Friday, January 1, 2016

Favorite Photo Moments 2015

Here are a few of my favorite photo moments from 2015!

Crystal Jewelry

As usual, I'm starting the year off with a blog. Historically speaking though, this may taper off around March. But maybe this year I'll get lucky and have the fortitude to keep it going. The funny thing is, I'm glad I've picked it back up every so often because it's been fun to read. I've really enjoyed going back and looking through my old posts from years back. Also, it really surprises me how creative I was only two or three years ago...and how not creative I am at the moment.

So, I guess the only resolution I'm going to make this year is to find that creative side again. Today I worked on crystal jewelry from crystals I dug myself at the crystal mines in Mt. Ida and Jessiville.

Two years ago my family and I discovered how much fun crystal mining is in Arkansas. Until that time, I had only been once on a seventh grade science field trip many years ago. So on a whim, my family and I loaded up and left one Saturday morning to check them out. That became the first of many trips last year to two different mines, one in Jessiville, and one in Mt. Ida.  I am always happy to put my hands in the dirt, and enjoy selling and giving away the crystals that I find. 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Recycling Old Books

I have spent the last couple of weeks thinking about new craft ideas, but I didn't want to spend a lot of money. So I looked no further than my bookshelf, where I had amassed a large collection of antique volumes that have never been read. I found a few that were not in very good shape, or had been colored on the inside by one of my sons (I have an awesome copy of Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar that is now streaked with green crayon).

Using twine from the dollar store and some Native American style ribbon from the craft store, I made a cute little trinket for book lovers. I even glued a few ornaments on the front and spine. I absolutely love the end result.

Crock Pot Cash Saver: Sausage and Potato Soup

I've been budgeting a lot lately, and at the same time, trying to reprogram myself to eat at home. So I've been getting a little experimental lately, mostly to the chagrin of my husband and sons. But tonight's dinner was a pretty big hit.

I've always been a fan of the potato and sausage soups at the Italian restaurants, so I made my own, quick version, out of things I already had in the cabinet.

1 pound of breakfast sausage
1 can of cream of chicken soup
1 can of cream of celery soup
2 cans of diced or sliced potatoes
1 can of veggie mix (carrot, peas, celery, potatoes)
1 purple onion
teaspoon of real minced garlic
1 chicken broth cube
2 tablespoons of butter
1 cup of milk
4 cups of water

First I sauteed the sausage and purple onion together. While it was cooking, I added the rest of the ingredients into the Crockpot. Then I added the sausage. Finally I turned the soup on high for two hours.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Digging Through my Photo Trunk

For fifteen years, I've collected turn-of-the-century photos. I'm not sure why - maybe because it's sometimes a rare glimpse into the everyday lives of people a hundred years ago or more. Maybe its because it pains me to think no family members cared to keep the photos (however it is also highly probable a lot of these photos were just lost through the years and maybe a family would love to have them back). Finally I use these photos as a source of inspiration for my fiction writing. I try to imagine who they were and weave a fictional tale of their former lives.

Whatever the reason for my longtime hobby, I absolutely treasure each photograph. Here are just a few examples:

I found this photo of Himalayan monks buried under a stack of photos at an old antique store.

This photograph reminds me of The Great Gatsby. Maybe Gatsby and Daisy in their younger days.

When I look at this one, the story ideas just swirl in my head.

I like to imagine this being taken just before or during the start of the Dust Bowl.I love the expressions on their faces.

I would love to find out where in the United States this was taken.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New year, new me...

My only new year's resolution this year is simple...literally, simple. I want to simplify my life in ways I never have. It's been a struggle these last two years trying to finish my master's degree; raise two boys with a husband who was away a lot; and to teach classes each day that I felt were meaningful and worthwhile.

But the scope of 2015 looks a lot different. My diploma came in the mail last week, and although money is tight, my husband is now home all the time, as he goes back to school to get his teaching license. By no means does this mean my life will suddenly become calm, but I no longer care to stir the pot of my own stress level.

For part of my Christmas present, my husband pulled all the carpet off of the floors in our house. The old hardwood looks absolutely beautiful, and changed the look of each room completely. Our house is very small, but with the different floors, it gives it the more rustic, less modern look I want. I sold my old couches and were given a nice set of neutral furniture from my aunt.

I've been watching a ton of television shows (and one documentary) on tiny house living; and although our house is not that small, I think some of their advice could work for us. I've noticed that the less clutter I have, the more peaceful I become. I think that I have fallen into the "clutter trap." My home, classroom, mind,'s all full of clutter. I want to get back to what matters to me this year.

Now that I have said that, I can admit that it is way easier said, than done, When I cleaned my writing desk, I tried to leave out only the things that inspired or meant something to me. That included my great-grandmother's buttons, my vintage photo (turned upside down) of people at the Little Red River; my portrait of a family in the 1920's American West; another loved vintage photo of a lady; my crystals; the complete set of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings series; my favorite vase and pencil jar; and my favorite book on Native American culture.

So maybe simple should start somewhere else this year. Maybe I will have better luck cleaning out my closet.