Funk No More


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I must admit that I've been sort of in a craft funk lately.  It started with the hand.  Then as the holidays approached it got worse because I had to yet again put off those seasonal projects that you've always wanted to try but only apply during this season.  With the bum hand I was missing it again.  Then other stuff crept in and I could feel my mojo being sapped away.

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Remember I read that book.  When it was over, I couldn't find another good one to fill its place.  I started relearning/practicing my Spanish through the Coffee Break Spanish podcasts.  Yes, I'm on lesson 40 of 80.  I cleaned out my pantry and rearranged all the items on each shelf by their style (i.e. Italian, Asian, and Latin American inspired ingredients; healthy grains (steel cut oats, bulgur wheat, etc); sweet stuff).

Seriously y'all.  I even started growing my fingernails!  What?  Fingernail growing is pretty but not practical.  Then my thumbnail broke all the way down and I did one of those super irritating girly shrieks in the grocery store.  I was instantly ashamed of myself.  Needless to say all the nails were trimmed immediately.  lol

Well, I kept it a secret as long as I could, but some time ago I applied to vend at our local "Christmas on the Square."  I didn't hear anything for weeks and when Thanksgiving was almost here, I couldn't imagine what was going on with my application.  I mean the event is this coming Saturday.  Anyhoo, the chairperson had been out of town and when I reached her Monday, I found out that Artistic Expressions by Elisabeth had been accepted!  And not only that, she gave me one of the best locations at the event.  Right in the heart of our city square!

Now I have some last minute preps to do, hope I can round up at least one friend to help me man the table, and I'm crossing my fingers that I can destash my items on that occasion.  I've got some new things in mind and it would be so liberating to see my previously created items go to a new home where they can be loved as much as I loved creating them at the time.

Also, OT starts on the hand in a couple of weeks.  Maybe I can get even more relief and a full recovery.

Until then, I've got work to do!

 

Happy Crafting (oh, I've longed to say those sweet words),

The ABC's of Me


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Ayana had this on her blog.  I thought it was pretty cool and since it's been quite some time since I've done an activity like this, I thought I'd give it a try.  So here goes:

A. Age: 35.  Birthday: 9-25-76.
B. Bed size: Queen, finally!  lol
C. Chore that you hate: It seems I hate the other half of most chores:  Washing clothes (fine); Folding and putting them back (hate).  Washing dishes (ok).  Putting them away (why bother).  But, I force myself to do them because otherwise I'd have to evict myself.
D. Dogs: No.  Never. 
E. Essential start to your day: Hot shower.  I'm so not a morning person, that I need something to wake me up.
F. Favorite color:  It used to be purple, but now I like just about every color but those melony - peachy ones.
G. Gold or Silver:  Silver.  But really?  Are we talking colors or jewelry here?  Then I'd have to change my answer and say white gold.
H. Height: 5'2
I. Instruments you play: technically piano and flute.  I started taking piano lessons in 5th grade through some point in college.  Piano will always be my favorite instrument.  I guess I should practice.  I got the bright idea to take flute lessons in my adult life.  Love the flute with the piano.  Gorgeous music.  Got through a book and called it quits although at the time I didn't realize I was doing that.  Scheduling practice time was a bit much.
J. Job title: Teacher.
K. Kids: No.  Not unless you count the 65 that I teach each day.
L. Live: NC
M. Mother's name: Stella
N. Nicknames: Libby (although I've been called many variations of that over the years)
O. Overnight hospital stays: Yes, my spring hospital scare.  Glad that's over with.  I don't like hospitals.
P. Pet peeve: SMACKING and GUM POPPING!!!!  (I literally have to close my eyes and channel that noise elsewhere because it really drives me nuts!)
Q. Quote from a movie:   "Nothing but death can keep me from here!"  ~ The Color Purple
R. Right or left handed: Right.
S. Siblings: One brother
T. Time you wake up: around 6 A.M. on weekdays and around 7 A.M. on weekends, but both times are too early for me.
U. Underwear:  Of course!
V. Vegetable you hate:  Beets
W. What makes you run late:  You know it's my fault.  Staying up too late because I don't want to let go of the day.  Moving too slowly when I first get up because I don't want to be up just yet.  Then doing that last little thing that always takes a little bit longer than I anticipated.  But somehow I still get to work on time.
X. X-Rays you've had: my teeth, foot, chest, and hopefully my hand because that thing still hurts!!!!
Y. Yummy food that you make: baked goods, although I could probably do more cooked things if I tried.  There are always requests for Congo Bars and Sour Cream Pound Cake.
Z. Zoo animal: I'm fine with any of them as long as they remain on the other side of the fence so I can photograph them.

Feel free to do this activity on your blog.  I'd love to read more about you!

Thanksgiving 2011


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Every Thanksgiving Day we have a church service at 10:00 A.M.  So this year was no different.  I enjoyed the service, as it makes us stop and give God thanks for all the things that He has done for us.  Really, "Thanksgiving" is every day, but it's nice to have a day to stop and reflect.  So as people gave their personal testimonies, it made me recount those things that I know God brought me through this year:
Remember the hospital scare back in the Spring?  Going in for an out-patient procedure and ending up in ICU?  That was God that brought me through that. Remember the job that almost took me out?  Yes, God brought me through that too, AND, blessed me with another one that I didn't see coming.  
In the midst of everything we go through, there are so many things to be thankful for, both big and small. 








After the Thanksgiving Day Service, I got home just in time to meet part of my family.  My cousin, whom I will refer to as "The Vegan" (he's not really vegan, but over the past 8 years he has fluctuated between vegan and vegetarianism that we never know what to prepare him) decided to ride down with his mom and sister for Thanksgiving.  He decided like 1 AM on Thanksgiving Day so you know there was very little for him to eat.









We had our play arguments over which foods he would eat.  He fought his sister over her cupcakes, which are technically vegetarian, but come on - not really healthy.  lol


Then he made a attack plan on the macaroni (since he's back to eating cheese now).  We told him there would be a fight to the end on that one too.

Meanwhile, his friend had fun playing dress up in my crocheted stash.


Finally, the rest of the family and a few friends arrived and this is basically what was served:



Loads of laughter, deep debates, requests for coffee, hot apple cider, and take out plates galore.  It was a great day that I was happy to celebrate with my family and friends.

* I'm also thankful for a dish washer.  :-)

Happy Thanksgiving!


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Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

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And now let me give you a snippet of the variety of hymns and poems that I had to recite/sing (for a grade) when I was in elementary school... 

Come, Ye Thankful People, Come

Come, ye thankful people, come, raise the song of harvest home;
All is safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin.
God our Maker doth provide for our wants to be supplied;
Come to God’s own temple, come, raise the song of harvest home.
 WE GATHER TOGETHER
We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;
He chastens and hastens His will to make known.
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing.
Sing praises to His Name; He forgets not His own.
THE PILGRIMS CAME  by Annette Wynne
The Pilgrims came across the sea,
And never thought of you and me;
And yet it's very strange the way
We think of them Thanksgiving day. 

We tell their story, old and true
Of how they sailed across the blue,
And found a new land to be free
And built their homes quite near the sea. 

Every child knows well the tale
Of how they bravely turned the sail
And journeyed many a day and night,
To worship God as they thought right.
 Enjoy your holidays,

Peppermint Hot Cocoa


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This is too simple to even be considered a recipe, but here goes:
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Love hot chocolate?  Make a cup of your favorite hot cocoa*, then add a splash of peppermint extract.  Can we say, Winner!!!!  Seriously, McDonald's has nothing on this

* I used Ghiradelli's Double Chocolate Hot Chocolate.

Enjoy!

Things I Can't Wait to Try...


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You know I love my bentonite...

                                                                                Source: kisforkinky.com via Libby on Pinterest
                                                                          Source: kisforkinky.com via Libby on Pinterest

I think these repurposed jars are amazing...
                                                                Source: theblissfullycontentlife.blogspot.com via Libby on Pinterest

This "Mod Podge" redo will be perfect for the idea rolling around in my head...  Definitely cheaper!

                                                                           Source: minieco.co.uk via Libby on Pinterest

And who knows, I might just try out one of these styles.  It would be a first.  I don't know.  Do I dare?  Just looking for some winter-friendly protective styles that aren't time consuming and don't break the bank.





Of course, all of this would be AFTER the holidays. :-)

Check out Teresa's DIY project from Pinterest this week:  Live Well, Be Happy and Help Someone Today!: Living Well and Staying Happy While Saving Money!

Until then,

The Silent Gift


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While my hand continues to be on the mend, what have I been doing?  Something I haven't done in quite some time.... I read a book!  Yes, a real book.  For adults, not children!  Aren't you so proud?  For the past almost 14 years, I've been encouraging other people's children to read which inadvertently means that I have to pre-read those selections which in turn has cut out a lot of personal reading time. 

One summer I devoted my reading time to the works of Spanish-speaking, English writing, authors.  Sandra Cisneros.  Laura Esquivel.  Julia Alvarez.  Esmeralda Santiago.  Gabriel GarcĂ­a Marquez.  And if I ever finish the book by Isabel Allende, I'll had her to the pool.  Ahhh, that was a beautiful summer.

So when my co-worker slipped me a book from her collection in exchange for all those recipes I've been sending her, I smiled and began my reading journey.  It was a beautiful book.  And although it was a slow start at first, beginning with reading only one chapter at a time, soon that familiar feeling took over.  That feeling you get when your eyes widen with each turn of the page.  You are so engrossed in the text that the passing time doesn't matter.  And soon those 400 pages of text soon decrease and the book is finished.  Then you smile and wish for another.

So what did I read?  The Silent Gift by Michael Landon, Jr. and Cindy Kelley.  I don't want to spoil the book for you, in case you decide to read it for yourself, so I will only give you the snippet on the back of the book (which I almost never read):
The decade of the thirties was a time of enormous uncertainty - for the world, for America, and in particular for the one lonely, struggling mother and her disabled son.  Their story is one of unyielding love and incredible sacrifices in the face of circumstances beyond belief.

But then The Gift appears...where has it come from, and why?  How can a young boy who cannot communicate provide comfort and direction to seekers who learn of his special ability?  Whatever the source, its presence brings a single shaft of light and hope to Mary and her beloved son, Jack...  Will it be enough?
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Although I could reach for another book, if I knew what it would be, instead I must reach for the cleaning supplies and ready my house for the coming guests for Thanksgiving next week.

Until next time,

Monday's Feature: Esra


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Meet Esra of Knitella.


 
 
 

AE:  Who are you?   
E:  I am Esra, and I am a knitter :D
AE:  What is it that you do/make? 
E:  I make long scarves, circle scarves, shawls, hats, gloves, headbands, hairclips, little blanket, and I am always learning new things and transforming them to products :D I still don't consider it a job. I just enjoy it a lot :)
AE:  How did you get started/What is the motivation behind your work?  
E:  I have always enjoyed knitting, but it was on and off. I would get a knitting urge, do it for few weeks then leave it. Until I finished my first scarf, which took me about 6 months to complete. I really loved the fact that I finally had something I did by myself. So, I started doing more scarves! It just did few for myself, family and friends.

Last summer, I had the longest break since I started my education (yes longer than my primary school holiday!) it was four months. I couldn't just sit there and waste time. I kept knitting. My friends and family really encouraging me to start selling. I went to my first community/charity sale, and I sold three scarves that day! From that point on, May 2011, I decided to take knitting to the next level, and do it professionally. 

A friend of mine, Mel Watkins, introduced me to Etsy, and that opened a big virtual door of possibilities! :D

Now, I am a committed knitter (trying to be a crocheter as well) and I have my knitting business called Knitella.
AE:  Where can we find your work? 
E:  For products:
and my website: http://www.knitella.co.uk

For updates, discounts, and giveaways:
you can follow me on twitter: https://twitter.com/Knitella
and check my blog: knitella.blogspot.com
Thanks, Esra for such a great interview.   I wish you continued success, both in the UK and abroad.

Please give Esra your support by visiting any of the following of her websites:



Back in the Habit


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Last night I had the pleasure of attending a retirement celebration dinner for one of my aunts.  It was an honor to be there and to celebrate her 33 years of dedication in the field of microbiology at Duke University.  There is so much to this that I could share about this, but I'm going to save it for another post.

While there, I met up with another aunt, my physical therapist/painter/potter aunt, who inquired about my nifty thumb sling that obviously matched my attire.  lol  So after the dinner, we took that sling off and my aunt gave me some physical therapy exercises to do that should help.  The exercises we practiced last night made a difference and so now I'm going to ask my doctor about physical therapy instead of the cortisone shot. I think because my PT aunt is also a crafter, she knows just how badly I want to be able to use my hand at full function.

Despite the fact that I got home really late last night, I just had to try out my hand.  I made a fleece scarf last year that I never shared with you because it was a prototype and it wasn't quite what I had in mind.  Well, actually it was, but I wasn't so nifty with the rotary cutters and my fringed effort was uneven, so I never showed the scarf.  Well yesterday, prior to the dinner, I had decided to turn that fringed scarf into a cowl.  And that's what I did when I returned home.

 
I'm keeping this cowl for myself.  I love topstitching!  Plus this one is shorter because I cut off the fringe.  It doesn't double loop.

Then, this morning, I decided to use up the rest of my fleece cuts (from last year) to make two more cowls.
These were the fleece pieces that I didn't use when I made this scarf.
 
 
 

Needless to say that it felt sew (hee hee) good to do any kind of crafting, especially during this time of the year.  I dare not crochet/knit before continuing the exercises and finding out if there is a PT in my area who can help me, but sewing, I can do!

Happy Crafting,

Happy Veteran's Day 2011


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November Length Check


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Well, it's November now and ordinarily it wouldn't be time for a length check since the 2011 Hair Challenge ends in December which would warrant an automatic length check.  But, seeing that I decided to take all the afro twists out of my hair after almost 8 weeks, and I got another trim afterwards, a length check might as well be done.

So, I spent an entire Friday evening taking all of the afro twists down.  Normally they would have stayed in longer, but some were trying to loc since I didn't have time/funds to have the edges redone and I was tired also of wearing headbands and scarves.  Anyhoo, I took them down.  That same night, I treated my hair to a bentonite clay mask.

I had tried the bentonite mask before and didn't like it, but this time I basically used a recipe that one of my FB friends used and I loved it.


My recipe mods:
equal parts bentonite clay and apple cider vinegar
tea tree oil
* she added rosemary oil but I didn't have that
Mix and apply.  Leave on for about 15-20 minutes and thoroughly rinse.

After the treatment, I applied hair cholesterol, put on a conditioning cap and went to bed.  But not before mixing up a fresh batch of henna.  Yep, two different treatments in the same weekend to satisfy two different purposes.

On Saturday, I applied the henna right on top of the cholesterol that was in my hair.  I left it on for about 4 hours, rinsed it out, shampooed and deep conditioned as usual.

Now the question was:  What am I going to do with my hair?

Thankfully, CurlyNikki shared a video of a hair bun tutorial for 4b/4c hair, which is my hair type.




So upon watching this, I immediately went to the hair store (correction - beauty supply store) to look for this Jamaican braid.  I chose a pack of "Bob Marley" hair and decided to give this look a try.  Here's my bun, which is probably going to be my "go to" style to help me get through the end of this hair challenge.

At work people were asking me if it was really my hair.  Sure for $4.99 - it's mine.  lol  Just gotta get some cute hair clips.

A few days after sporting this new bun look, I got my hair trimmed and then back into the bun it went.

After blow drying my hair, my stylist took a step back and wiped the sweat from her brow.  It was hilarious!

I'm looking forward to the end of this hair challenge.  I think I've learned a lot more about my hair over this past year and I hope to be able to continue learning and applying good practices in the future.  In December I will host a giveaway of some of the products that I used throughout the challenge that have been my favorites, so stay tuned!

Baked Goods and more! (Recipes Included)


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Oh, I've just baked up somethings good!  Yes, somethings.  Usually this time of the year I'm always cooking, but for some reason I've been a bit off with that.  Too many times I've looked in my refrigerator and been like, it's too bright in here; must go shopping.  But, if I don't shop with a purpose I end up wasting food so I make do with whatever until I force myself to cook.  What's that all about?

Kar's Baked Oatmeal
Anyhoo, I've been trying to do better so I started out with Kar's Baked Oatmeal dish.  No need to post the recipe because you can visit her blog for that.  *wink*  If I change anything for myself, I will add more milk next time.  If you crumble it up after it's cooled, it also makes a great granola snack.  I bet it tastes good on top of yogurt too.
 
I added this b&w photo because I thought it looked so cool!
 

Apple Butter
Then, since I had a bag of apples left over, I decided to attempt this Apple Butter recipe.  At first I thought that maybe I needed to use a different type of apple (I used Red Delicious) because it didn't firm up like apple butter should, but I put it in the refrigerator and it firmed up more after sitting.  It was quite tasty regardless.

One of the keys to using a slow cooker is to use the one the size for what you're making.

Vegetarian Bean Stoup
Interestingly enough, in the same day that I made the above two recipes, I also made this stoup.  It started out being Catherine's Spicy Chicken Soup (without the chicken), but in the end it turned out being more of a vegetarian bean stoup.

There wasn't too much of a real recipe here, but I did this:
Sauteed onions and garlic in oil.  Added a large can of tomato sauce, a can of fire roasted diced tomatoes, and a little water.  I added a can of rinsed black beans, a can of rinsed kidney beans, and a can of sweet corn, drained.  The seasonings were cumin, salt, pepper, and chili pepper.  At the very end, I threw in some fresh cilantro.  (I love cilantro, but I think it's one of those ingredients where you either like it or you don't.)

I topped my stoup with sour cream and shredded cheese and ate it with the Tostito Scoops.


Grits Casserole
And finally I've been craving grits, which is kind of odd, being I'm more of an oatmeal person.  But hey, I'm from the South and grits aren't going anywhere so here's to grits!  Seriously, if cooked correctly, they are quite good.  The older I get, the better they taste.  I decided to use this recipe from my Taste of Home cookbook.  I had one modification though - substituting the pork sausage for turkey sausage.  I'm streamlining my diet a bit and I had a tube of it in the freezer - win win.

Grits Casserole
Ingredients:
1 pound (453.5 g) turkey sausage
* 4 cups of water
1 teaspoon (5 mL) salt
* 1 cup quick-cooking grits
4 eggs, lightly beaten
 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup (15 mL) butter, softened

Directions:
1.  Crumble sausage into a large skillet.  Cook over medium heat until no longer pink.
2.  In a saucepan, cook grits according to package directions.  Remove from heat.
3.  Stir in a small amount of grits into the eggs, then pour egg mixture into saucepot with grits, stirring constantly.
4.  Add remaining ingredients into grits mixture and stir until butter is melted.
5.  Pour into a greased 13 in x 9 in x 2 in baking dish.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees F (176 degrees C) for 50-55 min or until top begins to brown.

*  I used 5 cups of water because I did not use the quick-cooking grits; instead I used the old fashioned grits which take about 15-20 minutes to cook as opposed to the 5 minutes for the quick grits.

I couldn't wait to this dish firmed up a bit.  Had to have it right then!  Just as good.  :-)


Well, I do hope that all of these recipes help me to have a better breakfast/snack that will carry me throughout the morning at least.  Plus I love dishes where you can cook them in advance and eat them down throughout the week.

If you have any great casserole type meals to share, please leave a link in you comment.  :-)

* Confession:  I had to take off my trusty splint to make the grits casserole.  Hope I don't pay for it later.  But at least I'll have a tasty treat to take my meds with.  LOL

p.s.  I hope I'm getting better with the metric conversions.  This is some tricky business.  I don't mind corrections from any of my metric friends.

Buen Provecho,