Global Discovery Vacations

    Returning from vacation can be stressful. Re-entry into the regular routine slow for me. I keep dreaming of the beautiful beach we saw in Gulf Shores, Alabama. It was our first trip there, it definitely won’t be our last. We stayed at the Plantation Resort, part of Global Discovery Vacations. I call it a travel club. The way it works is you pay a one time fee up front to join, then a small yearly fee. We get two weeks a year at any resort they are affiliated with, anywhere in the world for $189.00 per week for a one bedroom suite with kitchen, living room, laundry, etc. You can upgrade to a 2 or 3 bedroom if you choose, but different rates do apply. It has been well worth it to us. We have taken several vacations in the last two years and they have been great. The facilities are clean, quiet, attractive and very serviceable. I keep forgetting to take pictures of the inside of them, my mind is always on the view. I actually felt sorry for the folks back home in the subzero temperatures. It wasn’t that warm while we were in the Gulf area, but even a cold day at the beach is warmer than a subzero day back home. Eye candy for the soul. The resort had several pools both indoors and out. We pretty much had the entire place to ourselves. There were a few other midwesterner’s around during the off season, but not many. The off season is Jan-Feb. Peak…
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Crater of Diamonds State Park

    We are back from our early spring vacation. It’s always hard to get back into the swing of things after a restful time away. I find it takes me at least two or three days for each week we are away, to be able to re-focus and figure out what direction we need to take for to go forward. I need time to catch up on mail, laundry, shopping, and the ever growing email accounts and social media obligations. Time away is necessary, I find, to re-evaluate where you are and which direction you should be going next. I have never failed to come home with a new vision and a clear perspective. There were many years where we didn’t take any vacations as a family, but as our children begin to leave home, we have decided to make family trips a priority. We now make an effort to take at least two trips a year together. The last couple of years, we have concentrated on exploring the beach areas, as I am addicted to warm sands and southern sunshine. This trip was no different, but I will tell you about the beach in my next post. We began our journey by driving south and making a small detour through Arkansas to the Crater of Diamonds State Park. We have never been there before, but it was well worth the trip. Arkansas is a beautiful state. We first read about this park as part of our home schooling journey, in a monthly children’s publication called Which Way USA. It is…
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Confetti Soap

        I recently taught a soap making class. It was so much fun! A group of local home school Mom’s and a few of their kids got together for a time of fellowship and learning. I am not really sure who learned more, me or them. That’s the funny thing about being a speaker, you go in expecting to teach, but come out having been a student. Even if it’s something you have been doing for years, like making your own soap. I would do it again in a heart beat. We spent the entire night discussing soap bases, herbs and essential oils. We debated about different chemicals in the bases, what’s good, what’s not. We even googled a few technical terms for clarification. It was a blast. We experimented with new molds, tested new soap bases, mixed beautiful new colors and tried out new experimental techniques. The results were beautiful. They smelled even better than they looked. My favorite soap of the night was this Confetti Soap. It’s not at all complicated. The basic soap has a combination of 3 Butters, Mango, Shea and Cocoa butter. It’s the first time I have used this product, and I love the way it moisturizes my dry winter skin. The beautiful color comes from adding chopped up bits of Glycerin Soap that I made previously. We simply chopped the soaps into little pieces and added them to the white liquid soap base when it was poured into the mold. How easy is that? I had been working on this…
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DIY Candy Cane Soap

  We have been hard at work on making Christmas gifts. One of the joys of homeschooling for us over the years has been to learn basic homemaking skills, along with a few skills that are just fun projects. Making soap is just plain fun. It’s an easy project for younger children, and the next thing you know they are 16 years old and begging to help you make soap for gifts. We love Candy Canes at our house and decided to combine the two for our very own DIY Candy Cane Soap. If you didn’t know, sugar has long been known to be an excellent ingredient for smoothing and exfoliating the skin. You can buy sugar scrubs, make your own, or have one professionally done at your local spa. Since we had a bundle of candy canes around the house, they became our inspiration for this holiday soap. We made a couple of different batches, experimenting as we went. I had a bunch of left over glycerin bars from another project, I think it was a 1 lb. bag that we melted on the stove top in an old pan. The first batch was poured into small bars (you can buy molds at the craft store) where we added crushed candy canes to the melted glycerin (center bars). The bars hardened quickly and looked so pretty with the crushed candy in them. So far, so good. Then, we got braver and made a bigger batch, using crushed candy canes in the bottom of a large bread pan, then adding the…
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Photo Challenge: Day 18

    Something You Always Wanted Welcome back to the 30 Day Photo Challenge! It’s been a refreshing break for me to just take photos and have time to pack boxes to prepare for our upcoming move. As a blogger I tend to put a ton of pressure on myself to get posts out daily, this challenge has really been relaxing for me. Some days I get a good shot, some days I don’t. On the days that I don’t get a good shot, I don’t post anything. It’s as simple as that. I have found that I really look forward to each assignment, and I am learning much about my new equipment. Today’s assignment: Something You Always Wanted. I have a very short list of “wants” in life. I am pretty much content with everything I have and everything I don’t have. You can have your mansions and million dollar homes. They are not for me. You can have your designer wardrobes. Been there, done that. Don’t need to do it again. You can have your fancy cars and yachts. I wouldn’t even know what to do with one if I had one. But, I do want a kayak. A red kayak to be specific. I just love how the red boats look with the blue water and the white fluffy clouds in the sky. It’s completely a visual experience for me. We learned to canoe when we were kids. We would go out each day on the river where we lived and enjoy the beautiful scenery. The turtles…
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Photo Challenge: Day 17 Technology

  Technology This is day 17 of the Photo Challenge. I have a confession to make, I took this picture 5 years ago. That’s where the Technology part comes in. You see, I took this picture with my first smart phone, the Droid while we were on vacation in New England. I uploaded it to Facebook and completely forgot about it. My old computer that I used at the time to store my photos is long dead, but low and behold FB saved my photo for me. I am eternally grateful. This has to be one of my all time favorite photos. Our two boys were playing in the sand at the beach that day, when they discovered hundreds of little hermit crabs. They thought they were rocks at first, but then the sprouted legs and began to move around. It was the perfect setting for an afternoon of hermit crab races. We had a ball watching them run about. I had a ball taking pictures. I was hooked on digital photography even then. I love that I was able to beef up the colors and make this photo look brand new with my photo editing program. I can’t imagine life before computers. How did we ever do ANYTHING????

Invitation to Silence

  I have been silent lately. Not just here on the blog but everywhere. I am attempting to get back into the swing of things after vacation. I have discovered, that it is more difficult than it seems, for a number of reasons. One reason, is that I read the MOST AMAZING book on vacation. When was the last time you read an AMAZING BOOK? I happened to see this book on a list of recommended books by another blogger. I checked it out from the library with very low expectations. Nothing personal, it just seems like I haven’t come across a really good book in a long time. This is Invitation to Solitude and Silence by Ruth Haley Barton. It was the only book I brought along on our vacation. It was the only one I needed to bring, although I thought for sure I would be done with it in a day and would need another book. This book is about silence, and how we need to be silent to listen to what God is trying to tell us.  Sounds simple, right? It’s not. Before our vacation, I thought that I regularly spent time in solitude. You know, sipping coffee in the morning, between answering emails and making breakfast for the family. Except, that’s not really solitude. That’s not really spending time, listening to what God is trying to tell you. I thought this would be an easy subject for me, really I did. After spending several days reading through this book, it and taking notes, I have decided…
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Art Supply Carrier

  I have a little problem with art supplies. I collect tons and tons of them. My problem is that I am not good at organizing them. This may not be a surprise to you. If you have been reading my blog for a while, you will know that I am not much of an organizer. It’s just not in my genetic makeup. In the far corner of our living room, behind the sofa, the coat rack and the fish tank, lies a pretty useless half wall. Why there is a half wall I do not know, but when we moved into this rental, I decided to claim the big gaping hole in the top of the wall for my art supplies. I filled it with mason jars full of brushes, markers, colored pencils, paints and various other items. I am now faced with the fact that we will be moving from this location this summer, and I will no longer have my previous storage. This is a full blown crisis to me. I found this great tool carrier at the thrift store for $2.00. It is rather rustic, and not very well made. That’s okay, it reminds me of the little projects my kids used to build out of wood at the Home Depot workshops. I love things that are simple and rustic. I used two different size stencils that I had to create the graphic label on the side of the box. Rather than painting the letters, I used a Sharpie Marker. I am far too impatient to…
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Renaissance Corset Tutorial

   Here’s a tutorial for the renaissance corset that I made as part of my renaissance costume! I really loved sewing this outfit and seeing it come together in the end.  I am featuring Simplicity Pattern # 3809. The first two pieces in this outfit went together rather quickly. The Corset is another matter. There are lots of pieces with this one and I found the pattern directions very unclear. The key to success in this piece is the muslin. Muslin is inexpensive. Designers always make a muslin of a garment first, fit it, then use the muslin to make the finished pattern and ultimately the finished garment. This corset pattern is very fitted (it’s supposed to hold your girls in place without any additional help!) and can be tricky when trying to alter it. According to my measurements, I needed to add 3″ to the pattern. I spent an entire afternoon cutting and altering the pattern only to make up the muslin and realize it was too big. I suggest that you purchase the pattern closest to your measurements, cut out the muslin, baste it together and fit it before doing any other altering. You may be surprised, I sure was. The other thing is that the seam allowance on this pattern is 1″ instead of the standard 5/8″. It is only marked in one spot that I could find on the pattern. Can you say CONFUSING????? DON’T YOU THINK THEY SHOULD HAVE PLASTERED THIS JUICY LITTLE BIT OF INFORMATION EVERYWHERE??? I chose to ignore the 1″ seam allowance and used the…
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Renaissance Chemise

Here’s a tutorial on how I made my chemise for the renaissance costume I am sewing.  I had a lot of fun working on this project!  Featuring Simplicity Pattern # 3809 This is part two of a four part post on how to make an entire Renaissance Costume. For info on what pattern I am using and a few costume tips, check out yesterday’s post. The skirt and corset are yet to come, so be sure and stop back cause you won’t want to miss them! At this point you should have your chemise cut out. Let me tell you that this is not a real fitted pattern which makes it rather easy to work with. On the down side, the sleeve is just GARGANTUAN! I ended up tapering my sleeve at the wrist because it was way too large for me. I will explain more on this later in this tutorial. The pattern has only three pieces, front, back and sleeves. I will show you how to make this garment in less than two hours with a few minor adjustments to how it is sewn. I do not use the pattern instructions. Why does this matter? Well, it’s like driving a stick shift car. If you learn to drive on a stick shift with a clutch, you think that’s how all cars are made. Until, one day, someone comes along and says “Why don’t you drive an automatic? It’s so much easier?” Then you drive the automatic without the stick shift and you wonder why no one ever told you…
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