Sunday, April 29, 2012

Tracy's apothecary

Making items that we truly need
gives me such a sense of satisfaction!

clockwise, beginning with the black Axe jar: basic balm, 
orange peppermint basic balm, deodorant,
orange balm, and special skin salve with lavender and tea tree oils

Of course,
but there is a special feeling reserved for making life's necessities. 
Even though it took way less than an hour,
I will be supplied with deodorant,
and the entire family with healing balms,
for many months to come.
What's not to love about that?!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

a zippy trio

I got my little zipper bags finished with no stress and plenty of time to spare.

I'm pretty tickled with how they turned out.
And I think the size (roughly 5.5 x 7.5) makes them quite usable.

Besides cutting them out, which I forgot to time,
each bag only took about 45 minutes.

Except Laney's.
Her's took a bit longer
because I had to pull out my seam ripper twice.

But I am especially tickled with how her bag turned out,
so I didn't mind a bit.

Kacy says she needs one, too.

Lana will probably need one also, once she sees them....
And Lily has informed me that she somehow lost her little zippered bag.

Maybe we should all go fabric shopping - all of us girls.
Then we can make all the zipper bags...

Friday, April 27, 2012

five on Friday


Life is moving at warp speed these days and 

When I saw Maggie yesterday, she asked when I had my last spa weekend.
Oh, she is a funny one, that Maggie.


We're in the middle of our Spring birthday season,
five birthdays in 11 days.

perhaps that's part of one up there....


All food rules go out the window on birthdays.
Tyler requested hamburgers with buns as his main dish.
You've never seen people so excited to eat wheat buns before!
When I was making the buns,
Kacy kept saying, "I just can't believe we're eating wheat!"
and when Luke saw the stack of buns,
his eyes lit up like he'd just seen his first Trans-am.


Mom and Bill and Gramma came down Saturday.
Gramma brought some books for the kids and they talked her into reading to them

I love that all my kids will have memories of their great-gramma!
And that all their memories of her are all good.


Bernie comes to visit us almost every day.
(can you hear the smile in my voice?!)

I must admit,
in addition to the happy I feel because I see him,
it gives me some sort of small, perverse pleasure 
knowing he's breaking out to come see us;
he never once got out of his field when he lived here,
and now that he is back with the neighbors
(who thought we weren't taking good care of him...)
he escapes. often. to come back.
mwha ha ha

Thursday, April 26, 2012

secret sewing

This week's needle &  thREAD project is a secret:
graduation gifts for a couple of really sweet young ladies.
I hope they like the fabrics I picked 'specially for them.

I haven't touched the two books I had going last week,
but I did grab This Life is in Your Hands out of the library basket
one night when I wasn't quite ready to sleep.
I'm only on page 77, but so far, I'm really liking it.
I'm fascinated with all the little garden tips and history of agriculture sprinkled in.

to see what others are sewing and reading this week
head on over to Elizabeth's

needle and thREAD

oh, fine ~ you twisted my arm;
here's a peek...

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

long life filters

The first summer we had this pool
we spent a ton of money on filters.
We weren't quite prepared for that;
in Fort Smith, we had a nicer pool, with a real sand filter.

It's not the greatest to look at, no,
but it sure has provided us with plenty of cool fun, exercise 
and even relaxation.
I have no complaints whatsoever about the 'ghetto' pool.
Except the stupid (mostly paper) filters cost $5 each
and you use like one a week.
Swimming season is May - early Sept.
Do the math.

Over the next two summers, 
we perfected our method of extending the life of our filters.
We started by rinsing the filters daily
and re-using them.
which doubled their life.
Then we began rotating filters.

Last summer, we used only 5 filters.
(which we bought on clearance at the end of the previous summer :-)
Two of those, we carried over to this summer.

How'd we do it?
Every day,
we pull out the filter that's in the pump and replace it 
with the filter that was in it 2 days ago.
We wash the filter,
by spraying each 'fold' with the hose
and then set it to dry, moving yesterday's filter forward
to be used next.
Some days, if the pool has gotten gunky,
we may swap filters out 2 or even 3 times.
The key is to not stick the same filter 
immediately back in.
Allowing the filters to dry between uses seems to really be beneficial.

3 filters used in rotation, changed and cleaned daily

Monday, April 23, 2012

a quick break

s l o w l y
working on my quilt.
Knowing that it won't really be used for several months
takes off any pressure that I may otherwise feel
to get it completed quickly.
As if that were even an option at this point...

 I set the timer for 20 minutes;
I needed a short break
and the sun in the girls' room was so inviting.
I confess to 'loading my needle' a few times after the bell rang.
Six minutes worth, to be exact.

It was worth it!
I think if I just made 30 minutes to sew
(in the sunshine!)
a priority,
the world would be a better place.
Our little world, at least.

Wonder if I could work that out with my slave-driver?
I should talk to her....

Friday, April 20, 2012

the beach

At first, I thought maybe I was just burnt-out.
Then I came to realize it was a little more serious than that.
Then it became a spiritual issue, too,
when I cried out to God for wisdom,
opened my Bible and begged him to show me something
- anything -
to help me.

And He was silent.

The downward spiral escalated.

I was always loath to use the 'D' word.
That is for selfish people who have simply taken their eyes off God
and are focusing on their own troubles.
If one would merely just re-focus their attention where it ought to be
all would be well.
there were a few extreme case where a real imbalance existed,
but most people who were depressed? 
They just needed to get over themselves.

What a pompous self-righteous ass I was!
And boy, did God teach me a lesson!!

I did a lot of researching how to get over burn-out
and pull yourself out of a funk.
how to overcome depression.
how to get out 'of the valley'.
that sort of thing.
I began to notice a common theme in every article and blog post I read.
both male and female
who had suffered from a bout of depression, spiritual dry spells, severe overload, etc
went to the beach.
(with the exception of Shaun Groves.  His depression was fairly short,
but exceptionally debilitating  - and no ocean was involved in his recovery)
Never mind that the majority of these folks' beach vacation were paid for
by their wealthy and generous parents,
I became convinced that if I could only get to the beach,
God would speak to me again,
and I would get better.

Last February, when Tyler's father died,
and we'd be going to the Gulf for his funeral,
I thought (and very likely even said) "Now, I will finally get to the ocean."
And then,
before we'd even started packing,
kids started puking.
You can't very well throw children with a tummy bug
in the car for a 13 hour drive.

I was so mad.
I was never going to get well.
I mean,
if God wouldn't even let me get to the beach  in conjunction with my father-in-law's funeral
there was no hope for me.

Fast forward a few months...
I knew that the horrible valley I was stuck in was emotional, mental, and spiritual.
What I wasn't sure about though, was if getting one area straightened out
would fix all areas, or if I'd still be a mess - but just a little bit less of one...
I decided that I was incredibly out of whack hormone-wise
and figured that'd be a good place to start,
so last Spring found us heading to NWA to see Dr Baker.

I'm still not 100% - there's a 'fog' that hasn't yet lifted entirely,
but I am so, so much better.
In all three areas.
I am so very grateful
(not to mention considerably more empathetic)
I no longer need to get to the ocean.

Guess where Tyler is taking us for a vacation this summer?

He's taking us to the beach!!
We're renting a house, more than twice the size of our own home,
right on the gulf
for an entire week!

I'm still geekin' out about it.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

needle & thREAD

Elizabeth is hosting a new 'sewing & reading' link party
just like Ginny's Yarn Alongs, except fabric is featured, instead of yarn.
(I had to quit visiting all the Yarn Along links, though - they fed knitting envy.
I do still eagerly watch for Ginny's and my sis-in-law's yarn along posts ;-)

I planned all week to join in,
and knew exactly what my first project would be.

Pillowcase dresses!

I made the simple peasant dresses over the course of a couple of days
using two of my beloved $ .50 vintage pillowcases.
(I just love little girls in peasant dresses!)

Lily's 'hem' had to be let out, so I added ribbon trim to hide the evidence.
Lexi wants ribbon added to hers, too.
I'll add it, if she's insistent, but I do love it as is.

Even though they weren't feeling real super, I took the girls outside for a photo shoot

(the boys went along - so they could take a few pics with their camera, too)

When I sat down to write this post
I decided I ought to check on the rules of Needle & thREAD real quick.

I should have known.
One photo.

Since I'd already taken 147 pictures,
there was no way I was going to try to narrow it down to one.
Even if none of them are showstoppers. 

Next time I'll know better and only take one picture.

Or maybe I'll just visit the other links, and won't join in,
'cause golly,
ya'll know I can rarely post just one picture....

This is supposed to be about books, too.
(Although, it's really quite tricky to fit in sewing and reading!)
Here's one look
at what I'm reading right now.

Actually I just finished The Forgotten Garden.
The first half of the book, I could either take it or leave it,
but the second half really pulled me in and made me stay up late a few nights.

She was trying so hard to untie that knot!

Want to see what others are stitching and reading this week?
Head on over to Elizabeth's

needle and thREAD

Elizabeth is so sweet! She sent me an e-mail and gave me an
'as many pictures as I want' pass  :-)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

and the winner is....


Chosen by the very scientific method 
of having Tyler pick a number 
between one and seven.

I'll e-mail you the link to your free e-book soon

darn that James

He really steps on some toes, that James does!

Tyler finished reading the book of James to us last night.
I love it and hate it at the same time.
The book - not the finishing of it....
I was the one who suggested reading it;
I mean.
If you want to know how to live,
all you gotta do is read James.
But gosh!
That James is tough!
No grey areas with him; it's all pretty black and white.
Which, honestly, is how I prefer things,

He (Tyler; not James) did a quick read-through the book this evening as a re-cap.
I asked him stop after about 30 seconds so I could grab a pencil and paper.
I couldn't write fast enough,
and I was only writing the 'big' stuff.
And most of it was paraphrased.
I  had to sharpen my pencil when we got to chapter 4.
I noticed something in the quick reading 
that I missed, somehow, reading through it more slowly,
and that was the theme of humility.
And that the lack of humility predisposes one towards anger.

I think I really like the read-it-slow & talk about it / read-it-fast method for scripture.
(100 Easy Lessons, anyone?!)

So I don't forget, here are my notes, what I can read of them at least...

Rejoice in trials.
Lack wisdom? Ask! But ask believing.
There is no value in riches.
God never tempts anyone.
Selfish desire > sin > death.
Every good gift is from God.
God does not change.
Quick to listen. Slow to speak, Slow to become angry.
Man's anger doesn't bring about the righteous life that God requires.
Do what the Word says = Blessed.
Religion without a tight reign on your tongue is worthless.
The religion God accepts is taking care of widows and orphans and keeping yourself from being polluted by the world. 
Showing favoritism to the rich = Sin.
Stumbling at only a part of the law = breaking the whole law. (gah!)
Speak and act as those who will be judged.
Mercy triumphs over judgement. (Hallelujah!)
Faith unaccompanied by action is dead.
Belief by itself ain't good enough; even the demons believe.
Righteousness is determined by what a person does, not by faith alone. 
Faith without deeds is dead. period.
The tongue - a world of evil set on fire by hell.
No human being can tame his tongue. (God help us!)
Peace and cursing from the same lips?! This should not be!
Envy and selfish ambition = disorder and every evil practice (ouchy!)
Wisdom from heaven is pure, peace-loving, and full of fruit.
Selfish desires from within = fighting. (every parent knows this one!)
If you pray with selfish motives, you won't receive what you ask for.
Friend of world = Enemy of God
Humble yourself before God, He will lift you up.
Don't judge. Just don't.
When you talk about your plans, add "if it's the Lord's will."
Anyone who knows the good he ought to do, and doesn't do it, sins.
Be patient and stand firm.
No grumbling against your neighbor.
The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
Say what you mean. Yes is yes. No is no.
Prayer, offered in faith (after sin is confessed) will be answered.
The prayers of a righteous man are powerful and effective.
Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his ways will save him from death and
cover over a multitude of sins.

See what I mean?!
Five measly chapters, yet I fail in so many areas....
We could camp out in James for a year
and still have plenty to work on.

Thanks, Love, for leading the way!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

bum bum bum MUFFINS

I know ya'll have been on pins and needles waiting
with bated breath
for me to post that recipe I warned told you about.

When we first went wheat free,
I was making muffins or 'breakfast cakes' pretty much every day.
It was a real help during the transition,
but not really feasible for long term.
I honestly don't even remember the recipe.
I didn't exactly use a recipe.....
It had  lot of  eggs and almond flour and bananas
that's all I know.
I might make muffins twice a month or so,
more often if we have 'nanas that need using up...
They eat through the bananas pretty quickly though,
so that doesn't happen a lot.

These muffins do have bananas in them
(I've noticed that many Paleo-type recipes do - it seems to be an acceptable sweetener)
but the banana flavor isn't like, say, banana bread.
These are just a good basic muffin,
with a bit of banana flavor to them.
You can easily add chocolate chips or cinnamon to change them up a bit.
The recipe calls for xylitol and honey,
but I completely forgot to include both today
and they tasted just fine!
I imagine most people would probably not find them sweet enough, though.
To be fair, 
you should know that I consider 2 Tbs honey and 2 Tbs xylitol
a suitable substitute when a recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar,
so adjust according to your tastes...

Josiah arranged these and wanted to be sure I got a photo

Enough blabbering;
here's the recipe,
loosely based off of a recipe I found somewhere on the word wide web.

3-4 ripe bananas
8 eggs
1/2 c coconut oil, melted
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbs xylitol
2Tbs honey, raw, of course ;-)
1/2 c ground flax
2/3 c coconut flour
2/3c almond flour - homemade is fine
(or you can omit the almond flour, just add an extra 1/3 c coconut flour)
 1 tsp b. soda
1 tsp. b powder
(I wrote that for ya'll - I don't actually measure such things)
If you have an un(or mild) flavored protein powder, add a scoop

Just throw ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix after every addition or two.
If the batter seems a bit thin, add more flour a Tbs at a time.
If it seems too thick, add a bit of milk (regular or coconut)

These are my liners of choice ~ because they are separated by paper liners
there are really 64 liners, making them the cheapest liners you can buy
not in bulk.  Plus the foil liners are easier to remove...

Spoon into lined muffin tins
(if using paper liners, oil them - foil liners work great as is)
and bake about 20 minutes in an oven preheated to 375 degrees


Sunday, April 15, 2012

drawing tips

If not, get it in there quick!

I'm glad I'm just choosing a random commenter,
and not the best tip.
I'd have a really hard time deciding;
ya'll left some really great tips in the comments!!

Thanks for being such good sports!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

missing our Bubsy

Besides the fact that we're really quite fond of him,
and like having him around,
being as he's the about the most awesome 13 yr old 
one could hope to meet,
we just plain need our Brandon!

TJ was going to be driving the bus for a field trip to Worlds of Fun
and they told him he could bring someone along;
tickets would only be $30.
He choose Brandon,
which was awfully sweet of him,
so Tyler ran him up to NWA last night
while I stayed home with the kiddos.
Lexi was being a horrendous Beastie,
and I didn't want to have to put anyone through 3 hours in the car
with her.
After searching Redbox and not finding anything,
we spent about 20 minutes looking for a movie on Netflix
and then all 4 kids decided on Narnia - which we have on DVD.
(In case you don't have 4 little ones, 
you should know - when they all agree on the same movie, it's a big deal)
Josiah laid out the picnic blanket
and Jeremiah popped in the disk.
Only the disk didn't start playing.
And nothing but some words about aux something or other showed up on the screen.
We bought a blue ray player for a very sick price on Black Friday
and Brandon is the only one who knows how to operate it!
(Tyler and I ask each other often, "When did we turn into the old people?!")

they all for agreed again
on a previously watched Netflix movie,
so the evening was salvaged.
We need our Bubsy home.

My sis has business down this way on Monday,
and she can bring him back to us then.
We'd be happy to spend a few hours and the gas money to go get him
(we'd get him tonight except they'll get in quite late)
but I figured he's probably really enjoying getting a break,
(he serves our family so much!)
that he could go ahead and stay 'til Monday.
Once we get him back home,
we ain't letting him go again for a good long while.
We need our Bubsy home!

Friday, April 13, 2012

shoot one

Kacy asked me yesterday of I could take a few pictures 
of her and Tony today since they had the day off from school
and they don't really have any photos yet of the two of them...

Whenever I take 'portrait' pictures
(meaning - I am purposely trying to capture 
an image worth printing, not just having on the computer)
I always remind myself,
"all I need is one good shot".
I mean, really.
It eliminates the agony of choosing between a bunch of good ones.

It's very freeing, I think.

I'm not sure if I accomplished that or not.....

As you can see,
I had to contend with a bit of silliness.
Not that I minded ;-)

It was just a little over a year ago that we did Ton's senior pictures.
I don't know that my photography skills have improved all that much
(although I can change a few camera settings now, thanks to a lesson from a sweet friend)
but man, my boy has done growed up!