Mamabluebird

Happy Birthday Banner

We had a combo Father’s Day/Birthday party for my hubby and FIL a few weekends ago. I saw two items in Joann’s while in Asheville and decided to make a cute little banner.

Happy Birthday Banner

Knots

between knots

Materials:
Baker’s Twine, less than a yard
Chalkboard Paper tags, half a package

I separated the tags out for the phrase I wanted and decided to have two separate strings. I counted the letters and began to knot the twine. I spaced the letters out less than two inches apart and made two knots per letter for them to rest inbetween. I then used tape to hold it on the wall, but you can use whatever you prefer. It doesn’t have to be perfectly measured, it’s meant to have charm and look handmade. :o)

The whole thing cost me less than five dollars and I was able to make a second banner that said “Happy Dad’s Day” not enough tags left for “Father’s”. Ha! I have a TON of twine left over for other projects too. What’s great about this is you can say anything you want and use whatever colors you desire. “Happy Vasectomy!” “Congrats on Your Pet Adoption” “Happy 29th Birthday, Again” Anything you want. :o)

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Clipping Chicken Wings

Fatty keeps flying over the fence. We let the chickens out some evenings and on the weekends to “free range”, but most of the time they are kept in their area. It’s quite large (it used to be for dogs) and they get scraps most days, but I’m afraid Fatty will get to my garden, as she has been caught in that area a few times, so we decided to clip her wings.

I cut Lorelei’s finger when she was a tiny baby clipping her nails, so cutting a chicken’s feathers did not appeal to me. It was a two person process and we took turns assuring each other and the chicken that it was going to be okay.

This video was awesome in preparing us to cut their primary flight feathers.

Step 1: Get your chicken
Get your chickenStep 2: Calm your chicken and shove her under your armpit
Calm your chickenStep 3: Spread out her wing gently and try not to think of tasty, tasty chicken wings
Spread its wingsStep 4: Cut the primary wings and don’t have flashbacks to the time you cut your daughter’s teeny tiny finger by accident when she was a week old
Cut its wingsRepeat.

We decided to cut all three chicken’s wings in case the other two got any ideas. It was pretty quick and painless and we could do it again once they molt and regrow them. We feel like real chicken farmers now.

Feather aftermath
All done All done! Happy chicken, happy mama!

*To read about the early days of having chickens, go here

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Gluten Free Recipes

My chiro (he’s more of a naturopath) keeps telling me that gluten is not my friend based on my ailments. The first few times he told me, I ignored him because it’s so trendy now to be gluten free. I was like, “psh, you’ve read the hype, blah blah, whatever”, but then I began to think, why am I going to him if I’m not going to listen? About a month ago I said, “fine”, and decided to try a month gluten free (gf).

ZucchiniPizzaBites

Going gf was actually really easy. It’s mainstream now, so I can grab a box of regular spaghetti and a box of gf spaghetti (it’s not bad!). I also found that I don’t actually like bread or pasta all that much and that I only ate it because I thought I should and to fill me up. Going dairy free, however, would be another battle entirely! Taking bread off the menu forces me to eat more veggies and get creative; two of my favorite things. Instead of a sandwich for lunch, I’ll do zucchini pizzas, tuna with lentil crackers or deli meat and cheese with some fruit. I’m much happier and feel great. I have found that I do need to eat more often and there was an adjustment period because I was used to feeling like I was gonna burst after a meal, but I’ve learned to snack well (eg. raw almonds) and I never have that over full and bloated feeling after a meal anymore. I only feel satiated which is an entirely different feeling. After a few weeks gf, I went out to eat and didn’t want a salad, so chose my usual hamburger and fries meal. That afternoon I felt awful. I was irritated and tired and didn’t want to do anything but sit on the couch. It turns out my body is much happier when I don’t eat gluten, as am I! My joints used to ache all the time. My body was tired and I would nap for no reason almost every afternoon. Like, can’t keep my eyes open anymore fall asleep on the couch, tired. That did it for me. I much prefer having energy to wanting to crawl under a rock and yelling at my kids because I’m irritated with myself. I’ve been more productive in the last month than the last year because I have more consistent energy and my mood stays level.

I’ve just begun learning about eating gluten free. I’ve started reading Wheat Belly. It’s a difficult read in my opinion because it’s mostly about dieting and that’s not my reason for eating gf, but it does have some interesting information in it. Next on my list is Grain Brain (so catchy, these titles). There is a lot of hate about these books and eating gluten free. Most articles I read are against going gf, but can’t explain why a person who isn’t a celiac would feel better not eating gluten or what is . If you have any good recommendations I’d love to hear them!

GF hamburger buns

I’ve hesitated to say out loud that I’m not eating gluten (insert eye roll from my entire family), but I’ve begun trying recipes and want to share the good ones! The first recipe I’ve found that I really enjoy is from Petite Allergy Treats. She has a gf hamburger bun recipe that tastes really yummy. I’m finding that for savory recipes I do not like coconut flour, but amazingly there are so many alternatives to wheat flour.

I’ve tried a pizza crust I didn’t love and rolls I didn’t enjoy either. The kids liked the rolls and you may as well, but they were quite dense. I’ve started a Gluten Free Recipes board on Pinterest and continually add to it, if you wanna follow along. I’ll be posting my faves here soon too.

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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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