Friday, July 25, 2014

DIY date night

Sometimes a busy schedule and small kids can equate to not having a lot of alone-time as a couple.

Sometimes the budget doesn't allow for a babysitter and a fancy restaurant.

Sometimes you're just too lazy to go out.

The solution? DIY date night!

Here's the how-to:

Step 1
Find a recipe for something yummy, unusual, and if possible, get your husband to cook it for you.

(enjoy the sight of someone else cooking, coupled with the wearing of a Star Wars apron meant for a six year old kid)

Step 2
Feed the kids early. Try something kid-friendly and cheap and easy that isn't the usual for them so they equate date night with something fun and special, too. Then put them in their room.  Shut the door while chuckling evilly.

Also, shut the animals away somewhere where they can smell the food but not approach it. 

Step 3
Sit on the couch reading a book while your husband cooks for you. Try to enjoy it and not get up every five seconds to see if he's okay, or if he needs something, or if he's going to burn it all.

Step 4
Set the table. Light some candles. Make it as nice as you can.

(okay that looks kind of boring but better than the usual bare table with wipe-off placemats)

Step 5
Put on something nice. You wouldn't go out to eat in your pi's, so don't do it at home either.

Step 6
Enjoy! Try to pretend you're surrounded by the white noise of other people's conversation, rather than the sound of frogs and your kids making sound effects in their bedroom.

(By the way, he made some French dish with sea scallops, mushrooms and shallots in a creamy tarragon lemon sauce with Gruyere cheese...good grief it was delicious. My man can COOK when he wants to!!)

Et voila! One little way to keep a marriage happy.

Monday, July 21, 2014


Things around here have been busy to say the least, leaving me with very little time for fun things like painting or sewing. *sigh* I miss crafting!

But I'm hoping to get back into the swing of things now that vacations are done, VBS is over with, and some semblance of a routine is creeping back into our lives.

One of the projects that I hope to start soon involves an opportunity I have to go back to Swaziland next summer. Our church, teamed up with HopeAlive268, is planning another trip in June of 2015, and this time both my husband and I are hoping to go to work with the orphans there. Some of the projects include construction, helping in the hospitals, and working directly with the kids.

A year may seem like a long time to prepare and raise funds, but last year's trip already seems like yesterday, and I know the year will fly by quickly. Especially when we have $6600 to raise between now and then.

That being said, I am in the process of planning a Craft fair around Christmas to raise funds for the team, which means I'll need to get cracking soon if I'm to have anything to sell by December. We are trying to find a venue where we can set up booths for individual artists, or themed booths (like a jewelry booth for all handmade jewelry donated to the cause, a booth for all sewn things) if individuals don't have enough stuff for a whole booth. We would like to open it up to the community with the understanding that all sales will go towards funding the team to Swaziland and helping with the supplies we will be bringing over to help the people there.

If any of you crafty readers have anything you would like to donate to our fair, please let me know you are interested and I will keep you informed as the planning continues. If you are part of quilting guilds, please spread the word and see if anyone else would like to help.

Maybe you don't have anything handmade to donate, but you would like to help us out financially? If so, you can go to and donate to our page. Every little bit helps!

I would really welcome any ideas or advice that any of you might have on having a Craft Fair--from setup to getting the word out to even what to make! Help a sister out. :)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

owning it

Five years ago this summer, my family went from itinerant rental-dwellers to first-time homeowners. In all those years slogging through the desert of white walls and beige carpets and a few sad plants on the patio, I dreamed a dream of the idyllic life I would have once I had a place to call my own.

I would have goats. 

There would be a huge organic vegetable garden to sustain my family. 

My house would be clean and perfect and artistic and cozy. 

My yard would be a quaint cottage-like riot of morning glories, hollyhocks, foxgloves and daisies.

*Cue epic music*
I dreamed a dream in time gone byyyyyyy…..

And then…we actually bought a house. Those of you with a home and a mortgage and finite amount of money are laughing with me right now. I mean, what a wake-up call, right? 

But still, it's way cooler than apartment living. I can paint the walls whatever color I want and nobody can stop me from destroying all the lawn in the backyard to grow vegetables. Score!

That being said, I have learned quite a few things over the last five years, through a lot of frustrating experimentation. Like:

1. Organic gardening in Florida is really for people who have nothing else to do besides think about organic gardening. It's a full time job. And although my yard is pretty big, the space with full sun is not actually big enough to grow anything besides a few cute snacking veggies. Not worth it for me.

2. Chickens and other livestock are for people who want to be stuck at home. Like, all the time. Cause getting people to babysit your chickens when you go out of town is not as easy at it sounds. Plus they destroy what lawn is left after all that veggie gardening.

3. A clean artistic house is for people whose kids are grown or go to public school. And possibly for people who have maids. The best I can hope for is a moderately clean house that is semi-artistic. Cozy we got. 

4. Cottage-like plants hate Florida. 

So. After beating my head against the wall trying to fit a square peg in a round hole, I've decided to give my chickens away, give up on vegetable gardening, be okay with kid-messes, and stick with what I'm good at, which, apparently, is growing pretty, non-cottagey plants in the yard. After years of dissing tropical plants, I'm learning to love the things that actually grow here. I do still really hate 99% of all palm trees, and I'm not a fan of bromeliads (a.k.a. mosquito breeding grounds), but there are a lot of pretty plants that are way better to look at than a lumpy denuded dirt patch that smells of chicken poop. 

Now my current task is to design an oasis that can take the place of the minefield we currently call a backyard. Today I did a little doodle, to kind of cement in my head what plants I know grow well in my yard, and so I could have a visual of textures and heights so I can start putting things together. Plus I just like to doodle. 

I guess my point is this: wherever you are at, own it. It's not worth the headache trying to be something you're really not (in my case, a homesteading, all-natural, veggie-farming, chicken-raising perfectionist) when you can be just as happy growing what grows and living the life you've been given. I'm finally realizing (after about seventeen years cause I'm dumb) that God has me where I am for a reason. It may not be the life I thought I'd have but it's good nonetheless. 

Now to go hunt down some black bamboo….

Monday, March 10, 2014

bee brave, part deux

Have you ever been around swarming bees? It's kind of intimidating.

When a hive starts to get overcrowded, the bees will start to raise up a new queen, and the old queen leaves with a chunk of workers to go elsewhere. If you can catch or trap the swarm, you will now have two hives instead of one. Which is pretty cool, and the reason we currently have five beehives when we started with one. 

What is slightly less cool is the way they start to freak out, and a giant cloud of darting bees rises up in the air in a cartoon-like ball of activity. Walking outside and looking up, the sky looks darkened and the sound…well, it's just like what I imagine sticking your head inside an angry hive would sound like. You have to wait for them to settle somewhere, and that somewhere is usually an impossibly high tree branch. They start to coalesce into a giant beard of insects, protecting the queen and flocking to her pheromones in preparation for moving on. The trick is to get them before they fly off. 

Enter my husband, with a hacksaw and a deer stand, climbing thirty feet up a skinny maple tree. He gets up pretty high, then looks down at me and says:

"Hey, I need you to go get a veil on."

What? Oh aitch E double hockey sticks NO. I don't even do bees when they're in a moderately calm hive. I certainly don't do falling branches covered in a swarm of ticked-off stinging insects. No. Just…No. 

"You'll be fine, they won't sting you."

Uh-huh. Right. The angry bugs won't sting me. They don't even like me on a regular day. 

But he's insistent. He needs my help. Can't do this without me. I'm having visions of the Hunger Games, tracker-jacker venom making it's way through my system before I die a horrible hallucinogenic death. 

"FINE!" I yell. "But I'm not doing this in shorts and a t-shirt!"

I stomp inside, and put on jeans, put on boots and a button up flannel shirt. Tuck it in. Put on a veil. I look ridiculous but I could care less. I want to be as invulnerable as possible. I go back outside grumbling and stand nervously under the tree. He tells me to stand back for a second as he saws through the branch. Okay, Katniss. You go, girl. Suddenly the ten-foot section of tree falls and thousands of bees are shaken loose and begin to fly around angrily. But the branch is tied to a rope, and when they calm down somewhat he lowers the branch slowly toward me. I have to grab it and stabilize it on the way down, my bare hands just inches from a three inch thick layer of bees encasing the branch. I hold it steady, chewing on my lip, as he climbs down. Then we carefully carry the whole thing over to the box he's prepared for the swarm. 

A short time later, all the bees are off the branch and in the box, with only one sting (not on me) to show for it. 

And now we have five colonies. Eeesh. 

I will admit to feeling a bit empowered by facing one of my fears, but it's not something I'm in a big hurry to do again. My only regret is not getting a picture of the process. I'm sure my outfit alone would have been blog-worthy. :)

Thursday, March 6, 2014


People. I'm a grown up.
The thing is, I don't feel like one. I don't feel like my chronological age matches my internal outlook on life. I still think of myself as "girl" and snort whenever someone refers to me as a "woman." When I get "ma'am'd" at Publix by the sixteen-year-old bagging my groceries, I look over my shoulder to see who he's talking to. Whilst doing cannonballs off the top of an airboat to impress my boys, the thought, "I am probably too old for this" never occurs to me. When I compare my own mom at this age to myself I think, "Yeah, but she was already a grown up then."

There's probably something wrong with me.

Recently though, there was one area of my life where I felt like a little growing up was in order. This is deep, guys, so get ready…it was…my bedroom.

You totally thought I was going to be all existential with you right now, didn't you. Hahaha!

But I am serious about my bedroom. For my entire adult life (and for probably my entire childhood life) my bedroom has always been the ugliest room in the house. I guess because I mostly just use it to sleep in, or get dressed in, and sometimes to read in. But ever since we bought this, our first house, it's annoyed me how hideous our bedroom was. I mean, all those years of apartment living were one thing--you're expected to live like an itinerant bachelor when you're not allowed to do much thanks to a rental agreement. But I OWN this room. And I hadn't done anything about it.

 Dark beige walls. Halfway pulled out curtain rods hanging way too low (with no curtains). Mismatched-but-not-in-a-cool-way artwork hanging on clips. A busted, outdated, brass-and-oak ceiling fan. Only one nightstand. You get the idea. Ugly. Not a place to inspire tranquility. Or excitement. Or anything besides UGH.

Ew. What a mess.

Messy dresser, sad view.

So I started to plan. And think. I knew that if I was going to do something about this, I wanted to do it all at once. No gradual makeovers, I wanted it to do be done and done. So over the course of about five months I started to accrue things. I got some nightstands from a Living Social deal. Curtains from Ikea. Lamps on sale at Target. A velvet quilt on clearance and Target. My mom even got in on the action by getting me a Home Depot gift card for my birthday so I could get paint.

And then the day arrived. I wanted for this to be a surprise for my husband, so I waited for his next business trip to do the deed in secret. Being the most unobservant human on earth, he'd failed to notice my stash of bedroom stuff hiding out in my studio closet. Finally he was on a plane, and I came home and got to work. I spent a week painting (seriously, do you have any idea how many coats of white paint you need to cover a wall? Insane) which is a task I despise with all my being. I cleaned and hung hardware and enlisted the help of a friend to hang a new ceiling fan. I drew lines with a level and a ruler. I painted the insides of the window casings emerald green on a whim. I slept in the living room all week long and went to bed every night aching from all the painting. And then, I was done.

I mean okay, it's not going to be in a magazine anytime soon, but it feels soooooo much nicer to me. Putting the curtains up by the ceiling made the whole room feel bigger and less squatty, and the white really brightens up everything. I love it. I have a few things that still need doing, like some hanging planters I'm working on, and a shelf my husband is going to be build me, but all in all I am satisfied with my little bit of grownupness. One day that dresser up there will be replaced by a handmade midcentury console type of dresser (a girl can dream, and that's a dream I've been nursing since I was a tween) and maybe I'll finally be able to afford a nice persian rug, but for now, I'm happy.