Happy Little Finds. An Exciting New Series!

This whole blog thing started out as a creative outlet for me to express my dreams, meditations, and ideas. It’s been so much fun to bring you along and to watch it grow into something more. More of a community. More of a global coffee shop. More you and me, coming together with ideas on how to change our world, our health, and our lives.

I am loving it all! I love the e-mails, messages, and comments. I love the friendship and the bonding that is happening with followers and fellow bloggers.

I have sincerely enjoyed sharing “my journey to health” with you, even with all of the deep and dark soul searching it has evoked in me, and apparently in some of you as well. It’s been amazing, and I look forward to a few more weeks of that series.

However. As much as I love what it has become lately, I feel the need to change it up a little and have some MORE FUN around here. It’s time to put the “happy” back into this blog!

So…after listening to your feedback and your interests, I’ve decided to start another weekly column (I just can’t get enough of this place!) which will highlight some the small things that I discover on an everyday basis that bring me happiness. I am going to call it “Happy Little Finds.”

It will be interactive and spontaneous and will certainly bring more fun back to this blog!

Here’s what I’d like for you to do: tell me what you’re finding that makes you happy! It could be a saying, a picture, a quote, a re-purposed door knob, a purchase, or a new-found passion. E-mail, or send a message on facebook with your “finds” and then, at least once a month, I will feature them in a post here.

I am so excited about this series, I am starting it today!

Recently I have been going through boxes and getting rid of things I no longer need, such as my four-year-old daughter’s “baby” clothes. I had previously hung onto them, for mostly obvious reasons, but now that we are having a boy, it’s high time to let them go.

I have to admit I’ve been more sentimental than I thought I would be. Something about those tiny pink shoes that just hold so many wonderful memories and happy moments. Something about the smell of those satin blankets that take me straight back to those early days of my daughter’s life.

Nevertheless, it’s time to move on. It’s time to embrace the new and the present and the bundle of blue that’s coming!

Yard sales help me do that best. They provide a big, grand release of old stuff that no longer serves me. A cleansing, of sorts. They clear my head of the clutter that tends to build in our garage, and they help to simplify my life. Not to mention, someone else gets something they WANT, for a great deal!

I had one on Saturday. And I already feel so much better.

The side beauty of it all, is that I find some really cool things I have either been looking for, or had packed away and forgotten about.

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Like this fancy vintage number that my Mom gave to me, several years ago. She knew how much I adored the details and the size of this saucepan, and decided that I should have it for my own. Isn’t it glorious??

I instantly became happy when I pulled it out of the rubbermaid tote it had been hiding in for the past two years. I got even happier when I used it to make our oatmeal this morning. It was extra good, coming from this pretty little thing.

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And then I found this! Such a cute mini crock, I feel I must find something to put in it. Sugar for our coffee, perhaps? Or as a planter for some ivy?

One of the great things about getting rid of stuff, is it makes room for items you really love. The things you REALLY want.

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Like this french door from the next-door neighbor’s pile of stuff. I have beeen wanting a door like this to put in my garden-themed guest room. It was propped up against her side of the fence for a few days before I finally inquired about it. And to my great delight, she told me I could have it, in exchange for some empty totes.

Now it’s propped up against my side of the fence. (Don’t you just LOVE when that happens??!!) Like a canvas of wonderous character, just waiting for my touch. A few strokes of the paintbrush, perhaps? Put some artwork in the windows and you’ve got yourself a treasure for years to come.

Oh…there’s so much more! My life is full of these kinds of gifts and discoveries, and I imagine, so is yours. I can’t wait to share more of them with you and to celebrate your “finds” here on this blog!

(Check back every Monday for more “Happy Little Finds.”)

On Dyeing Eggs. And Coming Alive!

I’m almost ready for Easter, now that I’ve cleared out the leftover Valentine’s paraphinilia, brought some greens in, thought about planting seeds, gotten my life back, and then got buried in seven inches of snow. Ok, so maybe not quite ready for Easter, but I’m definitely ready for Spring!

Ready for baby chicks and robin eggs and the color green.

I love to watch the earth come alive this time of the year. And I love that we have a holiday that celebrates life, resurrection, and hope, in the middle of it. I am a believer in all of those things.

Even though it’s one of my favorite holidays, I haven’t done much to celebrate it in the past few years, other than what I would normally do: go to church and worship, then have dinner with friends or family afterward.

It somehow slips by me, every year! Seems like I’m either six weeks pregnant, or moving, or just moved, or my kitchen is being renovated…or something.

Last year, we had just moved across the country, but I managed to make these little babies and bring them to Easter dinner at my Mom’s. I got the idea from here: http://bigsislilsis.com/2010/03/31/easter-birds-nest-candy/ and tweaked the recipe a bit, but they were still super easy and they were a total hit with the kids!

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This time however, I wanted to do more. Not that much, but just…well, color some eggs. Real Easter eggs.

I’ve been wanting to dye eggs since I was a half-grown child and I’ve decided that this year, I would make it happen, Easter or not. Those of you who know me, know that I adore eggs, in any form. Not as in, eating them. But as in, admiring them.

Their delicate design speaks to me of birth and hope and new beginnings. The cycle of life. I like them in nests, surrounded by feathers, hidden in branches, large, small, fake, real, speckled, blue, green, and brown.

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They make me want to be a bird, just so I can sit on my little nest all day, and chirp when it’s time for my lover to bring me some food. I mean…wouldn’t that be a grand life?!

Ok, so maybe I have some weird fantasies, but…seriously. If you are a mother, you can’t tell me that doesn’t sound at least a little appealing, at times.

Anyway, I got my twenty-year old wish the other day: I got to be a child again and color some eggs! And I got to do it, with who else, but some of my favorite little people: my daughter, and my sister’s kids.

I mixed up a bunch of colors in glass pint jars and took them up to my sister’s house, along with some aprons, and a big pot of vegetable soup. She was getting company the next day, so I wanted the clean-up to be as easy as possible, and keep the aftermath to a minimum for her.

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I got the jar idea from Sherelle Christensen at: http://sherellechristensen.typepad.com/my_weblog/2012/04/dyeing-easter-eggs.html  and it worked beautifully.

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Somewhere on pinterest I had seen the idea to use a whisk for dipping the eggs into the dye. That worked pretty well, except that it’s a bit difficult getting the drippy wet eggs out of the whisk, without getting color all over your hands (or your kids’s!), which is exactly what we were trying to avoid. I still prefer to use a spoon.

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It quickly became a family affair, when my Mom, Huzbun, and sisters all joined in, helping and watching the kids with their creations. Even their neighbor, Logan, got in on the action!

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Some got fancy and double dipped them to make multi-colored eggs. I got fancy and wrapped mine in various ribbon and laces, to add some texture.

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This little guy got fancy and splashed most of his color onto his surroundings…

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And others were a bit more serious about it.:)

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But we all had a blast!

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And the eggs turned out gorgeous. Just look at these colors!

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I had such a great time doing this, I think we might make it a yearly tradition. Unless, of course, I’m six weeks pregnant. Or moving. Or renovating…

Aahh.

Not only was it a super-fun family event, but it fulfilled a long-time desire for me. I am happy. I feel satisfied.

And now, bring on Easter. Bring on Spring!

Gingerbread Houses and Priceless Moments.

This was going to be my previous post. But then a bunch of school children were killed by a gunman, and I couldn’t stop crying long enough to write about gingerbread houses.

Now that I have momentarily composed myself, I am going to attempt it today. This is the stuff that helps us heal, anyway, isn’t it? It is good to mourn with those who mourn. But then it is also good to look around and find joy in the moments we spend with those we still have. It helps me to look at these pictures, and remember the reasons why I am beyond thankful for these, my littlest loves, and how I want to savor every moment I get, with them.

Last week, one day, I rounded them up, herded them into my van, and took them to their Grandma’s house, where we decorated and adorned miniature gingerbread houses, with all manner of food coloring and sugar-laden delights. Can we say, FUN?!

Two of them were my sister’s kids, whom I adore, and one of them was my very own Beanstalk, whom, well. We all know how I feel about her!

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I assembled the miniature houses, the night before, so that it would be easier and less mess for all of us. I purchased four, pint-sized containers of whipping cream, (Hey. It was the only thing I could find in that size!) and dumped out the cream, washed them real good, (cuz the last thing we want is gingerbread houses that reek of sour milk!) and then pasted graham cracker squares onto them, using this royal icing:  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/royal-icing-recipe/index.html to hold them in place. Turns out it was the perfect consistency for the job and the frames held up really well to the bumping and poking and sticking they endured, later.

I should mention that I cut about an inch off of the bottoms of the cartons, so that a half cracker fit perfectly on each side, which also gave it a better proportion and made it cuter. I was a bit hazy on the the actual assembly, when I started on these things. All I had to go off of, was the one that Ari had brought home from school, a week earlier, and then promptly ate, before I had the chance to inspect it closer. So, of course I learned all this by trial and error: at first cutting the crackers to fit into the odd size, pasting, ripping off, then cutting the carton, and starting over.

By this point, I was already relieved that I had decided to do the assembly ahead of time, and not while all three kids were waiting impatiently to decorate their houses. I highly recommend doing it this way, for that reason! All they really want anyway, is to squish the frosting and plop the candy onto their “house. ”

So…that’s what we did!

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Well, first we stuffed our bellies full of soup, to try and put a damper on the amount of sugar we would ingest or otherwise “get high” on, while we did the other.

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Oh my. Look at all that candy! And look at those smiles! I gave them each a pastry bag, filled with vegan buttercream frosting. I figured that at the very least, my child might not have a stuffy nose for two weeks, if I kept the dairy out of the frosting. Nevermind all the “stuff” that’s in the candy! But hey, at some point, it becomes more about damage control, than actually making it healthy!:)

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Some of them needed a little help from me, to get things started.

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And others, needed NO help, at all!

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I am quite positive that I had just as much fun as the kids did.

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Even this guy couldn’t resist, jumping in! (He just so happened to be “working” there!)

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We squished alot of frosting and ate way too much candy.

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But here we are, with our finished gingerbread houses!

P.S. All of this happened while “Maggie” was galavanting around other parts of the country, and while we missed her, we sure made some good memories at her house, while she was gone.:)