This Monday morning dawned as most do after returning from a girls getaway weekend with old, dear friends.
I'm thankful that I've learned over the years, that reentry isn't always easy.
Today I am tired from three way-too-late nights chatting with friends, which didn't help my recovering-from-an-awful-cold state of health.
Today, I burnt the oatmeal my children were looking forward to. And then the second pot boiled over.
Today, I was in pajamas for my longer than I had hoped to be.
Today, little voices were louder than they should have been and not quite kind.
Today, I reached for the Shout to treat some stains on my daughter's dress and realized too late that a bottle of Windex had taken the normal place of the Shout. Oops. (And thankfully, a quick rinse seems to have saved the day...so far.)
Not an ideal beginning to a new week. But I was prepared for the possibility.
And so despite the Monday-ish beginning...the rest of the day has been sweet.
Strong coffee and a perfect afternoon snack.
Sweet and patient learners with no tears today.
Happy lunch-eaters with no complaints today.
A grace-receiving Mommy whose thankful for the good and trying moments of today.
This weekend was a sweet reminder of the many blessings I've been given by the most-generous Giver. A time where my heart was full and my soul feels refreshed and encouraged.
And just like I can return to my normal after such a full weekend, I find myself able to return here today, after almost a month's absence and a failed 30 days blog series.
One thing I love about the onset of October is the all-of-a-sudden-everything-pumpkin craze. To decorate. To eat. To drink.
I find that most people, when it comes to pumpkin-flavored food and drink, lie in one of two camps:
Yum. or Yuck.
I happen to love most all pumpkin things...and I do happen to like the phenomenon known as Pumpkin Spice Lattes. I have found that at my three local Starbucks locations, it's difficult to get a consistent drink...mainly seasonal beverages. I was elated to find that the Starbucks located in my grocery store has a manager who makes The. Best. PSL I have ever ordered.
But...I also like to be conscious of spending, and so I began a search for a way to make them at home. There are a bunch of recipes out there...some are too pumpkiny...some are just gross...I began to get discouraged. I finally saw one (and now I can't remember which site it was from...I'll update when I find it) and knew it had to be The One.
And it was.
With temperatures finally reminiscent of what the beginning of fall should look like, I made some of the syrup today...and then got the crazy idea to add another favorite fall flavor to make a latte: caramel.
1. In a small saucepan, combine water and sugar over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally until sugar is dissolved. Add cinnamon sticks and remaining spices. Cook for 5 minutes; stir occasionally. Do not let mixture boil.
2. Allow to cool for 15 minutes.
3. Using a fine sieve, strain all the syrup over a 4-cup measuring cup. Rinse the sieve. Place a funnel over storage bottle/container. Place sieve over the funnel and carefully pour the syrup through the sieve once more, taking care not to spill or splatter.
4. Store in refrigerator.
I thought it would be fun to dress up my syrup.
I found this 16 oz. bottle with pour spout at my grocery store for a couple dollars.
To make the label, I took a small tag distressed with walnut ink (purchased years ago).
I added a strip of Basic Grey's orange dotted vellum tape (similar here) around the bottom of the tag and stamped a pumpkin in the center with a brown Staz-on ink.
To attach and finish the tag, I wrapped a piece of twine around the neck of the bottle twice, placed both ends of the twine through the tag and tied a bow.
This would a lovely gift...I'd use a 1/2 to 1 cup bottle to get more gifts out of each batch of syrup. Add a cute mug and bag of coffee beans with a recipe in a basket and you have a fabulous hostess or "just because" gift!
As a homeschooling mom of three little ones, my creative time is limited. I love to try new things...and challenge myself in new pursuits, but the time involved in learning something new hands-on is often time that I don't have.
In the past few years, I have found online courses in a variety of subjects to be a great way to learn and enjoy new crafts, skills, and hobbies. While some courses have a definite timeline for instructor involvement, many enable you to work at your own pace (a huge perk for a full schedule) and allow extended access to the course materials.
Here are a few courses that are beginning soon that I've had experience with in recent years!
Last year, I came across Jeanne Oliver's Creatively Made Home course. The content was beautiful, instructive, inspiring, and original.
So it was quite easy to decide to join in for her newest class (which begins today!) I am SO excited about this year's Creatively Made Home: Home for the Holidays! The course includes over 30 videos from each of 9 instructors, focusing on cooking, decorating, and gift-giving, PDF supply lists and instructions for each project, a digital recipe book, and much more. The course content is accessible for two years. If you'd like to sign up, just click here!
Back in 2009, I took an online photography course from Karen Russell (who I had previously taken a scrapbooking class with while we lived in Texas). I loved her approach to photography...self-taught, Karen values capturing the everyday moments of her family.
Taking this course gave me confidence to actually leave my automatic camera settings behind and really helped to train my eye to best capture the moment. While this course is pricey, the value far exceeds the cost.
Karen has three courses slated for 2014...registration for the first course begins today (10/15) at 9 am Pacific Time. Her classes tend to sell out SO fast so don't miss out. She also has auditing options which are less expensive. You can learn more about Snapshots of a Good Life here.
My favorite source for scrapbooking related online courses is Studio Calico. They teach one course a month, and have included courses that teach stamping, photography, letterpress, mini-albums, and a variety of technique courses for scrapbooking. Classes (which vary in price from month to month) often will include a class kit or downloadable images...and access to past classes is always granted.
You can register up to a month in advance for a class; currently registration is open for "Lifted" with Lisa Truesdell. I recently took the Letterpress class and really look forward to taking time this fall to practice this technique more!
I hope that you might try an online course...and if you have any favorites to share, please do so in the comments!
Just a note...the past week was spent out of town, and while I had a number of posts ready to share, time did not allow for working at the computer. Instead, I spent LOTS of time with extended family and my children as we celebrated two of their birthdays...and that was what we needed. Sometimes, living a creative life requires spending time AWAY from the internet! I plan to post-date those blog posts I had planned for last week this week as time allows...so please continue reading!
It seems like just yesterday that she made me a Mommy...and yet, it's so hard to imagine our life without her bright blue eyes, adorable freckles, and sweet smile. Her energy and zest and contagious laughter. A decade of blessing.
She is a treasure to us...a most precious gift. What a privilege to mother her, to love her, to teach her.
Happy Birthday Hadleigh...I love you with all of my heart.
There's nothing like a celebration to get my creativity in high gear.
And with three birthdays within twelve days, October has plenty of celebrations in our family.
I love this balloon wreath I made a few years ago, after seeing several different styles of them. I decided to make one that would work for any celebration (boy or girl). I made sure that in addition to a mix of colors, there were plenty of pink, blue, and purple balloons, as those are the favorite colors of our kiddos.
This is really a simple project; it's perfect for working on with a movie in the background! All you'll need is:
a straw wreath, covered in plastic
several packs of greening pins
assortment of regular-sized balloons (you'll need a lot, depending on the size wreath form and the fullness desired.)
The process is pretty simple!
1.Take a greening pin.
2. Place the center of balloon (around the base of the rounded part under the crimped edge of the pin.
3. Position the pin on the wreath and press until the balloon and pin are tight against the wreath form.
4. Continue to pin balloons until the wreath reaches desired fullness. I did not put balloons on the back of my wreath, but you definitely could!
"Are you allowing your own expectations to hinder you from freely expressing yourself? Is your idea of the right way keeping you from your best way? Are you too distracted to show up? Are you living like a programmer instead of a poet?"
Each Sunday during this series, I'll share a quote to reflect on.
This week's quote is from Emily Freeman's newest book, A Million Little Ways. This paragraph got my attention today. And I'm thinking about how this applies to many facets of my life.
I am so excited about this book...and about getting to meet Emily next month at her At the Barn event!