Sunday, November 13, 2016

Decorative Pumpkin Tutorial (cheap and easy!)

I love decorating for Fall! Because our house has lots of wood and muted colors, the Fall items fit in nicely.  One of my friends has gifted me with several pumpkins made from vintage quilts.  These are my favorites.  This year I wanted to add to my pumpkin collection with pretty, cream colored pumpkins.  I was shocked at how much they cost!  My parents taught me to be thrifty!  Instead of buying the expensive ones, I did a little research on good old Pinterest and got some ideas of how to make my own.

Supplies Needed

Paper pumpkin (I got mine at Hobby Lobby)
Ivory spray paint (Krylon is very good)
Hot glue
Jute string

 I started with a plain pumpkin like this from Hobby Lobby for about $5.  I call it a paper mache pumpkin.  Not sure if that's really what it is.  It looks like it's made from brown paper bags.

I sprayed painted them with Krylon Ivory paint.  It covers so well.

Next I got out the hot glue gun and started with a small line in the crease of the pumpkin.

I put jute string down on the glue.  I repeated this process in each of the creases, until it looked like the one below.

I did the same thing on the stem-hot glue, then wrapped the jute around.

The final product is a simple, yet beautiful pumpkin for my table for less than $10!  I'm very pleased.  (excuse all the stray hot glue strings!  They're gone now.  lol!)

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Pumpkin Muffin Recipe

What better way to start off a Saturday, than pumpkin muffins!  My friend Candice shared this recipe with me years ago.  They are so moist and yummy.  I made a batch last week to share.  Emma and I delivered 4 plates of them to family and friends.  This recipe makes about 24 muffins.  I plan on making more today for my college girl to take back to the dorm tomorrow.  

3 cups flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp soda
4 eggs
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups canned pumpkin
1 1/4 cup oil
1 1/2 cup chocolate chips

In a large bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, salt and baking soda.  In another bowl beat the eggs, sugar, pumpkin and oil.
Stir wet mixture into dry just until moistened-don't over stir!
Fold in chocolate chips.
Pour into greased or lined muffin tins.
Bake at 350 for 15-18 minutes.  Remove to wire rack to cool.
Makes 24 muffins.

Sunday, September 11, 2016


I mentioned in my first post here that we had been through a very rough year and a half.  It's not over yet.  We're still praying for a miracle.  Most of the time I'm pretty optimistic.  I like being the person who smiles all of the time and who likes to laugh.  I love laughter.  Sometimes though, especially when I wake up in the middle of the night, I succumb to despair.  There have been moments when I thought I just couldn't handle anymore. I would curl up and cry and ask God, "Why?  Why do I have to go through this?  I've tried to do everything right."   Have you ever felt that way?

It's been during those times that I've been reminded of a few things.  First of all, I'm not the only one going through a hard time.  It's amazing how God has brought other people into my life to love on me and support me and my family.  Secondly and most importantly, look what Jesus went through for me.  I KNOW he didn't deserve it.  He was everything perfect and kind and good.  He endured for me.

That is why we never give up.  Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day.  For our present troubles are small and won't last long.  Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever.  So we don't look at the troubles we can see now; rather we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen.  For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.  ~2 Cor 4:16-18

I also like what Charles Spurgeon says about difficult times, "Though the harrow go over and over your soul, and the deep plow cut into your very heart; though you be maimed and wounded, and left for dead, yet if the Spirit of God do it, it is a blessing indeed."

I have to keep reminding myself to not give up.  God has a plan.  Recently a friend made this sign for me.  I hung it in my bathroom so I'd see it right before I went to bed and first thing when I awakened in the morning.  It's a reminder to me.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sister, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. ~James 1:2-4


Keep enduring.

I will continue to wait on God.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Alzheimer's Awareness Month-thinking of my momma

September is Alzheimer's awareness month.  This is something very personal to me.  My Momma is 69 and has severe dementia (Alzheimer's is a form of dementia).  When she was in her late 50's she started having symptoms-not remembering recipes that she'd made for years, forgetting her way home from my house, etc.  At first, I refused to accept it.  I just thought there had to be something else wrong that we could fix.  My dad took her from doctor to doctor, sometimes travelling hours to an appointment.  They all came to the same conclusion-dementia.

Things have progressed quicker than we would have ever expected.  Just to give you a glimpse, now she requires 24 hour supervision.  She can't bathe herself or dress herself.  She's totally incontinent.  She walks and walks until she is totally exhausted then starts leaning and will eventually fall if not caught when she goes to sleep.  To get her to eat, you have to keep one foot on her chair to hold her still.  

This is not my Momma.  She always had her hair fixed and her nails done.  Her clothes were ironed and neat.  Her house was spotless!  She was always welcoming and always had home-cooked meals on the stove.  The 2 of us talked on the phone multiple times a day.  Every Saturday we went shopping together.  

Dementia is awful.  I've lost my Momma, yet she's still here and I have to see her all of the time. I'd like to think she still knows me.  There seems to be a glimmer of recognition in her eyes when she sees me.  She never says my name, yet she will hug me back when I hug her.  

A few years ago, I felt this was more I could handle.  Then I was reminded of 1 Thessalonians 5:18 Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  That's when I reevaluated.  What a blessing to still have my Momma, despite her condition.  I just needed to love her where she is and help in whatever way I can.

My girls and I go over weekly to clean for my dad.  He doesn't ask us too, it's just a way I feel I can help.    As I said before, Momma liked a clean house.  This is a way I feel I can honor her.  I scrub and bleach and sweep.  My girls help without complaining.  We hug on her as she walks by.  We bake for her (to try to help her gain weight) and pick flowers to place on the table because I think she might enjoy their beauty.  

Just recently my dad was shown a fidget quilt or busy quilt and he asked me if I could make one for Momma.  Of course I could!  I love to sew and I would do anything that might help her.  The whole idea with this is to give her something to keep her hands busy.  I had everything I needed to make it right here in my home.  I used bright colors, because they are her favorites.  

First of all, I included some sentimental items.  My Granny (who I adored) loved to make yoyo's.  I thought maybe these would jog Momma's memory a bit and maybe give her a happy feeling.   The chenille would add another texture that would maybe stimulate her.  

After much research on Pinterest, I added several other squares that I thought might stimulate her and help with all of her nervous energy. 

I sewed a pocket with some keys.  This was actually the first thing she went for!

Then I knew she must have beads.  Momma loved jewelry.  This is actually the second thing she played with.  

I also included some lacing.  Being sure to sew the laces down securely so they wouldn't get lost.  

Last was a book that shuts with velcro and a zipper (off to the left).  Not pictured is a square with lace to move around, 2 satin hearts with ribbon tails to add even more texture and a bath pouf!  Just because it was pretty and feels good.  
I quilted around each square then added stippling on the boarder.  This was an act of love for me and also therapy.  I'm so hoping  Momma will get pleasure from this little quilt.  On the other hand, it helped me feel proactive with this awful disease.  I've felt so helpless, yet now this may bring a bit of happiness.  

This walk with dementia has taught me how to love my momma where she is (and others where they are).  Also to find joy in the moment and never, ever take anything for granted.  I'm so thankful for my momma.  I know too that God has allowed me to go through this for a reason.  It's a growing time.  


Monday, September 5, 2016

3 Weeks Abroad in a Carry-On

When I first married, I had only traveled to a handful of states and out of the country only with the Army.  When our youngest was 2, we set out for Europe for a month.  Boy did we have lots to learn!  First of all, we over packed...seriously over packed.  We not only had the 2 year old, but a 7 year old and 9 year old.  Oh, and we traveled exclusively by train to 4 different countries.  You live and you learn.  Now 10 years later with passports full of stamps, we're a bit wiser.

First lesson was only to use carry-on bags.  I don't even know the number of times the airline has lost our bags.  One trip was when we were in Colorado with 2 extra children to go skiing and no coats because the bags were lost!  Also, when traveling by train, it just doesn't make sense to bring big, heavy bags.  I know, I've been there.  You are personally responsible for finding a spot for your bag and getting them on and off the train with no assistance (in a matter of minutes).

I've learned how to condense what I take and make pieces work together.  I should have said earlier, I'm no fashionista...not at all!  I just want to blend in and look relatively pulled together.  I've also learned that when going to other countries to not wear bright colors or prints.  When in doubt, wear black.  Always.  I've never gone wrong with that from Europe to South America to Canada.

I thought I'd give you a look at what I packed for this last trip to Europe with my girls.  I should preface this by saying that we were doing a lot of outdoor activities.  Nothing fancy at all.

Here are my 2 favorite bags.  I've had my Brookstone rolling bag for years!  It has been the best thing.  I've purchased other bags and they've always had issues.  Not this one.  Plus, so much fits inside!  What do you think about the Duluth shoulder bag?  I love this bag!  It is so functional.  Maybe not fashionable, but very useful.  First of all, it has a pocket that slides over your rolling bag handle.  This is so nice when your running through the airport because your bag doesn't slide off.  Secondly, it has a ton of pockets!  Seriously a place for everything including an iPad or a small laptop.  I use this bag to hold my iPad (with the Kindle app so I don't have to bring books), my travel Bible and journal (not pictured),  headphones,  a travel size umbrella (I have needed it on several trips, plus mine has a strap to hook onto your purse), a note book and pen, sunglasses, ear plugs and eye mask and a  reusable bag (lots of countries charge you for shopping bags.  I always bring my own.) Most importantly are my snacks.  lol!  Tied on the outside of my bag with a Coach scarf is my pillow-a necessity for a long flight.  

Another thing in my Duluth bag is my water bottle.  I drink a lot of water and I especially get thirsty on long flights.  On this trip, we were renting a car and then going to be doing lots of walking.  I didn't want to have to buy water every day.  Instead we purchased these collapsible Platypus bottles.  They're BPA free and hold up to 1.0 liters!  Perfect for traveling.  

Of course, all of my liquids needed to be easily accessible so I put them in my Duluth bag.  I packed all the liquids inside a plastic bag.

Besides the typical toiletries, I also packed essential oils.  The ones I always take on trips are Di-Gize-for stomach issues, Lavendar-to sleep and for skin irritations, Thieves-congestion and colds, Pan-away and Deep Relief for muscle aches and headaches and Stress Away for obvious reasons and because it's my favorite.  

Now onto my Brookstone bag.  Here's what's inside:

We were in Europe (Switzerland and France) in May.  We experienced a wide range of temperatures, mostly chilly though for us southern girls.  

I packed all casual clothes.  3 long sleeved shirts and 2 short sleeved.  These were all thin fabric that was easy to rinse out in the hotel room and then hang to dry.  

I had 3 pairs of jeans-skinny, black and straight legged.

2 dresses that were only worn in Bordeaux because it was too cold in Switzerland.  I paired the first with my denim jacket and the striped one with the white button down, tied at the waist.

The black North Face was worn almost daily!  It was the most practical item that I brought.  As I said earlier, the denim jacket was worn with the dress and the scarf was only worn on the plane.  

Now for the shoes.  I go for comfort with shoes, all the way!  The 2 pairs of flats are Lucky Brand.  They are the most comfortable flat I've ever worn.  Very cushy inside.  We did lots of walking and my feet never hurt in these.  The leopard pair are almost worn out, but I just love them and they really liven up my black, blah outfits.  The platinum pair were new for this trip and go with absolutely everything.  Plus these shoes take up hardly any room in my luggage.  Now onto the LL Bean boots.  I almost didn't bring them.  Then I found some space in my bag.  I am SO glad I included them!  The day we visited Rhinefall it was cold and raining.  My feet would have been wet and frozen in anything else.  

These little compression bags were a life saver!  The large bag fit my jeans, spaghetti strap shirts and PJ's.  The smaller one held all of my tops and underthings.  This was my first time to use these.  I'll definitely buy more!

I always bring along this little cross body Coach bag.  It matches almost anything I wear, looks cute and is oh so practical.  The red Duluth wallet is a must!  It clips to the inside of your purse and has slots for your credit cards (with a leather strap that snaps over and secures them in place), a spot for your license and a zipper pocket for your cash.  

The rest of my make-up and accessories fit in these bags.  I also have this handy flat iron bag that  a friend made for me.  

So, there you have it!  Three weeks in a carry-on for the practical traveler who doesn't have any "fancy" destinations.  What do you think?  I would welcome any ideas for my future trips. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Our trip to Bordeaux (part 2 of our European vacation)

The second half of our European vacation was spent in Bordeaux.  This happens to be one of my favorite cities!  It's known as the little Paris-all the beauty, excitement and diversity without all of the crowds.  It is located in southwestern France and is a port city on the Garonne. It's known for the Gothic Cathedrale-St Andre-one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen.

For part of the trip we stayed in city central on Cours du Marechal Juin.  Our room was super tiny but had all we needed, almost.  A bed, a fold out sofa, mini fridge, TV and bathroom.  After the first night of burning up, we realized it did not have AC.  (Bordeaux is pretty warm and humid this time of year).  We tied the window open, but were kept awake by the sirens going off all night.(we were right across the street from the Sapeurs Pompiers-the fire dept and just down the street from the hospital)  I had earplugs, but my girls didn't.

Our first evening there we just walked and walked!  Did I mention how beautiful this city is???  I love the architecture and the cobblestone walkways.  Every meal we ate outdoors.  It was just too pretty to be inside.

Right behind our hotel was the Hypermarche @ Meriadeck (the huge grocery store!).  I forgot to tell you that we first visited Bordeaux 10 years ago.  We stayed in a little apartment.  The grocery store was one of my favorite places.  It's not your typical store.  Not only are there all kinds of food, but cosmetics,  home goods and even books.  We bought items to stock our mini fridge, souvenirs for us and our friends and even some French books to place on our book shelves.

Another favorite place of ours was Gambetta Park.  Imagine a tiny central park.  Just a lovely place to stop for a picnic or a much needed break.

We had met a girl in Huemoz (from Australia) who happened to be living in Bordeaux going to the university.  She offered to hang out with us and give us a tour.  We met at our hotel and walked to the river- Port de la Lune where we all played in the shallow pool of water.  We then walked to the Palais-Galltien (Roman ruins-a former amphitheater) .  After 8 miles of walking at site seeing, we made it back to our hotel.  We went to dinner at Le Comptoir.  Busy, but pretty good food.

The next day we went to an outdoor market at cathedral square.  One stand was selling oysters, another eggs and spices, meat, flowers and pasteries.  I bought 6 small canneli for 3 euros.  This is the typical Bordeaux dessert.  So good!

For lunch we walked to Le Grand Cafe.  I had a fabulous salad with  smoked salmon, boiled shrimp, a small scoop of chicken salad, lettuce, arugula, tomatoes all covered with a citrus dressing.  So good!  There was a French couple beside us who struck up a conversation.  They even gave Emma their creme brule!

The next few days were not exactly as fun filled.  Our real reason for visiting Bordeaux was for my daughter to have a heart procedure.  We moved to a hotel a little south of Bordeaux in Pessac.  For the next 4 days, we stayed here and walked the 20 minutes back and forth to the hospital.  Grace was admitted to the hospital, had her procedure and discharged a few days later.

You may ask why we came so far for health care.  Well, my husband has been here twice.  Theses doctors are the best in world when it comes to these heart issues.  To top it off, it's much cheaper here.  Also they are so thorough.  In the states, you'd have the procedure and go home the same day.  Here, you stay for 4 days.  Beforehand you have tons of lab work, an EKG and a CAT scan.  Afterwards you have an ECHO, and a stress text.  None of these things would be done at home.  We felt that Grace was well taken care of here.  Plus, the doctors are so personable.  Grace's cardiologist spent so much time with her.  She even gave us her personal number and email.  How many times do we get that in the US?

Grace has a 2% chance of this reoccurring.  my husband on the other hand, will have issues all of his life.  Chances are we'll be back in Bordeaux again. If we have to be in a hospital, I can't think of a better place!   Until next time!

My next post will show you how to pack in a carry on for a three week trip abroad!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Travel-Our latest trip

Traveling is one of the things that gives me so much pleasure.  I love taking in new environments and cultures and appreciating God's diversity in our world.  It wasn't until I was married that I was able to travel.  My girls now have full passports!  I never wanted to leave them, so all 3 have always gone with us.  I think it's very important to get outside of our small community and somewhat protective bubble and see how other people live.

As I've alluded to, our family has had a rough year and a half.  My husband is so good to me and always wants to see me happy.  During this time, he has insisted that we girls get away and have fun, even though he's had to work.  This past May we did a 3 week trip to Europe to celebrate our middle daughter's (Grace) high school graduation.  There was also one other reason for the trip, but I'll post about that later.  The hardest part of the trip was deciding where we wanted to go!  The 3 of us sat down and listed 3 countries we were interested in and narrowed it down from there.  Our final destination....


There were a few reasons we chose this country.  First, we've never been there and secondly, it's really safe.  This was one of the most beautiful countries I've ever seen!  The people were so incredibly kind and everyone spoke English.  The only downfall-it was expensive!  Especially the food.  Fortunately, we learned ways to save money.

We flew directly from Atlanta to Zurich, then took a short flight to Geneva.  From here we got a rental car and drove the (almost) hour to our hotel in Evian-les-bain, France.  (My husband accumulates lots of Hilton hotel points from work travel.  Therefore when we travel for pleasure, we try to use those points.  This was one of the Hilton's we stayed in).  This hotel was fabulous!  We had a small balcony that overlooked Lake Geneva (or Lac Leman) and a very large room decorated in my favorite color-purple!

One of the places we visited here in the southern part of Switzerland was L'abri in Huemoz.  If you haven't read the book L'abri by Edith Schaeffer, you must!  Such an incredible story of one family's ministry and their total faith in God.  I read the book for the first time about 8 years ago and have since read it 2 more times.  Finally, my dream came true and I was able to visit the actual site.  I was simply estatic!

After 2 days in Evian (the hotel was booked after that) we drove north to Zurich.  Our first day here was spent visiting Rhine Falls-Europe's largest waterfall.  It was raining and 8C (down south had been sunny and very warm).  Despite the weather, we had the most wonderful time!  The falls were amazing!  From here we drove to Konstanz, Germany and had lunch (much cheaper food here).

The following day we drove to Vaduz, Leichenstien.  This is the world's sixth smallest country (62 sq miles, population 37,000).  It also happens to be the richest country in the world by GDP per capita.  Obviously, it didn't take long to tour the country.  lol!  Next we drove into Austria, out in the countryside-way up on a mountain.  So beautiful!  Our final stop was downtown Zurich.  We visited a book store, tea room and several other shops.  We also got to see the Limmat River.

Day 2 up north, we drove the hour to Lucerne.  Here we took a gondola ride up to Mt Pilatus.  This cost 180 Swiss Francs but was so worth it!  The view were incredible!  Even though the ground was covered in snow and ice at the top, the air was sunny and warm.  There was a hotel, restaurant and shops at the top of the mountain.  Such incredible views in every direction!  Back at the car, we drove into the center of the city.  We parked and walked around Lake Lucerne.  Here we took Grace's graduation pictures with the beautiful Alps in the background.  We also walked a short distance to see the crying lion monument.  It was carved in the rock face in 1972 and is dedicated to the Tuileries war heroes.  So magnificent and amazingly moving.

Our final day (for now) in Zurich was spent in the city center.  We parked the car and walked all day. Bahnhofstrasse is one of the world's most exclusive and expensive shopping streets.  We mostly just looked on this street.  lol!  We did stop and toured a church-Fraumunster.  Then we went to Sprungli.  They supposedly have the freshest truffles.  They are also one of Switzerland's oldest chocolate companies.  We had lunch outside in a beautiful courtyard.  The weather was sunny and warm.  A perfect day to be outside.

The next day we flew onto Bordeaux, France-my favorite city.  I'll save that for another post.

He holds in his hands the depths of the earth and the mightiest mountains.  The sea belongs to him, for he made it.  His hands formed the dry land, too.  Psalm 95:4-5