Simple Summer Ideas – Eats, Drinks, Decor

Hey there friends,  I have been staring at the last post for much too long and I’m sure you’ve been wondering where I’ve been, so here’s a little sumthin’ for your summer inspiration.

I know, it’s way past time to bring out the summer decorations.  It will be Independence Day next week, after all!  Can I confess that I still have my Easter decorations on my branch in the living room?  Yowzah!  Hopefully, I can switch them out for summer decor this weekend.

Things have been quite buzy around here with a bunch of changes happening, as well as more on the horizon.  Sadly, my time to concentrate on the transitions are limiting my time to post.  No worries though, there will be more news and posting to come.

In the meantime, here are a few photos of my Summer Centerpiece.  I happen to use mine in the guest bath.  Yes, a centerpiece in the bathroom!  As you know I try to trick myself into believing that I live near the water, especially in these hot summer months when our temperatures are consistently in triple digits (this week it was up around 113 degrees F)!

I keep this simple centerpiece in the bathroom where I get ready every morning.  It fills my mind with memories of sandy beaches, coastal breezes and the sound of waves lapping on the shore.  Which reminds me…I may have a chance to visit my little hometown on Lake Erie in September and I can’t wait to walk on the beach and hear the sounds of the waves as I drift off to sleep!  I never realized what a blessing it was to live just steps from the shore until recently.

For this fun candle arrangement, just find a rustic container, fill it with sand, shells, a candle (or 3) and things that remind you of summer.  Try one yourself and post a link here so we can all see it?

More ideas for your summer inspiration:

Patriotic Slipcover Transformation

4th of July Beverage Ideas

4th of July – Summer Recipes

4th of July – Patriotic Decor

Let me know your plans for the summer and have an awesome holiday!

Simple All-Occasion Upcycled Gift Bag

Color Coordinated Upcycled Gift Bag

Here’s a fun and easy project that you can easily do in under 30 minutes the next time you need a gift bag.

Have you visited a shop or restaurant that uses plain white or brown paper bags for their products?  If you keep your eyes open you’ll find that there are some that do this instead of paying for printing on their larger size bags.  Every time I get a blank bag (or even one with a smaller graphic) I save it for future upcycling.

Today I needed a bag for a baby shower for Baby Boy Bryson, a new addition to our extended family, so here’s what I did.

  1. First I pulled a medium size white bag from my stash
  2. Next, I looked through my supply of fabric ribbon and found this great blue & purple plaid.  Perfect for a little boy.  (Shop for ribbon at craft stores when it’s on clearance or you have a coupon.  Also watch for ribbon attached to cards and other products that you can rescue.)
  3. Then I searched through my scrap-book paper and found a thick striped sheet in shades of blue that coordinated with the ribbon.  A nice baby print would be great too.
  4. Open up Microsoft Word (or an appropriate program) to create a single large letter (or word of your choosing).  Select your preferred font and size large enough to fill the page and/or one side of the bag.
  5. In MS Word you can choose the option to show/print the letter as an outline only.  This is the best way to show the pattern to be cut out of the printed paper.
  6. Print the letter/word on your scrap-book paper and cut it out.
  7. Center and attach it to the side of the bag with your favorite paper glue.
  8. Fill the top of the bag with tissue paper (would have been more striking if I had a light shade of blue that matched the ribbon).
  9. Tie your matching ribbon in a bow on top of the bag.
  10. If you need a tag, cut a circle or creative shape out of the scrap-book paper too.  Punch a hole in it and tie it on with a small string or matching ribbon.
  11. That’s it!  You’re ready to go.
  12. Imagine all the possibilities…unlimited color schemes, print a word instead of a letter, trim the bag with lace for a girl.  Or what about using the same idea for mini-size wedding or birthday favor bags?

Have fun and post a link to your own creations in the comments section!  I’d love to see how you make it even better.

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?

Traveling with Purpose – Using your gifts to help others

Have you ever been touched by the vision and goals of a particular non-profit and struggled with the fact that you didn’t have the money to write them a big check?  I have.  I’ve also wondered what I could do with my life and limited resources to help so many of the worthy causes that I encounter.

Early in our marriage, when our growing family was trying to stretch every penny I realized that in many cases my time and talents were just as important as my dollars.  It was then that  I committed to give a portion of my time, gifts and talents to serve and assist at church and various non-profits that were close to my heart.  It was and still is the LEAST I can do!

Sarajevo womanWith that in mind, a few years ago I was given the opportunity to go on a short-term missions trip to Bosnia and Herzegovina through our church.  Short-term missions was something that I had always wanted to do.  I love to travel and love to help people, but circumstances had prevented it in the past.  Now God was opening the door for me to be able to “Travel with Purpose“.  My first trip was with my husband and another couple and because of my photography hobby I was asked to participate on the trip using that skill set.  I had the privilege of:

  • documenting all the details of the outreach and ministry on the trip in pictures to share with others when we returned
  • taking photos of the children that were sponsored by our church so that their sponsors in the U.S. could see how they were coming along
  • taking photos of a missionary family, along with their home, neighborhood, church etc. so we could report on their progress to those supporting them at home – Soon after our visit they had to return to the U.S. unexpectedly for medical reasons and the photo book that I was able to create was a tangible reminder of their time serving in Bosnia.

What a thrill it was to be able to contribute out of my gifting!  If you’d like to see a few of my favorites, you can check them out at Flickr here.

2011 The Old City of JerusalemAnd it didn’t stop there!  Last year I was working part time with a non-profit called Greater Reach Ministries (now Global Training Institute for Women – GTIW).  They were in the planning stages of a training program that reaches around the planet to unleash influential women to impact their world.  They were embarking on a vision trip to Israel & Jordan to meet with women and discover how GTIW might come alongside them to assist with encouraging, training, empowering, and releasing women to be all that they were created to be.  Again, I was invited to join the team!  I was so excited to be able to help with documenting the women and the culture in those countries so that we could bring back images to help convey the message of the ministry and the needs in the Arab world!  And here’s a link to some of my favorites from this trip.

Now I have a new opportunity!  This same ministry, GTIW will be conducting their first training session in May of this year in the Middle East and I’ve been asked to come along.  This time I will document the sessions in pictures, as well as assisting the Team Mobilization Director with the many logistical and administrative tasks that will be involved in bringing the training team from the U.S. and about 20 women from 5 different Arab countries to the training location overseas.  The photos will be used to raise awareness and funds for future training sessions and my administrative support should help this first session to run smoothly while lightening the load for the Director.  I’m so thrilled at the chance to use what God has given me to help others.

How about you?

Have you found ways to use your gifts and talents to help where the need is greatest?  Or perhaps you’ve been blessed with the financial resources to help others.  We were not all meant to do the traveling.  Some of us have the opportunity to help others fulfill their vision by responding financially.  Is that your contribution to furthering these noble causes?  If so, I would love for you to consider a gift to help me travel to the Middle East.  My financial goal is only $2700 and $1000 has already been raised.  This brings me almost halfway to my goal.  Would you be willing to contribute $5, 50 or even $500?  Every dollar really does count!    None of it goes into my pocket.  And the donations are tax deductible since GTIW is a 501(c)(3) non-profit!

If you’d like to help pay for the expenses of the trip, please go to the GTIW Support Page here and select my name (Nancy Hann) from the team member drop-down menu.  Or if you’d rather mail a check, it should be made out to Global Training Institute for Women (or GTIW is fine), but PLEASE include my name in the address on your envelope or on a separate piece of paper so we know whose account it should be credited to:

Nancy Hann

GTIW

8283 N. Hayden Road, Suite # 258

Scottsdale, AZ 85258

Thank you so much for considering a contribution.  Every little bit helps.  Feel free to come back and see the progress on the blue thermometer in the sidebar!

Have you had a chance to “Travel with Purpose”?  Where did you go and what did you do?  I’d LOVE to hear about it!

Tourist of Life Treasure Box Drawing Winner!

So I asked my co-worker to draw the winner for the Tourist of Life Treasure Box and the winner is…

LINDA THOMPSON at Reminisce and This and That!

Thank you to all who commented and especially to those of you who visit often and contribute regularly to the conversation.

You are a gift to me!

Linda, I’ll be in touch on how to get the treasures to you.

Stay tuned for future drawings.  Hint:  I might be getting more coupons for free bacon soon!

Have an amazing day!

New Blog Name and Giveaway!

Hey friends,

I’m excited to announce that I have a new URL for my blog and it’s so easy to remember.

TouristOfLife.me

Fun huh?  Add this to your bookmarks or blog reader so you can come back anytime!  If you have the old URL bookmarked it should redirect to the new one too.

Plus, in celebration of my new URL and Blog name, I’m giving away a”Tourist of Life” treasure box!  Just a few things that you’ll need to be a Tourist of Life.

  • 2 boxes of sparklers – what’s a celebration without sparklers?

  • 1 mini suitcase filled with chocolates – So easy to fit in your carry-on and who doesn’t crave chocolate on a long trip?

  • 1 spiral bound lined journal (8  1/2 “x 5 1/4”)- Isn’t this one a beauty inside and out! Spiral bound books are so easy to write in and great for documenting the details of your next trip.

  • And 3 cardstock luggage tags with travel themed graphics (there’s one on the top of the journal too).  Add your contact information to the back, then get them laminated at your local print shop.

Maybe you’d like these for yourself or maybe you’d like to use them to fill a special someone’s Easter or Mother’s Day basket. I’ll be drawing the winner next Tuesday night, March 27th, from everyone who comments below.  So…be sure to answer these two questions for a chance to win.

1.  What is your most favorite place to visit and why?

2. Which of these countries (my most recent trips) would you like to learn about first? I just can’t decide where to start.

  • Scotland
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Jordan
  • Bosnia

Just for fun, this is me having lunch at Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness in Scotland. It was taken by my daughter, Amy.  Until I get around to posting it, you can find out more about our Scotland trip at her blog ThoseCrazySchuberts.com.

You can also find lots of tips and ideas for creative small businesses at Amy’s other site – LemonandRaspberry.com.

I promise I’ll start posting about my trips, so be sure to come back and see them.  They were all so interesting…  And don’t forget to come back on Tuesday or Wednesday to see who wins the treasure box!

Where have you traveled to lately?  You don’t need to leave the country to enjoy a fun adventure.

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?