October 28, 2013

It's all Starting to Sink in...

My husband got a promotion and his company is moving us. This is all happening so fast I can't even fully comprehend it. I'm happy, I'm sad, I'm nervous, I'm scared all at the same time. It's not like this moving thing is new for us. We've lived in 4 different states during six years of marriage and 5 different homes. This move though is different in so many ways.

We hoped to be here in PA for at least 5 years. We jumped right in and bought a gorgeous farmhouse to call home that has a creek flowing through the backyard. I'll admit this farmhouse wasn't love at first site for me. But when I finally did fall in love I fell hard. 
I have so much to be grateful for. I can't believe I was given the gift of calling this farmhouse home, even if it was for a short time. It has been such a wonderful experience and the fact that we get to leave on a happy note is a huge blessing. There are so many who've experienced being ripped away from the homes that they love because of tragedy or uncontrollable circumstances.

I realize I never even said where we are moving. I had my husband be the bearer of the good and bad news to family and friends. But I myself never said the words out loud to anyone until the lady in Saladworks tried to give me a rewards card. I told her I didn't need a card because I was wouldn't be the area much longer. So she asked where I was moving and that was the first time I said out loud, I'm moving to Colorado.

Even though I was desperate for human contact, considering I've been alone for the last week, I left the store quickly because the tears were coming and I couldn't stop them. Now that the floodgates have opened they aren't easily closed again. I cry because we adore Colorado. I cry because here in PA we live much closer to our families and we will be farther away again.  I don't cry because we have to sell our home, I cry thinking about how blessed someone will be to live in it. I pray that if they don't know God they find him because of his amazing display of creativity all around this place. I cry because of all the hopes, dreams and plans that seem lost.

I often thought about what it would be like to have children here. They would have so much fun pitter-pattering through the creek and collecting critters.
I knew right what I would do if I got pregnant, where the nursery would be and how it would look. This house needs a family in it. I remember right after we moved in the elderly lady across the street was shocked to discover we didn't have children. She said, "well why would move into such a big house, you must get pregnant right away!" If only it were that easy... I'm still not sure if I can even have children which I'm starting to make peace with. 

I was always dreaming up new ideas for the property around this farm house. I wanted a couple goats and some chickens. I had a plan for where the chicken coop would go too. I wanted to build it right under the screened in porch. There's even a window under there that leads to the basement, where I wanted to build shelves and nesting boxes so that I could just reach through and grab the eggs. Wouldn't that be awesome?
I've often wondered why it was difficult for us to completely settle in PA. Soon after we moved in our only neighbors moved out. I found a place to throw pottery and it ended up to be something different than I thought. I got my own kiln but had to do some rewiring before I could use it, which never happened. We visited more churches than I can remember, going for weeks even months at a time to some and still never made connections beyond surface. I had a very difficult time finding a job and when I finally found one and got into a routine I was laid off. Could all of it be because we were being protected. What were we supposed to learn from all this only to end back up in Colorado?

I'm looking forward to being in Colorado again. I feel so thankful the move is to somewhere we're already familiar with. It just seems like there's so much to think about before I actually get there.  How long will it take for our house to sell? Where will we live next? Where will I be for the holidays? How long will I be apart from my husband? Will my dogs be okay through this transition? 
My husband is in Colorado right now and has been for the last week. That's one of the biggest challenges of moving for his career. I usually have to spend time alone while he goes ahead to the new job. He gets to have experiences and build connections without me.  I feel as though I'm riding on his coat tails. It seems as if I have no identity of my own, I just follow him around where ever he goes. Every time we've moved I've had to give up my own career and dreams that I've begun formulating. When we move people are waiting for him and know his name, they chose him for his new position. He even had a nice breakfast put together for him on his first day at his new job. When I finally arrive to a new place it goes like this, "oh you're the wife." So there is my identity "the wife" that they've already heard and formed opinions about. It's so hard to keep starting over and I can't tell you how many people think it sounds so great and they always say, "well at least you don't have kids." That doesn't really make moving any better. How else do you connect with people in a new place? Mom's have it easy there are so many support groups and people out there who they can connect with just because they have kids. Nobody cares about people without kids they automatically think everything is easier and they have it all together. Well it's not always easy and sometimes it's downright lonely. 

I know deep in my heart that God works In ALL things.

Romans 8:28
 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good 
to those who love God, to those who are called 
according to His purpose.

This is one of the threads of hope that I cling to daily. I must believe that Gods working in my life and that everything is orchestrated by Him for a reason. I never would have imagined that at 28 years old I would have experienced buying my first home and experienced selling my first home all in practically the same year. I've been in shock the last few weeks, almost paralyzed. Have you ever felt that way before? There is hope for whatever situation you're going through too. Whether it's big or small, to us it matters and that means it matters to God. I tell you what I've been on a few roller-coasters but this one has more ups and downs than any roller-coaster  I've ever been on before. 

I'm not going to worry I'm going to strive to be present in the moment and live life to the fullest wherever and whenever I am. If that's one thing I learned it's to focus on the NOW and not about what was or could be. Pray that I remember that and I take it with me wherever I go.

October 25, 2013

Sewing Class

Hello friends! Do you remember my DIY Ironing Table post? I've been getting a lot of use out of that table and have really been enjoying working with my sewing machine, Raven. I knew that there was quite a bit of ironing involved with sewing but I really didn't know how much. I finally started the Craftsy class, Sewing Studio: Fashion Fitting, Home Decor & More. The instructor really stresses the importance of ironing. I've learned a lot from taking this class and am proud to say I completed my first project!
I know it's just a pillow but I've got to start somewhere right? Besides I learned so many techniques that will carry over to future sewing projects. I was really impressed with how the French Seams turned out.

I was supposed to use muslin fabric on the back but I didn't have any so I used what I had. It's an envelope style, do you see those seams? Amazing right? No frayed edges showing!

I like taking classes this way because I can follow along at my own pace and replay things as needed. I can also take the class at whatever hour I want and even wearing my PJ's. When people finish a project they post pictures of their work, I like seeing how my classmate's projects turn out.  During the next session of this class I will learn how to make a skirt! If you're interested at trying a class yourself they have free mini ones available. You can find them all HERE. I'm interested in the Sewing Feet and Bag Making classes. Which one sounds interesting to you?

If you still don't know what Craftsy is here is some info they sent me to share:

What is Craftsy?
Craftsy is a worldwide craft community offering online classes. It also has a patterns marketplace where independent designers can sell their patterns; a supplies shop with great deals on yarn, fabric, and class kits; and a projects section where members share pictures of their latest craft successes. With over two million members and counting, Craftsy has something for just about everyone, in categories ranging from quilting, sewing, knitting, painting, photography, cooking, and more. 

Why should I take a class online?
Online education isn’t just for schools and universities anymore. Craftsy courses provide you the convenience of a world-class instructor in your home, whenever you want to learn. Online education, no matter what subject, is a great alternative to in-person classes for a number of reasons. 

With many online learning opportunities being on-demand, you are able to learn at your own pace, anytime. Online learning is a fantastic alternative to in-store craft classes for people with busy schedules or who have difficulty leaving the house. It also allows you to watch a troubling section over-and-over again, so you can see exactly how a technique is carried out, or refer back to your class for relevant concepts before beginning any new projects.

Maybe next time I get on Craftsy I'll see you there!  P.S. Craftsy is having a 24hr flash sale today, I'm gonna have to check that out. 


October 22, 2013

Hen of the Woods Recipe #2

With the weather getting colder there's nothing more comforting than a hot bowl of soup. I'll be honest I'm not much of a soup person but I think I'm becoming one. Up until this Wild Mushroom Soup the best soup I ever had was the Lobster Stew in Maine, it was AMAZING. What's you're favorite kind of soup? 

We harvested a lot of giant Hen of the Woods mushrooms and I used them in many dishes. I racked my brain trying to think of creative ways to use them. I really wanted to make something that would have mushrooms as the main ingredient so that we could enjoy their flavor and of course use them up.
That's when I thought of mushroom soup. I actually had never had mushroom soup before except the canned kind used in casserole dishes. I didn't want my soup to resemble the canned version in any way and it definitely didn't. This soup was so creamy and satisfying. It's the kind of soup you can't help but eat real slow because your soaking in the depth of flavor. We ate this soup every night for a week and we were sad when it was gone. If you don't have access to Hen of the Woods try any kind other kind of mushroom. I see a variety of mushrooms at our local farmers market every Saturday. I wouldn't go with just the standard Button mushroom but I know they are cost effective so you could mix Button mushrooms and Portabello with some Shiitake. The key is to use fresh mushrooms not canned.

Another key to the depth of this soup is creating a good base of flavors with celery, onion, carrot and garlic. It's important to cook these veggies until caramelized and brown then deglaze the pan with a liquid to release all the bits of flavor. I used Sherry but you could also use chicken broth.

This recipe is not difficult and is so worth making. It would freeze well if you want to double up the ingredients.

If you've never tried fried sage leaves they really make the soup special. They cook up in just a few seconds and you will be so happy you tried it. Then you can think of all the other dishes you could fancy up with a with them.

October 18, 2013

Hen of the Woods Recipe #1

Did you read my post about Hen of the Woods? I've fallen in love with these mushrooms. We've added them to all sorts of dishes in the last month; fittata, pasta and chili. Here's a recipe for a side dish I made, that was a big hit. If you can't get your hands on Hen of the Woods you could substitute any mushroom. If you're not a fan of quinoa try rice or couscous.

October 15, 2013

Hen of the Woods

My family loves to be outside. We often take walks through the woods. The tranquility and beauty that we experience when we're outside often overwhelms me. My senses are overloaded, I feel so close to God, I adore His creativity. It's hard to take it all in. We are blessed to live in a place where we can experience this on regular basis. Our own back yard is a walk in the woods. Every time we walk through the woods we see something new. It's absolutely astounding. Our dogs are experts at finding new things. Recently we discovered Hen of the Woods.

Hen of the Woods is a mushroom that can grow very big. Have you ever seen one before? If you have an imagination they look like a hen sitting down. Another reason they are called Hen of the Woods is because they taste like a chicken breast, the same texture too. These are some amazing mushrooms! They do not have any poisonous look-a-likes so they are safe to eat. There are some people that do have sensitivities though so it's always best when eating wild mushrooms to try the smallest of bites first and wait a couple days to make sure you're not sensitive. If you've never seen a Hen of the Woods before and you live in an area that has mushrooms start paying close attention during Fall when you walk through the woods. They grow at the base of hardwood trees like Oaks and Maples.

We are so lucky to have a giant oak tree right in our yard to enjoy. We've been able to harvest quite a few HUGE Hen of the Woods from it's base. 
I'm definitely not a mushroom expert but I've learned a few things from my experience harvesting them. Hen of the Woods have lots of folds which not only make the mushroom beautiful but can trap dirt and provide great hiding places for critters. 

When I harvest Hen of the Woods I cut just above the base making sure to leave a portion of the base behind. I also cut a little at a time and lift up the mushroom making sure there's nothing underneath. The first mushroom I harvested I just sliced it all the way through not really observing anything and I cut a salamander in half. That was disturbing. So take my word for it and harvest your mushrooms cutting a little at a time. 

Taking the time to harvest and clean your mushrooms will provide you with a huge reward. I do find a big difference in flavor and texture when I eat mushrooms that have been washed. So I don't recommend washing mushrooms. As long as you provide some time for the critters to evacuate, gently wipe them with a damp towel, then cook them, they will be perfectly safe and good to eat. 
Trust me if you ever get the chance to harvest your own wild mushrooms, do it! Don't be afraid, at least you have control over how clean you get them. You can only imagine what is missed when mushrooms are quickly being process and canned. We've made so many delicious recipes with these mushrooms. I can't wait to share some of them with you! 

October 11, 2013

Grocery List Printable

Today I'm doing a Friday Freebie! I don't know about you but grocery shopping can be a challenge. I find being organized to be the most helpful. It's still hard to figure out if you have all the ingredients for taco night, pasta night and meatless Monday all while keeping track of your budget.

I use to keep one of those pretty lists with a magnet on the back attached to my fridge. We would use it as a grocery list. Every time a staple item got low we would write it down and as I came up with menu ideas I wrote down those ingredients too. The problem is it got messy. The list never had enough room and it was all random. So what I would end up doing is take that list off the fridge and rewrite it before I went to the store. I would write the items in the order that my store goes in; so I would put produce items at the top, meats, cereals/grains, then dairy/eggs. Finally I had enough, it seemed silly to rewrite the grocery list and to keep spending money on those pretty little notepads. So I created my own 8 1/2 x 11 grocery list.

I keep it on the fridge and we still write things down as they get low or come up with meal ideas. The biggest difference now is there is lots of room on the list and it's broken up into categories. When I take the list to the store with me I usually fold it over so that only one category is showing. For example when I'm in the produce section I fold it so that I can only see the produce part of my list. It really helps me stay focused! Anyone else out there have ADD tendencies? This grocery list has been working really well for me so I decided why not share it with my lovely readers. Click the picture below to print and save a copy for yourself. You can even print 2 sided copies to save some paper. Let me know how it works out for you. Enjoy!

October 9, 2013

What's in Toothpaste?

I've been through some struggles with my health and have been told by my doctor that I have a condition that's incurable. I was told it's just something I have to deal with, it might get better it might get worse. I'll more than likely struggle with the side effects the rest of my life. That's not something that I want to accept. I would rather try everything in my power to feel healthy than not try at all. So I've been on a journey to finding ways I can contribute to my health. I'm constantly reading books and gathering information. My goal is to fill every cell in my body with as much good as possible. The problem is if I'm filling my cells on a regular basis with the bad, how can the good get through? Toothpaste is a prime example, I start my day filling my mouth with it and then use it again later. How can this "poison" not build up in my system over time? This really concerns me. Stomach pain can be the most common issue caused by toothpaste. That's not something I need to experience on top of what I already do.

We put things on and in our bodies every day as part of our routine. Shouldn't we put more thought into about what were actually using. Most of us brush our teeth multiple times a day. Our mouths are the gateway to our bodies. This is where we begin providing our body what it needs, where all the nutrients and goodness are first absorbed. Our mouths are sensitive.

Wouldn't you agree that putting poison in our mouths is not a good idea? What about putting poison in the mouths of children? It's time to look at the back of the toothpaste box. What I found really surprised me, a poison warning. That is a serious concern for me, that warning is on there for a reason. Apparently it's okay to put poison in your mouth as long as you don't swallow any toothpaste and if you accidentally do it's not bigger than the size of a pea. There are tons of articles out there explaining the concerns with toothpaste you can find one here and another here

I feel so naive. I never once looked on the back of my toothpaste. I always heard you should only use the size of a pea and no more but I thought it was just proving you don't need much to be effective and the toothpaste will last longer that way. Honestly it's hard to get past the mentality that more is better. I find myself thinking if I brush my teeth more it's better, if I use more toothpaste it will foam more; I was even trying to remember not to rinse after I brushed my teeth thinking that rinsing would undo the entire point of brushing my teeth. 

I decided that when my toothpaste ran out I was going to seek out something chemical free and natural to use. My husband wasn't sure he wanted to give up his toothpaste since he has super sensitive teeth. He uses a special, very expensive toothpaste. He says if he switches toothpaste for even one day his teeth hurt.  Just at the right time Redmond sent me a box of goodies to sample which included 2 tubes of toothpaste, I mean Earthpaste. 

Earthpaste contains all natural ingredients that are safe to ingest. We got two flavors to try Lemon Twist and WinterGreen. This stuff doesn't foam, it's not suppose to, and that takes some getting use to. Both my husband and I have been using Earthpaste for a couple weeks now. We even took it with us on our trip to Maine. Usually we take travel size but we really liked this stuff so we didn't mind. You might remember seeing the Eartpaste in the pictures from the Travel Toothbrush Holder I made. 

When my husband realized what was in his other toothpaste and how much cheaper Earthpaste was he decided to try it. I'm really impressed with how clean my teeth feel. The Lemon Twist is a fun flavor but I do like the freshness of the WinterGreen better. Both have aftertastes but they don't last forever which is really nice. The best part is my husband's teeth have had no issues so far. He's actually quite surprised. We've definitely become fans of Earthpaste. I'm looking forward to trying the other flavors too. They make the flavors Cinnamon (sounds awesome), Spearmint, Wintergreen and Lemon Twist. Here's a comparison chart of information provided by Redmond. 

I love sharing a good thing with you all. My hope is that you can help create a happy and healthy life for you and your family. I hope you'll check out your toothpaste and the other products you use everyday and consider if they might be effecting your health. 

If you're interested in finding out more about Earthpaste you can check out Redmond's site HERE. You can purchase some for yourself on their site or you can also go to Vitacost. I get a lot of my natural products from Vitacost. I find that there prices are usually lower. If you click on the link above and sign up you will get $10 off!

Disclaimer: Redmond did send me the Earthpaste to try. All opinions and thoughts are my own and I honestly love the product. 

October 7, 2013

2013 Unpaper Swap

I'm excited to say that the first annual Unpaper Swap was a HUGE success. In case you have no clue what I'm talking about you can read more about it here, here or here.  The premise is to strive to reduce waste and use products that we can use over and over again instead of just throw away. Besides who doesn't love to get new kitchen towels or pretty cloth napkins?

I will be hosting a swap again at the same time next year so if you didn't get the chance to participate this time you can look forward to it next year. It does my heart good to know there are so many sweet people out there who sent a complete stranger a package filled with thought and amazing unpaper products. So many of you wrote telling me how wonderful your swap-mate was to you.  I was actually amazed. I mean I thought people would send a towel maybe 2 but people sent so much more. I got some pictures from a few of you sharing your swapmates generosity. 

There were handmade cards and sweet notes sent, beautifully handmade towels, covers to keep leftover food fresh, reusable containers and so much more. I even heard that people received recipes and food! Can you believe that? Talk about going above and beyond! I have to say I'm a little jealous I didn't get any Blackberry Vanilla Jelly sent my way. 

I hope you all are enjoying your new goodies. Thank you to everyone who participated this year! You guys are awesome. Hoping even more people join in the fun next time. 

October 4, 2013

Travel Toothbrush holder

At the end of the Acadia post I shared a sneak peek of the travel toothbrush holder I sewed up before I left. This is such a BRILLIANT idea!
I like to keep my toothbrush protected, safe, clean, separate from everything else. I'm not the kind of person who will just set my toothbrush on the side of the sink. It needs a holder. So when I traveled in the past I put my toothbrush in a plastic bag. It always made sense because it kept my toothbrush safe and I could throw it away after the trip and get a new clean one for the next trip. I don't use plastic bags anymore so I found myself in a predicament. My husband has always used one of those caps for the top of his toothbrush.
It's something I considered. I'm honestly not a fan of any type of plastic at all though. I would love to rid my life completely of it! I went in my husband's travel bag to observe his cap more closely and what I found was exactly what I thought I might. He's not going to like that I'm sharing this with the world...
This is a real problem people! If you use such a contraption go now, you must get your plastic toothbrush cover!!! Is it harboring bacteria and nastyness? How is one even supposed to clean these things properly? Ok enough freaking out, we can solve this problem with a washable toothbrush holder. This one you just throw in the washer after your trip.

They are so easy to make. I used the tutorial from Andrea at The Train to Crazy.  I'm new at the sewing thing so if I can do it you can to. I bet this could even be done by hand if you don't have a machine.  Since I'm still learning to sew with my machine, I did make a few rookie mistakes that I'll warn you about.

First get some washcloths. I found an entire pack at TJ Maxx and they even came with a pretty ribbon.

Next iron your ribbon if it's not flat.

The next step is to sew on the ribbon. DO NOT sew the ribbon all the way across the washcloth or it won't roll up, you'll have to tie it in the middle like this:

It still works just fine if you tie the ribbon in the middle though so you could intentionally make yours that way. Otherwise just sew the ribbon in the middle like the example below: 

Next place the two washcloths together and sew some vertical lines to create separate compartments. You will want to make sure the ribbon is out of the way or bad things happen. I know from experience, I just sewed along happily and forgot about the ribbon tails. The ribbon got all twisted and sewn to the bottom washcloth. So the best thing you can do before putting the two washcloths together is this:

Now you can sew the washcloths together.


You can have fun with the ribbons and colors! I was so excited about it I made 3. Although I haven't tried it yet you can also make a holder with one hand towel instead of two washcloths. Happy sewing!

October 3, 2013

Camping in Acadia National Park

If you follow me on Instagram you may have noticed all the pictures I was posting of Maine. We took a week and camped in the gorgeous Acadia National Park. It was perfect timing too considering all the national parks are closed right now. It just breaks my heart to think of all the families planning trips to enjoy the Fall colors and now they won't be able to.

Since we've been home I feel like I could sleep for an entire year. Why is it that vacations are so exhausting? I've probably been pushing myself a little too hard lately but there is so much to be done, to be enjoyed, to be experienced. You can only imagine the laundry and clean up necessary after camping for a week. Not to mention I have so much to catch up on in Blog land. I enjoy seeing what everyone is writing about and sharing. I've also been working on a side project for quite sometime.

It's true I've been holding out on y'all. I guess I get nervous laying it all out there. Those awful fears that aren't based on reality creep in... I've been designing my own photography site Key Images. It all started when I began working for a real estate agent taking property images, then it all sort of grew from there. I actually put a link up in the side bar but I've since realized I need to take ownership for this. Yes I am proud of myself and It's okay to share that. I've recently partnered with a printing company and now my photography is even easier to view and purchase. There are so many options too like sizes and frames. I take more than real estate photos I also take photos for businesses to help market their products and of course I take photos for fun which has brought joy to many people over the years. I find that my photography transports people and brings a smile to their face. So now I've opened up shop to share that with everyone. Many of the photos you've seen on this very blog are available for printing. So if you've been a fan check out the GALLERY. I've removed my link from the side bar and added info about my photography in a tab at the top. I'm going to OWN this and use the gifts God has given me.

This new venture has been on my mind lately so I had to get it out there. Now back to our Vacation. The skies in Maine are never ending and always changing. The sky meets the sea in a way I've never seen before. What I wanted to do more than anything while in Maine was see the Sunrise on top of Cadillac Mountain, the highest peak on the eastern seaboard and also the first place where the sun hits this time of year.

Most of our vacations involve camping. Our dogs love it and we love being able to enjoy places with them. It's a cost effective way of traveling. You don't spend nearly as much on places to stay; sometimes we pay a small fee for a campsite or sometimes when we back-country camp it's free. I also find that when I camp I squeeze so much more into a day. We find ourselves waking up and going to bed with the sun. 

We spent time hiking, exploring lighthouses and even did a little fly fishing. I just recently started learning how to fly fish and was very excited about the possibility of catching a landlocked salmon. Unfortunately it didn't happen. Possibly because I'm still learning and because I've never fly fished on a lake before. If you're still stuck on the fact that I'm fly fishing no worries I have a story to share ;) I'll explain more about why I took up the sport of fly fishing another day.

Another reason why we choose to camp is we save money on food. When you haven't showered in a few days and decide to eat out you look for the dives (places that don't mind your stink). These places are always delicious and less expensive; often they have outdoor seating only and in Maine that's what you're looking for anyway. Some of the meals when we camp are made from things we pack in a cooler or buy at the local market. A meal made and enjoyed by the fire doesn't get much better. We ate some spectacular food while we were in Maine. 

I actually was never really a fan of lobster I guess it's because I never had the good stuff. During our trip I couldn't get enough of it. I had lobster in salads, stews and eggs;  at least one of the days I had it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 

Before we left on our trip I sewed up something in a hurry. Something I've been needing for traveling. 
It worked wonderfully and I can't wait to share more about it next time!