Friday, July 13, 2018

A Midsummer Rant

I recently read an article by Suzanne Venker titled, "Secrets good and bad that no one is telling about motherhood." If you visit this blog, you're probably very aware that it's not the kind that gives an 'opinion' towards anything other than crafting projects. But for some reason, it really hit home. As a mother of two girls myself, I often wonder, am I saying the right things? My girls have already started conversations; what college they want to go to,  what they picture doing for a career, what kind of house they want to live in, where they hope to travel to. One of my girls have even said they never want to have kids! And though sometimes it becomes a comical conversation, I can't help but wonder if my replies are devastating or bubble bursting. They are just kids, right?

Well after much thought, I don't think it's wrong for a mom to be honest with her daughters. I love that Suzanne hits three important topics, broad enough to get the mind of a young woman rolling on expectations. So today's post is a little rant on diving deeper on those points.


1. Whom you choose to marry will have more of an effect on your happiness and well-being than any other choice you make in life. 

Yes, yes, and yes! When it comes to marriage the bottom line is simple.... marry your best friend. Someone you care about emotionally and soulfully.  They should be the person you can't stand to be in an argument with. Marry someone who respects your ideas and knows what the word "family" means. And maybe it's a bad thing, but deep down I don't think so. I tell my girls perfect doesn't exist. That's the beauty of it all. If everyone was perfect, imagine what a boring world we'd have. Our quirks and imperfections make us human.

2. Don't assume you'll always be in the workforce.

I was an at home mom for yeeeeeeears... And though I feel extremely lucky to have experienced that, I do have to admit, there was a point where I realized work was calling me. But, that's not where it starts. Now reflecting, my husband and I always knew I'd be an at home mom. We didn't have help, no babysitters, and no family members to jump in daily. It was just us two. We were going to make this happen. And when someone says, make this happen, most reference refers to the monetary aspect of things. I have girlfriends who have asked me, how was I able to stay home for so long without working. My reply... I never shopped unless it was for food or something we needed.  When it came to clothing, us parents were last on the list. The girls always got stuff first.  I basically lived in sweatpants for 3 years. No joke. Next, the way our house looks now, was not at all what it looked like while my girls were babies. We had some hand me down furniture that was great. And heck, we even had empty rooms with no furniture in them. For example, our 'formal living room' sat empty for many many years. The bottom line, there's such a great bond that happens when you stay home an omit a babysitter. Looking back, I realize how fortunate and how close we've become only having depended on each other. You and your husband feel empowered. You're making it happen and without help.

But as the girls got older, I realized I needed some me time. And I'm thankful everyday of my life that I have a husband that made me feel like it was okay and that I wasn't being selfish by wanting a career. Working as nurse, part time, has been beneficial to our family, not just financially, but spiritually.  Suddenly the dust on the floor or crumbs on the counter don't bother you anymore. You're just so happy to see those smiling faces.

Some of my friends, who work full time, end up doing more activities with their children than those who stay at home. The bottom line, the only right answer is the one you and your spouse decide on. 


3. Don't forget your body has an agenda of its own.

This is so very true and not discussed enough. Hollywood portrays new mothers as women who drop to their pre-baby weight within months of giving birth. God bless them, but I think it's safe to say that's not the norm. The average woman does not have a live in babysitter to take her child so she can go to the gym to work out. Yes, there are the mommy exercises you can do at home, but really, when you're home, there are 500 other things more important that need your attention.

Speaking for myself, there were days I felt I didn't accomplish anything but taking cute pictures of my kids playing with chocolate cake batter. (Yes, you read that correctly.) I never exercised. I never watched what I ate. I became a mama. 100% devoted to my munchkins. Teaching them to read, write, ride a bike, help me with the household chores. Brag time: Heck at 11, my older daughter was making crepes! Yes, we love food in this house! And in the end, the most important thing is to love our bodies. 

Suzanne Venker's book 7 Myths of Working Mothers has received quite an array of reviews. She portrays a very strong opinion regarding the idea that work and motherhood can rarely, if ever, coincide ~ giving the reader a perception that you must give up on one to have the other.

Obviously, I don't agree with that. But I won't say it's not worth the read. Her ideas can get a young woman rolling on possibilities. And if anything, broaden the mind to expect the unexpectable. 

If you've made it this far, thanks for listening to the rant. I'm so curious to know, have you stayed at home to raise kids? Do you believe the workforce and motherhood can't coexist? 

May there be happy trails for all the moms ~ on the road and at home:)

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Rose Oil & Elderflower Syrup



The Cherokee Rose

Everything has been coming up roses & elderberries!
From wild bushes in fields to the ones planted with purpose, there is a breathtaking scent that sweeps the yard when the light summer wind blows.

So how can you bottle up that aroma or take all the goodness to use in the winter months? Very simply. You can make rose oil & elderflower syrup!




Use dry rose petals for teas and drinks!

~ROSE OIL~

All you need is some fresh buds, a jar, and a carrier oil. I used grapeseed oil for it's high benefits in skin care. It is great for clogged pores and oily skin! It has twice the amount of Vitamin E and is extremely high in Vitamin C. Did you know it even works as a natural sunscreen?

Simply fill your jar to the max with fresh buds and petals and add the oil. Make sure to add it slowly and gently tap the bottom of the jar to remove all air bubbles. The oil should completely cover the petals. Close your jar and place it by a sunny window for about 4 weeks to let the sun cook it.

I did this early in June when our wild rose bushes were in full bloom. Could I tell you how wonderful the smell of this oil is? My rose loving teenager still can't believe how we were really able to bottle that scent!





Finished bottle of rose oil once the petals have been removed.


******************************************************


~ELDERFLOWER SYRUP~


Elderberry syrup is so good for you!  But I'm not talking about making the medicinal kind today. I'm talking about the kind of syrup you add to your "mixed drinks".... wink, wink.

It derives strictly from the buds and not the berries!

All you have to do is dry your elderberry flowers, which usually takes 2 weeks and cook them up as a simple syrup.




Just measure equal parts of your three items, sugar, water, and elderberry buds.
I do not recommend using fresh buds.

For my mixture, I used 6 cups of each, making sure that the flowers were not compressed during each measurement.

Cook on a medium heat thoroughly until the sugar completely melts. An additional 5 minutes won't hurt.

You will definitely smell the success. Elder flowers have a definitive scent.



I reused old snapple bottles for my storage containers. Using a strainer, pour the hot liquid into your jars. Would you believe that these lids still popped during the cooling process?! I was ecstatic knowing that my treat was perfectly sealed until use!

After they cool to room temp, place them in the fridge.

Use roughly 2-3 teaspoons of this syrup for your mixed drinks, iced teas, or hot beverages! 

The possibilities are endless!





Hope you enjoy! Till next time friends:)




Monday, June 25, 2018

A Little Weekend Getaway

Hello friends! This past weekend our family got to enjoy a little getaway. We headed north to Niagara Falls, Canada to enjoy some waterfall views and take in some of the maple leaf country.

What a fun excursion it was! And I can't believe how much has changed since we were there years ago! So... I'm going to tell you all about it, listing some pretty cool things to do if you're traveling with tweens!




For starters, Canada is packed with botanical gardens. No matter where you stand, you will always be in perfect view of gorgeous trees, shrubs, and roses. We really enjoyed the scenic drive to the Botanical Gardens & Butterfly Conservatory . Home to over 2,000 butterflies, this magical haven was packed with more than colorful wings and flowers. Grab a quick bite to eat at the little cafe and enjoy some beautiful native plants.










Although there's no pictures from Clifton Hill, we were too busy having fun going into haunted houses and playing games at the arcade. This is the perfect spot if you have teens! Plan on being there more than a few hours. It's the main location for the Skywheel, Speedway, golfing, museums, and restaurants.

The Whirlpool Adventure Course is another great stop for families! Not a good spot if you're afraid of heights. We'll stop there.

The Niagara Falls Lock Bridge was a pretty cool sight! You can buy a lock at the Embassy Suites hotel. Make a wish or tell a secret.... lock it up and throw the key in the falls!  



And if you're too tired from all the walking, you can always use The Falls Incline Railway as a shortcut to get to the falls. It's a great place for dining with waterfall views at the Table Rock Centre pictured below.






And of course we had to stop and pay tribute to the lovely garden memorial and statue dedicated to Nikola Tesla.




Although there's plenty of places to eat, I got admit our favorite was The Spyce Lounge . The food was amazing and the atmosphere was fun and modern.


Random things that I thought were awesome....
Your credit card never leaves your side. For example, at restaurants, each waiter/waitress carries their own payment terminal. They ring you up right there! This completely removes the risk of credit card info being stolen. It's great and I wish it was something that can be adopted here in America. 
Did you know that they charge extra for plastic bags? I think that's great too! Talk about going green. 
My girls really didn't enjoy the toilet paper dispensers. At some locations, toilet paper actually came out like tissue box paper. Yup, if you're thinking Kleenex, you're right. Again, I'm assuming, an attempt to eliminate excessive wasting....(which as a mom, I found a helpful thing).

So... the next time you have a free 48 to 72 hours and a bit of spending cash, make sure you head north and view those beautiful Niagara Falls.






Friday, June 1, 2018

Rose Water for the Face & Body




Our beautiful tea rose bush is in full bloom once again and oh what a lovely sight it is! I usually spend time making rose syrup, which you can find here, but since I've been trying to take it easy on the sweets, I opted for a luxury mist:) After all, who doesn't love to be pampered? And who wouldn't love a little spa-like pick me up in the middle of a stressful day? Right? Soo.... I gathered some supplies and got to work!

You'll need: 
-  tea roses (about 7-8 blooms)
-  2-3 aloe vera stalks
-  Vitamin E oil
-  Essential oil of choice (I used Niaouli)
-  one water bottle
-   funnel
-  glass dish
-  enamel coated cookware (for boiling the rose petals) Do not use stainless steel as it will make your water a dark purplish blue. This happens from the oxidation.
-  wooden tongue depressor (use it for mixing, pulling out the petals from the boiled water, and scraping the aloe vera stalks.
-  spray bottles (I got mine at Target for a buck)
-  a knife to slice open the aloe vera





Start by placing the unwashed petals in your enamel cookware. DO NOT PRE-RINSE. So many people get this part wrong. As long as you do not use fertilizers, garden additives, mulch, or bug products, you absolutely do not need to rinse your petals. Having said that, make sure no bugs or spiders are hiding in the blooms. Just give them a quick shake. Pre-washing your petals takes the very first layer of awesomeness out. You need that protective layer for your skin :)


Add your one bottle of water to the petals in the enamelware. (No stems allowed!) Cook on a low flame just until the water begins to boil and the petals have become slightly translucent. 

Scrape the center of the aloe stalks by slicing them down the middle and use the wooden tongue depressor to remove all the clear juice and gel. I scraped mine onto a large plastic bag which made it easier to place in the glass bowl. Slowly add the petal water. Try not to get any petals into the dish.  You should not use a metal strainer, because again, no stainless steel!


Add two generous squeezes of the Vitamin E oil and 5-10 drops of your favored essential oil. I absolutely love the scent of Niaouli. It's a little softer on the skin than Tea Tree oil but has the benefits to clear up skin ailments. So win win for us!

Mix your concoction together as best as you can. Obviously oil and water don't mix that well which is why after you've placed it in the spray bottles, you'll have to shake it up before applying. 

That's it! Place your beautiful pink rose mists in the fridge for those hot summer nights or next to your beauty products for a.m and p.m care. I'm pretty sure you'll want to use this daily!


Even with the Niaouli, there is a strong rose scent with every spray. A couple important things to remember:
~ more roses per batch means stronger scent, more concentrated color
~ never use stainless steel, metal, or silver unless it's enamel coated; the oxidation will cause your rose water to change colors
~ wooden tongue depressors or spoons work great
~ make sure your storage containers are BPA free


Luxury mists are nothing more than a few plant products and water. The only key to success is having the right supplies and understanding how to create your concoctions. Once you learn the basics, the possibilities will be endless!



Monday, May 28, 2018

Summer approaching


And just like that, my friends, May is coming to a close. Hard to believe that almost half the year has already gone by. Time sure flies!





The girls are eagerly awaiting summer break (just 1 more week left!!!). I don't know who's more excited, us parents or the girls! I mean honestly... how sweet it is....that first day of sleeping in!

I've been scratching about on a few projects and managed to finish a little quilt top. I absolutely love large block quilts and oversized shapes and sizes.

I came across a nice pattern at kitchentablequilting.com! My finished piece consists of four 24" April Blocks. For anyone interested in learning how to quilt, this design is complex enough to give someone the boost they need, but definitely not difficult to understand or piece together.

I used Art Gallery Fabrics, solids and one floral. Now that it is complete, I can't help but reimagine how different it would've looked had I placed the florals elsewhere in the design. It must be one of the many reasons quilting is so much fun! It's a creative hobby with endless possibilities.



April Giant Block

On the forefront, these lovely fabrics are waiting for a purpose. Winter Creek Cloth  had a fabulous sale not too long ago, and there was no way I could say no! The colors are bold and vibrant, perfect for summer sewing. There are 3 simple ideas in mind: One, dealing with many stripes. The second, many triangles. Or the third, some log cabin love. So many choices!


May you all have sunshine where you stand today (and tomorrow, and everyday after)!
Happy Trails till next time:)


Thursday, April 26, 2018

April showers bring May flowers


Recently on Instagram, I had a blast taking a sneak peak into the #quiltvsquilter posts! They had a picture of the artist in the center with various finished projects, the best of the best, displayed in little images all around creator. It was fantastic! Snipits of information, who they were, things about them and so forth.  And though I didn't join, I realized, that I don't give too much of myself away on Instagram or in this blog. So... today... I'm going to let you know a little bit about moi.


For starters, I love animals. We have lots of them around our house. At times I feel like it's Snow White's forest. The animals we intend to feed: our wonderful super dog Charlie, Dora and Lucy (the cats) and our 6 chickens (Pecos, Clara, Betsy, Dahlia, Gina, Pena) ~ all named after streets in Colorado. Hence, we decided to get the chickens on our family trip. And NO, I'm not happy about the fact that they were named. The animals we don't intend to feed: coyotes, foxes, other people's dogs, other people's cats, squirrels, deer, skunks, possums, groundhogs, and the ever wonderful buzzards that our home has been notoriously known for. From March till late Autumn these giant vultures perch themselves on our roof. Might I add, daily. We even had the local paper write a story on us years ago.

My paying job?  I'm a memory support nurse, specializing in dementia care. I'm also an nursing aide instructor for the skilled nursing center I work at. This means everything I say, I repeat, multiple times... even to my children and hubby ;)

Nursing is not where I intended to be. I have a degree in the Arts with a special focus on painting. The game plan was to be an art teacher. Somehow, I swayed off that road and found myself doing something I believe needed me more. At least for now. One thing very few people knew about me until now ... I still paint. It's relaxing just like I find sewing to be. Maybe one day, I'll post my pictures.

So how did I get started up with sewing? I took a Home Ec class in middle school, made a sweatshirt and a backpack. That was it. I was hooked. That Christmas, I asked my parents for a sewing machine. and ever since, I've been puttering away.

Random things, I love donuts. Heck, I love food period! I'm a messy cook. I rarely have my nails painted. I love digging in the dirt. And I collect rocks and vintage sewing machines.


Well friends, I think that's enough about me. Let me finish this post by sharing something more noteworthy. This awesome Campfire Quilt!!!



I love these fabric patterns working together!


My daughter & a quilt her mama made:)





How gorgeous is this? Ya, it's got a couple wonky lines, but I don't mind. I'm so thankful to the local Little Red Quilt Shop  for getting my top quilted. This was not as easy peasy as I thought it would be. I think I made a mistake right from the beginning when I chose fabrics that were NOT part of the same manufacturer. I know what some of you might be thinking. Cotton is cotton, right? Not really. Just and example, take Art Gallery fabrics and Cotton and Steel. They're both cotton fabrics, yet they have a completely different drape/feel. Plus, the pattern calls for thin, long strips. It was inevitable that my quilt shape would give way. Eventually, it began to distort so much, I didn't bother finishing the last couple rows. It's okay, I still love it.  Hands down, it's still a stunning pattern! There was a faint 'bubble' which one can hardly tell because head quilter Karen did such a great job on the long arm! Can't wait to use this piece under the summer stars!

On the forefront, I'm in the midst of starting multiple projects. Why why why do I do this to myself??? Something tells me I'm heading toward a crafty mess in the sewing room. But I bet it will be a beautiful one!

Till next time friends! Happy Trails :)




Saturday, March 31, 2018

Some started, some finished... Just a little catch up.


Even though it's Spring in Ohio, we are not feeling it.... The cold just won't go away. On the warmer days, that being 46 at the highest, I've managed to clean up the garden, clean up the flower pots and cut back our tall grasses. Yes, it was cold, but at least sunny. Still, we're yearning for those gorgeous greens to start popping throughout the trees! If only there was a way to tell mother nature, enough is enough.

On the sewing front, bright colored projects are swooning about. It's been a mad case of trying to utilize my current fabric stash and finding the right outlet to use them in. Take a look at what's been going on!


I finally finished this project, started umpteen months ago. The blocks came together making me wish I had purchased more fabric to make this into a colossal quilt. I've never been one to favorite the color orange, but this piece has my heart melting blending with the greens. I love it to pieces!


I did that binding I told you about in the previous post! Wide on one side, thin on the other. 
It just comes out so darn sharp! And for me, it's quite easier to make:)


And the block below? It's the start of something I'm not so sure I should continue. 
On one hand, I love the brightness, on the other, I'm debating my choice in pairing.

 

The only thing that keeps me working on this piece is the vision I have in the end. 
Geez... I hope it comes out. 


And of course, what sewista works on one project at a time? Nobody I know. 
When Campfire popped up on my Pinterest feed, I knew I had to have it!
This project is for moderate skilled quilters. So far, I'm finding what appears to be simple straight lines, could sometimes be tricky. This project is definitely fun so far, but boy oh boy, you gotta stay sharp. No slacking allowed here!



Happy Easter to all! May your days be filled with all the blessings!