New Years Resolutions

Yeah, I’m not very good at those either. I mean most years I make them, and then despite good intentions I don’t follow through in keeping them – at least, not for long.

Many people choose a word for the year that drives the things they want to improve in their lives. I’m so indecisive that choosing just one word is impossible! So I chose 12, randomly. I mean I looked at a list of 100 words and chose the first 12 that stood out to me.

So I’m going to choose one word to focus on each month and set short term goals. I have recently been working in a new art journal and so this is the page where I wrote down my 12 words.

Yesterday, I wrote out each word and made an envelope to hold them. I plan to randomly pick from the envelope at the end of each month. My word for January is Growth. I came up with 10 things I want to focus on accomplishing this month and created this page.

I still need to think about how I am going to track these goals – and yes I’m a little late being that it’s already January 5. But at least I’m headed in the right direction!

What kind of New Years Resolutions or goals are you setting for yourself this year?

The Christmas Village

I thought the Christmas village deserved a post before Christmas is over and it gets put away again.

When the kids were very small, maybe around 2004, I started buying pieces for the village. My mom and dad gave me a few also. Those first years I set it up on the poker table. No one played with it much, but it was lovely to look at and we added pieces every year.

It eventually migrated to the dining room buffet because it became too large to fit on the poker table. The kids loved to pull up a chair and arrange the village people in different scenarios. I didn’t care that stuff got broken. The joy I saw in my kids faces as they played was worth it!

Karson has the whole village gathered to see baby Jesus!

When we moved to our house in Hanover we knew one of the first improvements that had to be done was custom built buffets…because where else would we put our Christmas village?

We have so many pieces, that it changes every year. This year we have a food truck court!

The food court!

Making Pizza

As Sam and I were in the car traveling down our road toward our store, I mentioned that this time last year, owning our restaurant wasn’t even anything we were thinking about! And look how far we have come!

In January, things started happening and by June, we opened up a take out restaurant in Horton, MI. I love the vibe so much! There is so much to look at while you are waiting for your pizza!

We have experienced a lot of growing pains with the new place, because owning a restaurant is so much more complicated than having a food truck. It’s been fun to see the people in the community support us! We have regular customers who love our pizza and we love making pizza for them!

Today, Sam had to fill an order for 14 large pizzas for some faithful customers who were having a birthday party for their kid. The pick up time was before we would be open so I went with him to help make the pizzas. It was so much fun working together.

We haven’t had many opportunities to work together in the past 6 months. Since I was going through chemo this summer, I didn’t really work much. I’m just now feeling like I can start working pizza again. I know the food truck very well, but working in the store is a whole other ballgame! There is so much I don’t know about operating procedures, working the oven and making garlic knots & wings. I have a lot to learn, so I will probably work on weekends when it’s slower so I can get trained on all the stuff I don’t know.

I’m so proud of Sam for taking this on and for it being so successful. He works so hard and he really enjoys making pizza. I’m looking forward to working together more and to this next year and all the possibilities!

The Best Use of Thanksgiving Leftovers

On the way home today, I stopped to grab a couple of things so I could make a pot pie tonight for dinner. If you know me, you know I am perfectly content to let Sam do the cooking in our family. I do like to bake, but am not great at cooking meals. But pot pie is my favorite thing to make. Every time I make it, it turns out amazing. And tonight was no exception.

I usually make everything from scratch. This recipe uses a couple of short cuts to save time. It was really good regardless and now I’m not sure I’d go back to doing everything from scratch!

Total prep time is about 15 minutes!

Here are the ingredients:

  • Pillsbury double pie crust
  • Canned mixed veggies
  • Leftover Turkey
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 3/4 chicken broth or Turkey stock
  • 2/3 cup milk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Melt butter and stir in flour. Cook, stirring constantly until bubbling. Remove from heat, add salt & pepper, broth and milk. Heat to boiling and stir 1 minute or so until thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in Turkey and veggies.

Take one pie crust and lay in the bottom of your pie dish (I use a 2 qt. casserole dish) scrape filing into pie crust. Unroll the top crust and use a small cookie cutter to cut into the top. Carefully lay top crust on top of filled dish. Fold over edges and pinch together. Place cut outs on top.

Place in oven and cook for 40 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Let me know if you try this recipe. It really is so good! Hoping there will be leftovers for my lunch tomorrow.

(Obviously, Turkey can be switched out for chicken…and it will be just as delicious!)

Getting Ready for Christmas

This is the first year I have put up both my trees and decorated them before Thanksgiving break is over! I’ve been working hard the past two days! The lights always take me forever. Probably because I just hate putting them on. We bought both these trees about 3 years ago. The rainbow tree was prelit. This year when I put it together there were so many lights out, I just decided it was easier to take them all off and add my own lights. So of course, once we got them off, we (me and Jasmin) had to make a trip to the store to get more. We found what we needed at Hobby Lobby.

So I got that one up first and then started working on the big tree that is in the living room. My kids helped some, but not as much as I wish they would. I wish decorating for Christmas was more of a family activity. But I’m pretty much a Lone Ranger when it comes to this job.

My favorite part of decorating the tree is,of course, hanging the ornaments. We have so many fun ones and several have good memories tied to them. I love the homemade ones and some that we picked up to commemorate special events through your lives. But I’m also a big fan of the vintage ornaments and I have so many unique ones that I love.

This one is by far the coolest ornament on our tree. Jasmin picked this one out for her ornament this year.
Our friends Jason and Micki bought this for me for my birthday while they were in Mexico this summer. There’s a little nativity inside and it’s hand painted.
A Santa drawn on an ornament with Sharpies by Max. One year I let the kids paint their own ornaments and they are the best!
Handcrafted by Lucy Sparrow – a felt artist. You can follow her on Instagram- some of the stuff she makes is just incredible!
Definitely one of my favorite ornaments. These vintage spinners are hard to find in working condition. There are no batteries or motor – it simply spins from the heat of the lights.
The first ornament Sam and I ever bought together. – I believe before we were married. Purchased at Kmart in Westbranch while we were up visiting family one Christmas.
Yeah – I’m not a big fan of South Park either. But Max literally was having a fit because he wanted this ornament so bad. I think he was 4 and didn’t even know who Kenny is. But it wasn’t worth the fight and I gave in.
Another hand painted ornament. This one I believe was by Karson. We made these for Christmas gifts with my class the year I taught Kindergarten.
A favorite that Sam and I picked out on our trip to St. Thomas in 2012.

As you can see, I also added tinsel this year. I will probably regret it, but I had to try it just once. Good memories from my childhood.

And this is my Shiny Brite tree. 100 percent filled with authentic vintage (and a few reproduction) Shiny Brites. Also added in the Alpine Village. I love those little houses and they look so cool with the lights shining in them! The tree skirt I found at Hobby Lobby several years ago – it’s perfect for the vintage tree! The rainbow tree is just fun. I used to have a white one for my Shiny Brites, but this one really makes a statement.

I’m sure I will post more of my decor as I get it done. But I feel good that I got this much accomplished today.

Back In Business!

Eleven years ago, yesterday, was my last post on my blog. I’ve been wanting to start this back up…for a while now. I think it will be much more convenient using the app on my phone. I have no idea if anyone will ever read it, because people just don’t read blogs much anymore with everyone having Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. But I’m gonna put it out there anyway because I have a lot of fans (of my art) and maybe they might enjoy reading about my life!

Christmas Tree Cakes (SOLD)

I am participating in the Creative Christmas Show at Essa Arts, a local gallery, gift shop and studio. I contributed five of my paintings, some letter tiles (to add to what’s already there) and some ornaments. My large painting of the Christmas tree cakes sold right away and I’m super excited about that! It was such a nice atmosphere with live music, drinks and yummy snacks (including Christmas Tree Cakes!) I of course had to buy a few things from my favorite Christmas crafter, the Attic Rescue League (my friend Rene). She creates the most amazing pieces from vintage Christmas items. I have so many of her creations decorating my house for the Holidays!

My paintings on the wall in Essa’s gallery.

I’m so looking forward to celebrating Thanksgiving this week with family and friends – and also kicking off the Holidays with some decorating for Christmas. Do you know what I’m gonna try this year? Tinsel! It’s probably going to be the biggest headache ever, but I sooooo love the vintage look. So I’m gonna try it this year, just this once, to see if it’s worth it. I remember when I was a kid we always had tinsel on the tree. And get this, we saved it and reused it year after year (even though it probably only cost around $.75). When we took it down after Christmas we had to perfectly lay each strand in a sheet of foil that would get folded up and tucked safely away in the box of decorations to use for next year. It is so funny to me, now, that my used to save the tinsel. But when I was a kid, I thought that was the only way to do it! So we will see how much I love the tinsel next weekend when we put up the Christmas tree.

We actually have two trees. Im so into vintage Christmas, so my second tree is filled with authentically vintage Shiny Brite ornaments! I love them so much and the tree always looks amazing! Here’s a pic from last year – or maybe two years ago, lol

The Shiny Brite tree displayed in the Blue Room

Jasmin’s 4th Birthday Party

Today was Jazzy’s party.  Her actual birthday was last week, but we had to wait till today for the real party.  This was the first time we invited friends to a birthday party…usually it’s our family and close friends of our family.  Jasmin was excited to invite some of her little friends from preschool and church.  We decided t have a unicorn party, mostly because of the way that Jasmin says unicorn.  She pronounces it: Hunicorn, and it really is so cute!  And then rainbows went along with the theme so well.  I had seen this really awesome Unicorn/Rainbow birthday party on a blog that I found while searching for ideas for this theme.  I couldn’t do everything…but we made it pretty awesome.  Here are a few pictures from the party.

For party favors I made glitter playdough in rainbow colors.  In the bags behind the playdough were 2 cute little craft projects we found at Michaels.  One was a little wooden unicorn to color and decorate and the other was a painting activity book.  We also had rainbow colored licorice and 2 little unicorn pins the girls can wear.

So I tried the freezer paper stencil.  I think it will turn out cute.  It’s hard to tell, the shirts aren’t really all the way dry yet.  I have to give them to the girls later on.  But they did have fun painting them!  I especially love Ava’s colorful rainbow pattern!








So…it’s my birthday.

I don’t feel very happy about turning 41 today.  A lot of people I know/work with say I’m so young…but, well, I’m just not really feeling it lately.  Getting old is not fun.  Anyway…I’m not going to focus on all the negativity…how about making a list of all the cool things I can think of I have done in my life. (i’m starting with 4 because memories of before then are pretty foggy and really just rely a lot on pictures and stories from my parents)

  • Age 4-caught a fish, spent hours drawing houses with my grandma, had an amazing birthday party – Raggedy Ann!, met my first bat – eeew!, went to Kindergarten…made a “perfect circle”, My dad built me and Cyndi the best fort ever in a snow drift in our back yard…mom brought us hot chocolate to drink in our fort. Asked Jesus into my heart.
  • Age 5-learned to read, loved to color, rode a bus to school…did NOT enjoy it.
  • Age 6-don’t remember a lot from being 6.  I know I hurt my arm at recess in first grade and I acted like it was broke…really liked the attention.  Dad came and picked me up.  It wasn’t broken, but I got a treat from the dr.s office!
  • Age 7-2nd grade…new school! I remember reading Stone Soup and doing a play about it.  I also got in trouble a lot for not paying attention…daydreaming.  I liked to write stories.  I loved to watch Little House on the Prairie. I took swimming lessons…I hated it – almost drowned when they made me jump off the diving board.  But my green jungle/tiger swim suit was awesome!
  • Age 8-Hated my third grade teacher…but LOVED art class.  We made and glazed clay dinosaurs.  It was awesome!  Survived a tornado at school the day my mom was a sub. teacher in the classroom next door. Loved to play outside.  Got a radio at a garage sale! I felt so grown up, and mom and dad let me start sleeping in the guest room! Went to church camp…first time I ever spent the night away from my family.Favorite candy bar ever: the Marathon Bar! only 25 cents!  Went to a movie down the street without our parents!
  • Age 9-new school, new city, new friends.  I loved my art teacher.  He always had the coolest ideas.  I dressed like my sister a lot.  That was weird.  Played out side a lot with my sister.  We made forts.  Played  house in the corncrib and the loft in the barn.  Almost got married at recess.  Won 2nd place in the spelling bee. Fell asleep on the bus and missed my bus stop.
  • Age 10-started switching classes at school.  I liked having different teachers.  Built Barbie houses out of cardboard boxes and other found materials.  Had my own bedroom.
  • Age 11-Awkward year.  Very self-conscious. Loved…and I mean LOVED my 6th grade social studies teacher-He was cute! Boys were mean.  First babysitting job.  Took piano lessons, played the clarinet…never really got good at either one.
  • Age 12-Liked to listen to Amy Grant.  Recorded music with my tape recorder from the radio.  Favorite color – purple.  first real (?) boyfriend. Very interested in biology.
  • Age 13-bible quizzing, rollerskating…(I’m having a hard time here).  Started taking private art lessons.
  • Age 14-Loved my ART class.  We did etchings, embossings, linoleum carvings and I loved trying all the different mediums.  I can remember almost everything I made in that class. Joined the Teens for Christ choir.
  • Age 15-Art with Mr. Wolfgang…best art teacher ever! Would spend hours drawing at home in my sketchbooks.  First serious boyfriend.  Went to IYC in Colorado with the youth group.  Rollerskating. Writing notes to my friends.  Picked on and teased my sister a lot. (sorry Cyndi). I think we got an ATARI.
  • Age 16-Difficult year.  Loved Art class.  Drew a lot.  I remember being depressed a lot.  Class that impacted me the most was Anatomy…very intriguing.  I also remember it being very hard…and feeling sick to my stomach a lot.  Would read the Bible in the library.  First Date.  Got my driver’s license.  Summer babysitting job.  First real job at Roaring 20s Ice Cream Parlour.  I think I made like 2.25 an hour or something.  First trip to an art museum: the Art Institute of Chicago…made a huge impact on me! Trip to Florida with TFCs.
  • Age 17: changed schools my Senior Year.  New friends, new church.  Youth group was awesome.  Worked at McDonalds in the summer.  Also worked at an art store and helped with teaching drawing to kids. Started at Spring Arbor College.  Took one drawing class and then added another art class.  Decided to major in Art.  Loved drawing.  Made some very good friends.
  • Age 18: sang in a band, became a Camp Counselor, met Sam.
  • Age 19: Started dating Sam.
  • Age 20: Sam transfers to SAC. Taught art classes in the summmer
  • Age 21: We get engaged. I go to Europe in January for my cross cultural trip!  Awesome!!!  I see the Eiffel Tower, the Mona Lisa, the Sistine Chapel, the canals of Venice, eat Gelato, get pick pocketed, sleep on a train and get pooped on by a bird all in 3 weeks!
  • Age 22: We get married. We get a dog. Move to a town where we know NO ONE! I start subbing. I get up every morning to iron Sam a shirt so he can go to work in his office IN OUR HOUSE! We start using credit cards. We buy our first computer.  I have my Senior Art Show.
  • Age 23: We move to Jackson.  We rent a house-not a good experience.  I write a curriculum for our VBS.  I am still painting…for fun. Still subbing.
  • Age 24:  I get my first teaching job.  We buy our first house.
  • Age 25-29:  I get in a really bad accident. I get a new job…teaching art at East Jackson.  I know we bought a new bed.  We go to Jamaica on a mission trip.
  • Age 30: We have our first baby – Savannah.  Our life drastically changes!
  • Age 31-32: Sam is unemployed. I get pregnant and we have have Max.  We also take a trip to Florida.  Take Savannah to Disney World for the first time. I think I started teaching art classes at Ella Sharp around this time.
  • Age 33-Cooper dies.  🙁 We buy a new house and a van.  And Karson is born.  Sam’s sister’s family lives with us for a few months.
  • 34- I start journaling.  I take an art class.  I start blogging.
  • 35-We start making plans for a sideshow.
  • 36 – We build the Giant Octopus show and take it to fairs. Sam and I go to Florida.
  • 37-We go to Florida, Jasmin is born, we buy a camper, we start planning a show with Sam’s sister called Pirate Island.
  • 38-We sell the Octopus Show, buy a new camper. Pirate Island is a success! Sam’s mom passes away.
  • 39-Worst year of my life.
  • 40-Debt Free (except for our car payment)! No more credit cards! We get a bunny for Savannah. Sam and Savannah start doing a lot of Magic stuff (shows, seminars, etc) together.

So…life hasn’t been too exciting in the past few years.  Maybe I need to do something to change that.  Maybe not.  I listed a lot of things I remember…but not everything.  I’m sure I could keep adding to this list.  I can honestly say I never thought my life would be like it is now, when I was a kid.  But I must say I am so blessed to have a wonderful family, to have a home we can pay for, thankful for a job, cars we can buy gas for, 4 beautiful, smart and amazing kids, a wonderful husband who loves me and believes in me.  A church that cares about our family.  Things look a lot different the older I get.  Some things that used to be so important to me are so not that way anymore.  It’s funny how your perspective changes.  But I am so thankful for who I am today and every moment I get to spend with my family and friends.


“I’m Bored, Mom…”

When I hear those words coming from my kids, I know it’s time to get my butt in gear and stop wasting time.  When I am lazy, my kids are lazy too.  My kids have watched WAY too many episodes of iCarly and Good Luck Charlie lately (NETFLIX can be a bad thing).  And it’s gotten to the point where all I am hearing are quotes from the shows, and everytime I turn around, they are sneaking the TV back on.  It’s summer.  We should be outside, enjoying the warm weather, doing things we don’t get to do during the school year.

Last night my sister and I had a conversation about this very thing…about how when you let your kids watch TV first thing of the day, it sets them off in this lazy funk, they cop attitudes with us, are mean to their siblings…both of us noticed this from our kids, yet when they know what to expect, when there is a schedule, something to look forward to, attitudes seem much more positive…it totally makes a difference.  Today is our first day on the new schedule and job rotations.  It started out a little shaky, because we had to have a meeting this morning and there was a little resistance (but not a lot) and then we made up the job charts and so we were a little behind so we skipped a few things. But we discussed that we might not always follow the schedule EXACTLY because we may go to the lake or go to a friend’s house.

So I should say that I have done job charts in the past, used them for a while and then gave up.  Mostly because they required a lot of time from me.  We’ve tried job sticks, job cards, and our kids have accounts set up on which works very well for us for earning rewards.  But, if the kids don’t take the time to check off their jobs at the end of each day, they don’t get credit for it. And, personally, I think it works best when the job chart is in front of them on paper and they can physically check off their jobs.

So after chatting with my sister about how her and I need to get something in place (because dealing with grumpy kids all day is NOT enjoyable), I searched around on some blogs to see what other people have done with their kids.  No sense in reinventing the wheel, right?  So I happened to stumble across this blog post and was excited about the way she had jobs for her kids on a rotation and also she had assigned Zones for her kids to clean and tidy.  Two things I haven’t thought of yet, and I think it could work.  I took her summer schedule and changed it a bit and then made up the job rotation.

Here is our summer schedule…and as I said, it is subject to change, depending on what’s going on that day.


7:30  Wake up, family scripture, get dressed, make bed/clean room
8:00  Breakfast
8:15  Clean up Breakfast, morning jobs
8:30  Morning Exercise – walk, ride bike, run, jump on trampoline, etc.
9:00  Clean Zones.  Pick up house.
10:00  Read/Quiet time
10:30  Outside play or swim
12:00  Lunch
12:15  Clean up Lunch
12:30  Brain Fun:  Board Games, friends, building toys, play outside, crafts or art activity
2:30  Jasmin Nap/ Wii free time, computer time, DS
4:30  Pick up house
5:00  Dinner time jobs – Set table, unload dishwasher, dinner prep
5:30  Dinner & Clean up.
6:00  Play with friends, play outside, special adventure
7:30  (on days when we are home) – Movies for kids who were kind, courteous, and civil to their brothers and sisters…violators go to bed.

And here is a link to her job rotation that she used:


So I adapted that and made up some simple check off charts for each of my kids.  Jasmin is only 3, so I may make her a different version that is a little more simple and easy for her to understand.  I velcroed them to the side of my cupboards, but they aren’t staying very well, I am thinking some plastic hooks & some clipboards.  The nice thing about the plastic sleeves they are in is that you can use a dry erase pen on them and we can stick their reading logs from the Summer Reading program, at the library, in the back.  I wanted to make these really cute and crafty, but I just wasn’t feeling too inspired today, maybe later.  The idea is that they check off the tasks as they do them, the weekly task can be done anytime throughout the week, or on Saturday, and there is also an extra job for Saturday.  Each night we will check the charts and if all the boxes are filled in, they get a sticker for the day.  The kids and I are working on proper rewards for earning stickers.  (We are thinking like 1 sticker could be a sucker or a stick of gum, where all 7 would be something really cool like a movie or a new book…but we are still working on it)  So after the sticker is given (or NOT), we erase the chart and have it ready for the next day.  We will change to new rotations on Monday…so like, this week Savannah is on rotation 1, next week she will be on 2, so we will just erase her name on 1 and write it on 2 and next week she will be doing the jobs on rotation 2.  Here is a PDF of the 4th rotation:  ROTATION4JOB

So, anyway…we will see if it works.  I just had to send Max to his room for talking back to me and fighting with Karson.  I don’t know what the answer is to keeping peace in the family during these few months at home…but I am hoping (deparately) that this helps.  🙂

Making Potions

Ok…I had a babysitter today because our school gets out later than my kids’ school.  So I left a list of fun stuff for her to do with them.  They decided to make some potions.  I got the idea from Squashed Tomatoes.  They didn’t quite do it the same way, but here are a few of their potions…and man, they smell good!!!