Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What's Your Answer Wednesday: My Home

Welcome to "What's Your Answer Wednesday". Would you like to receive weekly emails so you know the topic a few days early? Let me know in the comments below or through private message---be sure to leave your email address!

No matter what stage in life we are in or what activities and responsib
ilities make up our days, all of us have some place that serves as our living space---it is to that I am referring when I use the term, "home". This week the meme question will be: "What is (or are) some thing(s) that you love about your current home?"

(Please click the pictures to enlarge!) The thing I love most about my home is that there is a place for ever
ything! This is the first time in a REALLY long time that I've had a place for everything and everything in it's place! My house is organized and free of clutter so I am able to spend time decorating, rearranging, and being creative in blessing others in and through my home! This has been a huge step for me as I spent way too many years with a cluttery, disorganized mess!

The number one
thing that has contributed to my clean home is my dishwasher. With a family of 9, it is almost impossible to keep up on dish washing without a dishwasher!! I know because I've done it for the majority of 12 years of marriage! When we moved into this house in January and I began using the dishwasher, I was amazed at how much time it left me to do all the other chores!

Another thing I love in my house are fresh flowers. Since about April, I've tried to always have some fresh flowers around. I am very frugal with them: picking out the dead ones, replacing the water, making new (and progressively smaller) arrangements until they're all dead! I like to see how long I can get them to last!

Thirdly, I love my collections. I collect all kinds of things! Old books, crocheted pot holders, tea stuff, Amish things, vintage cutting boards...all kinds of things! I love to decorate with my collections!

Happy Wednesday everyone!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Free As A Bird: Blue Monday

Happy Blue Monday!

If you've got some time, visit Smiling Sally for more Blue Monday participants!

Last Day!!!: I'm hosting a giveaway in honor of my new linking party! Read through for details!

No kidding: I have spent this entire week trying to get a shot at this crazy blue bird that has been squawking outside my window for...ever. (Please click on the pictures to enlarge them).
I've been hearing him all day long, every day...but thought it was just a noisy ol' crow or something. Then my kids came in early last week and said they saw this blue bird in the tree outside my bedroom and could I hear it?

BLUE!!! I immediately thought of all my Blue Monday friends and knew I should try and get some pics. I grabbed my husbands good camera, opened up the door and got the shot above. Then the chase began! He immediately dove into a tree:Can you see his outline there? After that, I decided to shoot him (uh...photograph him---though, after the week I've had with him, I'm ready to shoot him now!!!) from my bedroom window--less noisy that way.
I've spent this whole week listening for his awful squawk and running to try and get a good shot.

I've wanted you all to get to see his pretty blue feathers. He's got black, spiky hair and slick black and blue feathers. When he's standing up and far away, he looks black but when he gets up close, he's obviously blue:
The kids are saying he's a blue jay but I don't think so.
This is definitely one bird who thinks it's better to be heard and not seen! Alright, Mr. Bird, it's Blue Monday and I've done the best I could. Go back to your life of freedom and freely taking off with my Rhododendron buds. I'll leave you alone now!
GIVEAWAY: I'm hosting a giveaway in honor of my new Wednesday linking party. Click HERE for up to 5 chances to win!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Miracle MakeOver Party: Pink Saturday

I'm hosting a giveaway in honor of my new linking party! Read through for details!

I am honored to be participating with over 100 other bloggers to celebrate Colette's Miracle Makeover Party. Guideposts Makeover Reveal Party can be seen at Kelee's blog: The Katillac Shack. Kelee introduced us to Colette and she, along with Guideposts magazine, has inspired this great blogging effort today.

Click here to watch the video of how Colette, a cancer patient in need of some encouragement, received a cheerful update to an otherwise dreary healing room.

Guideposts magazine made this happen and is willing to do so again if we join in the fundraising effort. For every comment submitted in the following manner, $1 will be donated toward another Miracle MakeOver for someone in need. You can help by commenting on the following sites:

You may earn up to $5.00 in donations by leaving comments at these four other partner site links:


Spiritual Sunday @ BloggerSpirit

Country Wings in Phoenix Blog

Pink Saturday @ How Sweet the Sound


Now, for my own inspiring story:

Everyone loves to hear a story of the miraculous and it's especially meaningful when it involves a child. Many friends, family and readers have been curious about the circumstances surrounding the birth of our newest son, Liam Bradley. (This story is intense but has a happy ending--still, please feel free to skip it if you feel it might be difficult for you to read).

Liam is our seventh child and was our first home birth. With all my other children, I was medically induced at a hospital with Pitocin---which brought on very painful and strong contractions. I was used to a panicky labor and an excruciatingly painful birth. From the time I went into labor with Liam at 12:30 am to the time he was ready to be born at shortly before 5:00 am, my contractions were mild and the experience was calm---I even got rests of up to 3 or 4 minutes between contractions!! Unbelievable!

It was because of this calm labor that I didn't realize I was ready to deliver him at shortly before 5:00...so I got up to use the restroom. At that time, his cord became prolapsed and my midwife called 911. The next eight minutes or so were frantic! My midwife began instructing me on positions to get into and when to push as she desperately tried to maneuver him into the correct position to be born, while also trying to keep the cord from being pinched. The entire time, I was calling out to God, "please Lord, save my baby!" There were five EMTs in my house within just a couple minutes and they were all trying to decide the best course of action. The EMTs wanted to transport me to the hospital for an emergency c-section but my midwife, knowing that Liam wouldn't make it that long, insisted that I stay put and try to deliver him. (The fact that he was my seventh...and that I'd just had a baby last year worked in my favor here!)

Finally, she got him in the right position and seconds later, he was born! He had a steady heartbeat but was not breathing or moving. I couldn't bring myself to look at him as they performed all of the actions to get him to breathe so I just lightly touched his head and continued to pray. Soon, I heard the sweetest little sigh so I opened my eyes and all I could see was this little pink nose. As the EMTs took him out to the ambulance, my husband whispered to me, "you're going to need to be brave because I'm going with him."

I can't really explain exactly how I felt but I don't think it was the normal reaction! I just felt really peaceful. I told my midwife that I thought we'd done everything possible to save him and that it was in God's hands. I really did feel peaceful and knew that whether Liam survived or not, God had brought him into the world for some reason.

About a half hour later, my midwife took me up to the hospital to see him. He was being given oxygen and was hooked up to several monitors. Everyone reassured me that he was going to make it---which actually made me feel a little wary. Were they all saying this just to keep me calm or was it true? My midwife soon assured me that he really was going to make it.

Long story short, Liam was in an oxygen tent for 12 hours (the doctor said initially that it would be 2 or 3 days). He was taken totally off of oxygen after the 12 hour mark but required it during eating for the next couple of days. He developed jaundice on the second day and was put in a bili light bed for 5 days. On the sixth day he left the bili light bed but was still on monitors for 24 hours. On the seventh day, he got to come to my room (the hospital graciously gave me a room so I could stay there with him)! The morning of the eighth day, we finally came home!

Liam is a healthy and strong little guy who just turned 3.5 months old and began rolling from back to front to back again this week! According to the hospital staff, a prolapsed cord is a very rare thing. In fact, one nurse who'd been there for 20 years said he was only the third baby she'd ever seen who had survived a prolapsed cord and the first to be delivered without a c-section.

I have to say that I really believe my midwife saved his life. She kept a level head and knew exactly what to do to allow both of us a safe and speedy delivery. Several people have asked me if this experience has turned me off from the home birth/midwife experience---thinking that I might have felt safer in a conventional hospital with a conventional doctor. My answer is absolutely not! Even the hospital staff said that Liam would have not made it to the hospital had we been transported and probably would not have made it through an emergency c-section if I would have been laboring at the hospital in the first place. In this instance, it was because of our choice to do the home birth that Liam and I both came out of the experience alive and well!

Today I am grateful for God's protective hand on our little boy and for my midwife, Michelle, and her assistant, Melissa, two well-deserving heroes!

Visit Pink Saturday today for more stories of inspiration!

GIVEAWAY: I'm hosting a giveaway in honor of my new Wednesday linking party. Click HERE for up to 5 chances to win!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What's Your Answer Wednesday: My Favorite Place in Time

This is the second week of our new meme! You can read more entries or find out how to participate and post your own by going here.

Today's question is: "What is your favorite time period(s) in history and why?"

I'm a real history buff so it was difficult f
or me to narrow it down to just one era. I have favorite things about a lot of different time periods but today I'm going to focus on the Edwardian days.

The Edwardian era was the time in history that lasted from 1900 to just before 1920. Although King Edward VII of the United Kingdom, for whom the era is named, died in 1910, the 8 or 9 years following are often included in the classification, "Edwardian".

This is the time of Anne of Green Gables and th
e Titanic. Beatrix Potter was writing the Peter Rabbit stories during this time and the Wright Brothers were perfecting their flying machine. These were the days of Einstein, Freud and the military brass band. I especially love the clothing of this period in history. The womens' dresses were so lovely and romantic and their hair was done up soft and wispy. I love the jewelry and jeweled accessories like hair combs, purses and shoes.

What's your favorite time in history? I'd love to hear about it! Link up here or, if you don't have a blog, feel free to tell us about it in the comments!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Pueblo Storyteller

It's time to play BLUE MONDAY! Please visit Smiling Sally and the gang for more beautiful blues!

I'm hosting a giveaway in honor of my new linking party! Read through for details!

As I was looking around the house trying to find just the right blue to present to you today, I spied my shelf of "stuff from Mom" and decided on the perfect thing!

While souvenir shopping for me in Arizona, my mom found these two Pueblo Storytellers and knew they would be perfect for me! The Pueblo Indians have been making these Storyteller themed items since 1964 when the first figure was made by Helen Cordero. She wanted to represent her memories of her grandfather, Santiago Quintana, and his gift of storytelling. Quintana, as well as members of the Pueblo tribes since ancient times, preserved their life stories and traditions through the art of storytelling.

When it was time for a story, Quintana would say, "Come children, it's time". All the children around would gather in as close as possible to hear the enchanting tale.

Storyteller images can be male or female and can have any number of children or animals gathered around. What started with one granddaughter's creative expression has turned into a passion for over 200 Pueblo artists.When my mom brought home my first Storyteller item, the mat, I had only four children. She picked it out because it reminded her of me with all my kids around. When she picked up the figurine a few years later, I had five. Since both images feature seven children, we joked about wondering who the other two would turn out to be. Now I have seven children---I hope this isn't an indication that this is all I will have!

I hope you are enjoying your Blue Monday!

GIVEAWAY: I'm hosting a giveaway in honor of my new Wednesday linking party. Click HERE for up to 5 chances to win!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Unexpected Treasure! Pink Saturday

It's a beautiful Pink Saturday! Please visit Beverly's blog, How Sweet the Sound, for more Pink Blogging! Also, I'm hosting a giveaway so feel free to enter when you're finished enjoying my post!

Our church is having a yard sale tomorrow so it's been a busy week of sorting and pricing items to get ready! This afternoon, as I was just about ready to round up my kids and head home, I asked my friend who was working with me if there was anything left to price. She gestured toward a closed up box and said, "you can see what's in that one."

Boy did I score!!! That box had to have been waiting for me! It was packed full of fancy English teacups, Lefton figurines, depression glass, and other vintage items.

I've sorted out the pink ones and will be featuring them today. If you're interested, visit me again on Thursday when I post the rest of them.

My favorite one is this pretty girl figurine made by Lefton. The bottom says, "Marika's Originals by Lefton" and the number is 4662. She's in perfect shape and has the prettiest look to her. I just love her!

Next are two pretty English china cups made by Queen's. There's actually about 6 or 8 of these all together but these are the only ones with pink on them! One website said this about Queen's china: "
Queens can trace its history back to 1795 and remains today one of England's best loved china brands. Renowned for its high quality bone china tableware, Queens retains a classic English style which is recognised throughout the world." I look forward to seeing if I can track down matching saucers.

Another neat pairing are this boy and girl figurine set. I'm not sure about the origin of these but there is a marking of a running animal on the bottom (maybe a deer, maybe a dog?) Anyway, the boy has been chipped in a few places but the girl is in excellent shape.

Lastly, there's another figurine pair that I don't think actually came as a pair because the markings underneath are different. The underside of the man figurine says, "Made in Occupied Japan". The bottom of the girl says, "hand painted in Japan" and features a mark that is a flower with an "H" in the middle.

Here is what one website said about the "occupied" marking: "
Although the occupation of Japan officially ended in 1952, the occupied japan mark may have still been used on products shipped over the next couple years. I have read that because of the continued use of equipment created during the period of occupation, the Occupied Japan marks were included on some items as late as 1955."

I've got the perfect place to display these treasures as I'm revamping an old hutch I found at Salvation Army for $15! I'll post it in a week or two when I get everything done and set up!

I'd like to introduce you to three of my favorite Pink Saturday posts from last week. Please take the time to read them and comment!

To begin with, I was super impressed by Valerie's Crazy Quilt blog, The Pink Bunny. Take a minute to visit her and find out what purpose this gorgeous quilted bunny serves.

Secondly, I drooled over Jacqueline's Strawberries and Cream Cupcakes at Purple Chocolat Home! Aren't they beautiful? YUM! Head over there to get her recipe and see more gorgeous photos!

Finally, Amy shows of her gorgeous china painting talent at Vintage Porcelain Art. She hand paints these pieces using a vintage method. I seriously got choked up looking at her blog---her pieces are that beautiful! Can you imagine owning something like that? Awesome.

Happy Pink Saturday!
GIVEAWAY: I'm hosting a giveaway in honor of my new Wednesday linking party. Click HERE for up to 5 chances to win!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Super Easy Freezer Jam: No Canning Supplies Required!

My basil tutorial seemed to be such a hit that I thought I'd come back with a second easy one: freezer jam.

Many people would like to make their own jam but are intimidated by the process of canning and the initial cost investment that it requires. Let me say that canning your own food is very, very simple once you get the hang of it and I'd be glad to write up a tutorial if there is enough interest. However, I want my readers to be able to enjoy their own fresh berry jam without worry so I'd like to present you with a few simple steps to making your own freezer jam with no canning supplies required! This method does not take very long---in fact, I made some the other night and it was done before my bread machine finished it's 58-minute cycle!

Please be aware that this tutorial is for BERRY jam only. There are different processes in canning different jams but this process will work with any kind of berry: strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, etc.

Please also be aware that this tutorial is for FREEZER (or refrigerator) jam only. It is very important that you refrigerate or freeze this jam as soon as it has cooled. This will not be safe in your cupboard or pantry and consumption of it will lead to serious food-borne illness. It is VERY safe and delicious when it's been refrigerated or frozen.

You will begin by thoroughly washing any amount of any berry. If they're freshly picked, you'll want to look them over good for any bugs. My bushes are in a shady part of the yard that stays wet for days after rain so there are a lot of slugs and snails
hanging out there. I have to check thoroughly for tiny offspring that like to hang out on my bushes! (Ewww...!!) You will probably have the best results if you have at least 2 cups of berries---but really, you can do this with any amount.

Next, place your berries into a bowl and crush them. You can use a potato masher, a pastry blender, a fork, or your bare hands if you don't mind stains! I found out that my Pampered Chef Mix 'N Chop tool works excellent for this. If you don't want seeds in your berries, you can push them through a mesh strainer sieve...but I just keep them in there. It takes less time and I get more jam that way! Besides, if you take out all the seeds then it's not jam anymore...it's jelly!

After this, you should measure your berries to see how many cups you have. You'll need equal parts berries and sugar. So, if you've got 5 cups of berries then you'll need 5
cups of sugar.

When you have an idea as to how much jam you're going to have, you'll need to round
up containers. You can use regular canning jars with lids and rings---they work just fine in the freezer and the ring over the lid forms a tight enough seal for the freezer. Again, please don't leave this jam in your pantry as it will not be sealed tightly and will form deadly bacteria. You can use any container that has an airtight seal for storing your jam in the freezer. I've used Rubbermaid-type and Pyrex glass containers with the plastic lids with great results. If your jam is going right into the refrigerator, you could even just pour it in a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Refrigerated jam will keep for about a month---if it lasts that long!

Now it's time to cook. Mix the berries and sugar together in a large pot. I use a 16 qt. stock pot; however, not everyone has one of those! You can use any kind of saucepan but you'll want to fill it no more than half way. So, if you've got a lot of jam to make but a small pot, you'll just need to do it in batches. You are going to be boiling your jam for awhile, creating foam and splattering. If you've got your pot too full then you run the risk of boil-overs or burning. Burns from boiling sugar are some of the most painful burns!!

When your pot is about half full (or less) with the jam/sugar ratio, grab something to stir with that will keep your hand up as far as possible from the boiling jam. I have a long-handled wooden spoon that works well in my stock pot. You can use any kind of wooden, bamboo, or nylon tool. Pampered Chef scrapers work good for this. If you're not sure you've got the right tool for this, use whatever you have but wear an oven mitt to protect your hand from splatters. If you don't have an oven mitt, wrap a dish towel around your hand!

Put the pot on to cook over med-high heat. At first, you'll only need to stir until the sugar has dissolved. Let it sit there and cook until it begins to boil. Once it begins to bubble, you'll want to start watching it and stirring every now and then to make sure nothing is sticking. I don't have a problem with sticking but it all depends on the quality of saucepot you're using and how well it's distributing the heat. I stir anyway just to be on the safe side!

Once it's come to a good boil (bubbles across most of the surface) then you'll want to start timing. Don't start timing until this point because your jam will turn out a lot runnier than you'd like. (If for some reason this happens, use it for pancake syrup or ice cream topping! Again---keep it refrigerated!)

If you want your jam fairly runny (falls off the sides of the spoon when you spoon it from cooled jar) then you'll want to boil about 10 minutes. If you like it firm then boil for about 20 minutes. The longer you boil it, the firmer it will become after cooling. Important: keep in mind that the jam firms up A LOT during cooling. Do not expect to boil your jam until it reaches it's desired firmness because it will probably crystallize on you once it's cooled and it will not be edible! (Well, it might make some super sweet hard candy? Might have to try that after all...!!!)

Once you've boiled it your desired amount of time, you can either pour or scoop it into your containers. I like to use a soup ladle to ladle it out into the containers and then scrape the rest out with a spatula. You'll want to do this right away as it doesn't take very long to start becoming firm. Make sure and leave a couple inches of room at the top of the container as the jam might expand during freezing and you don't want to burst the container or the seal. If your pan is small and you're doing it in batches, it's fine to ladle the next batch on top of what you've already got in the containers.

You should let the jam cool uncovered in it's container until the container feels just slightly warm to the touch. Then you can mark it, cover it and place it either in the refrigerator or freezer. I like to mark my ja
m with the kind of jam it is, as well as the date I made it. It is very important that you write some sort of note on the container that it should remain refrigerated if you think you might forget or if it's possible that someone else might use it. I wrote "unsealed" on mine---that way I know that I've not actually "canned" it in a pressure or hot water bath so it's not safe without refrigeration.

I hope this tutorial has proved to be helpful and informative. I would be more than happy to answer any questions or provide further tips to my readers. You can contact me on my profile page.


GIVEAWAY: I'm hosting a giveaway in honor of my new Wednesday linking party. Click HERE for up to 5 chances to win!

Linking up today with:

Punkin Seed Productions

Join  us Saturdays at tatertotsandjello.com for the weekend wrap up         party!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Vintage Hats...Score! Vintage Thingie Thursday

I'm hosting a giveaway in honor of my new linking party! Read through for details!

Today is Vintage Thingie Thursday at Coloradolady's blog. Take some time to visit some of the other participants for a look at some great vintage finds! Maybe you'd even consider playing on your blog...it's amazing what you've got around your house that is vintage! Besides, vintage is relative...my Annie doll from 1984 is vintage to me---but many participants feel like 1984 was just last week! Enjoy!

A couple of months ago, I was out shopping yard sales when I came across this box of vintage hats. I was more interested in the hat box than the hats but I figured my girls would have fun playing dress up and I could use the neat box to store pictures or something! I asked what she wanted for it and she asked if $5 for the whole thing was too high. Ha Ha Ha Ha...um..no. So I had myself some hats!

Lynzie, 10, has already enjoyed wearing the white flowered spring bonnet to church on several occasions. It's her favorite church hat! I asked her to model them all for me...
well, all except the one I gave to Selah, 4.

Here's Lynzie's favorite. This
spring bonnet was made by a fellow Washingtonian...I don't know how long ago. The tag inside says, "Hats by Lee Helmick" and gives an address in Westport, Washington. It is made out of some kind of plastic straw---feels like grocery store bags. There are multi-colored flowers all around it and it has a white tie for under the neck. She looks adorable in it!

Next up is the Scarlet O'Hara hat. I don't think this one is very old....maybe 20 years but I doubt it. It's got a VERY large brim and a cream colored ribbon.

This next creation
is sort of turban-ish. It's a plastic-coated wire frame with tulle wrapped all around it. A big yellow flower is attached to the front (I'm assuming we've got this on right?) Lynzie's not sure but thinks it might be a little gaudy for her tastes. She's keeping it anyway though, just in case!

The fourth hat is my favorite bu
t my hair is too thick for it to look right. Lynzie, whose hair is thicker but head is smaller, wears it just right.

The inside of this one says "Doeskin Felt, 100% wool, Geo. W. Bollmans & Co., Inc., Made in U.S.A." I love how it ties under her neck and just looks so...I don't kn
ow...sorta like Miss Grace in the movie Annie.

Lynzie's last hat sorta brings out her artsy side. This is a modern reproduction o
f a 1920s-30s look. It's a black, crushed velvet hat that she likes to wear sorta sideways.

Now we get to my favorite part, the box! I think this is just the cutest thing. The bottom of the box is black and the sides of the top half are black and white stripes. Here is the picture on the top of the box.

I'm assuming it's just a generic sort of box that any hat-seller would use but I think it's just adorable.

Lastly, we've got Selah modeling her adorable little hat. This one was so small that she's the only one of u
s three

who could wear it. I think it's a pretty cute little look for her!

I like how the inside of it is lined so prettily.

I hope you enjoyed these lovely ladies and their pretty little hats today! Make sure and visit other vintage thingies at Vintage Thingie Thursday!

GIVEAWAY: I'm hosting a giveaway in honor of my new Wednesday linking party. Click HERE for up to 5 chances to win!
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