Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Scotland

 At the beginning of June I went to Scotland and Ireland.  I'll get to Ireland in my next post, but I'll start where I started....Scotland.  I've been blessed to be able to travel a lot of different places, and I have to admit the draw for Scotland and Ireland is that my Mom's side of the family is from that corner of the world.  My Mom has been a bit of a black sheep in the family with her red hair (and blue eyes, which she wasn't kind enough to pass along to me or my brother, but my aunt and cousins all acquired).  We knew through family history and her grandparent's last names that they were Irish and Scottish, but that's about all because they immigrated in the late 1600's.  All this to say, I don't know if I loved Scotland so much because it felt like I was finding my roots.  I don't know if I loved it so much b/c our guide was fabulous.  I don't know if I loved it so much because they were having this crazy string of sunny weather.  But....I loved it and feel homesick just looking at these photos. As a Christian, in a family where I was taught about the faith (before making that choice) I often think back and wonder who first made that leap?  That's a story for another post, but I love Deuteronomy 7:9.
Back to Scotland.  We started by flying into Glasgow, Scotland.  One of our first stops was Glasgow Cathedral.  The grounds were stunning.
 The streets were cobbled, and these poppy wreaths were displayed around the cathedral in honor of those who served in their military past.  These were sort of an anchor for me-so very United Kingdomish....and sure enough I encountered the real variety on quite a few of our stops.
 No doubt all of that rain (which was saw very little of in Scotland) lead these countries to be as green as you have heard, as moss covered, and flower filled, and lush as all the stories, and....there is something pretty spectacular to be about to encounter all of those rain delivered jewels in the sunshine.
I'm not going to go into great details about each stop b/c....I've got my personal diaries for that, but our next journey was to move towards the Highlands.  It was so interesting to see the dramatic change of scenery that marks the lowlands and the highlands.
 We made a lot of stops at various battle sites (above) Glencoe, and lochs (including a boat ride to find Nessie).  Below isn't Loch Ness, it's just another loch we passed, but serious,this photo was from a moving car window.....so can you imagine how beautiful the day if it was even pretty at that speed?
 I think each season has it's flower, but what I noticed a long the roads the ENTIRE way were these 'weeds' called Gorse, and little white daisies all over the fields.  I know they call them weeds, but.....I loved them all.  Apparently the Heather blooms in August (marking that down on my to do list).
 Just a little side note-I thought haggis was something they USED to eat in Scotland and we heard about it a lot b/c it was so strangely made.  No.  It was served at every breakfast I attended and several dinners.  I did NOT try the haggis.  I have nothing to prove.  BUT I did try all the caramel and toffee filled desserts I could get my hands on.
 We spent one evening at the Newton Hotel.  It was this adorable manor house Charlie Chapman had frequented and they had two Hairy Coos on site.
 It was a 10 minute walk from a first that lead to the North Sea passed some pretty stunning houses.
We then journeyed back down and spent some time in St Andrew.  I think this was one of my favorite stops.  I'm not a golfer, but we got to see the famous greens, and then I walked to the ruins of St. Andrews Cathedrals and around to the shops and sites in the (very walkable) college town.  
Our final nights in Scotland were spent in Edinburgh.  I wasn't sure what to expect, except that everyone said this was their favorite city.  I see why.  First off, you've got that impressive castle built high on the rock.  
 It was a steep walk up, but the views were worth it from the top.  I went and saw the crown jewels in the castle and was accidentally present for their daily cannon demonstration.
 As soon as you exit the castle grounds you are in an old part of the city called the Royal Mile.  This is full of pubs and shops.  I think I visited each shop, even though it's a lot of the same, though I did come across some stands selling locally made crafts where I was able to stock up on some gifts for family back home.
 After two days in Edinburgh, we headed down to the Irish Sea and took a ferry across to Ireland.  That's for another blog post.  But, Scotland I puffy heart you and I'll be back!  It was truly just a taste of a pretty fabulous country.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Mini Cheese Balls

I've been meaning to try this for awhile.  I've seen it around a time a two, but had never given it a go.  I really do like cheese balls, and I have a recipe for my very favorite.  I decided to try out the individual serving portions-which also solves my problem-I like each bite with a bit of pecan and when you get to the center that's not possible.  I really didn't need a lot more pecan than the original recipe, I just chopped it up a little finer.  I followed all the steps, but when it came down to creating the ball-I created 24 little balls instead and rolled them in the pecans.  I let them chill and then poked a pretzel stick in the top right before serving so you can lift each one up individually.  I still served these with wheat thins next to them (my favorite).
Hawaiian Cheese Ball 
Ingredients:  2 blocks of cream cheese (softened), 2 t. Lawry's seasoning salt, 1 small can of crushed pineapple (drained well), 1/2 green bell pepper (diced small), 2 c. of pecans (chopped fine).  Serve with wheat thins.
Instructions:  Mix all but the nuts.  Roll into ball shape.  Roll in nuts.  Chill for a few hours.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Pocket Letter

You Tube sucked me in, and I discovered something called a 'pocket letter.'  Maybe I'm late to the game, but....how fun?  This is a beginners pocket guide.  I put this together quickly for my goddaughter before I was heading out of town, so I'm looking forward to digging into this in more depth soon.  The point is to share some of your fun supplies with others.
Basically, you use baseball card pocket pages, you fill each one with some little cute paper/design and then add some supplies for the receiver to use to create their own project.  In this case, I just added my supplies to the front, but you can slip them in the back.  I've also seen them where people decorate the sides/holes etc.  It folds into thirds and fits perfectly into a letter size envelope.  I'm going to definitely hit up some scrapbook supply stores and try to find some fun ones for the different holidays and include some little flat erasers/candies/gift cards/ribbon etc in the future.  I 'sealed' the top with a little slice of washi as well
This time around I included some cute paper clips, puffy puppy stickers, gems, sequins, and washi (wrapped around some plastic)

.  My goddaughter is the age where when I send her a card she pulls it all apart anyway to play with the gummy pieces etc, so....what better thing than something that's made for that purpose.  I also printed off some thumbnail size pictures (tutorial here) from my recent trip to see her, and I figured she can make her own collage of our time together.  Or not.  Regardless, I think I've met her little interest level now-unicorns, fairies, bright colors, and bling.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Easy Halloween Card

 Anyone that has known me for longer than a day knows that I do everything I can in advance.  The last thing I want to do is to be stressed around a holiday, or....I'll start dreading holidays.  I start my Christmas list for the next year on December 26th....not even kidding.  So, needless to say, when I decided to embark on trying to make more homemade cards....I make those cards all year long.  A lot of my friends have little ones now, and I TRY to send a card for most major holidays.  I also rotate sending a little package.  I used to send packages every holiday too, but then I remember I was a teacher, and I was po' and postage ain't cheap....AND people kept having babies, so....I do what I can, and try to be random so it's a fun surprise and not just an expectation.  So Christmas and birthdays are for everyone, other holidays at random.   Fortunately, they are all still young enough that if it's their holiday for 'just' a card, they like that too.
   Anyway, I digress.  I recently found some cute little ribbons at Hobby Lobby and these fun little tags for 50 percent off.  I also found the (above) pumpkin bling and used some scraps and blank cards (also from Hobby Lobby) to put together this card.  Easy, and one thing off my to do list.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Uncle Sam Moustache

 The true story is I made these last fall for some of my political friends before one of the debates.  We love debates...and elections....and America....oh yeah, and chocolate.
 I got three different colors of white chocolate (if you only have white, you can use food dye, but....this was easier for me).  I melted them in a ziplock in the microwave.  I melt them in 30 second intervals, squish them around.  Repeat until they are liquidy.  I cut the corner and then put a line of each colors down a moustache chocolate mold.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Mini Seattle Album


I recently blogged about a mini album I put together in advance of a weekend trip.  Having it ready meant that when I got home all I had to do was print the pictures.
Since it was a mini album, I needed to print some thumbnail size pictures.
Here is a video on how to do that in case you want to put together a mini album of your own.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Seattle

 Over Memorial Day, I flew out to Seattle to visit my goddaughter.  I had airline miles and I knew just how to use them.  I've visited this little nugget in four states now.  Dad is a sgt major in the army. Mom is my lifelong partner in crime.
This post is more personal than informative, but...it's my blog, and ultimately where my memories live.
This little gal, Micah, is the world's friendliest tour guide.  She stood behind her Mom's car in her pjs late Friday when Regan was heading out to the airport, she was not getting left behind to do something silly like sleep.   She was there in pjs to greet me, and then she proceeded to tell EVERY sales clerk, base guard (they live on post), and tourist she passed that I was her Mom's best friend, and her Aunt Christy.  Then she'd usually ask said person for a high five, or...on special occasions "high five/knuckles."
After a very extensive home tour when we arrived at her house (I was introduced to every room, and pipe cleaner, toy, and pet present in her house).  She introduced me to her dad and let him know I was her Mom's best friend.  I'm sure, after more than ten years of knowing me, he was grateful for the clarification.
 Saturday morning we went shopping for some room decor (more on this later) and a few last items for her fairy garden, and then we went to some gardens near by.
She wore her dress, polka dot tights, rain boots, and boa.  She collected all the flowers she could hold along the path.  It was a gorgeous walk they take often through the Lakewold Gardens full of mossy stones, ferns, and flowers.  
 She offered me half of her findings.  I asked her to pause so I could take a picture of her flower in her cute little hand.  She wanted to take a silly picture, I told her OK, I'll take two, or serious, one funny.  For the remainder of the weekend whenever we stopped for a photo she'd say, "Take five pictures of this, Aunt Christy."
 After our garden tour, we went home and got to work on the fairy garden.  She painted up the fence and bird house (now fairy house) I brought-I posted about that separately.
 The fairies move at night, and she was super excited to see their new positions the next morning.
 This is her work in progress room.  Once upon a time, I was there for her baby shower (pre-birth) and her Mom, another friend, Liz, and I decorated her nursery.  Now, Regan and I have begun decorating her room.  Here is a small corner.  I'm going to work on some banners etc and send it up, but there is definitely going to be a dress up corner.  Though....by dress up I mean, her daily outfit.  She added a tutu to her pjs on Saturday and came to say good morning Sunday, still wearing that tutu the next morning.
 One thing Regan and I have in common-a love of dogs.  I have shed many tears over the loss of one of her gals a few years back.  I still teared up looking at old photos, but in her place is Diesel, a humongous, goofy, German Shepard.  I'm in love.  And faithful little Odie-Regan, Odie, and I have quite a few memories together.
 On Sunday, Micah, Regan and I headed to Mount Rainier National Park.  It was about an hour and 45 minutes from where she lives up very winding, beautiful roads.  Note to self-bring Dramamine next time).  The wild flowers weren't out yet, and the snow still sat in upper elevations, but we did get some beautiful peaks at the volcano.
 We made all the stops we could on the roads and park offices that were open.  We spent some time at Christine Falls.
 We ended up at Paradise where we discovered there was snow.  Micah was excited about that.  She couldn't wait to play.  She was super disappointed there was no lave (she kept telling me about the fact that we were going to a volcano to see lava), but....she seemed OK with the alternative (snow).  She threw snowballs, mad snow angels, and ate some questionable snow piles before anyone could stop her.
I kept telling her I was excited she got to go on a girl's trip with Regan and I.  We got a package of Twizzlers (which Micah calls Snappys....who knows why, but it's cute, and Regan and I have shared many a package of Twizzlers on a drive).  I see many more girl's trips in our future.
Last up, I forced the family to pose for a picture.  And then I left a huge piece of my heart in Seattle until next time.  Too little time, but too much time had already passed, I'll take anything I can get. Now....to plan the next trip!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Uncle Sam Yard Sign

 Just a quick little blog post to share some signs I made for the 4th of July.  I cut out the shape of the hat/beard, and then another rectangle piece to nail/glue (wood glue) on top  I also found a start that was already cut at a craft store.  I don't have the right equipment to easily cut out shapes as small as the star.  I started with a base of house paint to help protect the wood from warping in the rain.
I painted up a simple face, and used the handle of a foam brush to dot the eyes on using regular ol' craft paint. I flicked black and white paint over the whole thing with a toothbrush.  I'm telling you, this is probably the most critical step for me, it just really makes everything look so much nicer.   After it all dried and I had nailed it to a stake (from Home Depot) I added a coat of polycrylic paint to help protect it from the weather.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Fairy Garden

 In May, I flew out to see my goddaughter, Micah, in Seattle.  She is four and really into unicorns and fairies right now.  I've seen the idea for making fairy gardens around, and recently had a coworker make one with her daughter, so....I was ready.  Before heading out I went to JoAnne and Michael's and stocked up on bridges, fairies, fence post, bird house (both of which we painted) mushrooms, arbors, benches etc etc, and...of course, fairies.
 She painted and bejeweled the fairy house.  I also brought some gold beads b/c when I asked her what she thought fairies wanted in her garden she said gold and pink.  She proceeded to put the gold INISDE the bird house (now the fairy house), but...it's not like there was a lot of room for it anyway.  I also bought some different colored moss they sell in packs (I used a coupon).  We grabbed a pot and a few flowers when I got there.  I've seen a lot of succulents etc in gardens (less watering), but....I don't even think the flowers die the garden will be missing much.
 I let her choose the placement for each item.
 We hid two fairies in the garden.
 We told her the fairies love to come out and play at night.
 It's her job to check every morning to see if the fairies move (because they have been playing).
It's now her mama's job to make sure they 'play' at night.  She was excited the next morning when she discovered they had been playing.  ;o)