Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Great Giveaway!

There is little that makes my day wonderful more than getting mail that isn't bills or junk mail.  It's a fact that we don't use snail mail like we used to, with the advancements made in social networking, email, texting and instant messaging; but, oh how I still love getting the occasional card or hand-written letter!  I used to be much better about sending out cards and recently have slacked off.  I want to get back into the habit of sending 1 card a day, because I know they make someone smile when they arrive. 

I'm proud to introduce the shop where I'll buy a lot of my cards from and the creator is Katy Lunsford.  Her products are personalized, beautiful, fun and cheery. 

Katy is sponsoring this giveaway with a set of 5 beautiful cards from her Flower Power collection that could be yours!!!

Flower Power set of 5 cards

8 Ways To Win

  1. Post a Comment, telling us how often you mail out cards and what you love about getting cards in the mail
  2. Follow I've Bean Hooked and come back to tell me you're a follower
  3. Share this contest on Facebook and come back to tell me that you shared
  4. Tweet the link to this contest on Twitter and come back to tell me that you tweeted
  5. Add Katy Lunsford's Etsy Store to your favorites on Etsy and come back to let me know
  6. Follow me (lizbarnes77) on Twitter and come back to let me know you're one of my favorite birds
  7. Follow Katy (LollyLinens) on Twitter.  You can get to her thru this link and come back to let me know you are one of her favorite birds
  8. "Friend"  Katy Lunsford on Facebook  (a link to her page is provided) and come back to let me know

You can enter as many of the 8 ways as you would like!  Please submit an entry for each that you do.  Winner will be picked by  Contest ends on February 5, 2011 at 12:00 pm. 


A Bit About The Crafter
Katy Lunsford

Can you tell everyone a little about yourself and how you got started crafting? Ever since I can remember I have been crafting, I had to ask my mom for a definitive age and she said at age 4, she came home one day and I was making Barbie furniture. My dad was a General Contractor and I was using wood scraps, nails and hammer! Then it continued in Bible School with ceramics and Brownies and Girl Scouts earning those patches! Now, I am fortunate and very thankful to have my own shop as one of my creative outlets.

I know you as a gifted scrapbooker and admire your phenomenal eye for design, fabrics and unique finds, but what is your favorite craft?
I don't think I can narrow it down to one - - papercrafting, sewing and knitting are my top 3 favorites at the moment.

Where would you like to see your Etsy store and crafting venture lead you in five years? I've always been a live for the moment kinda girl - but I hope it will be thriving and include more products.

Thank you for providing readers with an outstanding giveaways!
Thank you for the opportunity.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Stepping Out Of My Comfort Zone

Tomorrow will be my first day walking/running with Team In Training.  I am a girl who has NEVER done a marathon of any type.  The closest I came to walking any distance was when my dear friend, Kim, and I would walk a circle in downtown Statesville.  I was certain we were hoofin' it for no less than 3 miles.  I can't stand my odometer, it says we were walking about 1 mile.  She and I also signed up for a charity walk; it was March of Dimes or something like that, if I remember correctly.  We walked (another) circle and stopped off for breakfast at 1st Rx Pharmacy.  Breakfast was delicious and the other walkers/runners looked great as they passed by.  Go them!  :)

I have never enjoyed working out, and my body is proof of that!  I joined the YMCA many years back, for the first time, and went with another dear friend, Lynda.  My work out consisted of three or four machines, 15 minutes and fighting to stay awake at such an early hour.  All this, as geriatric patients ran circles around me.  That was my first and final trip to the Y....until years later.  Mike was deployed and, again, I joined the Y so that the girls and I would have another outlet for burning off energy.  It was well worth signing up, or at least for the time I went in and had my ID card made; that was the only trip on that membership. 

So, as you can see, I'm no Jillian Michaels, Jane Fonda or Susan Powter (surely, you remember her....the upbeat, fairly annoying instructor that had a shaved head) fact, I'd bet that Roseanne Barr exercises more frequently than I. 

We are supposed to meet in Huntersville tomorrow morning at 8:00 (AM!!!!---YIKES!!!!!) at a coffee shop.  I know that part of me will just want to drink coffee while watching the rest of the group walk, or run, off and I'd be happy to cheer them on as they kick off their training......that part of me is pretty much all of me!  Thankfully, peer pressure is fabulous motivation, so the fact everyone else is going to be doing the 3 miles will make me want to train more than if I had to go it alone.

I write this post, knowing that there is a possibility I will be writing a follow-up post stating I put in my 3 miles and it was fun while it lasted.  I hope that is not the case....I REALLY hope that's not the case.  I hope I have more stick-to-it'ness than that.

For now, I sit on the couch, doing what I'm most comfortable with; watching TV, crocheting and working on my laptop.  These are all things I'm good at; talents I've invested a lot of time in.  In just a few hours I'll be out of my comfort zone and off my couch, leaving behind my crochet hook, my yarn, my remote control and my Toshiba....but, until then, I'm going to marinate in these little luxuries.

Since I have no photos of me, or anyone else running (yet), I thought I'd post pictures of something I'm already okay at....crocheting.  Here are some of the projects I've completed this week.  My blanket is about 3/4 of the way finished and I had to put it down, as it became monotonous, to work on projects I could complete quickly. 

Happy weekend, all!!!


And....another scarf

 .....And, another......

 .........One More

What I call a Sharf.....a shawl/scarf.  It's nice and thick so you could bundle it up as an extra warm scarf or use it for a shawl

Basket of 4 facial clothes

Friday, January 21, 2011

Pay It Forward Friday

Yesterday my husband, Mike, was showing our daughter, Molly, our wedding pictures.  She was so excited to see them. 

My Husband

      Molly's tea party-- taken just before they looked at wedding photos

I haven't looked at our wedding pictures in such a long, long time and that day seems as though it was a lifetime ago at times, yet it also feels like it was just yesterday at other moments.  In the chaos of life, especially when you are raising children, it's easy to forget how you felt the day you said, "I Do!"  It is easy to lose sight of the person you fell in love with, as over time you no longer truly SEE them very often; even if you look at them every, single day.  For those of you that are married and have been for some years, you know what I'm talking about.  Looking back over our wedding pictures reminded me why I love Mike very, very much...and why we stick it out, even in the bad times (and if anyone ever tells you they don't have rough patches, they're either newlyweds, lying or they've already checked out of their marriage, and they are floating through---feeling no emotion).  I appreciate that periodically, out-of-the-blue, I'm taken back to the emotions and excitement of the day I married my best friend.  These brief glimpses at our past and remembering our hopes for the future are priceless to me.  Something I can only describe as a type of sentimental time travel seems to occur when you can look around you, surrounded by your many blessings, and reflect on a time when you dreamt you would one day obtain all you now hold. 

Me and My Daddy, September 25, 2004

Mike, on our wedding day

On this Friday, my goal is to remind others they are loved.  I am making gift baskets to give those I encounter that look as though they need a smile or a reminder that they are cherished.  Feeling as though you are important and valued is one of the greatest gifts we can give a person; and yet we are the recipient of such joy when we take the time to honor someone else. 



My beautiful Grandma and Mom in the background

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sister, Sister

I have started this blog a million times, it seems.
Deleting the whole thing.
Typing, backspacing, typing, backspacing, typing, clearing the whole field.  Typing again.
Slipping and falling on the ice produced in last week's storm and taking time for my ankle to heal.
Typing again, deleting a paragraph and starting over.

I wanted to make sure I got it right, I wanted to make sure I did my admiration justice.  I wanted to ensure I didn't sugar coat anything, but also didn't "air out too much of our dirty laundry".

I can put it simply by saying that the relationship I have with my sisters is not untypical of many other siblings.  It's been filled with ups and downs; beautiful moments and times I'd rather forget.  We have all said and done things that were less than admirable, yet we've all been heroic in each other's lives when it was most needed. 

I could write about both of my sisters, but today I'm focusing on my sister, Alison.

My beautiful sister and her adorable little boy, Grayson

When we were growing up, being 18 months apart (yes, Mom..we are eighteen months apart, not TEN months apart) proved to be both a blessing and a curse.  We shared everything: a bedroom, clothing, toys, friends, everything.  But, what had the greatest impact was that we shared space....pretty much all of our space.  Alison was much more organized than I and I'm sure it drove her nuts when we were forced to be roommates.

I remember being so protective of my little sister.  One year in elementary school, Alison was at Seabreeze and I was home schooled.  I was so terrified that someone would take her while she was walking to school that I would walk with her to ensure she got there safely, and then run home as fast as I could; looking over my shoulder almost the whole way home, scared to death (we had to pass some pretty scary looking woods on our path).  The saying, "I can say anything about my sister, but you better not say a word" applied to us.  We both said things that were hurtful, as I'm sure all sisters do, but we had each other's back if anyone else uttered an unkind word. 

The beautiful thing about having a sister to grow up with, and grow old with, is that you have a friend who's priceless when you mature to the point that you realize what a blessing is in your life; and finally get past all of the pettiness.

"Aunt Wally" and Molly at the hospital when Reagan was born, Sept. 2006

I could go on and on about the teenage years and the time(s) we (against better judgement, probably) were roommates as adults, but I'd rather focus on the times we've shared that have been wonderful, and look towards the future with great hope and anticipation.

Me and Alison, sometime probably in 2001..not exactly sure of the year, though

We have had the great fortune of having kids who are all around the same age, marrying men who are fantastic husbands (and pretty amazing brother-in-laws) and living (fairly) close to each other, so our families get to spend time together (of course, not as much as I'd like...but, I'm selfish like that).  I watch Alison, as a mother, wife, friend, business woman and sister and stand in awe of her.  She is so talented and juggles life with such grace.  As a child I knew one day I'd say, "I'm so proud of my sister",  but I never knew I'd have so much to be proud of and that my heart would overflow with amazement as I look at face I used to hide from when she'd realize I took her clothes out of her closet without asking.  :)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Scent-sational Cooking

One of my favorite ways to cook is while sipping on a nice glass of wine and having one of my favorite candles lit.

I love cooking and I find such satisfaction in making a dish that taste delicious; warming the soul and tummy.  The way I cook, though, is one that I don't know if I've ever seen anyone else do, I cook by smell.  I have never been a person who uses recipes.  I cook off the top of my head, and with the items I have on hand.  I believe that God gave us the sense of smell, taste, touch, hearing and sight for a reason; and what better reason than to cook?

As long as you know your spices, just by smelling your dishes, you can typically tell if it needs a little salt, garlic, basil, paprika, etc; something sweet or savory.  You can tell, while stirring, if they are too thick, too thin or soupy, or just right (when working with soups a simple way to thicken them is with a rue, but that will be another blog).  Making your dishes beautiful is much more difficult than it sounds, and this isn't necessarily an area I've conquered with great success.  As long as it looks good to you, that's all that matters.  There is a very good chance that our meals will not make it to the table with the same presentation produced at Mesa Grill.  Hearing the sizzle of bacon, the bubbling of soup or searing of a steak all indicate that a fantastic meal is nearly finished.  While, the blaring of a smoke alarm lets you know that a quick trip to McDonald's is probably in order.  The great part of this is that, since we tend to 'eat' with our eyes and nose first, you know you can trust your senses while cooking.  The not-so-great part of this, for me at least, is that there are no real recipes you can give your friends, if they ask.  Maybe it's because I don't start with recipes and everything is a little of this, a bit of that, a touch of this, a dash of that.

Tonight I made, for the first time, a creamy potato soup.  We were wanting grilled cheese sandwiches and a creamy soup because it is so cold and windy here right now.  So, instead of Campbell's soup or making (another) batch of Chicken Noodle Soup, I decided that I'd put to use some stock that I've had simmering all day.

Tonight we dined on Oh So Gouda Cream of Potato Soup (yeah, it's a cheesy name...ha ha ha.....get it) with sliced, toasted french bread that was topped with cheddar, fresh basil and finished off with fresh slices of tomato (for me and Molly anyway....we are the only ones in the house that like fresh tomatoes).  It was delicious!

Here is my version of a recipe for the soup.  I'm not much better at writing recipes than I am one who follows them.  Of course, if there is anything you don't like in this recipe, you can leave it out, or if you have milk on hand, and I used half and half you can use what you have. 

Oh, So Gouda Cream of Potato Soup

3 c. chicken stock for base
1/4 c. chicken stock for flour mixture
4 forkfuls (see...I'm not kidding when I say my measurements are funky) all-purpose flour
4 large potatoes
3 oz. Gouda
2 tsp. butter
1/2 bunch of green onions
6-7 large button mushrooms
1/2 c. half and half
5-6 large leaves of fresh basil
1 glass of wine (one that you would drink, not just cook with)

To taste:

Finely chop potatoes, mushrooms and green onions (if you use some of the white part of your green onion, it will add delicious flavor!)

Sip on glass of wine.

In a large pot, warm 3 c. chicken stock.  In a coffee cup (or anything you want to use), combine flour and 1/4 c. chicken stock and stir until flour is dissolved.  Add flour mixture, butter, half and half and spices to stock.  Stir while on low to medium to low heat until flour has completely worked it's way into the base of your soup (the reason for this is so that you don't scorch, or burn, the bottom of your pot with flour that may 'fall' to the bottom). 

Sip on glass of wine.

Add gouda, potatoes, mushrooms, fresh basil and green onions to the broth and simmer on low until potatoes are tender.  20-30 minutes is what it took my soup.  Stir occasionally.

Sip on glass of wine.

*  I added half and half without measuring it...but, you may find that you want more liquid, depending on the consistency you like.  If that's the case, feel free to add more stock or half and half.  I don't suggest water because I don't know if it would water down (yeah, couldn't think of a better term here) the soup.
** You may notice that I never brought my soup to a boil, to then cut it back the heat to a simmer.  I did this because I wanted to be able to control the rate at which the flour combined with the liquids and the cheese melted within the soup.

Please have fun with this recipe and add items that sound good to you, and if you would like, post them under "comments" so that others can try. to pour another glass of wine! 

Friday, January 7, 2011

Pay It Forward Friday

I had planned on making the first Friday of 2011 one that blessed strangers and neighbors.  I was going to pay for the person behind me in line at Starbucks and hope that they pay for the person behind them, starting a chain of giving.  I had hoped to bake something to take to our new neighbor.  Taking donations to Goodwill was on my agenda.  I was going to make a difference in someone's life today.  I was going to pay it forward.  I was going to bring a bit of joy to someone's life.

That plan was foiled by reality.  I, instead, cleaned the kitchen, drank (A LOT of) coffee, attempted to manage two little girls' meltdowns, took a dog out to potty several times (that we've been working with for what seems like a lifetime).  I picked up several outfits off of the floor, as the kids changed clothes countless times; only to end up in their pajamas again.  I fixed Barbie's hair (and fixed it again when I was instructed that I didn't do it right the first time around).  I've torn off almost an entire roll of tape for Reagan so that she could fold and tape a piece of paper, fold it again and tape it again (and again, and again, and again...).  Now, I sit here typing, while Brodie is on a leash, attached to my arm (because our last trip outside was a total waste of 30 minutes).

I could find myself bummed out and irritated that I didn't get to pay it forward to a stranger today.  I could beat myself up for not making it to the grocery store to get the ingredients to bake something for our neighbor.  I could view today as a complete bust because I haven't yet checked off anything that was on my list of "To Do's".  Or, I could recognize that I did make someone smile today....Molly was very happy with Barbie's hair on my second attempt.  Reagan's paper will never have to worry about being soaked by water since it's laminated with enough Scotch Tape to supply Belk's gift wrapping department, at Christmas time.  Brodie doesn't have to worry about finding another "forever family" as a shelter, or rescue, puppy (for the time being).  My girls are smiling and I'm sure if Brodie knew how, he would be also.  I didn't bring joy to the lives of those outside my home today, but I filled the space we occupy with a lot of patience, love and laughter.  Sometimes the light you spark that will make a difference turns out to be a glow stick necklace. 

On the upside, thanks to a wonderful friend (and neighbor) I got my Starbucks.  I am hearing joyous voices of kids who are playing, instead of crying and I haven't had to clean the carpets at all today.  Thankfully, Goodwill is open until 9:00 tonight and Harris Teeter is open 24 hours, so I still have time in the day to change the lives of someone outside our condo.  For now, though, I'm going to change the lightbulb in the kids' room that has burned it.  It may take on the Northern Lights effect of other good deeds, but I know two little girls who will appreciate not bumping into dressers and shelves. 

One of the reasons I haven't gotten much done today...I was up untl 5:am crocheting
Day Five

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Where Babies Come From

Reagan, 4 years old

I didn't think I'd have anything to write about today, but a trip to Carrabba's with my two favorite little girls changed that.  Molly and Reagan enjoy pretending they are driving while we are on the road, but tonight I was along for the funniest ride yet. 

Molly, 5 years old

The girls were pretending that Reagan was a train conductor and took us to New York City (a place that our girls are fascinated with, though they've never been....).  It must have been a high-speed train, because we went from Cornelius, NC to New York City, NY in less than three minutes; that includes the time it took to turn in our tickets.  Reagan informed us, upon our arrival to NYC, we could pick out a baby to take home.  Most people leave the Big Apple with a taxi cab patterned coffee mug or a miniature Statue of Liberty...but, on Reagan's tour of NYC you could bring back a bouncing baby girl (only girls,  no boys; I asked).  I told her I would be happy to take a baby and asked Molly if she would like one also.  Molly quickly informed me that she could not get a baby because she is NOT married (super proud Mommy moment for me here).  Molly said, "You have to have a husband before getting a baby, right Mommy?"  Reagan replied with, "Yeah, you have to be married, but babies come from cupcakes.  The Mommy eats a cupcake with a baby in the middle of it and the baby goes to the Mommy's tummy where the baby grows."  Cupcakes?  Hrmmm, this would be a new one for me.  I asked Rea where she heard that from and her response was priceless.  "Ummm, Momma, cupcakes are baby cakes, aren't they?  Well, what comes from baby cakes?---babies!"  Ohhhhh, of course!!!!  What was I thinking?

 Day Three....wider than a scarf, not yet a blanket.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


I have never been one to make resolutions.  This is not because I think they can't be wonderful motivation to kick-start your goal, it's just that they never were for me.  I would find myself, all year long, hoping to do the 'standards': lose weight and spend less wasn't just in January.  I, of course, never was able to stick with it.  So, this year I thought that if most people resolve to lose weight, but gain instead, or to spend less money, but in fact, go further in debt, then I am going to make resolutions, anticipating the opposite of desired results.  I resolve to gain weight and spend more money than ever before.  With these goals in mind I will either be able to accomplish the task set before me or miserably fail, either way I can't lose.

This picture of one of my dearest friends, Lynda, and I was taken in 2007.  I will never again be a size 0 or 1 and I have to, somehow, find peace with that!  So, making a resolution to get back down to this size would just be self-torture

This year is different, though, because I really did make a resolution, for the first time ever, on New Year's day that was not a joke, or one that pokes fun at my inability to drop 50 pounds in three weeks...or even 52 weeks.  I hope to (though "hope to" makes it sound like it's more a wish than a plan, but "plan to" makes it sound too rigid for my psyche and I'll rebel against's a very sad cycle of mind games I play with myself, I know) do three new things each month that I've never done before.  I had to figure out what I thought qualified for "new things" because if I feel like it's a chore and I MUST reach three things each month, I'll catch myself grabbing for anything as the month comes to an end.  I'd say to myself, "I have never tried ABC brand of pasta before this month, but on January 6 I cooked it for my family.  One new thing for the month, CHECK!"  I would, somehow, find myself taking the fun out of my new adventure by being tied to the task of completing three things, I feared.  So, my idea of 'a new thing' is trying a restaurant for the first time, going to an art exhibit (yes, just an art exhibit...not any one, in particular...I've never been an "art exhibit person"), seeing a show I've never seen (not on television, but on stage), picking up a hobby or craft I've never get the idea.  I hope to (again, there are the words, "hope to") document my 'monthly three' through scrapbooking, so that at the end of the year, and for years to come, we'll be able to reflect on all the new things we tried....oh, did I mention that this is a family goal I've made?  Ha!  It looks as though my husband doesn't even need to make any resolutions, I've helped him out by including him in this one.  I'm sure he appreciates this. 

January, 2011 New Things:

#1- Start a blog

Happy New Year and May 2011 be the best year ever for you and your family!

Day Two of working on my afghan.  There is progress; it's slow, but steady.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Well, here goes nothing......

For years I have thought about starting a blog, uncertain that anyone would even fnd my words worth reading.  I also found myself overwhelmed and intimidated by the thought of blogging; it seemed like such a daunting task to take on.  Boy, was I wrong about the latter.....setting up a blog could  not have been more simple.  Now, we shall see if keeping up with one is just as easy. 

I am a coffee junkie who picked back up my crochet hook and Red Heart yarn after ten years of not making as little as a baby doll scarf.  Well, I shouldn't say that I've picked back up MY crochet supplies, the originals were ditched many years ago, as I decluttered.  I actually have an amazing husband who went out and bought what I needed so I could crochet a blanket.  I don't know if he was so anxious to have me crochet again because I keep the house just cold enough to freeze water (and he needs a warm blanket to bundle up in for survival) or if he has discovered that I don't talk very much while counting the first loops (and he doesn't get much quiet time when I'm around).  But, whatever the reason, I choose to believe that he ran to Wal-Mart because he loves me dearly. 

My friend, Katy, came over today and had a g hook and a skein of yarn with her.  My plan was to teach her to crochet, but it turned out that I never surrendered the hook and yarn to her; instead I made her a wash cloth....and with that, I was once again hooked.  No pun intended.

I look forward to seeing where this blog goes and I hope that I don't bore the one or two readers, I'll likely have, to tears.  If nothing else, I hope to be able to keep up with this better than I ever did a diary or journal; with the devotion more of that I've given my Facebook account.

Day One.....The start of my blog, and afghan.