Easter Branch Decor

Can you believe that Easter is right around the corner?  I know!  I can’t wait to show you my latest update for my seasonal branch.

As you may remember, here’s my hubby, so excited about my fabulous find.  He just didn’t quite understand the vision of the branch, but was so sweet to empty the trunk of suitcases so that we could squeeze it in and transport it home from Sedona.  Click here for a bit more of the story.

This year I found some hanging egg ornaments with letters to spell out Happy Easter!  It was so easy to hang the letter eggs on a thick ribbon that was strung between the branches.  Of course, I added a variety of pastel eggs, as well as several celery green crystals to fill in the spaces.

Happy Easter Egg Ornaments

I love having this branch in my living room.  It’s so much fun to think of all the possibilities for decorations.  What would you use to decorate it?

The View from the Sofa

A few weeks ago I had surgery and I’ve been home recuperating since then.  On doctor’s orders I’ve done a lot of sitting around, so I thought I’d give you a peek into my view from the sofa.

Shredder

Shredder

Here’s my buddy, Shredder.  Our 21 year old cat.  She’s been hanging out on the sofa with me every day.  Here she is on her favorite blanket.

Basically she sleeps away the day in the middle of the sofa and I sit to her right (under that blue blanket when it’s chilly).

 

Sometimes when my lap is empty she climbs up and sleeps there too.  She stretches out with her head on my chest and tail down by my knees as I watch my favorite home improvement/decorating show on the TV.  I have to admit that I watched a lot of HGTV, especially the first few days when I was on pain killers and couldn’t focus enough to do much of anything else.

Below is the view to the right, into the kitchen.  Our island is filled with beautiful flowers and sweet cards from friends (and my hubby).  Have I mentioned that I LOVE FLOWERS of all kinds?  Looking at these just make me happy.  And many of our friends and family brought meals and sweet gifts while I was out of commission as well.  All of them were a constant reminder of what loving family and friends we have.

Flowers and Cards

Do you live in a loving community?  I hope so!  We were created to love and be loved and the freedom to express and receive love nourishes us to our very core.   I have felt so much love over the last few weeks and that’s not because I’m such a special person.  It’s because the community that I’m part of just gets it.  They know how to love well.  They understand how important it is to come alongside, affirm, encourage and support others and I am SO BLESSED to be part of this exceptional community.

And here’s my sweet husband serving me like he has been since my surgery.  He’s taken on all of my chores around the house, cooking, cleaning the catbox, laundry and all.  He even freshened up my flowers for me every few days.  What a keeper he is!

Terry serving

More flowers

And some more lovely flowers from some of my co-workers to the left of where I’m sitting.

And now a fun bonus!  When I was going stir crazy this week and feeling well enough to stand up and walk around a bit, I finally put up this calendar on the side of my refrigerator.  I kind of like it! (Be sure to click to enlarge the photo.)

It’s called a “Peel It – Design It” Birds in Flight calendar.  Each piece around the calendar is a decal that is position-able wherever you want to put it.  The monthly calendars are cardboard.  There were other decals that were orange and yellows that so far I’ve decided to leave out of the design but we’ll see if I add them later.  What do you think?

What do you do to support and encourage friends and family when they’re going through tough times?  Were you raised in a loving community?  Do you feel comfortable showing love to others?  What’s your favorite way to do that?

5 Easy Steps to Re-Use Thank You Cards

You know when you get a card and you love the design just too much to throw it away?  Well, here’s a fun way to give new life to that favorite card front.

In this case I’m repurposing thank you cards.  It’s so easy and takes very little supplies to create a whole new card to use yourself.  And if you end up sending it to the person that gave it to you in the first place they’ll be honored that you liked it enough to re-use it, and you’ll be making it even better than when you first received it!  (Be sure to click to enlarge the pictures to see all the details.)

Thank you card tools

Step 1:  Pull all your favorite used thank you cards out (ones that you’ve received and saved) and use a paper cutter, like the Fiskars one pictured to the left, to separate the front from the back (used-written on) part of the card.

Step 2: Find some envelopes that are the approximate size of the notecard fronts.  These can be found at various stores like the box of “100 Invitation envelopes” pictured below or online like this set of envelopes at CurrentCatalog.com.  You can buy just white or a variety of colors.  Or if you want to be really industrious, you can make your own envelopes from any number of tutorials online by searching “How to Make a Paper Envelope”.

Step 3: Cut pieces of coordinating paper or cardstock Notecard envelopesjust a little larger than double the length of the old thank you note covers.  You will be folding these in half to create the card, so if the old card front is 4″ x 5″ for example, the new card stock should be at least 8 1/4″ x 5 1/4″.  It’s nice to leave an extra edge around the old card front for contrasting colors as you’ll see on my samples.  Note: make sure that the card will fit into the notecard envelopes that you have.  You can size the card stock accordingly, or depending on the design, you can cut down the old card front to fit the envelope.

Thank you cards done #2Step 4:  After you have cut out a coordinating piece of cardstock or heavy paper (like scrapbooking paper), fold it over to make the new card.  Now, with a little creativity,  here are just a few ideas of things you can do before attaching the old card front to the cardstock.

  1. Use a corner rounding or creative corner tool to decorate or cut the corners on the old card front, or the cardstock or both.
  2. Add a layer of contrasting paper between the two layers as in the beige and white card shown here.  The original thank you card was white with a formal font, so I added a classic lined paper between the two layers with a half circle of the lined paper under the words.
  3. Add buttons to the design where appropriate.  In the flower card at the top, there was already a tiny button used for the center of one of the flowers.
  4. Add ribbons, bows or stickers or your own decorative ideas where appropriate.  I’m sure you have some great ideas here!

Step 5: Attach the card front and decorations to the cardstock using either glue, adhesive dots (found at your favorite scrapbook supply store) or double-sided tape.

Wasn’t that fun and easy?  I love the fact that this can all be done in less than an hour and you have a whole new stock of cards to use. How do you reuse your thank you or greeting cards?  I’d love to get your ideas!  Thanks for stopping by.

Using Custom Blurb Books for Fundraising!

This week I finished two different Blurb books for a non-profit organization that I help out part time.  I love creating these books and thinking of new ways to use them to help others.

The first book that I finished this month was a  (200-page) 12″ x 12″ photo book that captured the trip that I was privileged to go on in October of 2011.  I joined a team of 7 other women and 1 man who traveled to Israel and Jordan to gather information and talk to women in the Arab World about an upcoming training program that’s being offered by the Global Training Institute for Women (GTIW aka Greater Reach Ministries) beginning in May 2012.  The 6 training sessions will take place over a 3-year period.  Their goal is to see transformed women who are rooted in their biblical identity and have a clear understanding of their spiritual gifts, resulting in courageously leading other women to the same truth.  They hope to take at least 20 Christian Arab women leaders through this program and in the future expand into Eastern Europe and the U.S. as well.

Our hope is that the photos I took on the trip will help them to spread the word about the need for training and the vision of GTIW and help raise funds to pay for the women who have limited income to attend the training.  They’ve also asked me to join them in May as the photographer/historian at the first training session in the Arab World.

If you’d like to get a sampling of the big book, you can check it out here.  The photos of the people that we met with have been omitted from the online book preview for their own security, since some Christians and Muslim Background Believers risk their lives in professing their faith in Christ.

The second book that I created is a personal Prayer Journal that contains 31 blank pages to write in and a page with scripture and a photo from the Holy Land for every 7 blank pages.  If you’d like to see a full preview of the journal, please take a look here.

All proceeds from both books help to fund the Global Training Institute for Women… So after you see it, if you decide you’d like to order a few for yourself or as a gift, please use this link and get 15% off your whole order with the discount code 15OFFBLURB (all caps).   

f you write a page each day in the journal, it will last a full month.  If you write less than a page, then the journal will cover a longer period of time. In the future we may be researching other printing options to lower the cost and increase the fund-raising dollars per book and be able to increase the page count as well.  Plus we’ll be creating new designs with different photos and possibly a planner/calendar layout too!

For more information about the ministry or if you would like to contribute directly, please visit the website to donate at GreaterReach.com, send a check to the address below or contact them at:

Global Training Institute for Women
8283 N. Hayden Road, Suite 258
Scottsdale, AZ 85258

email. Info[at]GTIW[dot]com

480.718.3062

Be sure to tell them where you heard about it!  And let me know your thoughts on what you’d like to see in future book products as well. Thanks so much!

Happy Valentine’s Day Friends!

I hope you had an extra special day with the ones you love!  I hope you enjoy these photos of my Valentine Branch.  Don’t you just love this sweet little owl.  He was a gift from my friend, Sharon.  The branch hangs in my living room throughout the year, all decorated for each season.

I also wanted to post a quick note to apologize for being MIA for a while.  I didn’t realize how long it’s been.  There’s so much to report and there has been so little time to report it.

This past weekend we were in Puerto Penasco, Mexico.  It was the first time I’ve been there.  The Catfish Hunters did a concert on Saturday night and we had a great time!  Pictures to come soon.

More big news and probably a little bit of an excuse as to why I haven’t been on my blog too much.  I just received in the mail the book that I created through Blurb.com!  It was a (mostly) photo travel book about a trip that I was privileged to take to Israel and Jordan in October with a non-profit organization that I work with.   The book is 12″ x 12″ and 200 pages (yes, you read that right).  It turned out beautifully if I must say so myself!  I’ll have pictures of that and a link soon too!

I also had the privilege of planning a celebration for a dear friend of ours…of course there are photos of that on the way too!

See, I really do have a few good reasons for not being online.  Just sorry that it kept me away from all my friends here.  See you soon.  I promise.

Maple Bacon Cupcakes and more…

In my quest to find the best ways to use our year’s supply of bacon, I stumbled onto this recipe in Oprah’s magazine that sounds devine.

Gayle King says: “”Best thing I ate while judging the Vendy Awards—a cook-off among New York’s incredible street food vendors—this fall: the Cupcake Crew’s maple bacon cupcake. I knew I liked maple and that I also like bacon, but who knew how much I’d like them together?”— Gayle King

You can find out more about the Cupcake Crew and where they’ll be serving cupcakes (in the Big Apple only) on their website or Facebook page.

Cupcake Crew's - Maple Bacon Cupcake

Photo by: Molly Rundberg

And here’s a link to the recipe on Oprah.com.

Have you ever had a cupcake like this?  If so, what did you think? I’ll let you know our vote when we have a chance to try it out.

Oh, and did I tell you that my husband took Chocolate Dipped Bacon to a work potluck the other day?  It was a big hit!  Sadly, I forgot to get a picture of it.  I know, can you believe it!  I forgot!

It was super simple.

A pound of (Oscar Mayer, of course) Super Thick Cut Bacon, cut into thirds – cook until starting to crisp, but not overdone.  It will cook more after you take it out of the pan.

A container of dipping chocolate (this is what I had on hand).

Melt chocolate according to package directions.

Once the bacon is crisp and cooled and the chocolate is melted and still warm, dip as much of the bacon as you want in the chocolate.  We left about half of each piece of bacon exposed so the chocolate flavor didn’t overwhelm the bacon.  Set it on wax paper to cool, then arrange on a plate to serve.  Of course you could add sprinkles or nuts or whatever, but I prefer the pure chocolate and bacon flavors.

This photo from the Taste of Aloha website looks most like what we made.

Hey and next time you see a great bacon recipe, don’t forget to pass it along.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

It’s been a busy and somewhat non-traditional month for us.  As you’ll see from these photos, there’s been a good amount of time spent with those we love, but somehow things were busy in other ways too.

Christmas NativityWe also went to the Musical Instrument Museum (the MIM) for our 34th wedding anniversary on Dec 9th, celebrated the holidays with a few of the non-profit groups that I work with and had a lovely evening with some other dear friends.  All of those activities don’t have pics posted yet, but hopefully I’ll get to it.

I’m not quite sure how the month got away from me, but we didn’t decorate inside the house until December 19th which is VERY LATE for me!  Originally we weren’t expecting to have any gatherings at our house this year, so I guess that gave me the freedom to put it off.  Then we found out that we were hosting our family gathering, so I got busy and did a few things.

We still have at least one more celebration to come with our son, Kevin when he returns from being overseas in early January.  That will be a special time to have him back home and in the U.S. hopefully for a very long time.

Here are links to a few photos that I’ve posted on Facebook over the last month.  I hope you enjoy them!  (Note: I was told that some of these links didn’t work for those that aren’t on Facebook, so I’ve updated them.)

Randy Thompson’s Christmas Concert where Terry played in early December

Christmas with our Home Group (they’re like Family)

Christmas with my side of the family

Christmas with our Los Angeles area family and our precious friends, the Thompsons

Christmas cookies