Friday, December 28, 2012

Retreat and Detox~

I am home alone with Emery and Henry (my two amazing kitties) on a chilly nasty rainy stay inside sort of December day. There really is no reason why I should be going anywhere anyway as I am not in the best condition to be driving. I have been having quite a bit of pain in my neck for the last 24 hours which apparently came from vacuuming.   It seems that I no sooner get past a "flare up" and another one comes along.  Grrr.  It's so frustrating!  I was in physical therapy this time last year for two bulging discs in my neck. I got past that, but then have had a series of other issues since then.  A week or so ago I began to feel pretty good and decided I could push the vacuum again.  Wrong.  Pain came back again in a powerful way.  DH is going to have to take over the "Hoovering".  I'm done!

 It seems that Emery and Henry's activity level, or lack there of, is never effected by the weather. Whether it is sunny or raining, they are sleeping.  

 The busyness of Christmas is behind me, but the decorations are still giving my home a delightful festive expression. Being at home today has a more of a retreat feel to it even inspite of my body discomfort. It may be gloomy outside, but there's an incredible sense of warmth inside.  Todays empty agenda seems to call for a long soak in a hot bath.  I figured it might  help reduce my pain level. We have a wonderful jacuzzi that seldom gets used for anything besides a drop zone for damp towels. It's a shame that we don't use it more often. 

Typically when I do take a whirlpool bath, 
I add epsom salts and wintergreen rubbing alcohol to my water. 
           (half of a bottle of wintergreen alcohol and a cup of epsom salts poured into the running water).

This time I was out of alcohol so I decided to look for a new "recipe" for my bath.
My google search provided me with many options.  Several of the sites had information about using products that, when used in combination, could have a detoxing effect.
One "bath detox" called for epsom salts and baking soda.  Easy enough.  The website listed below suggests some optional items to add to the bath one of which was brewed mint tea.  Because I had some in the pantry, I did use some.

Detox Bath Mix

1 half cup of epsom salts
1 half cup of baking soda
1 cup of brewed mint tea (I used 2 bags for the 1 cup of water)

Add ingredients to running bath.  Swish hand around in the water to fully dissolve the salts and soda.  Add brewed tea if desired.  Soak in bath for no more than 20 minutes.  It is suggested that you lie down for a few minutes after bathing as you may feel a little dizzy.

*I kept a glass of ice water on the side of the tub to keep myself hydrated while bathing.

I was amazed at, not only the pain relief that I experienced, but how refreshed and relaxed I felt afterwards.  I am going to make sure that I take a detox bath on a regular basis as I truly feel that it can be beneficial for my physical as well as my emotional health.

Taking a detox bath can aid in the flushing of toxins from the body, increase magnesium levels and help relieve joint pain. There are other health benefits listed on this  site

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Jogging in a Jug


You may have heard about the benefits of drinking apple cider vinegar.   It is thought that apple cider vinegar can aid in digestion, flush toxins, help balance blood sugar, lower cholestrol and blood pressure and the list goes on and on.  The health claims of acv have been around for years, but some of us are slow to learn about such things.  

I have suffered with joint and muscle pain for over a decade (which is much better now that I went gluten free 5 years ago, but that is a whole other discussion).  A friend of mine suggested that I try drinking a tablespoon of acv each morning to help reduce my pain level.  She said that her mother-in-law was receiving great results for her arthritis symptoms.  When she told me about this 7 years ago, I thought it sounded like a cheap and easy regiment.  After two days I decided that, even diluted in water, I could not "stomach it".  I abandoned the whole idea.


Fast forward 7 years-
 I have been having great pain in my big toe on my right foot and felt that I might be developing a heel spur on the same foot.  For some reason acv came to my mind and I entertained the idea of giving it another shot. I began searching the internet for more information about the benefits of acv and found that folks were claiming it to help a myriad of problems from acne and arthritis to chronic fatigue and weight loss.  Convinced that this was going to "cure my ails", I began drinking one tablespoon of this pungent sour stuff stirred into an 8 ounce glass of water.  I used it to take my morning vitamins.  I figured that I will "kill two birds with one stone".  I'm not going to lie, it was NASTY! Four days into my new routine, a customer of mine chimed into a discussion that I was having with another customer about drinking acv.  She said that when she was in high school, her mother used to make her and her siblings drink  4 ounces of Jogging in a Jug every morning.  I told her that I had never heard of such a product, but jotted the name down so that I could look it up when I got home.  It sound like a joke.  Jogging in a Jug, really?  I figured her mom had made up some sort of pet name for vitamins she wanted them to take.  I was shocked to learn that there really was a drink by that name.  Apparently it got its name because it was supposed to provide the same benefits of jogging.  I found a recipe for jogging juice which is made of just three ingredients, 100 percent grape juice, 100 percent apple juice and apple cider vinegar.  Easy enough.  I mixed up my own batch and put it in the fridge.  I decided that it had to taste better than just acv and water.  

1 cup 100 percent Apple juice
1 cup 100 percent Grape juice
2 Tbs. apple cider vinegar

I actually doubled the recipe and keep it in the fridge.  I drink 4 ounces of the Jogging Juicafter eating breakfast everyday.   I have been taking acv for two weeks total.  A week ago I substituted drinking the jogging juice mixture for the plain acv.  It's probably too early to tell if it is doing any good, but  I will say that I do seem to have a little more  energy.  My usual thought when it comes to starting a new health routine, is to give it a month or two before making any judgement on its effectiveness.  

Some of the information that I read about Jogging in a Jar pointed towards caution in taking a solution that has such a high acidity content.  They advise only drinking only 2-4 ounces.  If you are a diabetic, the sugar content may be a problem.   Do some research of your own and consult your physician if you have any questions.  

Happy health to everyone!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Tuna Salad with a Twist: 

This dish does not look very pretty, but it is delicious!  Tuna never tasted so "not like" tuna. It has an Italian flair with a little "wang".

1/2 red onion, peeled and sliced very thinly
1 can of cannellini or northern beans, rinsed well and drained
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice 
salt and pepper to taste 
1 tablespoon dried oregano 
2 (6 ounce) cans of tuna (packed in water), drained 
1/4 teaspoon of garlic salt
4 cups of fresh spinach (may use less) 

* Place onion in a colander and rinse under cold water. Drain well, pat dry with paper towels and set aside.

 * In a medium bowl, toss rinsed and drained beans with olive oil and lemon juice.  Add salt, pepper and garlic salt (to taste). Fold in oregano, onion and drained tuna. 

 * Serve desired amount of tuna salad on a bed of fresh spinach

This is my new and favorite way to eat tuna!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Operation Christmas Child

I am working on getting those last little goodies together to fill my shoebox for Operation Christmas Child.  OCC is a project of Samaritan's Purse ( was started by Franklin Graham, son of Rev. Billy Graham.  OCC provides an opportunity for children in over 100 countries from Nicaragua to Madagascar to receive a package of joy at Christmas.  They will not only receive shoeboxes filled with little "treasures", they will receive the priceless gift of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Where do these shoe boxes filled with goodies come from?
They come from people like you and I who want to do our part in spreading the Good News and great joy to children around the world who might not ever receive such a blessing.

How do I get started?
Get a standard-size shoebox or clear container of the same size. Decide whether you want to give to a boy or a girl ages 2-4 years, 5-9 years or 10-14 years old. Then begin filling your box with age appropriate toys, school supplies and hygiene items.  It is important that you visit the website to see what NOT to include such as toy guns, lotions, choccolate, glass items etc.  It will also provide you with all the details of this project.

It is a nice idea to cover the top and bottom of the shoebox with Christmas wrap, but do not tape the box closed.  The lid can be secured with a rubber band if you wish. You will need to download from the website an Operation Christmas Child label to put on the top of your package.

Packing the box is so much fun.  It is amazing how many things you can fit into a box this size!

A few years ago I started using plastic containers as opposed to a cardboard shoe box and here's the reason why:

I was told by a volunteer from the project that many of the children will, not only use the box as a "keepsake" to store their personal things in, many will use the box to transport water for their families. This statement was truly an eye-opener for me to see how little these children have.  This package that they receive means so much to them.

What do I do with my filled box?
Enlcose a check for $7.00 to cover the overseas shipping and handling and take it to a local drop-off site.  You can visit the website or call 1-800-353-5949 to find a location nearest to you.

November 12-19 is the National Collection Week

~Your simple gift can make an eternal differnece~

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Tasty Fall Treats~

I got inspired to make these little jewels after seeing a colorful picture of them on Pinterest. But for the life of me, I cannot find the site that featured them.  It seems that I "repinned" just about every sweet that was "pinned" on this popular virtual pin board site, but not the one for the donut suckers, as I am calling them.

The treats seemed easy enough to make even without instructions, especially since it appeared that I already had most of the items to complete them, minus the little chocolate dounts and colored candy sprinkles. 


For some reason I had a bag of these little round sticks that are made specifically for candy making.  They probably came from one of my art buddies who never got around to creating any confectionaries. If they ever saw this project, I can assure you, they would never have gotten rid of them.

Cellophane bags are something that I keep in constant supply.  I have several sizes on hand to use for gift-giving.  They always seem to "fancy" up whatever you put in them.  The small-sized bag was just right for my "donut suckers".

My ribbon population is ridiculous!  I have every color, width and texture known to man stashed in boxes and bins all over my studio.  I chose orange because, paired with the brown chocolate icing on the donut, I felt it had a fall feel to it.

To assemble:

Before starting, pour some candy sprinkles on a small plate.

Gently push a sucker stick through one side of your chocolate covered donut (I used the small cake variety). Twist the stick while pushing it slowly through the donut. You will want your stick to pierce into the other half of the donut.  This will provide for more stability.

Warning:The donuts are a bit fragile and will break if you are not gentle during this step.

Now for the crazy part.  Take your hair dryer (on low setting) and heat the surface of your donut for a few seconds; just until icing looks shiny.  Immediately take your donut and gently press it into the pile of candy sprinkles. Wait a minute or two and repeat on the other side of your donut.  

When my donuts were all finished, I put them into individual cellophane bags and tied a satin bow around them.  They look so festive!

These little sweet treats made a perfect little "happy" to give to out at my staff meeting this morning.  

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Owl Door Hanger

Burlap door hangers seem to be the latest craze.  They are all over Pinterest and many craft sites.  After seeing an adorable owl in a local gift shop, I decided to "give it a go".  

When I went to Hobby Lobby to purchase my burlap, I noticed a bolt of this loosely woven stiff stuff sitting on the cutting counter. When I asked the lady if that was the only one to choose from, she told me that was all that she had left in stock, that she just "could not keep it". She confirmed that people were buying it to make these ever so popular door accents.  

No tutorial is necessary for this project, just a quick "walk through" and a list of the few supplies.  It is so easy to do, and the fact that no sewing is required, makes it all that more desirable for beginner crafters.

You will need:

*Burlap (the amount depends upon how large you 
     want your door hanger to be)
*Hot glue gun and glue sticks
*marker or charcoal pencil (to draw out shape)
*acrylic paints and brushes
*plastic grocery bags
*wire for hanging
*(optional)raffia to accent wire hanger

Go to Hobby Lobby's website and click on "in store specials" to get a coupon so you can save on your project supplies.


1)Fold  burlap in half, creating a front and back.  

2)Trace your design on the top half. Make sure to draw all the details of your design. 

3)Cut out your shape.

4)Glue front to back around edges of design, leaving about a 5 inch opening for stuffing.

5)Stuff with grocery bags to desired fullness.  You want to keep it relatively flat as it will be hanging on your door. 

6)Color the details of your design with acrylic paints. You will want to apply the paint fairly liberally so your grocery bags do not show through the large weave of the burlap.

7)When complete, add wire for the hanger. If desired, accent with a burlap and raffia bow.

Your handmade door accent will make the entrance to your home very inviting!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Up-cycled Art Cards~

This past weekend I attended one of my favorite festivals, the Cooper Young Festival.  I am always interested in seeing what local artists are creating.  Each year, in addition to whatever purchases I make, I manage to take home a handful of business cards.  Although I may not leave with an artist's piece, having their information allows me to visit their sites so I can get a full picture of their work as well as learn about future venues that they are planning.

Typically, after going to an artist's page and thoroughly enjoying my "at home" art viewing, I put the business cards in my recycling bin. It always makes me feel a little strange. After all, these folks spent good money on these portable advertising units.  

Since the graphics are typically pretty nice, 
I decided to try something different this year.  I asked an art buddy of mine if she had ever heard of anyone altering business cards.  She told me to "Google" it.  Well, there just was not much out there. So I decided to "do my own thing".  I would loved to have shown you the before shots of each business card, but I felt that might not be appropriate.  Although most artists might enjoy the free advertising, many might not enjoy seeing their "original" graphics manipulated. 

To alter each business card I began by lightly sanding the entire surface of the card with  very fine sandpaper, hitting the corners a little heavier.  I also rubbed harder on personal information like phone numbers and addresses. 
*if you recognize one of your cards in this collection, please know that none will be sold for profit.  

I then took some rubber stamps and StazOn ink and stamped words and various images to create
a pleasing arrangement of patterns and colors. 

When I was satisfied with how things looked, I took a small sea sponge and rubbed it through my Stampin' Up! creamy caramel water-based dye ink. I ran my inked up sponge around the edges of the cards to give them an aged feel.  For some cards, I rubbed the sponge across the entire surface of the card.

My husband, who witnessed this little project, said that he was glad that I was 
"so easily entertained".

I told him that it was more fun than a 
"Barrel of Monkeys".

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A work in progress...

     Actually there are many "works in progress" going on over here, but there always are-so really,that's nothing new!

I started on my calendar journal pages several days ago, but I set them down to finish up some pillows for the hospital and then I began working on fixing up a piece of furniture (more on that later)which has really dominated my "free" time.  It's actually been a labor of love, but labor none-the-less.  
       Anyway, as far as the calendar goes, this is what I have come up with so far.

~Calendar Journal Pages~

     This is my first attempt at doing a calendar. Although I added some stamping and cut-outs, I feel like my January page looks a bit scrapbookish, which is totally not me. I really want the pages to have more personality so they don't seem so "prefab".

February's flavor is a little bit better, which may be due in part to adding some additional stamping on the background before adding the dates.   I also feel that tracing around the tags helps the dates blend into the page. Sometimes "messying" things up aids in eliminating cookie cutter results that often come with scrapbooking.  The art doll on the bottom right, which was done by a dear friend, is my month's redeeming jewel!

     I am not real crazy about my March page to be honest.  I feels a bit flat and uninteresting.  I decided, instead of getting hung up on it, to move on.  I can always go back and give it more punch later. Any ideas are greatly appreciated.  
If you decide to do one of these calendar journals, make sure that your days and dates correlate for the month of that particular year.  This will save a LOT of frustration.  

The days of April seem quite small, but I did this in effort to show more of my background and allow for more "add-ons".  
Once again, I will probably leave this page and move on to the next month. I have completed the backgrounds for all 12 months so I can get the basics down first and embellish later.  Because I have 3 1/2 months to finish my calendar before I actually begin  journaling in it, I can work on it at my leisure.  

I left all my materials for this project spread out on one of my work surfaces in my studio so I can add a little here and add a little there in between other undertakings. Oh, the joys of multiple projects!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

When words are just not enough...
~Travel Journal Tutorial~

My husband and I love to take cruises.  We started sailing when our son was eleven and our daughter was nine.  It was then that all four of us fell in love with the whole concept of ocean travel.  From the start, I kept a written journal each time that we cruised because, along with our pictures,  I wanted to have a permanent account of our experience. 
 In the fall of 2008 I decided to do something a little different.  In addition to my written journal, I also began doing what I call a travel art journal. I worked on each of these every day while we were away.  After a trip or two I found that keeping up with both was just too much.  My husband and I agreed that the art journal was a perfect way to capture our adventures, so I quit doing a written version.  Who actually goes back and reads their written journals anyway?  And your friends would certainly  have no interest in reading it, although  I have had several friends "read" through my travel art journals.  A few have actually done one themselves after seeing mine. 

Before leaving on a trip I prep my book so that each day while I am traveling, I just add our adventures to each page.
After my step-by-step prep instructions, I will give a list of the art materials that I take with me when I travel.  I keep this kit packed at all times.  
You just never know when a cruise will "call your name"!

Step-by-step Travel Art Journal Page Prep 
(to be done before trip)

Basic Supply List:

 Printed scrapbook paper golf cards or other  desired journal pages Gesso  acrylic paints Paint brushes deli sheets or wax paper hair dryer hole punch Loose-leaf rings  heavy books or item to flatten pages Glue sticks brayer Ink pad sea sponge 

Step 1:
Paint golf cards/journal pages with Gesso. Let dry (may wish to use hair dryer to speed drying time).

Step 2:
"Doodle" paint inside of golf cards with acrylic paints that compliment the colors of the printed scrapbook paper you have chosen.  The scrapbook paper will go on outside of golf cards.  Don't worry too much about what this looks like because most of it will be covered up each day with maps, tickets and various other trip ephemera. Once again, you may wish to use hair dryer after this stage to speed things up a bit.

Step 3:
When dry to the touch, place deli sheets or wax paper between each painted golf card and press for several hours (I usually press mine over night) under books or other heavy object.

You will end up with something like this
(number of pages should correspond with the number of vacation days)

Step 4:
Using a glue stick, cover the outside of each golf card with printed scrapbook paper. Use brayer to flatten.
After gluing the paper to the golf card, layer with deli sheets or wax paper and press until dry.

If the corners of the cards are rounded, make sure to trim the scrapbook paper 

Step 5:
Rub a sea sponge across the surface of an ink pad and dab around edges of finished golf card.  This will soften the corners and add a bit of an aged look.  

Step 6:
Punch holes in the left-hand side of all cards then join cards with the loose-leaf rings.

Your journal is now ready for you trip!

A few of my journal pages

Back of journal

I usually complete the front of my journal and add some fibers to my loose-leaf rings when I return from my trip

Basic Travel Kit for Journal

  The long white thing is glue for  adding embellishments that are too heavy for a glue stick.  For a week, you will want at least two glue sticks. The round container has tiny beads and colored safety pins in it.  The small round container has very fine glitter in it.  The stacked set, the purple thing and the tear-drop shaped thing are stamp pads, but you probably could see that.  The two colored pencils I use to trace around anything that I want to accent.  The red thing is my travel brayer, although if you don't want to add weight, you could probably use a bone folder to smooth down your glued items. I always take a few tags and stickers.  I just put all my items in a zip-lock bag. 
 *Make sure you put your kit in your checked bag so your scissors don't get confiscated.

Happy Journaling!