Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Super Easy Squash Soup

This soup is one of my favorite fall dishes! 
It is a beautiful starter for Thanksgiving
or just a great warm food hug any night of the week!

Apple-Butternut Squash Soup
with Caramelized Sausage Croutons

1 butternut squash, halved and seeded
1 apple, peeled, cored and quartered
1 sweet onion, peeled and quartered
1/2 quart vegetable or chicken stock
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tbs butter, melted
salt and pepper to taste
1 pound of sweet Italian sausage, casings removed

  • Preheat your oven to 450 and line a sheet pan with aluminium foil.
  • Place your squash cut side up on the sheet pan and brush with butter.  Place half of an apple in the hollow of each squash, then brush the onions with butter and arrange in between the squash halves on the pan.  Sprinkle the veggies with salt & pepper and cover the whole thing with foil.
  • Roast the veggies for 45 minutes to 1hour; the squash should be very tender when poked with a fork.  Let the veggies cool for 10 minutes or until you are able to handle them.
  • Carefully place half of the squash flesh, apples, onions and broth in a blender... make sure that it is only 2/3 of the way full and the lid is very secure for your safety... puree until smooth.  If your have a small blender please be careful and do this in small batches!
  • Combine the puree and orange juice into a pot and keep warm on the stove.
  • Roll the sausage into 1in balls and caramelize in a skillet.  To get the best color and crunch let them sit until they turn easily... don't rush this part.
  • Enjoy!
Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Web Weds

I'm just sitting around waiting to have surgery in a couple days... it really just bites the big one... I had no idea that gallbladders were so unimportant but yet so painful when not working properly... yes, please play the tiny violin... and yes I would like some cheese with my whine, thank you ;)

I've had a little time to surf the internet and found some fun sites to share with you this week....



This online class looks truly amazing and I really want to sign up!
Watch the video and see what other Brave Girls are saying about BGCamp and the class and be sure to check out all the other fantastic Brave Girls stuff at their website and blog!


I found this adorable and tres chic handbag on my beautiful friend Janna's site.  It is so cute and filled with fantastic pockets for keeping all your goodies separate and within easy reach! 
I think I'll be adding this to A's crackberry favorites in case he wants to surprise me with a "get well gift" :)



It's fall and there are tons of requests for this tea at my house.  I've been lucky enough to receive one of these beautiful tins filled with deliciousness from my sweet friend Rachel Carlson and it became an instant favorite in my house!  Rachel was kind enough to share her recipe with TodaysMama last year, just click the link above and you'll find out why this is a highly sought after Christmas gift!

Happy Wednesday Everyone!
Share your favorite links with me in the comments section!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloween Goodies


Easiest Halloween Cupcakes -
These simple cupcakes are always a HUGE hit with the kids and take no time to create!



Cake Mix - Follow the instructions on the box!
White Frosting - Get the BIG container... this is all the kids will really eat!
Orange Food Coloring - You can mix red and yellow ;)
Spider Rings


Batty Good Bags
The kiddo always helps me with these
and they are finished in a flash!



Halloween Stamps - I used Making Memories
Black Ink - I like Ranger Pitch Black
Black Grosgrain or Twill Ribbon - 3yards
Paper Lunch Sacks
Yellow Cardstock - Cut with a circle die cut
Crop-a-Dile & Scissors



Thanks A Bunch Card
As a veteran room parent I know that many times they don't get much thanks so I plan to give this card to the saint who agreed to be our room parent this year!



Patterned Paper and Bat Stamps from Cosmo Cricket Haunted!

Halloween Bingo
I made this for the classroom party last year
when I was working with QuicKutz!



It's a Halloween Bingo Game that I found online. This was quick and easy to put together...

  1. Print Bingo cards onto smooth white cardstock.
  2. Cut apart and ink the edges with black ink.
  3. Mount bingo cards on black cardstock.
  4. Cut out QuicKutz Ghost Shapes with acid free foam to make the bingo markers!
Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

TILT - Things I Love Thursday

Okay, so this week I missed W-Weds because I've been sick, it's nothing super serious but I've been spending lots of time in the waiting room at various Kaiser facilities getting the latest scoop on the MTV train wrecks like Teen Mom and Jersey Shore, I have never even watched these shows (okay that one day when I was sick) and I don't need to ever watch these shows because the "characters" and their lives are splashed all over OK and Us Weekly so I'm all updated the next time someone wants to talk about trash TV!

Anyway, I thought I would borrow an idea from some of my bloggy friends and do TILT this week... here we go...


1. My Timbuk2 cargo tote! I think this is a small size, I don't remember now, but it's the best, most indestructible bag EVER!  It's black so it doesn't show dirt but it's got cute turquoise stitching and I love little details like that.  The inside is roomy and filled with pockets and the outside has two large pockets and then one side has "inner outer" pockets for keys (there is bright red ribbon with a clip so you don't lose them like some people have been known to do) and lipsticks and gloss. It has handles that fit over your shoulder or a strap that can cross your whole body ala messenger bag (the original Timbuk2 bag) but the strap stows in a handy dandy inner pocket when you're not using it!  This bag has so many awesome features that you should stop looking at my blog right now and run out to the nearest REI and snatch one up... seriously... go NOW!

2. You're back? Okay now you can use that really great bag when you go garage saling (is that really a word?) and find things like this fantastic green recliner!  Yep, it was my 2009 GS Find of The Year, yes I totally rate my garage sale finds.  I picked this sweet peace of relaxation equipment up for a mere $15!!!  It's perfectly sized for my small self (I have been described as a "midget"... no snorting Marti... although I stand a proud 5'4") and due to that fact it fits nicely in the back of my CRV!

3. My favorite shoes of 2010 the Privo by Clarks ballet flats!  These babies are cute yet rugged and boast adorable interior colors that are mimicked in the outer stitching.  Now, run back to REI and pick up a couple pairs of these... may I suggest a brown pair and a black pair?! 

4. A bag from TJ Maxx my most favorite shopping place!  Inside this bag of goodness is this fantastic Tommy sweater shawl thing (I'm fashion challenged so I'm sure it has a name I just don't know it), it's super cute and cozy and cable knit...a bonus for the eternally preppy like me... and also snuggled deep in this bag is a pair of Lucky jeans that I found for a third of the retail price... I LOVE TJ MAXX!

What do you love this Thursday?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Web Weds

So I thought on Wednesdays I would take a break from pouring out my heart and share with you wacky, fun, wonderful things that I like and you might too and because I'm just quirky most of them will have a W title... Web Weds, Welcome Weds, Walgreens Weds... you get the idea I'm sure.

For all my wonderful friends who have a story burning inside of them, like I do, you should check this out...


Your challenge is to write 50,000 words in 30 days which equals a 175 page novel!!! How cool is that?!  I love that they openly tell you on their home page "Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that's a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes."  I'm digging the honesty and the permission to make mistakes!

I also recently discovered this blog... Chic Critique... lots of fun women rating products and fashion deals... the review are honest and funny. 

I came across this yummy looking trio of canned pumpkin recipes over at AOL.  If you are anything like me you may have five or six cans of pumpkin in your pantry because you love it and were hording it stocking up on it last year when there was a shortage... by the way I've since learned that may have been a scam, oh well it just means I don't have to buy any more this year! (Photo credit goes to Frances Janisch)



Last, but never least, I wanted to direct you to this fantastic place lime green modern!  It is clean and modern silver jewelry that goes with everything!  I have to tell you I wear her pieces everyday and always get compliments. The necklace pictured above will be my next purchase!


What have you seen in your web surfing? 
Link it up in the comments I love checking out new sites!

See you back here tomorrow :)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"What do you want to be when you grow up?"...

"I want to be a writer." the twelve year old me would respond. 

I have always had a love affair with the written word. 

I spent hours of my childhood with my nose buried in a book; I could never get enough.  I filled journal after journal with poems and stories.  I loved to document life with words. 


I like the minute details that make up our daily lives such as the many subtle shades of green that come together to create a lawn or the small lines around someones eyes that hint at a lifetime of laughter. I like details and description.  I like textures and layers.  I like emotions and the different ways in which we express them. 

I like the little things.

I'm not very good at seeing the "big picture".

I dreamt about sitting in my home office and writing the next great American romance novel... no, not the next great American novel... a romance novel because I like happy endings.  I would sit in my old wooden office chair with my sock clad feet tucked under me and my hair held back by a pencil.  I would laugh and cry as my characters made their way through the story.  I figured I would pay the bills by writing freelance pieces for magazines like Yankee and Newsweek the way my Dad did.  (In my dreams I conveniently forgot that he had a savings and retirement plan from his days with HP.)

Life has a way of changing our dreams..

I grew up in a family filled with secrets.  I loved and lost greatly when I was very young.  My dream world came crashing down in my late teens.  I no longer wrote.  If I sat down with a pen and paper it was only to write to-do lists. 

Life continues whether we are living it fully or not.

Last year I reconnected with someone who knew me before I put my pen away.  He asked me "Do you write like you always wanted to?".  I had to answer no.  I confessed that I never wrote at all.  I admitted it was because I didn't want to feel the pain that I held locked inside.  Admitting the truth, that I had pushed away my dream, was like unleashing the flood gates of a reservoir; I was overwhelmed by all the emotions I had kept hidden in my heart.  It may have been the person asking the questions or the fact that they were about my deepest dreams and desires, I'm not sure, I think it is probably the combination of past, person and time.

You can only hold back your true self, those dreams and desires of your heart, for so long before they are either lost or push to the surface.

This is where my journey started. I have good days and bad days, but now I feel those days and I write about what I am feeling, this is a huge breakthrough for me. I'll be sharing what I'm learning here in my little corner of the world wide web... my writing place...


Are your dreams gathering dust on a shelf
or are you living them out? 
I'd love to hear what you're doing please share with me in comments section

Monday, October 18, 2010

New Beginnings and Taking It Back... Again

Earlier this year I talked about taking back my blog, making it mine again, more of the domestic diary that I had intended for it to be... I started and then I got scared.

Scared to talk about this broken path I've been walking.
Scared to share the murky depths of my heart.
Scared of the the judgement from those who read my words but comment only to my loved ones... never directly to me.

Judgement is a terrifying thing because it is commonly based on a skewed and drastically inaccurate view of what has been said. 

But I am really tired of hiding out and being afraid. 

Living in fear is not really living at all.

So here's the scoop...

2010 has contained some of my highest highs and my lowest lows.  I have reached places inside my heart that I had not visited in over a decade.  I have given and taken second chances.  I have crawled under the covers and hidden from the world.  I have stood on the mountain tops for all the world to see.  Through all of this I have walked with God and He has pulled me close.

I'll be working on redoing some of this blog and begin sharing my true self with you over the next few weeks.  I've been so inspired by the fabulous women over at  the {in}Courage blog... head over and check them out, I promise you'll love it!

Thanks for being patient with me.

Hugs, Houston

Monday, October 11, 2010

By-Products of Love

*Originally Published in July 2009*

by-prod·uct –noun



1. a secondary or incidental product, as in a process of manufacture.



2. the result of another action, often unforeseen or unintended.



Origin:  1900–05
  
We had a guest speaker at church this week and he got up to talk about bravery in following Jesus.  The first point that he made was "Bravery is a by-product of love." these words were like an arrow piercing straight to my heart.  I wasn't thinking about them in the context of following Jesus, because truthfully I'm just not there right now, I'm still too wrapped up in me, the horrible honest truth is that I can't sometimes see His light because I'm drowning in the darkness that I've brought on myself... the funny thing is in all the decisions I've made this past year I thought I was being brave.
Our speaker proved this point by asking the age old question... "If your house was on fire what would you grab?"  Well of course you'd grab your children and pets, but would you really rush back into the inferno to save your photos or your favorite antiques? No, probably not.  I sat back and pondered what I would grab... Coley of course, the boys (read: dachshunds) and I'm sure I would try to grab my camera and a few precious loons of my Gram's off the mantle as I raced for the door, but would I go back into thick smoke for my computer, for my scrapbooks, for my jewelry? no.  I'm sure I would stand in the street, calm and collected (yes, tragedies are the only time in my life when I can remain calm, cool and collected) and be thankful that my son was alive, that is all that really matters; the person I love the most is safe and alive!
So I sat and pondered this point some more.  I thought about love. I thought about how bravery is just one by-product of love.  I've come to realize in the last year that love has many by-products, sometimes they are painful, including heartache and loss, and sometimes they are so deep that you can't even begin to find the words that describe them... such as the fact that you still want those who have hurt you, to find happiness and joy in life... there are no words for that but it's a by-product of love.  Of course the very best by-product of love is love itself; love can grow and multiply, it can survive devestation, love can soar over the tops of the trees and span huge distances of both time and space.  Love begets forgiveness, forgiveness begets freedom, freedom begets renewal, renewal begets life, life begets love... it goes round and round with so much in between. 

In the end all I really know about love is that it's huge; there is no one way to define or describe it.  Love has different forms and meanings.  Love is joyous and love is painful.  Love really is what makes the world go round because each day you wake up with the notion that today you will see someone you love, do something you love, or be someone who is loved.


Friday, October 1, 2010

It's A Journey

 
 

I was organizing and editing photos a few weeks ago and I noticed that over the last year I've taken fifty or so photos of roads.  I have pictures of everything from the busy interstate to meandering farm roads that are simply two trails of dirt leading through high grass.  After I noticed this I looked back over photos I had taken throughout my life and found that when I am in a season of uncertainty or great change I take lots of photos of the roads around me...

I have Polaroids of the bumpy dirt road that leads to my grandparent's house in Maine... the only place in my childhood that ever really felt like "home".
I have misty photos of the roads that I traveled over in the Yukon while on a long road trip with my grandparents... this was the summer before I went to Jr. High, always a time of transition... by the way you couldn't pay me enough to go back to Jr. High.
I have photos of the drive leading to Berkshire... boarding school, away from home, away from friends, filled with uncertainty... to be clear I chose to go away to school, it was not a punishment and I'm still really glad I had the experience.
I have photos of the roads leading to Steamboat through Wyoming... a last road trip before college that I took with my Dad... there was a whole speeding ticket fiasco, but we don't need to get into it ;)
and so on...

Last fall I went home to Fort Collins.  Yes, I had been there many times since we had moved away but I had never really been "home".  I was always careful to stay on the south end of town and to avoid places that held painful memories for me... I didn't do that last September... I booked a room at the Marriott and forced myself to visit all the places that haunted my dreams.  I allowed myself to feel the pain and fear associated with those places and the memories.  I visited the person with whom I had shared most of these moments.  I drove up to Horsetooth reservoir, sat on the rocks surrounding the water and just felt... I cried, I screamed; I am certain I looked totally crazy.  I drove up the Poudre Canyon and let myself just be, only me... alone but okay.  It was such a hard weekend.

The constant that remained throughout the weekend was that every place I went I took a picture of the roads... it was not done with conscious thought... I didn't even notice until now, a year later.
 
I realize now that I'm on a journey.  A journey that has no real beginning, other than birth, and possibly no real ending, other than death.  I cannot force myself to move faster.  My journey has it's own pace.  My companions along the way have their own pace and their own journeys.  I must walk alone sometimes.  Yet, I am never truly alone for the Lord is with me and He alone knows where my destination is. 

It's an interesting place for me to be, somewhere that has no definite, because I am a planner... I want to know what happens next and what exactly that means for me... so to be really clear I'm uncomfortable... and to tell the truth I actually kinda like it.

Are you uncomfortable?  Do you like it?  
Have you noticed any reoccurring themes in
your photos that are trying to tell you something?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Being Brave

brave:

[breyv]

–adjective

1. possessing or exhibiting courage or courageous endurance.

2. making a fine appearance.
 
I've noticed that this word is constantly popping up in my life right now.  I've heard sermons on bravery, some of them talking about how the bravest thing we can do is to simply accept our lives and live them to the fullest, others talking about how chasing our dreams is the bravest thing we can do.  The truth is that though those two things sound in contrast to one another they don't have to be.  I

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Veggies in Disguise... aka... Carrot Muffins



Happy Saturday! 
The recipe for these yummy muffins can be found here!

*** These muffins are a great way to get kids in the kitchen, older kids can peel and shred the carrots, measure ingredients, mix and scoop out the batter... plus they'll be eating veggies and that is always a bonus!***

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Just Not A City Girl

The challenge at Studio Calico this week was to make a layout using neutrals, 'No problem' I thought... yeah um... not so easy to pick photos that work for that without changing them to black and white.  I have a drawer full of photos in my desk and I really want to branch out and use them for layouts that tell stories about me not about the place in the picture... know what I mean? 


Papers: Studio Calico, October Afternoon & Scenic Route
Black Letters and City Skyline: American Crafts
Mist: Granite Tattered Angels
Flowers: Prima

This is the layout I came up with.  It's pretty accurate about me...  I like to check out all the neat stuff that big cities have to offer, like the super yummy restaurants (I totally look for the dives because they have the best food) but I don't feel at home there... when I'm scared or sad or just confused about life it's the mountains that I run to.  I don't know if it's the feeling of isolation or safety that I like most but I know that whenever I need to calm my soul I hop in the car and drive to one of my favorite spots outside of town.

To stand on my soapbox for just a minute... I wanted to say that the more I look through my albums the more I realize that there isn't a whole lot about me in there, I've gotten better and better about making "me" layouts in the past few years but I want to do more.  I want my grandkiddos to know who I was and not just the things I took pictures of.  I want to present a whole pie of life and not just a slice.  What I'm trying to say is just make sure to include things about yourself in your albums... you family will thank you for it later!

So are you a city girl or something else? 
Where do you feel most at home?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Breathing and Scrapping

I'm alive... really I am... just wandering the web sometimes and staring at Tort Law books the rest of the time... although I have found time to scrap lately :)

Here are a few layouts I've done this past week... all of these are based on amazing sketches from Studio Calico!

Sweet Hansy smiling.
Mist: Apple Tattered Angels
Ribbon: American Crafts and Maya Road
Papers: Making Memories & Scenic Route
Stamps: Studio Calico

My sweet love.
Papers: Studio Calico, October Afternoon & Lily Bee
Journaling Tag: Little Yellow Bicycle
Tickets: Jenni Bowlin (Button as well) & Tim Holtz
Brads, sweet and love: American Crafts
Hearts and my: QuicKutz (Heart in Circle & zoe alpha)


He really is the best kid ever!
Papers: Cosmo Cricket & Studio Calico
Fabric Rip Strips: Studio Calico
Best: 7 Gypsies
Mist: Apple Tattered Angels
Paint: Making Memories
Ranger Distress Ink in Old Paper
Buttons by April Foster

I hope you're all having a wonderful and creative week!


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Relishing Routine (Updated)


It's our last week of summer break. 

I'm sad and excited; sad because it means that I won't get to hang out with the kiddo all day and excited because he is excited to learn new things and go back to school.  I'm excited to go back to school this fall too but mostly because I'm only taking one... REALLY hard..... class.

We have our traditional list of things we try to do this last week, sort of our last summer hurrah...

  1. Buy school supplies.

  2. Buy new shoes... for C and me.

  3. See one last movie. Cats and Dogs in 3D... it was super cute!

  4. Go out for ice cream cones.

  5. Try to catch one last community event... thinking a concert at Streets of Southglenn.

  6. Haircuts.

  7. Lunch in downtown with Aaron. Pasquini's in the Highlands (the photo above) YUMMY!

  8. Sleepover at Grandma's (we did this last week but might sneak back up this week)

  9. At least one night camping out under the stars. Headed out in 10 min!

  10. Soaking up the last rays of summer at the pool. I'll miss this.

We also have our "To Do" list of things that aren't so fun to do but help us get ready for the new school year...
  1. Going to bed by 8pm (for C)

  2. Getting out of bed by 6:30am (C has no problem with this)

  3. Labeling all the new school supplies and getting his bag packed for the first day.

  4. Laundry.... laundry.... and more laundry.

  5. Getting healthy dinners cooked and on the table by 6:30pm so there is enough time for hanging out afterwards.

  6. Shower and PJs after dinner... no more going back to the pool.

  7. Loading the fridge and pantry with breakfast and lunch packing essentials... no more relying on the snack bar for emergency rations. (Yes, we really do live at the pool in the summer.)

  8. Cutting out TV and computer games in the mornings.

  9. Adding back in good-read-aloud-books before bed... going with The Chronicles of Narnia this fall.

  10. For me it means cleaning up my desk and making new files on my computer for my fall class, clean space = clean mind... maybe.

The funny thing is that I LOVE getting back into the routine of the school year... I'm crazy like that... I love schedules and routines... I like knowing what's going to happen next. I know this isn't shocking to most of you, but for me there is a certain comfort in knowing what is going to be around the next corner or over the next hill.  I thrive on being able to excel in a contained environment.  That's been the hardest part of this last year... I had no routine, no clear idea of what my routine should be, and no set schedule... the times I was happiest were when I did have these things or at least a vague outline of them. 

The confinement of routine is comforting to me.

I've learned something new about myself... or maybe just remembered something old and ingrained... either way I'm happy knowing another things that makes me... well... happy.

So how do you get ready for the new school year? 
Do you have any great ideas to add to our last week list?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Life IS good.

Sometimes it is very easy for me to slip into the world of "Why me?" or "Why not?" or "What if?".  Sometimes I can only see the not-so-good parts of my day; the parts that make me sad.  I focus on the things that are missing from my life instead of celebrating the amazing bits of goodness that flood each day.  I've found that being thankful for those good piece of my day helps to shake me out of my funk and see things in a much better light. 

Today I want to be washed in the warm waters of gratitude for my blessings instead of being swamped by the stench of stagnant questioning. 

I wanted to share a short list of some of those really great bits of my summer days that I am so thankful for...

  • At my new place there are birds that sing from the trees into my window every morning and "super cute" baby bunnies are hopping about in the green grass each day. 

  • I get to spend every day with this cute kiddo!  He is so very me... always questioning, always pushing a little too far to see where his boundaries lie, always leaving cups everywhere... but I wouldn't have it any other way.  Seeing things through his eyes changes my perspective and makes the world seem shiny and bright again; he sees the world as full of possibility.

  • I get a hearty greeting from all the kids at the pool every day as soon as I open my car door. "Houston!" they shout... it's like Cheers... someplace where everyone knows your name!

  • I get to live in Colorado; one look toward the west and you know there is a Creator and He is good.

Life IS good.

What are you thankful for today?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Me & C


C is me. 
He is smart, funny and kind. 
He is impatient, determined and stubborn. 

He loves freely.
He gives generously.

He likes to create, sketch and write.
He loves a good book.
He sings along with the radio.

He makes me laugh.

He makes me cry.


He throws his dirty clothes on the floor.
He leaves cups all over the house.
He "collects" so much you can't see the top of his dresser.

He is all mine.
I'm so very lucky.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Simplify

I was talking with a friend yesterday and they were asking if I wanted to buy a trailer, like for camping, I'll admit I've wanted one previously, not a big one just one of those cute tiny teardrop ones, but yesterday I realized I didn't want one. 

I like tent camping. 

I like fires outside at night with hot dogs and s'mores. 

I like things simple. 

I turned to my friend and said "No, I don't want a trailer.  I've learned all I really need is a blanket to sit on, a good book to read, a notebook to write in, a dog to hang out with, my silly kiddo, good friends, good beer, and a camera.  I'm pretty darn happy with just those things." and it's true, I am. 

I like my how my life has become more simplified.  Technology gets in the way of actually enjoying life.  Not that I'm tossing the computer any time soon, let's face it I take digital photos and I type a heck of a lot faster than I write by hand... but I don't need it to have a better life. 

Ahhh.... learning, living, loving, laughing... it's all good.

Oh and check out this awesome post over at the Brave Girls Club!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Second Chances - The Hard Work of A Miracle



So yesterday I talked about how second chances can be viewed as a blessing even when they don't go the way we want or think they should... even when the ending just sucks.  I can see some of you sitting on the other side of your screen and thinking I'm just too Pollyanna for my own good, but the reality is that I'm a world-class control freak, overly sentimental and an all-or-nothing kind of girl, so for me the only way to look at disappointments is to find the silver lining otherwise I'll just drown in the sadness of losing whatever it is that I've invested myself so fully into.

I wanted to talk about the hard work that comes along with a second chance.  Second chances are not easy, they are truly a miracle, but there is still an amazing amount of work involved in making them a success... I'm learning this over and over again, trust me...

Throughout the year I have been calling out to God...
'Please show me what to do.'   
'Help me to mend the pain I've caused.'   
'Please show me what is best for my son!' 
I didn't feel as though I was getting any answers... I began to beg and plead...
'Help me Lord, hear me, answer me!'

Well, He must have heard me loud and clear because suddenly everything I thought I had done such a great job of building up was lying in ruins around me and He was saying... "Wait, be patient, I will show you... For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" Jeremiah 29:11

Waiting is not something I'm good at... I'm all about instant gratification, which is due to the fact that I fear I will lose whatever it is that I want so badly if I have to wait for it...  I tried to obey and waited... I did not do it perfectly by any stretch of the imagination and I am still not. 

So what I'm getting at is that second chances are a miracle and a blessing but also so much work... don't give up... but if it doesn't work out the way you hoped... always look for the blessings that you've gained from the experience.

A big hug for the journey,
Houston

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Wonders Wednesday

Here is one of the intricacies of life I am pondering on this lovely (read: sweltering) Wednesday afternoon:

Why is it that when I go to the DMV to renew my license it takes over an hour and there are only two people ahead of me.

When did the city come up with this "phone" system... the lady on the other side of the safety glass asks you to pick up the telephone situated just one foot away from her, she then loudly asks what your SS# is and you are expected to repeat it into the phone, as though the man standing four feet away doesn't know you are talking to her on the "phone" and that you are giving out your Super Secret #, all the while the woman is insisting it will be kept confidential... WTH?  As a side note they also make you do this whole "phone" thing while you tell them your height, weight, eye and hair color... seriously.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Lessons From The Garden


Right now I'm trying to hang onto the positive and lasting things that I've learned or discovered in the last year.  I'm writing, here, these precious lessons so that I can remember them and maybe someone out there, someone I don't even know, will learn from them too...

I've discovered that gardening is one of God's greatest forms of therapy... the calm that comes while planting the first seeds, the patience it takes to wait for them to grow, the inner pride you feel when the plant is strong enough to go from house to garden, true elation when it bears fruit. 

Time is required, time is essential, it does not all happen in one day, it takes months of careful love and tending; patience and nurturing is required for all things to grow strong.

A garden is not perfect, there are weeds that must be pulled, soil that must be fertilized, pruning that is essential for proper growth.  I am reminded that we are not perfect that relationships are not perfect; every good thing requires work.

I learned how good it feels to do the work, how warm the soil is at the end of an early summer day, how the dead leaves will simply come off of the stem when they should if you are patient and let them wither, how the death of these leaves is essential to the health of the plant. 

I relished in pulling the weeds that grew where they were not wanted; creating space for the plants to grow and breathe.  Sometimes the weeds came out of the soil with ease and other times their roots were so deep that it took digging to remove them, sometimes these tough ones were the smallest.  I think of my heart and how there are weeds growing there, how some come away easily while others will leave a mark when dug out but I will be healthier when they are gone, I will have space to grow.

My sorrow is that I won't see the garden I helped tend wither and sleep in the fall.  There are lessons in that as well and I am sure that I will learn them in time.  I think the ones I have learned are ones I needed to know right now, for this time in my life.

I've started growing things of my own in my little tree house apartment.  I'm enjoying watching them grow and tending them with care, they are protected here, it's not the same as a garden exposed to the elements but I think sometimes a little protection is necessary too.

I hope you're all having a beautiful summer.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Scrapping Again and A New Flock

C and his Cousins,
 bits and pieces from all over.... finally using stuff up!


One of my favorite photos of C as a little one...
mostly from the Studio Calico kit Yearbook, buttons made by April Foster!

I always plant red geraniums in honor of my Gram... they just make me happy!

More wonderful stuff from Studio Calico and odds and ends from my desk.

and finally my fabulous garage sale find... a whole flock of 10 Flamingos for $5... don't really know why but I have always wanted a whole bunch of these cheerful plastic birds and now I've got 'em!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Best Friends... EVER... really

Image found on the web


So this post has been in process for a few weeks... but the truth is it is also long overdue.

I'm blessed to have an amazing bunch of girlfriends. I didn't always have that.  I've had a hard time making solid connections with women, I think it's a whole trust-issue thing, but I have some of the most wonderful women in my life and they support me even when they don't understand what I'm thinking or doing... and that's HUGE!

I came home bruised and broken-hearted two weeks ago.  I had just lost something in my life that I thought was forever, someone that I loved and trusted had turned their back on me hours before I was to walk through the courtroom doors and end my marriage.  I was kicked hard when I was already down.  I was a wreck.... but you know what... the women in my life surrounded me and picked me up, gently wiped away my tears, served me some sangrias and listened to me pour out the pain.  These women gave me so much of their own time even after I had all but abandoned them for this other relationship.  They held me when I was hurting.  They showed me what unconditional really means.

Thank you ladies, you all know who you are and I truly value you so much.  I love you all.

To Do: at 32

To Do:

  • Go new places.
  • Try new things.
  • Give C more freedom = let him make his own mistakes.
  • Call friends more often just to chat.
  • Write.
  • Write letters.
  • Create.
  • Play.
  • Love freely.
  • Enjoy life.

Thanks everyone for all the birthday messages yesterday!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Seeing Grey


I'm halfway through this year of "Learning" (my OLW for 2010) and I'm still just at the beginning of my journey.  You see I have always thought of the world as black and white.  I truly believed that things were either good or bad, that they were true or false, right or wrong.  I'm the girl who colors within the lines.  I thought that my way of thinking was the "right" way.  I was so very blind.

I've discovered in the last few months that the only way to really enjoy life, to truly live life, is to see and embrace the areas of grey.

It's really hard for me to embrace the grey.  The areas where things are not so cut and dry, not so mapped out, not so black and white.  I have to constantly tell myself to relax.  I must keep remembering that control is only an illusion.  I must breathe and try to live in the moment because I will never have that exact moment again. I have to take off the blinders in order to really see all the beauty life has to offer. I have to not have a plan.

So today I'm learning to see the grey and trying to embrace it.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Soul Food - French Toast

I love french toast, it's one of those foods that feeds your body and the joy of preparing it feeds your soul.  I need to be fed, I'm in a place of newness that is uncomfortable and at times just heartbreaking, but the truth is I'll live to see another day and I'll be filled with this yummy recipe while I do it. 


Soul Soothing French Toast with Strawberry Sauce
I adapted this recipe from Nigella Lawson, one of my all time favorite foodies!

3 large slices of day old french bread (I used some of the giant loaf I bought at Panera)
5 eggs
2 tbs good vanilla
5 tbs half and half
butter for the pan

Strawberry Sauce -
1 package of fresh strawberries
3 heaping tbs of sugar
1 tbs lemon juice (fresh please)
Blender

Preheat the oven to 250 (to keep the already cooked toast warm if working in batches)

Get out all your aggressions by breaking the eggs into a shallow dish and then whisking them together with the half & half and vanilla.  Soak the bread for thirty to forty seconds on each side and cook in sizzling butter.  Place cooked toast in oven to keep warm. 

While your toast cooks hull the strawberries and throw them into a blender with the sugar and lemon juice, pulverize.... you'll feel truly de-stressed after making this!

Cover the toast with a generous portion of the strawberry sauce... enjoy!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A New Chapter

I'm starting a new chapter in my life. 
One that I am writing from the heart. 

I've spent a long time doing what was expected of me and shoving down my true feelings so that I wouldn't hurt anyone else. 
I've played roles and been "Martha".
I've been a perfectionist and an overachiever.
I've thought that I could change both me and the people around me. 

I've learned that I'm lovable and wonderful just the way I am. 
I've learned that people can love me regardless of my imperfections or maybe even because of them. 
I've learned that it's okay to tell the truth about how I feel and who I am.
I've learned that other people are responsible for their own feelings and lives, not me. 
I'm learning how to let go of being co-dependent.

So here it is... Aaron and I are getting divorced.  We don't hate eachother and we don't wish ill for the other.  We are going to remain friends and continue to parent Coleman together.  It's okay, just so you know, I'm okay and I'm going to be okay.  Life changes and for once I plan to just roll along with it and enjoy this new part of my life. 

Love you all,
H

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Hiding Out

I've been hiding out... I'll admit it.  I don't really know what to write on the blog right now.  My life is taking some turns that weren't a total surprise but are not easy at the same time.  Just know that I'll be back when I feel like I can put to words what's going on with me.  In the meantime, thank you to all my sweet friends that check this blog often, I love you all. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Learn - Patience

Learn - to gain (a habit, mannerism, etc.) by experience, exposure to example, or the like; acquire: She learned patience from her father.

I had to laugh at the example dictionary.com used for this definition of learn.  I most certainly did not learn patience from my father.  He is more impatient than I am, if that's possible.

I do however have a heavenly Father that works to teach me patience.  He whispers in my ear, in a voice only my heart can hear and He says "A patient man has great understanding,  but a quick-tempered man displays folly. A heart at peace gives life to the body," Proverbs 14:29-31 (NIV) The words dance in my head and in my heart.  I think upon them and I attempt to have peace and patience in my everyday life.  This is no easy task because my first instinct is to be impatient and react.  Yet I am finding, each day, that waiting grows easier.  I do have more peace when I am patient and truly wait until I understand a situation, or outburst of emotion, instead of pushing forward towards my selfish goals.  I do not do this perfectly, many times I have to take a deep breath and remind myself to calm down, be quiet, and wait. 

I am still learning.  I love that this is my word for this year.  It describes where I am at in life perfectly.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Reading, Writing, and Parking



Okay, so I'm back in school!   I am relieved that I am not the oldest person in my classes, although I don't think of 31 as old on any scale.  I love, love, love my law classes... thank God because working in the legal field is what I'm planning to do as a career.  I really like my regional geography professor but the book is boring me to tears... it's the big blue-ish one that is 12" tall and 10" wide and boast super fab 10 point type.  My online art appreciation class is pretty cool so far, I love the subject, the book is darn good and all my time on Studio Calico has prepared me well for the online class format ;)

My first week and half have contained a few learning experiences that I didn't expect...

  • I had to parallel park for the first time EVER and I totally did it!  I knew the basics, read about it (yes I am a book junkie) and then attempted it with great success, the first day that is... the second day I was a little too close to the curb, but we just won't talk about it. 


  • I had forgotten how sore your hand can be after taking four pages of notes. 


  • I discovered that most text books now come with a CD of all the notes, of course this was only after I spent three hours taking notes on the first chapter of my legal analysis book. 


  • I learned that if you want a parking space that is not patrolled by the city you have to get there by 9:30. 


  • I've decided not to take my laptop to class because really it's just a huge distraction for me and the sound of typing seems to annoy others. 


  • I've figured out that you should get on the first available elevator going up, even if it's packed already (luckily I remembered that bit of herd mentality from our Vegas trip). 


  • Oh and last but not least, take a bottle of water and a jacket, it's dry and sometimes super cold in the classrooms, the poor girl next to me was wearing gloves while taking notes today!


Well, that's really all I have time for... must get back to the North American realm and all it's tiny font glory...

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Finally Scrapping Again





Layout design is lifted from Lisa Dickinson again :)
Papers by Studio Calico, Basic Grey and October Afternoon
Embellishments by American Crafts, Jenni Bowlin, and Chatterbox
Mist is Coffee from Tattered Angels

For months I have had the hardest time creating any layouts or designing my classes.  It's been like walking through wet cement just to come up with one page.  I've been struggling through my own personal issues and I have been writing again, which is a great thing, but I just couldn't scrap to save my life.  My dear friend Christyn promised me that my scrappy mojo would come back and it finally has!  I'm thrilled because I have a room full of paper, glue and photos that was just gathering dust.  I've been "lifting" layout designs from my super talented friends, and participating in scrappy challeges, doing so has helped jump start me back into the creative mode.  So if you're just not feelin' it don't give up hope, it will come back, I promise.

In other news... I go back to school this week to get my Paralegal AAS.  I vacillate between being excited and really, really, nervous. I'll come back later this week and let you know how it goes.


Oh and these super cute shoes came home with me yesterday for the sweet price of just $8!   I'm thinking I may wear them to my first day of school for a little height confidence boost!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Wild Child


Papers by Bazzill, Studio Calico and Basic Grey
Embellishments from Cosmo Cricket, October Afternoon, American Crafts and Maya Road


Just dropping in with a layout today.  This is C and his cousin Taylor, she is wild, just like her Papa!  It's always special to get to spend time with her and this year it was even more fun because she was older and able to jump all over  play with Coley.  He was super patient and kind to her and it made my heart so happy to see them together.  This layout is another lift of the fab Lisa Dickinson!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Two Challenges & One Layout


Most products used are from Studio Calico kits.
Font: Quickutz Emily
Papers by My Mind's Eye, Cosmo Cricket and Collage Press
Embellishments from Maya Road, Studio Calico, Kaiser Craft, Prima, & Sassafrass


I made this  for both the Studio Calico Sketch Challenge and Janna Wilson's 52 Challenge .  I would recommend checking them both out because, of course, they are fantastic ways to get your mojo flowing!

The title for this layout comes from a wonderful song of the same name by Natalie Grant.  The chorus says...

"This is what it means to be held.
How it feels when the sacred is torn from your life 
And you survive.
This is what it is to be loved. 
And to know that the promise was  
When everything fell we'd be held."

It's such a beautiful picture of God's love for us as his children.  He holds us in His arms when we are weak and can't carry on. Whenever I glance at our nativity and I see Mary holding Jesus I think 'This is how He holds us.'  There is such peace in knowing you are loved so deeply even in times of broken-ness.

Have a great Thursday!


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Soundtrack Of Life

This Christmas my sweet boy received an iPod shuffle and while I was loading it with him I started thinking about how, in life, we each create our own soundtrack.  I love that a song can come on and I am instantly transported to a time in my life when it was relevant to me. 

I hear the soundtrack to Les Miserables and the song Castle on A Cloud takes me back to the times when I dreamed that things would change in my world and between my parents. I knew every word to that soundtrack at one time... wonder if I still do?

When Alanis comes on in all her angst I can remember exactly where I was when I first heard her... driving down College Avenue in my little silver CRX, it was just before my senior year of high school.  Jagged Little Pill is still one of my favorite albums of all time.  You Learn played on repeat in my car and dorm room.  It's of course totally appropriate for my OLW 2010.  Her songs were catchy but I was attracted to her honest views of life and her lack of concern for what others thought.  I admired that she put herself, her authentic self, out there for the world to hear and see.

In college the song Iris by the Goo Goo Dolls was dedicated to me by a long time love and it breaks my heart every time I hear it.  "And I'd give up forever to touch you, because I know that you feel me somehow, you're the closest to heaven that I'll ever be." "Sooner or later it's over, I just don't want to miss you tonight.  I don't want the world to see me because I don't think that they'd understand.  When everything is made to be broken I just want you to know who I am.".  I have it on my iPod because it is an integral part of my life soundtrack; it plays and I cry.  I like that songs have the ability to stir such powerful emotions.

When I first had Coleman, Garth Brooks came out with a song called Wrapped Up In You.  I used to dance around the kitchen holding him and singing "How do I love you, well let me see, I love you like the lyric loves the melody... baby completely wrapped up in you.  How do I need you, well can't you tell, I need you like a penny needs a wishing well... baby completely wrapped up in you. How do I love you, well count the ways, there ain't no number high enough to end this phrase... baby completely wrapped up in you."  He still thinks I am a fantastic singer... he's a sweet boy and those words will always be true.

There have been a lot of good songs released in the past few years and I currently listen to a wide variety of music... the top ten most played songs on my iPod are... Better Days - The Goo Goo Dolls, I'm Alive - Kenny Chesney and Dave Matthews,  The House That Built Me - Miranda Lambert (if you don't own this song you really need to check it out), Keep You - Sugarland, Gravity - Sara Bareilles, Let Me Be Myself - 3 Doors Down, These Are The Days - 10,000 Maniacs, It Happens - Sugarland, Over My Head - The Fray and Good People - Jack Johnson... I'm a sucker for good lyrics, especially if they tell a story, and a haunting melody gets me every time.

What's on your life soundtrack?

ETA: I don't only listen to sad/realistic song... I may or may not have a Hannah Montana song in my 25 most played... I'm just sayin'.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Meal Planning and Pantry Cleaning


Ouch!  I paid my tuition bill and bought books this weekend and now it's time to pinch pennies for a couple weeks.  I'm trying to be wise with the grocery budget so maybe I can save a little in that department.  I decided to take an inventory of our pantry and refrigerators... one of which only contains frozen food and beer... then I planned my menu and shopping around what we already had.

I'm a visual person so I hauled everything out of the pantry, half of the shelves are above my head so a chair was needed and I'm counting all that stepping up and down as my aerobics for the day, I placed everything on the counter and then sorted it into groups based on meals. Once it was all out I discovered that I must have been very concerned about a shortage of canned green beans and bbq sauce in the last six months, the pantry contained ten cans of said beans and five bottles of sauce... green bean casserole and bbq chicken will be on the menu in the next few weeks.  The only bad part of this was putting it all back but I'm certain that my rump will be firmer tomorrow from stepping on and off the chair.

Since food was on my mind I remembered that I needed to finish this layout... a lift of my talented friend Lisa Dickinson.
Paper: Sassafras, Basic Grey, unknown, and Starbucks tissue paper. 
Stamp: Studio Calico
Embellishments: Prima, Making Memories, Basic Grey, American Crafts, Hambly

I'm off to the grocery store... if you've got any good recipes that contain green beans and bbq sauce let me know!


Oooh... Mr. Brown stopped by just as I was leaving and look what he brought me!  QuicKutz and Studio Calico!  My Monday just got a heck of a lot better! Maybe the grocery store can wait for a bit....