Keep Your Head Up and Be True to You

After my Blog in Crisis post and putting some thought into the state of my blog, I realize that I simply cannot make any 'drastic' changes to it in order to gain more followers. I'm happy with my CraftyHope branding (despite my lack of crafty posts from time to time), and there's definitely not going to be any significant changes in who I am personally. I have the same interests, want to talk or take pictures of the same things, and am instinctively a fairly lazy person. As well, I recognize that I'm swimming in an ocean of social media. Blogging used to be in its own little world of social media but along came MySpace and Facebook, then the micro-blogging that is Twitter, the visual blogging that is Instagram, and the blog saving/sharing that is Pinterest, along with a sea of other social media platforms. So what if my cries to 'look at me' aren't heard above the waves, I'm not drowning. . .my head is still above the water. I just need to maybe learn a few new tricks, incorporate something fantastic into my routine. What that is, I have no clue. But I have ideas. You've already witnessed some of them, and that's a starting point isn't it?

For a little bit of refreshment from that topic, here's two of my nieces and Pat keeping their heads above the water in the Gulf.

 Isn't that lovely?

Meal Plan and Recipe Review

What was that nonsense I was blubbering on about last week about having more motivation and drive on Mondays? It flew out the window today as I've been suffering for days with a sinus headache. While at the grocery store I finally picked up some sinus medicine, but I'm still running a little slower today than I would like. As such, let me just get to the menu for this week.

Breakfasts: Smoothies, Nut butter w/fruit, Cereal, Omelets, Muffins

Lunches: Hot dogs, Cheese quesidillas, Soup w/grilled cheese, Tuna noodles, Leftovers, PB&J, Bean burritos

Snacks: chips w/salsa, hummus, or avocado dip, cheese and crackers w/fruit or veggies, celery w/pb, veggies w/hummus (Aaaaand in writing this I realize I forgot to buy hummus. I guess there's another trip to the store in my near future dangit.)

General Tso's Tofu w/broccoli and brown rice
Egg roll manicotti w/mixed salad
Veggie cheese soup w/garlic bread
Kitchen sink pizza (on easy homemade pizza dough)
Crockpot chicken w/peas and potatoes

Desserts: PB chocolate chip pretzel sticks, Froyo


Recipe Review

Baked Tofu: I think this was the second time I've made this. It's good and pretty easy to make too. I like the spiciness of it and will likely make it again

One Pot Wonder Thai Peanut Pasta:  - As stated yesterday in my Pinning with Purpose Post (say that 3 times fast!), this was good. What I failed to mention is that it could definitely use a little kick of something - maybe some curry or chili powder or something along those lines. Also, I used wheat linguine and a yellow bell pepper to make it.  With our love of peanut butter, I have no doubt I'll be making it again.

Andean potato & cheese soup: This was really good. I enjoyed it immensely. I'm always a little worried about foods/soups with fresh corn in it as it tends to be SO SWEET, but the use of the peas and potatoes with this kept it from going too far in that direction. I'm pretty sure I'll be making this again.

Chocolate Raspberry Pudding Pops: I had planned to share the recipe for this with you today, but they just didn't turn out as good as I had hoped. Instead of making straight up chocolate pudding, I used almond milk with this tip from Single Girl Gourmet. But, that wasn't the problem at all. It was the raspberries. I blended them with some powdered sugar and added it straight to the pudding.
Pretty huh!?

The pops actually came out fine, but the seeds in the raspberries made the popsicles a little more. . .bumpy and tongue-scratchy than any of us liked. Oh well. I've bought more pudding and may try again later without the raspberries. You live, you learn.

So that's it for this week. I'm hoping this medicine kicks in and I will feel more productive tomorrow. Each new day is a do-over for the one before, right?

Pinning with Purpose | The Beginning

For far too long I've been haphazardly adding items to my Pinterest boards without a care in the world and without consistently using any of those ideas, tutorials, or inspirations. They've piled up and are embarrassingly out of control. It's about time I get around to putting an end to the Pin-hoarding. As such, I've decided to start up 'Pinning with Purpose.'

Each Sunday I'll pick at least one of my pins to work on during the week and then reveal my results the following week.

For this first edition of Pinning with Purpose, I selected the following pins to try:

And here's how it went:

For the Swatch Portraits, I grabbed some embroidery hoops and fabric I had laying around the craft room and went to town.
In less than an hour I had completed the positioning and gluing. I just had to wait for them to dry.
By the next morning, they were trimmed and on the wall.
I'm pretty smitten with how these look in my hallway.

The One Pot Thai Peanut Pasta wasn't as pretty as the original.
However, it was pretty tasty.
I may even make it again.

The Graphic Bangles gave me the most trouble.
Using the Crystal Clear Shrinky Dinks, they came out a little wonky, but that was possibly my own fault. After all that practice, I made a second attempt with the Shrinky Dinks Frosted Ruff and Ready. Those turned out much better.
They're smaller than the ones in the tutorial, but exactly the size I needed. In fact, one's already been worked into a bracelet. (Somehow I didn't get a picture of it though, but I assure you it exists.)

It's a relief to not have those Pins sitting there, gathering virtual dust. That was fun and I'm ready for more. Here's what I've got planned for next week:

I hope you enjoyed this as I plan to make this a regular thing each Sunday. You are invited to do the same. Explore your own Pinterest boards for those wonderful but neglected ideas and link up here for Pinning with Purpose. Oh, and I'm not SOLD on the name for this yet so if you have suggestions, please let me know!

Pop-Up Camper Supplies | Ideas and Suggestions

In the hope of having more adventures, Pat and I recently purchased a Jayco pop-up camper. We wanted something lightweight but that could also sleep several people. And, I insisted on air conditioning. (We do live in South Alabama.) After much searching of camper lots, sides of the road, and Craigslist; we found this baby that we're calling Serenity.
From the outside, resting and popped up.
The inside includes both a king and a queen bed, dining area, 'couch', and small kitchen space.

We've got a trip planned to take her out and are semi-scurrying to get ready. I like to be prepared. In fact, we're still considering pulling her somewhere close for a night or two for a trial-run before the actual trip. In the meantime, we've been making a list of what we think we need.

Camper Supplies
(in no particular order)
  • fresh water hose
  • water pressure regulator
  • water filter
  • water drain hose
  • bal leveler
  • 30 amp extension cord
  • grill
  • grill utensils
  • microwave
  • shower flip flops
  • dishes
  • silverware
  • cooking utensils 
  • can opener
  • pots/pans
  • cups (glasses, coffee cups)
  • coffee maker
  • storage containers
  • bedding (pillows, sheets, etc)
  • fans
  • small tv (with dvd/blu-ray)
  • headlamps
  • flashlights
  • shower tent
  • portable toilet
  • personal toilet
It's a really long list (likely to get longer), and we've been gathering items willy-nilly from the internet and thrift stores (hence my urged thrifting excursion this week.) These supplies have just been piling up on the dining room table.
Yes, that is a 'personal toilet' on my dining room table. It continues to gross me out, but I know it's brand new and clean. I love that there is a 'lady' attachment for it.
I'm pretty excited about getting to decorate the camper. Though my desire to redecorate the big ole RV trailer never did come to fruition, I'm hoping we can actually get our butts in gear to update this one some. I want it to have a mis-matched, cozy, homey feel. I kept that in mind as I did the thrift shopping.
I scored some coffee cups, mixing bowls, small plastic plates and bowls, spatula, and set of three pots with lids (not pictured) for some serious steals.
As well, I picked up plates and silverware - making sure it didn't match for more of that lived-in look.

In addition to the list and supplies above, we'll take the condo box with us when we go camping. And, I've got to find some way to store all these supplies in such a small space. There's so much to think about, I know we're probably overlooking some essential items that we'll need more than a "small tv" and "microwave" as listed. So, if you are an experienced camper (or just someone with advice), please leave your suggestions and recommendations of what else we may need and how to store it in Serenity. I definitely don't want to get too far from home and need some crucial supply. Just thinking about it stresses me out and camping is supposed to be relaxing.

Thrifting Thursday | Jewelry Scores and More

On Tuesday, Pat encouraged me to hit up the thrift stores for a variety of wanted and needed items. In addition to the items I was out looking for (I'll go into all that at a later date), I happened upon some real treasures. (You can click the pictures for a larger view.)

I found two bags of jewelry at the Waterfront Rescue Mission Bargain Center in Foley. I think I should have looked at them a little closer, because one was definitely 'better' than the other. See for yourself.
This is what I'll be keeping from the two.

And, these are the items I wasn't as fond of.
Bag #1 was definitely the winner overall, but here are my favorites from the bunch.
That computer brooch cracks Pat and me up to no end. I think he needs to wear it to his next in-person work meeting. HA!!

Oh, I also scored this little beauty.
I'm not sure what I'll do with this rhinestone buckle, but I'll figure it out. It was too pretty to pass up.

In addition to all the awesome jewelry pieces, I also brought home some other bits during my full day of thrifting adventures.
Let me assure that while the cat picture is nice, I got it for the frame. OH, and do you see that tin with 'Currier & Ives' on the side? I knew I knew those names, and now I have a Christmas song stuck in my head. You're welcome.
I'd say it was a successful day overall. What are your favorite items to look for when you head into a thrift store?

Bead Table Wednesday (7/23/14)

Even with all the pondering and list-making I was doing last Wednesday, I was still able to finish the necklace I had on my desk before jumping headfirst into another project. (YAY for finishing something!)

Since I was doing some heavy soul-searching and goal-writing, I decided to work on a project that needed very little thought but still would keep my hands busy.
I collected a small assortment of beads and dumped out my leftover hoard of wire scraps onto my bead table.

From there, I've just been attaching beads to other beads with wire via simple or wrapped loops to make beaded bracelets.

I think these would work well alone or stacked together with other bracelets. So far, I've got quite the collection.

This busy-hand method has left my mind free to brainstorm other projects and pursuits. So that's what's on my bead table today. What's on yours?

Bead Table Wednesday (BTW) is the brainchild of Heather of HumbleBeads, and you should see the beauty that's on her craft desk today!

Easy Granola Recipe (Meal Plan and Recipe Review)

Despite the bad rap Mondays get, I tend have so much more motivation and drive on a Monday than I do most of the rest of the week. On Mondays, I realize all the ways I messed up the previous week and resolve to make the new one better. Making my meal plan is a great way to attempt to rectify my wrongs (as one of my major mess-ups is usually my diet.) Since I have this new resolve, I decided to start planning snacks and some desserts for the week in addition to our other meals in an attempt to make those a little more healthy too.

Here's what's in the works for this week.

Breakfasts: Smoothies, Yogurt w/granola (recipe below), Cereal w/fruit, Omelets, Pancakes

Lunches: PB&J, Homemade pizza, Soup w/grilled cheese, Tuna Noodles, Leftovers, Turkey sandwiches, Bean burritos

Snacks/lunch sides: Kale Chips; Tortilla chips w/salsa, avocado veggie dip, or hummus; Cheese and crackers w/fruit or veggies; Celery w/peanut butter, Veggies with hummus

Baked tofu w/green beans and yellow rice
Hot dogs w/baked beans and raw fruit & veggies
Veggie Spaghetti w/salad

Desserts: Homemade Raspberry Chocolate Pudding Pops

I'm linking up this meal plan for Menu Plan Monday at I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Recipe Review

Cauliflower Chowder: I know this is a chowder, but it was a tad chunky for my taste so I blended it down just a bit with an immersion blender. We both really enjoyed the soup, though we didn't touch the leftovers. Despite that, I will possibly make it again.

Bucatini pasta with mushrooms:  This is about the 4th time I've made this dish. I simply love it!

Chicken Pot Pie: This was easy and versatile. I used a pre-made pie crust instead of the homemade one because I already had the pre-made one in the freezer. As for taste, it was good though I felt like it was lacking just a little something. I might make it again, next time with the yummy homemade crust.

This past week I made some granola to add to yogurt for breakfast. Beyond breakfast, granola also proves to be a great snack or dessert topping. As well, you can put in so many different combinations of ingredients that it suits most any taste. I've shared this granola recipe before but thought it was about time to break it out again.

4 C rolled oats
2 C mixed seeds and nuts
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 C brown sugar
1-2 dashes of cinnamon
1/2 C canola oil
1/4 C maple syrup
1/4 C honey
1/8 C shredded coconut
2 tsp vanilla
Cooking spray

~Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
~Combine oats, nuts, seeds, salt, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a large bowl and stir together.
~Add oil, maple syrup, honey, vanilla, and coconut. Mix well.
~Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray it with cooking spray.
~Spread mixture evenly onto sheet and bake for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through baking time.
~Remove from oven and cool.
~Store in an airtight container for several days.

*Other ingredient options include up to one cup of dried fruit or some chocolate chips.

I usually just make half a recipe for the two of us. My mix of seeds and nuts changes every time. In the pictured granola, I used pecans, sliced almonds, sunflower seeds, and ground flax seeds. Added plus, your house smells great!

This post has taken more time than I imagined, so it's time to be off and on to something else. What kind of healthy snacks do you recommend?

Fairhope Museum of History

Last month's Southern Bloggers Jubilee meeting was held at the Fairhope Museum of History.

Our group was given the privilege of both using their meeting room AND getting a tour of the current exhibit.

Mr. Donnie Barrett, the museum's director, was our tour guide. He was filled with a wealth of information and facts that many of us didn't know about our own county's history. It was enlightening for sure.
Sorry for the blurry, he was in action.

The museum staff went above and beyond in staging the upstairs area for the Civil War exhibit including these facines that wrapped around the exhibit.
These simple, wooden structures were placed along trenches and around troops to protect against erosion and gunfire. In some cases, they were the only protection the troops had.

In addition to the tour, the Fairhope Museum has free admission, so we were welcome to peruse the other exhibits.
Pictures and memorabilia adorn the walls

These 'floating' lawnmowers drew my attention.

You'll find actual, original jail cells in the museum.
There are permanent as well as special exhibits throughout the museum which tell Fairhope's rich and unique history from its earliest residents to the present.

The Fairhope Museum of History is located on 24 North Section Street in Fairhope, AL 36532 and is open Tuesday through Saturday 9am-5pm. As well, you can find out more about what's going on at the museum in its online newsletter as well as on the Friends of the Fairhope Museum of History Facebook Page.

I assure you, it's an enlightening place to spend some time.

On My Mind and My Desk (BTW)

I am still sorting through the dilemma that is this blog, but I couldn't let Bead Table Wednesday (BTW) pass me by. My craft desk is currently covered with the same things that consume my thoughts.

On the left is my stack of to-do lists and blog ideas, lists, and ramblings that I've been jotting down since yesterday. On the right is the actual bead work that I have out to do. You can see which of those pictures is larger and thus which one consumes more of my thoughts. Oddly, it's like a battle of my left brain and right brain right there. . . hmmmmm. I guess it's time to see which one wins.

Bead Table Wednesday is the brainchild of Heather of HumbleBeads. Today she is revealing the Michael's Beading Challenge that she and Lorelei are hosting, but on other Wednesdays you can usually sneak a peek at what's on her desk too. Why don't you play along sometime and share what's on your worktable.

Blog in Crisis

I've just come from my monthly Southern Bloggers Jubilee meeting and my head is swimming. The majority of the members of this small group have been blogging for less time than me, but (based on hearing some of their stats) I really suck at this blogging gig. I recognize that my blogging can be sporadic and my interests even more spread out, and I guess that's probably some of my problem.

Forgive me, for I am a sub-par blogger. I don't have kids to write about. My decorating skills are ehhhh. Organization isn't my strongest suit. Often I don't have enough time to even craft! And, I lack confidence in a lot of areas. Why are you even here reading this? After over seven years of blogging I still haven't gained a following or found a niche. Yet, I want to persist in trying. There have been so many things I've tried for years and years to do and have simply given up on mastering. I would rather not add this to the list. I guess it's time for me to have a good long think about why I'm blogging and what I hope to accomplish from it. And then. . . buck up and DO IT!

Now, I'll admit that I may just have a bug up my butt after hearing how well others are doing. I know I can get rather jealous at times. In fact, I'll probably feel like my old self again in no time and back to my shoddy blog writing. However, while I've got this eating at me I want to jump on it. Now to just stop blogging long enough to dive into re-learning and re-training myself. This should be fun.

Do you have a blogger confession you'd like to make at this time? I won't tell.

Menu Plan Monday

Today's been a flurry of getting s&*t done, though to look at my to-do list you wouldn't think it. I've added to it and added to it as the day's gone on (and as I made a sale in the etsy shop.)
These earrings were listed and quickly sold after an Instagram 'friend' saw them. Woot!
Though there was that bright spot in my day, the bulk of it has been focused on food (shopping for it, preparing it, eating it. You know the drill.) and that includes making the weekly menu.

Breakfasts: Smoothies, Peanut butter toast, Yogurt w/granola, Omelets, Pancakes

Lunches: Chicken salad sandwiches, Leftovers, Soup and grilled cheese, PB&J, Tuna Noodles, Cheese quesidillas, Salad

Spicy peanut butter tofu w/green beans and yellow rice
Homemade pizza w/salad

I don't have any recipe reviews this week as everything we ate wasn't new to us. And now. . .well now it's time to stop writing about the food and start making it. It never ends does it? I really shouldn't complain, first world problems and all. Anyway, here's hoping you had (are having) a lovely Monday!

Inspiration and Eye Candy

I've been in the midst of catching up on all the things and that includes going through my feedreader, e-mails, digital files, and every other location that I've stashed and saved links. At the beginning of May I mentioned sharing the interesting that I find every so often. As with that post and any other ones I do like this remember - {{If you're going to Pin or Tumble or share these yourself in some way, PLEASE make sure you go to the original source and do so!!}}

Let's start with these tin can lanterns.  These looks super simple to make and how great is the recycling aspect of them!? I think they're perfect for summer, and wouldn't they be great to put some citronella candles in to shoo the bugs away?

Summer Lantern Tutorial from Whee! The People

These 'bits and bobs' collections from Vintageologie are so very inspiring and beautiful. You can find more like this at the Vintageologie facebook page.
This turquoise, blue, and green collection was my favorite of the three collections.

How simple and yummy are these Strawberry Waffle Parfait bites from The Painted Apron? She combined some great breakfast items with pure delicious-ness to come up with a unique breakfast/snack.
Breakfast YUM from The Painted Apron

This guitar and bass bangle from Erin Siegel is awesome! It's rock-n-roll, but still nice enough to be worn to work. The link will take you to her tutorial for it, including how to make the chic tassels.
Guitar and Bass Bangle tutorial from Erin Siegel

Lastly, this short and sweet list from Handmadeology of some of the most common photography mistakes for your products had me really thinking about my own photos and how to improve them. I hope it helps you too.
Handmadeology's list of 10 Common Photography Mistakes

I think there's a little something for everyone in this list so I hope you found something to inspire you over the weekend. Have a great one!

Bead Table Wednesday

Here's what's on my bead table today.

Because I've got commitments all day away from the house (getting to hang out with and help some friends), it's what'll be on on my table tomorrow too. I'm looking forward to it.

This set is my attempt to work through the box I packed for Spring Break (back in April). Alas, that's how little I've gotten to play with my supplies. Here's ho far I've gotten.

What's on your bead table today?

Take Heather from HumbleBeads' prompt and share!

Bead Box 18 - Reveal

 Hey y'all! I'm popping in to share the completed jewelry pieces that came out of Bead Box 18 . I've actually already stocked an...