 5 year wedding anniversary! I feel so lucky to be married to my best friend.

Every year we make a point to go somewhere we haven't been before and to celebrate the gift marriage has been.  It's a time to reflect and renew. It's such a great way to jump start the next year!

We had an amazing time our first anniversary exploring Utah. The red sandstone is magnificent against the azure blue sky. Squeezing and puzzling our way through Peek-A-Boo Canyon was something I will never forget.

The second year we explored Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. That is one amazing place! My favorite memory was hiking to, and soaking in, a backcountry hot-spring. Something you didn't think you could do in Yellowstone huh? It's not recommended, we had very detailed directions that led us there. It was a pretty thrilling experience.

We went to New Mexico the 3rd year.  We enjoyed the local culture and finding Petroglyphs and Hieroglyphs. There was the most amazing lavender farm we stayed at called Los Poblanos Inn. It was a magical place. Oh, and New Mexico has AMAZING food. 

Our 4th year we spent camping in northern Minnesota. We loved exploring around Lake Superior. Grand Marais was my favorite, it's beautiful country up there near the Boundary Waters. If you've never been before, when you go you've got to try some smoked white fish, it's outta this world good.

And now we are celebrating our 5th year! We've been saving to go to Europe. I really wanted to go to Croatia but then the Cookie Monster found an amazing deal for Italy. I've been before but he hasn't so I knew we would have an amazing time together. The deal was for March which was going to be a little earlier than our actual anniversary. Unfortunately I needed a pretty sudden surgery to remove a large cyst. So going out of the county was out of the question until I was completely healed. 

Now it's the actual day of our anniversary and what are we doing?  PACKING. We are loading up the moving truck tomorrow and headed to the Pocono Mountains. Instead of going on some amazing trip we are driving across the country with all of our worldly possessions. We actually don't close on our house until July 2nd so we are going in Faith that all will work out. It's been unbelievable how this is falling into place. My husband got a job transfer to Pennsylvania and we realized that we could spend less buying rather than renting. We were lead to the most beautiful blue farmhouse with an amazing property. It all happened so fast.  I can't believe I'm going to have my own place to do whatever I want to! It's like having a HUGE blank canvas. 

I think this is a pretty amazing anniversary. I can't wait to see where the next 5 years will take us! Do you do anything special when it's your anniversary or have any traditions? It's never too late to start if you don't.

June 19, 2012

Tidbit Tuesday (hairy pets)

Do you have a hairy pet? I do. We have unwanted hair all over the place. It gets worse when the seasons change. Our Blanca sheds her coat big time when it starts getting hot outside. I have a tidbit that can help! FURminator to the rescue. Have you ever heard of the FURminator? It's a special brush that helps you get out your pets undercoat, which prevents so much shedding.

Blanca doesn't mind when we brush her with the FURminator at all. It's always amazing how much hair we get off her. Usually we fill up an entire grocery bag full and then some which ends up blowing all over the yard. Apparently they can even be used on cats. So in case you hadn't heard of the FURminator before, it's awesome. Do you have any other advice for minimizing pet hair?

June 18, 2012

Piggy Banks

You may remember briefly reading about a Spring Sale that I was a part of at Omaha Clayworks where I've been throwing pottery. This was the first time I sold my pottery. As you can imagine I was VERY excited! I was a little vague about the sale because I was keeping a secret. I was inspired to make a piggy bank for my friends upcoming baby shower and I didn't want her to see what I was up to, just in case she happened to check out my blog.

I didn't make just one piggy bank, I was actually making piggy banks for months. I've been told many times that in order to improve in this art I need to stick to one form for a while. I have learned so much while making these piggy banks and have grown a ton.

It was so amazing to see my pigs on display with all the other artists' work. Unfortunately around the studio my pigs were quite the controversy. Many people thought they had a right to tell me that my pigs were NOT art and that they did NOT belong in the sale. That really hurt.  I would never disrespect another persons hard work like that. Anyway it was decided that my pigs were allowed in the sale but not allowed in the gallery.

I had such a positive response from the people who came to the sale! It was so good for my soul that people would walk in and choose my pottery over others'. It's so rewarding for someone other than family and friends to adore and appreciate my work. These pigs have been overwhelmingly popular. I've sold out and have a list of people waiting for me to make more!

The only problem is I'm moving to PA and am not sure where I'll be throwing pottery in the near future. My new property has lots of options for a studio space but it will be a huge undertaking and will take time. I hope that I will be able to find a wonderful ceramic community to be a part of in the meantime.

It makes my heart happy to see how much joy these pigs have brought people. Each and everyone is completely different.

I learned the importance of making thick solid attachments and how to make them stay in place.

I had so much fun figuring out how to make a variety of expressions.

I also learned that you need to have the corks first and then create the pig to size. I was surprised at how challenging it was to find corks to fit each pig. People seemed to be drawn toward the corks that were more rustic. What do you like best? 

I look forward to sharing more pieces in the future and having them for sale soon. I hope these pictures of my latest creation made you smile. As always I appreciate feedback and constructive criticism so feel free to leave a comment below or e-mail me.

June 15, 2012

Perfect Picnic Sandwich (Muffuletta)

Today's my birthday. It doesn't really feel like my birthday though. Is it true that birthdays get less and less exciting as you get older? That makes me sad, I love birthdays. Unfortunately today has been pretty down right lonely. But I suppose that's my own fault, people don't know you're alone unless you say something. We are moving in a week. Yikes this is coming fast! So today I've been doing a whole lot of packing, cleaning, oh and some laundry. I would say that's probably a pretty good reason why it doesn't feel like a birthday either.

When my husband asked what I wanted to do for my birthday I suggested a picnic. There's a local vineyard that has a beautiful, big, grassy lawn to sit out on and enjoy the sunset and music. They have a terrific Friday night music series during the summer! So I think my birthday will start looking up before too long. I had to make my favorite sandwich for tonight's celebration. Have you ever heard of Muffuletta? It's basically a meat and cheese stuffed loaf of bread. It's AMAZING! Really you can take the concept and make it with whatever ingredients you want. Here's what I used:

Italian or French bread works really well for this. I usually get my olive salad at the olive bar at my local grocery store. You can also make your own. I recently found the stuff below and thought I would give it a try. It also has peppers and other veggies. 

Muffuletta (click here for the printable recipe)

1.) Cut the top off the bread and pull out all the extra bread inside leaving just the crusty shell.  (Wondering what to do with this extra bread? It makes great bread crumbs or is really yummy dipped in olive salad as a snack)

2.) Drizzle both the top and bottom of the bread with oil from the olive salad, you can also use regular Olive Oil. 

3.) Add a good layer of salami, then provolone, next capicola, then ham. Keep adding these layers until you get to the top.

4.) Finally top all the meat and cheese with a heaping amount of olive salad, then add some arugula.

5.) Place the top of the bread back on and press down lightly. 

6.) Lay out some foil and then some plastic wrap. Place the muffuletta on top and tightly wrap in plastic wrap then in foil. Put the wrapped muffuletta in the fridge and put a plate or something heavy on top.

7.) After a few hours take the muffuletta out of the fridge and cut in half and then in half again. You can the wrap it up again for your picnic. After its cut I usually wrap them in individual servings.

Think of all the different ingredients you could stuff a loaf of bread with, the possibilities are endless! You've got to try making your own perfect  picnic sandwich. I would love to hear what ingredients you use to make yours with. 

I'm linking up with:
feed my family friday

June 14, 2012

A Few Baby Shower Ideas

As you know I recently went to a friend's baby shower. I love any type of celebration! I've had lots of fun in the past helping put together showers for friends. This time since my friend's family was hosting and putting everything together I asked if I could contribute a few things. One thing I like to have as a decoration for any event is some type of wreath that clearly shows guests that they've arrived at the right place.

This is super easy to make, you just need scraps of fabric. You could have a lot of fun with different types of fabric. Since we still don't know if the baby is going to be a boy or a girl, I chose a variety of colors.  I actually made one for my own front door that says "welcome." You can read about how to make one of these wreaths HERE

Another thing I like to do for the new mom is to make thank you cards and have all the guests fill out their name and address on an envelope.
The theme for the shower was Beanie Babies so I added a little heart tag to the bear's ear. Usually I would have this sitting out so that when there's down time guests can fill out an envelope. At this shower they actually did something different. They passed out the envelopes to everyone at once and had them fill out their information, then they had a drawing for a prize. I thought that was a great idea! Then you can make sure everyone really fills out an envelope.

One of my favorite things I contributed to this shower were the Mustaches and Bows. Isn't this a fun way to vote on the gender of the baby?

I found some fuzzy fabric at the local craft store in both brown and black. Then I made a template out of paper for a guide. I used hot glue to attach each stash onto a Bar Pin. They sell the Bar Pins in packs of 30 and you can find them in the jewelry making section of most craft stores. I was planning to make my own bows with some ribbon but I found packs of 5 in the clearance section for 10 cents and I had a coupon.
There are lots of different ways you could display the Stashes and Bows. I happened to stumble upon a baby picture frame that was covered in fabric. The pins stuck into the frame perfectly. It would be super easy to make something similar yourself with an old frame, some foam and fabric. You could also just use a cork board. I thought it would be so fun to get a picture of those that chose bows holding up the bow to their hair and then a picture of those that chose stashes holding up the stash to their mouth. Unfortunately we actually forgot to get a count. It looked like more people thought it was going to be a girl though.

Last but not least here's a fun gift idea.

Who do you know that couldn't use some extra money when they're expecting a new baby? You could have a piggy bank at the shower for a decoration and tell the guests ahead of time to bring a little extra money. I actually contacted some friends that I knew wouldn't be able to make it to the shower and they lovingly filled that piggy bank up. I can't wait to tell you more about that piggy bank, it's something I've been keeping a secret for a loooooong time.

Do you have any other awesome baby shower ideas? I would love for you to share them. I have a few more friends that are expecting and I hope to contribute some fun things for their showers.

June 12, 2012

Tidbit Tuesday (gift wrapping)

To me a gift is just as important on the outside as it is on the inside. I really enjoy wrapping gifts. I actually worked as a gift wrapper one Christmas when I was in collage to earn some extra money. I would love to do that again!  Anyway I always keep brown craft paper on hand.

I don't think it's necessary to have a roll of wrapping paper for each occasion. Who has a place to store all that paper anyway?  I almost always wrap gifts in brown craft paper and then I embellish with whatever I might have on hand. Tulle makes a nice full bow and you get a lot of it for the money. With children's or baby gifts I like to attach a small gift to the top for decoration. Isn't that fun?

Next time you're thinking about how to wrap a gift just try some brown craft paper. You might be surprised at how much you like using it.

Don't forget if you have a tidbit 
you can share it on my Facebook page or e-mail it to me.
 I look forward to featuring you and or your blog! 

June 11, 2012

Midwest Baby Shower

We made some dear friends while we were living in Colorado. Two of which were born and raised in the Midwest. Shortly after we moved to Omaha they moved to Minnesota to be a little closer to their families. We've enjoyed visiting with them a few times. You may remember a post about one of our visits, in case you missed it you can read about it Here or Here.

When I found out they were expecting their first baby I knew I wanted to make it to the shower and celebrate with them. It was a 6 hour drive for us to their home in Minnesota. Once we arrived we got back in the car, this time with them, and drove a few more hours to Wisconsin where their families live.

During the ride to Wisconsin our friends' sweet dog Keltie decided that my husband's head and or shoulder was the best spot to lay. She was so cute and always wants or should I say NEEDS constant people contact.

I've never been to Wisconsin before so I was surprised to see rolling hills. 

Of course I knew cheese wouldn't be in short supply.


It was so sweet of our friends' families to open their homes and let us stay with them for the weekend. Especially since we had only briefly met some of them before. They were so hospitable and showed us a very warm welcome. The shower couldn't have gone better. It took place in my friend C's parent's back yard. They don't have a typical backyard. It was such a beautiful space, alive with flowers and wonderfully landscaped.
The theme was animals/Beanie Babies. Do you have a lot of Beanie Babies in storage that you collected at one time? Isn't that a brilliant way to utilize them? 

C's family did such a great job putting everything together for the shower. I really wanted to contribute but it was hard from a distance. I was able to do a couple things for the shower like the stashes and bows below. 

Of course a baby shower wouldn't be complete without games. They did the traditional how big around is the mom and then some that I've never heard of like see how fast the new mom can dress the bear. The guests all signed the little bear's outfit. It was pretty adorable. They also held up different Beanie Babies and had us list the names of their babies for example sheep would be lamb. Isn't that too fun!?!

It couldn't have been a more beautiful day. You could feel the love all around. Later that evening we spent time at the lake and we also had to get some famous ice-cream. Ever heard of Belt's?

What a perfect ending to a wonderful day! If only we could have spent a little longer with our friends. I sure can't wait for this new little blessing to arrive. I really think it's going to be a girl.

June 6, 2012

Blanca's Story

Today is Blanca's birthday.  I can't believe my baby girl is three! They grow up so fast. 

I can remember Blanca's 1st birthday like it was just yesterday. We really had a lot fun celebrating her. I actually made invitations and sent them out to our friends inviting them over to celebrate. 
I made dog bone shaped and Blanca look-a-like cookies for the humans. 

And a giant dog bone shaped birthday cake for the dogs. You can find the recipe here. I think I used cream cheese for the icing.

I even had the dogs wear birthday hats. Her friend wasn't too thrilled to be wearing one. 

This year as we're preparing to move we aren't having a big celebration. We keep telling her we got a great big yard and a creek as presents for her birthday.

You might wonder why we would have a party for our dog. Well she's like our child and we love an excuse to have people over. Not to mention Blanca is VERY special. You see my need for Blanca came long before her birth when I myself was just a little girl. I was playing one day at a friends house and I've always adored animals so they were excited to take me to the barn and show me the new husky puppies that were recently born.

They were with their mother and were so tiny and sweet. I loved holding those little puppies. In my childlike way I wondered why the puppies daddy wasn't with them and the mommy. In the next barn stall over was the daddy all by himself and I was very sad about that. So I walked over to the daddy dog with one of the puppies in my arms. I set the baby in the stall with his daddy and the daddy dog killed his own baby. I was shocked and very traumatized. It was so heart breaking for me and I always said I was going to have a husky of my own to care for and love.

I grew up and got married and wanted a dog but my husband and I weren't ready for one because we had moved from North Carolina to Colorado, we were renting and had a very tiny rock garden for a yard. I also knew in my heart getting a husky would be a lot of work. My husband and I were living a great adventure in Colorado. For our 2 year anniversary we decided to drive to Yellowstone National Park. We had such a wonderful time on that trip!

We camped the entire week we were gone and the drive home was long and tiring. We were drained, dirty and ready for a hot shower. When we opened the garage we immediately noticed something was off. There were lights on that we don't remember being on. I walked in my home and the sliding door was wide open. There were moths and other various bugs flying around and crawling up the walls. I was so confused. I was paralyzed. I kept screaming for my husband who was busy figuring out what he was going to bring in first from the car. He rushed in, he ran upstairs and then I knew we had been burglarized.

I called 911 and we waited in our car for the police to arrive in case someone was still in the home. The officers arrived and we had to go through and tell them what was missing. I looked around, I thought our TV would have been gone, maybe our computer. No, none of the replaceable things were missing.

It was like my heart was ripped out. Every piece of jewelry I owned was gone. All the vintage pieces that were passed down from my grandmother, my high school graduation ring, the necklace my parents gave me for my sixteenth birthday, the tarnished cross necklace my husband sent me before we were dating to "woo" me... 

For as long as I can remember my family has had a tradition of giving a special Christmas coin to me and my sister every year for Christmas. Every single one I saved and treasured, they were all gone. Along with every other interesting and foreign coin that I collected from my travels. I didn't collect these things because they were valuable I did because they were memories for me.

I also had a little wooden treasure chest that had a small lock on it, like a diary would have, my parents gave it to me when I was a teenager. It was full of cards and special notes that I had saved over the years. It also had an ornament that I got for my husband that I was saving for Christmas because I knew he would never look in there. They took my treasure chest that was full of my personal treasure nothing that would have been valuable to anyone else.

It was disturbing when the officer said he highly recommends the first thing we do is wash all of our clothes. The worst part was not what they took from me. The worst was the feeling of violation and how uncomfortable I was to be in my own home. The fear that I experienced is hard not to carry with me.

Isaiah 41:13 tells me, "For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you."

If you're still reading you might be wondering what does Blanca have to do with this?  After going through this experience we decided that we needed a dog. It just so happened that Blanca was recently born in North Carolina at my husbands childhood neighbor's house. When his sister found out we wanted a dog she said she would pick the perfect one out for us. I think God already had a plan. Blanca couldn't be more perfect. She's actually a husky lab mix.

These pictures were taken by my SIL when Blanca was just 5 weeks old. 
She was so tiny and scared when we first met her. She flew on a plane all the way from North Carolina to Colorado by herself. 
It was love at first site! 

She's done so much more than help us feel secure she's helped to heal our souls. She's a gift!  

She can be very protective and intimidating if need be. But she always brings joy to everyone she meets and has an excellent people sense. 
And even though she's made some bad choices.
 Like destroying our couch...

or eating through the metal bars of her crate and getting stuck (is it wrong that I took a picture before helping her out?)

We still LOVE her a lot!

She's such a sweet heart and I'm so thankful for her.

 Happy Birthday to my Blanca!