Phoenix Vacation ~ The Highlights

Saturday, March 26, 2016

There is no place like home, and there is no better company than family. As you may have noticed, I have not been very active on my blog lately. This last week my family went camping in Phoenix Arizona. My Dads parents vacation in Phoenix during the winter and spring months so we made the long drive to Phoenix to visit them.

We pulled our pop-up camper (pictured above) over 1000 miles (round trip) to Phoenix and than back home. We had a wonderful time and I can't believe our much awaited and anticipated trip is now over. Time sure does fly, especially when your making memories.

I thought that I would share with you some pictures from our trip. During the whole trip my camera was never more than an arms reach away. I took hundreds of pictures but I'll just share with you my favorites.

On the long drive to Arizona we took a short detour and drove through Joshua Tree National Park. The park was unique and interesting it's in own way, but it will not make it to my list of my favorite National Parks. Joshua Tree National park is located in the Mojave Desert and I've decided I'm not a big fan of the desert.

To my surprise though, the desert did have a good amount of color to show off. I found this blooming Prickly Pear Cactus and snapped a few shots. The picture below is my favorite.

I would like to call Arizona "Land of the Great Saguaro Cactus". There are hardly any trees in the part of Arizona we visited. Instead the trees are replaced by the Saguaro Cactus.

Our campsite was right next to a beautiful lake called Canyon Lake. I took the picture below from our campsite during the sunset.

Not far from where we camped was a old west town called "Goldfield Ghost Town". We packed a picnic lunch and spent one of our day's walking around and taking lots of pictures of this neat place.

The picture below is from a pottery store we visited. I loved all the rustic colors of all the ornaments hanging on the porch.

We also visited another small old west style town called Tortilla Flats. We had lunch at the towns restaurant and I was intrigued at the wallpaper. Talk about expensive wallpaper. The walls were covered in dollar bills!

Not only was the wallpaper unique, but the bar seats were saddles instead of stools. How neat!

The next day we said our goodbyes to Canyon Lake and Arizona and made the long drive home. I love traveling, learning new things, and visiting new places, but there truly is no place like home. I'm eager to get back to the regular routine of life now that our Arizona trip is over.

If you want to see more pictures from my family's vacation I am posting more pictures to a photography blog which I have been trying to set up. I started the blog about the same time I started this one but I never posted anything and pretty much forgot about the blog. I just recently changed the design and I am trying to post on it more often. If your interested, my Photography blog is: Shutter Crazy

Shooting With Soul ~ Exercise Three: Something You Collect

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

I am still slowly working my way through my book Shooting With Soul by Alessandra Cave (if you want to know more about this book check out my previous post here)The last exercise was to take a picture of my shadow (you can see my pictures here) and today's exercise is to take a picture of something I collect.

When I think about all the different things I collect one thing comes to my mind right away.  I love to collect journals.  I will admit that I have a lot of empty journals but it is always my intention to fill every page of each journal I buy.

Journals are so special to me because to me they mean memories. I want to be able to remember how blessed I am and I have found that one way I can do this is by writing in my journal(s).  

As you can see, in the picture below, I have quite the collection of journals. I wasn't even able to fit all of my journals in this picture.  

Journals aren't the only thing I collect.  All I needed was a quick look in my closet to see that I have quite the collection of winter boots.

I didn't realize how many boots I had until I decided to drag them all outside (It was quite the workout).  I took some pictures of all my boots lined up before I dragged them back inside.  

I'm excited to be able to slowly, but surely, make my way through this book!

What is something you collect? 

DIY - Miniature Wooden Crate

Monday, March 14, 2016

For as long as I can remember thrift stores have always been my favorite place to shop. First, you can't beat their prices. Secondly, it's basically a store that sells everything from clothes to furniture and all the in between.  I always find a new treasure whenever I go to our local thrift store.

My latest find was this darling miniature crate. I knew right away it would work great for organizing, not to mention it was just adorable.  For only one dollar how could I say no!

The only problem, I hated the color. It was a metallic silver. In my opinion it was a poor choice of color for the crate.  But I knew I could always repaint it to match my room.

I used the same paint I used for my last few projects (my Crackle Paint Picture Frame, and my Painted Mason Jars).  To get the same color  I used for my painted mason jars I added a little white paint to lighten the light blue paint.

 I decided to do the crackle technique with the crate so I painted the undercoat white.  It needed two coats of white paint.

 If you want a more detailed tutorial on the crackle technique using Elmer's glue check out my previous blog post here.

After I applied the glue I painted the crate with my light  blue paint. As it dried it began to crackle.  It still amazes me how this works. One moment it's just one plain color and the next minute it's starting to crackle and the undercoat is peeking through.

Can you believe this adorable crate used to be an ugly metallic silver?  I can't either.  Not only do I adore the new color of my crate but the crackle effect added a nice texture to the wooden crate.

I've decided that finding something that has potential and 're-painting' it to go with my room has become one of my favorite pastimes.  I hope you will find his post helpful and that it will inspire you to be creative.

Do you like to shop at thrift stores too? What kinds of treasures have you found and re-purposed?  

My Sewing Adventures - Pattern Drafting

Friday, March 11, 2016


Sewing has been one of my favorite pastimes for a long time .  Not just sewing, but sewing costumes.  I've come to a point where I am so familiar with a patterns that I find myself wanting to make my own patterns.  A dear friend of mine who knows the skill of pattern drafting let me borrow a few of the books that really helped her learn the skill.  I would highly recommend Designing Dress Patterns by Helen Nicol Tanous.  I found to my surprise that this book wasn't overly complicated, and  It really helped me understand all the tricks and techniques involved in pattern drafting.

The first step of my endeavor into pattern drafting was to create what is called the basic block.  The book Designing Dress Patterns gives you the measurements to make a basic block in size 14.  

I cut out, on a sheet of poster board, the basic block for both the front and back bodice, and the sleeve.  My basic block is pictured below.

Using the basic blocks I learned how to swing darts, how to "Slash and Spread" for adding gathers,  how to add the extra length for buttons, how to draft a pattern for the facing, and so much more. If any of those terms are unfamiliar with you I basically learned how to take the basic blocks that you see above and add to them to create whatever style I desire.

For my first official project I decided to draft my own prairie blouse pattern. Spring is here and the spring living history camp, Rock-N-Water, that my family works at is going to be starting soon. I've been busy sewing aprons and skirts for the upcoming season at Rock-N-Water.

As  I began the process of creating my pattern I found that pattern drafting is not as easy as I first thought.  I drafted pattern piece after pattern piece.  Using scrap fabric I would test out my pattern only to find that it didn't look at all like I had envisioned.  But after making all the changes that were necessary I finally drafted a pattern that worked.  

I created a blouse with slightly off the shoulder sleeves, a yoke with gathers, bishop sleeves, and with lace to fancy it up a bit. Below is my finished blouse.

Since my blouse turned out to be such a success I decided to make my sister one as well.  I made a few adjustments to hers.  She wanted a peter pan color and sleeves that only came just slightly past her elbow.  The finished blouse I made for her is pictured below.

Lastly, my mom loved my blouse pattern so much she asked me to make her one too.  As you can see, in the picture below, I made quite a few changes for her blouse.  I made the yoke a little bit wider and a little bit longer.  It was her idea to use contrasting fabrics and I think that was a great idea.  The contrasting fabrics really look nice on this blouse.  

I am very happy with my pattern.  I'm so glad I can say that it was a success. I am amazed at how I  was able to create three different looks by using the same pattern. 

Though pattern drafting was a lot harder than I initially thought, it is not impossible and this was only the first step, of many, to having a better understanding of pattern drafting.  

God and the Internet

Monday, March 7, 2016

Texting, Facebook, Twitter, Tumble... It's been a constant question on my mind. Is it wrong to take part in any or all of these 'social' sites? What about the Internet in general? 

The internet opens up a whole array a new opportunities, but there is also much bad mixed in with the good. Everyone is entitled to their own personal convictions about the internet but can I still be a 'good'  Christian and be a part of the social world online?
It might help to look at this question under a new perspective. 
1 Corinthians 10:13 Says 

" Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." 

This verse is pretty straight forward. We are to glorify God in everything we do, including what we do on the internet and social media. Our choices as Christians must reflect God in everything we do

We can't profess to be Christians while living our personal life for God and being someone completely different online.We don't get to pick and choose the things we want to glorify God in and the things we want to do for ourselves.  

With this mindset then, is it wrong to have Facebook, or twitter or any other one of these social media accounts found on the internet? 

In my opinion many of these social media sites aren't sites Christians should blacklist and avoid at all cost. It's a blessing to stay in touch with friends and relatives using these sites. I have relatives who live far away and by posting pictures on Facebook I'm able to share and update them on my family's life. But sometimes I get distracted and waste many hours scrolling through my Facebook news feed.

It is amazing how we can keep in touch with people and meet people from all over the world simply by sitting cozily on our coach with our laptop propped up on our 'lap'. But always remember that the internet is a tool.  It can be used properly to create and encourage, or you can use that same tool in the wrong way to destroy and hurt. 

So to answer my question - social media isn't bad, it is simply a tool for us to use.  I know that with God's help you can use the internet to be a light and share your faith when the opportunity arises.

Here are some general tips and personal pet peeves of mine about the internet:

  • Set a Time Limit – Time is precious. I don't know about you but whenever I spend hour after hour on social media sites I feel like I've made no progress. Two, three, sometimes even four hours of my day can be wasted sitting on the couch scrolling through meaningless news-feeds. But when I purpose to do something productive with my time like practicing piano, sewing, or reading, I feel so much more pleased with my choices of how I spent my day. We must not forget to make time for God. Put the things you desire to get done as priority before you sit down to spend time online.
  • Don't Let it Get in the Way of Your Personal Relationships - Your life and relationships online are in no way more important to you than your relationships in person. When you are in the presence of others put your device down! Unplug. Let your online friends know that you are busy at the moment and give your friend who is standing next to you your full attention. No one likes to have to wait while you pause the conversation to catch up on posts or reply to another friend's text. You are sending a message to your friend that you are not interested in him/her and your friends online are more important. So put your device down and don't pick it back up again until you are alone.
  • Take a Break From it Every Once in a While - It's good to take a break from something every once in while. Especially if you get the feeling that it is taking control of your life. Try to go internet-free for the entire day or if you're brave enough, the entire week. This is a form of fasting. Use the time that you would normally be on the internet and spend it in God's word and in prayer. Then when your fast is over you will come back to your internet life with a renewed perspective.
  • Make a List of What needs to be done – I find that when I get online I have a bunch of different things I want to do, but then I get distracted. Making a written list of the things I need to do online before I turn on my computer has really helped me. Place the list where you can see and check off each item as you go. Having a list keeps you focused on the task at hand and you are less likely to get distracted.  The less distracted you are the quicker you will be done. Then you can spend more time doing something productive with your time.

Lastly I would like to share a few simple ways you can easily point others to God by using the internet. Most sights have a description panel. I love to put a Bible verse in that panel. You can also post Bible verses on Facebook or a put a Bible verse in the description box of your Instagram post.  Never post anything that is inappropriate, or even questionable. It is better to be safe then sorry. Don't be preachy or try to force your views on others but on the other hand don't be the opposite and never post or say anything about your faith.

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." Philippians 4:8

Always remember, whatever you do, do it for the glory of God. He will richly bless you when you make the choice to honor Him with your life on the internet.  

A few of the social media sites I enjoy are Facebook, texting/emails, and my favorite is Instagram.  What are some of your favorite social media sites and how have you found a way to glorify God in how you use them?

Homemade Strawberry Lemonade!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Don't you just love it when a rather ordinary day starts out kinda dull but by the end of the day it has turned out to be a day worth remembering.  That's how I feel about today!

Today started out poorly.  For starters, I slept in this morning.  Sleeping in always puts me in a grumpy mood because I think of all the time I have already wasted by not having an early start.  Deciding not to let it get the worst of me I decided to make the best use of the rest of today. 

I have started a new photography challenge for March.  It's called "March photo-a-day" and for each day of March there is a word that I need to portray in my photography. Today my word was 'yellow'.  I asked my mom for ideas this morning and she mentioned that we have a lot of lemons.  You can't get more yellow than that, right?  

 I sliced some lemons for my picture, then one thing led to another (kinda like the book "If You Give a Pig a Pancake")After slicing my lemons I decided to make a lemonade drink.  I noticed we also had some strawberries in the fridge so I  slice them up too.  I ended up with strawberry lemonade.  

My strawberry lemonade tasted amazing! It turned out better than I had anticipated and it just wouldn't be fair if I didn't share.  My homemade lemonade is also sugar-free and I could not even taste the difference. 

Taking my sliced lemons and strawberries I put them into my cute mason jar mug (that even has my name on it!) and filled my jar up with filtered water.  Any water will do but I like to use filtered water because it tastes better in my opinion.  I also added some ice because I like my water cold.  

In order for the drink to start tasting like the lemon and strawberry you need to let the fruit sit in the water for awhile.  You can put the drink in the fridge and let it sit overnight if you desire.

In order to make my lemonade taste good right away I squeezed half of a lemon into my drink.  Now for my secret to making my lemonade taste sweet without using sugar.  It is really quite simple.  All I added was stevia.  

We have a box full of small packets of stevia we keep in the cupboard for tea. I added one packet to my drink and WALLA!  You have delicious lemonade that looks and tastes amazing. 

I hope you get a chance to try this simple refreshing and healthy drink.