Friday, January 30, 2009

A Photo Day ... and a chilly one at that!!

As much as the constant swirling snowflakes have kept me pretty much home-bound and slightly insane ... my soul still melts just a bit with every glistening, snow-covered branch or heavily- frosted evergreen bough. If you haven't noticed, I have quite a love affair with trees ... (smile)
In the midst of my work and the daily chaos of Life with a Full House ... I've really been getting the itch to get some frosty air ....
So - I headed out to embrace and surround myself among nature's wonderland, with the hopes to rev up my creativity ...
...Resisting the urge for a snowy slide!You know the song ... "Charlie Brown - He's a Clown" It's a must-sing while springing back and forth ... :) Of course ... after the thaw!!

Can you find the army tank in this picture?

I was always fascinated as a child to climb in and out of this piece of history ... A close-up would be disheartening, as it has fallen into the hands of potty-mouthed teens armed with paint - thus, the distant shot. (sigh)One of my all-time favorite pines ... I just love the softness of this tree with the spurts of long needles here and there ... so whimsy. I imagine that these two are sisters - watching over the generations of children running past, hiding behind and encircling with their play.

Shadows at Play.

Frosty waters.

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
Happy Weekend!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Baby, it's cold outside ...

Yes ... winter does cause some headaches - change of plans, icy roads, etc. ... but, Oh - when you have no where to go, but to your comfy chair with slippers on ... isn't it beyond loveliness to see God's handiwork blanketing all that your eyes may see?
I always feel closest to Heaven when I am absorbed in nature's beauty...

So, this weekend we took it easy ... again. :)

It called for many cups of creamy coffee in my favorite mug (a treasured piece of pottery found at a yard sale a few years back. It's my every morning companion)...
and homemade pancakes to start the day off right.
Pancake Recipe:
1 1/2 c. flour
3 1/2 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
3 t. sugar, heaping
1 1/4 c. milk
1 egg
3 T butter, melted
1 t. vanilla
Heat together milk and butter in microwave-safe bowl to warm and melt the butter. While heating, whisk together all dry ingredients (first four) in a large bowl. In a separate small bowl, whisk the egg and vanilla together. When the butter has melted in the milk, whisk in the beaten egg and vanilla mixture slowly. Then, pour the egg/milk mixture into the dry ingredients and whisk just until all is combined. Let stand while griddle or skillet is heating.
I've noticed that by heating the milk, the baking powder seems to react to this and gives rise to the batter. When your skillet is ready (I usually prepare mine with a tablespoon of veg. oil and butter, each), scoop the batter and drop it into the pan. Do not make the mistake of playing with or spreading out the batter, as that will flatten your pancake.
I have searched high and low for a fluffy pancake recipe that has taste! This is it. I found this recipe on - my favorite finder of yummy foods that always seem to be a hit in our home. I love that the recipes are rated and that people write in as to what they changed or added. It truly saves a lot of time when I'm stuck on a dinner menu ... you can even search by ingredients that you want or do not want. If you have not checked this site out ... you really should! You will not be sorry.
There is no love sincerer than the love of food.
-George Bernard Shaw

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Doodles, Cars & Bear ... Oh MY!

There is nothing quite like being snowed in for the weekend ... true bliss!
Setting paint to paper ...."A Portrait of My Brother"
"My World"
My Little Guy found a new way to display his beloved collection ... Ingenious!
Just no racing on Mommy's blinds! What creativity!
The snow fell and fell some more ...
We managed to get some sled riding in at Mema and Pepa's, and topped off our evening with hot cocoa. I think that, perhaps, my sister and I had the most fun! Sorry no pics, but we were sledding in what turned to freezing rain ... not exactly good camera weather ... bummer! I even wore my husband's hunting outfit! Oh-ya. It was a sight to behold! (please note my sarcasm ...) But, I was warm!

Sunday greeted us with brilliant sun ...
How Bear just loves the snow!!
With the exception of falling snowflakes - he barks as if a stranger has crept into the yard! You know ... they can be quite threatening! :)
Oh! the snow, the beautiful snow, Filling the sky and earth below, Over the housetops, over the street, Over the heads of the people you meet. Dancing, Flirting, Skimming along.
- J.W. Watson

Monday, January 12, 2009

You'll Never Guess What Made Me Tickled Pink Today ...

I have received an AWARD!!

This is beyond exciting, as it is my very first bloggy award ... truly, I am doing a few cartwheels inside and smiling like a goober! :)

Donna, from Donna's Art, has presented this award to me. Now, she is just the sweetest gal (and not just because she gave me an award!! I'm not that kind of person - Gracious!) - but truly, if anyone radiates beauty and warmth from, not only her glorious smile, but also her gracious way of sharing her artful life, it's Donna! She's a very talented artist, and one of my favorite aspects of her paintings (among many) is how she captures her love of two adorable pups, Otis and Riley ... Just Delightful! You must pay her a visit, for you will stay for a spell I'm sure!

This award is based on displaying great attitude or gratitude (she must have caught me on a good day .... LOL!) Now, to share the love, I am to follow the rules for this award:

1. Put the logo on your blog or post.
2. Nominate at least 10 blogs which show GREAT ATTITUDE &/or GRATITUDE!
3. Be sure to link your nominees within your post.
4. Let them know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
5. Share the love & link to this post & to the person from who you received your award.

So, Donna - you, of course, would be on my list - so back at'cha! :)

Like Donna, I'm going to bend the rules a bit and list four, as it would take forever to add all the blogs that I frequent and am inspired by their unending creativity, gracious hearts and cup-runneth-over gratitude. Bloggin' Ladies surely are gems of the earth!

Cynthia from Cynthia's Cottage Design - she is like the warm, vibrant pink in a sunrise or a bright, lovely cardinal atop your windowsill. Visiting her spot just warms your soul with inspiration! I truly marvel at what she creates and adore her decorating style. She's similar to a magician in her creativity ... she'll take ordinary items and turn them into extraordinary treasures - just like herself!

Catherine of Catherine Holman Folk Art - her art is such a source of inspiration to me. Not only does she create the most breathtaking paintings of such detailed folk paintings, but she also writes the most heartwarming and whimsical stories to go along with them! Again ... Inspiration at its finest!! She paints of a time that lives within my heart ... that perhaps is why I'm so drawn to her work ... well, that ... and she's just too grand for words!

Nicole at Life is Beautiful - and you know what ... so is she. She just has this gentle spirit about her. Her art carries on life of its very own. She reminds me of stillness and peace within the early morning forest ... and then her art brings such beautiful light that awakens your world around you and your senses seem more keen. She applies such layers and depth to her work ... just lovely!

Gwendolyn from All's Fair in Love and Chocolate - This gal is a literary comedic genius - without even trying! She's a sitcom in the making. She lifts my soul with her stories. Her blog is well titled ... Gwendolyn's writing is like that last Hershey kiss that you didn't know that you had, and thank the Dear Lord that you do, because you're having major "Something Sweet Withdrawal" that only a nice bit of Chocolate will do ... She's always that pick-me-up - even if I have to reread posts!! (*smile* Gwen-do-lyn (I'm singing this) ... 10 days between posts is killin' me! You've got to tell me what Mucous Boy is up to! LOL! I know, I'm not much better, but you're just so much more entertaining!) You'll be hooked, once you've visited ...

Again, Thanks a bunch Donna! What a lovely way to embrace 2009!

To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven.

-Johannes A. Gaertner

Friday, January 9, 2009

Jinx ... I'm it.

What did I say?

The bus hadn't even come yet, and I already cleaned up two messy, fur ball mishaps that required disinfecting solution ... the works.

Puppy love ... Humph! Good thing he's cute!

Hello, Friday.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Okay - someone needs to hit the "Pause" Button ...

because I can hardly believe that Christmas has been gone for two weeks - Gracious! Upon visiting so many of you "on-the-ball" gals out there, I've felt like a schmuck and decided that I better move my hiney (is that right?) and pack up our Christmas tree and trims, and embrace this ever-present New Year with a gusto ... well, at least a slight breeze.
I pulled out my daughter's handmade ornament organizer that she made for me a few years back. It works like a charm!
She is just too crafty with paper! Here we keep all of our most cherished trinkets.
And, packed away all of our homemade ornaments...
As well as my new, lovely finds this year ... My vintage (I love that word!) Twelve Days of Christmas Ornaments. I was on Could Nine when I found these treats at an antique sale. The box is even so eye-catching! I know ... it doesn't take much, does it?
This picture was taken when I first began to unravel our colored twinkles from the tree. Notice my relaxed hand and grip .... Had I had known that my dear hubby had twisted and thread them in and out all over the (smile) tree ... I think, perhaps, that I would have left this job for him to do. However, I am woman ... and I do like to roar ... so I woman-handled the lights, the tree, and stuffed it all away for next year. Humph!

A bid of farewell till December ... only 11 months away, not even a Full YEAR! - We are crazy, aren't we?

Now, I must say that this task has been taking me a number of days for a few reasons:
1. My little guy needs to be loved, fed, played with and cleaned up after.
2. My little fur ball needs to be loved, fed, played with and cleaned up after.

The difference? (Other than the obvious that one is my beloved son and the other a new family pet) ... One's potty-trained and the other ... well? I'm just praying that he learns that the outside is not a place only to eat snow or run amuck while twisting his master up in a leash! I'm just on a kick of housebreaking and my rule has always been that I cannot housebreak two beings at once. Thus, my pairing them up! :) And, they are my two constant companions throughout the day... See - this is why God created puppies to be so darn cute. If not, we would all ship 'em back to the breeders!! LOL! However, I swear that our pup is looking more dog-like recently ... I swear that he's grown inches and pounds!
Truly, the reason that I could get a bulk of my decor packing done today is because it was a good day. I said "Good Boy" a lot more than "Noooooooo!". Also, we had no messes in the house today ... can I hear a Yahoo!!?? (Now, I probably just jinxed myself for tomorrow ... then again, I'll be running errands and my husband will be home - Hee!Hee!).

Oh, and the #3 reason that it's taken me all week in what usually takes me a day to accomplish ... This book -

The Secret Lives of Bees - by Sue Monk Kidd
Heavens - it's incredible! I just can't put it down!! Well - I do, to be somewhat productive .... but it's just one of those reads that stays with you while you're puttering around the house - just calling your name! I find myself wondering how the characters are and what turn of events could occur ... don't you just LOVE books like that? My mom-in-law gave this goodie to me and loved it herself. So, if you haven't experienced this book yet ... Grab it and dive in! I missed the movie ... cannot wait for its release on DVD. I do hope that the movie is not a let down, as so often happens.
For instance - I'm a huge fan of Luanne Rice. However, Beach Girls was the worst interpretation of a book turned into Lifetime movie that I've seen. Complete disappointment, in my opinion. And, to be honest, I much prefer the books to the movies that have been made from Nicholas Sparks' novels, as well. Although, my favorite would have to be Message in a Bottle, if I had to pick. Costner and Penn had such chemistry!
Speaking of movies ... my sister and I have a weekly date night at the movies. This week was my pick, and trust me ... she'll be holding this one over my head for some time. I picked (gulp) Valkyrie. (sigh). Notice that I did not enlarge the name ... perhaps I should shrink it for my opinion of it. Fantastic story line, especially as it is a true story. Great supporting actors. Impressive scenery, period attire, etc. And, then ... there's Tom. (*shake head*) How is it that Tom Cruise feels that he is above all that he should be able to pull off a period piece taking place in Germany, which the entire world is familiar with the happenings of it, and he can talk as if he were filming Top Gun? Seriously! He never even tries to pull off any kind of accent, but yet every other single person in the movie does ... what's that about? Needless to say - quite disappointing.
Whew - that was an unexpected rant. My apologies. I'm feeling so gabby!
Next on my to-do-list ... a commissioned "Marriage of Families" - Family Tree Wall Hanging. I'll be starting the draft this coming week and hope to receive my supplies soon so that I can plunge right into it. I am in need of clearing up my calendar so that can put a number of pieces together for an upcoming exhibit. I can hardly wait ... Oh, the excitement of a fresh new year - Now, I'm feeling it!!
So - I leave you with this to nibble on ...
There is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost.
- Martha Graham
May this New Year bring to you ... new paths to travel with more vibrant horizons to embrace and a multitude of luminous stars to capture -

Friday, January 2, 2009

5 Christmas Celebrations & 10 Pounds Later ...

I'm serious about the 5 Christmases ... and I'm hoping that I'm just bloated - because it certainly couldn't be from all of the cookies upon cookies, ham dinners upon ham dinners, chocolate goodies upon ... well, you get the picture!! I can't remember the last time that I consumed so much "not-so-good-for-you" food within a month!! UGH!!

But! I have a plan ... Wii. (hold your laughter.) Our family all pitched in after Christmas to purchase this little must-have form of family entertainment. And, let me just say - it can really be a workout! So. That's my plan. Less cookies and kicking my hubby's butt in all forms of sports via Wii (cause Lord knows that's the only way it could possibly happen!! He's one of those annoying types that usually wins at everything that he does. It's a good thing that I married him, because otherwise, I wouldn't be friends with him. LOL!) :)

Ah, so back to the holiday - Is it any wonder why I feel wiped-out by December 31st? FIVE Christmases? This is insane! Lovely ... but, insane. And, did I mention that my children received a car load of gifts at practically every celebration? It's quite overwhelming. AND, my daughter has nerve to say to me ... get ready for this ... "I'm bored." (deep breath ....) WHAT????? How is that even possible? Spoiled. That's how this happens!

Truly, we are not a household that spoils our children. In fact, my kids typically only receive presents or goodies on holidays and birthdays. Never just because - so, why can she not see how blessed she is to have received such lovely and entertaining gifts this season?

I threw my hands up, my head back, breathed a HUGE sigh and headed into her room (where she was sent) to discuss being grateful, appreciative, blessed, thankful and any other form of guilt that I could throw at her. It seemed to work. For today. (*shake head*)

I think that our family is reaching a point where we need to strip down our Christmases to make the "reason for the season" our focus, rather than Jesus getting lost in all the trimmings and fluff. To let eachother's time, love & attention be a gift, rather than everyone stretching their checkbooks. I'm just so overwhelmed with the focus on gifts .... do not get me wrong - I absolutely love giving gifts; especially, homemade gifts. It's just the receiving part is just too much. I would love to share in a Christmas where we only exchange handmade presents. What a great lesson that could be to our children. (Especially after that bored comment! HA!) Hmmmm....I'm going to work on this idea...we do have a whole year! Come on people - we can do this!!

While I'm on the topic - I can now share with you my latest illustration. It was a gift to my sister for Christmas, which is why I had to wait to post about it.

A few years back, my sister had given to my daughter a binder of poems that she had written, which -may I say - was received as a treasure! (see ... it's those homemade ones that fill a heart!) A number of times, she had asked me to create some illustrations for them. "When you have time," she says. Funny, huh? So, I thought perhaps for Christmas. I selected a poem that was a favorite and created an illustration to go with it. Again, I couldn't wait to give it to her! That is ... until Christmas Eve...

So, it's Christmas Eve. My sister and I are washing dishes from Gram's Wigilia dinner, when Gram shows Miss one of my presents to her ... a cookbook.
I thought it special since one of Gram's recipes was included, as well as my daughter's winning illustration (there was a contest, I'm just not biased!) for "Vegetables & Side Dishes" and I had designed the cover. My little sis's smart*%# comment? "Jenn just can't put pen to paper without drawing her children on it!" My thought? "Oh, bleep!" For, wrapped all brightly with a bow beneath my tree was my sister's present ...

My children ... strike again! LOL! I hope that she likes it anyways.

Oops! One more tid-bit of news from our homefront ... we have a new addition to our family.

Can you make out what it is? Why, it's a slightly blurry cockapoo! He never stops moving...

Our very first puppy arrived Christmas morning (My in-laws are saying, "Humph! Like @#&* he did!" - as they earned their wings this season by offering to keep our little ball of fur for four days prior to Christmas! A LOT to ask of anyone, if you ask me ... but, so very grateful to see the joy in our children's eyes when our pup came through the door!) I'll try to take some better shots of him if he'll ever be still.

Any housebreaking tips out there? Anyone? Anyone?

:) Hope your holidays were ones to cherish...

Happy New Year!