Wednesday, April 11, 2018

A very LEMONY activity night

Lemons are happy! I was thrilled to find a great story to go along with lemons for our women's church monthly activity night. 
I currently have a "calling" in our church to help organize and facilitate monthly activities for the women's organization known as Relief Society 
We have a lay ministry which means (no one, and I really mean no one, gets paid in the Mormon church) and so we all serve where we are needed. Everything is a group effort and many women make these activities happen, beginning with my newest friend LeeAnne, who I work alongside for these activities.

In searching for activities to plan, a story caught my interest on Pinterest that was profoundly inspiring, a must read for anyone who has ever berated themselves for ALL women😉 
Drops of Awesome

After reading her story I was on fire! Ideas were popping like fireworks as were the planning texts between LeeAnne and me! 
Changing the "drops" from awesome to amazing was a total "feisty Texan do it my way move" (so me haha) plus I found this great quote to use...

Wow! What a concept...really, truly I can be amazing even with all my failings? This was THE message, the deal was sealed...and the "Drops of Amazing" activity was born. 
Lemon drops, lemon trees, lemon treats, lemon scrubs, & inspiration for living all tied to lemons. 
Pinterest is most helpful in these situations and 
I needed a place to stash ideas, so the lemony pins began the 

Planning began with an invitation!

Drops of ANYTHING can go in mason jars! I LOVE mason jars and have substantial stash (not hubby approved...ha) so a
"meaningful" craft went into production beginning with an embossed mason jar tag.

 How cute are these?! 
I am now on a mission to find reasons to need more of these mason jar tags. Die-cutting is great but embossing (on right jar trim) adds detail and makes all the difference.

This die-cut has been discontinued but you may try Ebay.

With mason jars & lemons on my mind, the perfect project popped in next:) Two different lemon napkins were ordered from Amazon 
Lemon napkins Blue Lemon napkins as well as yellow polka dot napkins purchased at Walmart, along with Mod Podge. I have been a Mod Podge fan since I was a girl! My mom was the ultimate slumber party craft planner:) 
Mod Podge comes in different finishes, but I prefer matte for most projects.

Tear the napkins, cover the jar with Mod Podge, lay napkins on jar (overlapping a bit)...Mod Podge over the whole jar. 

Add jute and the mason jar tag and viola! A lemony mason jar. 

The mason jar project led to a mason jar banner which again was found on Pinterest. By the way, for all of you young girls that don't remember life before Pinterest, those of us oldies had a different version. It was cutting out magazine articles and pinning them on a bulletin board, sharing them with friends, and learning about elaborate filing systems to house our stash of ideas:) 
I freely admit Pinterest is much easier! The proof is the handy dandy link for this printable. 

The mason jar printable file came with the sunflowers which are adorable, but just to be "theme consistent",  I found another printable of lemons which were cut out and popped on top with 3M adhesive.      
Lemon labels

Lemon blossom clip art (left of mason jars)

I normally string banners on twine but forgot my glue gun and took the easy thumbtack route. Isn't that what the whole message of this activity is about? I decided to squash my inner voice telling me how much better this would look as a "real" banner. Instead, I timidly allowed myself several drops of amazing for finding, downloading, printing (more like fighting with my printer), adding the lemons, AND remembering to bring thumbtacks the 2nd time to the church!
How many drops of amazing is that! Pretty sure this concept is going to be good for me, for us, for women! Maybe that oldest, type A, driven to perfection, never good enough voice will finally go away, or minimally have the volume at "women watching tv" level instead of "man watching tv" you know exactly what I mean:)

On to the activity set up and decor. I have learned how to pare down and compromise what I would love to do vs. what is sufficient to do, remembering that the message is MORE important than perfect decor. My activity decorating mantra is... thrifty, easy, and must add to the theme of the message! The mason jar project supplies became "centerpieces"  on top of plastic (gasp!) tablecloths...perfect for Mod Podge:)

Making the church gym in a 50 year old building look good is practically impossible, but I keep reminding's all about the message. Drops of amazing to me for keeping positive:)

On to the lemony treat table...
 Lemon printable (in frame)

Don't you love that fab faux lemon tree! Just procured it at a local wholesale florist. It was quite fortuitous this happened to be my last "don't need at all purchase" haha! Gathered anything yellow and green stashed around my home, printed a couple of lemon pinterest finds and viola...easy peasy lemon table. Could it be better? Absolutely. But for tonight I am giving myself drops of amazing for deciding it's good enough. Besides, it's the taste of this table that counts most!

On to the treats!

 Lemon Chiffon Dip & fresh strawberries

And because EVERTHING else was sweet we had
hint of lime Tostitos with black bean & corn salsa (see a veggie!) from Walmart. LeeAnne and I could have added more treats. I had actually planned for lemon parmesan popcorn, but ran out of time. Beat myself up? Nope. Not tonight...more drops of amazing for pulling this off without a melt down!
Unlike everyone else who probably ate a proper dinner... I walked out the door yelling to hubby "There's spinach pizza in the freezer." I was in a large sugar hangover from too much tasting the bread baking and dip making. Did I beat myself up. Nope. Drops of amazing for even remembering to grab a spinach thin crust pizza at Walmart so hubby wouldn't starve, and another drop for quality control testing the treats to be served:)
This whole drops of amazing thing is going to change my life!

The best part about any activity planned is the smiles and laughter of the women who come. Women from very different lives and circumstances sitting together sharing stories...the good, the bad, and yes, even sometimes the ugly. Giving each other much needed drops of amazing so that we can go home and face the mob or lonely walls again.

That cutie in red above is my Danielle, my baby:) She is my "non crafty" kid...or say she says. This is her jar below. She is quite precise in her crafting which takes time:) When we got home she said "I want a fancy ribbon on mine" which momma obliged:) Can't imagine where she got that need to "do her own thing" from...haha

After the crafty bit we had the inspiration and instruction...
-Jen told the story that sparked this whole activity. 
Drops of Awesome
-Linda talked a bit about growing Meyer lemon trees.
-Alicia shared the health benefits of lemons.
Benefits of lemon water
Lemon Nutrition
-LeeAnne gave a message relating to "where troubles melt like lemon drops" by sharing a story of her mother Marise, who was a nurse. Marise was viciously attacked by a patient with a 2x4 hidden under a chair. The damage from that attack left her in a lifetime of back pain, yet she was always serving others. LeeAnne related her mother's ability to renderer such charity saying that it was as if her back pain would "melt like lemon drops" when she was serving others.
What a life lesson.

The ladies were then given a stack of post it notes to write down their own "Drops of Amazing" daily happenings to put in their mason jar (hence the project!)
Re-setting our inner voice requires effort. Writing things down makes that effort tangible, trackable. You DON'T have to be perfect to be AMAZING. Can we believe it? I am going to give this new way of thinking my best effort. Join me?

We finished up the night with a make your own lemon sugar scrub table. Tired of lemons yet?
Not me.
No way!

Who knew lemons could be so inspiring! Read the story that inspired this activity. Internalize the message. Humans do best in an atmosphere of encouragement and love. And that my friends, includes your very own, very loud and very bossy inner voice. 

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Chatsworth House...Mr. Darcy's "Pemberley"

There are no words dazzling enough for Chatsworth House! That said, our whole visit was spectacularly decadent for a girl who loves all things fancy. The history, the imagined family drama's within these walls, the astonishing expenditure of funds, the dazzling craftsmanship in every single nook and was a marvelous tour! My amateur photos cannot do this work of art justice....still I hope you enjoy Chatsworth House through my "small town country girl come to the fancy mansion" eyes...........I was every bit as impressed as Elizabeth as she wandered through these halls during Pride & Prejudice:)

As if the house wasn't enough then we toured the grounds which were spectacular!

This cascading fountain is one of the first gravity fed fountains in the world.
There are 3 lakes that were dug up the mountain to provide water to Chatsworth house. The lake feeds this cascade and the canal lake below that you see in the Pride & Prejudice movie (forgot to take a picture of...dang it)

The Grotto house was originally built in the late 1790's at the instigation of Duchess Georgiana.

I laughed the I saw these evergreen trees, they reminded me of Veggie Tale characters:)

A Texas star in England?:)

Below is what once was the horse stables...not too shabby!

Oh Chatsworth, you are beautiful! But I am leaving with my very own Mr. Darcy to our happy little life in Texas with bare feet, comfy couches for Netflix and dinner on paper plates:) We'll leave the fancy living to the Duke & Duchess!