Saturday, May 31, 2014

Beauty Arise! Lunch Bag Journals

Calli and I are so excited to be hosting a chapter of Beauty Arise, 
a ministry to women all over the world 
through YWAM LA, here in our home for Calli and her friends!
What a fantastic community of women we are joining and learning under!
Tomorrow fifteen girls hungry for God and community will literally be climbing over one another in our cozy little home and I couldn't be happier! 
These young ladies will know that they are
valued, they are loved and they are beautiful!

Calli and I wanted the girls to have journals 
for everyone to decorate but after a quick jaunt through the craft store 
we decided to make our own! 
Calli and I wanted to have some samples for "how-to" as well as inspiration. 
Here is a sneak peak of our Lunch Bag Journals
that the ladies will spend time making and embellishing over the 
next six weeks.

Calli's journal is so cute!
We decided to protect the table with pads and then covered them with packing paper so
that way we could write inspiring messages on it for the girls 
as well as make templates for how long to make ribbons for the bindings. That table spread is covered with glue, scissors, string, hole punch, pretty paper, paper clips and stickers.
We had most of these things in the craft room and the rest I picked up without spending much at all.

Table laid out with supplies.

To make: 
1)Take a stack of lunch bags and fold down the middle together. No particular order.
2)Punch a few holes in the fold.
3)We tied string with bows for the binding, but you could use duck tape, metal rings, ribbon or even staples. The fun thing about these journals is that they need not be perfect.
4) Go crazy! No rules. Just make it function the way you like!
The other genius thing about lunch bag books, not just that they are cheap, is that they make lots of little pockets on their own.
We made tabs for the pockets for the 6 weeks we will study together.

Mine is a little crazy of course.
We also folded little pockets and glued the sides for things like: notes, encouraging words, prayers and pictures. I'll be taking a portrait of each young lady, getting cheap wallets from Costco so that the girls can keep them in there. They can write their phone numbers and instagram info on the back and remember to pray for each other as they start high school in the fall.
Soon it will be stuffed with notes and fun things!

Tomorrow there will be 15 girls putting little touches on these. Hopefully each week the ladies will bring special things from home to embellish their journals.

All of those lunch bags are cheap!

This craft will work for a youth groups, club meetings, birthday parties, camp workshops, almost anything you can dream up. It also makes a fun book for birthday gifts, vacation memories or a memory book just for a special event.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Friends! Meet "Adopt-a-Block"

 Every Saturday
Fourteen blocks of low-income families will benefit from generosity that flows from this place!
The Vacaville Storehouse

Not just 14 blocks of families. This outreach is literally transforming the city of Vacaville.
Fresh Produce- a LOT!

By "transforming" I mean, they are cleaning up that town. They have reclaimed parks riddled with crime. Some of the volunteers on Saturday will go do graffiti abatement after they load up all the food. They have favor with the police department. The police department often will contact the storehouse for emergencies. Adopt-a-Block is dialed in with volunteers at the ready, so, "sure police department, we'll go to those neighborhoods and pass out flashlights!" And, I haven't mentioned it, but this storehouse is open to the public five days a week, two hours a day, and people come in and fill a bag of groceries and shop for toiletries and clothing too!
Oh and, that's not all!
Sometimes they even get good stuff like meat! And when I was inside looking around, I could see that some homeless teens were in there packing bags of groceries, sorting clothes and, yes, working, getting some job skills and being loved on.
Yeah, that too!
Preparing for the volunteers to arrive.

Pictured below is some of the food that will go out to the fourteen neighborhoods. There are fourteen vans that each got to choose a tote full of breads and three boxes of sweet treats from this line up. Stuff Safeway and some other stores donated.
Bounty waiting to be loaded.

In addition, we loaded up two boxes of corn, two boxes of cabbage, two boxes of baby food,  six small boxes of artichoke sauce starter, one box of canned white beans, six big boxes of frozen blueberries, and a pallet of natural all purpose cleaner. Oh, all that stuff was just for our van. Every van got that same list.
When we arrived at our neighborhood, Alamo Gardens, we set the boxes out like a tiny little farmer's market so that the recipients could pick what they liked.
See all those boxes stacked in the back? That's food going out!
Even baby food!

And! If you thought that was a lot of food...this Saturday every van also packed thirty bags of pre-packed USDA groceries-noodles, chicken broth, soups, canned veggies and more.
These bags are heavy!
All the bags say
"We love our city"
on the side!
There they are! Pretty little vans all in a row.
Even kids can help! Serving is fun, so why not blow bubbles and celebrate that the poor are being cared for this beautiful Saturday morning?
Getting it done!
Almost ready to go!
This is our van heading out. First time jitters. It's hard to not get excited about feeding people and blessing families. From start to finish, "finish" meaning in our own car heading home, three hours!

Those are all the pictures I took. I'll take more next time, pinky swear. Truth is, I was too busy working. No grass grows under these people's feet! There are people to feed. The thing that baffles my mind is that this is 
every single Saturday!
9 to 12
I know that many of you want to come with us and here is a snippet of what you can expect:

Arrive: 9 and start sorting & packing
9:30 or 10: worship and prayer 
"worship" meaning one song
prayer all at once, 30 seconds max
10: pack and go
arrive, set up "market"
recipients wait in line for us to arrive
we give them bags to fill
off they go
team leader registers them
volunteers deliver groceries to shut-ins, we had five
we pack up and get out!
unload any left-overs back at the storehouse
vans get returned
done by 12

The rules are simple!
1) Have fun
2) No knocking on the door like the police! (I'm not kidding!)
3) When you are done-you're done! Don't overstay your welcome.

How cool is that?!
So who wants to go?

And another little side note........
Jon is training to bring this program HERE!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

"Foster Farms"

Today my garden is speaking to me and it's got rich meaningful things to tell me.

Lessons about hope, new life sprouting up, the patience of waiting for fruit to be produced.

These little guys that look like Christmas lights are popping all over the plant and it's one of the most fun things to check for when I get up in the morning. Does my heart foster the best environment for new ideas, gifts and ministries to bud like these shiny little green "light bulbs" that will be juicy tart lemons soon.

I noticed the words "FOSTER FARMS" on one of my milk crates. When I water our garden I reflect on the soil of my heart, ask the questions about what containers in my heart are being nurtured and which ones have I let go, and I pray over my gardens both the one in the pictures and the one that is my heart. I pray that the garden of my heart is bearing prolific fruit, blossoming and that new buds are popping up. 
So I love this milk crate.
It reminds me to ask
"What AM I fostering in my life?"
I hope that I am fostering healthy vibrant things that nurture and satisfy others,
like this gorgeous lettuce.

This small container of lettuce was bursting this afternoon. I was able to make this salad with it's beautiful leaves that fed my whole family. It's such a mirror of what I desire for my life, relationships, family and talents. Good fruit that feeds and nurtures the people around me.

I hope to have a fragrance that attracts people to the Creator of Life, like the fragrance of this beautiful Lemon Thyme.

Or this fabulous Pineapple Sage! 
I can't tell you how sweet it smells and it just seems to get better and better.

Or the fragrance of this gorgeous Basil or the deep rich color of it's cousin Purple Basil, 
their aroma is fantastic!

With little effort and fostering this Purple Kale is going to give me ridiculous abundance and it's going to power up my morning smoothies in a glorious way. Little effort and great results. There are parts of my heart that take little effort to get results and of course there are the areas, like parenting, that take tremendous fostering, nurture, weeding, pruning, and lots of hard work over time, but have the potential to feed the world in ways that I could not do alone. 

Are there parts of my heart that need rest? After last week I can give an enthusiastic YES to rest and refreshment. It will come.

My back yard garden has good organic soil, plant food, faithful watering, weeding, and lots of love. Ah! And Bandit's supervision. My heart needs love, prayer, forgiveness, honesty, faith, meditation, and just as careful attention. Sometimes I move things around in my garden-like my basil that benefits a little by the shade the tomato plants are providing in the afternoon. What relationships in my life am I surrounded by? Are all my relationships symbiotic or do some need to be moved to the other side of the yard or worse-uprooted? The garden has all of these lessons waiting here for me.

Is my garden healthy enough that it draws people in?

Just a moment to reflect on "fostering". 
It's simple, I know.
I had a very emotionally challenging week last week, grieving with a friend experiencing tremendous and tragic loss, my mother and brother in and out of hospitals on opposite ends of the earth as it seemed, difficult conversations, mixed with the emotional highs of getting to serve with Father's House Vacaville's Adopt-a-Block for the first time, graduating my baby from the 8th grade, ending my long stretch of homeschooling, and saying "good-bye" to the program that kept me in the game of homeschooling since my kids were wee little. The last yearbook Calli and I make together, the last class party.... Life is filled with lows and highs and oddly I am grateful for them both. Reflecting on how I foster the areas of my heart today, will determine how I am able to walk through the highs and lows that come tomorrow. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Smoked Salmon Salad

It's going to be a scorcher tomorrow. I may need to make this salad again! I spent the afternoon in my yard rearranging my garden and did not want to cook a big meal. I had Farmer's Market Smoked Alaskan Salmon with Lemon Pepper crying out from the cooler to be enjoyed.
And- oh jeez!- it was UNBELIEVABLE!*
So I concocted this little twist on Lox & Bagel. 
Of course I don't eat bagels or cream cheese anymore
so this little salad took me about half way to an old indulgence.
It's the kind of salad you make when your girlfriends come over, but no one here complained. If you remember from a few posts back, my family doesn't do salad for dinner unless it's something special.
This is.

Smoked Salmon Salad

spring salad mix
1 english cucumber, peeled cut into 4 hunks, sliced very thin (I used the mandolin)
1/2 purple onion, sliced with mandolin
1 avocado, sliced thin
1/2 jar of capers
1/2 C of fresh dill
juice of 1 lime
Smoked Atlantic Salmon the best quality you can find.
ground pepper

Just layer the goodies starting with the spring mix and finishing off with lime, capers, pepper and dill.

I served with it with some gorgeous sweet snap peas that I blanched for about 45 seconds followed by an ice bath. I also just set the avocado slices at opposite ends because not everyone enjoys them in my family. (I LOVE them and wanted them easy to find!) 

It's dressed with just lime juice and pepper, the salmon is salty enough from the sea and the smoking. I had some homemade ranch dressing that I made over the weekend for my sweet friend Beth's birthday celebration. I set a little on the side for dipping to imitate the sensation of the cream cheese element. It worked!

Simple. Healthy. Light. Fresh. Easy. I have to blog it so I remember it! 

*If you're interested in this Smoked Salmon leave me a comment. I will get information during my next visit to the Farmer's Market for you.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Moms, Milk Crates, Pots & Plants

Best Mother's Day EVER! It actually started Saturday night when I jumped in the car and thought I was in the wrong one! TrueLove and Jake had washed, vacuumed and white gloved the whole thing. No more coffee stains in the cup holders, receipts, or lipglosses sliding around. Pure magic! 

That was the rose TrueLove clipped and put in a vase for me. Awe.

Then we went to Gather in Berkeley for a farm to table brunch, now our third year tradition. Jake took this adorable picture of Calli and I. TrueLove couldn't be in it because he couldn't pose without photo-bombing our own picture. Then we did our ritual meandering on Fourth Street. Then we scooted off to Richmond to pick out more edibles for our garden at Annies Annuals. Such fun! Then we took roses to my mom at Kaiser Walnut Creek and cheered her up a bit. Poor thing, stuck in there on Mother's Day! Then we came home and feverishly planted! 

So I promised a how-to for my lovely friend Carol on how to set up the milk crate gardens. She wants to put them on a second level balcony to keep away from the deer that terrorize plant life in her neighborhood. It is very simple! My daughter took the pictures with my feisty camera that has been acting up, so please forgive the poor quality, but I didn't want to keep Carol waiting since we are already in May and she has gardening to get done. Here goes the recipe!

Milk Crates
Landscaper's Fabric
Stapler (or sewing machine)
Staple Gun
And of course, dirt and plants

1) Trace your crate with chalk. I like to get close to the edge to conserve fabric.

I just start on one side and then move the crate to trace the bottom and the other side to minimize cutting. You'll see.

So I like to trace the center lining and one side. You need 5 squares all together. Since my fabric isn't wide enough, I just do the fifth one alone. 

2) Cut it out on along the perimeters.

3) Now you just staple it. If you are a seamstress, then forget all of this and sew those sides up. It will be faster, you just need to stay close to the chalk marks unless you apply your skills and make seam allowances. This is not a science, it's very rough. I usually start with the biggest piece and staple three sides together. When stapling a side, I start in the middle and work out to the edges and stay very close to my chalk lines. I do the single square side last. The next picture is to demonstrate that it doesn't need to be perfect by any means, just good enough to keep dirt and water in.

4) Admire you're workmanship.....

and then tuck it into your milk crate.

5) The 5th step is to use the staple gun to attach the liner to the actual crate. 

6) Pour your dirt.

7) Put your plants in. Here are the basil plants I planted a few weeks ago. 

If you didn't see my post Urban Gardening, I chose to use the milk crates because I don't have space for a garden. The milk crates are easy to come by, you can easily move them around for better sun or shade exposure, use on upper levels (thank you Carol!) and they are easy on your back when planting. If you are new to my blog, I am NOT a gardener. This is my first EVER experience and I'm going on the fly. TrueLove knows a lot but he's letting me do this so I can learn. Some friends asked how my garden was going so I thought I'd add some more pics.

Milk crates and pots, just mixing it up so I can grow what I can in while our back yard is undeveloped. The fun of gardening does not need to wait for a perfect yard to be built. I can not tell you how fun it is to already be using my own herbs. If I can do it, anyone can!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

21! Good Morning

Marley's water processed decaf Sumatra coffee
in their custom designed copper pour over that
sits in my kitchen window.


Today is TrueLove & I's 21st wedding anniversary!
And it is a good morning!

And as I sip my coffee,
I will reflect on how I am too young to be married 21 years,
but how TrueLove is truly one of the most 
amazing and wonderful persons that I know....
in the world!
I honestly love him more and more and more and more and more and more.........

I loved him from the second I laid eyes on him.
I was a young lady with a weakened self esteem that never expected
that the man of my dreams would love me too.
I prayed quietly,
"Lord I want to marry a guy JUST LIKE Jon Gilmore,"
because I didn't believe that I was enough for the real one.
A few weeks after that silly prayer we began dating
and three weeks in
we both knew it was meant to be.
I call him TrueLove in my blog posts because it's a nod to Princess Bride
and I walked down the aisle to the theme song of that movie
being played on the piano
because I felt my love story was a modern fairy tale.
The truth is....
there is a True LOVE that is bigger than my TrueLove & I
and that LOVE brought us together, fixed up a young girls identity and self esteem,
and has graced us to weather the storms of life
for 21 years and counting
never doubting for a minute that our love is forever.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Church Bench

Come on in and have a sit!

Church Pew

What a beauty!
She is a treasure that I love and adore.
I consider her a friend.

She is even gorgeous from the back side.
She is a legitimate, real deal, church bench with song book holder in the back.

Now she is my dining table bench, art studio seat, homework chair, flexible seating and anything we ask her to be in our cozy little home. She's hardworking and absolutely stunning even with the love and patina that some little country church blessed her with.
She will also be available for rent very soon
for special lovely occasions.
I'm scouting out some sisters for her so I can provide multiples

for grander events.
Until then, she is the star!

If you are just jumping into my adventure,
I am in process, moving forward as we speak,
of opening up
olie-oh! vintage rental boutique

very soon.
I've been adding little appetizers to my Olio! blog because so many
people that I meet ask what type of items I will have on the menu.

Thanks for popping in for a sit with me.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Trolley Cart Auction Find!

I'm so excited to introduce you to my latest auction find that will be
available to rent when 
olie-oh! vintage rental boutique
is open for business.
Ladies and Gentlemen, meet Trolley Cart!

Trolley Cart
Tea Serviettes, Amber Goblets, Antique Martini Set

I love her.
I've styled her up in some of the things that olie-oh!
will have available for rent.
(liquor omitted) 

All Dressed Up for After Dinner Drinks and Sweets

I love her.
I love her at every angle. She can be dressed up for tea service, dessert bar, old fashioned wedding refreshments-punch and candied almonds, coffee cart, wine and cheese, anything your hospitable heart can imagine.
I love her.
And these wheels!

So I hope you enjoyed getting acquainted with my new FAVORITE vintage friend.
You just might see more of her dressed in different ensembles
because she's just so easy to play to dress up with.

Did I mention I love her?
"don't go changin' to try to please me"

I've got Billy Joel in my head because I'm wondering
if Miss Trolley might want a good old fashioned make-over.
She is this handsome mahogany finish,
but with an ample patina.
So I've been thinking a gentle face lift-
 french grey or antique white.
Feel free to share opinions and inspirations with me.
Until I hear back...
Trolley Cart....
"I love you just the way you are."