Mamabluebird

Spring Garden

porch pretties

It’s warming up a little more everyday and the flowers are blooming everywhere. I’ve been wanting to hang up some pots on the porch and maybe have a small herb garden out there as well.

Chicken scratchOn the side of the house is an area Jason’s dad prepared for a garden. This was the tale end of winter. I had already started some seeds and we were prepping to plant.

turning over the dirtWe let the chickens roam while we turned the dirt and pulled out the old weeds and flowers.

turning over the dirt

ready to plant Here’s where we ended up at the end of that day. It stayed like that for a few more weeks.

kitty

little helper Once the sprouts were about 3 inches or so we were ready to put them into the ground. I had a little helper that day.

Tomatoes I do not know how to spell “tomatoes” apparently. :) I just used paint sticks to label what and where we planted everything.

Seeds I had such good luck with the first seeds, I wanted to try again with herbs and a few more vegetables.

pods

watered 10 cups of water later…

cherry tomato seeds Tiny seeds!

ready set grow They sit on the side of the grill until they are ready for more sun.

porch pretty We tried so hard to grow things at our old house without much luck. This time around I’m extremely lax about the whole process. If it grows, awesome, if not, then we’ll keep on buying from the produce stand. I feel like gardening is more of an intuitive process and I hope to have better luck growing plants from seeds and in better soil.

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Mamabluebird’s Fresh Salsa 2.0

Fresh Salsa

I posted this salsa recipe a few years ago, but as my palate has evolved, so has this recipe.

Here are the ingredients:

  • 3 Large Tomatoes
  • 1 Cubanelle Pepper
  • 1 JalapeƱo pepper
  • 1/2 Green and Red Bell Pepper
  • 1/2 cup Sweet Onion or Red Onion
  • 1 Garlic Clove
  • 2 Tbs Fresh Parsley
  • 2 Tbs Fresh Cilantro
  • 1 Lime
  • 1/2 Lemon
  • 1 tsp S & P
  • pinch of sugar
  1. Dice up the first eight ingredients and throw them in a bowl
  2. Squeeze the lime over the ingredients and add the S&P and sugar
  3. Squash a bit with a potato masher and stir

My hubby loves this recipe. My favorite thing to do with it lately (besides chips and salsa) is to make Mexican Chicken with it. I modified the recipe to use in the crockpot, but you can still bake it in the oven if you’d rather or like me, you forgot to start the crockpot that morning.

Since there are six of us, I add 5-6 chicken breasts to the crockpot and then cover them with salsa and cook on high for 4-6 hours or low 8-10. I’ve more recently started adding chunks of fresh pineapple to the crockpot (as much or as little as you’d like) which tastes even better if you like hot pineapple. My hubby also likes to put salsa in his wraps for lunch or over an omelet in the mornings. The best thing about salsa is it evolves as your tastes do, so try adding a different pepper or fresh veggie and see how you like it!

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Mala Making

I love my mala and want to explore making them in different ways so, I recently made two more, both with Embroidery thread, Old Palm beads and Carnelian stones. In the video I used for my first mala she explains how to tie knots in between beads, so I made one mala simply stringing the beads and one with knots. They both turned out beautifully.

Carnelian malaI ended up making two malas with the intention of giving one as a gift. The first one I strung the 8mm beads as I had with my second go at mala making with no knots in between. I did however put a spacer in between the guru bead and the tassel this time, not because it’s cute, but because it actually has a function. The spacer keeps the thread from rubbing against the rough underside of the bead. If it rubs long enough it will cut your thread and break your mala. Lesson learned the hard way!

Carnelian mala

Carnelian mala

Carnelian malaTI made the second mala with only 55 beads (half of 108 + guru) I used 10mm beads and twice as much embroidery thread for the large holes and 108 beads would have made a massive necklace.

Carnelian mala

Carnelian mala Carnelian stones are used for motivation and to help to clarify goals, aiding in courage and confidence.

Carnelian mala

Carnelian malaI really enjoyed making these two malas. I especially enjoyed the meditative process of tying the knots between the beads.

I asked my son to wear the beads for me, he’s 11. :o)

Carnelian mala

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Creating a Gallery Wall

Colorful framesAfter we painted the living room, I opened the boxes full of picture frames and decor stuff and didn’t like anything. I did not want to put any of it up. That was all “old stuff” and I wanted “new stuff”. I persisted anyway with finding a place for what I had now and I’m glad I did. I started with three colorful frames from a previous gallery and put them up in the stairway leading from the basement to the living area. It’s just three frames, but I immediately fell in love with them again and it gave me an idea of how frames would hang in a stairway. It’s just not the same as a regular wall. You see it daily at different angles and the space is different.

Bare wallThis stairway leads to our master bedroom. We use it constantly and although guests won’t see the majority of these pictures, we will. :o) I started with a blank wall and a Pinterest board full of what I’d like to have on that wall. I tend towards the eclectic galleries of art, pictures,and random items. I started with what everyone would see, the first frame depicting TheNester’s quote, “It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful” and a small mirror and went from there, alternating sizes and lines until I was satisfied. It mattered more the feel of the collection than exact measurements to me. I quickly found that space was limited. I didn’t have as much room between the railing and the ceiling as I thought, so I needed to adjust as I went.

gallery wall

gallery wall I stopped about halfway when I realized I needed more smaller frames if I want to continue up the wall, I have a few more 11X14s to hang, but I may leave it like this. Either way, I’m happy with the result.

Home is... I framed this #52handlettered quote I wrote from the prompt, “Home is…”. To me it is chaos…utter, beautiful chaos. :o)

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Living Room Love

I just knew I took a before picture of the living room…whoops. You’ll have to use your imagination. :o\ It was the same macaroni and cheese color as the kitchen and pretty barren. We had waited to put anything on the walls because we knew we would paint soon.

Tripod headstand with pike

living room

All I could find are yoga pics from my instagram challenges! The first is at night and the second is during the day in natural light. “I’m down, dog.”

Living RoomThis view is as you come in from the stairs.

It took a long time to paint this room and two gallons of paint. We chose Valspar’s Hopsack after many, many swatches and two different paint squares on the wall. I wanna say that “taupe” is the hardest color to choose or at least up there with white. We are really happy with the color. It is a bit darker than the other, but makes it cozier and I can have crazy curtains without overpowering the room.

Living Room

This is Jason’s favorite chair which is the only reason we still have it. It is extremely old, inherited from his grandmother and falling apart. The kids love to play on it since it is the kind that rocks, reclines with the footstool and everything. My fondest memory is sitting in that chair having contractions with Lorelei. I sat there often with that pregnancy because it was comfy and I could sit there all by myself!

Living Room

This area is to the right of the couch. I’ve not hung anything (but the clock, in a previously placed nail) on this wall yet. I’m not sure this bookcase will stay here. I’m thinking with six people in this house we’re eventually going to have to get a loveseat. The kids won’t be tiny forever.

Living Room From there we can head into the dining room and kitchen or upstairs to the Master Bedroom.

DSC_0115 On this wall I think the plan is to do a built-in eventually.

Living RoomThe view from the kitchen.

Living RoomThese curtains are from Lowe’s. They are the Bernard Floral curtains and I love them! I can draw whatever colors I want from the fabric for the rest of the room. Our next purchase will most likely be a new rug, hopefully something a bit brighter and a new ottoman. It’s always a work in progress, but I’m pretty happy with where we are at right now. It is amazing what a little paint and curtains will do to help a house feel more like a home.

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Creativity and Learning Something New

I have always had a hard time understanding when someone mentions that they are not creative or not crafty. Perhaps because I have always been creative and being crafty or learning new things is something I’ve always enjoyed. Whatever you believe religiously, you were created or evolved into being. How could you not believe that you possess creativity? You embody it, as does the entire Earth, you’ve only to use it for it to flourish.

A couple of years ago I wrote a post about cultivating creativity. I believe it still applies and is helpful today. Creativity is a skill. Unless you are born a savant it will take time and practice to learn something new. Scrapbooking, photography, knitting, DIY projects or carpentry, all take time and effort to learn, but can be oh so enjoyable even while doing it badly.

Over the years I’ve noticed three stages to creativity and learning something new. The first stage is where you are copying someone else and the result is not so amazing- a necessary first step. Stage two is where you may still be copying others, but you are improving and perhaps you add your own twist and begin exploring other avenues and trying new things on your own. The third stage is where the magic happens. During the third stage you begin original works. You’ve learned the skills needed, you’ve figured out what you like and don’t like and you’ve come upon an idea that no one or not many people are doing or doing well. When you begin this stage you have confidence and are willing to take risks. You’ve put in the time and effort and are seeing the fruits of your labor.

When I began this blog I was just beginning stage two. I wondered if I would ever create something original or if I would continue to always put twists on someone else’s great idea. There is a place for that; seconding someone else’s great idea is beneficial to many, but I yearned to create something completely my own. I’m starting to see that with my wreaths. I love making them and can take pride that they are completely me.

Handlettering

Playing with watercolors

Handlettering? Stage one. Totally, not great, copying or just plain doing it badly, but guess what? I’m enjoying the process. I hope to do an ecourse soon and continue to do the #52handlettered Instagram challenge. It’s fun to learn something new. I really like watercolors and dabbling with different brushes and pens. I usually end up making little doodles after practicing and playing with how the colors go together. It’s child’s play, but it’s so enjoyable. Best of all it’s simple to set up and clean up and the kids join me sometimes too. What are you learning lately? How are you stretching your creative wings?

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A Mala Update

I am loving the mala I made! Henry loves it too and when he sees it hanging on my holder he likes to yank on it! Yeah… It got a little messed up and the hemp cord wasn’t my favorite, I’m sad to say. I did a little research, aka googling and decided to restring it.

Mala

This time around I ordered some silk string, mostly to see what all the fuss was about. I actually really liked the silk string. It is twisted, smooth and strong. I watched some really bad videos on how to make a mala, but it wasn’t until I stumbled upon this video whose intent is to teach you how to make a tassel, that I got inspired.

Mala

I threaded it so the string would tie at the bottom of the necklace. I tied a knot and then strung it through the large stone and began my tassel. From what I’ve read the tassel represents enlightenment. If you want to really get technical, my green tassel represents compassion and undefined love. Sounds good to me. :)

Me and my mala

*Here is the link to my first attempt at making a mala

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Kitchen Paint

The kitchen before was this lovely shade of macaroni and cheese. It went well with the wood and the previous tenant’s love of all things orange. We also love orange, but blue is better. ;o)
Kitchen Mac n cheese

Kitchen Mac n cheese

Kitchen Mac n cheese

Kitchen Mac n cheese(Notice our paint swatches?)

We chose Martha Stewart’s Tidewater and color matched it to Lowe’s Valspar Paint + Primer. Let me tell you, we only needed one coat with this paint and it was glorious!
Tidewater Kitchen

Tidewater We have a landline because my hubby is on-call every few weeks and the service out here is horrible. I forgot how ugly a cordless phone is and as soon as we figure out what we’re doing on that wall my hope is to make it blend or disappear.

Tidewater Kitchen

Tidewater

Tidewater KitchenWe love it! It makes the house feel like ours and a little more cozy. :o)

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From Scratch

For years I have been making pot roast and meatloaf using a Mccormick packet. Those two recipes seemed a mystery to me and they were both delicious, so why mess with a good (easy) thing? Have you ever looked at the back of the Slow Cookers Savory Pot Roast packet? The first two main ingredients are corn starch and salt. A few ingredients later you start getting to the spices, but there are only a few and the rest are additives. Yuck! I thought I was making comfort food, but what we usually ended up with was an upset stomach.

One night I braved pot roast without a packet and guess what? It turned out delicious! I wanted to share with you the recipes I’ve found that taste great and don’t add anything to your pot but flavor. Stop using packets!

pot roast

The first recipe is Pot Roast. We don’t make this too often, but when chuck roast goes on sale, this is what I usually make. Here are a few choices of what meat to use for pot roast. I always seem to need confirmation that chuck is the one while standing in the meat section. I didn’t follow this recipe exactly, it’s rare that I do, but I wanted to put mine in the crockpot and I didn’t have beef broth.

A couple of things to remember and my modifications:
Generously salt and pepper the meat. This is very important. You’re most likely using a think chunk of meat and it might seem like too much, but you are seasoning an entire meal with that salt and pepper and the crock pot mellows out seasonings.

– I didn’t have beef broth or red wine and subbed chicken broth and it turned out delicious. If chicken broth worked, I bet the other ingredients make it even tastier.

– Don’t cut your carrots and celery too small or they’ll waste away in the crockpot, but no more than two inches or they won’t cook through.

– It’s more work than a packet, but totally worth it and you’ll be able to say, “I made this from scratch”. :)

The second recipe is meatloaf. This packet doesn’t seem as bad, but it still has a lot of extra additives. We don’t make meatloaf very often either, but when I do I buy a pound of ground beef and a pound or less of ground turkey. I like it better than pork which is what I used to use because Publix had it divided and ready to go. (Sigh, Publix) When you think about it, using the meatloaf packet doesn’t really save you much time because you still need the milk, eggs and breadcrumbs.

I used this recipe for the meatloaf seasoning. I omitted ketchup and used:

– two eggs

– 1/2 cup milk

– I chopped two slices of bread in the food processor to make breadcrumbs and used about a cup

For the seasoning I added 1 tbsp of Mrs Dash Table Blend (I feel like that’s kind of cheating, although it is a blend of spices that will just go to waste in my cabinet like celery seed and marjoram, but really adds good flavor to the recipe.) Mix it up! Put it in a pan, I use a 9×9 casserole dish, in loaf form and pour an 8 oz can of tomato sauce on top. Bake for one hour at 350 degrees.

sloppy joes

One more recipe I began making from scratch was sloppy joes. I was never really a fan of sloppy joes sauce from a can until I started making the sauce myself and it is so easy! I use this recipe and use garlic while I cook the meat instead of garlic powder, but that’s the only thing I do differently. It’s just ketchup, mustard and brown sugar! Manwich, for example, has way more than those three ingredients in it and I bet this simple recipe is way tastier.

Once I started using spices instead of packets our tummyaches went away and the kids seem to like the recipes more. We don’t need all of that sugar to mask the additives and the best thing about using your own ingredients is you control that as well. You can use organic chicken broth, ketchup, and milk if you’d like, but even if you aren’t into organics I’m pretty sure you aren’t adding Xantham Gum and Maltodextrin to your recipes. Please let me know if you try these recipes and how you like them! Do you have any recipes you used to use a packet for and switched to spices instead?

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Winter Knitting

I almost always knit something for someone for Christmas. Sometimes more than one someone and rarely for me (what’s up with that?). I made two hats this year, one for my aunt and another for Jason.

Oak Trail Hat

Her hat is the Oak Trail hat from Botanical Knits by Alana Dakos. This hat was quite the adventure. You knit the brim straight and then pick up stitches to knit in the round and finish off the adorable oak leaf. There was a lot of youtubing going on while I figured out some special stitches, but it was worth it and I think my aunt liked it. I used Cascade 220 superwash in Jet, one skein.

All in the Family hat
I’m wearing Jason’s hat. His head is bigger than mine, so I’m a bit lost in it, but it is oh so cozy! The pattern is the All in the Family Earflap Hat found on Ravelry. You can also find it here. It was a fast and easy knit once I learned the Provisional Cast-on. He did not want a pompom on top or the i-cords, so I bound off after purling one last time at the end of the flaps. Jason loves it, so I’m happy. I used Manos Maxima Ultrafine Merino Wool in Tigerlily, one skein. It’s kettle dyed which is my favorite.

I promised the kids I’d knit them one too, we’ll see if that happens before summer. :)

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