Friday, May 31, 2013

Weekend Inspiration: May Flowers

Today is the last day in May. Can you believe it? For some reason, it seems like the weather in the South usually goes from cold to sweltering with little in between but that was not the case this year. It was a bit cooler than usual so it didn't feel like spring for a long time. Or maybe I'm just too used to Florida weather and South Carolina is a different story all together...

To celebrate the end of the month this Weekend Inspiration theme is May flowers! Get it? April showers bring May flowers? I'll tell my inner 7 year old to quiet down now. 

Apricot Blackberry Shortbread Tart with Basil Cream inspired by the colors and life of May flowers at Cooking Melangery.

Wouldn't this little pair of fresh flowers be pretty to wake up to on your nightstand? This is just one in a whole blogful of gorgeous photos on A Rosy Note.

A flower pot card! How cute! On Life with Terri.

This would be so easy to make: an upside-down umbrella or parasol and a few bunches of flowers. But how long could it last though? From Random Thoughts.

Speaking of door decor, how about this non-wilting wreath from The Charmed Life? It might have been intended for Christmas...but whatever.

Is there ever a bad time of year for cookies? On Lila Loa.

Sunflowers = favorite flowers. These are for sale here, but could be easy to DIY-- Future post idea?

A picture index of different materials you can use to make flowers on Eileen Hull. The map pages and sewing pattern are my favorites.

Crochet flowers as party favors. These are made for a wedding but could be used for just about any spring or summer event that needs an extra thank you. From Aphrodite's Wedding Blog.

...So then what does June bring... Mosquitoes?

What is your favorite flower? More importantly, can you keep it alive or are you a plant murderer like myself? I'd love to know.

Sheila :)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Honesty Alert: Alone Time

I always enjoy long drives. Audio books, car singing, and pretend conversations. After the eight hours to Florida and back, it makes me wonder if anyone else loves this type of alone time as much as I do.

Have you ever taken the Myers-Briggs Test? The real one is long, and you have to pay for it but there are plenty of free shorted versions online. I took one this year and was a little surprised with the results. I am an INFJ, which I may seem to be extroverted but after too much time spent around others I have to shut myself away for a time to recharge. This is SO TRUE. I love people, but I love being alone too. Maybe it's all the moving around, or maybe it's just closed social recluse in me, but I crave alone time like chocolate and naps. It's energizing, enlightening, and invigorating. It's just amazing to me, how everyone can be so uniquely human. Some people need someone around them at all times. They will go to a place they don't want to be so they can be around others. They thrive in large social settings. They don't have to be the center of attention, but they have to be near the center of the action.Some people enjoy the company of their close friends but prefer to spend time in small, intimate groups. They are interested in a deep connection and are far less concerned with the lives of others outside that circle. Some people avoid others if at all possible. They are more than happy to be alone. A large party sounds like a punishment. The thrive on quiet and calmness.

So, essentially, someone can be lonely for people around them or lonely for the company of solitude. 
Where are you on that scale? Do you think your Myers-Briggs type is accurate? I'd love to know.

Sheila :)  

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Necessities for the Beginner Craft Kit

There are many different types of crafts: paper crafts, sewing, crocheting or knitting, painting, scrapbooking, jewelry making, sculpting... the list goes on and on. Some people have one interest and they stick with it. Some people are great at all of it. Some, like me, try all of it, learn just enough to get by, and then try to remember whatever skill is needed to birth the crafty love child of your imagination and creativity. Too vivid? Sorry. 

Craft stores are overwhelming. I've heard from many friends throughout the years that they would love to work on more projects but don't want to buy a bunch of expensive craft stuff if they don't end up liking it. Or they don't know where to start. Or they might not even know what some things are. That's okay. All you need to craft is an idea and a little time.

Over years of accumulated craft supplies I've learned a thing or two about what is worth a bigger investment and what are absolute basics that are used in almost every project. In hopes of removing some of the intimidation that comes with beginning to craft, I created this short list of what should go in a beginner's crafting kit. Mind you, this is based on what I use most, so if it doesn't reflect everything... then I'm sorry I failed you.

Some tips to help you get the most from your beginner kit:

These items won't be used in every project, and may not be enough to complete every endeavor, but they're a good start. Most of these things are used for general crafting. Specialized projects require specific tools.

So next time you find yourself in a craft store, you walk through those aisles like a boss.

Did I forget anything? Is there a particular tool or supplies you use all the time or something you'd like to learn how to use? I'd love to know.

Sheila :)

P.S. This is my first time trying to use graphics for parts of a written post. Does it work? I'm not sure I like it.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Notebook Pen Holder

Now that Memorial Day weekend is over and I'm back in South Carolina, it's time to get back to business. How about a little something to help stay organized?

Have you seen Smash Books by K&Company? I think they're adorable. They're not paying me to say this, I just really like the stuff. Such a simple, but great idea that anyone can do. I've used a composition book like this for years. The accessories with the line are clever with a touch of whimsy. You've already seen the label maker in use with cereal box file folders. I fell in love with the elastic pen holder for the binders. It keeps the binder closed so nothing falls out and holds pens and pencils at the same time.

After multiple trips noticing these pen holders in the craft store, it seemed like it would be easy enough to make one customized for my little blog notebook. I would have bought the holder, but it would be way too big.

Isn't it cute? A good friend gave it to me years ago and I've saved it until there was a use cool enough to deserve it. Now, it holds bunches of post ideas and inspirations.

You will need:
Elastic, I used 1-1/4" thick. The length needed will depend on your notebook.
2" wide fabric strip at least 7" long
sewing machine, or needle, thread and perseverance

Start by wrapping your elastic around the notebook. It should stretch just a bit to overlap about a half inch, but not tightly. (If you bring your notebook to the store, you could pay just for the elastic you need. I don't think that far ahead.) Mark it and cut it to size.

Run a stitch across the overlap to make a circle of the elastic. 

Set the elastic circle aside and cut your 2" fabric strip. The length will depend on on your preference; 7" worked for this small notebook

Pin and sew a rough hem on the long ends of the strip. I was going for a lose, messy style so I didn't worry too much about the lines. Annnnnnddddd I never sew straight lines anyway.

Sew the short end of the strip over the top of the stitch that connected the elastic ends into a circle.

The best way to judge how far apart to sew the pen spaces is to use pens, oddly enough.

After a few pen spaces, I got the idea to include the second most frequently used item in the notebook: post-its. Each line was stitched twice, forwards and backwards, for stability.

I love it. It's so useful and fun, if I do say so myself. It took about 30 minutes using a sewing machine.

Do you have a "smash book"? Official or homemade. Would you want to include anything else besides pens and post-its in this holder? I'd love to know.

Sheila :)

Monday, May 27, 2013

Dad's Steak Shish Kabobs

Happy Memorial Day friends! I hope it's wonderful so far. Full of lots of friends, celebration, thankfulness, and remembrance.

One of my favorite things about visiting home, aside from spending time with family and hopefully seeing from friends (which sadly didn't happen this time) is cooking together. The internet can teach you recipes, but family will teach you how to cook.

I'm pretty lucking in that both Mom and Dad are good cooks. My sister and I grew up on simple, healthy, and delicious meals that are still some of my favorites as an adult. A special treat frequently  requested for Birthdays and other occasions are these shish kabobs.

We made a ton of shish kabobs. For a normal dinner, you could use about half of the ingredients listed. This recipe made 15. The best thing about serving shish kabobs at a cookout is that you can prepare everything in advance and let everyone make their own according to preference. These instructions are to make them to Dad's tried and tested method.

You will need:

2-3 lbs Top sirloin steaks, trimmed and cubed to 1-1/2" pieces
Extra virgin olive oil, covered enough to coat but not to swim
McCormick Grillmates Montreal Seasoning, Dad has tried many and feels this is definitely the best
3 cubed peppers, green and red
2 large cubed Sweet Vidalia onions
2 lb Whole white mushrooms
1 pt Tomatoes, we used grape this time but Dad prefer's cherry

Marinade the meat with the olive oil and a healthy sprinkling of the Montreal seasoning. This is easiest to do in a dish with a tightly closing lid. Apparently the secret to a good marinade session is being able to shake it and evenly distribute the goods. Dad likes the Tupperware marinade set. Refrigerate in marinade at least 2 hours, flipping or shaking the container at least a few times throughout. Ideally, the marinade would sit a whole day, or even overnight. When you're done marinading don't throw out the leftover oil/seasoning, you're going to need it when grilling!

Lay out all of your cubed veggies and start adding to your skewers. According to both parents, the most important part of building a shish kabob is putting a green pepper in the bottom to keep the rest from moving around.

Dad recommends grilling with charcoal, as many grill aficionados will suggest. He let the coals heat up for a good 30-45 until they were nice and grey. (Dad just got a new grill. It is not for the faint of heart.)

Remember when I said to save the leftover marinade? Now is when we use that. Add a little extra olive oil and Montreal seasoning and brush the mixture over the assembled kabobs. You’ll do the same thing again while the kabobs are on the grill.  

Grill 'em up!

Tend constantly and turn frequently. Cook to desired doneness. Our family prefers medium rare which doesn't take quite as long.

Add some more marinade.

Admire the deliciousness.

Serve with rice and good company.

Well, it's time for me to hit the road back to South Carolina! What is your favorite family tradition meal? Are you a griller? I've never tried but have always wanted to. I'd love to know.

Sheila :)

Friday, May 24, 2013

Weekend Inspiration: Memorial Day

What are you doing over this long Memorial Day weekend? I'm driving home to see my family in Florida. It's always such a treat to be home. I anticipate lots of sun and family time. Memorial Day will be spent driving back to South Carolina , so you'll have to have extra fun for me. This weekend inspiration is devoted to great ways and ideas to celebrate and remember.

Vegan Memorial Day recipes on Vegan Yack Attack. Now no one has to miss out on the cookout fun.

Patriotic Punch - a fun 4th of July drink recipe!

This "Patriotic Punch" from No. 2 Pencil is so cool!

memorial day decorations

Find instructions to make this pretty patriotic wreath or one of the many other holiday decoration ideas listed on Girl Next Door Decor.

Memorial Day weekend usually brings great weather for outdoor celebrations.

Here's a fun list of ideas to celebrate the holiday and start the summer off right on USA Today.

Have you thought about going berry picking for Memorial Day? Creature Comforts makes it look like fun. And she has a great recipe to use with the fruit of your labor ;)


How about using some vintage posters from Found in Mom's Basement for decorating?

It's easy to over-eat during gatherings. Damy Health has a list of 40 healthy recipe ideas that will make the over indulgence a little less calorie costly, including desserts.


Catch my Party is offering loads of free coordinated Memorial Day printables
like these firework cupcake toppers.


Everything made by Kristin on Iowa Girl Eats looks delicious. Everything.
This Memorial Day menu round up is no different.

A good party is all in the details! How about a Memorial day wine pairing from Relax Wines?

And most importantly, don't forget to thank those who served. Present, living, or past. Thanks Grandpa Mettetal! 

What are your plans? Do you have any Memorial Day weekend traditions? I'd love to know. 

Sheila :) 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Honesty Alert: Being a Good Friend

Part of the attempt to live "beyond the cookie cutter" is not accepting the mundane. Not settling for the everyday, and not accepting the average. Sometimes that means evaluating your surroundings, sometimes it's evaluating yourself.

I like to think that I'm a good friend. I love friends. I think about them often and say a little prayer for their well-being. But it gets harder the more a person moves around and the older you become. It's way too easy for me to go a significant amount of time without seeing someone and still consider them to be a close friend. Not everyone works that way.

Some friends are so good at keeping in touch and reaching out. They need constant or consistent nourishment to keep a blossomed friendship strong.

Some friends are good sharers. They will reveal what's in their hearts and on their minds and trust you to do the same. They have no concerns of being judged or misunderstood.

Some friends are selfless. If they know a major event or big day is happening, they find an opportunity to say "Good luck!" or "Congrats!" or "It just wasn't the right thing for you this time."

Some friends just like to have fun. They know how to liven up any situation and it doesn't matter what happened earlier that day, or week, or month.

Some friends can always make you feel better. They let you be upset and cry. They let you dwell in it for just long enough before telling you to pull yourself together and move on. Then, they lock up the sadness and keep it away from you as best as possible.

My strength as a friend lies in finding the most gentle way to say what needs to be said instead of just what one might want to hear. Or so I'm told. If a friend takes it to heart, great. If not, I love you regardless.

When you're really lucky, you find friends who are good at all of the above.

As I write this, I think of the ways I fall short as a friend and what a blessing it is to have friends much better than myself. These are the things I'd like to work on to be a better friend:
  1. Send mail. Actual mail, with stamps. Real birthday cards even...
  2. Call for no reason. No crisis. No big news. Just because I miss them and want to say hello. The call needn't be more than 5 minutes, unless there is time for more. Commenting/liking/stalking on Facebook does not substitute communicating. 
  3. Ask more open questions. 
  4. Ask someone how they're really doing. 
  5. Let someone know when I'm thinking of them, instead of just enjoying the memory.
What makes you a good friend? Are there qualities you see in other friends you admire? I'd love to know.

Sheila :) 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Paper Towel Roll Napkin Rings

You didn't think I was going to stop with just the napkins did you?

Napkin rings are the punctuation to a table setting; they finish the look and complete to the tone. But they tend to be expensive as even the cheap ones are a few dollars a piece. To create an inexpensive alternative you can use a regular, plain ol' paper towel roll.This project was inspired by Renee's DIY Napkin Rings over at Rustic Crafts and Chic Decor. Thanks Renee!

You Will Need:
Paper towel roll or any other type of cardboard roll 
6 strips of unrolled paper twist, 15" long
Hot glue
6 buttons
Cord or ribbon
Hole punch

The first step is to cut your roll to size. You can use any type of cardboard roll you desire. I cut mine down the center and then in 1-3/4" wide sections since the roll was 11" long total. 

Next, wrap your unrolled paper twist around each section. It was easiest to wrap and then glue. Once you've completely covered the cardboard, hot glue the ends and any lose sections. 

Adding the buttons and loops was the tricky part. Use the smallest hole punch you have to punch a  hole centered about 1/4" away from each edge. Use a short piece of cord through the holes and your button and feed the back of the cord through one hole. Knot several times until it it is larger that the hole.

Next, use a longer piece of cord and tie a loop. Push the loop end up through the empty hole, leaving the knotted end inside. Both inside knots could also be hot glued into place if desired. 

Then just close it up around your napkin.

You could make them all the same, but it seemed like more fun to switch it up and let each ring be as unique as the napkin.

Even my "non-crafty" friend who I tricked into helping thought they were super easy to make.

Can you tell they started from a paper towel roll? More importantly, have you ever used paper twist before? I'd love to know!

Sheila :)

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