Hospitality, Friendship, Encouragement

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Happy Birthday, Rachel

Today she became an official teenager.  13 years old.  

We have seen her maturing over the last few years, this past year especially.  She is becoming a young woman.  Still tenderhearted and gentle, she is becoming bolder in good ways.

While she is quiet, she is not shy.  There were many years that she would not talk in public, but it didn't keep her from participating in things!

She is a delight to our whole family.  I love having a new kind of relationship with her - she no longer needs me to tell her stuff.  She needs me now to help guide her through these coming years.  

She has also reached a major family milestone - she's taller than me!  Of course I am only 5' 1" but she is going to be tall - we think taller than her older sisters.  

Happiest of birthdays, dear, dear Rachel.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Arrow Verses The Air Conditioning Unit....

Guess which one won....sigh.

It has been hot here, and humid, too.

Sometime during the afternoon on Monday, Lindsay was doing target practice with her bow and arrows.  She shot from a different angle than she normally has been shooting and the arrow glanced off the target and somehow managed to get precisely between the vent slats on the A/C unit and puncture something or other.  She could have purposely shot at this thing for weeks and never done it had she been trying to do it on purpose - there is no mark on the unit at all.

Did I mention that it has been hot here too?

While we were eating dinner on the deck yesterday, a storm moved in.  We were enjoying the much cooler air, but it kept getting darker and darker.  The clouds were billowing downward and then we saw rotation starting.  Dinner was over!  We hustled every one and the dogs to head downstairs....of course we had some photographers who were busy....

Emily shared some photos with me from her iPod....

That portion of the storm passed us very quickly and then we had rain...heavy rain.  The storm did cut the heat - it was cool outside last night, but hard to get that coolness into the hot house!  I am thankful though that we did not lose power and were able to use our fans to make it bearable to sleep.

One thing it has done is cause me to pray more for our missionary friends who are serving in Africa....

We have someone coming to look at the A/C late this afternoon.  I hope it can be fixed easily and for very little money.  The unit is 10 years old - we had it put in when we moved to this house.  It would be great to just upgrade the whole unit but we can't really afford that right now, so we are praying for an inexpensive solution.

Today I am headed into the store, the air conditioning works really well, thankfully.  I have some computer work to do and book keeping which is just as well, as Wednesday's tend to be quieter in the store.

Oh, and if I can ask for a favor?  Will you pray with us about our web guy?  The website he built has issues, and he is not very quick about dealing with them.  This is leading to frustration on our part, as we would really like to promote the website but don't want to when we can't even arrange the handbags properly is open for business, but we aren't seeing much action yet.  We want to maintain a good testimony and to deal with the situation in a professional manner.

On a happier note, preparations are underway for a certain girls' 
birthday on Thursday.  She will be 13!  

Lots going on, as always thankful for the Lord's loving hand in it all - both the good and bad.  Thankful for an afternoon of fellowship with my dear friend Jen yesterday, and an hour or so visit with the Hospitality Lane folk last night.

We are so blessed.

Monday, May 28, 2012


We had a lovely weekend.

Tim only had to work a half day on Saturday and now has two full days off.  It's the first days off he has had in 21 days.  Seriously.  

Saturday morning, I took girls to work and then came home and took Rachel, Sarah and Kyle to pick strawberries!  I found out about a great place just 10 minutes from our home. 

 I have to insert here that everything is either 10 or 20 minutes from our house, unless we are talking NYC or DC and then they are both about 2 1/2 hours! 

Anyway back to the strawberry was a warm morning the day went on to be about 88 degrees and humid, so it was on the warm side.  But as it was 10:30 in the morning, it was not unbearable and the strawberry field was full of berries.  Oh, man!  I would move a few leaves and there would be gorgeous berries, 4 or 5 ripe and ready for me to pick.  I filled up 4 quarts pretty quickly.  Rachel worked steadily along and filled 3 quarts.  Sarah struggled through her first quart but got into the spirit of it for the second one. Kyle - he picked a few berries, then was hot, thirsty and focused on going back to the car for a drink.  I encouraged them, I reminded them about how we were learning about diligence and dependability and how cool was it that God gave us this opportunity to practice these things while picking these yummy berries...

While I was filling my fourth quart basket, Kyle was still working on his first, I let him run back to the car to get a drink.  Sometimes a boy needs a drink.    Then he came back and finished his quart, and needed to use the bathroom.

Another insertion here - I hate portapotties!

While I was a waiting for him, I can see Sarah chatting away with a lady who was on a row of berries next to our row.  Later Sarah told me that she was asking if they were home schooled, and where we go to church!  I laughed.  It turns out that this gal home schooled her kids for a while when they were young.  I'm not sure what about us made her know we were homeschoolers but she recognized it!

We came home with 10 quarts of strawberries, beautiful, local berries.  There is nothing like them.  So, so delicious!

I made four quarts of berries into 1 1/2 quarts of jam, and the rest we have already eaten!

Yesterday, we had a great time at church, we are watching the Truth Project for our Sunday School time.  Have you seen it?  It is so great!  Del Tackett is an excellent teacher!

After church, most of our church went to a local park that has a great creek that runs through it!  It was ninety degrees out but it was shady and pleasant down by the creek.  The girls and I made Chicken Salad sandwiches, salad and fresh strawberries to take for our picnic lunch.  It was so good, cool refreshing food.

We stayed until nearly 7:30 pm.

It is such a blessing to fellowship with other believers who are busy being Jesus' hands and feet to the world throughout the week.  I am thankful for the grace that is evident in our congregation, on our relationships to one another and our love for one another, warts and all.  There is not one perfect person in our church.  We are all flawed, but there is love and encouragement and grace weekly.  I am thankful and grateful that my children are growing up in this environment.

I hope you had a wonderful weekend.  We are going to have a quiet laid back Memorial Day.  We are flying our flag proudly here today,  thankful and grateful for those who have served and those who have given their lives.


Friday, May 25, 2012

Tending To My Home

I love to tend my home.  I love to rearrange furniture *a lot*.  I love to change the pictures on our walls, and move them from room to room.  I guess you could say, I like to make our home feel fresh and new without much expense.

One day when I was at the fabric outlet, I spied a beautiful fabric that had a vintage feel to it.  I pulled it out, looked at it, put it back.  Came back to it and bought two yards!

It has a light green background with cream colored dots and a beautiful floral pattern on it.  It is perfect for Summer.  I used it to make a small valance for my kitchen window - I love to be able to see out the window and to let the sunshine in!

 I also made two simple pillow covers...

So fresh and pretty!  These are the pillow forms that I covered with my Waverly ticking stripe - you can find that post here.

I have a bit of fabric left, but am not sure what to do with it...any ideas?

Doing these kinds of small things delight me and help me focus on homemaking in the midst of running a business.

The valance and pillows make me happy...what things around your house make you happy?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

I Became A Mom

twenty three years ago today, when that handsome young man, surrounded by his sisters and his brother, was born.

He has stretched me in many ways, and I know that I am a better mother, a better woman even, because of him.

Happy Birthday, Nate!

I am so proud of you.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Prettifying My Deck

 Saturday I dropped the girls off at Sight and Sound and Fab Fashion and then stopped to buy strawberries.  I left the greenhouse a half and hour later loaded with flowers for the deck.

 I took the opportunity to plant some of my herbs, and to plant sunflowers and hollyhocks in my garden.  We'll see how they grow!

 Every year I have to have at least one Margarite Sweet Potato vine growing!

 This year I chose double impatiens for the baskets.  It is a mostly shady space with my gazebo covering the deck now, but they get enough sunlight.  

 Aren't they beautiful?  Like little roses.

 I also planted a few of the traditional impatiens...

and these Superbells in Tequila Sunrise...

I was so happy to spend part of my day beautifying, or prettifying as we sometimes say, this space that we love to use.  Our deck now that it has a covering has become and extension of our living space.  We eat dinner out there, or go out after dinner and spend time together.  Now I just have to make sure they get enough water all summer!

I have been doing some buying for the store the last few days but I managed yesterday to make two pillow covers for throw pillows in the living room, and a wee valance for the kitchen window.  I'll show you those tomorrow!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Food For Thought

"I would rather be what God chose to make me than the most glorious creature that I could think of, for to have been thought about, born in God's thought, and then made by God, is the dearest, grandest, and most precious thing in all thinking."  

George MacDonald

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Lessons, Musical and Otherwise

 Rachel had been talking about learning the cello for a few years.  She had taken piano lessons, along with Emily, but we stopped for a break  over the summer one year and never started again.  They were not really interested at that time in starting back up.  However, she kept mentioning the cello.  

I hesitated because we tend, thanks to me, to be dabblers, not masters of anything.  I didn't want to invest in a cello just to dabble.  They're kind of expensive.

But we have friends whose son plays cello, and another friend who plays, and she takes lessons from another friends' daughter....And one of our friends who plays just upgraded their cello and had one to sell for a very good price.

So it all came together and Rachel has now had two lessons and loves it.  I haven't had to remind her to practice at all.  Being a beginner she is not using the bow yet, but mastering her fingering and playing the Twinkle Variations.  I think she is doing very well, and her instructor thinks so too.

So on the night these photos were taken, Rachel was showing Grandma what she could play and then Lindsay came out from her room with a cd and wanted to play along with it on her violin.  It was a celtic song, and she did well.  I wish she would take lessons again.  She is good on the recorder(she has soprano, tenor and alto versions of the "English Flute"), can play the mandolin, the violin and now 'dabbles' with Rachel's cello.  She has a gift to hear the songs and then recreate them.  I keep encouraging her to master her instruments...sigh.

Now Sarah is eager for Lindsay to help her with her violin again, I must get a new string for this to happen, and she also wants to take art lessons.  I just need to get on the ball, make a call or two and get her a few lessons.  I tend to talk a lot about things before they actually happen.  Procrastination....

Have a lovely weekend.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Peonies and Roses

 My peonies are in bloom!  This is my absolute favorite flower.

 These have an old fashioned roses smell - so heavenly.

 The only problem with peonies is that they don't last long.

That's why I have a second favorite flower.  The rose!

 This is my only one in bloom right now, it is Zephirine Drouhin.  The color is a pink deeper than the photos show.

 It is a sweet climber and I am trying to train it on my picket fence.

The beauty of these flowers makes me happy.   Sometimes I sit on the front step of our house, enclosed in my cottage garden, just to savor the beauty.  

My Feverfew is getting out of hand...I am going to have to cut it back.

I am in the store today, so I am taking some of the beauty of my garden in with me.  I am going to clip some of my peonies to bring.  I will be able to enjoy them and it will be a good conversation starter with people who pop into the store.  It's a win-win for me!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

What's Been Happening At Home

So I have talked a lot lately about our business - it is a daily part of our lives.  But today I wanted to post about the non business part of our lives.

For Mother's Day the guys grilled steak that had been marinated for days and it was amazing!  Fortunately for us there were some steaks left over, and several went into the fridge.  Monday I decided to make fajitas for dinner, so I took those steaks and thinly sliced them up, sliced up a bunch of peppers and onion, marinated some chicken and then using an electric griddle, I cooked it all up.

I make my own marinade for fajitas.  Here it is the best I can give it to you as I don't measure...

About 1/2 cup of oil ( I use light tasting Olive oil)
1/4 cup of red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp of garlic salt
2 + Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp oregano

I like to let the chicken marinate for as long as I can, but this time I didn't have the time to do that.  So I marinated it for a bit and then while cooking it on the griddle, I poured it on to the chicken and I also added a bit of chili powder directly to the chicken.

Emily made guacamole with 2 avocados and some salsa.  Yum.  Seriously good stuff.

Then I cooked the peppers and onion until they were soft and nearly translucent, then I threw the steak on the griddle just to heat it up....

We served it with warmed tortillas, sour cream, cheese, salsa, the guacamole, chicken, steak and peppers and onions.

Can I say that it was amazing?  So good.

Yesterday, was my Mom's birthday - she is celebrating her 39th year once again!

Anyway, I surprised her with a dinner party with her and my Dad's best friends, and our friend Denny.  Just the seven of us.  

I made Chicken and Pasta, a green salad, green beans, garlic bread, and a strawberry, whipped cream and yellow cake trifle.

This is a great meal too, and it is so easy to do.

Chicken and Pasta - 

2-3 chicken breasts or 7 or 8 chicken tenderloins, cut up!
1-2 zucchini or yellow squash sliced up
1 pound angel hair pasta
1 16 oz carton of sour cream
1 stick of butter 
1 bag of Parmesan cheese or an Italian blend

In a skillet melt the stick of butter and place your chicken in to cook in the butter.  When the chicken is nearly done add the sliced up squash and cook until tender.  If the butter is nearly gone add a bit more butter and then add the sour cream into the chicken and squash, let it melt in a bit and then add the cheese.

While the chicken mixture is cooking, cook your pasta and drain well.

When the chicken is done mix it with the pasta and serve in a huge bowl or on a platter.  I often will garnish it by sprinkling parsley on top.

You can't worry about calories on this dish, just eat less if you can!

With the garlic bread I bought a really good loaf of crusty Italian bread and sliced it up, buttered it, sprinkled it with garlic salt and the Italian blend of cheese and put it under the broiler.  Just for a few minutes - it gets toasted on top but is still soft underneath.  

I love cooking good food for my family and for special days.  Do you like to cook? Do you cook from scratch?  What is your favorite food you make?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Note Card Party

A Haven for Vee

Vee hosts us every 3rd Wednesday of the month.  I can't believe it is the middle of May already!  

I decided to edit a few photos that I took on Mother's Day of my Zephrine Drouhin rose bush.  It has been blooming like crazy but with all the rain, it is starting to get black spot.  Boo!

 These are such sweet and beautiful flowers....

 They would make perfect blank cards....

 I love their color...

and delightful buds....

These are simple but sweet photos....I am looking forward to visiting with all of you tomorrow!


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

New Products

 When you have a business you have to work the business all the time.  Isn't that profound?  I am learning that I still haven't fully transitioned in my own mind to 'business owner.'  We had a fun and encouraging breakfast with a guy Tim works with named Kendall and his wife Chris, who own a wonderful pet shop called "Little Paws Dog Shop."  

It was great to share ideas and thoughts about owning a business and customer service with people who also own a store.  

When we came home, Lindsay got busy setting up to shoot some new handbags and rings that we have available.  She will be putting them on the website this morning in the store.  Since it is pouring here, I have the feeling it will be a quiet day in the store.
 This is what the product looks like when in the light box.  This is a coral colored purse called Julia on

 Sometimes when shooting the product you have to hold down the edges of the paper insert or have a small but heavy item behind the product so it stays in the position you want it to - some handbags are made to be 'slouchy' but they don't photograph well that way.

 Lindsay found that a few of our candles from Good Neighbors Candle Company.  Not only are these the best soy candles ever, they are good behind the scenes props as well! 

 The stack of handbags waiting to be photographed...our handbags are well made, and well priced.  The one on top?  $39.00, the large teal one on the bottom?  $45.00.

 These are wonderfully soft across the body bags that are the perfect size!  I used one this weekend at my state home school convention.  I wanted to be able to have my hands free and it was perfect with the little pockets on the front and lots of room for my wallet, calendar/organizer, keys, cell phone, lip balm, ipod, pens on the inside!  This handbag is $29.00.

These are one of the best handbags we sell.  Faux leather - though you would never know it - inside there are three compartments the middle being a zippered section.  Also a small inside zipper pocket, and two open pockets on the other side - one for a cell phone.  The back of this handbag has a zipper pocket as well.  We sell alot of these - they come in fabulous colors and we just got two new ones - the coral and a new deep turquoise color.  These come in two sizes the larger one shown at the top of the post, which sells for $45.00 and this smaller version which is $42.00.

Great Jewelry * Great Handbags * Great Prices!

It will all be up on the website today...check it out!

So now I am off to check for orders, and look at stats.  The perfect job on a rainy, rainy day!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Yesterday Was A Lot Of Fun (tons of photos!)

 My Mother's Day autographed balloon!

 The gift I gave my mom. Made by Lisa Pennington, a blogging friend, who owns Shop 24 on Etsy.  The 17 is how many grandkids, grandkid in laws and great grandkids she has!  It is the perfect gift for the mom/grandma/greatgrandma who has everything!

 The surprise of it all is that as you get closer to the pillow you realize that all their names are embroidered on the pillow, too!

 Ryan, Alicia, Cayden and Camden...

 Nate, Kayleigh, and Kamryn...

 Rodney, Jill, and Logan...Evan....

 Kaitlin, Lindsay, Emily, Rachel...

 Sarah and Kyle....

 Mom loved it.

 An up close view....

 Beautiful Flowers...

 My son and his daughter...

 The girls and I attempting a group photo...

 Everyone trying to be the tallest...

 by being on our tippy toes.....

 All my precious kids....they are turning out pretty nice...

 Miss Kamryn and her Mama....we love you both!

 There was a lot of activity yesterday too, scooters...


 Weird angled photos...

 This is what we ended up with!  Makes me laugh still....

 Fun with the kids! :)

 Kamryn loves this old beat up car...

 Attempts at cartwheels...

 Then the headstand lessons began...

 Kay showing them how it's done...

 Yeah, Emma you got it!

 Go Rachel!

 Lindsay!  My mom actually got her photo at the final pose with her toes pointed and everything!  

 The Tim, who learned from the best - his Mom - showed them how it's done!

 Special card from my son...

 Several from Sarah...

 She's an artist and just can't stop at one!

 From Rachel...

Love from Kyle...see the apple?  It started out as a heart but he decided to make it an apple instead!  Don't you just love it?  So like a boy!

I am so loved and blessed by my sweet family....I have a gift to come, still too.  So excited!

I hope you all had a lovely day as well!

Information Friday, On Saturday

  Well, I was all set to do a post yesterday, but I had trouble uploading my photos. I really thought I'd get it done in the evening, bu...