Sep 28, 2011

Fall Maternity Photoshoot

Now, if you've read the title of this post and have a shocked expression on your face...wipe it off.  These are not maternity pics of ME, they're maternity pics I took of my BFF and her lovely baby bump.

Over the weekend I was off at a women's retreat with my dear friend, Renee.  We had some free time in the afternoon and I jumped at the chance to snap a few shots of my beautiful bestie while she's still boasting that extra curve right there in the middle.

Now, here's a quick disclaimer...I'm no pro!  But, I sure am enjoying learning more about photography, and with such a lovely subject, I could hardly get a bad shot.

Oh, one more disclaimer...these shots are all straight-out-of-camera...editing isn't my strong suit just yet!  I'm still deep in that learning phase.  Plus, I'm working on my laptop and haven't got any of my editing software on here.  Okay, okay, enough delays!  Here's Renee!

Renee is a fellow hobby-photographer.  She and I have done a couple of photoshoots together, and have had SO MUCH FUN!  We're both amazed at how different our styles are, and how different it is to be in front of the camera as opposed to being the one snapping away.  Renee tends to be an up-close-and-personal photographer, and I tend to take 5 steps back.  It's good to have her to push me outside of my usual style and try something new.

I just love the belly-attitude here!

See, she's not all sass.

In fact, she's downright excited to meet this little babe, expected to arrive at the end of November.

I love the perspective in the above shot, kind of a Momma's eye view.

And, of course, the classic heart-hands pose.  

Fun fact, I cannot shape my hands into anything that resembles a heart...I don't know why by my fingers just will not cooperate.  Oh well, no heart-hands for me.

Thanks for stopping by!

Be blessed,

I'm Linking Up!

Sep 26, 2011

An Autumn Welcome Wreath

Fall is in full swing here.  Leaves are changing to their deep autumn hues, the air is turning crisp and you can see your breath fogging in the early morning.  It's lovely.

This past weekend we went to visit my husbands family for an afternoon.  They live out in a gorgeous valley, the view off their back deck is absolutely picturesque.

While walking around their property, taking the kids to go see the horses and kittens, I noticed this old wooden window frame with a rusty old screen inside.

I asked my mother-in-law where the frame was from, and she explained it was just something she'd found and thought it might fit one of their outbuilding windows.  When she's brought it back home, it didn't fit anywhere, so she'd set it aside to toss out.  Well, being the crafter I am, I asked if I might bring the frame home for a little project I had in mind, and Mom obliged.

Once home, I dug out a bunch of silk flowers, leaves, dried corn, some craft wire, and a little welcome sign I bought on major clearance at the end of last year.

I didn't want to permanently attach any of my fall decorations to the frame, so I simply fed the stem of the flowers and leaves through the wire screen inside the window frame.

To get the flowers to stay put, I occasionally secured them to the wire screen using a little craft wire.  I didn't secure each flower stem individually, but rather I wrapped them up in groups.  That was it will be easier to take them all off when I want to do something, I was almost out of craft wire.

Here's a shot of the back to show how I secured the decorations:

No, it's nothing glamorous, but it got the job done, and no one is going to see it from that side anyway.

Oh, did you want to see the finished product?  Sure!

What do you think?  Will it do the trick?  I'm thinking I'll pop it up on the shelf above my stairway, just inside the front entrance.  It's sure to add a nice pop of color.

Thanks for stopping in today,

Be blessed,

I'm Linking Up!

More The Merrier Mondays - The DIY Home Sweet Home Project

Sep 22, 2011

Living Room Closet {Redone}

We live in a pretty typical 60's bungalow.

You know the type, tiny main entrance, small yet functional kitchen, and the front door leading directly into the main living area of the house.

Because of the oddly placed front door in our living room, we also have an oddly placed front closet.  Until now our front closet has hardly been functional.  For awhile I had out of season coats hanging in there, but it's not really big enough to fit everyone's jacket.  I also had a small bookcase in the closet for a time, keeping all the kids books, but still, much of the closet was wasted.  And most recently, the poor closet has been a home to our puzzles and games on the very top shelf...and then a bunch of blankets were piled on the floor.  So. Much. Wasted. Space.

Finally, we decided to let the entry closet idea go and fully embrace the storage we'd been overlooking.  This past weekend Zach hung brackets and shelves for me to fill with decorating supplies, kids toys and crafts, games, puzzles, and anything else I care to squeeze behind it's bi-fold door. 

Woo!  Look at all that extra storage!

And I've still got room to spare!

I'd hesitated at putting shelves in this closet prior to this, simply because that's not the original intention for the closet.  BUT, since it was rarely used, I have zero regrets about changing a few things up!

Thank you so much for stopping by today!

Be blessed,

Sep 19, 2011

A New Look for I Can't Stop Crafting

Happy Tuesday! 

So???  Did you all notice something a little different around these parts?  It's pretty obvious, so if you didn't notice, this might be your first time visiting.  If that happens to be the case, welcome!

I've just had a major overhaul done on the old blog, and doesn't it look just marvelous? H.Rae from An Original Belle did my blog up so pretty!

Side note:  If you've never stopped by An Original Belle, you must.  Amidst the stunning pictures and gorgeous blog design, Ms.Rae offers wonderful words of encouragement, wisdom and nostalgia.  For some reason, I always feel like such a lady while visiting her blog.  Go check it out, I'm sure you'll see what I mean!

H.Rae did such an amazing job, she was wonderful to work with, quick and professional too.  And, I gotta tell you...I am head over heels for my new blog look!  It's exactly what I was hoping for!  H.Rae is an extremely talented gal, bursting at the seams with good taste, and capability.  If you're interested in hiring her to do your blog design, go check out her portfolio here and her design form, here.  She won't let you down.

Feel free to poke around the blog, exploring all the pretty options!  I'll be back on Thursday to share how I turned an underused entryway closet into a storage mecca!

Sep 15, 2011

Garden Tomato and Roasted Garlic Soup

Back in August I flew out to the western coast of Canada, to visit my wonderful friend, Melissa.  I was only there for a few days, but each and every moment was fantastic.  It felt so good to step away for just a little while, to feel refreshed and ready to dive back into everyday life at home. 

While out and about one afternoon, Melissa and I, along with her sweet daughter, stopped in at a cute little cafe for lunch.  The cafe itself was nothing fancy, nothing out the the ordinary, but soup, oh the soup was extraordinary! 

Melissa ordered a bowl of Sun Dried Tomato and Roasted Garlic Soup, and it was nothing, if not fabulous.  She invited me to have a taste and seriously, we both couldn't stop oohing and ahhing over the bowl of hearty, fragrant, delicious soup! 

Once I got home I made it my mission to try and recreate the best tomato soup I've ever had.  And of course, I'll share my results with all of you!

I started with tomatoes...a lot of tomatoes.  Some came from my garden, some from my Dad's, and some from a generous friend's.  I cut and quartered each of them, and filled a 4 litre bowl with them.  I spread my cut tomatoes over a baking sheet, drizzled them with olive oil, generously sprinkled them with salt and pepper, and placed them in the oven, set at 250 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Once the tomatoes were comfy in the oven, I took 5, yes 5 bulbs of garlic, cut off the tip of each one, arranged them on a sheet of tin foil and drizzled them with olive oil and sprinkled them with salt and pepper.  I wrapped the tin foil up around them, making it look like a giant Hershey's Kiss, and popped that in the oven as well. 

I let the garlic and tomatoes slow roast for about 1 1/2 - 2 hours.  All the while, developing a deep, rich, savoury flavor.

Next, I chopped up one large onion, 5 medium stalks of celery, and 5 medium-large carrots.  Oddly enough, each of these gave me about 2 cups of finely chopped vegetables.  You can easily add more, or leave out some veggies without greatly affecting the recipe.

Then I set the chopped veggies aside until the tomatoes and garlic were roasted to perfection.

Once the tomatoes were soft and a little wrinkly, they were ready to go.  I pulled them out of the oven and let them cool enough so I wouldn't burn my fingers.  I don't mind getting a little messy, so this next part was pretty fun for me. Once the tomatoes have been baked, the skin pretty much slips right off.  I grabbed each chunk of roasted tomato, slipped the skin off of it, popped the tomato into a large bowl and discarded the skin.  

For the roasted garlic, I picked up each bulb and held it over my bowl of tomatoes, cut side down.  Then I gently pinched the bulb, starting at the base and squished out each buttery, soft, fragrant clove. 

Next I heated up a frying pan and tossed in about 1/3 cup of butter.  I let that melt and bubble up, then tossed in all my chopped veggies.  I sauteed them until they were soft, but not mushy.

Next I grabbed a large stock pot and put it over medium heat.  I melted another 1/3 of a cup of butter in the stock pot, then added about 1/3 of a cup of all purpose flour.  I whisked the butter and flour together and let it brown for a few minutes, whisking it often.  This is called a roux.  Once my roux was golden brown I added in 4 cups of chicken stock a little at a time, vigorously stirring it as I added it to my roux. 

While my veggies were still slowly softening, and my roux/chicken stock was warming, I grabbed my blender and ladled in the roasted garlic and tomatoes.  I blended them together to a smooth consistency, then added each blender full into the stock pot.

Just before I was ready to toss my softened veggies into my stock pot, I quickly squished a couple of tablespoons of this in:

You can easily use fresh or dried basil too...but my grocery store had no fresh basil in stock, and I didn't want to use dried basil for my soup.  The Gourmet Garden Basil was wonderful, great to work with and so flavorful.
I mixed the basil into the vegetables first, so it would mix in evenly and there wouldn't be clumps of basil floating around my stockpot.  Then I mixed the vegetables into my soup base and let it gently simmer for a couple of hours.

Just before I was ready to serve my delicious soup, I swirled in about a cup of heavy whipping cream...just because I can...and to cut the acidity of the tomatoes. 

And that's that!  I know it seems like a lot, but it really came together very quickly, and was so delicious served with fresh buns.

There was even enough extra to stow a couple of jars in the freezer for those colder days to come.

I hope you enjoy this comfort-soup as much as we do!

Be blessed,

Oh yeah!  Here's the recipe breakdown for your grocery lists:
4 liters chopped tomatoes
5 bulbs garlic
1 large onion
5 stalks celery
5 med-large carrots
4 cups chicken stock
2/3 cups butter, divided
1/3 cup flour
2-3 T basil
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt & pepper

Sep 13, 2011

The Ugly Lamp Revival

 Hey Y'all!
I thought I'd share the lamp makeover I did for a guest post over on Lolly Jane Boutique about a month back.  Enjoy!

I'm sharing a quick makeover project that I did on a couple of thrift store lamps I snagged.  I really love scouring thrift stores looking for great deals and unique treasures, and these lamps fit the bill.  While my newly purchase lamps were in pristine condition, the pink speckled bases paired with the crinkle fabric covered shades equaled one big hot mess.  Thankfully, these lamps provided the perfect canvas for a makeover!

So, in an attempt to undo the wrong that was done when these lamps were made, I taped off the lamp hardware, whipped out a can of spray primer and went to town.

 Here's a quick note about spray primer:  It's worth it to spend a couple extra dollars to get good quality primer.  If you want to cheap out on paint, go for it, but the primer coat is going to make or break your lamp makeover.  

While I did go that extra mile and purchased a decent primer, apparently I didn't shake my can as vigorously as I should.  The first coat I sprayed on was not properly mixed...which I think is to blame for the end result of my lamp bases.  You see, after I primed, and painted my lamps, the paint crackled.  Bummer?  Kinda.  The worst thing ever?  Nope, 'cause I happen to like the slightly crackled look that resulted.

I kept it simple and fresh by painting the lamp bases just a plain, flat white.

Now for the lamp shades!  I started by removing the crinkle fabric covers.  I just cut the trim at the top and bottom of the shade, then gently ripped the fabric off.  The shades were still in great shape and ready for a new life with a new cover.

To make a new cover, I first made a pattern by tracing the lamp shade on a piece of craft paper.  Just lay the lamp shade on its side, and as you slowly roll it along the paper, run a pencil along either side marking the shape of the shade.  

Cut out the pattern and test it out on the lamp shade to make sure it fits properly.

Next I used my pattern to cut fabric for the shade.  I added an extra 1/2 inch in length so I had a little extra fabric to overlap when I recovered the shades.  The fabric I used was just a 100% cotton flat sheet I bought on major sale.

Using spray adhesive, I sprayed the first few inches of the shade and laid my fabric over it, smoothing the fabric down.  Then I sprayed a little more and smoothed the fabric over again, continuing until the shade was completely covered.  Oh, and please, use the spray adhesive outside...not that I learned that the hard way.

It took a couple of tries for me to get the fabric laid straight onto the shade.  If it wasn't laying nicely or was going on a little crooked, I just peeled it off and tried again, no big deal.

Once my shade was covered, I simply tucked the last 1/2 inch of fabric under and glued it down, creating a nice finished edge.

Lastly, I grabbed a package of coordinating bias tape and glued it around the top and bottom of the lampshades using my handy hot glue gun.  I tucked the end of the bias tape under and glued it in place once I'd made my way around the rim of the lampshade.

And, easy as pie, I've got some fresh new lamps!

What do you think, improved?  Recovering the shades was such a breeze, if I ever get tired of the fabric I put on these, I'll redo it again in the future!

Be blessed,

Sep 12, 2011

A Little Readjustment

Hey Gang!

Well...Boden's first official day of school is tomorrow...yikes!  So many mixed emotions!  I'm not quite sure how we got to this point, but we're here, so we're gonna do our best and see what happens.

Over the last weeks I've been getting more and more overwhelmed with my daily life.  Things are busy, and they don't look like they're slowing down at all.  It seems I've add a little too much to my plate.

Anyway, to try and add a little balance, I'm going to do a little readjustment to the blog.  Up until now, (with exception to the little break I took) I've been doing three posts each week.  Usually on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  With how overwhelmed I've been feeling though, I just don't feel like I can keep that pace up.  So I'm going to try posting on Tuesdays and Thursdays instead.  Every once in a while, when I'm feeling particularly wild, I may throw in an extra post during the week, but it won't be a regular thing.  I know there are bloggers out there that post five times a week and are probably much busier than I am, and frankly, I don't know how they do it.  With how I've been feeling I've got to put my family first, so we're going to try this new schedule.

I don't want to give up blogging all together, so I'm hoping this will be an easier pace for me to keep!  I appreciate each and every kind comment and welcome your support!  Thank you for understanding. 

Be blessed,

Sep 6, 2011

A Fall Centerpiece

Well Folks, we're gearing up for Kindergarten here, officially starting next week.

I'm nervous.

I'm not so sure about this "sending my child away for half a day" thing.  It seems...weird.

I'm sure we'll all adjust just fine, but until then the thought seems foreign to me.  

Anyway, to get my mind off that matter, how about a little craftiness?  Yes?  Okay.
So, I was at the thrift store last week, looking at some little decorative shelves when I spotted this...thing.  

I'm not sure what to call it.  I think it's intended to hold candles.  It's not a shelf, there's no hanging mechanism, and it's rather heavy, so I'm assuming it's some sort of candle holder.  Whatever, it was 50 cents, so I brought it home.

I just couldn't resist adding this photo with my chubby footed intruder!
Once I cleaned it, slapped on a coat of my fave paint, Rosie's Gardenia, and voila, fresh as a daisy!  

Now for the fun part, styling!  I came up with three different looks for my new...thing, all with a fall flair.

Look number one:

I used tiny little decorative stones to fill in the candle holder, added some larger polished stone and a few tea lights.  Then I placed the whole thing on my version of the Autumn Table Runner from Make It and Love It.

Look number two:

Keeping it simple, I popped some tealights into a few tissue-wrapped baby food jars and nestled them among some faux leaves on my candle holder.

Look number three:

For this look I kept the tealights in the baby food jars and arranged some fall foliage around them, playing around with it until I was pleased with the look.

And there you have it!  Three great options for a beautiful fall table.

I'll be coming around a little more often starting next week, until then,

Be blessed!