Friday, May 28, 2010

Friday Night Life

We have a new Friday night tradition in our house. Most Fridays, our 4 year old nephew, Sky, comes to spend the night. I've gotten to live a dream of sorts, to be the "fun aunt". (My biological nieces live 8 and 10 hours away, so visits with "Aunt Man-man" are few and far between) We play Spiderman games, build houses with legos, construct airplanes with Tinkertoys and dig in the dirt (he helped me plant my strawberries and cucumbers).

Although it is exhausting taking care of a preschooler, it is a great reward to receive his hugs and see his face light up when I walk in the room. He loves our dog, Layla, and they are quite photogenic, don't you think?

This one was taken the first night that Sky ever stayed with us.

The circumstances under which Sky came to live so close by are not ideal, but the family is making the most of the opportunity to speak into his life and provide nurturing, love and consistency. He has really stolen my heart! I hope that he will remember these Friday night sleepovers with fondness and know how much we love him. I know that I will.

And one last item before I log off: we got our first strawberries this Friday night! As diligently as I've tried to be about picking off all the flowers, I missed quite a few and we now have strawberries. Four were ripe tonight, so of course, Sky and I had to pick them and treat ourselves! He was VERY excited and enjoyed the fruits of his labor.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Little Etchy

My college roommate is getting married in a week. After putting up with me for two years, I wanted to make her something special as part of a gift for her wedding shower last weekend. This is what I came up with. (And, I'm sorry to say, I procrastinated again and put this together a mere hour before I had to leave for the shower. I did have the idea in my head a few days in advance, however!)

I fell in love with the design and can't wait to make one for myself! Unfortunately, I misplaced one single box after we moved into our house that has an identical vase in it. It seems to have completely vanished. I also fell in love with the card design that I came up with:

A friend introduced me to the wonders of glitter. I love the result but hate the mess! Glitter was EVERYWHERE! We used the Cricut Expression to cut out the designs from the "Sweethearts" and "Mother's Day" cartridges and used the Xyron sticker maker to turn the images into double-sided stickers. Sprinkle glitter on and, viola! I also made her this card for her personal shower using the same Cricut cartridge:

It's not quite as "glam" but the Stampin' Up! paper matches her wedding colors!

Around My Garden

I apologize for not blogging more regularly. I tend to make blogging feel like a monumental task that I don't want to tackle, even though I enjoy it once I get going. I promise to try harder in the future. With that being said, here are some pictures of my garden for your viewing pleasure (I apologize in advance for my lack of photography skills. I reeeeeally wish I possessed a natural gift for it!):

Rows before planting (I was going for somewhat raised beds with walking paths in between. The straw has newspaper underneath to help control weeds.

Beef Heart Tomatoes (for homemade spaghetti sauce and salsa!)

My friend Jamie introduced me to the concept of "companion gardening" where different species of plants help keep harmful insects and diseases from killing each other. In this picture, basil is planted in between the tomatoes to repel harmful bugs from the tomatoes. I really want to learn more about this interesting idea!

Bell and Cayenne Peppers (for salsa)


Cucumber (or as our nephew says, "Ooo-umber"). I have more in starter pots that desperately need to be planted. A lady a work suggested I put a cage around them so that they don't vine out all over the place. I like that idea!!! We'll see how it works! And please ignore all the weeds in the background. They have taken over three rows that i have yet to plant. It is back-breaking work to weed the garden, but it will get done one of these days. A little at a time...

And I saved my favorite for last: the strawberry pyramid! If all my other plants die or don't produce anything this year I don't care as long as I have my strawberries! Granted, I found out that you're supposed to pick all the flowers off so that they don't produce fruit the first year (to allow the plant to grow deeper roots instead of focusing it's energy on fruit production). This news greatly saddened me because I was really looking forward to making jam; however, I have allowed a few strawberries to grow nonetheless so that I can at least reap some reward for my labor and patience! There are four varieties mixed in: Earliglow, Jewel, Ovation, and Honeyoye.

There you go! I might plant corn, too, but my mom told me that she had something "special" to give me to plant in the remaining three empty rows. I have no earthly idea what she has in mind, but I hope it's something that I like to eat! No asparagus or eggplant, please! This has been a learning experience, and an exhausting one at that, but it will be worth it to harvest healthy food straight from the backyard!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Just Some Thoughts

I'm sitting on the couch watching one of the channels on tv that plays non-stop Christian music. As each song plays, they feature random facts about each artist, like how old they are and when they started singing or song writing. Coincidentally, most of the artists I've listed to so far are only one or two years older than me. One guy has been leading worship since he was 13 and writing music just as long. Wow. I've attempted to write a song or two over the years, but I don't think they are exactly music to anyone's ears. Heck, even I barely like them.

I've been thinking a lot over the past few months that I'd really like to grow in this area of my life, but I don't know where to begin. I've been a part of a worship team since high school and feel like I'm unsure of the next step. I'm living a dream come true just being able to sing and play keyboard in church, but that's not enough. I know it full well. I want to continue to grow and help others grow closer to God through worship, but I hold back and am afraid. What is God going to require of me? Am I ready for whatever that may be? What will other people think? (It seems like I'd be past that last question by now, but it's still a struggle) What is holding me back? Fear, myself, sin? All the above and more? I've got to let go of the junk and just surrender. I even sang about surrender this morning, now that I think about it. I want to mean what I sing. But there must be action. Now is the time to get over my insecurities and let go. Let God have His way in me so I can GROW! It's scary, but full of possibility.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Etching Drama

Why is it that we procrastinate? Does everyone do it habitually, or are there really people in this world who always plan ahead and get stuff done long before a deadline? I waited until the very last minute to make my Mother's Day gift for my mother-in-law, with almost disastrous results. She has wanted to redecorate her master bathroom for a while now, so I found some super cute and inexpensive apothecary-type jars to etch for her. You know, the kind you can fill with q-tips and cotton balls, that look so lovely and spa-like sitting on your vanity? Here is a picture of one of them:

Well, as I said, I waited until last minute (the day before Mother's Day) to etch the jars. A helpful friend offered to assist me since she has vastly more etching experience than I. After three hours of picking out beautiful, intricate designs to etch onto each one, we painstakingly applied the vinyl templates and I globbed on the etching cream. Keep in mind that we started around 8 p.m. It looked like this:

The directions state that you should wait 5 minutes and then wash off the etching cream and "voila!" you have gorgeous, expensive-looking glass. I washed off the etching cream with great expectations. Nothing happened. It didn't work. I was devastated! This was a first! Apparently, not all glass etches. I knew that some pyrex wouldn't work, but these were basic jars, just plain old glass! By that time, three and a half hours had gone by and I had nothing to show for my creativity! Thankfully, my friend and I had a stroke of genius and decided to cut the designs out of vinyl using a Cricut Expression and ended up with these beautiful results:

By 11:30 p.m., I was exhausted and ready to get the whole thing over with. I didn't actually finish them until the day after Mother's Day (more of that darned procrastination). We gave her another gift for Mother's Day, so this will be a belated gift. Now I just hope she really likes them! And here's a picture of the card I made for her. My mom got an identical card as well.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Woes of Weeding

My best friend's mother is a Master gardener. Since I was a child, I have loved her flower gardens and have hoped that one day my yard would somewhat resemble hers. As a child, I remember being at my friend's house when her mother asked her to weed the flower beds. She only had to do this chore for twenty minutes, but those twenty minutes seemed an eternity to my seven or eight-year old mind. In true rotten-child fashion, I wrinkled my nose and declared by disgust in having to wait to play while this loathsome chore was completed. I don't remember if I actually helped with the weeding, but soon the weeds were pulled and we were back to our playing.

Sometimes our lives get cluttered with weeds. We may know that they are there and choose to ignore them until they become an eyesore. We fail to recognize that by taking the time to deal with the weeds before they're out of control we could avoid a painful mess. Maybe it's embarrassing to admit fault or acknowledge those dreaded words: "I was wrong", but once the chore is completed, there is more room for the good stuff to grow. We grow more humble and our character is strengthened.

I'm planning on pulling some weeds in my garden in the backyard this weekend and while I'm at it, I'll be thinking about what personal weeds need to come out of the soil of my heart as well.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Gotta Start Somewhere...

I have thought about starting a blog for quite a while now. When I finally built up the nerve, it took me two months to think of a name that I liked. Upon finally settling on one that seemed to fit, the momentous occasion has come for me to compose my very first post. I hope it's not disappointing! Quite unlike the blogs name, "A Sweet Serenity", my day has been quite un-serene. Yes, I just made up that word. That happens on occasion. Anyway...I picked up Layla at my in-laws' house as usual, to find that one of her eyes looked, shall we say, injured, causing fear and panic to well up inside me. I thought that her retina had detached or she was going blind. I rushed her to the vet (thankful that I didn't get pulled over on the way) and the diagnosis was that she had two scratches on her eye and was probably stung by something. After a whopping emergency bill and severe blow to my bank account, she is going to be just fine. Sometimes you can't put a price tag on peace of mind. Some would argue that she is "just a dog", but to my husband and I, Layla is our child. We are more than a little "meshugener" (crazy, for those of you who don't speak Yiddish)about her. I'm sure that many a future blog post will include a picture of her or some cute anecdote centered around her. Someday we will actually have human children, Lord willing, and I'll blog about them, too, but until then, the dog will have to do.