Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Spring Homemaking

Yes, I believe spring is officially my favorite season! I love the anticipation of everything new and fresh. I love all the blooming things and the reappearance of green!

"While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease." ~Genesis 8:22
Something about spring also inspires me to clean and organize every room in the house. Last week I put away most of my winter clothes and re-organized my closet. I also worked on the boys' room, which is always a bit of a challenge. 

I'm so thankful that my three girls love having an orderly room, and I never have to do any cleaning or organizing in their bedroom anymore. They do it all by themselves--it's such a blessing!

My oldest daughter also decided she was going to organize all of the spring cleaning this year. She read through a book I had on the subject, made a list, and she's already tackled the coat closet. Yay!
It's always easier to clean when you've decluttered first. I've found that clutter discourages me, so I'm constantly attempting to rid our home of excess, and just keep what we actually use and love.

My blogging friend Elsie Callender just released a new book to encourage you in your efforts to simplify. She sent me a copy to review, and it really is a book just right for this time of the year, when we're in the mood to clean and organize!
"Your Simple Home Handbook is for all the people who are tired of too much stuff. It's for those who want to cut the clutter and actually use and enjoy what they own. It's for people who want to craft a beautiful, inviting home without spending a penny. This book is for people who recognize that 'more' doesn't always mean 'better' and who are willing to be a little counter-cultural for the sake of breathing space in their home." ~ Elsie Callender

Your Simple Home Handbook takes you through 30 different areas in your home, helping you de-clutter, simplify, and organize your stuff. Right now you can get the eBook version for $2.00 off the regular price!

In addition to Elsie's book, I'm referring to my Cleaning and Organizing Pinterest board for inspiration!

Anyone else doing some spring cleaning and organizing? 

This post contains affiliate links.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Week 6 With The Tummy Team {Healing Diastasis Recti}

I've now completed 6 weeks with The Tummy Team! I don't have any new photos this week, since everything looks pretty much like it did when I posted the last update (and I also just couldn't find time to take photos!).

Here are my measurements to compare (there's a video in this post that will explain exactly what and how I'm measuring):

Before starting the program:

Waist: 37"
Upper: 4 medium  ("medium" refers to the connective tissue depth) 
Middle: 4 deep (with pulse--meaning I can't even feel the connective tissue, and I can feel a pulse beating there)
Lower: 3 medium

After two weeks of doing the Core Foundations Program:

Waist: 34"
Upper: 3 medium
Middle: 3.5 deep
Lower: 2 shallow

After four weeks:

Waist: 34"
Upper: 3 medium
Middle: 3 deep (but definitely not as deep as before)
Lower: 1.5 shallow (this part is almost closed!)

After six weeks:

Waist: 34"
Upper: 2.5 medium
Middle: 2.5 medium/deep (not as deep as last time!)
Lower:  1 shallow!

Honestly, I was almost afraid to take measurements this week. I felt like I hadn't been doing the exercises as much as I should, as we had many unexpected things come up in our schedule. I was sure there would be no improvement, and I was sure that my measurements would reflect my lack of attention to the exercises.

So, I was almost in (happy) tears Sunday, when I discovered that, despite my fears, my diastasis had continued the healing process! I was so thankful for the improvement that was made, even though it was small!

This week my focus is on continuing the main exercises and stretches, beginning the weaning process from the splint (which many people do a couple of weeks earlier, but I wanted to give my connective tissue a bit more time to heal), and starting some tummy-safe exercises with Fit2B.

Join Fit2b.us

P.S. Kelly (the owner of The Tummy Team), has kindly offered a discount for my readers, which is good through March 31, 2015--just about two more weeks)!

Use the promo code ARTFUL20 to get 20% off the online Tummy Team programs when you order here!

Other Posts in This Series:

Monday, March 16, 2015

Bird's Nest Treats

It's beginning to look like spring in our neck of the woods! Even thought this wasn't a particularly long winter, I always really look forward to spring. I think it's my favorite season!
Last spring we made these yummy little bird's nest treats. They're just right for spring! I can't remember where I originally found the recipe. Most of the versions I've seen use little chocolate Cadbury eggs, which are so beautiful (and delicious). I didn't have any of those candies, so we substituted healthy jelly beans (from Vitacost) instead (to eliminate all the chemicals and food coloring). They were still fun to make and my kids loved eating them!

Bird's Nest Treats

  • 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips (just use half of a 12 ounce bag)
  • 6 ounces butterscotch chips
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 6 ounces chow mein noodles
  • 36 jelly beans, mini Cadbury eggs, or other small egg-shaped candies
  1. Grease a muffin tin with butter (try to get each hole covered in the butter so your nests won't stick to the pan). 
  2. Heat the chocolate chips and butterscotch chips together in a pan to melt (stirring frequently). You can also do this in a microwave.
  3. After the chips have melted, remove from heat and add the peanut butter, stirring well to combine.
  4. Add the chow mein noodles to the mixture and stir carefully to avoid totally crushing the noodles as you're mixing. Stir until the noodles are completely coated with the chocolate/butterscotch/peanut butter mixture.
  5. Spoon the mixture into the muffin tin, creating a little nest shape in each muffin well. Try to make an indentation in the center of each "nest" to place your eggs in.
  6. Put the muffin tin in the refrigerator and let chill for about an hour or until the nests have hardened.
  7. Remove the hardened nests from the muffin tin carefully so they stay in one piece. I kind of pried mine out with a fork and a knife.
  8. Add three jelly beans or chocolate eggs to each nest and enjoy!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Turn a Purse Into a Camera Bag {Tutorial}

A few years ago, my husband gave me a DSLR for Christmas. I had been wanting one for a long time, so it was kind of a dream come true. 

It wasn't new, but almost. It had been very gently used by one owner, who then decided to sell it on Ebay. It came with one (50mm) lens (which is still my only lens!) and a huge, manly-looking camera bag.

I loved the camera--but I hated that camera bag! 

The result of my dislike for the camera bag was that I almost never took my camera anywhere. I would instead just take my little point-and-shoot camera, which fit nicely inside my purse. Sometimes that's all you need in a camera. But other times, you'd like to get some nicer-quality photos, which requires a higher-quality camera.

Several years ago, I saw a blog post about turning a purse into a camera bag. At the next opportunity, I bought the supplies to make it. Then life got busy and I never got around to it. But when I finally decided to dive into this project a couple of months ago, the instructions I planned to use were gone!
So, the following instructions were the ones I wrote down as I totally winged this project. Even though the instructions aren't precise, this was a very simple project to do, and I could have completed it in an afternoon if I hadn't had lots of interruptions!

  • A purse that your camera fits into nicely (I wanted one that would zip closed.)--I actually took my camera to the store with me and tried it out in several purses to see which one I liked best.
  • 1" foam 
  • 1/2" foam for the inserts (I just used the 1" foam I had, but I realized later that some thinner foam would have worked better for the inserts.)
  • 1/2 to 1 yard of fabric (I just used a half yard piece that had been in my fabric stash for a few years, but there isn't much margin for errors with a half yard, and depending on how big your purse/bag is, you may need more.)
  • Velcro
  • Thread, scissors, and other sewing notions


1.  Copy the shape of your purse bottom. I just used a piece of paper and traced around mine.
2. Cut a piece of 1" foam the size and shape of the purse bottom you just measured. Then put it inside the purse to make sure it fits. I also put my camera inside to see if it fit right.
3.  With the foam piece still in the bottom of the purse, measure how tall you want the other foam to come up on the sides. You're going to cut two pieces of foam (one for each side) to pad the sides of the purse.
4.  Cut two pieces of foam for the sides (one for each side).  Cut foam for dividers. I just guessed on the size of this.
5.  Lay the foam pieces on your doubled fabric and cut around them. Be sure to add enough for a seam allowance. I also found that I needed to add a bit more to the seam allowance measurement to make sure that there was enough room to fit the bulkiness of the foam (if you use a thinner foam than the 1" foam I used, you won't need as much room). 
6.  When you're ready to cut the dividers, add about 2" to the ends. This extra fabric will become the flaps that the velcro is sewn onto.
7.  Take the velcro and measure where you want it to be on the two side pieces (on the fabric). I just figured out where I thought it would go, and it worked fine. It doesn't have to be perfect! Sew a length of velcro to one side of each side pad. Be sure to use the soft side of the velcro, otherwise it will scratch your camera! Also, don't go into your seam allowance with the velcro--only put it part of the way to the edge, otherwise you won't be able to sew and turn the fabric as easily.
I used pins to hold the velcro securely while I was sewing it:
8.  Once you get the velcro sewn onto one side of your first rectangle, take your fabric pieces to the sewing machine. With right sides together, sew around the edge of each rectangle, leaving an opening large enough to fit your foam into. I used about a 3/8" seam allowance (which I allowed for when I cut out my fabric):
9.  Once your rectangle is sewn together, turn it right side out and insert one foam piece into the hole you left open:
10.  Then you'll have a small opening you need to hand sew together:
One pad is finished! Now repeat the above instructions to make the other side pad. Sew the bottom  oval-shaped pad the same way, except leave off the velcro part. 
11.  When you get to the dividers (I just made one, but you can have several if you want), sew the little rectangle just the same as the above instructions. Then insert the piece of foam into the hole you left open for that purpose. Then, sew right up next to the piece of foam in the center, on both sides of it. This makes the two flaps on each side of the foam piece:
12.  Now cut a piece of velcro (the scratchy side this time) to fit the sides of the flaps, and sew the velcro to the flap:
When you're done, you will have a pile of padding that looks like this (2 long rectangles with velcro to line the sides of the purse, 1 oval-shaped pad (or whatever your purse shape is) for the bottom, and however many dividers you made):
Now, simply insert the padding into your purse! 
And then insert the divider wherever you want it:
Since I only have one lens, and it stays on my camera, I'm using this extra space for my keys and phone:
And then the camera goes into the other side (this is just my point-and-shoot, shown as an example of what it would look like with the camera in this space):
Have fun with your new, cute camera bag!

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Friday, March 6, 2015

Proverbs 31

Last year I finished this Proverbs 31 cross stitch project, but I just finally got around to hanging it. The sampler is based on this lovely passage of scripture:
The Virtuous Wife
10 Who can find a virtuous wife?
For her worth is far above rubies.
11 The heart of her husband safely trusts her;
So he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
13 She seeks wool and flax,
And willingly works with her hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
She brings her food from afar.
15 She also rises while it is yet night,
And provides food for her household,
And a portion for her maidservants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
From her profits she plants a vineyard.
17 She girds herself with strength,
And strengthens her arms.
18 She perceives that her merchandise is good,
And her lamp does not go out by night.
19 She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
And her hand holds the spindle.
20 She extends her hand to the poor,
Yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of snow for her household,
For all her household is clothed with scarlet.
22 She makes tapestry for herself;
Her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates,
When he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
And supplies sashes for the merchants.
25 Strength and honor are her clothing;
She shall rejoice in time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
And on her tongue is the law of kindness.
27 She watches over the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
Her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many daughters have done well,
But you excel them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands,
And let her own works praise her in the gates. 

I've always found these verses to be encouraging in my walk as a Christian woman. I especially love the last part: Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.

It took awhile to find a frame for it, but I finally found one I loved for a few dollars at a thrift shop. I couldn't wait to get it framed and hanging up. In my hurry to get the frame dismantled (it contained a photo that had been professionally framed, so it had layers of paper glued to the back), I accidentally broke the glass. I was so disappointed, but I decided to just go ahead and use the frame without the glass. 

I'm thankful it's finished and hanging on the wall!

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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Snow Days

We finally got some snow! Our days have been filled with sledding, snow people, snow ice cream, hot cocoa, making homemade playdough, watching my paperwhite narcissus bulbs coming up, and a bit of scrapbooking.

I got a Project Life scrapbook for my birthday, and I was so excited to get started on it. It's so much more doable for me than a regular scrapbook. So far I've been ordering my prints from York Photo, and I've been happy with the quality and their prices (new customers can also get 60 free prints here!). My daughters love traditional scrapbooking, and they've spent a couple of happy days making pages for their scrapbooks, too. It's a fun mother-daughter activity for cold days.