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Monday, October 31, 2011

Easy Felt Neck Warmer & Flower Pin



Here it is Halloween & for some of you up in the Northeast, that apparently means it's the beginning of winter. We've been feeling some cool temps here in Tennessee the past few days as well, so it's that time of year for a scarf or neck warmer.

I recently made some from felt, and they were so easy, I thought some of you might like them as well.


Start with 1/4 of a yard of 72" wide felt, and cut approximately 8" off of one end.



Then, simply sew on a couple of buttons onto one end of the "scarf" and carefully cut some button holes into the other end.




At this point, you've spent less than ten minutes on a great little neck warmer. Just wrap it twice around your neck, button it up and you're done.


Or, you can choose to wear it another way by creating a matching felt flower pin from the extra 8" you cut off.

To do this, cut a circle approximately 3 inches in diameter. Then, cut about 30 leaf-shaped petals approximately 2.5 inches long.


Then, just hot-glue them on in layers, overlapping them as you go, using the same technique as you would for a felt flower pillow.






To make the center, fold 2 of the petals in half, placing a dot of glue in the fold to hold it together, then stand them up and glue them into the center.






Glue a pin mechanism onto the back and you can wear it with what ever you want.






To make a child's version, just cut the felt to the length needed to best fit them.





Hope you like this! It's the perfect idea for a simple, homemade Christmas gift. And since each of these only cost about $3 to make, it's great for any budget.

Have fun with them. I'm linking up with a few of these parties!






Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Little Taste of Italy


This post brought to you by Carapelli. All opinions are 100% mine.


Until very recently, I didn't know a whole lot about olive oil other than the fact that it comes from olives & it tastes really great in certain pastas or for dipping bread. Then I was asked by Carapelli to try out their olive oil in an official taste test, using a special process to get the full experience, and I found out it goes much farther than that.

carapelli-1


Who knew there are four specific steps, also known as the "Four S's" that should be followed in order to have a true olive oil tasting experience? Here they are, if you'd like to try for yourself...


For the test, pour a tablespoon of oil into a small glass.


1. Swirl – Swirling the olive oil in the glass releases the oil’s esters, which are the molecules that contain the aroma.

2. Sniff – The aroma is the key to the fruitiness of the oil. (This step got my mouth watering, reminding me of the aroma of a nice Italian restaurant.)

3. Slurp – Sipping the oil while “sipping” in a bit of air. This slurping action emulsifies the oil and helps spread it throughout your mouth. The Carapelli Extra Virgin Olive Oil I tried was very smooth, yet had a full fruity flavor. Delicious!

4. Swallow – Once you swallow the oil, it should leave your mouth with no aftertaste. And not only was there no aftertaste when I tried it, I found it's great for moisturizing lips, too!



Chances are, you've bought Carapelli before, like I have. But you may not know that Carapelli has been making olive oil since 1893, and, with its headquarters in Florence, it is Italy's #1 Extra Virgin Olive Oil.



Today’s distinctive line of Carapelli Extra Virgin Olive Oils includes three varieties:



Premium 100% Italian – made solely from the first cold pressing of the finest 100% Italian olives with an intense, robust flavor and aroma


Il Numerato – a supremely smooth and low acidity oil that is a result of a delicate cold pressing of olives


Organic – Obtained only from organically grown olives and produced according to organic farming standards; certified USDA organic



When you taste Carapelli Olive Oil, you know you are tasting Italy's finest. Try Carapelli's fine olive oil for yourself! Visit their site to receive $1.00 OFF coupon at www.CarapelliUSA.com.



Visit Sponsor's Site






Thursday, October 27, 2011

Favorite Recipe File: Mini Meatloaves


Here's a great recipe I think you're going to love. It's super-easy, ready in around 30 minutes & made from ingredients you may already have on hand.



I first found this recipe for Marvelous Mini Meatloaves from Kraft's Food & Family magazine that they used to send out for free. Now it can be found on their website by clicking here.

I love how they provide a chart for variations on the same basic recipe which involves mixing together ground beef with a package of stuffing mix, water & seasonings, then baking in a muffin tin.




Most often, I make the Italian version. And since we usually have 3 or 4 mini meatloaves left over from the meal, they're perfect for cutting up & using as meatballs for spaghetti a day or two later. I love a good "cook once, eat twice" kind of recipe.

Hope your family loves these like we do!

I'll sharing this post with some of these fun parties.



Tuesday, October 25, 2011

So Speechless I Can't Shut Up



Today's post was supposed to be about meatloaf.

And then we got some news yesterday that shook us. It was the kind of news that makes you lose focus in a good way and makes things like meatloaf & furniture makeovers seem as insignificant in this life as they really are.

Someone reading this today knows what it's like to pray for years for good news & hold on for dear life to the thread of hope you have in your heart that one day you will receive it. I want to encourage you.

Ten days before Christmas in 2002, my dad was diagnosed with metastatic pancreatic cancer. For the the first few days, my family and a lot of other people tried to come to grips with the knowledge that my dad might be gone in a few short months, due to the fierce nature of pancreatic cancer. A few days later, we were relieved to discover that his type of cancer was very rare, accounting for less than 5% of all pancreatic cancer cases. What it meant to us was more time. Statistics showed that, although there is still no cure, patients with this type of cancer usually live years rather than months before it takes their life.

My dad, who is the most optimistic person I know, told me at that time that we could hold onto the hope that since he was given the extra time, perhaps a treatment would be found before it was too late for him.

Since then, he's experienced almost 9 years of daily pain that never completely goes away, procedures that offered little hope, extreme sickness & hospital stays, & doctors who had nothing to offer. He has watched countless people be diagnosed & die of cancer within that time, including Steve Jobs who had the same rare type of cancer that he has. It's the roller coaster life of a cancer patient.

This past May, he reached a very low point. He was feeling worse than ever, continually losing weight, & feeling the cancer begin to take over everything. The little help that his doctor had been able to offer was finally exhausted, and he was told again that there was nothing that can be done for him.

I have to say that as much as I've prayed for him, I had pretty much given up about praying for that miracle treatment. But God never forgot.

Within weeks of leaving the doctor's office without any hope, a new drug was approved for his type of cancer. We immediately saw the hand of God in it as He provided a way for him to get it despite the unbelievable expense.

My dad knew pretty quickly that it was helping him. He began to take less of his pain meds & other treatments. He began to feel better than he had in many years. We were thrilled, not knowing exactly how the drug was working, but just thankful it was.

And then yesterday, he received the results of his routine CT scan and he was given something he hasn't received very often in 9 years: the gift of good news. The drug has caused a significant reduction in his tumors. It was news we almost didn't have the faith to expect. It was cold water to our thirsty souls. It was the answer God sent when we'd almost forgotten we'd asked.

I can honestly say I haven't really questioned why God has allowed this trial to come to my dad. He's a pastor. Many people depend on him. And he has influenced thousands. Some people wonder, "Why him, when he's needed by so many people?". I've known why from near the beginning. I know it's because God knows that no matter what he goes through, my dad will use the opportunity to glorify Him. And whether that means continuing to serve God through unimaginable physical stress or giving Him the glory when miraculous things occur, he will do that. My dad has told me several times that no matter what happens to him, his main goal through all of it is to not waste the opportunity that God has given him. Cancer. Trials. Setbacks. Victories. It's all from Him.

If you're the one today that's waiting for Him to answer, consider this...He may be waiting for you. To see your trial as the opportunity it is. We tend to see healing as the ultimate goal. But that's our humanity butting in. The main thing is to know Him and then glorify Him, through our life and through our death. And then, even unexpectedly, He sometimes chooses to give you a miracle. And those are the days you don't have to be reminded to thank Him.

Here's a recent picture of my dad with his grandkids, 5 of which were born after he was diagnosed.



So, excuse me if I'm a little excited. The meatloaf can wait for another day. This just had to be said today.



Monday, October 24, 2011

A Little Thank-You


Over the weekend, my little blog turned 2...

So I just wanted to take a moment to say thanks for being a fan...


I'm constantly surprised by how many of you

take the time to

stop by,

or email me,

or comment on my projects,

or tell me you've been inspired.

You guys make this fun.

So, thanks :)


Thursday, October 20, 2011

You're Going to Love This: A Giveaway



Today I'm taking a minute to brag on my sister & her super-cute new jewelry she's been into lately. She has an Etsy shop called My 3 Chickadees where she sells her creations.

And here she is, with her 3 chickadees...


Some of her pieces are so completely unique, you'll never see another like it. And her prices are so reasonable, there's something for every budget.

I cannot shut up about her itty bitty framed chalkboard necklaces.



You just said the word "cute!" in your head, didn't you?


And here's another version...




A bride-to-be who bought one of these recently is going to use it to count down to the days of her wedding. Don't you LOVE that idea?

And then there's this London Map Necklace with a bus charm...



And an adorable mustache...



And one of her best ideas is this Allergy Alert Necklace that you can customize for a child with specific allergies. So ideal!



And here's the part you're waiting for:

She's giving one Life of Bliss reader this really cute Dandelion Wishes Necklace...


You will love it!


Here's how to get some entries:

(1.) Visit her shop & come back & leave a comment on which is your favorite.

(2.) Like The My3Chickadees page on Facebook, then leave a comment that you did.

(3.) Broadcast this somewhere like Facebook, your blog, or by dressing in a chicken costume & holding a sign in your front yard, then leave a comment that you did. (And if you do that last one, please send a pic as well. That would be worth a few more entries.)


I'm keeping the giveaway open until Sat. night at 11:59 p.m. EST and will announce the winner on my Less-Than-Perfect Life of Bliss Facebook page on Sunday.


Good luck & get shopping!


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I Love You Just the Way You Are...Except That One Little Thing


Like many of you, I love a good thrift store makeover. It's so much fun to see that little something in its pitiful state and know in your heart that you were sent there to rescue it. And so you take it home, remove all traces of what it used to be, & give it a new life. And thereby, beautifying the world, one little makeover at a time.

And then, once in a great, great while, you find that little something that's actually just right just how it is. It's so fabulous, even you cannot improve upon it. {cough, cough}

Recently, I had one of those days. I walked into the store, & there sat this little beauty.



In my current favorite color.

For only $13.

It was just perfect the way it was. I wouldn't need to change a thing.

Okay, I did have to change the lamp shade to a new burlap one from Target because the other one was dated & falling apart. But other than that one little tweak, I didn't have to change a thing.



For now, it's at home in my entry in front of my Wall of Doors. Did I mention I love the color?



What have you not made over lately?





Monday, October 17, 2011

Dog Silhouette Pillow How-To & a Little Confession


I guess this is the part when I should make a confession. I've got lots of quirks. Thankfully, I don't have the time or backbone to list them all out for you right now. But I will tell you one of them as a little background for this project. Ready? Here it is: I'm not a dog person.

There. I said it. And before I get lots of flack from the dog-loving population, let me explain. I'm really more of a faux dog person. It's not that I have anything against dogs. In fact, I think they're adorable, sweet, & loyal. And I know there are dogs out there that are nicer than most people. No, it's not that I don't like dogs. I just don't want one in the family. I know. I'm a terrible mom. My kids beg 'til they're blue in the face, but I just can't do it. And the real bottom-line reason is that I'm too lazy to have one more "child" to clean up after & take care of & take to the doctor & so on & so on. And I know I'm also afraid of getting attached. We'd fall in love with it. And then we'd all be heartbroken if something happened to the dog. And then the kids would be scarred for life. See? It's just better this way.

But, the irony of it all is that I'm a sucker for dog decor. I can't resist a doggy on a pillow or a coffee cup or a painting of a poodle. I know. Quirky.

So, of course I was gaga when I received Restoration Hardware's Baby & Child catalog recently & saw their dog pillows. (By the way, if you haven't seen the catalog, check it out online here. It's full of great inspiration!)



Aren't they adorable? And (sorry Restoration Hardware), just too easy to replicate.

Here's my version:



Want one for yourself? Here's a super-simple how-to.

I thought the perfect fabric for these pillows would be a man's shirt. (Did you see what I made last time I raided my husband's closet?)

I found a nice blue striped one for a great deal at Goodwill. I just washed & dried it, then measured out the size of my pillow insert & cut the shirt.




The back of the shirt became the top of the pillow. To add the doggy to that piece, I simply printed out a silhouette from the internet, cut out the pattern in black felt, & followed the instructions for Heat N Bond to appliqué it onto the pillow top.




For added detail, I added a ribbon collar & an ear, also adhered with the Heat N Bond.




Once the doggy was on, I just placed the pillow pieces right sides together & sewed around all 4 sides. This could possibly be the easiest pillow ever. You could use this method for all kinds of pillows!

Then, I unbuttoned the back, turned it inside out & pressed with an iron. Lastly, I inserted the pillow, buttoned it back up & it was done!




I love how the back turned out, too, with a cute little pocket still intact.


I made 2 of them & they are just right on my craft room window seat. (You can see more about that here.)







These would be sooooo cute in a little boy's room as well. And they'd make great gifts for real dog-people or faux dog-people like myself.

Funny thing was, when Lola & I were admiring the new pillows & taking a few pics, we noticed this little guy peeking in at us, wondering what we were up to. I couldn't help but think he'd be so cute on a pillow.


Did I ever mention I'm a faux cat person?


Sharing these pillows at a few of these parties. Check them out!