Friday, December 30, 2011

Reflection and Anticipation

Found on Pinterest

The book is swiftly closing on 2011, and as many others do, I am reflecting on the year that seems to have flown by.

Certainly the year held sorrows. Mom lost her battle with cancer in June, and shortly after, my young nephew was killed in a motorcycle accident, and just yesterday a friend lost the battle with a rare form of leukemia, leaving a wife and two children behind. While we will never understand how bad things happen to good people, we do know the Lord has plans for all of us. Perhaps he needed these three wonderful people to help prepare the Kingdom for the rest of us. Or perhaps it was just their time.

But the year held happy memories as well. Our oldest daughter graduated from college and quickly found a job as a teacher in a town just 30 minutes away from us. Her fifth grade class loves her, and they think she accessorizes fabulously. Our son began his second year at college, and shares a house with two former dorm mates (where they do odd things like cook squirrel and other things I don’t’ want to know about). And our youngest daughter began her freshman year of high school this fall, and became locally famous for her talent as a cross country runner.

Looking forward, I hope to grow my jewelry business by trying new venues for selling such as etsy, lunch hour shows at businesses, and new galleries or shops. My personal goals are to find a better way to manage my time, and to adopt a healthier life style through food and exercise, starting with a healthy meal once a week.

Though the year sped by in a blur, I do know that our family has been blessed beyond measure. The book of 2012 is opening, and the pages are waiting to be written.

Wishing you a year of magical wonder, and of peace, hope and joy.

'We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day.'
~Edith Lovejoy Pierce

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

On My Reading Table

Now that Christmas is over I hope to have a bit more time to flip through my favorite books and magazines. I don't have much time anymore to read a book, but magazines are just perfect when I want to relax. Here are the ones I'm reading now.

BeadTrends is a new one for me. I love the gorgeous jewelry and the easy to understand instructions.

A periodical published by the Stampington Company - Belle Armoire Jewelry features talented artists and beautiful jewelry. If you've never read one of these, just a warning, you'll be hooked on Belle Armoire the first time you pick it up.

I found this little book at Bed Bath and Beyond while shopping for Christmas gifts, and I just couldn't resist! I hope to have the time to make a few of these desserts before the older kids go back home.

Victoria is a magazine I've been reading for many years and never seem to get tired of it. The January issue is just beautiful, and filled with all my favorite things; good food, lovely decorating, must-see travel destinations, and more. Plus, this issue has a section on women living their dreams as entrepreneurs.

A magazine I really enjoy is one my dad passes on to me after he's done. Kansas! is a great magazine that shows all the wonders of my home state. Often Kansas gets overlooked as a place to visit, but really there are so many wonderful things to see and do here.

One of my goals for 2012 is to eat healthier. I've subscribed to the Taste of Home Healthy Cooking magazine. Though I haven't tried the recipes yet, I've enjoyed the tips on living healthy.

Another favorite Stampington periodical is Where Women Cook. And as usual, the newest issue is packed with gorgeous photos, inspiring features, beautiful kitchens, and of course, delicious recipes.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Christmas Tree

The holidays came upon us too fast this year, and it was looking like we weren’t going to get a tree up. But we managed to drag one out of the basement and put it together. My daughter decorated the tree while we watched from our recliners.

As I was looking at all the ornaments I realized they tell a story—Our story; the story of Christmases past, of babies, and places, little fingers sticky with glue and glitter, and smiles, and of growing up, new friends, and old memories. I’d like to share a few of them with you.

Made With Love~ (Oh how they grow up so fast)

Gifts from special people ~

Just For Fun ~

Keepsakes from the kids' Sunday School ~
(a lovely tradition from year to year)

My Daughter's Love For Animals ~

Special Times ~

From My Childhood ~

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

Have A Blessed Christmas!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Ornament Swap/Blog Hop

I am so blessed to live in a rural area where the sky is not obstructed by tall buildings or smog. On a clear cold winter night I can see the stars twinkling above, like diamonds scattered about on a velvet gown. And just above the tree line, the Milky Way spreads her jewels across the sky as far as I can see. The faint glow of city lights is just bright enough to illuminate the sky, while down below, the inky darkness settles in around me like a luxurious cloak. It’s as if the earth and sky meet together for an evening soiree, and I am lucky to have been invited.

As I was thinking about this wondrous winter display, I realised this was the perfect inspiration for the ornament. I started out with a vintage rhinestone brooch from Gracie’s Jewelry Box. The sparkly brooch brings to mind the beautiful stars overhead.

At the bottom of the ornament is a pendant made up of lampwork beads from Grey Feather Studio. The dark colors remind me of those cold winter evenings, and a touch of green conjures up the heavenly scent of the pine trees that line our drive. Connecting the two components it a Swarovski Crystal Roundell and two Crystal Titan bicones.

I had a difficult time with the hanger. I wanted something that could be taken off so Erin could detach the vintage brooch to wear if she chose. At first I used ribbon, but it just didn’t look right with the sparkly rhinestones. I ended up using the new silver filled wire, which is brand new at Artbeads.

'After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen rose and went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.'

And now for the beautiful ornament I received from Erin; a gorgeous nutcracker pendant with sweet jewel berries, and a pretty ribbon. Please visit Erin’s blog where you’ll find her inspiration for making this ornament.

Thank you, Erin, for the sweet ornament. Each time I see it I'll be thinking of you. Thanks also to Sally Russick for organizing this swap/blog hop! I had so much fun with this, and it took me a bit out of my comfort zone, which is a good thing. Please check out the links below to see what the other participants created.

Erin Prais-Hintz and Alice Peterson that's me
Sally Russick and Kim Hora
Susan Kennedy and Kathleen Lange Klik
Patty Gasparino and Cindy Wimmer
Hope Smitherman and Melissa Meman
Jennifer L. Justman and Sandi Volpe
Jenny Davies-Reazor and Christine Altimiller
Rebecca Anderson and Jen Velasquez
Jeanette Blix Ryan and Tamara SoperHolly Westfall and Mallory Hoffman

Friday, December 9, 2011

Look What I Got!

This gorgeous datebook journal by Greg Johnson has been on my mind since my sister-in-law gave one as a gift to her mother a few years ago. Since then I’ve not been able to get my hands on one—until now. When it arrived in my mailbox I was like a little child, tearing away at the packaging to get a peek inside. The calendar brings to mind a gently worn book. Inside are lovely seasonal works of art, along with inspirational quotes.

This would make a wonderful Christmas present for someone special. You can get the 2012 calendar here at Curious Sofa. I just received word from Debbie that she received a shipment of 40 journals. They go fast so get them before they’re gone. And while you’re there, check out the lovely Curious Sofa blog. Debbie offers delightful found goods, along with other treats and eye candy there. Thank you Debbie, for letting me use your photos!

And check out these beautiful beads from Sue Beads. I fell in love with her sweet glass headpins and just had to have some. While I was there, the bead sets caught my eye, and somehow fell into my cart as well.

A while back I won these lovely pendants from Kristi Roeder with Artisan Clay. That round one has chipped glass in the middle, and the photo doesn’t do it justice. It reminds me of a hidden pool tucked away in a forest, and illuminated by a beam of sunlight from above.

And this amazing pendant came from Staci Louise. She makes the most amazing, unique jewelry and components. You just have to check out her etsy shop! Have you ever seen such a great piece? Look and the wonderful texture and patina! I was lucky enough to snatch it up before anyone else got it.

This has nothing to do with the current subject, but it’s something you will want to check out. Heather from Post Road Vintage is hosting a great giveaway of a $50 gift certificate to Urban Farmgirl’s etsy shop. I’ve got my eye on a few items, like an antique crayon box and other goodies. There’s seven, yes seven ways to win! How fun is that!

And last but not least, please scroll down to yesterday’s post about artists helping artists.

Wishing you a delightful weekend filled with candy canes, cocoa, twinkle lights, and warm hugs.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Backpack Program

We love watching the Food Network. One of our favorites is ‘Chopped’, a cooking show where chefs compete for a $10,000 prize. On a recent episode the competitors were actually school cafeteria chefs, there to raise awareness about the importance of good meals for kids.

Now I’m sure we all have memories from our youth of school cafeteria workers. Whether your memories are good ones or bad ones, there’s no question that the cafeteria staff are hard workers, and these four ladies were no exception. What surprised me was how much they connected with the kids in their school. These ladies knew what the kids were learning, and sometimes incorporated food that would go along with the day’s lesson. They hide vegetables in ways so the kids don’t know they are actually eating something good for them. And some even have Pasta Mondays so the kids can get the carbs they need to begin the week. These ladies work hard to serve a meal that adheres to very strict nutritional guidelines, and something the kids will like, all for about $1.25 each.

But the thing that had the most impact (and something I’ve never heard of before now) was the Backpack Program. Many times the only good meal the kids get is at school. Sometimes the kids get little to no food on the weekends, and much of the time the food they do get has no nutritional value. The lunch ladies, along with volunteers, pack food into backpacks which are sent home on Fridays with kids who are likely to go hungry over the weekend.

My oldest daughter teaches Fifth Grade at a school where they have the Backpack Program, and 90 percent of the students are on a free or reduced lunch plan. In today’s economy, and with both parents working, single parents struggling to make ends meet or grandparents raising their grandchildren on a fixed income, this program seems like a great way to get food to the children who need it the most.

According to the USDA, over 16 million children (22 %) lived in low or very low food security households in 2010. Research indicates that hungry children do more poorly in school and have lower academic achievement because they are not well prepared for school and cannot concentrate.

The problem of childhood hunger is not simply a moral issue. Child hunger hampers a young person's ability to learn and becomes more likely to suffer from poverty as an adult. Scientific evidence suggests that hungry children are less likely to become productive citizens. (source)

I urge you to watch this episode. If I’m reading this right, it looks like this episode will air again. Click the link to see the times. This episode is a very emotional one, especially when the ladies were recognized for their talents as a chef rather than just a ‘lunch lady’. Really, this is one you will want to watch.

There are many programs to help with child hunger in the U.S. Whether it be the Backpack Program or another charity, I urge you to consider helping out as a volunteer or by donations. And what better time than the holidays to begin.