Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year - Memorial Stones

The week between Christmas and New Year’s has traditionally been a time of reflection and goal setting for myself.  This year I have found myself thinking about the Biblical practice of erecting “memorial stones.”  The stones were erected to remind those coming after of what happened in the past.  (To read about memorial stones you can look at Genesis 28:20-22.  There are also many other examples to be found in the Bible.) 
In my mind’s eye I like to think that an Israelite family traveling through the area would see these memorial stones piled high.  One of the children would turn to his dad and ask, "Hey dad, look at that pile of rocks. Why do you think someone stacked them up like that?"  The dad would then respond, "That’s an excellent question.  Let me tell you about those stones and what they are here to remind us about.”
Lucky for this child the father knew what the stones represented. You would think every Israelite would know about the miracle God performed at that site and the meaning of those stones...not only that site, but the many other sites and memorials throughout Israel.  You would think that those stories would become part of family history that would be passed on to their descendants, yet even such important events can be quickly lost to the succeeding generations.  The memorial stones were not only to peak the curiosity of the children but to remind the adults as well. .
By simply passing on our family traditions we can create memory stones to be used as memorials - as long as the reason for them is also communicated.  We are all aware of how quickly the reasons for a celebration can be lost.  In our own society the days that have in the past been important days of the worship of God and remembrance of what He has done have been changed by a secular society into excuses for a day off work to play. (Thanksgiving is now Turkey day.  We have a Winter Break instead of time off for Christmas.)  My reason for mentioning these as examples is that if our children are to hold any of them as having any significance, then it is up to us to teach them the significance.  Even God set up a tradition for the Hebrews to carry on every year from the time He brought them up out of Egypt. It is the Passover.
My life is filled with many occasions for me to gather memorial stones. There are quiet remembrances of times spent in fellowship with God.  Sometimes there were battles with myself, with my friends, with loved ones and with enemies. There are times of defeat and moments of great, tearful, confession and prayer. There are occasions of mourning and memories of victories and celebrations.  I have had times of letting loose and setting things free.
This all brings me to my question for this New Year...What memorial stones have I set up to both prick the curiosity of others and to remind myself of what God has done? It may be that I have set something up already without thinking about it, but I also need to go beyond and do something on purpose.  
This last year my husband and I have “on purpose” re-instituted the family dinner.  My girls are grown, married and have started families of their own, but I think it’s important to be intentional about being a family...our family!  Their husbands are introduced to our quirks and foibles.  They learn our recipes, our cooking style, and our “comfort” foods.   They can begin to see how the girls interact with each other as sisters, as daughters, as aunts, as sister-in-laws and as friends.
I am intentional about spending time with my grandchildren.  Time spent re-counting stories of my childhood, of their mother’s childhood, and of important things to be remembered.  Who were those who came before us.  What I know of things past...
BUT, none of those times together can create memorial stones in our life unless they have significance for each of us.  Can we identify with each other?  Are we encouraging and teaching each other?  Are our memorial stones a place of refuge and safety?  A place where we can return to God?  Are we creating interactions with the living God for each of us?  Have we met Him?  Has He spoken to us?  Did something ever happen between us and God that changed us and our lives forever?  These are the most significant things which we are to use to erect our memorial stones.
Memorial stones are those places we can return to when we need spiritual communion with God.  These stones are memories we can return to for encouragement and comfort in times of loneliness and trials.  We can use the stones to teach our children, friends and family.  Memorial stones are places to benchmark where we are in our relationship with God and to measure how far we’ve come on this journey called life.
Do YOU have such memorial stones in your life?


Till tomorrow.

"The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth" (Luke 3:5).

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

“The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”” Luke 2:11-14 NLT

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Party Appetizers

Another party...another appetizer!  Since this one was a breakfast "brunch" I thought I'd bring a "breakfast there such a thing?)  Oh well...there is NOW!

I checked my pantry first to see whether I had some dates on hand and found a package of Dole dates that I had purchased earlier.  However, when I went to purchase some more, it took me forever before I found them...different brand, different packaging and different grocery store!  How complicated can purchasing some dried fruit be?
For this recipe you will need about 1.5 packages of be sure and purchase two!

You will also need a package of Maple-flavored bacon (which gives a great flavor.)

That's it!  Two ingredients!
I begin by cutingt the bacon into thirds.  There are usually about 15 slicess of bacon in a package, so this will give you about 45 individual appetizers.

Wrap a piece of bacon around the date and secure with a toothpick. (If you don't have toothpicks, not to worry.  When the bacon cooks it adheres to itself, the toothpick is only helpful when someone wants to pick up one and place it on their plate.  No toothpicks also means no trash or need of plates!) 
I place the wrapped dates in a jelly-roll pan so that the grease is contained. (We all know...bacon makes grease! YUM!)

For SOME reason...I don't have a picture of the finished product.  I took them out of the oven and we ran to the party...and they were "ate up" instantly!!!

Now...a small word about this appetizer.  Most people will eat bacon wrapped "anything!"  Bacon makes everything taste good.  BUT...there is a mental block with "some" that says "I HATE DATES!"   Once they've made that statement out loud...they won't even take a bite!
SOOOOO...until they've tasted them, don't tell them what's in the middle of the bacon!!!  They'll be happy you kept it a secret.

  • Maple Flavored Bacon
  • 2 packages of dates
  • Toothpicks - if so desired
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Wrap each date with 1 bacon piece; secure with toothpick.
  3. Arrange on a jelly-roll pans.  Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until bacon is crisp, turning once.  

 When the dates are properly crisp enough, I place them on  a paper-towel-lined plate to drain off any excess grease.  Transfer them to your pretty serving platter; serve immediately. (Now if you are transporting them to another can re-heat them for about 30+ seconds in the microwave. However, I can eat them cold and they are still delicious!)

Till tomorrow...and another appetizer (tis the season)!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Lace Vest

I recently bought a really pretty lace vest.  Of course, as soon as my sister spotted it she wanted one too. 
Alas...that was not to be.  When we found one, it was either not in her size or it was not to her liking.  We searched long and hard, vest. 
I finally set aside some time this week to pull out my vintage lace pieces and see if I couldn't "fashion" something for her that she would be to her liking!
The large piece in the back of this picture is actually a dust ruffle I picked up in Canton for only a couple of dollars.

I started the project with the dust ruffle.  I cut a piece from the dust ruffle along the edge to become the bottom edge.  I added some more vintage trim around the middle of the dust ruffle to hold the pleats in place.

This crocheted piece is the perfect size for the back of the vest.

A dresser scarf is the perfect size for the middle section...

and some pretty lace doilies fit nicely for the front panels

Here is the back top and middle sewn together.  I also added some pearl buttons along the back edge.

Here is the top and middle sewn to the dust ruffle piece.

From the front shoulder pieces I used the two lace doilies.  I didn't have any "bling" for the buttons, so I used two vintage clip on earrings.  I'll have her find some "bling" she likes and keep my earrings...but for the photo it just needed a little something!

The finished piece turned out better than I imagined.

I'm sure my sister has the "perfect" shirt and pants to wear with her new vest!

Hopefully she's not reading this before Christmas!!!! (She's so nosey!)

till tomorrow...

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Holiday Appetizer - Stuffed Jalapenos

Lots of parties are already happening...and sometimes I'm asked to bring finger foods or appetizers.

One of my families all time favorite appetizer is stuffed jalapenos.
I can remember "popping" them into my mouth while waiting for my grandmother to finish cooking Christmas dinner.
Sweet memories!

You will need to purchase the picked jalapeno peppers for this recipe.  You can usually find them in a can in the Mexican Food isle (of course I remember living in Canada and having NO Mexican Food isle in the grocery store...such a sad time!)  You'll also need a big ole' can of tuna. 

The peppers need to have the tops and stems removed.  They need to be cut in half  (lengthwise) and all the seeds removed.  I usually wear gloves when I do this job.  The juice is HOT and not easily washed off.  Even hours later, when I go to take my contacts out I will feel the burn of the pepper juice and curse the day I ever touched them!

So...remember the "guts" are HOT stuff, just dump it right into the trash!

For the tuna...mayonnaise, salt and pepper to taste and grated jack cheese.
I usually just throw in a handful of cheese.  (My grandmother NEVER measured a thing!)

Once you get them all stuffed (keep your gloves on for the stuffing) and arranged on a pretty tray, sprinkle a little more cheese on top.

I brought this tray home empty the other night and everyone wanted to know how to make them.
Of course, that's after I would hear comments on the "odd combination" of ingredients.  They soon got over it and before I knew it they were popping them in their mouth and chowing down.
But remember, here in Texas we'll stuff a jalapeno with just about anything!

Till tomorrow...

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing

1. Come, thou Fount of every blessing,
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it,
mount of thy redeeming love.

2. Here I raise mine Ebenezer;
hither by thy help I'm come;
and I hope, by thy good pleasure,
safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
wandering from the fold of God;
he, to rescue me from danger,
interposed his precious blood.

3.  O to grace how great a debtor
daily I'm constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here's my heart, O take and seal it,
seal it for thy courts above.

Text: Robert Robinson, 1735-1790

Music: Wyeth's Repository of Sacred Music, Part Second
Tune: NETTLETON, Meter: 87.87 D

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving Crafts

Time flies...that's all I can say.
We flew to Florida earlier this month and attended a beautiful wedding for my friend's nephew.  It was a beautiful wedding and the ceremony was absolutely incredible.
Two young people who love the Lord with their whole touching!!!
What young bride is not absolutely beautiful and her young "knight" not handsome?
We had a perfect time and the best was spending time with by oldest (not in an age sense) BFF from college.  We've been friends almost 40 years, and I can only look forward to 40 more years of getting to know her heart and understanding who she is.  She is such a joy to spend time with and I always go away so thankful of such a rich friendship!

As for this week, I have the time off.  I have planned out my week for all the projects, sewing, painting, etc. that I want to get done (plus haul out the Christmas decorations.)  I was well on my way to completing the laundry today when I got the "Grema" call...could I watch the grandkidsl while mom and dad did some shopping?
End of my list and enter a  more of a "free form" time zone!

I actually had been thinking of a Thanksgiving project that the two of them could do together (hard to plan an activity for a 9 and 3 year old).  I searched the internet and found the perfect project. A Thanksgiving Turkey!
The turkey begins with paper towel/toilet paper rolls.  (Luckily I had been saving them for another project!)

We began by painting the rolls in fall colors.  Lauren chose orange, brown, yellow and red.

Next...they painted the rolls in the different colors.

I think Austin needed a nap, but he was actually more interested in when we were going to have a 'snack'.

I think the hardest part was waiting for the rolls to dry.

Once all the rolls were dry we cut 1/2 inch rings from each of the colors. Each turkey needs 9 rings for their feathers. 

Lauren wanted to paint the inside of each of the another drying period.  (By now we've lost Austin...he's moved on to play with the legos!)  While waiting for the feathers to dry we created our turkey body and the feet.  (Lauren also painted these.)

Once all the parts were dry we began building our turkey.

I used hot glue to glue the pieces together, so Lauren placed the colors in the order she wished hers to be so it would look perfect! Next came the turkey body and the feet.

Austin LOVED his turkey.

Lauren affixed the waddle, eyes and beak and hers was also complete.

This was not part of my "TO DO" list today, but spending time with the kids and talking with them while crafting is a priceless time, and I enjoyed the respite from my list!

Now to be completely open...this is not my idea!  I got the tutorial from a blog, ChildMade. Some really cute craft ideas for kids.
I've included a link to complete instructions on how to make this turkey, but she also has some other really cute ideas with paper towel rolls.  Lauren said she will next make a puppy from the rolls!  Looks like I'll be planning another craft day soon!

Till tomorrow...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Small Christmas Tree Tutorial

'Tis the season for Craft Shows, Fairs and Boutiques!  They are all great opportunities to buy handmade items from local artists and find that "one of a kind" gift for the hard-to-shop-for-person on your list!

 One of the downsides of participating in any type of "manning a booth" is the time between sales.  Sharing a booth can create blocks of time, if you are taking turns helping the customers.  This past weekend there were three of us "manning the booth" in Canton.

I'm never one to sit for too long, so I took along some "hand work" to fill in any time.  My sister also brought along handwork...she strung some new  necklaces...which she immediately sold when she completed them! 

I worked on some Christmas Tree ideas I had.  I saw a picture of a small Christmas tree created from fabric yo-yo's.  Cute, but I didn't want to have to cut and sew something to create my tree.

I had plenty of left over red and teal tulle and fabric from Emily's wedding, and I liked the fabric flowers I recently made, so I decided to combine the two.

You want to start with a 5-petal flower pattern.  I didn't have one, but it's easy enough to draw one.  I created 5 different sizes by the time I had perfected my trees. Each petal pattern is about 1/4" bigger between each petal size.  You may want to adjust yours, depending on how big you make your tree.

I cut at least 4 to 5 flowers from each color and each size.

I started with the tulle and cut 4 flower petals from each of the sizes (1-5).
Here I have the red and teal tulle mixed.

The fabric I used for the petals was the same fabric I used to create Emily's band on her wedding dress.
The wire can be purchased from a hardware store.  It's a pretty strong gage and if you buy a long length you can cut to your own tree size.  You might also want to "grind" down the end a bit so that it will be sharp enough to pierce the fabric.  Any "bauble" can be added to the end.  I used a pretty vintage earring on one of the completed trees.

Here are all the petals cut in the various sizes.

Begin by folding your petal in half...

then fold your flower into half again. (Quarters)

Once you have several petals that have been folded into quarters (half then half again makes the quarter)

You can push the fabric onto your wire. (This is why you would want the point of your wire sharpened.)

Once you begin to get several on the wire you can spread them out a little to see how many more you want to add.  The fullness is really up to you!

For the base of my trees I glued green rick-rack around a "used" wine cork.  The stand for my trees are old facet handles that I glued to the corks.

For these trees I stacked red flower, teal flower, red flower, teal flower.
In between the satin petal rows I added rows of tulle in red and teel.
I did cut flower petals from the tulle, but on a couple of them I cut circles and pushed the wire through the center of the tulle circles.  The tulle circles did not stand up and fill in as nicely as the folded tulle petals, but it did look more like a little petticoat.
I say...just experiment.

The trees were quick and easy (and were mindless work that could easily be put down.)
I'm thinking of making some pink and white ones this week.
OH...I'm gone to a wedding this weekend, so guess there won't be any trees this week!
I'll try to capture the beautiful bride and groom on their special day!
SOOO...till next week,

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Gel Medium Canvas Transfer - Angels

I've been working on several projects for an upcoming show, but my favorite project has been my canvas transfer.
  I started with a box of 4 canvases I bought at a garage sale.

I'm always on the hunt for art supplies at garage!

I think the box was marked low because of the "guidelines" that were already stamped on the canvases.

I quickly covered the lines with Gesso so they wouldn't bleed through on my final project.

The pictures I chose where taken during a trip to New Orleans.  My husband and I spent a day visiting the old cemeteries around the city and taking pictures of the beautiful headstones, vaults and mausoleums. It was a cool, crisp day and the sky was unbelievably blue!

I printed all my pictures on my home INK JET printer. 
I seems "all the others" out there in blog land tell you that you must print on a laser printer or take your pictures and have them copied on a professional copier because your ink will run. can do that, BUT this project can be done with an ink jet printer. 
There is minimal run with the ink and I think the "old world" look of the prints is what adds to the charm of the project.
Be sure you use REALLY CHEAP paper (I like to use the recycled brand paper, it's easier to peel away.)

To begin, you will cover the canvas with your gel medium (a nice even coat). I like the matte finish, but you can use the gloss if you prefer.
Place your photo print side down and press it into the gel on your canvas.  I like to use an old credit card to smooth out the print onto the canvas. 
The image of your picture will begin to show through and you can feel the change in the texture of your paper as you work.

As your print continues to dry the image will become clearer through the back of the paper.

I let the project completely dry (usually over night) before I peel back the paper.
You can wet your canvas under running water, but I use a spray bottle to wet my paper.
Starting at a corner you can begin to peel the first layer of the paper away.  It's easy to "roll" the paper away with your fingers as you move across the canvas.

You will notice I did not press my picture all the way to the edge of my canvas.  I do go all the way to the edge on some of my pictures,  but because I wanted these to look like "old" canvases, I let the gel medium become lighter (painting less) along the edges.
Once you have peeled the first layer away let your picture dry again.  You will notice there is still a "milky" appearance to your canvas.  You will need to repeat this last step several times until your canvas is to your liking.  I let mine dry between each rubbing.  Each time you spray water on your canvas you will notice how much darker the picture will continue to work away the pieces of the backing paper on your picture.
(NOTE:  Be careful when rubbing where the wooden frame is along the edge...your picture will more easily rub off along that hard edge.  I try to place my fingers underneath the edge where I'm rubbing, without stretching the canvas!)

I wanted to add words to one of my pictures, so I printed them and set my printer to "mirror" so they would print backwards.  (You can use this setting on your printer if you do not have software to flip the image.  Look in your advanced settings.)

I cut the words out and painted the gel where I wanted to place my words.

Again...once the image is dry peel away the backing and continue to work the paper until it is to your liking.
(In the future I will print my words onto my picture and have it become part of my first layer rather than an additional layer to peel away.)

Here is another color image I printed from my ink jet printer and affixed with the gel to a canvas.
The image is crisp and clear and the color did not run.  The softness of the angel and the leaves surrounding her makes her appear very ethereal.

Another example of a color print. I embellished her with vintage lace around the edge and chipboard letters.
(Notice along the top where I rubbed along the wooden edge of the appears more noticeable because of the color of the sky.  This is what I was warning you about...go easy or you'll have that marking along each of your edges.)

Here is an angel I printed in a Sepia tone.  I have also hand tinted prints with watercolor pencils to add unique details. Totally  up to you!

I'm very pleased with how they each turned out, and want to encourage you to give it a try using your very own home printer!
The tricks for this project:
1. Print your picture using the "best" settings on your printer.  This will ensure good color.
2. Really get your picture pressed into the gel.  You can press pretty hard with the edge of the credit card to lay the picture down onto the canvas.
3. Don't rush..let your canvas completely dry before you begin the initial peel of the backing.  This will ensure your picture has time to "set" into the canvas.
4. With each successive peel, work in a circular motion on the wet canvas to rub off more of the paper.
I use a slightly damp rag to rub off the "piles" created with the rubbings. (This step may have to be repeated several times, until you are happy with the look.  This is also VERY messy!)
5. My next step is to use the soft side of an emery board to "sand" the surface to a smooth finish. Be gentle.  You can work the edges to look more worn with this technique.  You will also be able to smooth out any of the roughness left by each peel.
6. Finish your project by top coating either with another layer of gel medium, or with a water based finish.
Each picture will be your very own unique creation!
(Let me know if you have ANY questions!)

Till tomorrow...