Saturday, March 31, 2012

Bluebonnets 2012. Not even the flu can stop this crazy Texas Momma!

Texas spring.
Green Grass.
80 degree weather.

We get a beautiful few days, and then
dead flowers
brown grass
100 degree weather.

even though our house was full of sickness
with Kylie and Lexi both suffering from the flu.

We went and took pictures.
cause, yes.
I am a crazy Texas Momma
and bluebonnet pictures are a tradition!

With girls this cute, I couldn't take the chance of missing out on the pretty flowers or weather!

Friday, March 30, 2012

A Dozen Handmade Cards

I've had an unexpected few days at home. Kylie and Lexi both have the flu and so not only am I not working, but I am TRAPPED inside my house!

So far I have cooked, cleaned, made a pathetic video, read a couple of books and made a stack of scrapbook pages. With the leftovers, I made the cards below.  This is the first time I've made cards in probably a year, and it was a nice change of pace. I like using up scraps of paper and embellishments. I may spend money on crafts, but when it comes down to it, I am very thrifty! Kinda nice to say that 12 cards made and not a dollar spent! (well, lots of dollars were spent at other times, but not specifically for this project!)

All the papers and stamps are from Close To My Heart. The embellishments come from here, there and maybe even a button or two from an old outfit!
I thinking of giving this set of cards away. What do you think? And would you use them?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Kid-Sized and Budget Friendly Jello

This may be a total no-brainer for you, but given that our house is new to Jello, I thought I'd tell you my new trick :)

So why is Jello new to us? Well, all of the prepackaged jello's have red dye #40 in them. And up until I found this box of berry blue, every other box had it too. And since Maddie's allergic to red 40, jello was off limits in our house.

Until Kylie had her tonsils out. She had jello at the hospital and loved it.  So we bought the prepackaged stuff and Maddie steered clear of the jello and the sticky fingers.

Then I found berry blue at HEB and were thrilled! And to be honest, I was glad to find the large box because the prepackaged stuff is super expensive! I can't believe how much they charge for basically tinted water!

HEB (our grocery store) had 4 boxes. I bought them all.

So as I was getting ready to make the jello, I knew that I didn't want a large vat of jello that would end up being only half eaten, that would be contaminated by little fingers and sick flu germs. So I went with single serve jellos. 

We have tons of the the 3oz plastic cups and they were the PERFECT portion sizes!

You can see the cups of jello in the fridge. Notice that I tried to use our silicone ice molds. That was a total bust. But hey, you win some and you lose some.

And here are my sweet sick girls. Little Berry Blue Jello cups make the flu seem not so bad.

Hey, next time you go down the baking aisle at your store, see if you can find us some new flavors of jello. No RED DYE #40 please.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Dining Room Reveal

The Reveal.

Sorry it took so long. In typical Emily fashion, once the project is done (or almost done) I move to the next project and forget about the finishing details, like taking pictures. Plus, I'm looking for a mirror to sit above the black shelf where the picture is. Then the picture will sit on the top shelf and it will be complete. But, I've looked around and I can't find a mirror I like, so when I finally get one, I'll let you know!

I know you were worried :)

 And... Tah Dah. or is it tada? [side note. I've been stuck at home with two little girls with the flu. I'm feeling a little crazed.]

Here are the things I love about my dining room. And why you should be jealous!

1. The color. I love the gold/yellow. It makes me happy. It also looks great with the wood in the house. The honey tones in floor shimmer. I also think the white trim pops off the yellow. Yes, it's a very strong color, but the rest of my house is pretty strong in similar nature driven tones, so it works!

2. I super love how open my dining room is. Don't super love that the highchair is so prominent in the pictures or that the child who uses the high chair leaves evidence of her meals everywhere. But I do super love the reason we have the high chair.

3. Uncluttered corners are my new favorite decorating space! I realize that floor space is a premium in houses. But man, I am loving the uncluttered and very freeing empty wall and corner! And, because I don't have furniture and other stuff competing for attention on that wall, I can do fun artsy things like iron fabric to the wall and make canvas wall art! If you missed the post about how to make the artsy stuff, check out the tutorial tab at the top of the page.

4. And finally, the china cabinet wall. The table and china cabinet are in my favorite style. Pretty to look at, but not fancy. I think the simple lines of the furniture play beautifully with the room and contrast nicely with the china and glass in the cabinet. [another side note: yes, this is the same china that I tried to sell unsuccessfully for the last few years.  Since cleaning out lots of junk, I have room to store it. Maybe I'll even use it!]

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you enjoyed my dining room tour.  Ooh. maybe I'll make a little video later today! Come back tomorrow and see! Look!! I made a really sad video!! Enjoy! :)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Insecurity vs I am Enough

Insecurity. We all deal with it in some form. Whether it is at work or at home, whether we wallow in it or hide it, insecurity is a place we have all been.

Currently I am working through a bible study called Living Your Life as a Beautiful Offering by Angela Thomas. I am really enjoying the study as her lessons are short and to the point. Yes, I wish I had an hour to devote to morning bible study, but I don't. So, this study gives me something to think on in a couple of minutes and I can supplement on those rare mornings that I don't have a child join me almost the moment I get out of bed. (Side note: maybe it's just my house, but opening the bible is the best alarm clock I have. It doesn't seem to matter how quietly I turn the pages, something about that open bible and me getting some alone time with God just makes my children wake up.)

Back to the bible study. We are working through the sermon on the mount.

Today's lesson was on being enough. That in our meekness we realize that we "will never be enough and recognize that we will always need a Savior to complete us." I don't know about you, but this really resonates with me.  I truly struggle with being "enough" at home and at work.  I know that I hide my insecurity pretty well, but I am always working to be "enough". I take lots of extra classes on teaching, am always trying new things, researching and going that extra, extra mile to be enough! 

Why, do I feel this way? There isn't a clear cut answer and I think that's the nature of insecurity. If it was an easy fix, we would fix it and then not be insecure!  I can tell you at work, the answer for much of my insecurity is that I don't have a traditional art teacher background.  Because of that, I am always second guessing myself and allowing things others say in passing, or things they don't say, or things I think they say.... to become worry spots for me. I am always aware that I'm not enough.

Recently, I was having one of those weeks and telling Doug about how I felt and he gave me the best encouragement.  (Thank goodness for awesome husbands!) He made an analogy to a baseball manager. Yes, this fits for me as I love baseball.  He said that some baseball managers (with world series rings as managers) were truly great baseball players in their own right, so good that they are in the hall of fame for their own careers. But some baseball managers played in the minors for years and years and they were never "good enough" to make to the majors, but they know the game and the positions and can see the big picture so well that they make great managers and win world series.

This just made since to me. I've felt that since I wasn't a professional artist with tons of training, that Iwasn't  good enough and shortchanging my students.  But after Doug said that, I was able to see that because of my meekness about traditional art and since I wasn't so concerned with doing things the "right way," I was able to encourage students to see a bigger picture, to try more things and in short to become better artists.

So, am I cured of my insecurity? No. But I can say that when I take a minute to stop and reflect, that I know that God has me where I am supposed to be. Contrary to what some might think, it's not an easy job. Teaching economics and coaching debate was easy. In fact, of all the 13+ things I have taught, teaching art is the hardest thing that I have done. But in the midst of the daily struggles, Iam reminded that "my flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart, my portion forever." (Psalm 73: 26)

And when I get down I remind myself that because of Christ I AM ENOUGH!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Another Banner Year for Maddie's Team!

The 2012 Fort Worth Kidney Walk is in the books!
 Maddie and Jerry!
This is Jerry's 5th anniversary of his kidney transplant!!
So thankful that he is healthy and that we have him to look to as Maddie grows up with kidney disease.

One of the really cool things that they did this year was to give the top teams signs along the path and a big tent to hang out at!! Our team as of yesterday had raised almost $3000 with Maddie having $2300 in her name. That put her as the single largest fundraiser two years in a row!! So yeah, she got a sign :)

Since we have a lot of little ones and lots of stollers, it was really nice to have a designated spot.

And here we are at the beginning of the walk.

While the NKF Kidney Walk's purpose is to raise funds for research, one of the things that I appreciate the most about the walk is that one day a year, we don't feel alone. That there are people out there that understand what we are going through and that they have been there before us and will help us walk down this difficult road. 

 At the finish line! No, Maddie didn't complete the entire walk. But she was able to walk for 45 minutes. That's longer than we had thought she would!

 After the walk we had a picnic and enjoyed some family time.
Here Kylie is with my cousin Jennifer and her husband Jerry.

And it wouldn't be a family day without a picture of Maddie and her cousin Abby!

Finally, I love this picture my dad took!!Thanks Dad!!
Thank you for supporting Maddie's Team 2012!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Rice and Beans for a Month? Oh My. OUCH!

Let me start with saying that I'm sitting in the play area at McDonalds. I'm love free wi-fi. Well, it's not free. I just bought dinner for my family. The same price that I paid for dinner would have probably upgraded my wireless at home!

Now, onto my point.... a childhood friend of mine and her family are eating only Rice and Beans for a MONTH! Not because they can't afford food, but because they are so used to eating whatever they want they don't feel grateful.

What a concept. I love it. I truly can't imagine doing this.

But I keep going to her blog and reading about the journey. I've even re-read some posts. You should go check it out.  Her blog is called another notebook.

I'm thinking that I might see if my family might be willing to do it for just dinner for one week. I'll let you know what they think. :)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The alLUREing necklace tutorial

I am not a fisher woman.
And while I have been fishing a couple of times,
I wouldn't know where to begin if I had to buy a lure in order to catch a fish!

How did I decide on a fishing lure necklace?
Well, I saw a necklace made from "wobblers" in a book.
It was bright and colorful and looked fun.
I also needed to make a thank you gift for a friend and I didn't want a traditional gift!

So....I went to Walmart to look for "wobblers". They didn't have any.
Granted, I don't know what a "wobbler" looked like, but I didn't see anything named as such.

If we lived in a big city where there are sporting goods stores and the like,
I might have found what I was looking for, but we don't.
And given that improvise is my middle name.
And that I was just looking for good colors,
I settled on these fine lures.
And of course a chain (well 2 really), some jump rings.
I already had beads and the silver straight pin type things you put beads on.

Okay.. now for the tutorial!

1.Your cute little jewelry tools will NOT work for this project! I had to go dig out my husbands cutters and needle nose pliers. The hooks are HARD to cut off!

2. After trying a number of different ways to cut off the hook, I finally settled on cutting open the end the hook was placed on and not the hook itself. The picture below shows this. (once you cut open the end, you can pull off the twisted piece if you want. I tried to just untwist the wire, but I couldn't without hooking my finger on one of the THREE hooks! OUCH!)

3. Now the fun part!! After you take off all the hooks, decide on the beads you want to use and make the ends of the lures pretty!  I used the opening that I cut open and then just closed it around the bead addition.

4. After the lures were finished, (I used 4 of two different kinds and 1 larger one) I got my 2 chains and made them into one necklace about 28" long (not sure on length.. original was 22" plus a portion of the second to make it long enough to be able to put over your head).

5. I put the largest lure on first. I used two jump rings on each lure. Two reasons.. first I hate that many "custom" or "homemade" necklaces fall apart so easily and I wanted to make sure that the lures would stay on the necklace. Second, I liked how it looked. :)

6. I placed the lures on every fifth ring. No reason. I just liked the open four between each lure. Because they are pretty big, I didn't want them sitting right on top of each other.

 7. And there you have it! The finished necklace!

I'm not sure if the necklace is very practical, but it sure was fun to make.
I'm going to be on the look out for some "wobblers" and maybe make a couple more gifts!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Isn't it alLUREing!!

I can't wait to tell you all about a thank you gift I made today.
And while I don't think the recipient reads my blog,
I won't post pictures of the finished piece just in case she does!

But here is a little up close shot of part of it!!!

Isn't it alLUREing!!
Doesn't it make you wanna go out and catch one?
How do you like that for bait?

I know. I'm lame.

Hopefully, I can deliver the gift and post the tutorial soon!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

15 days, 26 bags. storage wars. and a little reward.

40 Bags in 40 Days. 
Day 15 update.
(if you don't know what I'm referring too, click here)

We are going like gang-busters here!!
It is FUN!

Okay, maybe the rest of my family isn't having the same fun I am having, but I totally enjoy sorting and organizing things. So, for me, cleaning out closets, going through boxes and all that is required to do the 40 Bags in 40 days is rather enjoyable.

hmm... enjoyable. that truly might make me certifiable :)

In case you were wondering, I haven't been going in order on my list. I made the list to give me a point of reference, but since I knew we had a garage sale that was happening last weekend, I started with the good selling stuff. Like kids clothes!

As I sorted the kids clothes, the kids helped by trying on things and pleading their case for a few of the outgrown but favorites.With the age/size spread of my kids, it doesn't make sense to keep all the clothes that Maddie can't wear. It could be years before Lexi would wear something and a decade before Kylie would wear it!  So, I keep jeans and a few of the shirts/dresses that I like.

During these two weeks, I have cleaned out my clothes, dresser and closet and Doug cleaned out his closet yesterday! Yippee! We are on a roll!

Next up, STORAGE WARS!! Here is what I've decided. It doesn't matter how much or how little storage you have for memorabilia/school keepsakes/special items. You will never have enough! UGH! 3 kids make for a TON of school keepsakes. I have these wonderful school keepsake files that I made a few years ago, but since we've lived in uncertainty on housing over the years, the boxes have been put away and the papers from school have just been piling up! So..yesterday, I started this.So far, I have 2011 sorted and one bag of trash. That's pretty good. I've got a long way to go. But it's spring break and raining, so I have time!

 And finally, why do this? Besides of course the deeper meaning of the 40 bags in 40 days clean out. When you clean things out, you have room to DECORATE!! Doesn't my china cabinet look nice!

I've decided that I'm going to use my china. I have beautiful ivory china with a gold rim. This makes it not suitable for the dishwasher. BOO. However, after 13 years, I've decided that china in perfect condition that is never used is not the point. I'm gonna use the china and if the gold rim wears off, good! 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

To South Africa and Beyond!

My 16 year old nephew Carter in the picture above left for a mission trip to South Africa yesterday!  WOW and amazing. If you would like to read the back story from my sister's blog, click here. I think one of the coolest things about what Carter is doing is that he is serving in an area where he can be truly used.  He's not just doing something that is going to make him feel good.

This is not Carter's first trip either. He has been abroad with his mom and then done things in Texas with his dad.

So... it makes me think about Maddie and kids with special needs. How do they get opportunities to serve others beyond their local communities?

Maddie loves to serve others. She helps at school and church. She loves "teaching" (being in charge). But when you put all of the restrictions on what Maddie and others with limitations can do, where do they fit in the broader sense of mission trips?

I know, I know.... we do mission trips because there is a need somewhere, not so that my privilege kid can gain life experience,  BUT....

Maybe some of you out there have an idea?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Dark vs Light. Applications in life and art

Dark and Light. Applications in Life and Art.

1.The treatment of light and shade in drawing and painting.

2.An effect of contrasted light and shadow created by light falling unevenly or from a particular direction on something.

Here are two wonderful examples of this technique.
St Joseph the Carpenter by Georges de La Tour

Self Portrait Rembrandt
As seen in the above examples, neither painting would be as effective if the dark wasn't so dark and if the light wasn't as bright. This effect is called Chiaroscuro in art.

Painting very dark with a punch of light is risky. Once you decide on where the light is, it's gotta be bright.  Many students want to use just the middle shades so that things blend in more. But if you only use the middle shades, the entire painting is boring.

The effect of the darkest dark next to the lightest light is eye-catching and interesting. There is a reason spot lights are used in theatre. That dark stage with a pop of bright white; it gets the audiences attention.

While working on this post, I went back to look at photos to see if I could find that one perfect piece that would give you a modern example of what I'm talking about. But, Nope. Don't have one.  My mom took a picture of my nephew as an newborn 16 years ago and it is a perfect example. Sorry, I don't have a digital copy. Really, it's kind of fitting. The concept of Chiaroscuro isn't complex, we just forget about it.  In the end, I had a couple of decent examples, that use dark and light, so here you are. :)

Now that you had your art lesson, you might be wondering how this applies to life.  Well... here are my two cents!

Sometime dark times are bad times. Sometimes dark times are lonely times. Sometimes dark times are times when things aren't going the way we had hoped. Sometimes is because we aren't sure where to go. Sometimes it just feels like you are treading water at night.

Yet, what I find most interesting about the dark times is that there can be some very good stuff hidden in the darkness. If you put this art terms again, some of the most beautiful art pieces have all kinds of texture and incredible meaning buried in the depths of a painting. You just have to learn how to see in the dark! 

As a theatre person, I have spent countless hours in the dark.  I could walk through a pitch black theatre with all kinds of stuff back stage and not trip. I knew where the stuff was sure, but more than that, I had learned how to see in the dark.

Lately, I have felt like I have lost that ability.  I know that there is all kinds of good stuff waiting for me, but I had lost it in the darkness. Between job pressures, sick kids and putting a parent in an assisted living facility and all that entailed, life felt dark. Let me clarify for a second... not bad, just all one shade of boring grey.

However, I can say that I figured out what to do. I bought a flashlight. Okay, not figuratively. But I felt like I did. As I posted a few days ago about needing clarity and telling God to please speak... I figured it out. Or maybe God revealed. When you have a flashlight, you are breaking the darkness.  Where you break the darkness is your choice. You can shine it directly in front of your feet so that you can make sure you don't trip on something. You can shine it on your face and scare others and give yourself a headache. You can keep it at your side and not turn it on. Or can choose to aim the beam of light ahead of you and let it cast a path of light for you.  The thing with a flashlight is that you aren't getting rid of the darkness, you are CHOOSING where to highlight the contrast of light and dark! 

Yep, it's totally cheezy. But instead of focusing on the issues at hand, I decided to focus on what I wanted to see as a result. Where did I want to go? What did I want to do? What did I want to choose to highlight by having my light touch it. Did I want to waste the light by having it focus on an issue that I can't control? Put in terms like that, it was pretty easy to say NO! I'm not wasting my light on that!!

Here is what I chose. Pretty smart I think!