Thursday, January 27, 2011

Still Dreaming of Spring, But Stuck in Winter!

We woke up this morning to almost 7 inches of snow.  It is a beautiful snow (even this sun worshipper thinks so).  Being the first big snow of the year, it is a welcome sight to my boys who have been itching to get out on their sleds.  Personally, this is the most welcome sight I saw today....our neighbor coming up our long driveway on his tractor with a snow plow! 

Much fun has been had already today, by both the boys and their faithful companion!  Goldie loves tearing around in the snow, chasing her boys and raiding my pockets for treats.  

I'm sure that by the end of the day, everyone will be sacked out in front of the fireplace this evening!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Muted Mirage...Dreaming of Spring

I'm looking outside right now and taking in many shades of brown, blah icky brown.  So to fill up my world with color today, I created a treasury on Etsy with many shades of muted pastels.  It's pure eye candy!  Here is a sampling, but you must go take a look at the complete treasury here

photo credit: Urban Design

photo credit: ara133photography

photo credit: ScarletBeautiful2

photo credit: braggingbags

photo credit: NatureMandalas

Friday, January 21, 2011

New Year, New Look

I started my business over 4 years ago with a dream and a goal.  My dream was to stay at home, even though my oldest son had already started school at that time, and my youngest son would be starting the following year.  I knew that I wanted to be available for my children...before school, after school, when they are sick, during the summer, snowdays, etc.   And my goal was to make a little bit of money while staying at home! 

Some other time, I'll tell you the story about how it is that I realized making and selling handcrafted jewelry was the answer to meeting that goal.   Back to my point for the post today...  Along the way, as my business started growing, I realized that I needed more professional looking business cards than the ones I had thrown together.  So I contacted my dear friend, Mary Jo.  She is a graphic designer with gobs of talent. 

Mary Jo ("MJ")
MJ and her husband have 2 adorable, little girls.  And get this, she used to live in South Dakota, but now she only lives several miles away from me!   We see each other often, although not as often as we both would wish.  Life seems to get so busy. 

So MJ (oddly, I never really call her MJ, but that's the way I always write her name) created my first professional business card and Etsy banner.  They were both fine for what I wanted at the time, but I recently decided that I want a new look once again.  So this fall, I contacted MJ again and asked her to redesign new cards and banners.  I had a fairly certain idea of what I wanted too.  Have I mentioned that patience is most certainly one of her virtues?

Didn't she do a fabulous job?!

Here are more examples of her work:

Pictured below is the cover of a book (written by Elwood Yoder) that MJ and I collaborated on together.  She was the graphic designer, I was the proofreader.  She and I are thinking that we should go into business together!  Currently we're collaborating on yet another book by Elwood. 

left:  cover of book written by Elwood Yoder to commemorate the history of Zion Mennonite Church
right:  map created by MJ for the book 
 If you need a graphic designer, no matter where you live, I highly recommend that you contact this dear friend of mine!  You can find her contact information here.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

882 Hillside Avenue

Nearly 17 years ago, this group of best friends posed for pictures on the porch of the house we shared in our senior year of college, celebrating our graduation.  We lived on Hillside Avenue, hence the name...

"Hillside Housemates"
(The name has morphed over the years to "Hillside Honeys"
due to a mistaken identity by someone else, but the name has stuck!)

Here we are, 15 years later in 2009, gathered for our annual Ocean City Hillside Honeys weekend! 

From left:  Jeané, Krista, me, Mary Jo, and Julie

Let me just say, a girl cannot have better friends than these best friends of mine!  We were all in each other's weddings, and the first friends we each called when we found out we were pregnant.  We lost regular contact a bit over those years between college and before email, but always kept each other close in heart.  Thank goodness for email, so that now we can all still stay connected, despite the geographical distance between us.  We generally email weekly, usually in spurts.  Rarely do any of us just email someone individually; it's a group thing!  But we are good about addressing each person specifically in our group emails.  Even if it's just to say, "Julie, what's going on in your neck of the woods?" 

I've told (warned) them each that I would eventually, at some point, feature them individually on this blog.  Krista and her daughter Regan were featured in this post. 

And then there was the time when I hosted an online auction to benefit Haitian orphans.  Jeané went on a missions trip to Haiti last year, and came back with a mission for helping orphans there. 

So, that leaves Mary Jo and Julie.  After tomorrow's post, Julie will be the final one remaining without a post dedicated to her!  I've got some ideas for that one though and will be getting in touch with you soon, Julie! 

So come back tomorrow and learn a little more about Mary Jo.  Here's a hint....have you noticed my new blog header??

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Delicious Discovery

Chocolate Mint Cake Truffles
photo courtesty of Lollidreams at Etsy

Have you had the pleasure of tasting a cake ball?  Recently, I was at a party where cake balls were served.  Oh.  My.  Word.  Heavenly, divine, and downright sinful. 

There were several young women sitting near me at this party, and we stole all of the other cake balls near us where nobody was sitting yet!  We had to apologize later when some guests showed up late and sat at those spots.  But I admit I didn't feel a bit of remorse!  (Besides, there were some cake balls for decoration in the middle of the table...we invited them to help themselves to those, while wiping the crumbs off of our faces.) 

I liked the cake balls so much that I decided I would try to make them.  I closely followed Pioneer Woman's detailed instructions in this post, and by golly, they turned out quite nicely.  I used yellow cake and made my own icing.  I froze the uncoated cake balls overnight, which I highly recommend.  Instead of using a double boiler, I melted the chocolate coating in the microwave by following the directions on the bag. 

Note: the first time I made these, I used regular vanilla chocolate chips.  That did not go so well.  The second time, I used the candy coating chips from Michaels, and it went so much better! 

So, I put my newly acquired skill of making cake balls to the test for a new year's eve party.  I used vanilla candy coating and found silver sparkles at our local Sharp Shopper, perfect for new year's eve! 

Go ahead and try one...but be warned, you'll just want more!