Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Sunflower Cupcake Toppers

When my friend, Jenn, planned her canvas art party I offered to bring cupcakes. And since Jenn was hosting, I let her pick the flavor of the day. She chose vanilla and chocolate.

I knew I'd be working on a sunflower canvas that day, and since my own sunflowers are the main focus of my garden these days, I decided to make some quick sunflower cupcake toppers.

I used two punches to make the sunflowers. This flower punch is such a versatile punch! Layered and staggered with a large circle in the center, it makes the perfect sunflower. Punch the flower shape in red and use a smaller circle and it's a great poinsettia. I've also used this punch for other random flowers and you can see those by clicking here and here.

Yummy vanilla cake recipe can be found here.
 And my favorite chocolate buttercream frosting ever can be found here.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Juggling Gene

I remember it like it was yesterday…

We were all hanging out in the kitchen, and our mom was making dinner when my brother Ron announced that he had learned how to juggle. He proceeded to demonstrate and entertain us with three oranges pulled from the fruit bowl.
It was so fun to see him juggle! “Hey! How’d you learn to do that?!?!” the other siblings exclaimed as he reveled in the spotlight.
Then he had the bright idea to juggle eggs.
“Don’t you do it, Ronnie!” Mom called over her shoulder.
“Aw, it’s ok, Mom! I can do it! Watch…”
Three sibs watched in amazement as the eggs went round and round - all the while Mom was in the background saying, “Ronnie…put those down…Ronnieeeee…”
“Look, Mom!” he answered, “I’m doing it!”

Round and round went the eggs...
And then -splat!- just as Mom predicted, Ron missed one of the eggs he’d been juggling. And to make it an even bigger mess, the egg fell right onto one of the burners of the kitchen stove.
“You’re cleaning that up!” Mom said, and the four of us roared with laughter. Haha – our poor mother.

#15 - a juggler

Years later when I had entered the corporate world, I attended a team building meeting with my coworkers. At the beginning of the day, we were each gifted with a pretty wooden box. Opening the box revealed three juggling balls inside, and then the assignment was announced. We would each learn how to juggle, and the requirement was that we had to toss and catch the balls at least five times in a row in order to move on. How hard could that be? Right?
Some of my coworkers caught on right away, and the team building part of the exercise was that those who mastered the art of juggling had to help the rest of the group that was still struggling.
Well, wouldn't you know, I was the very last person to finally toss and catch those freaking balls five times. I bent over and picked up juggling balls so many times that my muscles were so sore the following day I could barely walk. And I haven’t touched a juggling ball since!
Obviously, Ron got all the juggling genes.

I know, it's kind of weird that the only photo I have of my brother juggling was in his hotel room while our families were together in San Diego, but it's the only one I took so I'm using it as item #15 for Rinda’s Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt. We spent some time in my brother's hotel room while tending to this little peach, my four-month niece, Olivia. Here she is, watching her daddy juggle.  :o)

Monday, July 21, 2014

This weekend's canvas art party

Hey there, blog friends.
Happy Monday morning to you!
Now you might be thinking, "Wow, that's a very cheery greeting for a Monday morning, Deb!" and I would agree. But this past Saturday was the best kind of Saturday ever. I'm still basking in that happy feeling you get when you spend some time doing what you love with people that you love. I'm so excited to show you...

When I created and posted the circus themed canvas art that I'd made for Carrie back in 2011, my friend Jenn started in on me. At first she wanted to pay me to make her that canvas, but Jenn is a crafter like me. "You can totally make a canvas like that," I encouraged her.
This past Saturday Jenn hosted a crafting party in her home, and I led some of our friends in the process of creating canvas art. I love the process of this art anyway - seeing the piece come together and kind of morph into something amazing is just so cool. It was so much fun for me to see my friends creating their own canvases, and to see their own unique personalities in each piece of art. This one is the beginning of Barbara's:
And this next piece is the beginning of Corri's. Corri has an amazing eye for color combinations, and I just love the colors she chose. She wasn't able to finish her canvas on Saturday because she had other obligations, but I just love the beginning of her canvas. She's making this to hang in her baby girl's room:

Oooh, and then there's Carrie's canvas. There are so many things I love about Carrie's piece. She used a gold stamp pad on her canvas, and she cut that guitar freehand. And! She loved the process so much that she wants to make another canvas soon. Happy Momfriend! :o)

My canvas in the beginning...big surprise...sunflower...
Here's Carrie's finished piece - complete with a quote from Jason Mraz. Another big surprise if you know my girl C.

Let me tell you about my friend, Jennifer. She is an elementary school teacher, and she has three little boys and a beautiful home and a heart of gold. And this girl is one creative spirit! I loved being in her home and seeing all of her sweet touches. Her artistic spirit and love for her family is so well represented there. This girl was determined to make this circus canvas, and she wore her 3-month old baby boy for a good part of the time.
We all agreed that Jett was the cutest wardrobe accessory we'd ever seen. This was Jenn's view of her canvas for a good part of the day: {PS: I held Jett a lot too, and we became very good friends. :o)}

Jenn's canvas in progress:

And then there's my artist friend Barbara. Barbara is one of the most creative and artistic people I have the pleasure of knowing. I knew her piece would be amazing! {Some of my Instagram friends know her as @mimrpic.}

And here are a few people-photos...

Jenn, Carrie, me, Jett, Corri and Morah. Still bummed we didn't get a group shot so Barbara could be in this photo!
:o) I loved creating this recap of our Saturday together, creating canvas art and holding sweet little babies. See why I'm in such a good mood this Monday morning? Love.
Wishing you a wonderful week, dear friends.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Just a Quote for Friday

“Know well what leads you forward and what holds you back, and choose the path that leads to wisdom.”
~ Buddha

Thursday, July 17, 2014

This Week in my Garden

My garden mirrors my life in many ways. These days find me in the process of making some changes. Getting ready to make a shift, shed some old skin, and focus on some new growth.

My little blogging break at the beginning of this month was a way for me to step back and think about this blog. Sometimes I get caught up in wondering why I spend so much time on blogging - what's it all for? And I question what I share here and if it's enough or too much.

Among the happy, uplifting posts about how awesome my life is and how grateful I am, there are muddled thoughts and some blue days. And I wonder if that makes me less authentic here on this blog space. At times I'll share a story that exposes my vulnerability and stretches my personal limits and I wonder if that's such a good idea. { this awesome, awesome video...}

And then I step back, take a little blog break and dust myself off. I allow myself to embrace my human nature and I am reminded that every day is a new day. Every day is a new chance to do the best I can, and to find something, anything, to be grateful for. Every day is a chance for new direction and growth. And I realize that that's what this blog is for - a chance to encourage myself and my readers to keep smiling. To keep on keeping on!
My future holds some exciting things! Yoga is making a big presence in my life and I am loving my reconnection there. In the upcoming months I may be blogging less, so for those of you sweeties who look for me every day, you needn't worry if on a random Tuesday {or any given} morning you don't see a blog post from me. 

I'll just be over here, in my little corner of blogland,
tending to my garden and trusting the process.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Angel Baby Quilt

One of the {many} perks of being me is that I come from a long line of quilt makers. I am the proud owner of a few precious quilts, lovingly made by the hands of my grandmothers and great-aunts.
Another perk of being me is that my Grandma Bessie's youngest sister, my great-aunt Jonnie, is on Facebook and she reads my blog {hi Aunt Jonnie!!!}. I love that we have reconnected through social media, and that she reads my words here and knows what I'm up to these days.
I've had this little angel baby quilt since the beginning of my time, and I'd been wondering about its origins. I thought that my grandma had a hand in making it but I wasn't sure, so I sent a message to Aunt Jonnie and asked about it.

I’m so glad I asked! What I discovered from Aunt Jonnie was that my grandma hadn’t really helped with the quilt due to arthritic hands, but that it was a joint effort on behalf of her sisters - my three great aunts that I grew up with and adored as a child.

I learned that my great-aunt Floy, the eldest sister, “tore” the squares. And the middle sister, my great-aunt Mary, cut and sewed the angel shapes on. And the beautifully stitched embroidery that I had long admired? It was all done by Aunt Jonnie herself. It's so fun to know that they each had their own special part of the quilt making process!

Once the embroidery and applique work was done on each of the blocks, Aunt Floy sewed them together. The quilt tops were then assembled and quilted by all of my aunts during their weekly missionary meetings (quilting days) on Thursdays in the church basement. {I blogged about that here.}

Aunt Jonnie told me that they made these quilts to raise money for their church, and they also made them “for free” for each of their first grandchildren with the idea that they would be passed down and used by all of the kids.

She said they lost count of how many of these quilts they made over the years, and she guessed over 50 of them. They even made one for their grandchildren’s first children, and Carrie has this same quilt, done up in green and yellow and not nearly as worn, safely tucked in my cedar chest.
One of my very favorite things about this quilt is that my mom wrote my name in permanent marker in a corner on the back to identify it as mine when I took it to school. This quilt was also used by me in Kindergarten as a nap-mat. :o)  

I love knowing the sweet history behind this angel baby quilt! It has always been a treasure to me, and knowing all those sweet details makes it even more special.

Monday, July 14, 2014

A partial weekend recap and some scavenger hunt photos

Hi blog friends!
Carrie and I met some friends for breakfast yesterday in downtown Phoenix. After our meal she suggested a walk and I was able to capture a few photos for Rinda's Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt. What better way to break my blog silence than with a few photos from my weekend.

Matt's Big Breakfast had been featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives so we met our friends there for a yummy (and big) breakfast. It was a late breakfast and by the time we were done it was pushing 11:30 a.m. and it was hot outside (107°F / 42°C). But Carrie wanted to feed her fitbit, and it's not every day that we get to see the sights in the downtown area - so off we went...

I've blogged about the amazing murals in downtown Phoenix before (here and here). Most of them have changed since my last visit there, but it was too hot to go back around and take more photos. Carrie and I vowed to come back in a few months when it's cool enough to walk around. We headed in the opposite direction, toward the downtown ASU campus...

#6 - An urban street scene ~ Not a whole lot of people action on a Sunday afternoon. Eh-hm...could have been the heat...

#17 - A lamppost

#12 - A mascot - see it on the lamp post sign? Arizona State University's mascot is a sun devil, affectionately known as "Sparky."

We walked toward the Westward Ho - a famous hotel in the downtown area that was built in 1928. Carrie searched for information on her phone and proceeded to read a list of all of the famous people who stayed at this hotel back in the day. John F. Kennedy, Paul Newman, Elizabeth Taylor, Lucille Ball... The list goes on and on. It was the hotel back in the day. And in a place with that much history, it's said to be a bit haunted - you can read more about that here.

In 1980 the hotel was converted into a subsidized housing complex for elderly and mobility impaired. We really wanted to go inside - not only to check out the lobby but also to cool down a bit - but we were not allowed inside. Security is tight.  
In 1949 the steel tower and antenna were added to broadcast the first television show in Phoenix. It's crazy to think about how far technology has come - and how much Phoenix has grown - in such a short time! The flags flying in the photo above are: the American flag, State of Arizona, and Arizona State University.

Me with some more mural art. You know how you can look at photos and remember how you felt at the time? Like, when Carrie and I look at some of our England photos we remember how cold we were (especially in Liverpool). This one will always remind me of how hot I was.

Anyway! That was our couple of hours in downtown Phoenix. We headed home, went our separate ways and I finished out the day doing exciting things like laundry and making roasted cauliflower that was not nearly as tasty as all the Pinterest posts would have you believe. And then it rained...

We had an awesome monsoon storm blow through in the late afternoon that was pretty wicked. Our giant eucalyptus tree swayed and bent and held fast, but our neighbor's tin storage shed was not so lucky. It was lifted out of his backyard and flung into another neighbor's yard. Doug, the good neighbor, helped him disassemble it and load it into his truck for a trip to the scrap metal recycling place today. And wouldn't it be nice if that storm had cooled things down a bit? Yeah, it would have been nice, but instead we have hot and humid today which really makes us desert folks whiney and crabby.
Add that to Monday morning and you have yourself someone who needs a trip to the yoga mat and probably one more cup of coffee before getting ready for work. ;o)
Have yourself an amazing week, my friends!
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