miss smarty pants

fancy pantsI must have decided to wear my smarty pants while spray painting.

This year for my outdoor decorating, I decided to add a touch of red, here and there.  A jaunty red plaid bow on a wreath, some sprigs of fresh holly with their striking red berries and I decided to paint some buckets bright Christmas red.

I waited for a non-rainy day, put on some, work clothes,  plastic gloves, set out some cardboard.  I taped the handles of the buckets with masking tape so the wood handles would look rustic.   I waited a day and then put on a second coat of paint.  Easy.  Waiting for it all to dry, was the tough part.  The spray paint which I bought a local small business, hardware store cost $4.99.

Love those DIY projects that are easy, quick and add a big burst of cheer to a display. 20141208_153352

Today, I was up early for a special phone call.  I was outside during the dark of morning.  I fed and watered the chickens, gave the birds some peanuts and seeds. It was then I noticed something all over the deck.

Oh no, it looked like blood.  I ran and got the flash light, I wanted a better look.  This did not bode well for an animal somewhere.

HEY WAIT A MINUTE, looks a lot like chips/chunks of red paint!

Good News:  No animal lost it’s life in the name of decorating.

Have you ever actually read the directions on the back of a spray paint can?  “for best results, use in a well ventilated area with temperature above 50*”

Um, so I am guessing that wearing a heavy coat in 36 degree weather is not ideal for spray painting metal buckets.  OH, so that’s why they put a guide of 50* or higher!

Just doing my part to make the world a happier place and sharing this gentle suggestion.

 

20141210_112745 (1)

Don’t be a smarty pants and know it all.  Read & follow directions. 

 It will make your holiday projects so much fancier. 

Happy do it yourself, decorating!

a place for sugarplums to dance

20141208_131916Thanks to Clement Clarke Moore……… we all know the story quite well.

 

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,

while visions of sugar plums danced in their heads.

And Mama in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,

had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

 

Thanks to my sister-in-law and niece…… we know where sugar plums will dance, at least in the month of December.

We received a huge box in the mail.  Always, quite exciting to get mail so big, it is a chore to bring it into the house.  You have to prop open the door, get a hold of the box, lift with your knees, peer over the top as not to step on the dog’s paw, get it into the house and then look at it.

You look at the address to make sure it is for you.  ha  Then you look to see who mailed it.  Who on earth would spend so much to mail a box to us?   I wonder what is inside?  What could it be?

I wait for Mr. Right to come home.  We can open it together.  However, I do walk by the unopened box, several times.  I lift it a couple more times to help with my guessing.  I smile ear to ear each time.

Jeepers, now that I think about it, I have never once in all my life every received a box and it was bad news.  It has always been: interesting, exciting, thrilling, funny, happy, cheerful some type of celebration about to take place.

My stomach kind of flipped over a couple of times with giddy.  You know, nothing bad, just butterflies in your stomach and smiling the whole time.  Guessing, oh, the guessing went on all afternoon.

Finally, Mr. Right got home.  He cut open the box and stepped back.  He let me gingerly lift the flaps and peek inside.  WHAT?  Are you kidding me?  Is it the right size?  Really?  Oh my stars!

20141208_125022I can’t believe it.  My sister-in-law and niece had somehow managed to send “Christmas” in a box.  That’s right.  They had figured out a way to send a cozy, comfy, wonderful piece of the holiday right to our door.   Those two silly girls had put their heads together and designed a way to bathe us in Grace and Goodness.

So from Vermont to Washington……………… we all have a place to lay our heads and nap and dream of sugar plums dancing.

ps.  I am sure, my SIL  and niece will appreciate all the glitter intertwined in the garland on the headboard.  I have a feeling Mr. Right will have a comment or two.  20141208_131954

May you all receive wonderful surprise gifts from loved ones through the mail.

Sweet Dreams

suet, suet

Tis the season.  My chickens, like all chickens are molting.  That means, no eggs.  Well, I get one now and then from Ginger, none from Lovey.  They are using all their protein to produce more feathers to help keep them warm in the winter months.  I know, I would be doing the same thing.  Yipes.

I am learning and researching and one of the things that will help them is to increase their protein intake.  So last night I made a delicious treat.  For the chickens (and birds) not people.

20141204_205331I purchased a block of suet.  It cost $1.79 Who knew, you could still buy this?  Anyway, I melted it down, then I added raw peanuts, raw sunflower seeds, seaweed and some sunflower seeds in the shell.  I poured into a pan.  Then set in the freezer to harden.

This morning, I scooped out balls of the,soon to be tree decorations and treats of goodness.

I put suet balls into those net bags you save?  Easy to tie onto the outdoor Christmas tree!  I also hung one (with a bit wider weave) of thesuet balls delicious suet balls inside the chicken coop.

Now, today is not freezing in my neck of the woods.  However, on those brisk winter, extremely chilly mornings….. taking a couple treats out of the freezer to offer up to my outdoor friends will make them very happy and I in turn will be happy.

Tis the season to give!

It’s all about the happy!

Who knew suet would make this vegetarian girl so dang happy?

Weird.

Happy Friday, y’all.

say “cheese”

One of the things I adore about the holidays are …………..drum roll…………….wait for it……………………….. SNACKS.

cheese ballI adore snacks.  I love a good cheese ball.  I love the idea of little nibblies to whet our appetites.  Having a couple of cheese balls made and flavors melding in the refrigerator, is a lovely feeling.

You can grab your homemade cheese ball, add a box of crackers, tie on a sprig of evergreen with a piece of red and white bakers twine add a jaunty cheese spreader,  there you have it.  Instant hostess gift.

Dreary Sunday afternoon, chilly, damp, game on the television?  Set a cheese ball on a jaunty holiday platter, surround with some divine crackers (homemade or store-bought), add a sprig of fresh Rosemary,  toss on some veggies and TA DA. Instant goodness. spread happiness

About 2 years ago we gave up dairy.  Now, don’t get your holiday panties in a knot.  If there is cheese sprinkled upon our baked potato at a friend’s home, no we don’t SCREAM, WE DON’T EAT DAIRY!  We are polite, civilized guests.  Of course we eat what our host has provided.  If there is a bit of cheese in a ravioli at a restaurant, we don’t send it back.  We just choose not to consume dairy on a daily basis.

One of the things I discovered, it is not the actual cheese ball that I was missing.  Oh sure, that flavor is wonderful.  It was the holiday “act” of nibblies.  Let’s face it, a cheese ball on a festooned platter of goodness, just hollers holidays.

May I offer up an amazing, delicious, go back for seconds and thirds recipe that will not only fulfill that need for a holiday treat, but will satisfy our choice to stay dairy free?

“Cheese” Ball 

2 cups cashew pieces, soak overnight  (purchase in the bulk foods section of your grocery store)

1/4 cup filtered water

2  probiotic capsules (use the powder, discard the capsules)

1/3 cup nutritional yeast

2 cloves minced garlic

1 teaspoon real salt

6 grinds of cracked pepper

2 full teaspoons fresh chopped thyme

Combine soaked cashews, 1/4 cup water and probiotic in food processor.  Scrape down.  Blend until smooth.

Line a strainer with cheese cloth (fabric store or Bed Bath and Beyond) spoon mixture into the cheesecloth, cover and let sit over night.

Put cashew mixture in a bowl.  Stir in the thyme, yeast, S & P and garlic.

Divide into 2 balls.  Roll in crushed pecans (option:  add a bit of green herbs for color)

Refrigerate 2 days and serve or up to a month in the freezer.

Say Grace and indulge.  Seriously, indulge.  You and your family are so worth a lovely treat.

$25.00 in ones

I dug into my make up bag and found the one lipstick color that I really did not care for.  I took off the lid, I walked into the boys bathroom and started writing on the mirror.  Ugly poppy red lipstick.  I wanted to get rid of it and make a point.

Hey, I was a mom of two teenagers & I would try ANYTHING to get their attention.  I wrote in big letters.  I drew big swirls right in front of the sink, so they would have to either move to look in the mirror to “do” their hair or actually READ what I had written.

When they were younger their home schooling mom would use quotes of good behavior as sentence practice, penmanship, grammar & vocabulary.

With teens, our goals had become laser focused on raising humans that did not have a sense of entitlement. (We have all been witness to that trait and it is not a pretty picture, folks.)   We were trying to raise humans that were among other things,  well-educated, kind and of service.

On the mirror, I wrote:

To whom much is given, much is required.  

I did not add that it was a modern version of the Bible verse Luke 12:48.  I did not go any further. I did not elaborate.  I just let it hang there.

In big, slasher movie, red lipstick on the mirror letters………….I wrote that one sentence.

They sort of asked about it over breakfast.  It became a topic during our dinner time.

Over and over and over………that one sentence had struck a chord.  I tried, golly I tried, to look casual, nonchalant really.  I tried not to make a big deal out of it.  Just went on about my life. Looking busy and doing mom things, not really caring if they “got it” or not.  …….all while inwardly smiling and rubbing my hands together in glee!

dollar bills 2Yesterday, while doing a couple of errands,  I hit on an idea.  I gave away $3.00.

It was an idea on how to bathe myself in Grace.   I wanted to share my idea with you.

I am asking you nicely, today, please share this blog post with one other person. Thank you.   Very casual, no pressure, act like you don’t really care.  (that is the secret)

Weather or not you have kids still living at home, this might be the perfect gift this season. A gift for others and yourself.

Here’s what we do:

Get out your charity envelope.  I will wait.  (of course you HAVE a charity envelope that you ear mark money to give throughout the month.)

Yes, of course we all give money once a year to our favorite charities or church.  We write a check, and in a very non personal way, give to those in need.  Our hands don’t get dirty.  We don’t need to lug bags of groceries to the food bank, we don’t need to feel awkward about having so much while others have so little, we don’t have to think about it.  Very neat and tidy.  All done.  Brush hands and sadly, sometimes feel superior.

I am talking about the envelope you fill each month to give to others.  Yes, we are called to give.  Oops, if you didn’t know this, consider this your invitation.

This is what I did:  I took $25.00 out of the envelope and made change.  I now had a stack of 25 dollar bills.  I put a paper clip on the money and walked out and put it into the glove box of our car. dollar bills 3

I got my purse and coat and patted the dog on the head before I headed out.

I drove up to the grocery store.  Before I got out, I took one of the dollar bills and put it into my pocket.

Now, instead of avoiding the door (we have ALL done that) with the bell-ringer, I was happy to see them.  Instead of breathing deeply and thinking, “I just wanted to run in and get a tomato and an avocado.”   Instead of fumbling with purse, groceries, umbrella, coat, mittens and trying to find a bill or coins to put into the kettle, “I’ll get you next time, all I have is a $20.00″………………I happily and purposely donated my one dollar.

Now, if you have kids or teenagers tell them what the plan is.  They can help you look for the Salvation Army Bell Ringers.   It can become part of who you are as a family.  “Mom, I can hear that bell, let’s take a dollar.”  “Don’t forget the dollar.” Last night on a quick trip to the store, Mr. Right handed me a dollar before we got out of the car.  Apparently, he listened to my idea at dinner and was on board! woohoo!

We can all be of some service.  Instead of being a drudgery or an annoyance let’s find ways to give with a Happy Spirit.

Of course we will continue to give to special charities that we have researched.  Of course we will give to a family that needs an extra hand during this season.

These 25 acts of good karma, service, pure goodness, charity…………..could quite possibly make a huge difference.  Oh sure the money will add up.  Heck, I have 300 followers of this blog.  300 X 25.00 each………..you are smart readers…….you can do the math. We can all be part of something big, something wonderful.  Like a secret society that only we know about.  Well, us 300 smarty pants people and the other person you tell today.

If each one of us decide to take on this challenge, we would each be bathed in GRACE and GOODNESS 25 different times during the month of December.

dollar billsWhat I am saying is this, by pre-planning and having those one dollar bills hidden neatly away in the glove box, we are opening ourselves up to the opportunity to be of service and to be bathed in Grace and Goodness.  

Today, is December 2nd.  We have given away 3 of the dollar bills.  I am on a mission, I am using my word of the year here, I need to SEEK  22 other places to donate my dollars.  The goal of this happy, spirit filled game is to have no dollar bills left at the end of this month.

May you (and the friend you share this with) be bathed in Grace and Goodness with this project.   Thanks 25 times over for joining me.

Here’s to a very Spirit filled month!

ps.  Yes, I know it is not safe to keep money in your car.  Yes, I know it is considered bad manners to tell others what kind act you are doing.  Work with me people, please!

ps. again.  Good news, those two teenagers, grew up to be men of service.  said the happy mom.

my favorite tree

20141130_134631Brrrrr, it is down right chilly where I live.   Yesterday, we went and got a tree for our deck!  It is something we look forward to every single year.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there are always two or three trees inside our home.  A beautiful candle in every window.  Front door festooned with wreath and a jaunty snowman and trees.  Yes, we decorate with buckets and baskets with fresh greens and lots of holly.   It’s just that the deck tree is my all time favorite, mitten covered hands down, year after year.

Right now, as I type to you, I can see the deck.  I can see the beautiful, full, lush Douglas evergreen tree.  Around the base I have put buckets of fir, and cedar, and holly.  I have a bird feeder and a wire ring that we put peanuts in for the Stellers Jays. I use wooden bird houses and cement animals to decorate.  In a day or two there will be pine cones rolled in peanut butter than bird seed to hang on the tree.  Left over popcorn will be offered up on a daily basis.

Oh, and what seems like millions of tiny white lights.

We decorated for many, many years in the front of our home.  Mr. Right climbed up onto the roof to put up white lights all around our home.  With the very few exceptions when we drove home from a quick grocery stop and felt comfortable leaving the lights illuminated, we didn’t get to enjoy them much.  Oh, sure we have very nice neighbors and I know they enjoyed our lights.  We just wanted to enjoy some of our efforts as well.

As I type, Sweet Liberty has her head on her pillow and she is watching a squirrel and some chickadees exploring the new tree. 20141130_153647

I simply adore that we do this for us.  It is charming and natural.  It makes me feel good that our decorations can be an invitation to the birds, squirrels and yes, chickens to enjoy as well.

As we begin this season of Advent, I want to take a moment to wish you all the goodness of the season.

I would love to hear your ideas on how you decorate outdoors.  What decorating do you do, just for you and your family?  Are we spending the right amount of time,  preparing an inviting, cozy sanctuary for the ones we love?  Or are we spending money and time to show off for the neighbors?   I know, I had to regroup a couple of years ago.  I had to take an honest look at how we choose to celebrate.  I am happy to announce, we found a happy and healthy balance for our home to look festive and inviting from the front side & yes, we still give our neighbors loaves of fresh made English Muffin Bread.  They are perfectly fine with our change in decorating as long as the homemade bread keeps coming.

The outdoor tree makes me feel happy.  Oh, I forgot to mention that all those needles are on the outside, haha.

20141130_164617May peace and goodness and healthy choices find their way into your family and home this season.

ps.  when the New Year arrives, we will take down the tree and chop a few branches each week.  I will use those to line the chicken coop for extra warmth during the harsh, and cold winter months.  Even that, makes me happy.  Who knew one tree could offer up so much happy?