Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Getting Crafty {March}

Remember when I said my goal for 2012 was to complete one craft or sewing project a month? Well, I still haven't completed the project I had planned to do in January (one day maybe) but I did get a couple of things done today for March.

I've been wanting new Easter baskets for the girls. They have small "stuffed" ones that hold all of 6 eggs. It was tempting to "go big" since Ed and I each had gigantic baskets when we were kids. I didn't go too big but I did want baskets they wouldn't necessarily "outgrow" any time soon.

I started out with two basic wicker baskets like this one...

a little spray paint, a little sewing and some ribbon and now we have these...

Overall I'm fairly satisfied with the results. I think they could use another coat or two of paint. And even though I followed the basket liner tutorial precisely and took all my measurements twice and carefully, the liners do not fit as well as I'd like. They both could stand to be a smidge bigger. I have plenty of fabric leftover and can easily buy another can of paint so maybe before I store the baskets until next year I'll find the time to give them a quick touch up.

I also worked on Easter shirts for the girls.

Samantha's shirt went from this -

to this -

Ignore the difference of pinks. The egg appliques did not show up well when I used the flash on my camera so for the after photo I had to turn it off. I think the shirt is cuter in person than in the photo as well. One thing did drive me crazy though. It is impossible to find a cute style plain knit shirt in toddler sizes. I wanted something cuter than a basic tee but they all already had some sort of design on them. I had to settle for this one with the pink rosettes on the neckline. Don't get me wrong, the rosettes are cute but I kind of feel like the rosettes and egg appliques compete with one another. Anyhoo...

I didn't take a picture of Gabrielle's shirt before but of course it was just a plain purple shirt with some cute ruffled sleeves. And here is her shirt after -

Again, not a great picture. The white fabric applique really doesn't take well to the flash and since I know next to nothing about photography, I have no idea how exactly to solve this issue. The eyes and nose actually are not permanent yet. I'm not really sure I like the proportions. I may end up just using some embroidery thread or my sewing machine. Any opinions?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

An Artful Afternoon With Gabrielle

The girls woke up around 4:30 this morning so as I expected, Samantha fell asleep in the car on the way home from picking up Gabrielle. While this little one was sleeping,

Gabrielle wanted to do some painting and drawing and for the first time in a really long time I decided to sit down and do some artwork of my own.

Some of our work...

Gabrielle wanted to try her hand at portraits. The picture below is me wearing a crown.

I had hoped to find an art class for Gabrielle to take this summer but unless I want to drive into Raleigh every week for class, I'll have to wait until next year after she has been in kindergarten. I guess I can understand these places having their policies but it kind of irks me that although Gabrielle is 5 years old and only missed going to kindergarten this year by not even a full month, she can't take a lot of these summer camp classes. 

Anyway, once I realized no one was going to bend their rules, I decided to do some searching online for other resources and found a great book that a few homeschooling bloggers use with their kids. With the aid of that book, Gabrielle and I will be doing our own classes. The book discusses several great artists and their painting/drawing styles, followed up by step-by-step instructions of producing your own work in that style. I thought this would be good time for a field trip to the NC Museum of Art as well.

This plan probably works out better. With Gabrielle going to kindergarten next year and being in school all day, every day, this will give us some good quality time together.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Prima Ballerinas

Last week the girls were able to try on and bring home their dance recital costumes. As usual, the costumes are just adorable this year!!

Gabrielle's ballet costume, for the song "My Girl"

Gabrielle's tap costume, song? I have a copy of the song but I don't know the name of it.

Samantha's ballet costume with matching teddy bear, to the song "Winnie the Pooh"

I'm such a cry baby sometimes. I can already tell I will need to pack extra tissues for the recital in May!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

More Art by Gabrielle

When Gabrielle was just shy of turning one I bought her her first coloring book and box of crayons. We sat down at the table and colored a picture together and I swear the child has not stopped drawing, coloring and creating since!

Here are some of her most recent creations...

She started by tracing a Crayola circle stencil that was mine when I was a little girl (how in the world I managed to hang onto that of all things is beyond me). Then she added her own details to turn it into an alien.

Here are the girls laying beside a paper picnic Gabrielle came up with entirely on her own.

She later added on some food, realizing she had left off all vegetables. But my favorite part of the picnic are these...

She drew, cut and pasted together coconut milk in coconut cups with red straws. 

I love that she is so creative and while at times, like when I'm really busy working or cleaning, I get aggravated by her asking for craft supplies and projects to do, I would not want her to be any other way. She literally spends hours coloring, drawing and crafting and I love that about her. I'm already looking into some art classes she can take over the summer. I just know she would have an absolute blast!

Just a little more bragging to do (after all, we parents LOVE to brag on our kids whenever we get the chance, right?), when I picked her up from school yesterday her teacher commented on Gabrielle drawing "a beautiful picture" for her place mat. Gabrielle told me it was a fairytale scene with a fairy, a mermaid and little red riding hood. I can't wait until she is able to bring it home.

And one other note on my big girl, she is now officially registered for kindergarten. I seriously don't know how or when she grew up but it happened and I am having a very difficult time wrapping my head around the idea!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Things I've Learned By Giving Up Sugar - So Far...

We are 17 days into Lent which also means I have been on a "no added sugar diet" for 17 days! It has certainly been a challenge but I have already learned so much about myself and food I can honestly say I kind of look forward to the next 23 days.

By "no added sugar" I mean I do not eat food that has sugar in any form added to it. I eat fruit and vegetables where sugar is found naturally. I can eat any protein and I eat dairy as well as whole grain pasta (although I am trying to limit my pasta to just once a week at most and am also trying to not fill up on dairy). One of the first things I had to learn was to read labels. The Mayo Clinic's website was very helpful in listing all the forms of sugar and names for sugar. If a label has any of these listed as ingredients I don't eat it.

I have been surprised by a lot. I have been surprised at just how many foods out there that have sugar in some form added to them. I dare say the majority of processed foods have sugar added to them. Other than the obvious "sweets" I don't eat any bread or anything with bread or bread crumbs. That means no pizza because sugar of course is in the crust. I mention pizza specifically because I think Ed was more astonished by the idea of me going 40 days without pizza than the whole sugar thing. Nothing with honey, corn syrup and no artificial sweeteners (which I do not personally like anyway and have always stayed away from). Most jarred, canned or packaged seasonings, broths, stocks and sauces all have sugar added to them. The list goes on.

On a side note, did you realize that canned tomato sauce is more than just tomato sauce? I have never thought to read the labels of canned tomato sauce but sure enough bell pepper, onion and other seasonings are in most cans of tomato sauce. I just expected the label on the can to say "seasoned" or something of that nature if it was anything more than tomato!

I have also been surprised at the things that don't have sugar added to them. For example, regular ol' Goldfish crackers have sugar BUT the whole grain ones do not. Also, I can't have flour tortillas for tacos or fajitas but corn chips and the crunchy taco shells don't have sugar added.

The first week was the roughest. I am not sure I can even describe in words just exactly what it was like. I'm pretty sure my kids and husband could tell you in a few words what I was like to be around though!  I was irritable, cranky, short-tempered and impatient. All because I was denying myself sugar. One week into Lent I hit my low point (at least I'm hoping it was my low point!) That Wednesday afternoon I was tired and just in an all around bad mood. I was craving, seriously craving, some coffee with my yummy sweetened creamer and a blueberry muffin. I wanted those two things so badly I felt like I was going to scream. The bottle of creamer was just staring at me from the refrigerator shelf, taunting and tempting me. I would look in the pantry and my eyes would go directly to the Hostess blueberry muffins or even the cereal.

"No one will know if I have just one cup of sweetened coffee."
"Everyone gives in one little time, right?"
"It's okay to mess up this one little time. God will forgive me."

It was rough. I thought I was going to lose my mind. I wanted to scream and cry all at once. And yes, all because I couldn't have sugar. Isn't that terrible? I had no idea I would experience such withdrawal symptoms by giving up sugar. I am so happy I did not cave to the temptation though. I finally was able to collect myself enough to know I needed some quiet time alone. I gave the girls a snack and turned on the television. I went to my bedroom and sat on my bed and sighed. 

Actually first I had gone to the computer to print off some "but God" verses Lysa TerKeurst had posted on her website but my printer was acting up and after two failed attempts I decided to write down the scriptures and look them up myself. Now I can see that this is what God wanted me to do in the first place. He didn't want me to just read through a printed piece of paper quoting scripture. He wanted me to be in His word, looking it up and reading it for myself. And that's what I did. I sat and looked up each and every single one of the 20 verses and wrote them down in my Made to Crave Bible study notebook. This gave me the opportunity to really take in the words and the meanings of these verses. 

Here are a couple of my favorite "but God" verses I read that day:

Psalm 73:26
"My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."

Matthew 19:26
"Jesus looked at them and said, 'With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

Those were very powerful words that I desperately needed to hear and know that afternoon. 

My Bible has in the back different reading plans to guide you through your reading. One of these plans is 30 Days of Promises. I browsed through the listing and the one about facing temptation caught my eye.

1 Corinthians 10:13
"No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it."

This verse comforted me  that day and comforts me still when I am facing temptation of any kind. God promises us we will not face anything that we can not bear. And I love that it said "when you are tempted" - not if but when. In this life we will face many temptations, but "God is faithful" and "he will also provide a way out". 

Before I knew it I had spent almost an hour in my room reading through His word, journalling and praying.  Yes, miraculously my girls let me have an hour to myself in my room without interrupting at all! At the end of the hour I was no longer feeling on the edge.

This journey I decided to take is still not easy but no day or moment has been nearly as difficult as that first week. Maybe some of that is because my body has gotten over that initial sugar withdrawal but I think it has way more to do with the peace God's word gave me that day  and gives me daily during my quiet time with Him.

When I started this post it was just to simply list some fun and interesting things I have learned and share some of my favorite new recipes I have discovered in the past 17 days but I guess God had other intentions for it because my fingers were typing in a totally different direction than my mind had planned on going!

I will still share some of the recipes in a later post but I guess the most important thing I have learned so far in this process is how to really, truly go to God with even the little things, like being upset and angry about not having sugar! 

When I saw Lysa TerKeurst speak a few weeks ago one of the things she said that has stuck with me was that when our strength ends, God's strength steps in! We have to just bring a little bit of willingness, whether it is to eat better, exercise more, even change careers or go into a new ministry, and God will do the rest.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

This Is Just a Test

A week or two ago Ed came home from work and informed me while he was setting up his new computer at work he had saved my blog address in his bookmarks. Up until recently Ed did not read this blog. Ever. And I'm not so sure how often he even reads it now (not that I've been posting regularly but it's the principle).

So just as a test to see if he is actually reading or not I thought I'd post a photo of him and see when I get any kind of response from him. Ha!

The other night he was watching a basketball game and fell asleep. When I saw what kind of position he was in I couldn't help but think how uncomfortable it looked. Of course I didn't wake him or anything, just snapped a quick photo and let him be. 

Pink Lemonade Cupcakes

As busy as February was, thus far March is on the opposite side of the spectrum and has been incredibly laid back. I wish I could say I took advantage of a less than packed schedule and got caught up on some stuff around here but sadly I definitely cannot say that. If anything I might even be more behind!

Last weekend the girls and I went to Mama's for a visit. We had not seen her since December which is a terribly long time for us. I am finding out as the kids get older, we all get busier and it is just getting more difficult to make monthly trips anywhere. The girls missed their Meemaw and were to happy to go for a visit.

The girls and Mama made cupcakes on Friday night. Yellow cake, pink lemonade frosting and Easter candy for decoration.

They smelled delicious. Do you know how difficult it was to not even lick my fingers while helping the girls decorate their cupcakes and peel the liners off for them? Had it been the first week of my no added sugar I probably would have cheated and tried to sneak a taste. But I can proudly and honestly say I actually did not cheat or have a taste at all.