Tuesday, May 30, 2017

On the road (or rather plane and boat) again!

We are traveling! England, Norway cruise, and back to England again:) Two family reunions, beautiful scenery and loads of chocolate! Will blog when we get back:)

Follow me on Instagram for the latest!

Account featuring Nellie's Cottage, crafting, & renovating

Account featuring my family life of traveling, decorating, renovating, creating, and best of all "Grammie-ing"

Monday, May 22, 2017

One moment in time that changed every. single. thing

I remember how excruciatingly slow Michael drove the 30 miles home from the hospital, practically stopping at every potential bump in the road. I remember feeling overwhelmed and yet sort of confident. I had spent hundreds of hours babysitting as a teenager...how hard could this be? 
We had our first tiny human to care for and in that one moment of his birth every single thing had changed in our world.

Keith was apparently impatient to make his debut on earth because he came 3 1/2 weeks early with no prior warning. I had just been given my baby shower and not even put the gifts away! 
Michael left for UPS preload as he did at 2:30 am 5 days a week. I was still in "perfect wife" mode and got up to help get his breakfast....don't judge, it was the early 1980's and still politically correct to "look after" a husband...at least down here in the south:) Anyway, I went back to bed, settled in, felt the baby kick and POP!... my water broke. Panic ensued so I called my mom:) She came right over, we called Dr. Hilton who calmly told me to come to the hospital around 7am. Seriously...didn't he know this was an emergency?! I remembered racing around the house picking up and moving random things, trying to pack, panicking....repeat:)
Dad and Mom got my younger siblings lined out for school and off we went. 
First stop...UPS to pick up Michael. 
Second stop Mid Jefferson hospital where we would become parents!

This was our only baby that a company insurance would pay for...thank you UPS! 
Michael was 24 and a UPS preloader for 5 hours each morning and was carrying a full slate of pre-med classes at Lamar University.
I was 20 and teaching piano, tutoring, and baby sitting...anything to earn money! We lived in a mobile home belonging to, AND next door to my dad's boss for $200 a month...yikes! 
To say I was unprepared for birth is an understatement. No books read, no Lamaze classes...no clue. I only knew I was in good hands with Dr. Hilton, who had delivered me! 
Well, I must have been more panicked than I remember because I woke up to the realization that Dr. Hilton "put me out" and delivered Keith by forceps. These days "mommys to be" have written birth plans and practically tell the Dr. what THEY want to do...not so in my day. 
Michael heading into the delivery room. This looks like a hazmat suit to me.....hahaha
Keith entered the world May 22, 1984 around 11:30 am. He was my earliest and smallest babe at 6 lbs 4 ounces and 18.5 inches long. Michael was a bit worried about our forceps shaped little cone head...but I am happy to report that it rounded out just fine:)
Oh how we loved him at first sight. There are really no adequate words. Brand new babies are swollen, red, wrinkled, scrawny, and like Keith, can have misshapen heads for a bit. How is it possible to love a tiny person so much at first glance? How is it possible that life can change so dramatically with the appearance of a helpless infant? 

It wasn't until our next son was born that I realized what I had missed in the moments of birth. I had experienced the old school traditional delivery, holding my baby later instead of at the moment of birth. I did much better with Aaron having had Lamaze classes, in fact Dr. Hilton even told me I did a good job...high praise from a man of very few words.

As you can see from above, picture taking has changed with digital cameras and even more drastically changed with social media. I was obviously "done for!" Back then there was no staging a photo with make-up, lighting and props. There was no chance to do retakes until you were satisfied. It was a one shot deal because every picture counted and had to be paid for...this was REAL life unfiltered! 

As we were FINALLY allowed to go home (it was a 2-3 day stay back then) I had my first "Oh my gosh what have I gotten my self into" moment. Keith had an unpleasant diaper and when I called the nurses it was clear they expected me to figure it out...and without proper wipes! Boy was I mad at them:) 
Looking back now, I laugh and realize it was the first of thousands of unprepared parenting moments I would experience over the next 26 years of life with children in my care.

Keith changed our lives. He made us parents. He began the real character training away from young and selfish towards patient and compassionate. I marvel at the mystery of birth, the magical love that appears...where were those overwhelming feelings of love and protection hiding? 

Keith was the second generation in our family to sleep in the bassinet my grandparents bought me:)

I consider it a priviledge to have been granted the opportunity to have children. The Lord knew it was necessary to bang out all of my faults and flaws out...still working on that:) 
Keith was followed by Aaron in 1986, Brittany in 1988, and finally Danielle in 1992. Boy have the difficult lessons been generous in number, but so have the extraordinary joys:) 
Still, each year on the birthday of my oldest son, I mark the beginning of my journey to enlightenment of soul, and elevation of character to this day, May 22, 1984, the day our world turned upside down with one tiny, pre-mature human given to our care by God. 

Keith was an easy child to raise and has turned out marvelously:) 
As I am writing this post he and wife Rhiannon are in the final 9 weeks of anticipating a baby girl who will be named Elizabeth and called Lizzie:) 
I am brought to tears each time I imagine that moment he holds that little pink bundle for the first time. I can feel the overwhelming love he will experience for the first time. I can also remember the feeling of panic he will feel when realizing this small helpless baby is counting on him to learn the enormous lesson of self sacrifice in an instant.
I am praying he will soak up, inhale, and completely immerse in this one moment in time that will change everything. I know how he will feel...because that is what he gave to me...one moment in time that changed every. single. thing.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Lion House Lemon Bars

Oh my lemon! I adore lemon, crave lemon, and this is my favorite lemon recipe! The Lion House Cookbook is full of delicious recipes but this one....this one is my absolute favorite! Perfect for a spring or summer brunch, shower, or dinner party.....or just because you want some:)

Lion House Lemon Bars
        Makes 1 dozen bars 
  •      1/2 cup butter, softened
  •      ¼ cup powdered sugar, plus more for dusting top
  •      1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  •      2 eggs
  •      1 cup granulated sugar
  •      2 tablespoons lemon juice
  •      Lemon Zest of half a lemon
Preheat oven to 325 degrees, in a large bowl, cream butter and powdered sugar. Mix in 1 cup of the flour. Spread in an 8×8-inch pan and bake 15 to 20 minutes. While crust is baking, prepare the lemon layer. Beat eggs slightly. Add sugar, remaining flour, lemon juice, and rind. Mix well and pour over hot crust. Bake an additional 18 to 22 minutes, or until the center is set.
Remove from oven and sprinkle with sifted powdered sugar. Cool slightly before cutting into bars.
Note: This recipe may be double and baked in a 9×13-inch pan.

p.s. I always double the recipe....:) Lemon heaven to be sure!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Peanut Butter Nests...an Easter treat!

Peanut Butter Nests...an Easter treat!

You can always tell a beloved family recipe by the shape of the recipe book! By the looks of this tattered page one can surmise that we have made these cookies a time or two!  
My mom hand wrote a recipe book for me when I went off to college ( for 3 weeks...that is another story!)
Anyway this is THE most loved and used recipe book in my family!
My siblings and I love this recipe so much we consider peanut butter cookie dough a really great birthday present! If one really wants to truly say I love you- the cookie dough will be rolled into balls ready to go:) 
Yes, we eat cookie dough in this family...I know some of you obey the food police but we would rather risk salmonella than give up our cookie dough. This is all my dads fault. He used to let us have a spoon full of cookie dough when mother wasn't looking:)

this peanut butter dough was triple batch favorite:) I thought about letting you read the recipe from the picture and figure out what words weremissing but decided I couldn't risk someone having a bad experience with one of our most loved cookies!

Peanut Butter Crisscrosses
1 cup shortening (prefer the butter flavored)
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla (I ALWAYS triple vanilla)
2 beaten eggs
1 cup peanut butter (creamy is best!)
3 cups of sifted flour 
2 tsp soda
dash of salt 
Cream shortening, sugars & vanilla. Add eggs. Stir in peanut butter. Mix dry ingredients together and then mix with creamed mixture. Roll into walnut size balls. 
Bake at 375 for 6-7 minutes.

For "Easter Nests"
press your thumb on the ball 
to make a "nest" and add peanut M&Ms
Place your thumb in the middle of the ball and press creating a "nest" 
You can also use small muffin tins for a cookie "basket"

I know there might be a very few of you who don't want M&Ms on your cookies (I personally don't know anyone like this!) However the plain peanut butter cookies are great too.
Making the crisscross was a coveted job of the children:)

One of the things I love most about making cookies is seeing them cooling on the counter. Just for a minute I can admire my creation until they start to disappear!

p.s. By the way, if you forget to put in the white sugar because you are distracted while taking pictures of your cookies and writing your blog post... don't worry the cookies still taste fine:) 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Why is the sky so blue...a spring printable


I have loved this poem (really a song) since I was a little girl! It is one we sang in "sunday school time" (children's church called Primary.)
What a happy memory:) I do love to sing! 
I wanted to share this colorful printable created in google docs (well... after first doing it in Pages (on my mac) and having a world of trouble changing formats and uploading in printable form, and then moving it to google docs.......ggggrrrrrrrrr!)

Never mind I admit to being a printable novice:)
........the link is below...

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Half Price Spring Weekends!

If you are like me, spring is a busy time full of spring cleaning, planting the garden, potting flowers, re-painting patio furniture, family birthdays, events and of course Easter. Mother's Day soon follows, it's the end of school & just like that... spring turns into summer! 
Take a breath.
Take a weekend with a few friends to get away. 
Our last minute retreat prices sweeten the temptation:) 
Call me!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Avery Rose, a granddaughter is born

I cannot think of anything more precious than a new baby 
fresh from heaven. Avery Rose, our 10th grandchild, 
a vision of pink perfection,  graced the world 
with her presence on March 21, 2017. 
She is the fourth and final perfect addition to her family. 
I often think of the challenges and stress involved in raising children. Looking back I see many epic failures as a mother, 
and yet still consider my role as a parent to be the crowning achievement of my life. Watching my children bring babies 
into the world is so very humbling with tender moments 
that cannot be replicated any other way.

This raw emotion on the face of my son Aaron and his beautiful wife Janene, capture the intense relief and joy for another healthy baby, felt more especially after a long and arduous labor. The miracle and mystery of birth is filled with a wonder even our modern sophisticated world cannot dim. 

A new life, full of hope, promise and possibilities. 
Is it really any wonder that babies 
are so treasured and beloved. 

Wouldn't it be interesting to know what babies are thinking? Imagine the shock of entering the world! Avery seemed to take it all in stride...I imagine her saying "Hello world, I am ready for adventure!"...which she will most certainly
 experience with her three older siblings:) 

Janene noticed every 10-15 minutes Aaron would hover over Avery gazing in wonder. My Michael did the same with our daughter Brittany who came after two boys. My dad who is no longer with us also loved to admire babies and would sit for ages staring at our newborn Brittany. A picture like this uncovers a thousand emotions for me. Having survived four teenagers, not the least of which drove my sanity to the brink is this handsome man. The tender look on Aaron's face fills my soul with unmeasurable joy compensating for every moment of frustration over broken curfews, speeding tickets, and unauthorized midnight rides on the four wheeler:) 
Life is a wonderful evolution of self discovery and progress if we accept the challenge. Parenting provides a fast track course from self interest to unselfish love and service. I freely acknowledge that the most important lessons to improve my character were learned at the hands of my children. 
Oh a mother's anticipation of siblings greeting the new baby, though imagining is often better than the actual event:) Savannah 5, Ethan and Charlotte 3, are truly thrilled with baby Avery who has been much anticipated. Keeping Avery safe from such adoring and over enthusiastic fans will be a constant challenge for 
mommy and daddy! Good luck:)

What will you be my darling granddaughter? Will you be soft spoken or outlandishly gregarious? Will you play piano concerto's or dance ballet? Will you run everywhere like the wind as sisters Savannah and Charlotte or be a bit more cautious and measured as brother Ethan? I look at your soft skin and adorably chubby cheeks and feel nothing but love and hope for your future. You have been born to a family who treasures your very existence, a family that believes nothing is more important than success at home. You came to a country that is free, where women have unlimited opportunity. You came in a time when disease has limited power, and advances in technology boggle the mind. You my darling granddaughter can be anything you want to be... and that makes my Grammie heart unbelievably grateful and filled with joy. Avery Rose...bloom where you are planted and just be perfectly you:)

a letter to my granddaughters

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Spring banner...birds in foil

Spring is such a glorious time of year! I had a set of chipboard birds languishing in my craft closet begging to be set free! A banner seemed like the perfect creation for my spring mantle.

These particular chipboard birds were from Maya Road. They no longer have these on their website but you may try and find them on Etsy, or Ebay. A simple bird shape in chipboard could easily be cut on a Cricut as well.

The birds were first run through my Xyron adhesive machine. Foil (colored side up) was then laid on the sticky side of the birds and they were run through the minc machine. 

I purchased a Heidi Swapp minc machine last year which works with heat reactive foil. It is simple and super fun to use! There are many colors of foil that can be purchased seperately. I chose pink, mint green, and rose gold for this project.

I have granddaughters that live just down the driveway who frequently burst through my door with a vigorous request for a project:) It make my heart happy to know that they love creating! Scarlett was fascinated with the minc machine.

After the birds were foiled I realized they needed a wing! I traced the wing and then cut generously around the outline. Each wing was attached to the bird with regular adhesive.

Ink was then added to the edges of the birds right on top of the foil to add a subtle outline and a bit more dimension.

Annabelle & Scarlett wanted to have a "shiny bird" too, so I cut pieces of foil from the scraps which they laid on top of the adhesive side of the bird. A pass through the machine and viola...a shiny bird of their own:)

Twine is handy to have on hand in a craft stash and my usual choice for hanging banners. The birds were lined up on the countertop with the tail on the edge for consistency. After the twine was hot-glued to the bird I went back and added another layer of hot glue on TOP of the twine on the bird for a more secure hold. 

The birds were foiled, hot-glued and hung on the mantle...but I felt like they were missing something, so down it came. Enter my collection of spring paper flowers by Prima which has the most divine paper flowers:) I have a suitcase full!

I lined the birds back up on the counter top and scattered flowers over the wings with hot-glue until that magical crafting moment when it seemed complete:).....but hang on to your hat...

A second layer of mini flowers were added as centers to the some of the larger flowers...finding that sweet spot to stop can be a challenge for an embellishment lover such as me!

How do I hang the banners? Packing tape. It works for me:)

I found the field flowers at Hobby Lobby...they are perfect in these urns! Last year I made flower arrangements for each season. It is so nice to walk into the attic and retrieve a ready to go seasonal display:)

These metal and ceramic birds make me smile:) I picked them up from Hobby Lobby, Tuesday Morning & a local garden center.

And there you have it...chipboard, paper flowers, & foil...a cheerful and hopeful tribute to spring!

p.s.The small paper bird banner was created last year with my Fiskars Fuse machine which cuts, and embosses in one pass. 

Here is the post of that project...