digital freebie: four chalkboard backgrounds

I love chalkboards.
They are huge right now, and they are an easy way to add vintage sass to whatever you're working on.
And guess what! I just learned how to make chalkboard-ish digital papers.

Have at it, my friends. 
4 low-res 1000x1000 chalkboards.
Terms of use are the usual: personal and small business use ok, not to be used in any icky material.
{I'm telling you, I shoulda been a lawyer.}
Is anyone interested in a tutorial for this? Lemme know.
Have fun chalking it up {hee hee},
and may your Halloween weekend be cavity-inducing.


gimp girl tutorial: make your own chalkboards

{new to Gimp? start with the washi tutorial, then try some wall art!}

Chalkboards are huge right now, and it's an easy way to add some vintage sass to your images.
Here's how to make your own simple chalkboards using Gimp.
{so ok, you can just download mine and be done with it, but do the tutorial anyway -- you'll want to add these techniques to your Gimp Girl arsenal.}

In this tutorial, you will learn how to:

Use images as overlays
Adjust opacity
Adjust image highlights using curves
Desaturate images

Ready? Me too.

First, go to File > New to create your canvas.
 Decide how big you want your chalkboard. 
I made mine 1000 pixels square, then filled the background with transparency.
{the transparency part doesn't really matter in this project, but it's a good habit to get into, IMO.}

Next, select the chalkboard color. 
Double-click the color palette and drag the crosshairs around to find a color you like.
I picked a dark slate grey.

Go to Edit > Fill with FG Color.
{FG stands for Foreground.}
And now you have a big square.

ed emberley art

 Is there anything better than Ed Emberley during the baby's naptime?
{I mean, other than the preschooler consenting to take a nap, too.
But we all know that that is a pipe dream.}
I think not.

I tried this with Lizzy about 6 months ago and she didn't really get it. But I think something magical happened recently where she has started to draw with much more intent. 
Making teeth and hair and ears and mittens and creepy 3-eyed, 4-legged creatures. 
See that spider in the lower right corner? I'm, like, bursting with pride. 

I got pretty into it, too:
I think my favorites are the crab and the sleeping guy.
And get this -- I just found out there's a line of Ed Emberley fabrics coming out in the spring! (!!!)

Have a happy day, from our family to yours!


i won some honey

uhhm. i swear that glass is clean. 

You guys! I won a giveaway. 
If you don't know Whitney already, you really do need to go knock down her door.
Her blog is smart, pretty, modern, and inspiring...I love her photography.
Anyway, she was giving away a jar of her favorite Wyoming honey (how cool is that?),
and I won!
I feel like the dad on A Christmas Story.
Only I'd take this over a lousy old leg lamp any day.

Our honey had its maiden voyage in a dee-lee-cious smoothie at snacktime.
{frozen} blueberries, raspberries, banana + vanilla yogurt + oj + honey.
Maren and Lizzy are wondering why on earth Mommy is making them eat their smoothies outside on a 40-degree day.
{snow is in the forecast for the next 2 days. we scooted back inside after about 4 seconds.}

the pin-did link party didn't happen yesterday. what, you didn't cry yourself to sleep?? look ashamed.
we'll play catch-up next week.


things we've been into

Books. Always books.
Devoured Forge. Learned loads from Color (thank you, AMH). Now savoring Mary Oliver. 

Trepak. This one in particular.
You should see Lizzy trying to duplicate their moves.
{and geez, holy core strength!}

Hunkering down for the winter.
Trying to soak up our wood stove as much as we can before we move.

The autoharp. 


sisters in service: talents of sisters

Welcome to Sisters in Service, a series designed to lift, inspire, and motivate us to celebrate the (many!) different ways we can serve our brothers and sisters while we're here on this earth. Each post spotlights a project or idea that's lifting others, serving the Lord, and changing the world for good!

Today I'm so excited to introduce you to Courtney and Lauren, a pair of beautiful & dynamic sisters and stay-at-home moms, who have started Talents of Sisters, a nonprofit organization designed to make real differences in the lives of women.
Take it away, friends!

In a sentence, what's your project?
We sell donated handmade goods to raise funds which we in turn donate to small charities or other efforts that directly empower, educate and heal women worldwide, and where we can see the actual impact our donation.

Why is this project important to you?
It all started when we read the book Half the Sky. We wanted a way to feel like we were doing something to help counteract the horrible injustices in the world that are done to girls on a daily basis. Being stay-at-home mothers, our circle of influence felt pretty small. We didn't have a lot of means to contribute to causes we supported, and we didn't have the time to really get out there and do anything, so we looked around at what we could do -- make, collect, and sell handmade crafts. 

Have you had any special experiences along the way you'd care to share?
The most special thing so far has just been the positive response.  Everyone we talk to is so open to helping in whatever way they can. Through donations we've received, we've paid for a latrine for girls to use at a school in Africa, a bicycle to help a girl get to school, home birthing kits to help women have safer and cleaner birth experiences, and we've sponsored a woman from Sudan through Women for Women International. 

{earrings and necklace benefitting TOS}

What's your long-term vision for this project?
We would love to have a thriving marketplace with items being donating to us and sold on a regular basis so we can fund some big projects. We'd love to be able to help rescue a girl from sexual slavery, fund fistula operations, pay for a woman to be properly trained as a midwife, and help build better facilities for girls to go to school in.  

How can I get involved?
That's the easy part!  You can donate handmade goods to us in several ways (details on our site).  You can visit our Etsy shop and take a look at what we've got for sale (we've got some stuff that would make great gifts!).  And you can help get the word out about what we're doing. We are always looking for people that want to help in any way!

Isn't that awesome?
I hope you've felt inspired and empowered today.
We can't change the whole world, but we can change the world for one person! 
Ready to donate some handmade items? Or to buy some?
{psst, there's a pretty MM zip pouch up for grabs!}
You can find Talents of Sisters on their web site, on Facebook, and on Etsy.
Thanks for visiting with us, Lauren & Courtney!


do. good stitches october: around the world

{First of all, thank. you. for both sweet and thoughtful comments + emails yesterday.
I think a lot more of us are in the same boat than we realize.}

This month's block for do. good stitches kinda kicked my butt.
We've talked before about how I'm a wonky kinda gal; I am seriously exact-seam-impaired.
Hence, it took me THREE TRIES (three!) before I finally got it right.
I'm sort of glad, though, because I like the final version a lot better.
{the 2nd version didn't make it to the block phase before I made a major cutting boo-boo,
so no picture there. you know what they say about 
measuring twice, cutting once, right? riiiight.}

Unrelated, but I made Lasagna Soup for dinner tonight. 
The girls were wishy-washy about it, but I am in love,
especially with the canned(!) fire-roasted tomatoes. 
Helloooo, how did I not know about these before??

Wishing you a happy weekend. 
Our plans are scant; I might just close up shop and hunker down with the chickies on the couch.
It's feeling like that kind of a weekend.


slowing down, coming around

Can I spill something to you?
Being a mama is hard. For me. 
I have so many beautiful friends for whom mothering seems to come so easily--
and while they aren't perfect people (or perfect moms),
mothering is their main dish.
Their be-all.
Their unquestioned purpose.
I want to be that way.
And I struggle and feel insecure because, so far, I'm so often not.

Coming to terms with this--
trying to figure out where the balance lies;
searching, endlessly searching, for who He wants me to be;
the mama He wants me to be;
looking inside myself to see if I have the strength to submit my will to His
so that He can refine me & make something better out of me than I ever could--
It's a work in progress.

I was feeling pretty low about all of this, but then the other night I had a beautiful "tender mercy" moment. 
May I share it with you?
It was the middle of the night. Both girls had terrible colds.
I woke from a deep sleep and 5 things happened all at once:
one - Maren was crying and needed to be calmed before Lizzy woke up and started freaking out,
two - the vaporizer needed to be refilled,
three - Lizzy did wake up and needed to go potty, and also needed help getting her jammies back on,
four - both kids needed another dose of medicine, and
five - a mouse ran across the kitchen floor.
I took care of all of it with patience, efficiency, and love {except for the mouse}. Kid calmed, vaporizer refilled, potty visited, jammies on, meds administered, kids asleep, glue board set out {mouse caught and dispatched the next morning, but that is another story}. And once I got back to bed myself, I felt the calm assurance -- 

see? you are okay at this.

We (okay, I) have a lot of "will-you-forgive-me" moments. Like, all the time.
But there are also moments of astonishing hope and clarity.
Lizzy running straight into my arms first thing every morning.
Coloring together on the living room floor.
Endless Curious George stories on the couch.
Working together to get the chores done.
They all share this: 
Slowness. Taking time. Willingness to postpone other plans.
And it is always so worth it.

"And be ye kind one to another,
tenderhearted, forgiving one another,
even as God for Christ's sake
hath forgiven you."
Ephesians 4:32

Always so worth it.


the pin-did challenge: week 3

You guys have the coolest projects going on! 
My crafty mojo has been kinda off lately, but seeing all your lovely pin-dids sure gets a body moving.
Or thinking about moving.
Did you see Rachael's crazy-darling capes??

Oh gosh, the collar.
I have been loving the Peter Pan collar stuff that's been flying around the blogosphere lately.
Does anyone know of any women's patterns (or other kid patterns) with Peter Pan collars?
Go to Rachael's blog for more pics of the finished capes -- they are so cute!


pie time.

{but then again, when is it not pie time?}

Confession: I made this apple pie.
And, minus the 2 slices I gave to the neighbors
the 1 slice my daughters ate,
and the 1 slice that's still in the fridge 'cause I can't believe my own next statement:
I ate that pie up.
That's half of a pie, people.
I'm trying not to think about how terrible that is for my arteries.
But oh, boy. 
It was good.

Happy new week, all!
{insert apple-pie-juicey kisses here}

oh yes i did.

GI Jane Day, peeps.
10 hours where we experienced (some) of what our husbands do every day.
PT. Road march. Water survival. MREs. Kevlar. Obstacle course. Forever-long truck rides. Guns. Ammo. 
My proudest moments: completing the Weaver AND
winning the obstacle course race with Ingrid and Danielle.
Yeah baby.
Awesome day...but boy am I whooped.


yes to yellow

I always admire furniture makeovers on other blogs, but rarely work up the chutzpah to do any of my own. But then last weekend, I found this little pretty at a garage sale and immediately thought -- yellow!
Because I have to tell you the truth -- my decorating skills -- they stink. 
And whenever I get an idea as revolutionary as a yellow chair, well, just you watch out.
 I put on a couple of coats (BHG Dandy Lion, eggshell finish) and was just going to leave it at that, but then I remembered this spraypaint + lace tutorial from A Beautiful Mess a few weeks back. I love the extra little sass it gives the seat. If you try it, make sure your lace is ironed flat and taped to the furniture as snugly as possible. See those blurry spots in the pattern? That's where the lace wasn't snuggly enough with the chair.
Oh well! I love it anyway.
Any other fantastic furniture makeover ideas out there we need to hear about?
{ps. I changed my header again. I want to eat it.}
{pps. today I am doing GI Jane day where all us wives pretend we're infantrymen. hmm.}


october, upstate new york

O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,

Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes’ sake along the wall.
- Robert Frost, "October"

{Just what I was thinkin' Bob. Just what I was thinkin'.}


the pin-did challenge: week 2

Lands sakes alive, people! 
Loving the pin-dids. loooooov-ing.
If you didn't already check out the links from last week, you should.
Here are two tasty treats from last week...

check out this Root beer chocolate bundt cake from Ara Jane at You Know What I Love?
and this devilishly darling

Fun, huh?
Your turn! 
Link up to your blog post 
{please link to the actual post} 
or comment below 
 and show us what you've been pin-doing this week.

Visit the other links, spread some love,
keep pinning, keep making, 
and remember to come back next week! 


buttermilk biscuits + half broke horses

1. I love biscuits.
2. I loved this book.

Those two points have absolutely nothing to do with each other, except that the book gets a body thinking about simplicity on a number of occasions -- what do we really need? How much do we really need? Does all this stuff have anything to do with what we really need? And this book made me remember -- the simpler, the better.

Biscuits are simple food. Flour. Salt. Leavener. Fat (mmm). Dairy. Heat. wha-bam.

The book, a "true-life novel," is narrated by a ranching mama, who is also the author's late grandmother. I loved this passage about simple food:
"I kept the cooking basic as well. I didn't make dishes the way fancy eastern housewives did -- souffles and sauces and garnished this and stuffed that. I made food. Beans were my specialty...My recipe was fairly simple: Boil beans, salt to taste...When we weren't having beans, we had steak. My recipe for steak was also fairly simple: Fry on both sides, salt to taste. With the steak came potatoes: Boil unpeeled, salt to taste...I liked to say that what my cooking lacked for in variety, it made up for in consistency. 'No surprises,' I'd tell the cowboys, 'but no disappointments, either.'"

I don't have a loyalty to any particular biscuit recipe. Cook's Illustrated can get their panties in a bunch about getting the perfect biscuit all they want, but it's pretty hard to bungle a biscuit recipe. The only thing I refuse to do is cut my biscuits into rounds. Totally inefficient (sheesh). We ain't got no purty biscuits 'round these parts.

But just in case you ever forget, here's a pistol-swingin' little reminder for wherever you hang your skillet. 
Because biscuits really do make everything better.


design inspiration: michelle armas

I loved my old blog design, but felt like it was time for a change.
{said in wall-e voice} ta-daa!

Designing my own blog has been a goal for a long time, and I am really happy with how it turned out! Simple, clean, and colorful. The color inspiration came from Michelle Armas' delicious painting, Rosalia, which it appears is no longer available.
{Am I wrong? Somebody please tell me I'm wrong!}

I used the Gimp color picker tool to pick a large spectrum of colors from the painting, then used those colors for the text in the new header. This palette makes me drool a little...as much as I like my new blog design, I don't think I'm done with these colors yet!

Color picking in Gimp is easy-peasy and is a great way to translate color ideas into actual designs. It also means you don't have to blindly try to select the perfect colors for your project. You could use this method for Christmas cards, scrapbooking pages, blog/Etsy designs... the list goes on. 

Any color schemes you've been drooling over lately? My paint chip sample collection is accumulating + I'm always on the lookout for new ones...


the pin-did challenge: week 1

It's time for the very first Pin-Did link party! whoopity whoop!
I'm giddy, so giddy. I can't wait to see what you've got to share.
To kick things off, I'm sharing my own happy little pin-did: fabric-lined envelopes!

I used fabrics from Aviary 2 and Loulouthi. The nice thing is that each envelope only takes a tiny bit of fabric, so you don't have to use up a huge cut of your favorite print. It was super easy and I can't wait to make some cards to go with them.

Your turn! 
Link up to your blog post 
{please link to the actual post} 
or comment below 
 and show us 
what you've been pin-doing this week. 
Visit the other links, spread some love,
keep pinning, keep making, and 
come back next week to see a featured project {or two!}.