Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day

The colors popped out at me in the endless aisle of children's clothes and as I came closer and closer to the dress I knew that the fabric alone was the thing drawing me in. The dress was bright, and bold, with a print that was beautiful. Made by Hanna Anderson, it looked like it would end just below the knees for a girl wearing size 16. The problem was that Jenny wore size 6 and I wasn't even sure if the fabric was worth buying a dress I could never use. But even so, something about it seemed unusual enough for me to give it a chance, so I looked at the price.

I brought it home for under two dollars and as I looked at it, it dawned on me that it might just work as a long dress for Jenny. Excited about the idea I called her in and checked the length, and lucky for me, it looked like it could work. Taking a pair of scissors to it, I snipped off the sleeves and brought the waist in about 4 inches. Then, I folded the edge around the arms and hinged in the skirt. Sewing up the torso seams, this project took about an hour from start to finish.

Dressing up, Hope.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Fathers day

About half a mile down the road from us there is an open landscape of breathtaking fields. Filled with horses galloping and cows grazing it is a common place for our family to visit. We love to take walks there with our children and tend to do it as often as we can.

After getting ready for the day,we headed down our familiar road for the first time as a family of 6. Eugene was a proud dad, excited more then ever about children and about being a father to them.

It had been a hard couple of years but it was nice to see him take part in the most pure of moments. Taking part in our childrens laughter was something we were both appreciating a little bit more these days. To want to play with them instead of being happy when they were playing with each other has been something both of us were being challenged to do.

The nice thing is that great moments don't remember the regrets, they erase them, hope.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Crepe Cravings

Recently, I found myself craving home where back in Canada, there were many weekends where I would wake up to Saturday morning crepes that my mom would be making. Soft, buttery goodness that I enjoyed with sour cream and tea. I have found that it takes a certain kind of crepe to be sour cream worthy. And for years I have tried to master my mother's take on them.

2 cups milk
1/2 tsp Baking powder
3 each eggs
2 cups flour
1 cup boiling water
Salt to taste
3 tbsp sugar
6 tbsp melted butter

In a medium bowl, begin with the milk and in the order above add an ingredient at a time to it. Whisking each one in before adding the next. In the end it you still feel that the mixture is too thin, extra flour can be added. The crepes are cooked on a hot buttered skillet, taken off heat when pouring batter and placed back on to cook.

I like them plain with sour cream or jam, but another way to serve them is with cottage cheese blended with enough sugar to make it sweet. I usually use the food processor for this, just because it helps to make a smooth consistency. And after you spread the cottage cheese on, feel free to sprinkle any combination of dried fruits. Roll it up and warm them on skillet. Lastly, once placed on a plate drizzle with heavy whipping cream. Unwhipped, is the secret to my moms special savory sauce.

Saturdays at home, hope.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Seven Pounds

Mikka arrived into the world at 7 lbs and 6 ounces, eight twenty-two last Saturday morning. Since then it has almost been a week and I have been head over heels in love with her. It seems that although I have questioned weather or not I would have enough love for my child, I have found that as mothers we always do. That giving birth introduces us to a brand new love. One that is as curious as it is excited. Its the kind that brings back the butterflies in our stomachs and flirty small-talk. A world that is made up of soft sheets and powder. A place of nurture and comfort, always on our minds and always waiting for even just a moment to be together and to see each other. Even if its just from the corner of our eye, even if its just for a minute, and even if its to see them smile. Our desire is to show as much love as we feel, as much care as we can give, and as much of laughter as we can share.

Brand-spankin' new, hope

*Photography by Maria with Bumble Alley.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Bathroom Brushup

It was time. My master bathroom needed some attention. And with only a days worth of work, I finally attacked some of the things that I have been meaning to do, just not getting to.

Towels wrapped in fabric and twine
This is great way to display guest towels without any additional expense. Using beautiful fabric and a little ribbon can give any white towel some added personality.

Hooks added for easier access
This can be an easy and inexpensive fix to towels that you use everyday. I found that just by giving them a place made the space look more purposeful.

Amenities placed on charger
Try using some of the things that you hold for special occasions. This mirrored charger wasn't even being used before I pulled it out, and now it pulls our things together.

Jewelry displayed
With out looking too clustered or messy, metals look great on metal. Look for shiny objects that you can display your jewelry on. Be as unconventional as possible.

An empty wall, dressed up
Just hanging up something you love to look at can be the answer you need for an empty wall. Especially a collection of something.

Pictures and Curtains, hung
My collection of dollies was finally put to use, as well as the curtains I had in a box for ages. I have found that most of the time, I have everything I need to freshen a room up. But very little the time to get to it.

Getting to it, hope.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Awaiting Mikka

No matter the name, there is an opinion. There is always something more suited and most often declared better. Mikka's name was no exception. I wanted it to be part Russian, part American and part perfect. It needed to be her, even before we met her. It needed to have meaning but to also evoke the right emotion, suited for the appropriate time.

Coincidentally, I remember both days. It began after the ultra sound, when I finally made the anticipated call to my family and told them that indeed, it was going to be a girl. My younger sister, who seemed most interested in my pregnancy told me that her name choice was nothing more then perfect. Not too certain about the name, I shrugged "Mikaela" off until a couple weeks later when Jenny came home from school.

Mommy, she said. I know our baby's name. It needs to be "Mikaela".

A little shocked, I wondered if she had somehow overheard the last conversation with my sister. But from the look on her face I knew that her excitement could not have been faked, so I told her that it was a nice name and that we would consider it. Of course, she beamed happily at my response.

My dad came to visit us not too long after and bringing with him, his list of opinions. Unsatisfied with his proposals, I somehow stumbled upon a Russian site and with it, a short list of 10. I think it might have been a modern interpretation of some Traditional Russian names and with only a few options, "Mikka" was one of them. But even more then the name, I liked the definition the was worded so plainly beside it. God's Child.

Although the pieces fell together by themselves, it took a little more time for me to connect the dots and two weeks later it finally hit me that both the names could be one. Mikka-yla.

I ran the idea by with "Genius" and he loved it, but not at all for the reasons I thought, or even the reasons I have given. By far, the name won him over because of the first three letters. Meek.

That was that. Hope.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Envelope system

In the book Financial University by Dave Ramsey, the envelope system contributes a lot to his beliefs for always paying in cash. He believes that having an envelope isn't just for storing cash, it is a way to have control of your money in the places that it should be going.

Taking his method and building a little on it, brought the idea for these adorable leather envelopes. I like the modern touch it has on something so simple but yet continually proven to have worked for decades.

Today, I think it goes perfect with my Calenders by Etto Design that hang on the wall beside them. It makes me feel just a little more organized, a little less stressed, and that much less cluttered.

Funny how an envelope can send a message to my brain and with it, bring forth inspiration. But of course I couldn't just share this with myself and at a recent brunch, I made one for each of the girls. Just a reminder that anything you can use, some one can use also, Hope.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Easter Morning

We lounged in bed for a while, the sun streaming up against the walls of our bedroom. The moment seemed too perfect to even try to push us out of bed, so instead we blew wishes into the late morning. I wanted my favorite breakfast. Scrambled eggs and pasta, a simple but yet surprising satisfying dish that reminds me of my home, every time. It was one of the first things I learned to make when I was young.

Using fresh or already prepared pasta, warm it up on a skillet with a generous amount of butter. Add in the eggs, according to the amount of pasta you are making. After that, salt and pepper the dish while the eggs are being scrambled with the pasta. *This dish is pretty simple but you will find that the amount of butter and salt is crucial to either making this dish either a success or not.

After breakfast "Genius" wanted to take advantage of the wonderful weather by working on the yard. But for Jenny and I, it meant we had time to go and hand out some Easter Baskets to family and friends. The baskets were filled eggs and complimented by a hand made item for each child. And although my baskets were ready, I couldn't help but feel like adding a touch of baked goods.

Madeleine's are one of my favorite go-to cookies in last minute ventures. So it seemed like the perfect choice until I quickly realized that the recipe I liked was in a book that was being borrowed. Looking through Epicurus I came upon one that looked interesting enough to try. Unfortunately, I didn't have Lavender honey or the Almond flour that it needed. So with a few minor adjustments, it was a success. But next time, if I have lavender I want to grind it in with the almonds....

Brown Sugar and Honey Madeleine's

9 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1 1/3 cups powdered sugar
6 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/4 cup raw almonds
1 tablespoon honey
Special equipment: Madeleine pan

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter each madeleine mold in pan and dust with flour, tapping out excess. Melt 9 tablespoons unsalted butter in medium skillet over medium heat. Cook until butter turns golden brown, stirring often, 3 to 4 minutes. Set browned butter aside.

Next, using a food processor grind the powdered sugar and raw almonds together until the almonds are fine. About 3 minutes. *If you have some dried or fresh lavender, pulse some in.

Using electric mixer, beat egg whites, sugar, all purpose flour, and ground almonds in medium bowl until mixture is blended and smooth. Place honey in small microwave-safe bowl. Heat just to warm, 5 to 10 seconds. Beat honey into batter. Add browned butter; beat to blend. Spoon 1 tablespoon batter into each prepared madeleine mold.

Bake madeleines until tops are just dry and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 12 minutes. Cool 5 minutes. Gently tap madeleines out of molds. Place on rack to cool slightly.

To prepare additional madeleines, wash pan and cool completely. Butter and flour molds and fill as directed above. Serve madeleines warm.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Dear Journey

So much has happened since the last time we talked, and it's amazing how much you have been on my mind. Each and every day I spent time with you, talking and getting to know you better. With that being said, I am so sorry for the way I handled our past conversation. A statement that seemed so simple to understand but came out in a frustration that was first triggered by anger and followed by sorrow.

I was watching you, along with others backslide into a pit of consuming guilt, tortured by ongoing choices, and then the fear of them. It seemed as natural to them as the weight of them on my shoulders. Pray for me they pleaded, as if a prayer would stop their poor decision making. As if the answer in their problems lied in the heart of my compassion. When actually it sounded more like an attempt to be rescued, because they didn't want to alter their behavior or open their mind. What they wanted was nothing more then Zedekiah wanted in Jeremiah. Release without remorse.

I felt the anger build up in me but this time I didn't persuade it to stop. I had a right. A sinful, human right to be mad. Mad that I stayed up half the night meditating on their personal behalf. Mad, that everything I hoped was not at all what it was. And perhaps it was because my lack of sleep, but as I sat in my pool of tears and tissues I saw myself frustrated with God and angry at myself.

I was anger with myself because I knew that I had judged them based on my own journey instead of remembering the paths of human weakness. The stubborn inclinations of our sinful hearts that don't give up until we give in. The constant need to wander and not restrain our feet. The stride we become a part of, that continually moves us backwards instead of forward. And even though it brings us only harm, it also has a way of making sense.

History has shown that we do not listen or pay attention. We follow our stubborn inclinations because for some messed up reason we trust them more. We do things that God doesn't command or mention, things that don't even enter his mind. (Jeremiah 19:5) and ignore his written promises to us. Promises that tell us that he can cure us of our backsliding, save us from the hands of the wicked, and redeem us from the grasp of the cruel. Until we are so over our heads that we need all of them.

So, you were right and I was wrong. I wasn't understanding you, because I had forgotten my own journey and the messed up places that used to be in. Thank you for helping me remember, not only my walk with him but also his promise. "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." And now, more then anything I want to believe in it for you, until you believe in it for yourself.

In Blessed life, week 9, I remembered the weaknesses in my journey to reach him, and the patience that he had with me.

No longer frustrated, hope.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

First photo Shoot

Maria and I sat on the floor of the craft room, sprawled out in between rolls of fabric. We had gotten together to create a vision of spring collections for our little girls. Bumble Alley was an opportunity that I was excited to be part of and we couldn't wait to put our heads together. It was like we knew that each of us could only offer a part to the whole picture, but together, we could make it something that was even bigger then us.

The inspirations came from the gray spring rains along side the pastel colors of Easter. With that said, this was our first photo shoot.

Captivating, hope.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Snow Fall

Blessed life, week 7. Changed our family.

The rolling hills of fresh powder looked serene on the hill before us. The storm had piled over three feet of fresh snow in less then 24 hours and we were there, excited to be the first to make an imprint.

The kids were already digging in, jumping and rolling ahead of us, ready to explore the adventures that the mountain held. It seemed perfect, until the drastic turn of events where within minutes we had a lifeless body in our arms.

All it took was one throw, one hard surface, and one child to bring our trip to a screeching halt. Eugene was at the lower end of the hill, holding Derek. I was up a little higher, screaming for someone to hear me. "We need help. We need help!" was all I could think, but although my frantic cries seems to echo in my mind I was also unheard.

All I could do was cry out to my God, as I watched from the distance. Where from what I saw I will also never forget the state of my son. He was not breathing for the first minute, unresponsive the next, and moaning in the next two. His eyes were back and his body had no movement.

By the time I had a chance to slide to the bottom, I was thankful that he was screaming in pain. Breathing, at least. Feeling pain, at least. Recognizing us, at least. But even though I felt tremendous relief, we also didn't know how severe his injury was or could become.

Back at the lodge, we faced more uncertainty. The first aid staff, had already left for the day. The fire department would take as long as it would for us to drive to an urgent care facility and after much contemplation, we decided to wait a couple of hours to see if things would get better or worse.

In between hearing my son throw up for the next few hours, I went in and out of tears. I couldn't let him go or even see him shut his eyes without falling apart. I was so scared. I was so broken. And I had so many questions as well as regrets. But as the dark of the night fell upon our small room, I knew I also had to let go.

I could hear his deep breaths, inhaling and exhaling. Comforting me and then encouraging me to do the same. But somewhere deep, in a place that I have never been to before, I was aching. I could feel a pain that ran through my whole body with a tension that I couldn't break of out of. So much so that when I tried to breath, it felt more like I was gasping for air, whispering, "heal him" in between breaths.

I kept thinking about each minute of that day. Replaying the event, until I saw nothing else but the presence of God. I saw him strategically put us in a position where we were so close to help but yet not close enough to reach it. Until all we could really do, was reach out to him. It was almost like he stopped the activity of people and made sure that no one would see us, so that we had a better chance of looking for him.

It was like he placed me far enough away so that I would see the severity of the situation without seeing every detail of the moment. Almost like he knew every fear and thought that I would ever have or let live if I was exposed to the scene. So instead, he put my husband in a state of weakness and then challenged him with complete submission.

I began to see him occupying my other two kids. I began to firmly believe that before the black-out he also positioned my son's body in a way where his stomach first hit the small box he had in his pocket. I saw him right there, making a decision to put life back into a broken body. Bringing breath back into his lungs, healing to his stomach, memory to his mind, and peace inside of his heart. Until all we had left was a broken cardboard box filled to the top with innocent, 9- year old treasures.

I lay there long enough to feel like I could finally fall asleep, that nothing could go wrong because it already had a chance to. And that life's uncertainty had already been met by grace and mercy, by a God that loves his children.

With Easter only weeks away, it reminded me that he felt everything I felt as he watched his son from a distance as well. That he was just as hurt and broken as I was and that his gasps for air were nothing compared to mine. I can't even imagine.

How great is our God.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Prophetic promises

We were on to the next venture of our blessed life, with a few things that needed to surface.

We were in a week where God spoke directly to us through the use of people in our church and friends in our life. Throughout the whole week we were given words of encouragement, words of knowledge, and prophetic words of prayer.

We were uplifted in his purpose for our life. A life of promised prosperity. A season of prayers that were about to honored through the break through of our finances, business, and family. And a time of rejoicing and gladness. We saw the fullness that he wanted for our life and every part of us was excited to receive it.

I remember the words a little more clearly now. Don't reject the process.....Don't reject the process.....Don't reject the process. The words seemed to echo around us in the following week.

When prosperity was promised. No money was coming in.
When family unity needed to come together. Rivalry broke out.
When business opportunities were being prepared. His business took a hit.
When encouragement was trying to live. Emotions were being destroyed.
When plans to get away were attempted. Every thing was brought to a stop.

Each day brought an additional hurdle and the following week, despair hit our home even before we had a chance to really smile. Instead, we were a couple broken hearts that were ready to give up.

I guess it should have been an expected emotion because as we reflected on our week we saw how discouraged one would feel if you only hear his loving side instead of his parenting side. His promises to us was not to excite us but empower us. To be warriors for the kingdom, meant that we would need to fight. To kick the enemy off his feet, we would need to stand firm. And although I feel like a fool, I am also sure that God knew what was coming ahead of time.

Am I only a God nearby? And not a God far away? Do I not fill the heaven and Earth? My eyes watch them for their good and I will build them up and not tear them down. Hope.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Levels of love

For week three of our "Blessed Life" I was reminded of what love is.

On Monday I had a visit from a girl I barely knew. But sitting on the couch, I found her to be easy to talk with. Probably because hitting common ground with mothers usually takes only a minute or two. But our kids were similar ages, our husbands were of similar type, and our struggles as mothers were real.

That day I remembered that having things in common brings people together. Not only does it unite us but it also sustains our relationships in the midst of our differences.

Love came back on Tuesday with a text. "Available today at noon" it said. Unlike the other girl, I knew her enough to feel connected with. The basics were already out of the way and when she came over we went a little deeper then where we have ever gone before. Speaking out about God and our relationship with him.

That day I remembered that love is spiritual. It is more than a feeling or a drive, it is a constant connection that had been joined by the very hand of God.

On Wednesday, I went out with a long time friend. We had watched each other grow in every area of our lives. I knew her. I knew that for her to feel special she didn't need a crowd. That she enjoyed change more if I held her hand and that she was in a season of discovering her own sense of style. I knew her enough that she didn't need to tell me what she would want for her birthday. I knew her enough to feel it.

That day I remembered that Love sees and knows every detail of our lives. It is the one who listens to the heart beat of our soul and knows even the smallest desire.

Thursday I went to Women Mentoring Women. As soon as I walked in, I felt welcomed. It was as if each person there saw me for all I could be, instead of every thing I wasn't. It was as if every walk of life, every season, and every road merged together to make it acceptable to be on. No one was out of place, because we were in a place of love. We were in God's house.

That day I remembered that Love encourages us to be who we are, where we are at, and where we are going. To see how our differences have the ability to create an interest and then produce a strength of empowerment to boost us forward.

On Friday, we had our friends over. They were a couple we had a lot of history with so it was exciting to have them come by. They were a laid back type so we sat by the fire and lounged on the couch, it felt as familiar as it would have with family. It was as if we were able to take off from the moment we left off from, without even missing a beat. Laughing and talking as if we had just been together yesterday.

That day I remembered that love is comfortable. It is familiar and easy to be with it.

On Saturday, we hung out with friends. They were a couple that had similar interests with both of us, so we cruised around downtown. Going out for lunch, grabbing a cup of coffee, even fitting in a little bit of shopping. Of course the men pretended to complain the whole time, keeping up to their image....I guess. But none-the-less, they helped us in our adventures to find a couple of amazing things.

That day I remembered that love explores. It enjoys discovering new things and having new adventures. When even the simple things are some how made exciting.

On Sunday, it was just us and our family. We enjoyed breakfast together. Watched T.V for a bit. And took a nap. Nothing was special. Nothing was different. It was just us. But yet all the same did it remind me that most importantly Love is, the everyday.

God is Love, Hope.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Bumble Ally

When I met Maria I was struck by her genuine love for children and it didn't take long to see that her designs were inspirations that came from the very the core of her heart. It seemed that every part of her creativity echoed in her designs for Bumble Ally. As if the very work of her hands was the work of Jesus flowing out her and into the work of her needle. I couldn't be more blessed to not only know her but to share her experience of God in a different way. A way where the care of a child could stir up a delicate rose. Beautiful. Colorful. Purposeful. Would be one way to describe my friend. Thank you Maria, for making Bumble Ally more then a label but a place where things are just as gentle, simple, and pure, as you are. A place that embraces the season of children instead of overwhelms, bringing a sense of joy and lightness to each step.

I am excited that you have invited me to be a part of your vision. That you want to feature my new designs in your next line. That you believe in me and my ideas. Know that, each piece that I created, you inspired and I can't wait to see how you will bring to life a place where modern boys pair up with vintage girls. Children that live in the 21st century but embrace the past generation enough to respect both.

Vintage for her

Head band


Modern for Him




Looking forward, hope.