Saturday, July 31, 2010

How to be the Life of the Campground!

Canoeing, kayaking, fishing, swimming, hiding peanuts for the chipmunks, boardgames, campfires, s'mores, shopping at the Life is Good store, hiking... there are so many fun activities we enjoy on our annual camping trip in the Adirondacks. We have been so many times that most activities have become traditions for Lulu, her brother and their cousins. Two activities in particular are so anticipated that we believe they make us the most fun people in the entire campground!!!

Nana and Grandpa set out on a canoeing adventure!

Lulu and her aunt kayaking. Queens of the lake!

Lulu fishing off the rock in our campsite with her brother and cousins

First is the construction of the biggest, bestest sandcastle EVER! All you need is a non-rainy day, different sized containers, cups and buckets, a nice beach spot at water's edge and lots of imagination! This year's final creation was a mile-high castle with a sea-side village and an Egyption pyramid off to the side! It got a lot of attention and compliments from other campers at the beach.
The castle in progress

The finished masterpiece!

Our second tradition involves more glow sticks than you can imagine! In past years we have had as many as 200 glow sticks to split between the four kids but this year we purchased 400 glow sticks! We start at about 6:00 pm to allow 1 hour for cracking and sorting and 1 hour for decorating ourselves (everything from necklaces, bracelets and belts to balls, leg wraps and glasses!). Then for 2 hours we walk around like our own light parade. Kids go crazy over seeing the "the glow stick people"! We pass out extras to the kids in other campsites and many pictures are taken! Parents love our idea and many say they will be bringing glow sticks on their next camping trip! Lulu says it's her favorite night of our trip! FYI for the best deal we ordered packs of 100 glow sticks off of Amazon. The packs included connectors to make glasses, balls and triple bracelets.

All decked out!

Lulu's smile for the week: Doing a flip on the bar at the playground!
Lulu's frown for the week: Daddy longlegs spiders in the bathroom!

Nel's smile for the week: No TV or video games for 5 days!
Nel's frown for the week: Lots of dirty laundry that smells like campfire!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

First Time for Everything

Dear friends,

I recently purchased my first home. I have lived hear for about a month and already have great things in store for it! I started in the dining room with a lot of help from my family and friends.

When we first viewed the house this is what the dining room looked like:

Once we moved in we decided on a new paint color. I like the earthy tones and went with a nice earthy green. This was my first time ever tackling a huge painting project like this, but luckily Sister "S" was there to help!

We started out with the prep work. First we setup a perimeter with the painters tape. This is important to do because it helps you stay in the lines when you paint. We filled in all the blemishes in the walls with putty, and then sanded all of the walls. When the previous owner painted, they didn't sand first causing a lot of bumps and imperfections in the paint application. Once the sanding was done, we washed the walls clean.

Time for primer! After that 2 coats of paint. It didn't take long to dry. Sister "S" worked on outlining the walls for me so all I had to do was follow with the roller and apply the paint.

I don't think it came out too bad for my first time!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

My Bread of Life is Gluten Free

Hey everybody!

Hope you're enjoying Seven Sisters :)

I mentioned in my previous post that I have a gluten intolerance. It was a long road to diagnosis. My symptoms began almost 8 years ago very mildly, and it culminated after several mis-diagnoses by my doctor to finally discovering it was a gluten intolerance about 6 months ago. Since starting the diet I have felt so much better than in the past!!

Do you know someone with celiacs disease? Gluten intolerance? It can be daunting at times to have a person with a special diet over to your house for food! Should you cater to their diet? What's the etiquette? Here is what I have found are great tips for having gluten free company!

1) Don't feel like you have to go out of your way. The last thing we want to feel like is a burden. If the gathering is a "dish to pass" event, we know well enough to make sure our dish to pass is something that we can eat and that could sustain us for the event if need be. I like to bring a salad with lots of toppings that would fill me up if that happened to be the only thing I could eat, or something similar. However, that's usually not the case as there is almost always a fruit salad, veggies, etc. that are quite safe. Let us know in advance what you are serving, if it's hot dogs or hamburgers that will give us a chance to bring our own buns! So far this has gone great for me! Thanfully J never got offended when I would bring my own GF (gluten free) frozen waffles on pizza night. She may have laughed, but mmm, I love those waffles! So glad for understanding friends!
Organic burger on a gluten free bun :)

If the event is a more intimate dinner where you plan on doing all the cooking, and you know you have a gluten intolerant friend coming, please, please let them know what you will be making ahead of time. This allows us to plan ahead and discreetly bring our own version or offer to bring a side to share that is safe for us to eat in the event we can't have what you are making. Don't feel like you need to change your menu for us, and please don't be offended if we ask if it's ok for us to bring our own version of what you are making.
2) In the event of a buffet line, offer those with special dietary needs the chance to go through the line first. This helps us know any sides or toppings, etc. were not contaminated. (ex: a salad bar that has croutons in a separate bowl- someone may use the crouton spoon to get some cheese as well, thus contaminating the cheese). Depending on the severity of the persons allergies, even the smallest crumb can affect them.

3) Please don't be offended if we ask what ingredients you used or to read the ingredients on the box you are making. Consider it a compliment as we would absolutely love to eat that delicious artichoke dip you made, but just want to make sure we aren't suffering from horrible cramps later.
roasted chicken and carrots rubbed with a curry, salt, pepper and olive oil mixture served over rice

Having a gluten intolerant friend or family member can be overwhelming when you try to plan your menu. But did you notice all the recipe links above? Aside from the cupcakes, they're all everyday recipes, not just from a gluten free magazine or cookbook. Sometimes all it takes is omitting the crust of the pie (or like my sisters have done many times, making a regular pie, but reserving some of the filling in a separate bowl just for me!), or trying something new!
Intimate NYE Midnight Breakfast dinner at our house: frittatas, crustless quiches, fruit salad- all gluten free!

I have to say I have been sooo lucky- my family has gone out of their way to make sure there is always something for me to eat and keeping food uncontaminated. I think my mom knows more about gluten intolerance than even I do! My friends have been great too! Lotsa love to all, they keep me well fed.
I hope these tips have been helpful for any readers with gluten free friends or family! I hope yours and theirs experiences are as positive as mine have been!
John 6:35, "And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst." It is absolutely IMPOSSIBLE to be allergic to the spiritual bread of life... have you checked it out yet?
**Disclaimer- I am not, nor have ever been, nor ever plan to be a doctor. I also have not, nor ever have been, nor ever plan to be an etiquette queen. So, please, use your own judgment. :)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

For the Love of Crochet ♥

...alot of people are having babies lately...alot of people are talking about having babies seems like we're always holding a baby (ask my daughter she's baby crazy)...i must say when i think babies i think crochet...they just kinda go hand in hand...for me anyway...and along with the rest of the crocheting world, i've been on this amigurumi craze that doesn't seem to be going away, in fact every time i'm at a craft store i see another ami book...but! none compare to Ana Paula's super cute crochet books or patterns found in her super cute etsy shop...she's so talented and her new stuff is always cuter than cute :)
...I learned to crochet sometime in my early teen years (can't remember exact start to forget stuff when you get old) taught to me by my left-handed Aunt (i'm right handed...yeah, exactly...tricky), who is really like a grandmother to me and who's awesome at reading any super-duper ridiculously hard patterns that no one else on earth could ever figure with many years of her guidance and instruction i've come to love crochet and i think i've made her proud :)...and even taught my older daughter how to master the skill...and i must admit her stitches are very smooth for a 7 year old...

...Ana's baby owl & mommy owl (hands down one of my fav patterns) along with a pair of adorable booties (from a free pattern at pair up very snuggly together, and can stand as a gift alone or be used in a tote full of baby stuff...experiment with different yarn colors & accessories, the sky's the limit!...would love to know how they turn out... ~have fun!

This verse has been on my mind this week...
♥ For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord,thoughts of peace,and not of evil, to give you an expected end...Jeremiah 29:11♥
...just thinking on what "His thoughts toward me" might be if they were based on my own merit...that's something to get your mind goin' for a while (yikes :)
...but hallelujah, their not based on our shortcomings! they're based on the knowledge that we are His...daughters of the King...thoughts of peace, not evil...thank You Father for Your love & mercy towards us...thank You for blessing me with 6 sisters in ya girls ♥J.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Green Thumb

My ambition for this summer was to plant a garden, I have always wanted to do it but it just seemed overwhelming with everything else on my plate. So this year I was determined! My Dad helped me build my garden in the early spring time and we planted the vegetables that same day. After a few scary nights of making sure my baby plants were covered with blankets due to some unexpected frost, (next year I'll be sure to plant them at the end of may) I was extremely surprised to see how well my garden did. I mean... did I plant GIANT plant seeds and not realize it? My little girl asked me if the bean plants were going to grow as tall as the sky so she could climb them. I mean seriously! In total we planted green and yellow beans, green and yellow squash, butternut squash, cherry tomatoes, beefsteak tomatoes and eggplant. My plants grew so big, that my squash plants are now growing outside the garden. Who would have thought! So now I have more zucchini and yellow squash than I ever expected, and don't know what to do with it. Any ideas?? Please post! :)

My garden right after planting in may!

My giant squash and beans!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Bananas Over Mangoes!

We are currently in love with mangoes! Sister "S" served us a delicious tropical fruit salad at her Hot- Dog- BBQ- Fabulous- Kitchen- Reveal- Party. It had mango in it and we were hooked! Since then we bought a whole mango and ate it straight, scraping the mangoey goodness off the skin with our teeth. It was proclaimed the favorite fruit of the summer! We have also discovered a bag of frozen mango chunks tastes great in a tropical smoothie! And our aspiring chef, Lulu, came up with the following yummy recipe...

Strawberry Mango Banana Smoothie

2 cups frozen whole strawberries
1 cup frozen mango chunks
1 banana
1 6oz. vanilla yogurt
1 tablespoon sugar

Directions: Add all ingredients to the blender. Blend until smooth and delicious. Serve in your favorite glass with an umbrella straw!

We decided these special, pretty drinks needed some tropical coasters! PERLER BEADS! Perler beads have been a summer obsession! (Thanks "J"!) Perler beads are great for kids. We have created a tea set and a sweet shop complete with lollipops and ice cream cones. They are also fun for adults who like to sort tiny beads by color to create a perfect rainbow box! We have spent many hours creating tiny masterpieces that sometimes sky dive off the table! (Tip: Don't do perler beads on the deck!) So here is the tropical coaster pattern...

Observe how they float beautifully in the pool for their photo shoot!

Lulu's smile for the week: Throwing a pot on the pottery wheel at art camp!

Lulu's frown for the week: Ballet tights that are too tight (I would be able to touch my toes if my tights weren't so tight!)

Nel's smile for the week: Being asked to address the wedding invitations for my soon to be sister-in-law!

Nel's frown for the week: Pens without caps!!!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

What to do with hand-me-down furniture?

Hello Friends!

During these times, it pays to be frugal. After moving into my new house, I started working on a hand-me-down dining room set that was given to me a few years ago. I lived in apartments up until now, so I didn't have much space for doing anything major. Now that I have a lot more room, I decided to spruce up the old dining room set.

Here is what it looked like before:

Over time, the seats of the chairs became cracked because they were just made out of particle board. The fabric had become a faded pink and was very worn. The chairs and table legs were filled with chips in the paint and large scratches from being moved around so much.

The seats were replaced with plywood which is much more durable than particle board. With the help of Sister "S," we picked out a new fabric for the seat covers from Jo-Ann's.

I went with a cream base color with a tan and brown design to tie the room in together. The curtains I had picked out for the dining room are a cream and chocolate brown. Having the seat covers the same color as the curtains helps bring the room together.

Once the seat covers were done, I removed them and painted the chairs and the table legs. The top of the table is sealed and would not have been paint-able so I left that alone. I purchased a black paint in a very high-gloss finish so I could keep the original color as best I could. I had to be very careful with my brush strokes because they would show up once it dries. I did this by taking my time during the painting process. Once I had spread the paint evenly over an area, I went back over it with one smooth brush stroke in order to give the overall look a flowing feel.

Here is a close up of my brush strokes:

As you can see, the paint job covered up the scratches and paint chips nicely for the finished product:

To tie the room together even more, I used some of the leftover fabric to fill in the box that covers our doorbell chime. Thanks to Sister "S" for the help!

Until next week!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Kitchen Fixin's

I don't want to brag, but.......our kitchen is a doozy.

But it didn't start out that way.

With humble beginnings, our hospitalized kitchen was over a year in the making. Here it is when we bought the house;

Can you believe our luck, they even left us a matching coffee maker!! Later, I found a bread machine that matched as well.
Sure, it was functional. Sure, I was thankful to own a home and have a kitchen at all.

But have you ever tried to clean a porous floor? With scraped out grout? Or a countertop with scratches all over it?

Have you always dreamed of needing to open the dishwasher to get to your junk drawer?

This is how we lived for over two years. We scrimped and saved and last April, the time had finally come...

...the time to become BFF's with the entire Home Depot sales team. And pray every night that my husband and I would get through this with our sanity (and marriage!) in tact...

But first there was a job to do. A no-good, very dusty, huge demo job.
Thanks to our demo team, we got this done in 4 hours.

Oh, and some catered BBQ doesn't hurt either.

To help things run efficiently, I planned out a demo schedule before hand. Everyone had a job to do, from Dumpster Dude's to Shop Vac Diva's, everyone had a fun time and it was out with the old!

At the end of the day we were left with this.

Basically nothing.

And what did I do?

I cried.

I love my husband. He gets me. But he didn't get this.

"You're finally getting your kitchen..why are you crying?"
"It's not real. It's never going to happen. Look what we DID. WHAT WERE WE THINKING?"

Like I said, I love my husband. He gave me a big hug.

"We'll get it done."

2 weeks later it looked like this:Add 7 more days after that, we officially had walls.

Ok, I can breathe now. (Literally, the dust was finally abating).Our cabinets came, and we officially moved in. Yea, we don't wait for stuff like countertops and floors. We're just cool like that. And to ensure we were always on schedule, every time we got behind, I just created a new one. Crazy? Yes. But did it make us feel better? Yes! We're all about fooling ourselves psychologically.

Even the marshmallow tried to help. At one point when pulling up the carpet in the adjoining room we added on, he grabbed it with his teeth, and helped pull! Good dog. Here he is contemplating how to use a hammer. Or how to eat it. You never know with him...
All in all, my husband was right. It got done. We may have had to try to put this ceiling fan up no less than 4 times before getting the wiring right, we may have finished poly'ing the floating shelves the night before our big reveal, we might not even be 100% finished right now, but are you looking at this??!
We did it. And it's a doozy. Praise God.

Yes, I opted for a 24-inch range and I don't regret it. One of my goals is protecting this beautiful earth (Psalm 104), and installing a smaller range also gave us more layout freedom in our tiny kitchen.

Yes, I can still fit a turkey in there.

No, I would never actually cook a turkey though.

Big love to the turkeys. xoxo

We kept the dishwasher. It's a mighty fine dishwasher.

I designed the pot rack. I don't have, or need a lot of pots.
I designed the coat hook. We have a lot of coats.
I designed the fruit of the spirit art. I need the daily reminder.

Ok, I got the barstools at IKEA. But the hutch is from Craigslist, so I equaled out there. The hutch is painted "Rain Slicker" by Martha Stewart.

I framed William Carlos Williams "This is Just to Say." Great poem. Go read it.

My husband has a coffee station. He lets me make things pretty even if that means I put his honey in a pretty bucket on a shelf so it looks good. He adapts well to my organization schemes. A place for everything and everything in its place!

We'll cover this later, but these are my gluten free flours.

2 years in the planning, 2 and a half months in the making, and finally. A kitchen I can call home. Yes, home, because I'm pretty confident I could live in there 24/7 now. I am so blessed!!! Thanks for reading :)


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