Monday, April 13, 2015

Clean And Simple Monday

Mondays are never clean and simple, are they? That's why Clean and Simple Mondays are so important. A little uncomplicated crafting time for the cafe barrista (that's me!) whose life is way too complicated!

Todays' challenge: Stencil It!

I pulled out this Memory Box stencil (pretty sure this is the first time I've used it!) to make a "sweet" and simple card.

{Today's Brew: Lawn Fawn stamps, Memory Box die, Tim Holtz Distress stain and marker, Lawn Fawn sequins, PTI card stock, jumbo rick rack}

I don't know why it needed rick rack, but I'm pretty sure that it did. Maybe it's just because it made me happy.

Make your own happy today. cafe friends!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Making Arrows With Washi Paper Tape

I've been doing a little work in my Personal Planner this week in an effort to stay on top of all of the crazy appointments and travel schedules my family has these days.

One thing I really needed...arrows to tell me where my husband would be on each day of his travels.

I decided to use my Washi Paper Tape from Simple Stories Life Documented, and modify them using an arrow punch. I simple cut a strip of the paper tape, put it in the punch, and voila...arrow!

And when you punch on both ends of the strip, you end up with this cute little banner flag, just begging to be put to use!

Today, my husband's travels will be bringing him home. Happy! And for one night, I will have all of my boys together again under the same roof. Happy! Happy! Happy!

Happy Friday, cafe friends!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

House News

The For Sale sign went up in the front yard, making it official. And in less than two weeks, this was added to the sign:



I had some reservations about selling this house. Namely, would others love this home as much as I did?

There were more than a few design hurdles to overcome in this fifty year old colonial.

There was a wood paneled family room:

There was an original kitchen:

There was a dark wood paneled den that underwent a dramatic transformation to become my favorite craft studio of all time:

There was a yellow toilet:

There was a pink bathroom:

There was a dated metal awning that had to go:

There was a front entry that could use a little improving:

There was wallpaper:

Just looking back at all these posts is a good reminder for how much love we managed to give this house in a short amount of time.

I would say that the biggest secret to overcoming these design hurdles was this:

We didn't fight against the house's original character. We worked with it. And in the end, it presented itself as exactly what it was:

A well built, well loved home.

Exactly the kind of house we're STILL looking for in the Chicago area.

But that's another story for another day.

Blessings on this day, cafe friends!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Simple Stories Life Documented April Planner

Good morning! Here's a quick look at my Simple Stories planner for the month of April!

I know what the first half of the month will have in store for me, but the last half is a blank slate that will be filled to the brim in the days ahead. And the reason that life is so crazy right now? The "love this" marker gives it away!

Yep! Life is all about our relocation to Chicago right now. We've been splitting our time between there and here and all points in between. Buying a new house, still trying to sell our current house. We've had a lot of showings, which means that my house has to be in pristine condition at all times. And let me tell you, when it comes to paper crafting, I am far from pristine! So for the time being, the craft room is a pretty place that I visit, but I cannot spend any fun time in there.

When I need to get my craft fix, I turn to my planners. Pretty stickers, pretty pens, a little paper and washi. And when I'm done, it all goes right back into the files and gets stored neatly on my desk. No fuss, no muss.

No time for Easter cards this year. Easter baskets? Uh, nope! Hopefully the family will forgive me.

Happy Easter, Cafe friends! Christ is risen! Alleluia!

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Story of the Open House Stew

We've had a revolving door of showings at our house this week.

An agent tour on Tuesday, followed by three house tours.

An open house on Saturday, along with two more house tours.

And every day in between? House showings at all hours of the day, but most often the evenings.

Evening showings pose a problem. How in the world can I feed the family if I have to leave the house at dinner time?

The answer, of course, is that you have to take the family out to eat. It might sound like a great option in the beginning, but it gets old really fast. And expensive.

I finally hit upon a great idea. Make dinner early in the afternoon, serve it in the late afternoon, and then skedaddle!

My body was craving something wholesome and nourishing, so I decided to make my Curried Vegetable Stew. Cauliflower, chickpeas, and assorted veggies. Mmmm!  And my oh my, was it ever delicious!

It was nice to finally sit around our own table again, breaking bread and sharing our day.

We cleaned the dishes, wiped down the kitchen, and left the house for the showing.

But when we came back a few hours later, we walked into the house and were greeted by an unpleasant odor.

"What's that smell?" my eldest asked.

The only way we can possibly describe it? Farts. Honest, it smelled like farts.

"Oh no! How could it smell that bad! I washed the dishes!"

And then it dawned on me. In my haste to get the family out of the house, I forgot to take the trash in the kitchen out to the garbage can in the garage.


Strangely, no offers to buy our house for top dollar came in that night. But I have learned an important lesson. Cooking odors will linger. Burn candles, spray some Febreeze, open a window.

Or better yet, take the family out to dinner...and get your soup at Panera's. ha ha ha! I crack myself up!

If your house is not on the market, and you remember to wash the dishes AND take out the trash, I highly recommend this hearty stew!

Open House Stew (formerly known as Curried Vegetable Stew)

3T. Olive Oil
1 Green Pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small head cauliflower, chopped
2 turnips, chopped (can substitute with potato)
1 carton chicken broth
1 can chickpeas, drained
1 can diced tomatoes
2 t. curry
salt and pepper
2 bay leaves
fresh parsley

In Dutch oven, saute onion, green pepper, and garlic in olive oil. Add turnips and cauliflower, stirring until softened. Then add chicken broth, chickpeas, and diced tomatoes, and seasoning. Cook on low heat until veggies are softened, about one hour. Add chopped parsley as garnish to each bowl and serve.


Friday, March 27, 2015

Finding A Place To Call Home, Part Two

We want community. A place to belong.

And let me tell you, that's a rare and elusive thing on a house hunt.

How will you know, for example, if the neighborhood is friendly and welcoming to newcomers?

How will you know if you are likely to bump into a neighbor at church?

How will you know if there are plenty of residents of varied ages?

How will you know if there will be opportunities to meet your neighbors?


The answer is you cannot know for certain until after you've moved in to your new home. And that is so unnerving!

We have lived in neighborhoods that were warm and welcoming, and we have lived in subdivisions that were subdivided. But we've never known which is which until after the movers have deposited our worldly goods and left.

But not this time.

This time, we've opted to live in a planned community called Mill Creek, where the housing options are varied, the amenities are plentiful, and the chances for community are great.

There is a church in the center of the community, and a marketplace too!

Golf course, biking and walking trails? Check!

Neighborhood pool and community center? Check!

Neighborhood schools? Check!

An interactive farm? How wonderful! This may become even more important when you consider that this is the size of our backyard:

But that's okay! I can make this work...I think. I was happy to hear that the neighbors that live on these streets have alley parties in the summer. How fun!

The house? Well, I hate to talk about it too much because it's not a done deal until the contracts are signed and the keys are handed over. But let me say just a few things: it's an American Four Square style house, with Craftsman details inside like coffered ceilings and board and batten wainscoting. The kitchen? Unbelieveable. I may need to host my own cooking show! The laundry room (because you know how much I love my laundry room!) is so pretty. There are spaces for the boys, spaces for guests, and a really nice basement with a movie viewing area for my husband.

But the thing that's got me really excited? A front porch! A place to sit with a cup of coffee and a good book. A place to meet and greet the neighbors. And maybe even a place to play the dulcimer again.

I have learned to trust my feelings when house hunting. I like to think of it as more of a spirit-guided navigational system that whispers to me.

Not this one. Move along.

That house in that subdivision? Sadness.

That town? Not for you.

But this house? In this community? In this town?

I have a good feeling about this one.

Tell me...have you ever felt that God led you to a certain house or town? I'd love to hear your stories!

Blessings on your Friday, cafe friends!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Finding A Place To Call Home, Part One

Six towns. Thirty-three houses. Three days.

It was a whirlwind Chicago house hunting weekend!

Thankfully, I had done a lot of research ahead of time, and we'd narrowed our choices substantially. We knew that we couldn't just fall in love with a house. We'd also have to love the community. The town had to be the right fit for our family. The schools had to be right. The commute had to be right. The nearby churches had to be right.

We had a lot to consider.

In the end, our hearts told us that we belonged in Geneva, a quaint town in the Fox River Valley.

We're so excited to show the boys our new town! We'll be taking them on a tour over Easter weekend, showing them the sights. I want them to see the schools, the downtown, the library, the parks, the train. We're hoping that they will love it as much as we did.

Lots of prayers now...for house and home, for relocation and transition, for timing and God's perfect plan.