Saturday, February 28, 2015

February Books

February got cold.  Real cold.  I went to the store and the temperature was 31 degrees below zero (with windchill) and I thought, I should be home by the fireplace with a warm cup of coffee (cinnamon honey latte) and a really great book.  And when I say "fireplace", I mean the one in my bedroom.  Because if I sit by the one in the family room, it's like I'm magnetically charged.  My loved ones come out of the woodwork and get really chatty.  Who am I kidding, the magnetic charge is just as strong when I'm reading in my bedroom.  There's something about a mom taking time to do something she loves (could I just get 30 minutes?!) that draws them in.  Bless.  Here's what I read in February:
5.  The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst
"The decisions we make, make the lives we live.  If we want to live better, we've got to decide better. Yes and No.  The two most powerful words".
Lucy got me this book for Christmas and I was so excited to read it.  I love the line on the cover that says "making wise decisions in the midst of endless demands".  I was really loving this book and had it all under-lined and was feeling like I was getting great stuff out of it.  And then I hit chapter 17...and I was thinking, Lysa must have written this chapter just for me.  The tears flowed from my eyes as I read those words that I needed to hear so desperately.  Loved this book.
6.  Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
"Everything anybody ever said in this house was desperate.  Desperate was white noise, as far as Eleanor was concerned - it was the hope that pulled at her heart with dirty little fingers".
This was our book club pick for February.  A young adult novel about two quirky teens set in the '80's.  A few of the ladies in our book club enjoy reading young adult or teen lit to keep a pulse on teen culture.  A lot of disfunction and F-bombs abound in the book.  But it was sprinkled with some really sweet moments for two un-likely teens.  I really liked this author's writing style and the way she told this story.  Heart warming and heart breaking all at the same time.  A good read.
7.  The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis
"When things go wrong, you'll find they usually go on getting worse for some time; but when things once start going right they often go on getting better and better".
Our read aloud this month was the 6th book in the Narnia series.  Or 1st, your choice.  We read the books in the order that they were written, so it was the 6th for us.  We loved the surprise at the end that filled in some of the details in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (book 1).  I asked the kids if they wished we had read this book first, or if they were happy we read it when we did.  They were all happy that we read it when we did.  Oh, this book was so good!  
8.  The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
"The secret to maintaining an un-cluttered room is to pursue ultimate simplicity in storage so that you can tell at a glance how much you have".
I really enjoyed this book.  I tried out her folding technique for clothing in MJ's room, and we were both impressed with the results.  I liked a lot of her concepts, and I liked how this book looked and how it read.  It got a little quirky for me when she wanted me to say "hi" to my home.  And to "thank" my clothing for doing such a great job today.  I don't think she has children or even a spouse for that matter, so a lot of her ideas just wouldn't work in my current situation.  A lot of great tips but this book is probably best for a single lady living in the city.
9.  Keeper of the Angel's Den (the Corrie ten Boom story) by Janet and Geoff Bengel
"Remember, there is no pit so deep that God's love is not deeper".
I love Corrie ten Boom's story.  And I love these Christian Heroes, Then & Now books.  (We've read about 8 of them.)  But, if you are interested in the Corrie ten Boom story, nothing beats The Hiding Place.  Daisy read that book this month, along with me reading this one aloud.  I would still recommend this book for families to read to younger (elementary) children, but to older kids, The Hiding Place for sure.
10.  Educating the Whole Hearted Child by Clay Clarkson
"Summer is a good time for an annual tune-up of your home and homeschool".
This is a homeschooling classic.  It offers such great tips, advice, and book lists.  I flipped through this whole book and read what was relevant to me.  Throughout the book (every other page) they have little "In Our Home" sections.  I read every single one.  It was like being a fly on the wall in their home.  I love how the Clarksons encourage going after the hearts of our kids.  A homeschooling must read.

I've already started in on my March books and can't wait to share those next month.

XOXO Tiffany

"In between where you are now and where you want to be will usually be a pathway of awkwardness".
The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst

Saturday, February 21, 2015

From the Sewing Room

Here's a little glimpse at what I accomplished in my sewing room over the past month...

I bought this Indian kantha quilt from my friend in New York who is a bit of a collector of kantha quilts.  I believe he has around 500 kantha quilts.  They are beautiful and unique and made by hand with old, recycled sarees.  I had a hard time cutting it up, as I was tempted to keep it as a quilt.  But, I originally wanted to make other things from it, so I took the plunge.  I made a tote (above) for my friend, Kelly, with the kantha and some denim that I bought while we were at Mood Fabrics in NYC last month.
Then, I made an envelope pillow case.  I have since removed the fringe from this pillow...it was just never quite right for me.
Here is the back of the pillow... The pillow case can be removed for washing.
I bought this snow leopard faux fur coat at The Brooklyn Flea, in New York.  There was a smudge of some sort on the back, the sleeves were dirty, and the pockets had holes in them.  I got a good deal on it, so I thought it was worth the risk.  I threw it into my washing machine on gentle, and the smudge and dirt vanished!
The lining came loose during the washing, which worked out just fine because I needed to get at the pockets anyway.
One of the pockets just needed to be re-stitched, but the other pocket was completely destroyed.  So, I removed that pocket lining, created a pattern for a new one, cut out the new pocket, and then attached it.
Last step...I pinned the lining and hand stitched in place.  Done!
I picked up this t-shirt while at Mood Fabrics.  I had a feeling I would do a re-fashion on it.  This t-shirt fit tight in the hips, and it just didn't lay how I wanted it to.
I looked into my stash of old t-shirts that I keep on hand for projects, and found the lower half of a black and white striped t-shirt.  I thought it would make perfect inserts!

I sliced the lower half of the striped t-shirt up the middle, and then sliced my gray t-shirt up the sides to a determined location (a few inches below the armpit).  Then I placed the gray t-shirt on my mannequin, letting it naturally hang with the slit open, and I pinned the striped fabric under the gray t-shirt.  I measured front and back of the striped fabric so that both sides of the t-shirt were equal.  Then, I zig-zagged it in place!
My new t-shirt!  It hangs so much better now!
My friend, Rachel, asked me to make a slip cover for her black leather ottoman.  This was a fun little project that really changed up the look of her living room (pictured in my entryway).
I also made 3 little headbands for a birthday gift.
Then, I was really needing a new ironing board cover, as you can see.  I found this cute little gray and white one at Marshall's for $7.99.
I started crocheting again this winter.  I haven't crocheted in years!  I have a large storage tub of yarn, and I just grabbed a color to practice on.  Then I grabbed another color and kept going.  I finally decided that I would make an "Ugly Blanket" by using up all the odds and ends of yarn that I had on hand.  I got to the point where I just had a lot of brown left, so I headed out to Goodwill and picked up tons of yarn for .99 a ball!  I'm making all my panels the same width and length, and then I plan to connect all my panels.  I'm thinking I'll need 7 panels.  Can't wait to see it when it's done!
I love working with yarn in the winter...a great way to keep warm while watching movies!

Have a wonderful weekend!!!  Next week...let's chat February Books.

XOXO Tiffany

"Tidying is just a tool, not the final destination.  The true goal should be to establish the lifestyle you want most once your house has been put in order."
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day!!!

I love Valentine's Day.  I really do!  I don't have any high expectations around the day, I think I just like the food, the flowers, the color pink, and spending time with my loved ones.  Today, I'm sharing photos from last year's Valentine's Day.  It was one of those cold and sunny February days.  I made yummy food all day and then we ordered Thai take-out for dinner.  This year will be very similar.  Here are a couple of fun and delicious recipes!

Pink Buttermilk Pancakes
Beet Puree: (do this the night before)
Rinse and wrap beet(s) in foil and cook at 400 degrees for 1 1/2 hours.
Once cool, unwrap and peel the skin off.
Place roasted beets in the food processor with a little splash of water and puree.

Buttermilk Pancakes:
2 cups flour
5 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups buttermilk
2 eggs
1 stick of butter, melted
1/2 cup beet puree (optional)

Sift together dry ingredients.  Blend together wet ingredients.
Combine all ingredients and cook pancakes on a hot skillet.
Enjoy!

**The beet puree will make more than you need!  I added a bit to some homemade buttercream frosting and it turned out great!  Nobody tasted the beets!  Such a great way to stay away from artificial dyes.

Heart Shaped Pizza
If you have a bread machine, this is the pizza dough recipe that I use.
Pizza Dough:
1 1/4 cups milk
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp butter
4 cups bread flour (can use whole wheat flour)
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 tsp yeast (active dry)

Layer all ingredients into your bread pan in the above order and set the bread machine to the pizza dough setting.  Mine only takes 50 minutes.  Take the dough out and place on a lightly floured surface.  Cut dough into desired amount of servings (we did 5) and press and shape into a heart.  Top with your favorite pizza ingredients!  (sauce, mozzarella cheese, pepperoni, black olives, mushrooms, pineapple, Italian seasoning etc).  Bake at 450 for about 10 minutes.  Enjoy!
T-Shirt Fringe Infinity Scarf 
Here's a fun and simple craft to do with a t-shirt (old or new).  Cut the t-shirt right below the sleeves.  Then, on that cut side, make snips into the t-shirt about 3-4 inches deep and as far apart as you want (mine are about 1/2 inch from each other).  Give all the fringe pieces a tug (it makes them curl up a bit and gives texture).  Place over your head, adjust, and enjoy!
I hope you have a wonderful Valentine's Day with your loved ones!

XOXO Tiffany

"The decisions we make dictate the schedules we keep.  The schedules we keep determine the lives we live.  The lives we live determine how we spend our souls."
The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Unplugged

Minnehaha Falls (frozen!)

There is a conflict that arises when Digital Immigrants (over age 30) and Digital Natives (the under 30 crowd) meet.  It's true, we Digital Immigrants don't always get it.  It's true, I really don't want to get it.  I want my kids to be kids.  I want you to read a book, enjoy the outdoors, call a friend on the telephone (as in the home phone), play a board game, create your own game, paint your nails, play basketball, help make dinner, chat live and face to face.  I am definitely a fan of "old school" and I'm nervous about this generation.  I am thankful to have so many friends that I can chat with about these things...I like to call it "solving the worlds problems".  Because really, if we raise kids who become great adults, we change the world.

The Miller kids got "unplugged" this week.  I didn't even give them a warning.  Monday morning, I was feeling like:
1.  the kids have been on their devices too much
2.  one of my kids broke one of our "non-negotiable" rules and I was furious.  (added 2 apps that we don't approve of and have had several conversations regarding these two apps prior to the adding of said apps.)
I just said, "you guys are taking a week off of media" (iPhones, iPods, iPads, and computers).  We can watch TV here and there and we can definitely have movie nights.  But, you will not be gaming or social media-ing or face-timing or making videos or taking crazy amounts of pictures (of yourself!).  Just...a break.  Yes, I was afraid to tell them.  The reaction is never an enjoyable one.  But, these kids are our responsibility, and I take that very seriously.  I am instructed by God to "train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it."  (Proverbs 22:6)  I was never promised that it would be easy, though I kind of thought it would be.  I appreciate a Facebook friend that said, "Wow you are brave Tiffany".  This is not easy or fun or what everyone else is doing.

I have truly enjoyed this week with my kids!  They seem happy and free...I feel like this is how childhood should feel.  One child will be off media for 3 months as a "natural consequence".  The other two will re-enter the world of technology with caution.  30-60 minutes a day.  I would like them to "plan" what they would like to accomplish on their media/iPhones.  Make a list.  They should know that it will not be endless hours of bopping around.  Those days are done.  No more free passes when friends are over.  Enjoy your friends while you have them face to face.

A few of our rules regarding media include:
1.  all media is enjoyed on the main level (never in the bedrooms and certainly not after tuck-in...goodness.)
2.  all devices are set at the charging station at the end of the day and are subject to random checks by parents...and we do.
3.  do not delete texts

Our list is long, but these are the top 3.

Donuts with Dad

As I re-read this post, it feels so heavy and sad and serious.  I suppose it is.  But I feel hopeful!  I do!  (Also, I have no idea what happened to my formatting this week.  Somehow all my text is in "caption" form.  IDK.)  Let's be inspired to raise this generation of kids who are empowered to go out and change the world.  Let's show them that technology and social media can absolutely be some of the best tools, when used appropriately.  And also, it's OK to just have fun sometimes and play Minecraft and post crazy stuff on Instagram and make music videos with friends, but all things in moderation.

Basically, my goal is to raise kids who become great adults (as opposed to raising great kids...thanks Andy Andrews!) who are prepared to leave my home when they become adults.  And, I sure am thankful to be doing this with my husband...the greatest man on the earth.

To my kids..."You are so smart, and I believe in you!  Now, go be awesome."

Influences:
God, Family, Friends, Church
PBS "Generation Like"
YouTube "Look Up"
Wired and Tired from Psychology Today (electronics and sleep disturbance in children)
Steve Jobs was a Low-Tech Parent as seen in the NY Times

XOXO Tiffany

"Putting your house in order is the magic that creates a vibrant and happy home."
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo