December 13, 2012

Homemade Snack Baggies

Ok, so I went to the SLC Green Fair two years ago and bought a cute homemade snack bag from a lady raising money for Montessori schools. I fell in love with this cute little bag and esp. the fabric!

Alas, I couldn't find that type of fabric anywhere, so I decided to just use what I had or to buy little scraps in the discounted section. And I love the variety because some are for mommy, or Ethan Paul, or Rynelle, etc. Dad doesn't care which he gets, but he likes them anyway.

Here are some versions I've made--though I sew horribly! (and purposely made it hard to tell how bad they are, from the angle of this shot) 

If you want to make them, just buy some of the inner fabric and sew it as a lining. Use can use that plastic stuff or if you're anti-plastic then just a linen or something (though won't be water resistant at all). The bags close with velcro. No pattern. Sorry.

I mostly just use mine for carrots, or crackers (we do homemade wheat thins and flax crackers sometimes--but not often enough) or other simple things that won't make a mess. And with the plastic lining it's super simple to rinse out. I imagine the cloth inner lining would need more of a laundry wash.

**side note: There's cute new PUL fabric at Joanns. PUL fabric is waterproff and used for cloth diaper covers or wetbags. I bought some to try and make training underwear for Ethan Paul....but that's another story. I'm hoping to make cloth diapers eventually (when I can find someone who has a snap press thing) and a wet bag too. This is super cute material! You could probably use it for snack bags too...but it's probably more toxic than the simple cotton stuff.

October 1, 2012

Ladies' Goodreads 2012: October

 Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde
Robert Louis Stevenson (short read)

Stevenson's famous exploration of humanity's basest capacity for evil,The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, has become synonymous with the idea of a split personality. More than a morality tale, this dark psychological fantasy is also a product of its time, drawing on contemporary theories of class, evolution, criminality, and secret lives.

 or if you have more time...
The Thirteenth Tale
Diane Setterfield

Biographer Margaret Lea returns one night to her apartment above her father’s antiquarian bookshop. On her steps she finds a letter. It is a hand-written request from one of Britain’s most prolific and well-loved novelists. Vida Winter, gravely ill, wants to recount her life story before it is too late, and she wants Margaret to be the one to capture her history. The request takes Margaret by surprise—she doesn’t know the author, nor has she read any of Miss Winter’s dozens of novels.

Late one night while pondering whether to accept the task of recording Miss Winter’s personal story, Margaret begins to read her father’s rare copy of Miss Winter’s Thirteen Tales of Change and Desperation. She is spellbound by the stories and confused when she realizes the book only contains twelve stories. Where is the thirteenth tale? Intrigued, Margaret agrees to meet Miss Winter and act as her biographer.

As Vida Winter unfolds her story, she shares with Margaret the dark family secrets that she has long kept hidden as she remembers her days at Angelfield, the now burnt-out estate that was her childhood home. Margaret carefully records Miss Winter’s account and finds herself more and more deeply immersed in the strange and troubling story. In the end, both women have to confront their pasts and the weight of family secrets. As well as the ghosts that haunt them still

*feel free to comment on these books......

September 6, 2012

Upsidedown Tomato Canning

I have a neighbor that said her family has canned tomatoes every years for ages...and she never uses a waterbath canner. They just cook the tomatoes for awhile (which loses some nutrients, but's homemade and not an everyday eating item, so I'm okay with that) and then put them in bottles and turn uupside down to seal. I didn't want to type that all up, so I googled it and found another lady who has done this for ages too. She's got great instructions. However, this is not recommended by canning you can read in the last step. By I say it's been proven with these two ladies and many more, so I'm fine not going by Industry standards....after all, look at the FDA anyway (they're way off for lots of things). :)

Happy canning! I just finished my first little batch , with hopefully many more to go. My tomato hopes this year include salsa (pints) and basic tomato sauce (quarts and a few pints;12 each--one for each month of the year at least--quarts for pasta sauce and pints for little sauce jobs like a pizza night or spanish rice).

canning tomatoes

Canning tomatoes is much easier than you may think.  The rewards are fresh tomatoes anytime you like. 

Buy your tomatoes ready to can. If they are home grown try to have them ripe but still firm.
From 1 bushel you can expect approximately 18 to 20 quarts of canned tomatoes.

A half-bushel equals 9 to 10 quarts. 
7-8 medium tomatoes to fill one jar.
1.  Boil Water. Start a large pot of water to boil.  You will need enough boiling water to pour over your tomatoes later in step 4.
2.  Jars.  The perfect way to sterilize your jars is by using your dishwasher on sterilize setting. Leave them in the dishwasher after it finishes so they will remain hot.

If you don't have a dishwasher with this setting, scald the jars in boiling water for 5 minutes and leave in a warm oven on lowest setting until ready to use.
3.  Lids and Rings.  Boil the lids and rings for about 3 minutes.  Turn to low and leave in the pot until ready to use.
4. Skinning Tomatoes. Place your tomatoes either in the sink or a large plastic tub container that fits in your sink. 
Pour boiling water enough to cover tomatoes.  You only need to leave tomatoes in this water for 1 minute. Immediately rinse them in cold water or move them into a large container filled with very cold water. 
5.  Removing Skins.  Next comes the fun part; removing the skins and cores and any tough green parts. This should be very easy and the skins should come right off.  After removing skins, Cut the tomatoes in medium pieces and throw them in your big cooking pot. 
6. Cook Tomatoes.  Now is the time to start cooking. Bring your pot of tomatoes to a boil.  Keep them at a light boil for 30 minutes, removing the scum that forms on top that looks like pink foam. This is easiest with a large metal spoon.
7. Fill the Jars. Put 1 teaspoon of salt in each jar. Use a funnel that  fits on the jar top and is as wide as the jar opening.  Using a ladle, fill each jar not quite to the top, but leaving at least 1/4 inch of head room.  Head room is just another word for space.  This is necessary to allow for any expansion as your tomatoes cool. Place your lid and ring on and  tighten the ring.
8.  Cool Jars. Place your filled jars on a table or countertop upside down so the heat from the tomatoes will seal the lids. You only need to leave upside down for about 20 minutes. 
The lids will pop when they are correctly sealed. 


August 27, 2012

Ladies' Goodreads 2012: August


By Po Bronson & Ashley Merryman 

In a world of modern, involved, caring parents, why are so many kids aggressive and cruel? Where is intelligence hidden in the brain, and why does that matter? Why do cross-racial friendships decrease in schools that are more integrated? If 98% of kids think lying is morally wrong, then why do 98% of kids lie? What's the single most important thing that helps infants learn language?

NurtureShock is a groundbreaking collaboration between award-winning science journalists Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman. They argue that when it comes to children, we've mistaken good intentions for good ideas. With impeccable storytelling and razor-sharp analysis, they demonstrate that many of modern society's strategies for nurturing children are in fact backfiring--because key twists in the science have been overlooked.

Nothing like a parenting manual, the authors' work is an insightful exploration of themes and issues that transcend children's (and adults') lives.

Charise suggested this book.
For more info and videos, etc., go to their website:

June 26, 2012

Ladies' Goodreads: July 2012

Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
MaryAnn Shaffer, Annie Barrows

“I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.” January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb....

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.

Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.
Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises, and of finding connection in the most surprising ways. (From the publisher.)

*feel free to comment on this book. Charise and I really enjoyed it. I love that it's written in letters.

*summary by

June 18, 2012

Greenreads: Preserving Food without Freezing or Canning

Having extra food on hand is practical and smart--not just for huge disasters and emergencies, but just because. Since I'm working on building my food/cold storage downstairs, but am a little disenchanted with the food storage ideas that aren't healthy, I looked up some stuff at he library and came across this book.

Preserving Food without Freezing or Canning:
Traditional Techniques Using Salt, Oil, Sugar, Alcohol, Vinegar, Drying, Cold Storage, and Lactic Fermentation
by The Gardeners and Farmers of Centre Terre Vivante

Description from Amazon:
Typical books about preserving garden produce nearly always assume that modern "kitchen gardeners" will boil or freeze their vegetables and fruits. Yet here is a book that goes back to the future—celebrating traditional but little-known French techniques for storing and preserving edibles in ways that maximize flavor and nutrition.

Translated into English, and with a new foreword by Deborah Madison, this book deliberately ignores freezing and high-temperature canning in favor of methods that are superior because they are less costly and more energy-efficient (not to mention retains more nutrients).

As Eliot Coleman says in his foreword to the first edition, "Food preservation techniques can be divided into two categories: the modern scientific methods that remove the life from food, and the natural 'poetic' methods that maintain or enhance the life in food. The poetic techniques produce... foods that have been celebrated for centuries and are considered gourmet delights today."

Preserving Food Without Freezing or Canning offers more than 250 easy and enjoyable recipes featuring locally grown and minimally refined ingredients. It is an essential guide for those who seek healthy food for a healthy world.

So I skimmed through this and there are some promising recipes if you want to add to your food storage things that you like, will eat/rotate through regularly, etc.  Here are a few, though I have yet to try them: (once I do I will post the recipe on our nourish blog...under a Preserving/Food Storage Recipe section)

May 1, 2012

Ladies' Goodreads 2012: May

David McCullough

The life of Harry S. Truman is one of the greatest of American stories, filled with vivid characters -- Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin, Eleanor Roosevelt, Bess Wallace Truman, George Marshall, Joe McCarthy, and Dean Acheson -- and dramatic events. In this riveting biography, acclaimed historian David McCullough not only captures the man -- a more complex, informed, and determined man than ever before imagined -- but also the turbulent times in which he rose, boldly, to meet unprecedented challenges. The last president to serve as a living link between the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries, Truman's story spans the raw world of the Missouri frontier, World War I, the powerful Pendergast machine of Kansas City, the legendary Whistle-Stop Campaign of 1948, and the decisions to drop the atomic bomb, confront Stalin at Potsdam, send troops to Korea, and fire General MacArthur. Drawing on newly discovered archival material and extensive interviews with Truman's own family, friends, and Washington colleagues, McCullough tells the deeply moving story of the seemingly ordinary "man from Missouri" who was perhaps the most courageous president in our history.

*feel free to leave comments about the book.

April 30, 2012

2nd Annual Earth Day Party 2012: A Natural You

So this year's Annual Earth Day Party was April 21st--the day before Earth Day (which was on Sunday). And the theme was "A Natural You"--Discovering ways to be more natural: for your health, hygiene and home. A chance for like-minded individuals to get together and chat, learn, eat and discuss about how to live more naturally and what that means.

(...and of course, I forgot to take pictures again...but next year I won't!)

We had fun chatting and sharing thoughts on more natural-type product options in the home for health. And there were quiz questions along the way. Quiz yourself and see how you woud've done:

1. What are the two basic functions of the liver?
     a) metabolizes food/breaks down fat and nutrients necessary
     b) to get rid of toxins and chemicals if your body is too busy getting rid of chemicals and foreign things in your body, it can't break down the fat in your body. Hence why detoxing is important. And Detoxing can be as simple as using more natural skin/hair care/cleaning products, to eating more organic and less preservatives and such. The less chemicals we're surrounded by, the less our liver has to eliminate and more it can focus on it's main purpose of breaking down our fat.

2. What are the seven chanels of detoxification (ways our body eliminates toxins)?
As we work on each of these channels, we can better rid the toxins from each area...
1. Lungs - what we breath. get fresh air, don't smoke and get aerobic exercise
2. Liver - manager of entire detox process in body
3. Colon - last stop for toxins, before expelled (daily bowel movement). Keeping hydrated helps.
4. Kidneys - produces urine (waste) to expell
5. Skin - what we put on our skin--sweat removes toxins
6. Blood - regular exercise stimulates blood flow and helps the blood transport necessary things through it's system
7. Lymph - immune system and filters bacteria

3. What are three or more things to avoid in processed foods?
  a) high fructose corn syrup
   b) hydrogenated oils
   c) artificial sweetners
   d) processed soy products
   e) certain food dyes (like red. no.2)

4. True or False: Soaked/Sprout grains are better than whole grain foods.
Whole grains have phytic acid, which inhibits your body's absorption of the nutrients an minerals in the whole grain. So in order to maximize your body's use of the nutritional value of the whole grain, it's best to soak or sprout the whole grain, which starts the process of breaking down that pytic acid so your body doesn't have to work so hard. Picture eating a hard dry seed versus a moist seed that is just starting to sprout. The latter is easier for your body to digest.

5. True or False: when possible, choose vegetable oils over butter for cooking and baking.
Butter is actually a good natural fat, though could give cholesterol problems if over eaten. So although it could potentially be a problem if over done, it's better than any vegetable or canola oils, which are highly processed/refined and not as healthy for your body in their less-natural state. Extra-virgin and unrefined coconut oil are excellent options. And stay away from fake butters and margarines, including most types of shortening (although they have healthier types now)--anything fake plays a toll on our bodies' natural processes.

6. What am I? I can be used as a shampoo, deodorant/odor absorber, toothpaste, gunk remover, water softener, drain cleaner, etc?
Answer: Baking soda (I've tried half of these and appreciate knowing their use as an emergency, though I wouldn't always use them on a regular basis.)

7. What are the main culprits to avoid in laundry detergent?
worst: SLS, phosphates, NPE; other things if possible: enzymes, fabric whiteners, fabric brighteners, fabric softeners, fragrances, bleach

8. Which essential oil is most versatile and safe to use on anyone--therefore a great option to have in your home?
Lavender! It's mild and calming and can be used neat (on skin, undiluted) on children and prgnant women (which is not like many others). It can be used to calm emotions and help you sleep, or on your skin for cuts and cleansing. It also smells great and is a good air freshener.

Well, those were the questions. How did you do? Most of us only could answer a few. So this was a guide for our discussions about how to better incorporate things into our home and health that will better help us live more naturally.

Some products highlighted were the Norwex or E-cloth rags/towels (2 different brands) that wipe up 99% of bacteria and eliminate your need to use a cleaning product--just add water or use dry for dusting and it picks up everything. The rags with silver in them are more expensive, but teh silver is anti-bacterial, so it doesn't stay in the rag, like the general purpose e-cloth. Norwex is a multi-level marketing company that charges about $15 per silver rag--which Charise bought and uses and likes. I use the e-cloth general purpose for most things, but then a silver-containing anti-bacterial e-cloth for the wiping up raw chicken juice and such.

 Two brands. Two different options. I personally found a good deal online for two general purpose e-cloths for $8 and then also two polishing rags for $8 as well, since they were on a summer sale. And I use the polishing rag for windows and metal surfaces because it wipes them streak-free, very well. The siler-ion rags are about the same as Norwex...just a buck or two cheaper (so I did buy one of them).

I love not needing cleaner. In fact, cleaners take away the effectiveness of these rags, so don't use cleaners or detergent when washing them. You can just boil them in hot water most times and they should last you 600 washes at least. You can put them in the laundry with a touch of detergent if you have natural laundry detergent (free of any of those things listed in the question above about laundry detergents).
this is what I's mostly coconut soap and does a fine job for basics everyday washing.

We also talked about what to avoid in shampoo products and such (see my post on it), and honestly the list is ridiculously long, so I just try to find shampoo with a few ingredients, and all of which seem pretty basic). making your own body wash or shampoo using just a spray bottle with water and some castile soap (plant-based, like Dr. Bronners) and then scenting it with essential oils for smell or for their properties (like rosemary for dry scalp, etc). And everyone got to make their own and take it home. Paul and I use these for body wash (and Paul for his hair too....though I personally don't like it on my long hair, so I use a plant-based shampoo I bought).

If you want, see the post on essential oils 101 to learn more.


We also highlighted some natural mineral makeups we use. Minerals are great because it doesn't clog your pores and actually reflects the light better from your face. I've been using it for three years now. I've tried Naked Minerals, Everyday Minerals, Ocean Mist Minerals and Signature Minerals. My favorite are Everyday and Signature. The latter having free samples online if you want to order some to try and just pay $5 shipping. I highly suggest it! After finding my perfect shades for basic foundation I just buy those powders bulk and pour them into my container whenever it gets empty. And I get enless supplies of their sample eye colors that last forever, since I don't wear much. It's a fun way to explore without spending a ton of money and on good natural stuff.

We touched on the no-no's of using anti-perspirant which has aluminum that clogs your sweat pores and gets locked in your shirt's armpit area--yuck. We talked about some natural deodorants to try. We've tried Kiss-My-Face, Tom's and a Deodorant Crystal--our favorite. But switching over will take a week or two transition and the anit-perspirant generally is so full in your clothes and such, that it's hard to get that out. So be patient in trying to explore and realize there are other factors to take into account including your body getting used to not having what it's use to, as well as what your clothes have been used to and might still trigger smells that have been accumulating for awhile.

Then we ate some energy bites from Ali and other various salads and pirate booty rice puffs, crackers, trail mix, fruit, etc. See Greek Salad or Fruit Salad Recipe if interested.

April 27, 2012

Hen Haven: Our Chickens and Coop

So we got baby chicks near the end of March and had them indoors, heat lamp and all...but they were so big for their tub by this last week, that we were ready to move them outside and get them use to the outdoor temperatures and situation.

We got four types: Ameracauna--will lay green eggs ("Scratch-n-Sniff" because she's bi-polar and always scratching everything and seems kind of jumpy), Buff Orpington--will lay light brown eggs ("Sandy" because of her color--she's the smallest and most timid, but I assume she'll plump out when bigger), Plymouth Barred Rock--will lay light brown eggs ("Rocky"), and a California White Leghorn--will lay white eggs ("California" because the breed and color and it seems to just fit her). They definitely have personalities and are so fun to hold and pet. And I think they've finally outgrown their overly jumpy stage at every little noise.

I'm glad to be out of the baby chick stage, because although cute, they poop and throw pine shaving all over everything--in their food and water and such. They're not very clean. So, I was happy to hurry up and finish building the coop so I didn't have to deal with cleanliness-issues as much.

I built the A-frame last fall with scrap lumber from dumpsters in the neighbor (from all the house building going on our street). And then last week I finished the rest and painted it and added the chicken wire (which was the least fun part--that stuff is pokey!). And the most expensive part was the primer and paint and screws, because the rest of the stuff I scavenged for free. The green is called "Garden of Paradise," which I thought was pretty cool.

Honestly, it was hard to make and I didn't have any set plan to follow, since I just was using scrap wood and making the fewest amounts of cuts possible into a plan that seemed practical and most convenient for me--and so I didn't have to use the scary wood saw cutter thing that is ridiculously loud. And I probably won't do it again. But I'm glad a did it, and that it's now over with and I can just stare at it and think..."I have chickens in my back yard. Alright!"
Money-wise, does this make sense? Short-term, no. Long-term...break-even if not saving a little money, if you're smart about it and don't spend tons of money on a coop and fancy stuff you don't need.

The chicks cost between $2.50 and $3.50 each. Then we had to buy a heat lamp and bulb (abt. $15) and some pine shavings (abt. $12 that will last a year or more) and some medicated chick food for their first 18 weeks...about $15). Then we bought the water and food containers for about $8. Total that up and it's not bad, considering we buy between 2-3 dozen eggs a month I think. The coop cost about $40 to make (using paint and nails and hinges I had to buy, but we have tons of paint left oveR). The main cost that recurs is their food, but they eat anything and we made it so that the tractor will move and they can forage, so their food supply is supplemented by foraging and our kitchen scraps (that we choose not to put in the compost).
I'll probably post an update in a few months, once they start producing eggs and see if I'm still liking this all and how the coop is working out. I'm sure by then it will have the wheels, so we can move it around more easily--like a tractor. :)

April 6, 2012

Essential Oils 201: Art of Blending Oils

How to Blend Essential Oils

Blending essential oils is an art and usually requires a little bit of training and experimentation. If you choose to create your own blends, it is important to understand that the order in which the essential oils are blended is key to maintaining the desired therapeutic properties in a synergistic blend. An alteration in the sequence of adding selected essential oils to a blend may change the chemical properties, the fragrance, and thus the desired results. In general, essential oils that are from the same botanical family, usually blend well together. In addition, essential oils that share common constituents also mix well.
There are four blending classifications. The following information explains the characteristics of each classification, the order in which they should be added to the blend (Personifiers first, Enhancers second, Equalizers third, and Modifiers fourth), and the amount of each type of oil as a percentage of the blend.

  • The Personifier (1-5% of the blend) essential oils have very sharp, strong and long-lasting fragrances. They also have dominant properties with strong therapeutic action. Essential oils in this classification may include: angelica, birch, cardamom, cinnamon bark, cistus, Clary sage, clove, coriander, German chamomile, ginger, helichrysum, mandarin, neroli, nutmeg, orange, patchouly, peppermint, petitgrain, rose, spearmint, tangerine, terragon, wintergreen and ylang ylang.

  • The Enhancer (50-80% of the blend) essential oil should be the predominant essential oil as it serves to enhance the properties of the other essential oils in the blend. Its fragrance is not as sharp as the personifiers and is usually of a shorter duration.Essential oils in this classification may include: basil, bergamot, birch, cajeput, cedarwood, cumin, dill, eucalyptus, frankincense, galbanum, geranium, grapefruit, hyssop, jasmine, lavender, lemon, lemongrass, lime, marjoram, melaleuca (Tea Tree), melissa, myrtle, orange, oregano, palmarosa, patchouly, petitgrain, ravensara, roman chamomile, rose, rosemary, sage, spruce, thyme, wintergreen.

  • The Equalizer (10-15% of the blend) essential oils create balance and synergy among the essential oils contained in the blend. Their fragrance is also not as sharp as the personifier and is of a shorter duration.Essential oils in this classification may include: basil, beramot, cedarwood, cypress, fennel, fir, frankincense, geranium, ginger, hyssop, jasmine, juniper, lavender, lemongrass, lime, marjoram, melaleuca (Tea Tree), melissa, myrrh, myrtle, neroli, oregano, pine, roman chamomile, rose, rosewood, sandalwood, spruce, tarragon, thyme.

  • The Modifier (5-8% of the blend) essential oils have a mild and short fragrance. These essential oils add harmony to the blend.Essential oils in this classification may include: angelica, bergamot, cardamom, coriander, eucalyptus, fennel, grapefruit, hyssop, jasmine, avender, lemon, mandarin, melissa, myrrh, neroli, petitgrain, rose, rosewood, sandalwood, tangerine, ylang ylang.

Depending on the topical application of your blend, you will want to add some carrier/base oil. When creating a therapeutic essential oil blend, you may want to use about 28 drops of essential oil to 1/2 oz. of carrier/base oil. When creating a body massage blend, you will want to use a total of about 50 drops of essential oils to 4 oz. of carrier/base oil. Remember to store your fragrant creation in dark-colored glass bottles.
Here are some helpful charts on blending properties, smells and dilutions:

How to dilute for various methods of application...
Perfume: 15-30% essential oil, 90-95% alcohol, 5-10% water

*sources: three books....
Advanced Aromatherapy by Kurt Schnaubelt
Modern Essentials, DoTerra
complete Guide to Essential Oils and Aromatherapy by Valerie Worwood

Kitchen & Living Room: Crafting and Color Fun

So, it's hard to create without inspiration and motivation. My motivation is that I'm going to have a second kid soon and then what extra time will I have to do silly little things like I'm posting about that make me feel like I'm creative. (j/k...I'll still have/find time, but it will take more effort, that's for sure). Anyway...allow me to continue...

These are a few little things I've been doing for my kitchen and Living room...
INSPIRATION: the colors and the leaves above back sliding door...
I forgot to take a before picture, but this was a $5 shelf at a garage sale and I just stained it to match our carpet tack strip wood trim thing, so it's subtly black and matches our bamboo curtains (black and beige). Then I modpodged paper onto each shelf to match the three leaf colors (the inspiration photo).

The green paper is cool because it's design isn't all over, just on one side of the paper, so it's adds a fun flare, but I'm not sure if you can tell that from the photo.

LIVING ROOM INSPIRATION: No, not Ethan, although he is inspiration enough for other areas of my life. :) It was the colors and busy patterns of curtains... 
I just adore these crazily-busy patterned curtains. Don't ask me why, but I do. Such funk and logic combined into one hanging wall art (we don't need a tapestry on this large wall when we've got these curtains!) Though I admit, I know a lot of people probably don't care for them. Oh well. It's my living room and even Paul had to adjust a bit--not too much though. He rather likes them now. :)

I had scrap scavenged wood from the construction dumpster a few houses down. So I cut them, sanded and stained them to match the same shelf and carpet tack trim stuff (blackish-beige). Then I modpodged on colored paper that exactly match the curtain colors, plus the black of the mantel. All the patterns vary and I admit, I did spend money picking out the perfect paper. Each one was about $1. So I spent $6 for this. I know, it's not amazing, but it's small and simple and a way to tie in colors frugally and a good creative way to pass time. I was going to put a letter on each block, but I'm not sure what I want to emphasize. I was going to do FAITH in five blocks, but I had to add a sixth, and then thought FAMILY...but I kind of like it plain. so...who knows.
And by the way, I adore the teal block and pattern which goes so well with the vase! Now I want to paint a wall teal to match! But that will be next year I think. And also make teal pillows, but I might do a scrap pillow that includes all these colors to, that I can throw on our couch.

Ok, that's it...for now.