30 December 2011

Five Minute Friday: Open

I feel like I am a little out of practice with the Christmas break.  Bear with me, ok?

    1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
    2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
    3. Most important: visit, comment, encourage the person before you.
OK, are you ready? Give me your best five minutes on:



This is take two.  I tried and failed to write on OPEN a little while ago.  I didn't know what to say.  Open is not the most natural thing for me.  I tend to brood.  Sometimes people even ask me what's wrong.  But nothing is wrong.  I get lost in myself, and all others can see is an expression on my face that they can't quite grasp, so they misinterpret it as something being wrong.


Open hearts.  Open doors.  Open lives.  It's is as simple as a cup of coffee with a friend.

But I don't want to burden someone else with my stuff.  No one needs it.

Wrong again.  Here is the truth:  my openness is an opportunity for those who love me to connect with me, to lift me up.  

Openness creates community.  Community is defined by openness.  My introverted nature shies away from being open.  I like privacy.

But I need community.  Being open is how I receive that gift.


Thank you for joining me today.  Will you take the chance, open yourself, share your heart, and allow others to read what you have to say?

28 December 2011

Challenge Wednesday #14

Guest post from Jen @ A Drop in the Bucket:

Ah,  deep breath.  Christmas is over.  What a great time we had with our family in Minnesota.  One of my favorite moments was when my niece opened her gift from "the J's".

Last week, Tracey asked me to  "tell us what you made, how it went, and how much awesome fun you had giving a gift you made with your own hands."

So, what did I make?  Well...here is the "pin" that I used as my inspiration: 

It's a perpetual calendar has the dates stamped on each notecard, and the recipient can write what they would like for that date each year.  For example, if there was anything that they were excited about on January 1 of 2012, they could write that on the note card.  Then, on January 1 of 2013 they can look back and remember what they were doing a year before! Fun, right? 

I made a few changes to the supplies {pretty basic changes as this is the beginning of my homemade gift giving} but I think it still turned out pretty neat.  

The supplies: 

Fruit berry baskets, notecards, twine and postcards.  Instead of vintage postcards (as the original project called for) I used postcards from the Netherlands and Scotland, since those would have special meaning (since we have lived in both places).  You can click on the links for the Etsy shop where I found the baskets and twine.  

The finished project: 

The recipient & her excitement while opening: 

My niece, E, is still determining specifically what she is going to write for each day, but 
I have to say, this was one of the gifts I was most excited to give.  I knew it would be perfect for her...and I was right, she loved it!

Inspires me to learn how to sew so I can make more gifts next year.  Because, that must be the next step in homemade gifts, right? 

Now, the ball is back in my court to ask Tracey a question...so, tell me about your new year's resolutions lady!  

26 December 2011

Pin it. Do it. Week 8.

Box Turned Letter Holder

I gave up our mail sorter after we moved into a house with concrete walls that didn't belong to us.  The cheap wood holder had served its useful life and wasn't worth giving up our security deposit to drill huge holes in order to hang it.

But then I realized I have nowhere to put outgoing mail.

I'm not really a paper crafts kind of gal, but the couple minutes this took + its inherent usefulness in our home = a project worth pursuing.

Here's the pinterest link, but the basic scoop is that you tape a cereal box closed, cut a portion out of one side, and cover in paper.  I just used double sided tape instead of glue to affix the paper.  This project used only objects I already had in my home, and it is a workable solution for keeping mail corralled.  It is so lightweight I can hang it using thick double sided tape or picture hanging strips.  I've also seen a few boxes taped together to be used as a desktop paper tray.

I continue to be amazed by the solutions I can create with things I already own, with just a little imagination, time, and ideas from pinterest.

Tip Junkie handmade projects



Funday Monday: Lentils are your Friend

Lentils.  A healthy ancient grain.  Extremely cost effective (pennies!).  But what to do with them?

I have been wanting to cook with lentils for a while, but I didn't quite know where to start.

Well, folks, I figured out where to start.

This recipe below is a Middle Eastern dish but not so exotic that Big #1 would snub it.  In fact, he ate two bowls.

If possible, don't skip the yogurt on top.  I think it makes the dish.  In my personal, humble opinion.

Lentils and Rice with Fried Onions (Mujadarrah)
recipe image
Submitted By: Melissa Mueller
Photo By: VesHeill
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 40 Minutes
Ready In: 50 Minutes
Servings: 4

"Fried onions are mixed with rice and lentils, and topped with yogurt or sour cream. So simple, and so delicious!"
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 large white onion, sliced into rings
1 1/3 cups uncooked green lentils
3/4 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
1.Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the onions, and cook about 10 minutes, until browned. Remove from heat, and set aside.
2.Place lentils in a medium saucepan with enough lightly salted water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer about 15 minutes.
3.Stir rice and enough water to cover into the saucepan with the lentils. Season with salt and pepper. Cover saucepan, and continue to simmer 15 to 20 minutes, until rice and lentils are tender.
4.Mix half the onions into the lentil mixture. Top with yogurt or sour cream and remaining onions to serve.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © 2011 Allrecipes.comPrinted from Allrecipes.com 12/23/2011

23 December 2011

Merry Christmas

I just want to take the opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas.  I hope you are all enjoying a simple and peaceful holiday with family.

I love Jesus.  For us this time marks His coming here to restore us to our Creator.  Can you, too, take a moment to contemplate the world we've been given and the Love that binds us?

Embrace and cherish the time to spend with loved ones, remember why we celebrate, and see you next week.

22 December 2011

Adopt a Tree

We stumbled across a fantastic idea last Christmas and were happy to take part.  For some reason, it is common here in the Netherlands to sell Christmas trees with their root balls intact.  So, essentially, you take a plant home in a pot and hope for the best.  I have had friends tell me they can sometimes get the tree to make it through the year in a pot and be used again the next Christmas, and I think that's a great idea.

We happened to find an even better solution.  A farm close to our house offers Christmas trees for adoption.  A more accurate term would be for rent, but I would agree with the owners that adoption sounds nicer.

Here's how it works:  you choose a tree to take home.  They dig it up, cover the root ball, and plop it in a pot.  They tag the tree with a number and keep your information on file.  After Christmas, you return the tree.  They replant it and care for it all year, and then you have the option of adopting the same tree the following Christmas. When you choose the tree you are provided with an instruction sheet on how to care for it to ensure its health for the month it will spend indoors.

Brilliant, isn't it?

The farm claims they have a 75% survival rate, which is a whole lot more than the 0% survival of trees that were cut.  I would bet the rate is also higher than people who try to keep their trees alive in a pot all year, because the roots must get tired of being scrunched up all the time.

So, back to our story.  Last year we picked out a tree.  The Bigs named him Harry.  We brought him home and returned him just like we were instructed.  This year, we returned to find Harry had thrived.  He had tiny new buds all over him.  We were all very happy to see him, and he's now hanging out in our living room, overwhelmed with beads and ornaments.

This is the most sustainable solution I've found for the dilemma of Christmas trees as a disposable item. I'm wondering if anywhere in the states does this?  If not, I know exactly what kind of business I am going to open when we move back home.

21 December 2011

Interview Wednesday

Hello, friends.  Once again I am writing at A Drop in the Bucket.  I've written some tips for having a simple, natural, and relaxed Christmas.

Click on the link to read more.  Happy Wednesday!

20 December 2011

Pin it. Do it. Week 7


I've been eyeing this cutie for a while, and Christmas was the perfect excuse to make one for my friend's daughter.

I used tulle but have plans to make one out of scrap fabric as another gift.

 I could not fine tulle ribbon here, so I bought 1.5 meters of purple and 1.5 meters of white tulle.  This gave me enough for 2 tutus with a little left over. I spent about 20 bucks total, with the elastic.

The summary version (cliff notes for any GenXers out there) is that you cut a length of ribbon or elastic, and then sew, pin, or tie into a loop.

Cut lengths of tulle double the length you want your skirt and fold in half.  Lay the folded end on top of the elastic; take the other ends, loop under the elastic and through the loop formed by the folded end of tulle.

For a more detailed visual tutorial, click on a link above.

My version turned out very full, so you could easily make this project for under ten bucks, especially if you already have elastic at home (or for free if you use fabric scraps).

Even though I had to cut my own strips of tulle, I still completed this project in under half an hour.

I tied a few red ribbons around because I thought it gave a nice touch. 

I liked it so much I made one for my daughter as well.

Tip Junkie handmade projects                    


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