Monday, April 30, 2012

Gratitude Journal Monday

It's going to be a busy week so posts may be short and sweet. I think that's exactly how gratitude should be. It shouldn't be complicated or overly lyrical, just take what's in your heart and send it out into the Universe in plain and simple language. Like prayer, gratitude expressed with simplicity is best.

211. I am grateful for my mom's sewing ability - thanks for being so willing to sew what seems to be the impossible and always ending up with awesome results.

212. I am grateful for my hot glue gun (what I consider to be my "sewing machine").

213. I am thankful for the special way sunshine floods through our kitchen windows in the morning.

214. I am thankful for lazy Sundays (I'll let you know if I enjoy one anytime soon).

215. I am thankful for warm, cozy socks without holes.

I began my Gratitude Journal here. I hope you feel the pull to give thanks and take the time to act. The benefits are truly amazing for the heart and soul. Have a terrific week.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Goodbye Week. Hello Weekend. Lessons Learned: Take 44.

Our beautiful school's courtyard featuring Pan, the Greek God
Goodbye welcoming bunches of new readers to this lil' ol' blog this week - thanks for being here and I sure hope you stay!
Goodbye supporting a friend through a difficult, but healing process as he continues to gain strength as a survivor.
Goodbye continuous state of awe as Super Hubby burns the candle at both ends - I can't survive on that little of sleep.
Goodbye tickling throats, lots of sleep, and taking a sick-day.
Goodbye blood work, EKG, and normal results.

Hello melting chocolate and filling molds.
Hello creating and crafting and hammers pounding and painting happening.
Hello getting closer to the big 10 birthday party and running out of time and patience.
Hello making some dietary changes, not because I have to, but because I want to.
Hello hoping to greet Monday with a great deal accomplished and lots of cross-offs on The List.

This week's lesson learned is one that comes to many of us, I suspect, as we begin the next chapter of our lives, usually when you celebrate a decade birthday. I had my physical this past week. All is fine, blood work is normal, blood pressure is close to perfect, and cholesterol levels are acceptable. I know it sounds great, and I am grateful for the non-problematic results. But, in some weird way I was hoping something would be out of kilter. Not in the way that would cause me permanent harm, just in a way to motivate me to change some of my ways (like my love for McDonald's Big Mac's). I needed a reason, a motivation, to encourage me to make changes in my diet to help prolong my future so I don't have to be forced to make changes later when it all catches up with me and the lab results are dire. But, alas, it seems I have to find the motivation within myself, not in a blood test result. What a gift to not have to be reactionary in my own health care, but rather be proactive in knowing what's right, and just doing it. So despite the fact the blood work tests came back normal, I know I should eat more fruit, drink water, exercise, and have better control over portion-size. It's the right way to live and that motivation comes from me, not a test result.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

woMan Versus Machine

That time of year is upon me once again when the growing grass outside my home coaxes me outside for its weekly trim; when the dandelion fluffs scatter the yard and sway in the wind, hoping to scatter it's seed before the fertilizer gets to it. Yes, I am the yardmaster in our family, although master is not quite the right word to describe my landscaping prowess or lack thereof.

Before having a child and a blog, both of which require almost equal attention and nurturing for excellent results, I would have almost considered myself a gardener like my bloggy friend Betty Sneeringer (her gardens are amazing). I enjoyed fussing about the azaleas and puttering with the perennials. Now, I just do enough in the yard to ensure the city doesn't get a phone call from my neighbors OK that may be an exaggeration.

The grass doesn't care about my busy schedule, or my crafting project in progress, or my weekly menu planning. No, the grass does what it knows to do and that is to grow, sometimes double the length after an overnight rainfall. And it is my responsibility to take care of the growing grass because it is mine. And because it is mine, my grass, my responsibility, I should find the time amidst the haze of busyness, to hold the look of the yard to the same standard I keep for all the other areas in my life. It's time to see the lawnmower as a release from the busyness and just enjoy it as a vehicle that allows the mind to drift away into new ideas, one pass at a time, up and down, down and up, side to side and back again.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

What I Made Wednesday {Restaurant-Style Chicken Fingers and Sauce}

You know when you go to a pub-fare type restaurant and you get the chicken fingers that are just the right amount of flaky and light and crispy? Then, when you bite into that tasty morsel the emitting steam rewards you with a taste of juicy chicken and you think they must serve this in heaven? Yeah, you know what I'm talking about - mmmm! And, don't even talk about that honey-mustard sauce they serve on the side that's so good, you have to ask for a double serving just to last the meal. Well, here's a recipe that duplicates the restaurant-style chicken fingers and honey-mustard dipping sauce, without the waitress, the wait, or the bill, enjoy!

What You'll Need
Heavy-bottomed pot

2 cups flour
Salt and pepper, to taste
3-chicken breasts
2 cups Canola oil, or enough for an inch of oil in the pot

What You'll Do
I like to use a pot with high sides to help with the splatter of the oil. The Canola oil should measure a little over 1 inch from the bottom of the pot.
Take a small dish and mix flour, salt and pepper together. Set aside. Take a bowl and crack both eggs. Add 1-tablespoon water to the eggs and whisk together.

Cut the chicken breast into strips about an inch in width. Dredge the chicken in the flour, then the egg mix,   then again in the flour. Shake off any excess.
Heat up the oil to 350 degrees F. That's midway between medium and high heat on my stove. When you can drop a little flour into the oil and it sizzles, then you know the oil is ready for your dredged chicken. Working in batches, add about 4 chicken strips carefully, don't crowd, and turn over after 3 minutes. Fry another 3 minutes and remove the chicken strips from the oil and on to a paper towel to absorb the oil.

What You'll Need to Know to Finish
Continue frying all the dredged chicken strips. You can collect the chicken strips on a tray and keep them warm in the oven, but I found this method takes away some of the crispiness. My family takes the chicken strips as they come out of the oil and eats them right away for best taste.

If you have any leftovers, these chicken strips freeze great and make awesome snacks for another time. Just make sure the strips are fully cooled before storing in the freezer. When you're ready for snack time, just heat them up for about 10 minutes on 300 degrees F in the oven.

Did you think I forgot about the Honey-Mustard Sauce?!?!?!

What You'll Need
3/4 cup mayonnaise
3 Tablespoons honey
2 Tablespoons yellow mustard
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
2 Tablespoon orange juice
Pinch of horseradish
Combine all ingredients and mix with a whisk or immersion hand blender until smooth. Refrigerate any leftovers, if there are any, that is. The sauce should keep up to 4 days if sealed in an airtight container and refrigerated. Now tell me, isn't it the best honey-mustard sauce you've EV.ER tasted??? Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Unplug to Unleash

Flesh and blood heroes are the best!
I remember that one Saturday very well. Super Hubby and I were huddled in the home office crunching the numbers for our taxes and our son was told he'd have to "find something to do". The choice he made was not to go read a good book, to take a walk around the neighborhood, or even to play outside. That day he made the electronic choice. This choice encompassed about 10 hours of video gaming, to which I am not proud. It's not that I'm anti- TV or anti-gaming. I know it's part of our children's culture and if I ban it entirely, he may very well think the kids at school are speaking another language during lunchtime conversation, and they, in turn, may look at him like he's sporting 3 heads.

The next day, I was determined to make my disappointment known to our young son whose mind may have turned to complete moosh if I hadn't intervened. I told him he had spent too much time on the Wii the day before and today was going to be a day of no electronics, no gaming, no TV. I was still helping Super Hubby with taxes so he needed to find something to do that didn't involve the use of electrical current.

He understood my intent and agreed to the request. I stepped into the home office and closed the door. When I finally emerged, the site before me changed my perspective forever. Right before me was undeniable proof that TV and video games are, indeed, killing the creative brain cells of our youth. I entered my son's room to find it completely converted into a pirate ship. He had made the ship's wheel out of construction paper and taped it to the wall underneath his window. He took the Crayola Washable Window Markers that were collecting dust and drew the ocean and sun onto the window. He drew an octopus when he had to fight one out on the high seas. When the octopus was defeated, he'd erase him and next he drew an island. Land ho! Time to find the hidden treasure, but be careful of the natives. He gathered reserves in a shoe box consisting of pretzels, Pringles, and fruit chews.

The imaginative play I saw before me was the creativity my son had always shown, but at times was robbed of while video controller was in hand. I'm all for balance, it's important. The day he played for 10 hours was a mistake on all our parts. We as parents were busy, our son was bored. It happens. But, when you say the words, "Find something else to do now," you give your child an opportunity to entertain themselves without zoning out. Unplugging means unleashing the imaginative creativity that is already there, just waiting to burst through. Don't deny our children the opportunity to use it fully.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Gratitude Journal Monday

Saying thanks is simple. But, gratitude is another concept entirely. Gratitude must be felt, deep in the heart's core, and be genuine to be effective. It's a new way of thinking for many of us Type-A personality people. It's been a difficult transition in my life, anyways. Not because I'm not thankful. My handwritten thank you note would be the first to reach your mailbox for the simplest of gifts. No, it's not that I can't feel thankfulness for gifts or kindness, I do. It's the other side of gratitude with which I sometimes have trouble. It's the part of accepting that all I have is all I need. At times, the concept scares me, leading me into a fear that thinks me complacent, resting on my laurels, so to speak. But, then I look back from where I came when I began this simple Gratitude Journal and I know that sowing an attitude of gratitude does not plant you in complacency, it, in fact, does the opposite. Gratitude roots you in your own values so you may freely grow higher in contentedness; and being content is not complacency, it's happiness.

206. I am forever thankful that the good Lord places in my heart and mind the right words each morning to share with those reading this blog.

207. I am grateful to Super Hubby's unending genius and creativity in planning our son's birthday party (I'll share afterwards and you will be amazed).

208. I am thankful and honored that we are godparents to two little angels.

209. I am grateful that the ailment I had as a child seemed to fade away as I entered adulthood and, with faith, continues to get better and better with each passing year.

210. I know I've sent this out into the Universe before, but I'll send it out again and again because I am so grateful for the beautiful friends I have surrounding me. You truly are ladies to cherish and I hold you all near and dear to my heart.

When it comes to gratitude nothing is too big or too small to mention so, thank away! Have an enjoyable week!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Goodbye Week. Hello Weekend. Lessons Learned: Take 43.

Goodbye long week of busyness and happenings.
Goodbye school program, Evening of Art and Music: the kids rocked the house with their musical talents and made Picasso look like a chump.
Goodbye turning 40 and forging ahead to wherever life takes me.
Goodbye cool tour of the school's organ room and my son pretending to be Phantom of the Opera.
Goodbye Dick Clark and thanks for doing what you did, the way that only you could do it.

Hello long-awaited breakfast/lunch with close friends.
Hello Kohl's shopping for new shoes for all since I got the golden ticket (30% off - woo-hoo!).
Hello taking it a little slower to recuperate from the week.
Hello naps, movie-watching, and hot tea when those thunderstorms come rolling in.
Hello Baby #2's baptism and being honored godparents to such sweet angels.

This week's lesson is an easy one and more of an acknowledgement. Thank you, thank you for all the warmth and love sent my way this week as I celebrated my 40th birthday. The e-mails, cards, wall posts, comments, phone calls, and hugs just warmed my heart and made me appreciate how many people really do care. Thank you for your kind words and reminding me how important friends are to having a complete and wonderful life.

Do you have any exciting weekend plans?

Winner of the LEGO Star Wars T-shirt: Comment #1 from Pat. Congrats!!! 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

On Turning 40

iPhone Cupcakes
Turning 40 years old is interesting. All the people older than 40 pat you on the back and welcome you to "the club". All the people younger than 40 just look at you, say nothing with a nod of the head, acknowledging your birthday but somehow having pity on you all at the same time.

I remember watching Oprah when she turned 40 years old and she kept saying how she's waited for this age all her life. I recall her saying that 40 is the year when you've got it together, where you've finally settled into yourself. After hearing that, I've longed to get to this age, and, you know, I think Oprah was right.

I don't pretend to have it together, or even claim to know what I want to be when I grow-up, but this I know: I know that for the last 40 years I was becoming who I am today. Now, for the next 40 years, I get to enjoy being who I've become.

A special heart-felt thank you to all those who took their time and thoughtfulness to wish me a happy birthday yesterday. Your comments, well-wishes, and e-mails truly made my day. Here's to another 40 years, and beyond!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What I Made Wednesday {Milemarker 40}

This is the year of the big 4-Ohh for me; today, in fact! I'm not hung up on age but when you start your day in a brand new decade, I think it's an opportunity to reflect, take stock, and figure out where you are headed and how you think you want to get there.

I'm a lover of lists, a technician of To-Do's, and I take great pleasure in crossing off each line of tasks, putting the chore to the proverbial bed. No great surprise that I'd want to mark today's 4th-decade birthday by recording a few reflective thoughts on how I would like the year to go (I know, God's laughing right now). And to display these plans of grandeur, I thought today's What I Made Wednesday would be a good display of my list. As the year progresses, I'll be sure to cross off the tasks and, by the time I turn 41, I should have a set of Mod Podged numbers all scratched out with successes and great experiences.

What You'll Need
Cardboard numbers (found at Hobby Lobby)
Scrapbook paper
Mod Podge
Sharpie Paint Pen
Super Glue like E-6000 (not shown)
Your own list (no, you can't use mine)

What You'll Do
First things, first: Take your scrapbook paper and lay it on top of your number. Then, flip it over and trace the number with a sharp pencil.
Cut along the outline.
Repeat the outlining and cutting for each number and for both sides.
Apply Mod Podge to the flat surfaces of the numbers and press down the cut-out scrapbook paper.

Oh, bother! Now you've got the sides to contend with - easy!
Take your scrapbook paper and align it with the side of the number. Make a mark the width of the side.

Cut the strip with scissors or a paper cutter. Glue the strip along the side of the number. This will take a couple of strips to get all the way around. Don't forget the inside of the number, as well!

Advice: When gluing the strips on the sides, try to make it so the ends of the strips do not stop on any corners of the number but rather in the middle of a side. See above, that's one strip and I made sure the end didn't land on a corner.

Now it's time to take your heavy duty glue and glue the two numbers together. Note: I tried to get any paper breaks on the side where I knew it wouldn't be visible since the numbers were going to be glued together. Take a look: my one strip of paper fell short but it's on the side where it won't be seen once the numbers are glued together. Keep that in mind.

It's too pretty to write on, but that's the whole point, isn't it?

What You'll Need to Know to Finish
These Sharpie Paint Pens have been really great to use and versatile in so many projects I've completed lately. I've created my list of dreams and goals for the year and I just started writing them all over the finished 4-0 sculpture (sure, why not call it a sculpture?).

When dry, take another swipe all over the sculpture with Mod Podge to seal your writing.

I'll keep it as a daily reminder in either my office or bedroom to make this year one of sowing for the future. At 40, I'm finally wise enough to know the life I want to live, and I'm finally old enough to make all of it a reality.

Want to get me a birthday present? Ahh, how thoughtful of you! Just become a GFC Follower, a Linky Follower, or both, or 'Like" LOVD on Facebook, and I'd be happier than an old goat in sunglasses.

And don't forget the giveaway I have for you. Click here to enter. 

Want an update on how I'm doing? Click here! 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A LOVD {Giveaway}: Official LEGO Star Wars T-Shirt

My birthday is tomorrow and it's a biggie. I believe giving really is better than receiving so what better way to celebrate than with a giveaway for all my LOVD readers.

Moms, grandmothers, babysitters, girlfriends, if you win this T-shirt for your LEGO/Star Wars fan, they'll love ya to pieces! The T-shirt is a size Medium adult and is pre-shrunk cotton.

It's so easy to enter, just leave a comment. Not sure how? Keep reading. Not sure what to comment? Just tell us who you want the shirt for or who your favorite character is, or why George Lucas is a genius. It doesn't matter what you comment, just leave a comment for entry! You have until Thursday, April 19, midnight, to leave your comments for entry.

Not sure how to leave a comment if you don't blog? No prob.
a. Click "Comment" at the end of this post
b. Type your comment in the "Leave your comment" box
c. Enter the word verification
d. Choose "Name/URL" as your identity if you don't know what the other choices are
e. Just put your name (or what you want to go by) in the Name Field
f. Don't have to put anything in the URL field - when the winner is picked, they'll have to claim the prize by e-mailing me by next Monday
g. Then click "Publish your comment"

MORE ENTRIES, more chances to win...
3. Become a Linky Follower of feelLOVDeveryday
4. Become a GFC Follower
5. Subscribe via e-mail AND verify your subscription

For every entry activity, be sure to leave a comment!!!!!!

1 winner will be randomly chosen by computer. You must check back on Friday, April 20 for the winner. Winner must privately e-mail me their home address within a 48-hour period from time of announcement to claim the prize or another winner will be chosen.

Thank you to the local LEGO store at Beachwood Place for donating this great shirt from a recent LEGO Club Meeting event (a paid event). For more LEGO store events like this one, click here. There are FREE events also hosted by LEGO like the monthly mini build sessions. Find out more from this earlier post!

On a sidenote, thank you, thank you to Jenna Burger from Daily Do It Yourself! for featuring my What I Made Wednesday Melted Crayon Project. Go check it out - woo-hoo!!!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Gratitude Journal Monday

Happy Monday, friends. It's time to declare some gratitude. Whether you're thankful for getting the taxes in on time, or simply for the sun rising another day, it's important to send out some thanksgiving into the Universe because, what you send out, comes back to you two-fold. Don't believe it? Just try it. No, it won't happen over night, but over time, your heart and mind will change, erring on the side of positive. I started my own journey here, and continue it because it feeds my soul, sets my spirit straight, and soothes the wrinkles of daily life. You can begin your own journey right here and now by commenting some of your own gratitude. I can't wait to read some of your declarations!

201. I am grateful the taxes are done and sent on their way - life around here may now resume.
202. I am grateful to be turning 40 this week and look forward to the next chapter.
203. I am grateful I am not the same person I was when I turned 30 - wisdom has that affect.
204. I am grateful for the opportunity to take care of my family while staying at home.
205. I am grateful for the beautiful souls that come together at this little blog where we share our hearts and ideas with one another.

Have a happy week!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Goodbye Week. Hello Weekend. Lessons Learned: Take 42.

Goodbye freezing frost and layers of thin snow welcoming the early-spring morning.
Goodbye readying for communion and Good Friday by eating fish all week - I may be growing gills myself.
Goodbye turned over cement truck that caused such a bumper-to-bumper back-up on the highway I missed my son's choir solo.
Goodbye being so proud of a family member's recent choice to be a SAHM - so tough to walk away, I should know.
Goodbye Good Friday (Eastern Orthodox celebrate Easter this Sunday).

Hello Sunday's Coming.
Hello sweet baby girl celebrating her first year of life.
Hello enjoying that monumental cake smashing moment.
Hello dyeing some last minute Easter eggs.
Hello arranging baskets, hiding eggs, and bathing in salvation.

This week's lesson coincides with this Holiest of weekends: Easter. I think of Jesus and His journey led by God. We, too, are led by God and the promise was never that the road be a smooth one each day we take in a breath. I stand in the church and look up at the cross as the painting of Jesus looks down upon me, eyes gentle, caring, sympathetic, and hopeful. The cross I see has two sides. The first side represents crucifixion, the second, resurrection. We, too, must carry our cross through our own crucifixion to get to our resurrection. But, whatever pain or suffering we must endure as we go through, we are no different from Jesus in that God is always with us, in bad times and good, during pain and joy, through suffering and peace. Sometimes we have to take the journey to get from one side of the cross to the other side for victory. Stay strong and we'll all make it through.

Curious why I'm celebrating Easter this weekend? Click here.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Mind Control

The mouth reveals what the mind thinks. Today I take communion, the Thursday before celebrating Orthodox Easter this Sunday. My hope is to cleanse the way to great thoughts and discussions.

In conversations you have with others, which describes your mind? Yeah, I think I can make some improvements, too.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

What I Made Wednesday {Family Tree - LOVD Style}

When opportunities to be creative fall right onto your lap or into your e-mail's Inbox you can't help but feel so grateful and giddy at the prospects. This was the case for today's W.I.M. Wednesday.

If you've been a regular reader, then you're aware of the LOVD jewelry I'm honored to make for people wanting to celebrate their families, special events, and personal moments. I hand-stamp metal for necklaces and bracelets I weave out of jump rings. I've been so busy with special orders I have not had the time to open up the Etsy shop, but it's coming.

So, when I received this e-mail from my neighbor wanting to do something special for her mother-in-law...
"...she is NOT a jewelry wearer, and she rarely gets anything special! We want to treat her "just because!" I LOVE the look of your stuff you make, those hand stamped little gems of cuteness!
Would you have the time to stamp out ... all her grandkids? I sort of envision "hanging" them somehow on a picture/graphic tree of some sort to show each family, then put it in a shadow box for her with some sort of saying.
Would you at ALL be interested in doing something like this?"
...the gears in my mind started spinning out of control and yielded these results:

I found beautiful, sterling silver doves that I wanted to stamp to represent the grandparents and I placed them nearest the nest. I love the way my antiquing of the silver turned out because, in the light, you could see a rainbow of various colors representing each offspring's family. I thought that was a nice accident.

Each of the grandparents' sons had their own families (one, of course, being my neighbor), each represented by a different metal: brass, copper, and nickel. I normally do not use nickel in my jewelry, but since this wasn't going to be worn, I went with nickel to save lots of nickels (sterling silver cost is at an all-time high - YIKES!).

Great things happen when minds and efforts come together, even when it's outside of the box. I'm so pleased with the way this project turned out and I hope the recipient of this heartfelt gift resonates to her core and tells her how loved and appreciated she is by my neighbors, her son and daughter-in-law.

Thank you, neighbor, for the opportunity to be so creative and put my bird metal stamps to good use!


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