| December 13, 2012

What is courage?
For over a month, we’ve been teaching our boys that courage isn’t the absence of fear. It is being scared and facing what you fear, anyway.

With three sidelined practices behind us, and another looming, we didn’t know if he’d be able to get through it. He’d gotten so scared being out there on the court with the coach yelling and a gym full of loud kids, dribbling, chasing balls and doing what seemed impossible for him:  Staying out there.
We simply asked him to make it through a night of practice and just TRY. He didn’t have to be good, keep the ball in control, make any baskets. He just had to stay out on the court. On the first night of practice, the coach didn’t teach them how to hold a ball. How to dribble. How to throw.  The coach simply told them to dribble 2 balls at once. To dribble, jumpstop, pivot, pass, all in quick succession to complete strangers. To make a layup -first thing- on the first night of shooting baskets.  For my little one, these feats seemed impossible. And, I couldn’t help feeling a bit frustrated with what was expected of him, myself. So, for three practices in a row that stretched over a month and a half, he started on the court and ended up sitting on the bench in defeat, watching his brother participate. And fearing the next practice when it would happen all over again.
This week, he left home and arrived to the practice parking lot already in a crying frustration.
Just to help him have the courage to get inside the building, his daddy told him something that must have stuck deep inside. And, I believe, God did miracles in that little heart. His dad told him, “There’s a long line of men in our family who have courage locked up, inside. When you use a little bit, it grows and becomes more.”  And, they went into the school with the understanding that our boy just had to sit on the bench and watch his brother.

I admit, after those three failed attempts, I was questioning if we should just let him stay home. I didn’t want to get through this whole basketball season, which would span 4 months, and have him live with the memories of sitting on the bench, each and every time, after an upsetting retreat from the court. But, I prayed! Oh, how I prayed! I really wanted him to feel proud of himself for facing his fear. I even prayed that if God could raise people from the dead, surely he could help my boy get through basketball practice. This mama was feeling desperate! Have you ever been there?

So, back to the gym. He must have felt some relief knowing he only had to get inside and sit on the bench with Dad. After a bit of just sitting, Dad asked him to play ball on the sidelines for a few minutes, and he lightheartedly agreed. And after a little while, Daddy asked if he might still want to give it a try on the court, adding that our bargain to go for ice cream if he could make it through the night would still be honored. To my husband’s surprise, our boy decided to go out on the court with all the other boys. My husband prayed like never before, and our boy stayed on the court. Then, my husband’s heart sank our son came to the side…. and asked to use the restroom. Would that be it for the night? NO! Upon returning to the gym, he returned to the floor with the other boys! The entire hour went by, and he continued with the practice! He stayed out there! He tried! He acted courageous! And, he was even caught smiling and laughing and having a good time.

Basketball Victory Cup

I cheerfully went out to meet my family for ice cream to celebrate this awesome victory! When I asked my boy about practice, he told me “It was easy!” When I asked if he wants to go back, next time, he said, “I will. But, when this is all done, I never want to do it again!” We agreed that was ok. We were just so happy he faced his fear and he was proud of himself for doing it.
And, when he drove home with me in my car, he told me, “Daddy told me that courage was locked up inside of me, and tonight I unlocked it.”
Yes, you did, my sweet boy. Yes, you did.

Spencer Lake’s Taste of Christmas 2012

| December 10, 2012

This past Saturday, December 8, 2012, some friends and I traveled to nearby Waupaca, WI. We wanted to check out a holiday arts and crafts show at Waupaca’s Taste of Christmas at Spencer Lake.
The event had a number of local artists and vendors. From garden decorations to Christmas goodies to jewelry and fabric arts, the show had a nice variety of items.
I had the privilege of meeting Kaycie from K. Rose Design. She makes the cutest little vintage paper earrings. I snatched up a pair that will be perfect for a Christmas party I will soon be attending! Make sure to check them out at her shop on Etsy.

Kaycie sitting by her lovely display of vintage paper earrings.

One of the best parts about the show was meeting Ashley Gordon. She is an encaustic artist with such a sweet personality. Isn’t she such a cutie?

Ashley Gordon is a talented encaustic artist.

I discovered this art form, also known as hot wax painting, earlier this year. But, she’s the first local artist that I’ve discovered who does encaustic. It involves using heated wax in which pigments are added. It’s truly a beautiful form of art, and I’m hoping to meet up with her again, maybe at one of her workshops, to learn more about it! I’d love to use this technique in mixed media creations. Oh! The possibilities!

Encaustic Paints are actually melted wax with colorful pigments.

What was especially neat about the event was that it wasn’t just an arts & crafts show. The day offered something for the entire family. From Christmas movies to a bakery filled with desserts. From meeting Santa to eating Jamaican, Mexican, Chinese and all kinds of yummy foods! We especially enjoyed the FREE rummage sale (I found a few vintage plastic flowers to use in future creations and some T-shirts to try out a crafty idea I found on Pinterest.) Madrigal singers that looked like they belonged in “A Christmas Carol” walked all around the grounds and sang songs of Christmas delight. But, one of our favorite things was the living nativity scene and petting zoo.  We got to pet those lovely barnyard animals!

Here’s the petting zoo at the backside of the living nativity scene.

Did they have turkeys in Bethlehem? :)

All in all, it was worth the small trip to this neat event! With a lake view like this to enjoy among all the other wonderful aspects of the day, we were all happy we attended this year’s Taste of Christmas!

Vintage Toy Trucks

| December 1, 2012

I just LOVE vintage toy trucks!  I’m hoping to put one in my garden, come Spring!
Here are a few beauties I was able to photograph at Junk Bonanza, this fall. I was so inspired by all the vintage goodies, creative booth displays, and crafty ideas I discovered during the amazing bi-annual event. These toy trucks were just one shining example of the unique treasures to be found! Enjoy these shots!

Wouldn’t each truck be just perfect with a very green plant in the back? Or as a letter-keeper? What about with some rusty vintage toy characters riding around inside? Or modern-day softies!? So many possibilities! I just love these trucks and the possibilities they provide! Don’t you?
Maybe you could get to the next Junk Bonanza event in Canterbury Park on April 18, 19 and 20th in 2013? There’s sure to be lots of good junk!
Have you been to a junk event? What items did you like best?


Vintage Storybook Star Wreath Tutorial

| November 30, 2012

Here’s just a glimpse of the awesome star wreath project, below!

Inspired by a star wreath I found on Pinterest months ago, I decided to use vintage pages from two nursery rhyme books to put my special touch on this lovely project. Here’s my tutorial, just for you, in case you are interested in creating your own vintage storybook star wreath! Of course, you could always just go to Altered Story Handmade Goods and snatch one of these up… that’s a little easier!
Make sure you start with all your supplies, and cover your working area with newspaper or anything else you don’t mind getting all glued up!

  • Vintage Storybook Pages – images/text cut out
  • Cardboard piece – any size  (will determine the size of your wreath)
  • Cardstock – complementary color to your images/text
  • Star Templates – either printed onto cardstock from the internet or hand stenciled directly on your card stock
  • Mod Podge (lots!)
  • Paint brush or foam brush (for the Mod Podge)
  • Scissors
  • Hot Glue
  • Ribbon – for wrapping around circle and/or for hanging
  • Scoring tool (an awl or a bone folder will do just fine)
  • Martha Stewart Scoreboard or soft cardboard for scoring
  • A sink nearby! This project gets messy!

Step 1 – Print out star images (found on the internet) onto cardstock of your choice. This will be the base color for your stars. The paper color can be seen from the backside of your finished wreath, so make sure to pick a color that suits the project!

Step 2 – Mod Podge your images onto the cardstock, ensuring that you adhere your image to the exact opposite side of the paper from your star image (basically: do not glue images directly onto your star image or you will not know where to cut!)

Step 3 – After the Mod Podge dries, cut out star images. Using the Martha Stewart Scoreboard (or a soft piece of cardboard), score your stars from each point to the opposite side. Make sure that your image is facing down when you do this, so your stars “pop” outward, not inward.

Step 4 – When each star is scored properly, you will be able to push into the middle of the star, making it 3 dimensional. If the center juts out from the points, you’re on the right track!

Step 5 – Fold each line with your fingers to achieve the desired depth of your finished star. (You will have certain control over the “oomph” you give your star, based on this step and how you hold it as you hot glue it to the base.)

Step 6 – When you’ve achieved your desired star “zing-zang”  (height, depth, pop… whatever you choose to call it!), then you can slather it with more Mod Podge. I wanted mine to have a really lacquered look. I used matte Mod Podge, but you could use glossy or even glittery or metallic… there are lots of options! This will help to secure the shape of your stars and make them more durable.

Step 7 – Now for the Base! I just used good ‘ole cardboard! Decide what size you want your base to be and find something around the house that you can use as a circle template (or square or whatever shape you decide is best!) I found a big bowl and a cookie jar cover. Cut this out. You’ll probably want your stars to protrude outside the edges of the wreath. 

Step 8 – Now you’ll want to do something sassy with your circle base… so nobody even knows it was just a piece of cardboard! I used more Mod Podge to decoupage hand-cut strips of the text from the nursery rhymes onto this wreath. Just slather, adhere your paper and slather some more!

Here’s a finished product! Getting to this point was just a few more steps. Step 9 – Decide how you will hang your wreath. I used some durable metalic cording and tied it around the top and then hot glued it to the front of the wreath to keep it secured. Step 10 – I picked out the cutest polka dotted ribbon I could find and hot glued it to my wreath across the front (with a little “give”). Then, I glued on the previously Mod Podged Mother Goose text from the book across the front like a banner. Step 11 – I experimented a bit in deciding which star I wanted to place at which spot, and then attached each star with hot glue just along the edges that touched the base. This is a bit tricky to ensure that the backside still looks tidy. So, I suggest you either make little pencil marks where you want to glue, or do your best at eyeing it up!

Here’s the front side of my yellow-ribbon wreath. I like the colors! I feel like dancing with the dishes! This one is now available at a local gift shop in my area.

On this wreath, I wrapped ribbon around the circle a million times (well it seemed like it!) to cover the base. I hot glued it each time around. I admit, I had a little more control with the paper decoupaged wreath base. And with the ribbon one, I didn’t like that I could tell where it was hot glued through the ribbon. But, both are very cute!

Here they are together! Which one do you like best?

I must admit, this was a satisfying project. There were a lot of steps, but the end results were so unique and beautiful! However, I would only suggest spending most of  your day to make this for a loved one or to liven up your own space. It’s definitely not a project that I could justifiably continue to make for the sole purpose of selling through my handmade goods business. Although it will not end up a financially profitable project, considering all that went into it, I know that whoever takes these home will surely feel blessed!
Do you have a little baby in mind who would love to grow up with these keepsake treasures?
Each vintage storybook wreath is surely one of a kind! If fact, I give each one 5 stars!


Red Wagon Fairy Garden

| September 10, 2012

Red Wagon Fairy Garden

I have a new fancy for fairy gardens.
I don’t know if it’s the fact that it’s more about the accessorizing than the actual gardening or the fact that tiny little things are just SO cute, but I can’t get enough! When I noticed my neighbor, through my window, putting this scruffy red wagon out on the curb, I dropped everything and ran out, barefoot, to snatch it up. I didn’t know what I would do with it exactly, but I knew I would use it in my garden. Soon after that, I decided to create a mobile fairy garden! What fun!

Repurposed Wagon sitting pretty in front of the picket fence

So, I looked all over Pinterest for neato ideas, and then came up with some of my very own. I researched which little plants I should try to find at my local garden shop, and I journeyed into unchartered territory. (You’ve heard of having a green thumb? Well, I used to have a brown thumb. But, I forgot to water it and it fell off). I still couldn’t help feeling some hope for success when I saw such beautiful tiny white daisy flowers on Irish moss and little succulents that looked like puffy little forest bushes. I just couldn’t screw up such sweet little miracles, could I?

There’s enough room here for the extended fairy family, too!

I once spied on an apron-wearing fairy plucking out weeds. Her head was down, so she didn’t see me!

I also ransacked my craft room and went through all my little goodies to decide what might work well for my new creative endeavor. I decided to put my antique tin collection to use. I found red and white toadstools that would match the wagon, along with some cute strawberry bells that I purchased on Etsy. I used some black and white polka-dotted tape (repurposed from my SMASH book) to make wee little water-proof flags for the “backyard”. They match the domino welcome mat. At the front door, there’s a sign reading “snail mail” posted on a matchstick poking out of a little snail shell.  I also used some felt flowers that I had pieced together with some lovely buttons. They grow right next to the veggie garden… simply colorful yarn “edibles” growing strong next to toothpick stakes.

I do like the little mirror lake that the fairies come to swim in. It’s glistens with brilliant dew after a chilly night’s sleep. Pretty at sunset, too!

The lake stones are smooth on the fairies’ feet.

A vintage stir stick makes a great wind whistler!

In the side “field”, I put a wind chime, of sorts. What could catch a Mid-Western breeze better than a little vintage harmonica hidden in the sedum?! Clever, I thought!

Can’t you just imagine the fairies playing games by the backyard flags and strawberry bells?

Not-so-clever was adding little birthday candle holders as pathway lights to the lake. I didn’t account for the hot summer days we would have. (Goodbye, melty lights.) Another live-and-learn idea was the little fluffy smoke coming out of the chimney- the final outcome of which I wasn’t thrilled with. Imagine wet cotton after a rain storm. I also wished it wasn’t such a brown landscape.  I’ll definitely invest in some nice green moss to cover the entire area, next year. Maybe it’s just me, but the dirty landscape kind of reminds me of a dusty southern farm, where chickens run fast-away from the barking hound dogs. I’m almost sure most of the fairies who used this garden wore calico dresses and cowboy boots.

I must sheepishly admit that yessss, by the end of the summer, some of my green fairy yards looked more like dry miniature driftwood collections. I haven’t quite mastered gardening, you could say. Even fairy gardening. I’m hoping my plants will resurrect after a quiet winter hiding in the basement. If not, now I know just where to go to find some living dwarf plants to begin, again! I still can’t help but have some fairy gardening hope, even with my lack of bloomin’ skills!

It’s a small start (hehehehe), but it’s only my first year. Next spring, I plan to cut little arched doors into my little tin boxes. Houses complete with tin roofs, and maybe a window or two. I will surely allow space for a little wooden swing under a dwarf boxwood “tree.”  I have a few other dreams for my next fairy garden that I can’t wait to put wings to. (Stop me!)

Do you have any tips or ideas for this newbie fairy gardener? What’s in your fairy garden?


First Day of Kindergarten

| September 4, 2012

Since before college, I had my life planned out.
I would graduate with a bachelor’s in psychology, get married to a handsome pastor, have two babies and stay at home raising them -just until the youngest went to kindergarten. THEN, I’d either go back to school for my master’s degree or begin a meaningful career. I love helping people… so counseling has always been a dream. But, I’d love to be a writer, and I thought maybe I could pursue that. Or, I would pursue a different kind of education and build on my art skills. No matter! I had lots of time to figure things out!

Life’s Check List
Marry handsome pastor – check!
Birth two beautiful kids – check!
Stay home to raise the wee ones – check!
Send off baby to first day of Kindergarten – check! (as of this morning)
Direction for what to do now – uhhhhhh?….

I don’t really have anything figured out.
My little boy is having the adventure of his life at his first full day of kindergarten. Gone from Mom. All new friends. Lots to take in and learn. I encouraged him to be brave. To have anticipation for the good in it all. To go in with a positive attitude and then just see what God can do! He has no idea what this day or this school year will bring. But, he’s pressing on and into all of it.
I’m all for God-adventures. I want the full life! I believe adventures can only be true adventures if they are a little scary, a little exciting and (at least) a little fun! I’m sure that’s what my kindergartener is experiencing on his first-day adventure.
Me? I’m at home with a lot of mixed emotions. I have a bunch of questions. I miss my boys but I’m excited for what’s to come. I have an adventure of my own to begin. Schooling & a full time career aren’t even on my radar. I’m a bit scared about life’s details, but I know I can trust God for every one.
To start, I think I’ll just take a little time to enjoy a quiet house. To rest. To seek after God’s heart and His real direction for me. To do some of the things I’ve had on the back-burner for a while. I think I’ll just give myself a teeny bit more time. I’m thankful for today and all the possibilities.
What about you? What does the start of this new school year mean for you?

We got a puppy!

| July 13, 2012

This is Hazel and she’s a 9 week old rat terrier/bichon mix. We adopted her, yesterday, from a friend-of-a-friend. We adore her already!

Here’s Hazel in her custom suitcase bed.

To make her feel at home, I got to work on this suitcase bed. I was inspired by a post from Kelly Hicks Design that I discovered on Pinterest. After searching online for similar inspiration, I went shopping!

Supplies: A vintage suitcase, craft store doll heads and fabric for the pillows

It was easy to find the supplies. I went to my local Dime N Dollar thrift store and found this $3 suitcase.  I had a previous goal to make curtains out of this fabric, but it was sitting in my storage for years, because (confession) I am afraid of sewing. Thankfully, my awesome friend, Patti, completed this (much more important) project for me. She blessed me with 2 extra pillowcases! Then, Michael’s offered these round doll heads with a flat edge and silver craft paint that worked out perfectly for short, little bed feet.

Wooden craft doll heads painted silver make great little bed feet.

To personalize the space, I asked our sons to draw pictures of Hazel that we could post in her special spot. It was a great little project for them, still in their pj’s on their first morning with their new puppy. I’m hoping to hang pictures of her mom and dad, too.
The boys thought she seemed cold, so we found this afghan that my grandma made for me when I was a baby. I thought we might as well put it to good use for our little lady. It’s a great reminder of my Gram. Ironically, she has a bichon (just like Hazel’s mama).

Our boys drew pictures of Hazel to post in her suitcase bed.

Here she is sleeping with her toys. Isn’t she just the cutest little puppy? She really likes her private little space and has ventured to lay down in it, herself. I think she appreciates having such a stylish little spot.

I think she likes her bed, don’t you?

So, as a new pet owner, I’m curious! What kind of pet beds do you think are the cutest for your cutest little pet?


Summer Nights

| June 27, 2012

Spencer Lake at Sunset

Summer, for me, means:

  • Fun
  • Rest
  • Reading
  • Riding Bikes
  • Playing at Parks
  • Time with Loved Ones
  • Games
  • Trips
  • More Time with my Boys
    And, of course….
  • Time at the Lake

“Big” Plans

| June 9, 2012

12-2 and counting...

During the last week of school, the kids and I made BIG plans for the first day of summer. (ha!) My boys and I planned to wake up and drive away in our pj’s to buy a bunch of sweet treats at the Dunkin Donuts drive through, then come back home to watch movies and cuddle all morning and not get ready until we felt like it. (I know, I know! Such high aspirations!) Well, that’s what we did, and we had a blast!
Of course, with all that lazy rest mixed with loads of sugar, we were ready-to-go by 11:30 am! A bike ride down to the river to feed the ducks, eat a (healthier) picnic lunch, play at the park and come home again for a short break before going swimming at the lake. They splashed into the evening sunset and then heard stories of the “olden days” from Grandpa and his 3 brothers. Each wee one fell asleep during the late car ride home. What a great start to summer!
What are your big plans for summer? I’d love to hear your big (or small) ideas!