Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Handmade Christmas Part 2

Today I made some yummy treats to hand out at Christmas. I love this recipe so much I'm going to share it.

Pecan Honey Spread 

1 cup Honey Raw 
1 cup Pecans bits not the whole ones but the chopped up pieces
1 1/2 teaspoon of Orange Zest (organic if you can) 
1 teaspoon of cloves (fresh ground). 

Mix together pour into cute jars, put a lid and a label on them and you have a tasty spread for your toast or bagel. I got the idea from Williams-Sonoma Cook book but I like my version better. 

We made cute hair bows and strung some beads to build some gifts for cousins and local friends. 

I also got to spend the afternoon cutting out christmas cookies with my friend M. The cookies taste fantastic but did not keep their shape. So we will be trying again next week, but that is the beauty of getting my Christmas done early. One bad batch is not going to flip me out we have plenty of time to complete our appointed tasks. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

A Beautiful Girlhood

Well we just reach week 5 in our meanderings through our Resurrection to Reformation curriculum. So this isn't a week in review but I can't wait any longer.  Were only on page 27 of A Beautiful Girlhood, but I love love love this book. Carrie always picks bible study books that focus on character. I do find the book to be a bit dated in it's wording but when I read aloud I just update the language on the fly (bad me I know).  Yet the questions it asks us to discuss are wonderful.  I found we have to set the timer or we just sit and talk about the study for an hour.  The questions really help my kiddos to examine what motivates them and why they are behaving the way they do. It's funny I have a phrase I say a lot "You can wait impatiently and angry or you can wait patiently and happy, but in the end you are going to wait."  The books brings up the same principle all the time.  Our character is an out-pouring of our heart and choices we make.

I gave the girls a scenario, if they could make a skirt any color, any style what would it look like? They both described short skirts one knee length blue and frilly, one mid thigh and covered in animal prints. I then asked them if either of these skirts would be acceptable in say a Amish household? They blanched "No Mom they couldn't wear either of these!" Ok how bout here at home?  Well one was not acceptable here either... Why? Discussion about chocolate cake ensued. It all led back to our choices and how we see ourselves. Why does one of my girls think super short skirts are an option anyway? I have a funny feeling it's the hormones that have been turned on in her brain,  while her prefrontal cortex has not yet caught up.  I keep thinking this too shall pass.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

We All Need a Little Respect.

I've been trying to implement 2 pieces of advice that we received during our TBRI training. Part of me thinks that during implementation they appear to be contradictory. I must be doing some of it right because she is now consistently coming to me for comfort asking for help, and seeking loving touch. 

The first one is; Stop bad behavior at the source by requiring respect.  Respect is the key, any and all disrespect is jumped on not allowed. It really is the beginning of all bad behavior. When we treat each other with respect bad behavior just disappears. It really works!  I've totally stolen Mike and Amy's line "Can you say that in a respectful tone of voice?"  I think I must have said that 20 times the first day back from Allume, and 10 times the second day back. It's quite funny as most her responses the first day back was "No I can't." upon which I replied "Maybe you should reconsider saying it." or I gave her a polite way to say what she was trying to express.

The second thing I have been working on is being Sweet Potatoes cheerleader. So often in our relationships with our adopted children they feel like they cannot be loved because birth mom "gave them up" "abandoned them" they feel deep down inside there must be something wrong with them.  This shows up in relationships as behavior that pushes people away rather than drawing them in.  This has been so hard this last week because of what I have dubbed the one thing leading to another principal.

I grab the Ipad to watch some Netflix while I work on handmade Christmas presents. I find it is on youtube. Ergo someone was using the Ipad for access to youtube, and the last person to use it was Sweet Potato.  I don't let my kids watch youtube, have you seen the risque positions they put legos in? So I sit down and have a talk with Sweet Potato who admitted to not playing minecraft but instead as soon as no one was watching switching over to youtube and looking up celebrities.  Now for all of you who think I'm being a helicopter mom... the conversation led to her being upset that she found in her words "Gross pictures of Legolas" and "I want to watch the movie White Hot with Mark Hamill in it."  When in reality the movie is called The Big Red One, and she's never expressed an interest in WWII history before how odd...

So after that discussion I return to my project and Netflix only to discover shows Mom has declared off limits were watched during our absence. *sigh* can I just go bang my head against a wall.  Checking with the sitters, one of them was agast as the girls assured her they were mom approved shows they were Disney shows, they weren't disgusting... or anything. The main problem being, is when my children observe these shows the themes of parents learn lessons from children, father figures who are bumbling idiots that can't find their own toes without help, and parent acknowledges the child's superiority of intellect, money management, behavior, open mindedness etc. seeps into their hearts. They actually start to say and act out the lines from the shows.  Which brings us back to Mom having to jump on bring into the light all disrespect. So back out I go to chat with both my children about character issues...

How much work did I accomplish on my Christmas project??? next to nothing, but hopefully I got through to my childs heart.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Thrift Store Christmas Dress Hacks

OK so I'm terrified of satin, silk, taffeta, all the if you poke them with a pin they get snagged fabrics, which is why I have never even tried to make my kids christmas party dresses out of these fabrics. I have been known to make them out of cotton and make them look like Laura Ingalls. This year in my desire to have Christmas done early, yesterday as I was waiting for our Christmas photos to print... I thought hey lets run down to the thrift store and see what they have... it's not prom season when the price of prom dresses rises to 30$ and it's not really time for buying a Christmas dress... so off we went.  After looking in the wrong rack and finding some things we might be able to hack. Little Miss Sunshine found the RIGHT rack full of taffeta, and satin.

We grabbed all the size 1 and size half and even a size 8 and ran into the changing room. Little Miss Sunshine fell in love with a electric blue dress that was 2 sizes too big. Sweet Potato just loved the softer green size 8 Jessica Mcclintock. Both were strapless dresses and both girls insisted the dress be tight tight... meanwhile Mom said it was ok only if I could make straps for each dress. Really who wants to be tugging your dress back into place all evening????

I tried to document how I took 2 dresses that were the wrong size and made them fit.  This was much easier because they are strapless, if the dress you pick has sleeves you may need a much bigger hack...
So here is the dress we found, first I put it on her inside out and then basted tucks on the inside. She is standing on a footstool in her "high" heel shoes. 
Once I figured out the hem I marked it. 
 I cut it very carefully! 
Then I trimmed the under dress. 
 From the scraps of trimmed skirt I measured out straps. 
 After I sewed the seam I edged it with zigzag to keep it from fraying. 
Then turn them inside out, use a safety pin and a chopstick. 
I attached the straps with hand sewing, due to the lace up back this dress
was very easy to hack into fitting well.
Here it is all finished. Easy peasy! 

Here is the soft green dress before we started. It is too loose and and way to long. 

Sorry for the bad photo but here is the hack all hemmed to a new length,
I made twisted straps so it won't fall down on her.
I also was able to take it in, in such a way I can let it out later
so maybe she will have this dress for a longer time than just one season. 
Not bad for $12 I'd say. 

A Handmade Christmas

Not all my gifts will be hand made this year as we have decided Christmas is not an emergency and we have been donating to our Christmas envelope for a few months now. Many of my friends actually prefer handmade consumable gifts, they see them as a thoughtful gift made with love that will not need to be dusted in the future. So I thought I'd share a few gifts I am making, I won't show it all so the person getting it will still be surprised. I'm also going to give a shout out to the Prudent Homemaker who also has great handmade gift ideas (and No she did not pay me to link her up I just think she is fabulous.)

I decided to do a set of seasonal cards. I have a bag of cards left over from our adoption announcements so many years ago, I found them when I was cleaning. I also have one last big piece of watercolor paper, and all the leftover watercolors from CTC that are just begging to be played with.
So I measured my blank cards and my paper and cut my watercolor paper up into (for me) tiny pieces that will fit on the card fronts. 
I then drew a tree because what is easier than a nice landscape with a lone tree... 

I then used a piece of tracing paper (ok I'll be honest it was velum because I can't find the tracing paper), to trace my tree I used my pencil to shade in the back so when I trace it on to my other watercolor papers  the tree will have the same general shape 
Don't forget to add some kind of registration mark! I marked the corners of the paper so when I laid it down to trace I could keep it in the same place for every card. 
Ok here I have 4 all done you can do more than 4 but this is how many I managed with my card size.  I planned on a piece of paper what each card will look like. I took a few ideas from these posts 
and it helped tremendously to know what each season was going to look like in my head before I started. 

Using a small piece of tape I made a moon taped it down and then did a wet on wet color wash of a winter night. Notice I stopped at my horizon line. I have taped these down via the back not the edges, since they will be glued to the cards in the end I can flatten them out then. 
After it dried I pulled off the tape and added yellow shading to the moon. painted in the tree in black, then hit the bottom with white paint, added a quick shadow and then shook the salt shaker over the drying white paint to add a 3D snow effect. You need to work quickly so the salt will stick. 
Here is my background for spring. I dropped in some white clouds over the top of the sky. 
Add the tree in brown and let it dry. 
Now I added in bright green leaves by dabbing with a nasty ol' paint brush  the kids had destroyed. Add some spring flowers, I'm not sure if they are daffodils or yellow tulips, but they do make this image look like spring!  You could also add white blossoms to the tree if you wanted to make it an apple, dogwood etc.  I also did a green wash up from the bottom over the top of the yellow underpainting. 
Here is my background for summer but alas the finished product photo is unusable and I already wrapped the present, so I'm going to leave the rest to your imagination. Add in a brown trunk and use a darker green  
for the leaves. I added dots of yellow to the grass to be dandelions. 
For fall I picked a stormy day, after I had mixed up some grey blue paint and did a wet on wet color wash I used a dry brush to soak up some of the wash. Then used a wet brush to drop in some clouds. When it had dried a bit I added some white to the clouds and some more of the dark wash to edges. I love how it turned out. To get the fall grass look I under painted a light brown and then went over it with the leftover summer green wash. See how it gives it a more fuller color. 
I painted in a few extra limbs on the tree as if the tree had actually grown during the seasons. Using my paintbrush I dabbed in leaves on the tree. Use yellow, orange, and red and don't worry if the colors get a bit mashed together. I then used my brush by dabbing to makes blowing leaves as if the wind was carrying away the leaves. 

After they were all done I glued them to the cards, be sure to weigh the drying cards down with books so they dry flat. Don't forget to sign and date your art work! Wrap and give. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

I Can't Imagine It.

I read this story from the Blog For Asia site, and my heart is saddened. In places like India and Nepal things like food, water, and shelter are not considered rights. Basic necessities are not paid for by the government, there are no free phones, food stamps or what we think of as homeless shelters.  If you fall into poverty it is very very hard to bring yourself back out. The culture also is very much against widows, superstition abounds and can hamper even an educated woman from recovering from the loss of her husband.  I'm concerned right now because we will most likely lose our health coverage come December. As my mom pointed out in our discussion, we have lived without health care before so we can again. I guess this is just a way we can get closer to imagining what it is like to not have the safety net our culture provides. Tho I don't think we can ever put our minds in the same places as these woman.

We have never gotten turned away from health care because we can't pay up front. WIC helps moms in the positions where they can't feed their children. Those that fall into bankruptcy in our society can turn around and start rebuilding (look at Dave Ramsey). Our culture is a pull yourself up by the bootstraps culture. This is a vastly different mindset from the Asian culture where opportunities are fewer because no one thinks that opportunities can be created but rather have to be gifted to a person. A person in a desperate situation is seen as deserving of their plight due to cultural mores. Compassion is not expected but I do believe it is needed.  Consider sponsoring a Woman Missionary or Me Click Here :-) 

Nepalese Woman Finds Hope Amidst Great Loss

Amidst the 700,000 people living in Kathmandu, Shiuli was entirely alone. At 21 years old, the young woman had been taken away from her friends and family and had lost her husband, leaving her to fend for her three daughters all on her own. And the next tragedy was just around the corner.
Hardship began when Shiuli was only 14 years old after her parents arranged her marriage to Tarun. She had grown up in a quiet mountain village of central Nepal with her family and friends nearby. But after the couple got married, Tarun decided they would move to Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal.
There he found a job in the carpet industry. The young bride later began working there as well. In the years following, the couple had three daughters. At one point, Tarun got sick—and never got better.
After seven years of marriage, he died, leaving Shiuli a young widow with three daughters to care for in a city where she had no one to help her out. Things only got worse.
Because of her desperate poverty, the widow didn’t have enough money to provide for her children.
She watched her youngest daughter starve and die of malnutrition.
Woman in Anguish Seeks Answers in Many Religious Centers
With all the calamities that had struck her family, there was nothing and no one the young mother could depend on. She worried she would die, leaving her two remaining daughters completely helpless to defend themselves against abuse.
There are as many as 300,000 Nepali girls who have been sold into the sex trade in India alone.
Shiuli desperately needed answers—so she went searching for them.
Shiuli had seen little difference between the religion she had grown up in and the two other major religions she knew of, so she figured she would solicit all three of them.
She went to many religious centers and offered the little money she had, along with other sacrifices, to the gods, hoping for a response. She also sought the help of different religious figures.
For all her searching, she couldn’t find any peace—until one day when visitors interrupted her at work.
Visitors to Carpet Industry Bring Answers
The women who walked in told Shiuli they were followers of Jesus. They explained about Christ and His sacrifice on the cross. As Shiuli listened to their kind words, she felt like she had finally found someone to turn to.
She confided in them, pouring out her whole, sad story to the women. They shared God’s love and told her He could free her from all her burdens.
These women were missionaries, sharing the hope of the true God with people like Shiuli who desperately needed Him.
Women missionaries like this one are able to bring hope and peace to women whom male missionaries cannot talk to because of cultural restrictions.

Shiuli realized they were telling her the answers she had been seeking from the other gods. The words they spoke gave her the peace she needed, and she knew she could take refuge in Christ.
The missionaries connected her with a church, and as she continued to learn more about the Lord, she chose to take Him up on His offer of peace!
Now Shiuli is part of a Gospel for Asia-supported church, and she is growing in the Lord with the help of the pastor and other GFA-supported women missionaries. She has found the answers and the peace she was looking for and the One she can turn to as her refuge from calamities.
“The Lord has blessed me in such a wonderful way that He has provided shelter, food, special care and attention through His people,” Shiuli says.
“The most important thing is I am receiving fellowship,” she adds.
I was really deprived of love and affection, but here, everybody loves and takes care of me. I thank the Lord Jesus Christ and His people.
Give Answers to Someone Else in Anguish
Millions of other women in South Asia need someone to turn to who will tell them of the God they can take refuge in. But many of these women cannot or will not talk to a male missionary because of the cultural restrictions against male-female relationships. They can only be reached by other women.
Touch the life of someone like Shiuli by sponsoring a woman missionary.