Saturday, January 30, 2010

My Family #2: The Best Mom Ever!

Well, in a recent post I told you a little bit about my Dad; now it's my Mom's turn! I've also got 2 brothers and 2 sisters that I'm trying to talk into doing guest posts eventually. :)

My Mom is really something spectacular. Just watch her for a little while and you'll see what God intended wives and mothers to be like. She really loves the Lord and her family and works hard to serve with all her heart and strength. As a child and teen she was active outdoors and in church activities. At 17 she began working in a hospital as a nurse's aide and a surgical technician. A few years later she married Dad and had all five of us kids in about 7 years. That in itself should tell you what a brave woman she is!

Over the years Mom has worked outside the home and from the home in various ways (most recently she had a home business selling chocolate products) but her heart's desire is to be at home serving God, Dad and our church. Recently our family took a step of faith and ceased the chocolate business so that Mom could devote more time to helping Dad and working on church-related projects. It's extremely hard to encapsulate all of what Mom does - for example, she spends hours every week working on our monthly ladies' Bible study and helping Dad out with his projects. She's also got some really great creative talents. I've put together a small assortment of her various creative outlets and ministries. Hopefully this collection will show you just a little of her talent and creativity.

I'll start with the cards that she designs. She faithfully sends a birthday card to each member of the church on their special day, and every week she designs and mails really cute, fun or encouraging cards to a few of our shut-ins. Here are a few that I would put in the category of "Just Plain Cute!" (Or, dare I say it, "Cute as a Bug...")

Most of the cards contain a verse or encouraging thought on the inside. The one below says "Pray without ceasing" (I Thess. 5:17).

Some of the cards are a little more involved than others:

The Indian in the middle is actually dangling on a string!

Some cards require intricate folding according to a pattern.

While Mom specializes in whimsical designs, she's not hard-pressed at all to turn out some really pretty things now and then:

Mom hosts an annual Ladies' Christmas Tea and an annual Spring Dinner - and she usually makes all the favors by hand (well, with a little help from the computer - but she does all the cutting, folding and touching up!). Here's a little purse that could hold candy or tea bags.

This was the invitation she sent out to all the ladies for our most recent Christmas tea. She cuts out all the irregularly shaped objects and assembles them! The bell can come off the invitation and be used as an ornament.

I apologize that this is sideways...this is a notebook that Mom decorated. These make great gifts - and the really nice thing is that no one is exactly the same.

This is from a few years ago - Mom made one of these for each of our place settings at Thanksgiving. Any wrinkles and dust are my fault - I've kept this for quite a while!

Below is an example of Mom's ingenuity - she designed an in-house mail system. Each of these bags has one of our names on it so we can drop each other a note or message now and then. The mini clothespins show you when you have something new in your bag.

Mom used to do a lot of watercolor painting, with a focus on old barns. She has a lot of really nice pieces, but I think this might be one of the only ones framed right now. If you saw my last post, the house that I painted was done with Mom's old palette and paints.

Okay, it was quite a while ago that Mom cross-stitched, but many of these pieces have been a part of our home for so long that it would be remiss to not mention them. This is the only one we have out right now, but it's a good example of the quality of Mom's work.

Finally, here's one of the more time-consuming projects she did in her continual effort to give her best in serving God - these were part of a ladies' event a few years ago. Each little piece of fabric had to be folded a certain way and a pin or two stuck through it into the styrofoam ball. She started these a long time ahead because she made a lot of them.

What makes your mom the best Mom in the world to you? I know Mother's Day is a while off, but it's never a bad time to share why we love family!

Friday, January 22, 2010

A Christmas Break Project

Well, Christmas break is brother and I fly back to Wisconsin tomorrow. We have to leave a few minutes before 3 in the morning to catch our flight - blech!!! Say goodbye to sleeping in for a while...
We had a very nice break, though. We really enjoyed being home with our family and church family. I kept busy with work, relaxing, watching old Emergency! (Rescue 51) episodes with my sisters, baking, snowshoeing with friends, and painting. The painting was both big scale and small scale - we worked on redecorating my Mom's computer/craft room as a Christmas present, and I did a watercolor painting for friends. I'll do some before and after shots of the computer room in a later post, but here's my watercolor:

You should be able to see the detail better if you click on it. It was fun getting out the watercolors again, but now my parents want me to do a painting of our house! Maybe over the summer. =)
Well, it's time to try to stuff all my things into the is it that I always go back to school with about 3 times as much stuff as I came home with?! Oh well.
Have a great weekend!!!

Friday, January 15, 2010

My Family #1: The Best Dad Ever!

Well, since no one else in my family is interested in starting their own blog, I thought I'd take a few posts to highlight a little bit about each of them. I'm the second of 5 kids ("kids" ranging from age 16 to 23!) and my parents and siblings all lead busy and interesting lives. =)
I'll start with Dad. First and foremost, Dad is devoted to serving God as the pastor of the First Baptist Church in North Conway, NH. You can read a little bit about our wonderful church here: Dad is an incredible pastor, and I always miss his preaching and teaching when I'm at school even though I get to hear some great speakers.
Dad is also devoted to his family. He and Mom are approaching their 26th wedding anniversary, and their relationship is an excellent example of God's perfect design for marriage. They're constantly working to put each other first!
Dad is a talented guy - as if he wasn't busy enough with these duties as a pastor, husband and father, he's also an accomplished author, an expert on Biblical Warfare, a great shot with a Nerf gun, and a superb woodworker. Woodworking is one of his favorite hobbies (other than battling my youngest brother with Nerf guns), and he has made many spectacular pieces over the years. I thought I'd show off a little on his behalf:

1. This here is a vase. A very tiny vase! Most anyone can make big, clunky stuff, but it takes skill to do detailed work like this. =) This was in my stocking this year.

2. Many of his pieces were made especially for Mom, such as this oak-framed mirror. This has been a central part of our living room for several years now. (He also carved the "Praise HIM with Harp" plaque hanging below the mirror.)

3. These ornaments were turned on his giant, antique lathe.

4. The majority of his lathe work is pens - beautiful, unique creations! Below is part of my personal collection, some of them "defects" that I kidnapped. I think that defects give them more character! The purple one on the right is a fountain pen, and the third one from the right is my new favorite - Wormy Maple. It's got some real character! =)

5. Detail on a nicely done Olive Wood pen. Olive wood has a distinct smell to it when it's being worked on; sometimes you can catch a whiff if you scratch the wood with your fingernail. I love the contrasting grain of Olive.

6. More pens. They come in all sizes, shapes and colors!

7. Another cool thing that can be done on a lathe is Treenware. These are little containers with decorative lids, and they can be really cool! The greenish wood on the left is Lignum Vitae - one of the densest and heaviest woods; it will sink in water. On the right is a type of Palm.

8. One of Dad's favorite woods is white oak. He made our dining room table out of oak, as well as the mirror in the first photo, and these little drawers follow the theme. (The "HOME" letters were done by my Mom, who I will highlight in a later post.) Oh, and I just noticed - there's another ornament hanging from one of the drawer knobs! =)

9. Interesting boxes are endlessly intriguing to everyone in my family, but Dad goes a step further than most of us - he actually makes them! He's always coming up with clever new designs and latches from various bits and pieces. The box in the middle in the picture below has a closure fashioned from scrap leather. The memory chest on the bottom, which Dad made many years ago, is even better - the latch is hidden! This was probably to keep nosy children out of his and Mom's love letters. =)

10. Concluding this whirlwind woodcrafting tour is one of my favorites of Dad's recent pieces - a nice little wall decoration, complete with another piece of Treenware:

I'm so glad to have a Dad whose love for the Lord prompts him to excellence and beauty even in his hobbies!

P.S. - The Olive wood pen and the pens arranged in a circle are at present homeless; should you desire to purchase one for a loved one (or for yourself!) feel free to drop a comment so I can provide you with much more detailed photos and information.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Pure Yumminess!!!

I've been collecting recipes for months now, and it's so nice to be home where I have the time and equipment to try some of them out! My sister and I had a great time last week making these truffles. They're fun, easy and delicious! Follow the link for the simple recipe.

The recipe suggested rolling them in baking cocoa, but there's so much more you can do with these! We experimented plenty, but I'm sure we didn't exhaust all our options. Here are some of the things we tried: baking cocoa, confectioner's sugar, finely chopped nuts, mini peanut butter chips, mini M&Ms, jimmies, granulated sugar, and melted chocolate. Afterward I thought that coconut would've been nice. The truffles are pliable enough that when you're rolling them, you could probably also tuck a surprise in the middle - maybe a marshmallow! :)

Feel free to comment with more suggestions for toppings - or with more truffle recipes! :)
*Note: the recipe said that this makes 24 truffles; we ended up with about 60.