Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Pinterest Projects That I Actually Completed #2: Joy Wall

Gratitude.  Thankfulness.  Mindfulness.  These words were on my mind at the first of the year when I was trying to come up with New Years Resolutions.  A friend of mine shared on facebook what she and her family had done in 2014:  a joy jar.

Throughout the year, they wrote down on little slips of paper things that had brought them joy--a beautiful sunset, a good grade on a test, a family vacation.  They kept those slips of happiness in a large jar and at the end of the year, they took them out and read them, experiencing that joy all over again.

I knew I'd never be able to keep up with slips of paper, but I had an idea.  I had seen this chalkboard art print on pinterest:

I have a small wall in my kitchen that had 80's country wallpaper on it.  Over the last couple of years, I had stripped the floral wallpaper out of our two bathrooms and retextured and painted the walls and I was in NO HURRY to do that again.  Ever.  So, I painted the wallpaper with black chalkboard paint and had fun quotes, grocery lists and schedule reminders on it.  After seeing this little art print, I decided to create a joy wall.  Here's my wall and art:
Each month we write a joy and the date around the big "joy jar".  At the end of the month, I photograph it and then we wipe it clean and start the new month.  
Here's February:
At the end of the year, I'll make a collage page for our year's Shutterfly album from the 12 walls.  This family journaling has been an eye-opener and a blessing for us as we remember daily the joys that fill our lives.  I hope you've found a way to remember all the good things that come to you every day!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

This is the Day--Psalms 118

My husband loves "scenic overlooks".  Me?  I'm terrified of heights and would prefer to stay in the car with my eyes closed, trying to remember my Lamaze breathing techniques from our parenting classes.  He still makes me get out and I'm always glad he does.  That view--that glorious forever view--reminds me that this world is grand.  That life is grand.  And not just the special days--the day of your wedding and the day you bring your babies home.  Every day is grand.  The days filled with laundry and dishes and tedious tasks that make you doubt that you were ever destined to do anything special.  Especially those days.  Because those are the hard days and the ones where we most need to rejoice and be glad.  

I printed out this photo of the Sacramento Mountains and that Word of Truth and placed it in the window over my kitchen sink.  It's where I scrub dirty dishes and think about my to-do list and pray for my family and friends.  And in those small and not-so-small things, I hope this photo will remind me that this grand day was a gift--and I will rejoice and be glad in it.

The above photo was edited with Waterlogue and WordSwag
 I hope you save it, share it, print it and take it to heart.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Small Business Saturday--The Old Try

"Behind every small business, there's a story worth knowing."--Paul Ryan

My husband and I are small business owners and we try to buy as much as we can from locally owned shops or mom & pop internet sites.  I'd like to share one with you today:  The Old Try.  
Micah and Marianna and Little One

They are a couple of Southerners living in Boston who make the most beautiful letter press posters, plus t-shirts and baby wear--all with a Southern accent.  From their website;

"Faulkner said to write what you know. Old Try started that way. By writing and designing Southern things for folks who lived in and out of the South. Things that connect people to a place they go to in their dreams, or a place they could never convince themselves to leave.  
We spent six winters in Boston and then took a sabbatical to have our daughter in North Carolina. Where her mom was born and where her mom was born and where her mom was born. 
Now we're back in Boston, but we carry with us that memory of home. And that’s just what will keep driving us to make things that can take y’all there, whether you’re living in the South or not."

We have one of their posters framed and hanging in our kitchen (not that our kids need constant reminding).

Here are some of my favorites from their website:

and, of course, one for my fellow Aggies!

They're offering a 20% discount with the code FOODONTHETABLE at checkout.  I hope you'll go check out their super-cool website and find something to bring a little Dixie to your home.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Road Trip Review #1-Ruidoso, New Mexico

Last weekend, we took a fast and furious road trip to Ruidoso, NM, to do a little spring-break skiing.  The weather was GORGEOUS and it even snowed for a bit on us while we were out on the slopes.  The snow was a little slushy, which is to be expected that late in the season, but we all had a blast.  It wasn't crowded, so no long lines for the chair lift--yippee!

Ski Apache has added a zip line for the adrenaline junkies and has a nice snack bar.  We shared some posole and I also had this Apache taco, which is an open face beef taco on Indian fry bread.  So good!

After skiing, we headed back to our hotel, the Lodge at Sierra Blanca.  

We couldn't have asked for a prettier place or friendlier people.  
Here's the fireplace in the lobby:

and the fire pit on the patio just outside the dining area:

The hotel backs up to a golf course and there are walking trails all around it. The free breakfast in the morning was a full buffet with (REAL) eggs and sausage, pancakes and french toast, fruit, yogurt and an omelette station.  The indoor pool was a hit with the kids and there were also spa facilities in the hotel. 

On our way out of town, we ate lunch at the kids' favorite place, Cafe Rio.  I noticed on their website they're celebrating their 20th anniversary, which means we've been going there about as long as they've been open, and we've never been disappointed.  Hubby and I always split a small Greek salad and everyone chooses a slice of their favorite pizza.  The crust is thin and crispy--perfect.

We can't wait to go back this summer when we have a little more time to spend.  This part of southern New Mexico is beautiful and has so much to offer--skiing, horse racing, fishing, hiking, golf and, of course, wonderful food and shopping.  Ruidoso is a great weekend destination for Texans from Amarillo, Lubbock, Midland/Odessa and El Paso.  Hope you get a chance some time to enjoy one of our favorite places!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Love, Laughter and Food--Lunch with the Play Group

Today I'm taking my own advice and having some of my dearest friends over for lunch. We try to meet at a restaurant for lunch once a month or so, but this time I suggested everyone bring what they wanted to eat and meet at my house.  Most restaurants are loud and I don't want to miss a thing while we laugh and talk and get caught up on one another's lives.

I've been eagerly awaiting Big Mama's new book, 
Nobody's Cuter Than You.
It's a celebration of female friendship and as I've been reading reviews of it, I can't help but be reminded of the importance these friends of mine have had in my life.  I met them through K, who I had met in grad school.  I happened to see her at the church we had just started attending and she invited me to the new play group that she and some other moms had just started.  That was 15 years ago and we have watched our children grow up and we've moved into new homes and changed churches and started new careers---and through it all, they've just been a blessing.  And, honestly?  I've been blessed throughout my life with good friends.  The group of girls I ran around with in high school helped me navigate those awkward years and I was blessed again with another group of amazingly smart and witty and generally awesome girlfriends in college.  After college, I got caught up in work and didn't do a good job of keeping up with these ladies, but facebook has been a great way to rekindle some of those friendships.  

Like Melanie says in the video trailer for her book, strong female friendships are one of my greatest wishes for my daughter.  I hope that she is blessed with friends and I hope she stays connected with them.  These cute printables from Big Mama's blog say it all:

I hope all of you have a fabulous day--take some time to call or text that special friend today!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Easy Crockpot Posole

We were treated to some authentic New Mexico Posole (or Pozole) and Indian fry bread for lunch up at the ski lodge this past weekend.  It was delicious...and HOT.  They served it with the traditional toppings of chopped white onions, shredded cabbage and lime wedges and the fry bread helped take the bite out of the heat of the ancho chiles.

I was craving it this week and decided to make it yesterday in my crockpot.  I know my version would probably make Rick Bayless have a complete meltdown, but I didn't really have time to soak ancho chiles overnight to make the traditional red chile sauce that gives it its punch.  And, we're wimps.  Serious sissies when it comes to hot and spicy, so, this is a very mild version that you can feel free to kick up a notch as you wish.

Los Ingredientes

This is an easy "dump" crockpot receipe:

1 pork tenderloin
1 small yellow onion, cut into small wedges
2 cans chicken broth
2 cans of white hominy, drained
1 small can green chiles (mild or regular depending on your taste)
1 can red enchilada sauce (mild or regular depending on your taste)
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. cumin
2 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. seasoned salt
1 bay leaf

Place onions in crockpot and lay tenderloin on top of them.  Sprinkle tenderloin with seasonings and pour broth, hominy and green chiles around the pork.  Pour enchilada sauce on top of everything.  

Cook on high for 5-6 hours.  I also like to lay a towel on top of the crockpot lid to keep more steam/heat in the crockpot.  I don't know if this is scientific, but it seems like it works and it certainly doesn't hurt anything.

When it's done, cut the tenderloin in 3-4 pieces crosswise (you can do this while it's still in the crockpot) and then take two forks and shred the meat.  Remove the bay leaf.  Stir everything together and it's ready to serve.

Las Cubiertas
You can top your bowl of posole with chopped white onions, shredded cabbage, lime wedges--whatever strikes your fancy.  I ate mine with a corn (actually, half-corn and half-flour) tortilla but the rest of the family chose tortilla chips.

I used the mild green chiles and mild enchilada sauce.  The next time I make it, I will probably use the regular version or add a small can of this, (or at least the sauce, if not the peppers):

This recipe will definitely stay in my repertoire.  It was super fast to make and the price per serving came out well because it made at least 8 servings.  If you were trying to stretch the serving count out a bit, you could add a can of pinto beans or a third can of hominy.

Hope you give this a try--let me know if you do and how it worked out for you!

(For a more authentic version of New Mexico Posole, 
check out this recipe.)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Pinterest Projects That I Actually Completed-#1

I love Pinterest!  Remember the bad old days of tearing out pages from magazines for ideas?  Or trying to surreptitiously take a photo (with an actual camera!) of a project at a craft store--not that I ever did that...

The only problem with Pinterest is that I pin TONS of ideas and don't really execute on many of them.  So, I thought I'd share some of the ones I have finished and I hope it will motivate me to complete some more of my faves.

Bicycle Wheel Photo Display

This was super easy and basically free.  We had an old child's bike of my son's that had a couple of busted inner tubes and repairing it was going to cost more than the bike was worth.  I had seen this project posted various places on blogs and I had pinned it to my personal board.  The only hard part was getting all the grease and ball bearings out of the center and cleaning it.  Some people left the wheel as is and some tried to remove paint and finish in order to make it look really vintage. 

 I chose to paint mine with oil-rubbed bronze spray paint and hung it on our wall with a large screw mounted into a stud.  I had scanned some of my favorite black and white family photos and printed those out on photo stock.  I cut them out with craft scissors and hung them up with tiny clothes pins from the craft store.  Here's how it looks in our living room:

I can't center the television because the cable box is too tall to fit under the television, so, this little wheel helps fill up the blank space above the box and wire basket for the remotes.

I hope this easy project inspires you to finish some of your own favorite pins!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Sharing a Smile-#1

Each Monday I'm going to try to share something that made me smile--a blog, podcast, website, book--just something that got my attention and might bring a smile to your face, too.  

While driving to New Mexico this weekend, my daughter snapped this photo through the car window:  

We drove through miles and miles of Texas, to quote Bob Wills, that looked exactly like this.  Scrub brush, interspersed with cotton  fields and pump jacks, was all you could see in the fading daylight.  There aren't any radio stations out here and I didn't want to argue over playlists, so, we listened to several podcasts I had downloaded.  One of them was 99% Invisible.  From the iTunes website:   "Design is everywhere in our lives, perhaps most importantly in the places where we've just stopped noticing. 99% Invisible (99 Percent Invisible) is a weekly exploration of the process and power of design and architecture. From award winning producer Roman Mars, KALW in San Francisco, and Radiotopia from PRX."  That sounds a little high brow and maybe even a little boring, but it's a GREAT podcast.  The episode we listened to was #157, called Devil's Rope.

For those of you from ranching or farming backgrounds, you know they're talking about barbed wire (or bob wire, if you're from West Texas).  The podcast gave the history of the range wars, referenced Lonesome Dove (which kicked it up a notch in my husband's opinion) and was very informative.  And THEN, right at the end, was the tidbit I had never heard before.  The one use of barbed wire that wasn't for keeping people and animals in or out of places was... the telephone.  

This was brilliant, especially when you looked at the landscape we were driving through.  Rural telephone cooperatives were springing up to bring this new invention to homes and farms and it would take thousands of miles of wires.  Guess what they used?  Barbed wire!  It made the connection a little fuzzy, but using the fencing that connected all these farms, allowed these families living out far from town to be a little more connected to family and friends.  That, to me, is great design and even though it's in plain sight, barbed wire fencing is definitely 99% invisible--just something we see without noticing.

Here's a link to that podcast.  I hope you check it out!
99% Invisible Podcast

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Climbing trees

My church has had an online devotional for Lent this year.  We have been reading 2 chapters a day in order to read through the Gospels by Easter.  Each day, a church member or a staff member adds a devotional that corresponds with the days reading.  Today was my day and I had been assigned Luke 19 & 20.  There's a LOT in those two chapters, so, I chose to focus my writing on the well-known story of Zacchaeus.

“Zacchaeus was a wee little man, and a wee little man was he!
He climbed up in a sycamore tree for the Lord he wanted to see.”
I don’t know about you, but my tree climbing days are way behind me.  The last time I climbed anything of any significant height was when my 3 year old son found himself up in the top of the McDonald’s indoor playspace and couldn’t find his way out.  He didn’t know I had been watching him explore higher and higher.  He didn’t know that I was waiting for him to decide that he needed my help—but I was.  Once he cried out to me, I made my way to the impossibly tiny staircase.  Fellow diners were treated to dinner and an entertaining show as I shinnied up to where he was and guided him safely back down to terra firma.
Zacchaeus, a grown man, was willing to climb a tree just to get a glimpse of who he knew to be the Savior.  The bible doesn’t say Zacchaeus had ever met Jesus before, but somehow, Zacchaeus knew this man, this Jesus, was the Redeemer he had been seeking.  He climbed up in a tree, trying to get a better look, not knowing that his Lord already knew where he was and what his needs were.  Zacchaeus’ faith in Jesus was his salvation, for “the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost”.
Jesus didn’t just acknowledge Zacchaeus’ tree climbing prowess with a nod or a wave—he invited himself to Zacchaeus’ home!  Jesus wanted to spend time with Zacchaeus and to get to know him.  Today, Jesus is still pursuing each and every one of us.  He knows our needs before we’re even aware of them.  He longs for a closer relationship with us.  We just need to bring Him in to our homes and our hearts. Time spent in prayer and in the Bible will open our hearts so that we can know Hisheart.
Lord, use these 40 days of Lent to renew and refresh our hearts and open our eyes to the Truth you’ve placed before us in Your Word.  Amen.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Mornings in the Land of Enchantment

Waking up to a beautiful sunrise in the mountains is such a blessing.  You realize you're somewhere special, even sacred.  The ancient landscape calls us to remember, to see this stunning Creation for what it is and to accept the responsibility we have as the caretakers of this precious gift.

All of your senses are engaged:  

the light coming over the treetops, 
       the crisp, cool air on your skin, 
              the smell of a pinon log fire, 
                     while the quiet of the early morning retunes
                     your ears to hear the small sounds of birds and wind
                              as you enjoy the best meal of the day.       

May we take the time each day to engage our senses and start off the morning  in such an intentional way, no matter where we are.  To quiet ourselves enough to hear what the Creator is saying to us.  To create a space where we can greet the day and welcome what it will bring.  To ready ourselves to be who we are called to be for ourselves and for those around us.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful--The Nester

Anyone who's spent half a minute reading home blogs recognizes that quote from The Nester.  Myquillyn has given so much of us permission (and for some reason, we needed that permission) to move away from the ideal of pinterest-worthy homes and blog-perfect decorating and more towards generous hospitality and a cozy home for our people.

So, I am inviting you in to sit on my comfy leather couch in my recently painted living room and visit a while!  We downsized from a large new house on an acre to a smaller 1980-era house in a more convenient part of town so that my children could spend more time in their house rather than in my SUV.  I do miss my bigger, newer house, but we've been working on making this new house our home and it's starting to grow on me.

The living room had that glossy paneling we all love to hate (and popcorn ceilings-grrr!) and after living with it for a couple of years, I convinced my husband that it was time to do something.  It was impossible to get enough light in the room to take any decent pics, but here's the best I could do with the before photo:

And here are the much lighter after photos:

It's a room that I love to be in and reflects our family and things we love--old professional photos of my husband from his rodeo days, Pendleton blankets, vintage wooden skis, treasures from antique stores, handmade furniture from family.  It's a happy place for us and I'm ready to stretch my wings and be more intentional about hospitality.  It's still not perfect--we need to touch up the ceiling where we scraped the popcorn (grrr!)...and remove a little paint that got on the fireplace...and caulk some edges...but I think it's beautiful.

So, the next time you don't think you can host the youth group or a family gathering or coffee with your friends, do a quick pick-up, make some tea and open your doors.  It will do your heart good.

paint--Benjamin Moore White Dove in Behr Primer Plus Paint
vintage fringed Pendleton blanket-ebay (similar)
metal basket with rope handles-decor steals
frames for rodeo photos--Target (extra 10% off with code SHAMROCK)
Red Cross Pillow--the Cottage Workroom on etsy
old Safeway Stores metal bin on hearth--local antique store

Monday, March 16, 2015

Well, hello there!

I'm a 40-ish mom and wife and I am inviting you guys along for the ride as I find my way through this next stage of life!  The kids are growing up fast and when I'm not working in the family business, I'm daydreaming about what I want to do when I grow up.  My oldest is in high school and as we explore college and career options together, I keep thinking "There's so much I still want to do!"  

I don't know about you, but  I'm so much more comfortable in my own skin at this age--I know what I like, I know what I don't like and I'm not too terribly concerned with what's trending out there (although Pinterest is a black hole I venture down more than I should!) .  I named this blog after two of my favorite things because they're comfortable, classic and they look good on just about anyone. 

I didn't make my cuff, but here's an easy tutorial on how to do that:

Aren't these cute!

So, I hope you'll join me while I share some of my favorite things and random musings.  
Have a beautiful day, friends!