Coming Soon: Free Book

Coming Soon: Free Book
Planning to give away a book or two!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Fairy garden

I have 9 of my 14 items done on my "to do" list.  I decided to order some open air plants on-line instead of waiting for Dale's pups to get big enough to fall off and WOW! am I glad that I did.  I ordered this set from Hinderland Trading:
Fairy Garden
I received several kinds of plants that Dale does not have.  So between the two of us, we will have a nice variety.  They sent a couple extra plants.  I would guess just in case some of these don't make it.  I was ecstatic to see the height, breadth and texture varieties. 
Fairy Garden Stream
Here is the close up of stream that runs through the fairy garden.  Can you see the frog, snail and mushrooms that are keeping the fairy company in her garden?  I get so excited as I look across the living room and see these beautiful flowers adding dimension to the fairy garden.
Fairy Garden House
What makes a better Fairy House than a bird house gourd?  Can you see her table inside?  I lit it up with a small flashlight.  The chairs are sitting just outside the door.  I had so much fun putting this together and adding the open air flowers.  Can you believe that it stared with the top of an old toilet tank?  I need to wait for my next inspiration.  These flowers will eventually bloom and have pups of their own.  Then I will need to create another one.  I will probably give it away and make someone else's day happy too.
Open Air Plants in Terrarium
Dale's boss was looking at his open air plants. She mentioned that she would like some for the bathroom.  So we purchased this small terrarium that can hang in the bathroom and dressed it up with two small plants.  It is such a blessing to bless others with a little bit of sunshine!

I am getting a lot done!

I can't believe it is almost 1 AM!  I told you the other day about my bohemian living room curtains.  Today I finished the bathroom curtains,  started cleaning the bathroom.  I tidied up the kitchen, did a load of dishes, a load of laundry and washed bedding.
This evening I worked on my fairy garden.  The flowers are due in tomorrow!  Well today because it is so late ... Tee hee.
Bohemian Living Room Curtains
Fairy Garden in process

Monday, December 29, 2014

I passed!

Periodically I need to sit through some difficult tests to keep up to date with the program that I use at work. It is referred to as professional certification. 

I took time away from my vacation to take the test for Microsoft Dynamics AX2012 R2 Projects.   I am excited that I finally passed. 

Celebrate with me!  It is a fun way to end the year. 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Making Haystacks

As promised, here are the step by step instructions:
1 bag of caramels
3-4 tablespoons water
4 cups rice krispies (about)
1 bag large marshmallows

Unwrap the caramels and place in a pan to melt (you can use a double boiler or frying pan at low heat.) The package says to add 1-2 tablespoons water.  I wanted it a little thinner and ended up using 4 tablespoons adding the water a little bit at a time.
Melt Carmels
I started with 2 cups of cereal in the bowl and added more as it got lower, so I am not sure how much cereal I actually used. I had a small box and still had half of it left at the end.
Put Rice Krispies in a bowl
When you begin covering the marshmallows in caramel, you need to work really fast.  In order for the caramel to be warm enough to cover well, it also melts marshmallows very well.  
Move fast once you put in the Marshmallows
After doing these two, I decided my caramel was too thick and I added a little more water.  Haystacks are almost like a deconstructed rice krispy bar.
Cover them and remove them from the caramel
I usually end up using 3-4 spoons when I make these.  It does make a sticky mess.  But they are SO worth it because they are delicious.
Drop them in the Rice Krispies and cover
Many times when I run out of marshmallows or patience, whichever I lose first, I add the krispies to the caramel with also makes a nice treat.  Notice that I put a plastic wrap over my plate; caramel sticks to EVERYTHING if you don't plan ahead.  
Don't they look like stacks of hay?

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Sleeping Beauty????

Nope. It is just Dale.  Duchess,  Misty Blue and I snuggled together on his bed. When I came out of the bedroom,  Sonjia had taken over the couch while Dale had stacked up the dog beds to lay on.

He was snoring so I guess they are pretty comfortable. That means he isn't a princess.  Because even though there isn't a pea under the stack of mattresses,  I am sure that there are plenty of dog bone chips.   LOL

Friday, December 26, 2014

The New Blue Beast!

I was so excited on Christmas Day.  It snowed most of the day even though not much of it stuck on the ground.  It was beautiful.

It was a day for specials (the day after Christmas). This afternoon we finally made a decision to purchase a four wheeler with a blade on the front.  Dale will be using it to clear off the sidewalks and the city lump that they plow in at the end of the driveway.

Now I need to find Dale a few plowing jobs.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve ...

I will be getting ready to go to Christmas Eve service soon.  It is important at this time of year to take time to remember that Christmas is the day chosen to remember and celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Man, Emmanuel, God with Us. 

Despite the special day today, I have still been working on my "to do" list and this is what I have accomplished so far:
New Scarf
I finished the scarf that I wove in the loom.  I finished two more milkweed pods.  But I have 6 more that I picked last fall So before I pack things away, I will try to finish those too.

Bluebirds nest
I made a batch of haystacks (the recipe will be shared later.)  I will also be sharing most of the haystacks with my sisters family at some time over the weekend.
Another treat that is made for special events is Deviled eggs.  I made a small batch of them.  We will be having Christmas at Dale's this year and his brother will be joining us.  It will be a small gathering but sometimes that is what is the best.
Deviled Eggs
The Christmas Staple in Minnesota is Pumpkin Pie.  I used some of my home grown pumpkin to make the pumpkin pie.  
Pumpkin Pie
My neighbor lady is a seamstress and she helped me re-hem the new curtain so that it will be long enough.  It was bothering Dale that my current curtain wasn't wide enough (there was a peek hole along the sides.  So now I have hillbilly curtains with two sets, one brown and one blue that are slightly different lengths because we just couldn't lengthen the brown ones enough and I don't want to cut the blue ones.  

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Is a brown Christmas blue?

It is looking like it is going to be a brown Christmas this year.  For Minnesota, that is just wrong.  As someone said the other day, we had December weather in November and November weather in December.  But according to my garden we are having March to April weather.  I may need to throw some extra seeds in the garden next spring.  There are so many seedlings coming up already that I doubt they are going to make it through the rest of the winter.
My garden is so confused....spring flowers are sprouting!
Today was my last day of work.  I have off Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, the day after Christmas, New Years Eve, New Years Day, and the day after too.  I took two days vacation next week and with that I will have ten days off in a row.  So part of what I am doing tonight is creating my "To Do" list.
Here is the rough draft in no special order:
  1. Finish woven scarf
  2. Finish two more Milkweed Pod decorations
  3. Finish the miniature fairy garden
  4. Make pumpkin pie for Christmas day
  5. Make deviled eggs for Christmas day
  6. Make Haystacks for Christmas day
  7. Caulk the bathtub
  8. Correct the bathroom ceiling around the tub
  9. Hang the curtains in the living room
  10. Shorten the bathroom curtains and re-hang them
  11. Work on "Trusted Friends" (Novel 3)
  12. Work on "Hugs, Hands and Heaven Help Him" (Dad's story)
  13. Clean the bath room
  14. Work on the quilt for Dale
I only have 10 days and outside of Christmas activities there are 14 things on my list.  Oh my!  I will keep you updated on my progress. 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Milkweed Pod Decoration

Dried Milkweed Pods
Last fall I picked some milkweed pods after they had popped open.  I allowed them to dry naturally. 
Milk Pods Painted Glossy White
Then I dipped them glossy white paint and allowed them to hang dry. The only glossy paint the hardware store had was oil based.  It covered in one dip but it took several days to dry.
The only choice in the store....but it works!
The next step was to spray silver glitter onto the back.   Again I let it dry overnight. Then I dry - brushed it with gold.  (Dry  brush means that you put paint on the brush and paint a piece of newspaper until the brush is almost dry then you paint something that is raised.) The back of the milkweed Pod is naturally rough and provides a texturally interesting piece. 
Silver (glitter) & Gold
Once it was totally dry, I glued in some moss and a miniature bird. After the glue dried,  it was ready to hang in the tree.
Finished Cardinal Decoration
I took pictures from a couple of angles. It is best to hang it on a place that allows it to turn around as it hangs.
Finished Cardinal Decoration

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Mischievous Misty Blue and the Patchwork Pillow

Yesterday I bought a new pillow bed for the girls.  The trunk was full so I stuffed the pillow on the floor between the front and back seat.  When I came back from one of my errands, I found the brand new pillow totally torn apart.  I asked the girls individually if they did it.  Normally, you can tell when a dog is guilty.  But none of them showed the signs. 
Pillow Fight
There are a few possibilities. They all had their fare share of fun in the pillow fight.  Misty was "nesting" and in trying to move the pillow it kept ripping.  Misty was in her mischievous mode and took it out on the pillow.  It doesn't matter.  It took me several hours this afternoon but I have it put back together.  Dale had this old sheet that he cut eye holes in to scare the girls at Halloween.  I used it to create an inner pillow.  The odd patch was where the holes were.  The pillow was so big that I couldn't avoid them.
New Inner Pillow
The outer pillow needed some patches desperately.  I get picked on because I don't throw things away.  But today, it came in handy.  I was able to save the pillow and hopefully reinforce it so that it will last if there is another pillow fight.
New Outer Pillow

Saturday, December 20, 2014

A blessing or a curse?

As I said yesterday,  I was blessed from my company with an unexpected bonus,  a raise and back pay. It is important for me to tithe.  I don't believe that God requires tithes and offerings to go only to the standard church structure.

So part of my giving went to friends of mine that work with an overseas mission.  And when I was nearly homeless and without a job,  the Salvation Army was there for me.  $100 went into their red kettle today. 

Years ago when I was getting back on my feet, the Lord moved me to pay for another vehicles meal at a drive through at a fast food restaurant.  A few years after that a local radio station started the "drive through difference" by paying for the vehicle/person behind you.  The behind me part is always a complication.

Today I felt moved to bless some one. But when I got to the restaurant,  I was the only vehicle in the drive through. I giggled when the woman on the headset announced "3 Dobermans in the drive through." The manager showed up.  And we talked for quite a while.  I had shared about wanting to pay for the meal behind me but when I finally pulled away I was still the only vehicle in the lane. As I pulled around the building, someone drove up. I followed them as I fed the dogs and ate my own bunless burger.

It was funny,  when I pulled up I announced,  "This is the dog lady. I want to pay for that vehicles meal." Normally it is an issue paying for the vehicle in front of you when they only have one window.  They are afraid of drive offs. But the manager and I had made a good connection as she has three bulldogs. When I paid,  a different manager offered to bless me with a Frosty which I passed on accepting. I could tell by the looks on the faces inside the restaurant that the employees were as blessed as I felt by blessing others.

So where is the curse?  ...not today!  Choose to have a blessed day and bless others!

Friday, December 19, 2014

A little something in your stocking ...

I work for an awesome company.  I received a phone call this week thanking me for my work this year.  Working out of a home office has its pros and cons.  One thing that can be easily lost is appreciation.  I have always felt appreciated as an employee.

They did not say Thank you with words alone, "There will be a little something extra in your stocking this week." When I signed into my bank account today,  there were two deposits that were both larger than my typical pay check.

Then I received a call from another boss. He had my review ready. Yes I got a raise and back pay. So I received a double blessing. I will know for sure when I get my pay stub.  But I think that my bonus was equal to a pay check (3.8% of my annual pay). 

They also match 3% of my 401K investment and last month announced a profit sharing of an additional 3% that was going to be added to our 401K. 

It is not just money that shows appreciation.  In the next two weeks,  I will have 6 days off with Holiday pay. Sweet!  When we travel it is hard on our families.  They go out of their way to make sure that we get some designated family time.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Early Christmas Present

Between the Christmas gift from my Father and my work bonus,  I bought myself a loom. I decided to start with a 10 inch loom.

Their written instructions were challenging.  Thank goodness for the Internet.  I found a private video someone made explaining the process.

Sorry I am not writing much this evening but I am exhausted from putting the loom together then trying my first project.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

No bones about it ...

Monday, I gave each of the girls a new bone.  These were smoked rib bones (from a cow) that I had purchased at the meat market.  Duchess and Sonjia were laying in the middle of the room with their bones.
Duchess digging into her bone
Misty Blue wasn't interested in chewing on her bone today.  So she stuffed it in the middle of the big blanket on the couch then laid on top of it.  Then she watched every move that Sonjia and Duchess made.  Just to make sure that no one was going to take her bone.
I'm watching you!
Duchess wanted to lay on the couch for awhile and Misty's position over the bone was getting in the way.  It didn't help that Duchess sniffed the blanket as if to say "I know your bone is hidden in there." Then she gave her a doggie kiss and cleaned her ear.  But Misty would not move.  I had to go over there and pull her over with the blanket so that Duchess had enough room on the couch to rest.
The heart of a Doberman
I didn't realize until after I took the picture.  Don't they look like they are forming a heart snuggled together like they are in the picture? 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A simple tree

A touch of tradition on a shoe string budget.  I decided that I needed to do something special to help get rid of my bah-humbug attitude this year.  At the same time I didn't want to open my tubs of Christmas Decorations.  I went to Crafts Direct where all the Christmas decorations are on sale for 50% off.  I chose a 24" Tree (artificial) for $6 and a glittery gold angel for $2.50. At a different store I found a 50 light string for about $3.  Then I took some old apple sauce and cinnamon to make ornaments that will add a bit of scent to the room.
A Simple Christmas Tree
When the cinnamon ornaments dried enough to work with, I took some normal sewing thread and strung through the holes that I created.  Then I hung them on the tree.  It is plain and immensely simple but it adds that bit of Traditional Christmas.  I see that I have enough space there for my miniature manger scene but that would mean opening those tubs and digging for it.  
Cinnamon Decorations

Monday, December 15, 2014

Cinnamon Decorations

The ingredients are simple: Ground Cinnamon, Apple Sauce, and a touch of glue. 
1:1 ratio of apple sauce and cinnamon.  Put the apple sauce in first then add the cinnamon.  Want it a little bit spicier?  When I had cut out 2/3 of the decorations, I added pumpkin spice for a slightly different fragrance.  ....sorry - back to the details.
Base Ingredients
I started with 1.5 cups apple sauce and 3/4 cup cinnamon and increased the cinnamon through the process.  I would recommend starting with a 1/2 cup batch if you are making miniature decorations. (For the most part, I mixed the dough with my hands.  Oh, do my hands smell good right now.)
Mix together
*mix together.  When it is about at the cookie dough consistency, add the glue.  Glue is supposed to help stabilize the decorations. Then continue to add the cinnamon until the dough changes to pie dough consistency.
Don't forget the glue
Roll it out to about double the thickness of a pie crust.  Powder both sides with cinnamon or whatever seasoning that you choose to add.
Pie Dough? No! But close ...
Supposedly you can use the larger cookie cutters to make larger ornaments.  But I have always made miniature ornaments.  The danger with larger ornaments is that they can be more sensitive to cracking as they dry.
Use those cookie cutters!
What is an ornament if you can't hang them up?  I use a toothpick to create a hole in the top of the ornament.  You will still need to use a needle and thread to create the tie on the top.  Many times during the drying process the holes will dry shut.  Watch for a future post to see how these turn out and what I do with them.    :^)
Ready to hang? ...don't forget the holes

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Has Seattle come to Minnesota this December?

It is a balmy 50 degrees Fahrenheit.  It has been misting all afternoon and this evening the fog rolled in enveloping us in it's blanket of humidity. This is so NOT a typical Minnesota winter.  We are only about 25 degrees above normal but those few degrees are making such a HUGE difference.
The Fire Hall
When I came home, I looked over the vacant lot and was surprised to see that the only thing visible of the nearby Fire Hall was the lights.  I turned the other direction and realized that the Village Hall just across the road was blanketed in fog.
Village Hall
I watched the vehicle's lights coming down the road.  It was almost to the alley when I could finally see what kind of vehicle was coming by.  Luckily, there aren't too many vehicles on the road this evening.  The piles of snow that was on the ground is now almost gone and I have to park on the road because my driveway is so wet that when I drove in last night, it caused a small rut. 
I can finally make out the vehicle.
There has already been so many things that are disturbing the feeling of Christmas this year.  This weather isn't helping the matter.  I think that I'm going to need to find a proactive approach to take the bah-humbug out of this Christmas Season.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Update: open air plants

I thought that I would give you an update on the open air plants.  The babies are starting to grow.  I have seen at least 5.
2 babies
Three are fairly good size.  Two are nestled together on one of the larger plants.  On the plant with the thin long leaves, if you look closely there's a group of short leaves.  It blends in so well that I am not 100% sure that it is a baby. (Check out the center of the picture with the long thin leaves.)
A new baby
Two other plants now have tiny babies. It is so exciting to see.  I have off from Christmas Eve to January 5th. That is 11 days off using 2 days of vacation.  I am starting to get my "wanna do" list ready.  One thing is to get my fairy garden ready for the baby plants. 
Another new baby!
This one is difficult to see. Look for short leaves in the middle of the picture.