Saturday, October 31, 2009

Featured Follower: Denise from Whimsy Couture

Way back in June, I met a great crafty and creative mom named Denise. I learned she was also incredibly generous when she offered to sponsor a giveaway through her Etsy Store, Whimsy Couture.

After earning a degree in business management, Denise realized her true passion was designing. She began creating Barbie dresses and then began making things for pets of all kinds! In September of 2004 her first child was born so she turned her love of designing doll and pet cloths to baby clothes.

Want to know how she came up with the fun name for her store? Denise's favorite things to make are anything whimsical! She loves appliques, ruffles, and mixing fabrics. But, you will also find very classic, timeless garments in solid colors in Whimsy Couture.

Denise mainly sells her clothing patterns but she also sells some of her custom creations. I was super happy to win one off of her blog earlier this month--an adorable Halloween Romper for Cutie Face to wear on all her Fall/Halloween outings.

We wore that romper out but Cutie Face still asks for it--seriously, she loves that dress so much that if she isn't begging to wear it she is dragging it around the house like a security blanket and loving on it.

You can see millions of pictures of Cutie Face in this outfit on our family blog (esp. this post!)

Make sure you check out Denise's fun blog (full of giveaways and crafty how-tos!).




And, as always, feel free to sign up to be a Featured Follower (just submit your information in the spreadsheet found at the bottom of this post)

Friday, October 30, 2009

I'm dreaming of a...

Strong Cup of Coffee

Somewhere along J's grad school journey, i became a coffee lover. I think i grew to love it during my office days--it was like becoming part of the tribe and participating in a daily, worldwide ritual. I loved it so much that I continued my tradition much past my working days--a strong cup of coffee was great when Cutie Face was a newborn and I cannot wait to get my old "fix" from it again in 3 months when Cutie Face #2 is born!

The fabulous Nicole over at Ramblings by Nicole awarded me this cute award on Monday.

There are many blogs that I consider strong enough to wake me up in the morning and keep me going all day long...if only i had enough time in the morning to get to my Google Reader!

I tend to read my Google Reader 3x a week (hence my sporadic comments on y'all's blogs...but i do read...just not as quickly as I wish i could!) but if I did read my Google Reader blogs every morning, everything y'all write would keep me going and going and going....

SO

instead of passing along this blog award to just a few people, i'm going to take a page from Melissa.

May I boldly suggest that you peek over at the right hand column --->

and check out the 5 most recent blogs updated in these categories:
  • People I ❤ in Real Life
  • Super Favorite Bloggy Pals
  • Incredibly Awesome Crafty Blogs
  • Baby and Cloth Diaper Blogs
  • And feel free to grab the cute coffee button!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Thankful Thursday: late again but we're still thankful!

I really like waiting until the end of Thursday to write my Thankful Thursday post...just in case i'd miss anything that would make the list! The problem with that is that I procrastinate on it until the time i go to bed and then i do it on Friday...like today!

Anyway, here is what I'm most thankful for this week!

1) Cutie Face LOVES loves LOVES eating vegetables, especially green ones (peas, green beans, broccoli and avocado--though that is technically a fruit!). She especially loves my green smoothies. I am so happy we don't have to figure out how to get her to eat those kind of foods...we'll see what #2 thinks about them!

2) We received our Gro Baby Biosoaker package in the mail yesterday! YAY for free cloth diaper fluff! I'll be posting a review of the biosoakers soon...so stay tuned.

3) Gorgeous fall days on Wednesday and Thursday (we went to the park...check it out)
4) Time with cousins! (on Sunday and Wednesday)

5) Whole Foods let us return our rotten pumpkin for a new pumpkin! I am thinking about re-doing my tutorial so that at least it can be complete...stay tuned for that, too. (check out what else we did that day...)

6) J and I were finally able to attend our church's community group last night--we haven't been able to go because Cutie Face was one big ball of green snotty cough goodness...and we didn't want to get the other babes sick. Thankfully, she is {mostly} over the phlegm snottiness and we felt she was safe to take to group. it was wonderful to experience that kind of fellowship again.

7) The best surprise package in the mail from Melissa! (i know i already blogged about that but it happened this week and i'm still thankful!)

8) I won a package of Bumpy Name Labels from the blog Nanny Deprived (cute name!) and they came yesterday! Cutie Face liked them...as a bracelet. I think they are adorable and I can't wait to go somewhere so i can put a label on her sippy cup!

9) date night--tonight! J and I haven't had a date night in more than a month! So sad. We used to take a date night every Thursday but with Cutie Face being sick and J working ridiculously late, that was a no-go. We can't wait to hang out just the two of us for some dedicated couple time.

10) Free Bagel Fridays at Einstein Bros Bagels! AND they have pumpkin bagels. Divine. This offer is good until next week so make sure you print a coupon and get to Einsteins before 11 AM next Friday for your free bagel.
10) Strategically placed Port-a-Potties on the way home from Einstein Bros...a pregnant woman ALWAYS has to go and i, for one, have no shame in using a construction crew's!

11) Etsy GIVEAWAYS! on MY BLOG! Yes! I know you haven't seen an Etsy Giveaway on my blog in AGES but that is changing next week! Get excited! I'm very thankful for the Etsyians who are offering their products as gifts to one lucky reader. I think you'll like what they sell and are giving away.

If you are on Etsy and want me to host a giveaway, just contact me!

What are you thankful for this week?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

W.o.G. Wednesday: Isaiah 29:13

Can you tell that Isaiah is one of my favorite books in the Bible? I hope you're not getting tired of this prophet's messages--i can't get enough of them!

While working on my {failed} Tutorial Tuesday post this week, I had the extreme privilege of listening to one of my favorite pastors speak online. His name is Mark Ashton and he is the lead pastor at St. Andrew the Great in Cambridge, UK. J and I recently received their newsletter and were stunned to hear that Mark has terminal pancreatic cancer. We both grew so much under his teaching so it was wonderful to be able to hear his sermon from earlier this month, "Turning Things the Right Way Up" (<--that link takes you directly to his audio sermon), derived from Isaiah 28:1-29:24. While I was carving away (or not), i was stopped cold by what Mark said halfway through the sermon. He brought the listeners back to the one of the main verses in the passage:

Isaiah 29:13

The Lord says:
"These people come near to me with their mouth
and honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship of me
is made up only of rules taught by men.
Then he repeated: "their hearts are far from me"

Because what he said next really resonated with me, I transcribed it below so that I would have it for easy reference. Many many times I feel like this is where I stand before God--going through the motions but not living for Him with my entire heart. I so absolutely needed this reminder and convicting sermon.

anyway, here is what Mark had to say:

See, God knows the human heart. He knows every heart present in this building. At this moment. And He knows where each of us stand in relation to Him. I don't know where you stand but God knows exactly, absolutely exactly, where you stand before Him at this moment in your life.

Mark then elaborated about the weeks before finding out he had cancer. His friend advised him that his poor feelings were from taking too much Ibuprofen. Mark finally went to hospital for gall bladder surgery. When he came to after the surgery, the surgeon told him that he had cancer.

Despite not knowing the surgeon and not particularly liking what the surgeon had to say, Mark believed that the surgeon was right, and not his friend. Why? Because the surgeon had been inside him. He had taken photos of his liver to prove it so there was no question who Mark would trust.

okay...back to the transcript:
Would you believe me that God has been inside you and He knows exactly where you stand? That is why you and I need to accept His warning to us. He knows the human heart; better than you know it yourself. God is like that. That is why we should believe him about the human condition; even our religion doesn't fool Him for a moment. It might fool our family and friends but it doesn't fool God. He knows exactly where we stand and he alone can deal with the heart of yours and mine.
So...that's my W.o.G. post for this week, courtesy of Mark Ashton. A challenge for me, to be certain! May I not be found performing "lip service" to my Savior but, instead, be found with a heart CLOSE to Him.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tutorial Tuesday: How to carve a Pumpkin

Last Tuesday, J, Cutie Face and I went pumpkin pickin' at Whole Foods. It was great and all their giant carving pumpkins were only $4. Cutie Face loved waking up every morning and greeting the pumpkin with a kiss. It was cute.

A few days ago, I noticed this weird odor. I really thought it was a stagnant smell since we had recently closed our windows due to the "cold" snap in Atlanta. I wrote it off as that and never thought about it again.

..until it came time for me to work on my Tutorial Tuesday last night...

I went over to the Pumpkin that Cutie Face had been kissing all week and touched the top. COMPLETELY SOFT. Disgustingly soft. Like ROTTEN soft.

Well, that at least explained the smell. At least it wasn't us!

I quickly took the rotten giant squash and deposited it in our apartment hallway (maybe not a great move since this morning our whole apartment now smells of rotted pumpkin flesh). Take a look at what one hour of sitting in the hallway did to the pumpkin--its top completely caved in--SICK



Sadly, though, this meant that there was no large pumpkin to carve for y'all...but there was the pie pumpkin that Cutie Face received from the blabla party. So, i thought, why not? it is essentially the same, just smaller proportions and thicker flesh.

ehh, true...but not at all the same level of ease!

I sheepishly admit that i gave up halfway through. BUT I'm here to still give you the essentials of carving a GREAT pumpkin. I really love carving pumpkins and making new designs so here are some tips!

1) Find a pattern that you like or create your own...i've made lots of different patterns in the past. These are some important tips to remember when creating your own:
  • Whatever you carve out of your pumpkin will be illuminated. (yes, this is obvious)
  • You can carve your pumpkin to have up to 4 tones of color: black (the pumpkin skin+flesh--nothing carved), white/yellow (the inner pumpkin, illuminated by the candle/light), light orange (where you scrape the pumpkin skin and the pumpkin flesh so that a thin layer remains), dark orange (where you leave more skin and flesh intact but still scrape away some so that light shines through)
  • Your patterns will always be the negative of the image you're trying to produce. This is why i take an image and immediately turn it into black and white and then make it a negative--you can do this with any photo editing tool. I used picnik.
  • ALL pattern shapes must be connected to the edge of the pumpkin, or, obviously, they will be disconnected and fall in the pumpkin!

2) THEN find a pumpkin that fits that pattern.

We bought our BIG rotten pumpkin for the purpose of a specific pattern but this pie pumpkin definitely wasn't cut out to do the same.


which is why i had to cut the pattern apart and space it to fit on the pie pumpkin, like so:


3) Once you have your pumpkin, give it a good scrub on the outside so that it is clean.

4) Now you need an opening in the pumpkin to scrape out the innards. I like to create the opening on the bottom of the pumpkin so it looks clean up top. In order to cut out a hole, i draw a pumpkin shape--the little lip/stem helps you realign the two pieces properly once you are finished


5) Cut out the hole with a knife--i think serrated edges work the best. Also, make sure that you pierce the knife all the way into the inside of the pumpkin so that it is easier to pull out the section when finished. (Note--all cutting and uses of knives are ADULT-ONLY parts of the tutorial!)


6) Use the knife as a lever to remove the cut-out section


revealing yummy pepitas!


7) Pull out all the seeds and then start scraping the flesh. I like to concentrate on the side where the pattern will be--no need to hollow out the pumpkin where you aren't carving!


KEEP SCRAPING. Pie pumpkins have lots of flesh (which is why they are good for making pies!) but you have to scrape the wall of the pumpkin to death before it is easy enough to carve!


8) Once you are finished scraping the flesh, clean up the pumpkin again (outside and inside) so that you can get ready to carve it!


9) Securely place your pattern on the pumpkin--make sure that you strategically place the pins on the pattern--you don't want superfluous pin marks! Clearly, this tutorial was doomed because I didn't have anything to hold the pattern in place except for safety pins! Ahhhhhh. I think that sewing pins or even tacks work well.

I removed the monkeys since they'd get in the way but you probably won't have to do this if you pick the proper pumpkin for the pattern!

10) Prick the edges of the pattern that you will be cutting out with a sharp pin.

Continue "pinning" until you have the pattern outlined

11) Now for another ADULT ONLY part of the tutorial--using a sharp utensil, cut out the pattern you just traced with your pin (if you have a delicate pattern or a small needle point, feel free to outline the pattern with a washable pen or pencil...like i had to do!)

12) i managed to accomplish the cutting of the "monkeys" but then J came home around 10:30, found that i had been working on this lovely project since 7:30 and ordered me to stop.

He was wise.

With a larger pumpkin (and, thus, a larger pattern), this carving session would not have been as difficult. I fully believe in your capabilities and hope you have fun carving your Halloween pumpkin this week!

Monday, October 26, 2009

So blessed by YOU!

Many times throughout the week I think, "I should give up my blog."

I feel like i'm either a little obsessed with it or, if i've been slacking on it, i feel guilty and stressed. Not exactly what i thought i'd feel when starting a blog.

But then there are these AWESOME days when i get to connect with all of you and when we share pieces of our lives together. Whether you just read or you comment, your presence is very encouraging!

Today was one of those not-feeling-bloggy days. Cutie Face took more than an hour to fall asleep and then woke up 40 minutes later. i was tired and frustrated.

So we went to check the mail--usually a good pick-me-up!

Lo and behold, not only had the mail arrived but a care package of sorts had made it all the way to my door from the UK! Melissa from The Gill Family Adventures read that I LOVED Jelly Babies (a UK gummy treat) and sent them, along with some delish chocolate and toffee, straight to my door.

I cannot tell you how much this little package made my day and changed my attitude (kind of a wake up call to realize how poor my attitude was prior!)

Needless to say, Cutie Face wanted to know what could make me so happy so I decided to share some love with her, too. Her first taste of chocolate, directly from the UK and nothing but the best--Cadbury fruit and nut!


So thank you, Melissa, and thank you, all of you for your daily encouragement!

I hope I can encourage you, too, and am kind of thinking that a Christmas 2009 Care Package exchange system might be one way to do it...thoughts?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

I ❤ Faces: Halloween Dress-Up!


Angie and Amy sure know how to properly time their themes on i❤faces--this past Saturday Cutie Face had THREE Halloween-oriented events to attend.

I was very excited to get the perfect picture of her in her cute Kittie outfit. And I knew that if that failed, we'd at least be able to get cute pictures of kids from playgroup or from the other parties. Sure enough, I failed at getting a cute one of Cutie Face...although this one was decent (click here to see it).

Regardless, a total stranger won out, as I really loved the focus and concentration this cute little ballerina fairy err, Tinker Bell (thanks Mindy, for reminding me who this cutie was dressed as!) gave to making her pumpkin perfect. While Cutie Face played with playdough for the first time, I watched this little girl work and work on decorating her pumpkin. Too cute!




and...just when you thought you got rid of me until next week's i❤faces entry...

we get a BONUS entry for dressed-up pets!

I used to dress Churchill up in outfits all the time (hey, it was cold in Boston and he needed sweaters!). Here is what he wore for Mardi Gras one year...don't worry, he just had to sit there and look cute to get all these beads:

{sigh}...i my kitten!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Featured Follower: Michaela from Life with the Crazies

(special note: the adverb of the day is "ridiculously")

So I know all of my followers have ridiculously cute families but I'm also learning that you are ridiculously hilarious, too.


Case in point--this week's featured follower: Michaela from Life with the Crazies


Michaela has two cutie pies: Goofball and SweetPea. She is a fifth-grade teacher part-time and at home with the Crazies part-time. Michaela has great priorities (in my opinion!): God FIRST then family. How easy it is as a mom (read how easy it is for ME) to jump up out of bed and go straight to mom-mode instead of daughter-of-God mode.

Anyway.

Back to the Crazies.

Goofball sounds like he lives up to his name--his exploits and quotes are hilarious but I was incredibly touched by this dialogue he had between he had with his mommy. You MUST read it. Right now. Go here.

Sweetpea sounds like she, too, lives up to her moniker. She is all girl and, according to her mama, will throw a temper tantrum if she does not have a bow in her hair! That made me smile.

You can read more about their background in Michaela's little 411 post here.



Besides being a wife, mom, and teacher, Michaela is also ridiculously crafty. She even has an Etsy store, L'alfabeto (you can also find her store on Facebook!).

She made matching coordinating robot shirts for Goofball and his friend:

She recently hosted a giveaway for these cool wire letters that she makes:

and she made a cool autumnal wreath for the Fall:

Yup. Crafty.

One thing that I found really cool about Michaela is that she donated her wedding dress to Goodwill. YES. DONATED. Her wedding dress. (Check out her story about that here).

Anyway, I could go on and on about how funny, crafty, and cute Michaela and the Crazies are but why don't you go on over and meet them yourself? Don't forget to tell her "Hello!"

PS As always, if you would like to be a featured follower, just fill out the form found in the bottom of this post.


Aww thanks!


Many thanks to Denise from Our Full Nest for tagging me and awarding me "Best Blog Award".

The Best Blog Award rules are:

To accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who gave it to you and his/her link. Pass it on to 5 other blogs you have recently discovered and think are great! Remember to contact the blogs you choose!

The thing that is fun about this award is that it highlights new blogs that I've recently discovered. Well, i feel like 15 is overkill and that by just doing 5, you'll be more apt to check these out. So, here are the newest 5 I've found that I just love!

  1. La*T*Da--so cute and lots of fun tutorials!
  2. Yankee Mama--she is a former Northerner living in the South and has super cute kids
  3. This is the Story of a Girl--a really sweet mama who is excited about life!
  4. Pobke Photography blog--absolutely stunning photos--she is currently in Japan! Take a look!
  5. Counting your blessings...and your pennies--an incredibly encouraging Christian woman, wife and mom
I hope you'll check them out!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Much to be thankful for this week but I want to start with the one that i am most thankful for:

1. God's incredible Grace and Mercy of forgiveness that allows me to start afresh despite my many many shortcomings.

Okay. i just wanted to highlight that one!

2. My Thursday morning girls. I love meeting with them early every other Thursday morning for fellowship over the Word and sharing where God is leading us. Those mornings are priceless

3. Meeting new people through the "Harvest of Friends" Blog party. If you missed my post but would like to learn more nuances about myself, check it out here!

4. My 80-year old grandma started making Cutie Face #2 a baby blanket. Cutie Face is attached to her blanket from her "GiGi". It is the #1 comforter to her, over me or J! She takes that thing with her everywhere and it cures all problems. Not only does Cutie Face #1 love her blanket, but we love it because of that!


5. Oh my head! I was honored and shocked beyond belief when I saw that I received 2nd place for my "Excitement" entry on i ❤ faces. Ummm WOW. Thank you SO MUCH! (if you want to see more excited bubble pictures from that day, check out this post).

This week's theme honored Breast Cancer Awareness--there are some excellent entries and i encourage you to check them out!

6. J's company sponsored a Pumpkin Patch day and we had so much fun exploring a new part of Georgia (some call it a suburb of Atlanta but we feel that is extreme :)

7. A great doctor's appointment that let us know Cutie Face #2 is doing really well, measuring great, and one happy kicking kiddo. We can't wait to meet her in February! Just 16 weeks to go (ahhhh!) Poor kid is already suffering from second child syndrome--i don't have any pictures of her latest ultrasound uploaded or shared!

8. The lovely "Leaves" scented candle from Bath and Body Works. J and I fell in love with the scent last year (when it was called "Autumn Leaves") and finally bit the bullet and bought a smaller version of it--divine!


9. Oh this was so fun, too--Rachel from the crafty-fun blog One Pretty Thing, featured my tutorial from this week! Thank you SO MUCH Rachel!
10. The relationship between J and Cutie Face. You don't know how much my heart overflows with thankfulness to see how excited Cutie Face gets when she sees her daddy:

And one to grow on...

11. Cutie Face has been really quite sick with a nasty little cold. She's had a green runny nose and, for the past two days, a very hacky little cough. Despite how sick she must be feeling she is so happy. This picture was taken on one of her worst days and she just has the most joyful spirit. We cannot be thankful enough for it!

I'd really love to hear what YOU are thankful for this week!