Sunflowers

It may be a bad summer for produce, but boy oh boy, is it a good summer for sunflowers. I was lucky to pick up the last bunch at the local farm stand and now their cheery sturdy presence graces the kitchen. I can’t get enough of them. 
Next summer is going to be the ‘year’ of landscaping and these beauties are officially on the list with some new shrubs and an expanded lavender section to include multiple varieties. 

With enough planning and a little help from mom, maybe there is hope for my not so ripe green thumb.

Punkintown Fair

One of the communities in the area had a fair this weekend. I’m not typically a fair kind of girl, but this small fair, was just my size and speed. Old wooden booths with lots of charm….

…old fashioned games….

…lights and… 
…bunting strung from one building to the next… 



Legend has it, that the original name of the town, Punkintown, was named after a sow and her litter. They were living inside one of the many large ‘punkins’ [aka pumpkins] that grew in the area. The name stuck and for the past seventy years, the town has been the home of the Punkintown Fair. 

Re-Focus

A long weekend worked it’s wonders on me. After spending an evening under the stars watching the ballet, catching up with friends and an evening campfire roasting marshmallows, I was ready to focus on what really needed attention, me, and particularly my health.

Yesterday afternoon found me home alone with a mindset ready to narrow in on what needed to be done. First up, was organizing my Pinterest account. What does Pinterest have to do with all of this, you may ask? I’m loving Pinterest right now [my husband claims he is a Pinterest widow], more than any other social media platform out there, mainly for how useful it is.

In the past few weeks, I’ve found great resources for eating better and consuming less sugar, packing better lunches, and how to go about a gentle detox. Once I reorganized my pins and printed out the information I needed, I was ready to pack a healthy breakfast and lunch for work.

Feeling really good about all of this, I went for a walk and discovered the blackberries in the neighborhood were ready for picking. They were a perfect addition to my vanilla quinoa this morning. Those three hours I spent focusing in on healthier habits has energized me emotionally, which I was in desperate need of. 

If you’re looking for a healthier breakfast idea, try mixing together:
– 1 cup of cooked quinoa
– 1/2 cup of vanilla almond milk
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 1 teaspoon agave nectar
– Sprinkle of cinnamon
– A handful of berries

Heat it up in the microwave in the morning for 60 seconds and you’re good to go. It’s a tasty, comforting and filling breakfast packed with protein, fiber and antioxidants to keep you going all morning.

Homemade Clean

Making hand soap this week was one of my only creative accomplishments and I’ll be honest, it took a lot to drag myself off the couch and into the kitchen. The past couple of weeks have been draining, I won’t sugarcoat it, and my energy level isn’t where it normally is. But pushing myself to do at least one creative thing was cleansing [pardon the pun] and a bit of a science experiment.

Three simple ingredients: a gallon of water, one bar of soap and two tablespoons of vegetable glycerin is all that’s needed.

First, choose a favorite bar of soap [I chose Trader Joe’s lavender soap] and shred it with a hand grater, just like you would with cheese. One of the best parts of working with soap and water, was that it made clean up a breeze.

Once the soap is shredded, place it in a pot with a gallon of water and heat on the stove on a medium setting. It’s important to note, there is no need for the water to boil. Instead,  slowly stir the soap and water over the course of ten minutes or so as the soap melts. Once the soap is melted, add two tablespoons of glycerin [many stores sell glycerin for under ten dollars, especially health food stores] and stir well. Remove from heat and let sit for 10-12 hours.

By morning, my soap had hardened and needed some extra water added to it as well as a quick mix with the electric hand beaters, which helped turn it into the consistency of hand soap. If your hand soap is just the opposite and is runny, add more soap by melting it in the pot and let it reset. Repeat as necessary to get the consistency of hand soap.

With a funnel, you can ladle the soap into a gallon jug and begin using right away. And for under $10, you have enough hand soap to last a while!

Perspective

My days of late have been filled with sadness and worry. My little, sweet natured Grammy is not doing well and has been in the hospital for the past week. I won’t bore you with the details, but it’s awful to see her struggling to do some of the things she was doing not very long ago. 
For the time being, life has taken on a new pace. Work, help out at the hospital, cook/clean, sleep and repeat in various orders. There have been large spans of time spent at the hospital helping her manage. The time I have been so fortunate to spend with her has given me perspective. One I hope to be able to hold onto, especially during the days ahead.  
This little Italian lady is just that, a lady. Filled with a presence that remains gracious, polite and kind even when there are staff and visitors by her bedside that she doesn’t recognize. 
Over the past few months, I’ve come to recognize a good part of myself in her, which brings immense comfort, especially when I’m not there and out in the world trying to do the day-to-day stuff that needs to get done. It’s easy to become frustrated. Without even knowing it, she offers an important reminder to be gracious, polite and kind. What basic, simple and smart wisdom. 
This perspective is bringing happiness to the simplest of moments: 
:: A bowl full of ripe tomatoes
:: Homemade blueberry lemon muffins
:: Cuddling with Jax-the-Dog
:: Giggling with Grammy
:: A hearty laugh with one of my Aunts
:: Sitting on the floor of my studio eating strawberries and whipped cream with a friend –plotting, planning and catching up
May your week be filled with a perspective that brings you grace to face all that arises. 

Rags to Riches

Boy oh boy, it’s been less than a week and it seems like ages since I’ve stopped by. Time sure does have a way of changing when you’re not working. While I was off, I managed to tackle this rags to ‘riches’ project — an upcycled skirt made from old t-shirts. Three t-shirts, a sewing machine and some creativity was all I needed to make my this lovely. 

The first t-shirt was about two sizes larger than what I normally wear. Minus the top half of the shirt (arm and collar portion), it was the same width and length as one of my favorite jersey style skirts.

After identifying the base part of the skirt and cutting off the top half, picking out a couple of old shirts I was willing to cut up was up next. This was literally the hardest part, but quite therapeutic. 

I started by trimming off the collar and arms, cutting down the seams on the side and cutting the shirts into two inch strips.

The strips were then used to decorate/design the skirt. Before I was certain of where I wanted each piece, I kept them in place with pins. Before sewing them on though, it was helpful to use Stitch Witchery to keep them in place. The same tactic [ha ha – great pun] was used for the doily. 
It simply was not complete until I was able to add a couple of extra detail touches, such as the flower pocket and tag. The pocket had originally been cut off one of the t-shirts, as well as the tag. The flower was a piece of t-shirt as well rolled up and hand sewn on. 

Elastic was sewn into the top potion of the shirt, and my rags to riches project was complete! This was a great project for me to become one again with my sewing machine, mainly because I was able to follow my own pattern and the fabric was somewhat forgiving to work with. 

Stars and Stripes

We spent the morning at the neighborhood Fourth of July breakfast and parade. Food and coffee for the adults; streamers and garb for the kids to decorate their bikes for the much anticipated parade around the neighborhood with the American flag.  
Driveways were decorated. Flags lined the streets. 
And the start of a Happy Fourth of July was had by all. 

A Page From My Book

A few weeks ago I found a bunch of old encyclopedias at a garage sale for twenty-five cents each. Not knowing what to do with them all, I picked one out of the bunch that interested me the most (you know, fun topics and good imagery). 
When I went to pay, the woman asked me if I wanted the rest of the set. When I replied, telling her I wasn’t sure what I would do with them all, she was quite baffled and asked what I planned on doing with the book.  My mixed media artwork reply didn’t seem to make sense either. For a minute there, I didn’t think she was going to let me have the book. I think we both tossed it up to, two generations with two very different uses for old books. 

Well, I’ve had so much fun tearing up that old book, that I somewhat regret not taking the other three books home. I had a bunch of dry-rub on prints hanging around and played with transferring them onto the old pages. When I ran out of transfer images, printing on the old pages seemed just as much fun and has the same visual appearance.

These make great, quick, simple and customizable gifts, especially if you’re in a pinch.