Thursday, March 26, 2015

Wednesday Hodge Podge . . . on THURSDAY!

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1. This coming weekend is Palm Sunday, which marks the beginning of Holy Week. Do you celebrate Easter in your home? What was your favorite Easter tradition as a child? I am on staff at a large United Methodist Church so, yes, we definitely celebrate Easter. This next week is indeed Holy Week and we will have services every single day . . .it makes Easter so much more special. My favorite Easter tradition as a child was the fact that I got two Easter dresses every year. I had one for Sunday morning and another (not as fancy) one for Sunday night. I grew up in a very blue collar home so looking back, this must have been an extravagance that I took for granted. Many of our dresses were sewn by a local seamstress (Mrs. Bowen) and I fondly remember going to her house. She was always drinking a coke and they ate a lot of French fries at her house and everything was always a mess because she was busy sewing. I loved it!

2. George Weinberg is quoted as saying, 'Hope never abandons you, you abandon it.' Agree or disagree? Share your own thoughts on the word hope. As a Christian, there is always hope in Christ. Jesus wins. Hope wins! I think hope is always available, so yes, I would agree with the above statement. We would be the ones to give up.

3. Weigh in with a yay or nay on the traditional Easter candies. A solid milk chocolate bunny? Cadbury Creme Eggs? Peeps? Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs? Jellybeans? Coconut Cream Eggs? Of the candies listed, which one would you most like to find in your Easter basket? Let’s see . . .I TOTALLY love Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs. I also love the coconut and chocolate nests by Russell Stover. I love peanut butter and chocolate and I love coconut and chocolate. Jelly beans are pretty good, too, but the other two are my favs!!

 4. When did you last feel 'like a kid in a candy store'? Wow . .. sometimes I feel like that in Pottery Barn! When we bought our house, we had to purchase some new furniture and decorative accessories and it was fun! I also feel that way when I get to shop at Gigi’s Scrapbook store in Foley, AL.

5. What's something you know you do differently than most people? Does that bother you? Does it bother other people? Hmmm – I am louder than most people – in both speech and laughter!  I can’t think of anything else!!

6. Palm Springs CA, Palm Beach FL, or the PALMetto State...of the three mentioned, which sunny spot would you most like to visit right now? Which have you visited at one time or another? I would love to go to any warm and sunny spot for an extended vacation RIGHT NOW!

7. If you could change the length of a day would you lengthen it or shorten it? Tell us why. I would never shorten a day (unless it was a bad situation) – usually I’m wishing for more hours in a day. A friend once told me to pray for God to “so order my day” so that I might accomplish all He wants me to accomplish. That thought helps!

8. Insert your own random thought here. We have a new pet – a 14.7 pound tabby named Harvey. Harvey is obsessed with dental floss. He can hear the sound made when you pull the dental floss from the container and he takes off running toward the sound. He also loves ponytail holders (elastic bands) and will play hockey with one all around the room. His latest trick . . .I found him fishing in the toilet. Thank God for clean water.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Two of the tools in my toolbox

This is not a profound post.  As I was typing the title, I thought that I could write about the tools that I use along my Christian journey.  I have lots of them, I'm sure.  Instead, I'm going to write something trivial because that seems to be where my brain is lately.

I love crafting - I like to sew.  I used to smock (maybe again some day).  I like to do paper crafts of all kinds from scrapbooking to card making to invitation making to banner making.  I like to make wreaths of all kinds.

This week, I have used two of my tools multiple times.  I have a pair of Black and Decker scissors (plug them in - charge the battery - unplug and cut away).  They are great for cutting multiple strips of fabric.  I'm working on a wreath right now for a baby boy shower.  I need hundreds of strips of fabric cut into 1 inch by 6 inch strips.  These scissors are not for work that requires precision cutting . . .or maybe I should say "this operator" can't use these scissors for precision cutting!!

My other tool that has had multiple uses this week is my Silhouette Cameo.  This is my second cutter from Silhouette and I have LOVED both of them.  There are times when I get frustrated because I can't figure out something but if I take the time, I can almost ALWAYS find a blog with instructions or a youtube video of someone doing whatever it is I need.  I used my machine to make two baby shower banners - a "we don't know the sex yet" banner of pastel colored onesies (baby is arriving today and we will know whether it is a boy or a girl!!)  and a cute banner for sweet baby Hadley Kate due in a few weeks.  I also cut out 35 or so baby shower invitations for a baby boy shower at the end of April.  I'm in love with the invitations.

Do you have hobbies that require tools?  Do you have favorites that you use often?  I would love to hear about them because I might need to add some tools to my toolbox!!!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

All Clad Cookware

I've always wanted GOOD cookware . . .and I've always just had mediocre pots and pans.  I did a Facebook poll this last year and asked people about their favorite.  All Clad won - hands down!  I priced a "set" and realized it was quite expensive and I mentioned that fact to a friend of mine.  She said, "why don't you buy a piece at a time?"  Duh!  A family in our church gifted me with a $100 Amazon gift card for Christmas (thank you if you are reading!!) and I went to Amazon to see what pieces they had available.  I ordered the little sauce pan with my gift card.  I've loved it!  Last week, I decided it was time to add another pan.  I had received an email from All Clad about a sale of "seconds."  I was a little bit afraid but remembered that a lot of times what you purchase in an outlet store is a second.  I ordered the saute' pan above and it came yesterday.  I love it!  I want to get a dutch oven next.  So far, I've purchased pieces that cost around $100.00.  I think I'll use these two pieces a while longer to make sure I want to invest that much.  I might even shop around for a set - might be able to find one on sale.  I'd love to know what pieces are favorites of others.

By the way, All Clad has no idea I'm writing this post.  They didn't give me anything free (though I would certainly accept it if they offered!!  I would even be willing to be a tester!! Wishful thinking on my part!)  I'm writing this just because I want to do so!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Yay! It's Friday!!

I was doing so much better at updating my blog and then I fell off the wagon again.  Where does time go???  I actually was sick this month.  I've NEVER missed three days of work for illness . . .but I did in 2015.  Oh my goodness!  Nastiest lower GI bug ever and I had a fever.  Good Lord, I'm 56 years old.  Why in the world would I have a temperature of 101.7?  Let me just tell you that I felt totally lousy.  One of the days that I was home sick, ended up being an inclement weather day.  Most all of my co-workers stayed home and to be honest, I worked remotely after the first day.  The first day that I started feeling bad was on a Tuesday and the young professionals were all coming over.  I had to go upstairs and lock myself in a bedroom/bathroom. Thank goodness for upstairs.  By the next day, I only got out of bed to get more to drink or to go to the bathroom.  I felt like all the life had been sucked right out of me!  Have you ever felt that way??  By the next day, I could sit up for short periods of time but still spent a large portion of the day in bed.  By Friday, I had to escape.  I did some work remotely and then drove to the office to print it.  I lasted about an hour.  The next day, the minute my eyes opened, I thought, "Oh my goodness.  I feel so much better!"  I was even able to come to the church and participate for a few hours in Discovery weekend -- over 500 kids!  God is amazing.  

You can see the tiny amount of snow we received.

On another entirely different note, Katie - one of our favorite young professionals (we love them all) - decided that it was time for her to move up into the 30 something group.  Oh my goodness - we miss her so much.  She gave us this wooden sign -- "What I love most about my home is who I share it with."  Yep - that should be our motto.  We love sharing our home with others.

I've also really enjoyed my centerpiece box that Brian made for me for Christmas.  This was how it looked in the winter (after Christmas).  I was so thankful that I picked up those giant pine cones.  The very next day is when they cleared the lot next door for the house - NO MORE TREES!!  Sad.  I changed the box out last night.  I put little plants between each of the candles with moss.  I'll have to take a pic and post it!

Let's see if I can change topics another time.  My friend, Jeanne, has a business baking brownies.  Her brownies are like none I have ever eaten in my life.  She gave a half dozen peanut butter ones to me at Valentine's.  They are so good.  If you live in the Birmingham area and are on facebook, you can contact her here.  You won't regret it.  I'm hosting a baby shower in another month and I've already ordered three dozen from her.

We have a fun weekend planned.  We are going to DoDiYos tonight with three other couples.  We've raised our children together and we usually have lunch bunch - just the four moms.  We try to meet several times a year. We are including the husbands tonight!  Tomorrow night, we are hosting supper club at our house.  I'm going to cook a beef tenderloin so it should be yummy (that is why I was reworking the centerpiece last night!!).  We have church and Sunday School on Sunday and I'll buy groceries and do some cooking toward Tuesday night . . .gonna be a good weekend!  Do you have any fun plans??

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Hold on tight!

Every year, we (church staff) plan a "give away" for Lent.  We want folks to have something tangible - something to help each person focus on Christ and their relationship with him.  Two years ago, we made these great prayer beads.  You can read all about it here if you are interested.  Last year, we gave each family a votive candle (purple, of course!!) to use with their Lenten bookmark.  The candles were just "so so" - we had lots of left overs!!  

So this year, we wanted to have something that folks would find meaningful.  We have a tiny budget for this project and to purchase something already made . . . .well, you have to get something pretty inexpensive.  Eleanor, another staff member, and I were perusing catalogs and pinterest looking for ideas.  I  loved the idea of a wooden comfort cross . . .but they were about $15 -- EACH.  We searched for directions and found some on a blog - for the life of me, I can't find that blog.  It was written by a mom!  We took those directions and tweaked them and came up with a plan.  I ordered pounds and pounds of clay - we used Sculpey clay that has to be baked.  The cheapest clays were white and terra cotta because we could buy it in 25 pound boxes.  Using those two colors of clay made our average cost just under 50 cents per cross!!  SCORE!  I found 2 ounce blocks of colored clay at several stores (Michael's, Hobby Lobby, etc.).  The cheapest place was . . . are you ready?  Do you want to guess?????  The cheapest place to purchase the 2 ounces blocks of colored clay . . . .WALMART!  Not all Walmart stores carried the clay but the one that was closest to my house did!  Yay!

One Thursday, I sent out an email to all of the females in our Sunday School class.  I said that I would provide a snack supper and wine if folks would come and help make kits.  Kits were simply two ounces of clay sealed into a baggie.  About 7 of us gathered that night and I got to know some folks a little better!  Small groups are a good way to chat - - especially if everyone is working together!!  Have you ever noticed how that works?  Amazing!

We then staged the boxes of baggies of clay in my office and folks volunteered to help make and bake the crosses.  Some were better than others!  All were beautiful.  Just like God's children.  Some of you are prettier on the outside . . .some are prettier on the inside  . . .and we are all beautiful!  Our United Methodist Women made some.  Wonderful individuals made some.  We worked together!

I made a lot of the crosses with colors.  It was easier to give directions for the terra cotta or the terra cotta and white crosses.  I also just LOVE a good project!  Mark said he was going to be so happy when this project was over . . .and I frowned!

Everyone on our staff has participated in the Strengths Finder (it is great!  Take the test!!)  One of my strengths is activator (I also have positivity and Woo - are you surprised -- at the moment, I can't think of my other two strengths!! . . .maybe communicator .  ..hmmmmm)

The point is that as an activator, I can COME UP with an idea!  I need a maximizer on my team!  It just so happens that Brian (my new boss!) is a maximizer.  Just as an aside comment, he said that it sure would be nice if we had some sort of little bag to make handing out the crosses easier at the Ash Wednesday service.  Thank you for that idea, Rev. Maximizer!!  I went online to trust and ordered one million (almost!) clear plastic bags.  We filled huge baskets with the bags filled with a cross and a bookmark.

This was a great project for many hands . . .and these crosses were made with the love of Christ . . they were prayed over by many people . . .and now they are in the hands of church members and friends and family members of church members.

The crosses were gently squeezed before baking so that they "fit" into a person's hand.  Hold on tight to God's word . . .hold on tight!

Want directions?  Measure two ounces of clay (all one color or a mixture of colors).  Work the clay with your hands until it becomes smooth and pliable (just fyi - if you make a lot of crosses, odds are your hand will hurt at some point).  (p.s. - clay stains your hands but baby wipes will remove stains!!)
Roll the clay into a smooth ball.  Roll the clay into a snake - 6 - 8 inches.  Using a knife, cut off one third of the snake.  Cut that 1/3 into two pieces.  Put one piece on either side of the cross (about 1/3 of the way down the cross).  Gently adhere . . and smush (is that a word?) - you need to make sure that the arms of the cross are attached but you want it to look smooth and finished.  Lay the cross in your hand and gently squeeze.  You want some finger indentions!!  While the cross is in your hand, gently shape the ends so that everything part looks finished!  Bake in a 275 (preheated) oven in a glass dish for 18 minutes.  Allow to cool completely (I mean completely - don't get excited and try to pick it up!!!) and remove from pan.  If you need better directions, send me a message.  I can even send some pictures of the process.