Some days I like my tea green and my coffee black. Straight up, no fuss.
On Instagram this month, I posted a heart a day, #amonthofhearts. AllSparkledUpDesign . Part way through the month, I wondered if I would have the stamina and commitment to finish. Some of these took hours to complete. The discipline of taking a creative photo every day for a whole month taught me so much.
~ You never know you can do something until you try.
~ Don’t give up. Just keep going.
~ God has millions of ideas. Scripture says God is the author of all inspiration. If you hang out with him, you’ll find that out.
~ Don’t over think it. Sometimes what you do doesn’t have to be big or loud or even shared. God enjoys the flowers blooming deep in a jungle, unseen by humans, the songs of birds unheard by ears. Some creativity is just for your and his enjoyment. It’s ok. Slow down, breathe deep.
~ I had more ideas for hearts than I had days in the month. So I’m hoping to do this next February too.
Today is Day 28, the end of the month of hearts. Here are the remaining heart photos I posted on Instagram. Enjoy!
On Instagram this month, I am posting a heart a day, #amonthofhearts. AllSparkledUpDesign . Today is Day 23 and I thought it would be fun to share the full size image here. I’ve had most of these charms since my childhood and some go back to my mother’s childhood. Some are old Cracker Jack prizes, some are homemade. My granddaughter and I spent a couple enjoyable hours placing these charms in heart shape for this photo. Click on the image to access the full size. At the end of the month, I’ll post the rest of the photos here as well. Enjoy!
If you follow me on Instagram, AllSparkledUpDesign, you know I’m posting A Month of Hearts. Today is Day 14 and there are 14 days of hearts to go! Here are the hearts I’ve posted so far. Make sure you check instagram so you can read all the captions that go with these photos. Love to you all!
14 Happy Valentine’s Day!
I’ve wanted to host a game night for a while but everyone’s schedules were really busy. So we freed up the whole weekend and let the gatherings happen when they could. What fun!
First of all, I wanted warmth and light. Right after Christmas is always so dreary. All the prettiness of Christmas is packed away and all that’s left is cold. So I did a little searching and gathered a bit of warmth from around the world.
First and most important, there had to be fur from Russia.
I have a large fur throw in the living room but needed something smaller for the dining room chairs. I found the perfect fur at JoAnn fabrics and made two throws from 1.5 yards of fur to drape over the backs of the chairs.
I adore knits from Scandinavia and found a beautiful heavy knit, also at JoAnn Fabrics. 1.5 yards made two more comfy throws for the chairs. I also used another yard of fur and a lovely wool throw that a friend had given me.
On one chair is a pillow I made using Floral Wood Carving Stripe fabric from Spoonflower. Roostery sells premade pillows using the wood carving fabric too. The wood buttons were fun to carve while watching Gilmore Girls. :)
I’ve never leaned on a table so soft that your elbows sink in, and there are no words to describe how comforting this is!!! If you want your guests to linger, you’ve GOT to try it!
Our table belonged to my grandparents. Decades of love and laughter have taken place around this table. The only thing I’d change is if it were a trestle table with rounded corners and center pedestal so we could fit more people around it without bumping the table legs. My father made the family trestle table and I’ve always wanted one. This trestle table is beautiful! But really, all these tables are gorgeous here.
The first two nights I used the white bedspread/tablecloth as the top layer. The last night I put the maroon spread on top. You simply must try this! Make sure you use washable throws though, in case there are crumbs and spills. From now on, I’m going to be watching for thick, washable throws that can be layered on tables. I might even make one for my desk. Yes! … um… zzzz…. maybe too much comfort for a desk… ;)
For lighting, I wired old chandelier crystals and glass icicle ornaments to the light fixture. The crystals were salvaged from a family heirloom and I cherish them so much. They add a delightful sparkle and look quite wintery.
Two corners of the dining room have lamps. The terrarium is still unfinished, tied together with cord but the plants are growing fine. They’re over a year old now. I finished all the carving but have yet to cut the wood base, glue it all together and line it with copper. The glass top of the terrarium is the old dining room light fixture that we removed when we bought this house.
I also keep white mini lights on top of the china cabinet and dining room bookcase until winter is past. To me, mini lights don’t remind me of Christmas, they mean health and well-being. The more light in winter, the better!
While visiting my daughter in Tokyo, I learned about Japanese tables that were warmed underneath. What a great concept! To mimic the comfort of a kotatsu, I put an electric blanket under the table to tuck our stocking feet into.
On the table I put a beautiful leaf plate from Arhaus. It was perfect for holding cookies – German Springerli and Viennese Chocolate Hazelnut Crescents.
Friday night was just the girls. We played Old Maid, the very cards that I used in my childhood in the 60’s. So much fun!! It had been so many years since I played with those cards. There was Fifi and her poodle, Greenthumb Gert, whose plantings were being nibbled up by rabbits as fast as she planted them, and Milkman Mo with his begging cats. Love the humor in these old cards, which probably would be deemed totally “politically incorrect” now-adays.
Saturday night, children and adults together played Clue. We did our best using English accents and Oh the mystery and laughter!
Miss Peacock, how can you be capable of such a deed! Mr Plum’s strategy was quite scientific. And Colonel Mustard actually held the pistol and knife. This view of the chandelier is only possible if you’re a game piece lying in the billiard room. haha
One of my favorite warming strategies was loading fireplace videos on tablets and displaying them in the bottom of the china cabinet. Fire where there is never any fire! I sure wish some company would create a mini fake fire device that could play a simple, looping fire video like this and fit in a small space like a china cabinet. I would buy several in a heartbeat. Fire amongst the plants in the living room? Yes! Fire on my nightstand as I go to sleep? Yes! The last time we had a fake fire was when we made a fireplace in the oven. There’s something comforting about flame, even if it’s fake.
Sunday night’s beer and poker game ended up being postponed because the flu visited. Alas. But even as I write this, I’m feeling quite toasty. The throws are still on the chairs and I feel the warmth radiating against my back. My laptop is set up on this table and my arms are leaning in on the softness as I type. A Winter Game Weekend after Christmas has definitely become a tradition in our home.
So happy she loved the gift I made for her! Specialty Sugars for her tea and coffee and sprinkling on toast, cereal or anything else that needs a little sweet sparkle.
I bought the decorative knobs and glass jars at Hobby Lobby. It was easy drilling a hole in the corks, using a hack saw to shorten the knob bolt and gluing them together with a few beads.
~ Lavender Sugar ~
I ground up culinary lavender with a mortar and pestle, then put the lavender and sugar in a food processor. The lavender sugar was then layered with crystal sugar in the jar.
~ Lemon Orange Sugar ~
Lemon and Orange zest were placed in a food processor with sugar and ground medium fine. I’ve been making this mixture for years for use in cheesecake because it makes a very fine textured cheesecake. To fill the jar, I spooned in a layer of Lemon Orange Sugar then used tongs to place white sugar cubes against the side of the jar. Then I spooned in more sugar and repeated the layers. Next time I’ll add more orange zest for a darker orange colored sugar.
~ Vanilla Bean Sugar ~
I scraped the seeds from two vanilla beans and ground the seeds with sugar in a food processor. I used one half of each vanilla bean, split lengthwise, to place in the jar. I spooned in about 1″ of Vanilla Sugar in the bottom of the jar. Then I used tongs and a wood skewer to position each vanilla bean against the side of the jar before adding the rest of the Vanilla Sugar.
~ Pumpkin Spice Sugar ~
This recipe is something one of my sons and I made up, based on the spice ratio I use in my Pumpkin Pies. We keep this sugar blend on hand to make Pumpkin Spice Lattes, which everyone knows don’t have any pumpkin in them anyway. haha. Still, the flavor is very close to my pumpkin pies, sans pumpkin. To fill this jar, I used a small spoon and a tiny funnel I made from two straws. I can’t explain how I did the design but if you look up “sand art in a bottle” on youtube, you’ll get the idea. The white layer is Vanilla Bean Sugar. The dark brown “spots” in the white layer are pieces of cinnamon stick. I wanted to position the cinnamon stick pieces to look like hearts but the white sugar kept filling in the spaces so it didn’t work out.
“Necessity is the mother of invention,” it is said. So true. I couldn’t access my precut wood pieces or run a saw so I ended up using the only wood on hand, a 30 year old piece of Sassafrass root from my parents property. It’s been in my tea collection for decades and still has a beautiful scent. I used a small craft saw to cut thin slices of the wood to make the tags. I wrote on them with permanent marker. Now I wonder if I had wood-burned the words in… could the slice of sassafrass be steeped in boiling water to flavor tea? What fun that would be! I’ll have to try it out.
Carpenter, as in not someone’s name, but rather the vocation. The wood worker that cuts down trees and uses sharp gouges to make houses and three-legged stools.
And not just any carpenter, but THE carpenter. Jesus could have been any profession in the world. But he was a worker of wood, a simple carpenter by trade. When I volunteered to do a tablescape for the Christmas brunch event at our church, the first thing I thought of was Christmas trees and wood, and how significant wood is in relation to Christmas and Jesus… and me.
Jesus worked in a wood shop. He used logs and blocks of wood. He used saws and gouges.
At the end of a day he would have had the glorious smell of aromatic sawdust and curly wood shavings clinging to his garments.
As an apprentice, one of the first pieces of furniture he would have made would be a three-legged stool.
Three legged stools can sit firmly on uneven surfaces.
My dad enjoyed wood working as a hobby but he didn’t build furniture. He built his own house, he loved cutting down trees and chopping wood, and he loved carving.
I learned to carve by watching him. “Never fight the grain of wood,” he quietly said. “Work with the grain, not against it. Take tiny cuts. You can’t put wood back but you can always cut away tiny bits. Take your time.”
My father had incredible patience and I watched in silence as he made tiny cuts in the wood.
I was 22 when I married and moved away from home. All I learned about woodworking was during my childhood but I never forgot my father’s skill. My father passed away just a couple days before Christmas, two years ago. But instead of having the memory of his passing be something hard, it is beautiful this time of year. Because my father worked with wood and so did Jesus. My dad never got to see my carving. But somehow, I think he knows and is glad.
Wood workers mark their tools and their woodwork. It’s called a “maker’s mark.” My dad carved his name into the gouges he made from nails.
He carved his name and date in his carvings.
He sometimes carved the location where he made his piece.
Jesus knew all the details of woodworking.
His first contact with wood was being laid in a wood manger, a feeding trough for animals. It was rustic and rough.
As he grew, He learned how to shape wood and smooth wood, remove tiny bits to make something functional and beautiful. He knew which trees were strong, which had the best grain, which smelled aromatic. And he would have known about maker’s marks.
As I put together my Carpenter tablescape, I included two wood cross beams leaning against the back of the creche.
After spending a life working with wood, Jesus’ last contact with wood was being nailed to it.
And there, in the cross, was Jesus’ “maker’s mark”, the nail prints.
This Christmas, what is precious to you? To me, it is the memory of my dad, the wood carver.
And being blessed with the ability to work with wood like my dad and Jesus, The Carpenter.
All eyes are on succulents.
Today is a great day for #7 from the previous post. “Laughter can be The Best Medicine Ever. You’ve got to try it! Read humor, watch comedy, laugh with family and friends. Don’t just hope laughter might happen, deliberately make it happen.” – from 31 Wonderful Things Severe Pain Taught Me
31 Wonderful Things Severe Pain Taught Me
1. Your mind is very powerful. “Mind over matter” makes sense when you’re dealing with crippling pain. Fill your mind with wisdom and knowledge. There is plenty of room for thoughts that aren’t related to your pain at all.
2. You’ve heard it said, but those who have been there truly know: You ARE much stronger than you ever thought humanly possible. If you think today’s pain is a 10, downgrade it to a six. Then rejoice that you’re still 4 away from max.
3. There may or may not be another day. But time is on your side. Time is not the enemy because God is in charge of your time. And God never makes mistakes.
4. You CAN adapt.
5. These statements are simultaneously true: Things can always get worse… AND… This is the worst it will ever get. Which means this moment, right here, right now, can be the most fantastic moment you’ve ever had. Make it that way.
6. There are many ways of coping with pain. If one way doesn’t work, try something different.
7. Laughter can be The Best Medicine Ever. You’ve got to try it! Read humor, watch comedy, laugh with family and friends. Don’t just hope laughter might happen, deliberately make it happen.
8. Distractions are valuable. Listen, taste, see, smell, feel something new. Enjoy it slow.
9. Friends are pure gold, whether they’re wearing skin or fur.
10. Don’t let the sick part of you stop the healthy part of you. Let pain take up only its own space. If your head hurts but your hands are fine, let your hands delight in the day.
11. It’s never too late to learn something new, even something challenging. Learn a new language, study geography, literature, science, art.
12. There is a time to fight pain and a time to roll with pain. When pain is an ocean, be a fish.
13. Always take a little less pain medication than you need. Learn to be comfortable with pain instead of always trying to banish it.
14. Be glad if you have identified your pain-bearing limit. Then work to stretch it further.
15. You CAN do this! You can live WITH pain. Don’t listen to any voices that say you can’t. Don’t listen to voices that only want to lay pity on you. They aren’t helpful and you end up stuck in a swamp.
16. It’s OK to cry. Let your eyes express and acknowledge pain. But remember to let your mouth smile. Your mouth is good for that.
17. Pain is divisive. It will divide parts of your body from functioning together. It will divide people from functioning together. Fight against further dysfunction. Recognize the crevasses caused by pain and build bridges to go over.
18. Remember that this life is not the end. We were created to live after our bodies can’t go further. This life is the path to the next.
19. Pain is a heavy weight, sticky and personal. Don’t make your pain an issue that pulls others down into the stickiness. Let others help lift you up from it.
20. Pain is a noun. Give it a name… like Motivator, Teacher, or Police. Artist, Poet or Musician. Rest or Transformation. Never let pain become Politician, Spoiled Child, Bully or Tyrant. Make your pain the noun you want to live with.
21. Pain is a story, with a beginning, middle and end. Write the story you want pain to be.
22. If you face pain, face it fully. If you run from pain, don’t miss the scenery.
23. You do have a strong will. But maybe you let it get weak. Work at strengthening your will power.
24. Pain is dark. Find ways to add more light. There are always ways to add light. Find ways to “Be the Bright.”
25. There will always be something excellent that you can derive from pain. Don’t look for the damage pain caused, look for the benefit.
26. Don’t confuse fear with pain. Fear can be conquered even if pain can’t be.
27. Everyone has pain. You are NOT alone.
28. Pain can be ugly or beautiful. You’re in charge of that.
29. Don’t let pain get louder than it should be. Pain only has a voice if you give it one. If Pain needs to speak, try letting it speak through writing, through painting, through music. Some of the most beautiful art in this world was created with pain.
30. Listen to other people. Even if that’s all you can do, it’s ok to just listen.
31. God is here now and he knows everything about pain. Have some great discussions on the topic with him.
I’m praying for you. Sometimes it’s not about the completed painting, the final finish line. Today there is beauty in the brushstrokes, the breaths taken one after the other. Today the beauty is in the heartbeat and the single footstep, the eye contact and hand holding.
Breathe in. Breathe out. Every breath has enormous value.