Autumnal Lovelies

I love the holiday season, which for me starts in early September. Even if it’s ninety-nine degrees outside, which is normal with the Texas heat, I can still feel the holidays wafting through the air. The last couple days I’ve felt that something special in the air more strongly, which meant large amounts of Christmas music and dreaming of the cool weather to come. The first day of Autumn welcomed me with a hug of cool breezes and grass, singing birds, the first red leaf on our Chinese tallow tree, and much holiday spirit.

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The other week I bought some of these pink gold dusted glitter berries from Dollar Tree to go in my pink vases. I find it adds the perfect delicate touch of autumn decor to my room, and they remind me of beautiful trees with their changing leaves.

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Sarah’s been loving pumpkin recently. Nearly every day she picks up a can of pumpkin off the shelf and requests it for lunch. To satisfy her craving I found this easy recipe for paleo pumpkin pie cupcakes, and she loves them! Between dancing along with scenes from her favorite movie, Barbie and the Twelve Dancing Princesses, she would have a wide grin on her face as she took bits of these. She ate several.

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Homemade Caesar salad. I could nearly live off of this heavenly dish. I can never find a bottled Caesar salad dressing that tastes as amazing as it should, but thankfully that is no longer a problem! Jamie Oliver, one of my favorite chefs, has two wonderful recipes for this dressing, and it only takes a few minutes to whip up! I’ve watched him make this recipe several times, which always gets my mouth watering, and have followed this recipe of his a couple of times as well.

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I’ve avoided painting my fingernails for a while and have only painted my toenails, due to the excessive chipping. Thankfully I have resolved that problem by using top coats of glitter polish. This helps make the polish more durable, but most importantly is that if it does chip I can patch it back up but the glitter prevents you from noticing that it’s not one smooth coat. I’m currently going with a beautiful crimson by Pure Ice with a top coat of silver glitter polish by Art Deco. Every time I see my nails the festivity brightens my spirits and reminds me of the holidays soon approaching.

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It was absolutely beautiful outside the other day, I couldn’t help but be amazed by the autumn weather, which I was not expecting quite so soon. I got this shot by laying out in the grass enjoying the weather. I put the camera out of focus because I didn’t want the picture to focus on the details, but to remind me of the magical feeling. The feeling of the cold grass beneath me, the cool wind brushing against my skin, and the birds singing above.

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Whilst walking away to go back indoors I spotted this. The first red leaf of the season.

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A beautiful infinity scarf which I purchased at Wal-Mart. It’s grey with tiny silver sequins woven throughout to add a touch of sparkle when the light hits them.

What are some of your favorite autumnal lovelies?

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Delicious Almond Poppy Seed Muffins

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Whilst having three or four different diets in the house due to allergies and other such issues can be difficult come meal time, I must say, it’s good for a foodie and a food blogger. While it means more work, it also means many more types of recipes to come up with and experiment on. I truly enjoy it. Lately I’ve been having to come up with baked goods for breakfast for my dad, since his day starts off at four in the morning. One morning I made up some low-carb cream cheese danishes, which fit both of my parents diets, but that’s not something I want to make every night. I wanted to come up with an easy muffin recipe that my dad would enjoy, which means real sugar, no Truvia.

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I wanted to do something with poppy seeds. How I adore poppy seeds. It’s not just for their beautiful appearance sprinkled throughout a delicious cake or on top of a warm bagel. They also add a unique nutty flavor wrapped up in a shell that creates a delightful crunch and interest of texture.

However, I did not want to do another lemon poppy seed muffin. Those are wonderful, but it’s not what I was in the mood for. I decided on an almond poppy seed muffin. The flavor of almond extract, which I use in these muffins, holds a special place in my heart. I have fond memories of my mom taking me to a mall in South Louisiana at Christmas time and eating almond baked goods at La Madeleine’s whilst looking on at the Christmas decorations. These muffins are a wonderful reminder of that time.

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The flavor profile of these muffins is simple, but I absolutely love it. Sweet almond and nutty poppy seeds encased in a fluffy golden muffin. The perfect muffin for an early-morning breakfast or a sweet treat.

Almond Poppy Seed Muffins
Yields 22
A delicious and easy fluffy muffin filled with almond goodness and nutty poppy seeds.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 3 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 4 tsp baking powder
  3. 1/2 tsp salt
  4. 3 TBSP poppy seeds
  5. 1 cup sugar
  6. 1/2 TBSP blackstrap molasses
  7. 2 eggs
  8. 2/3 cup sour cream
  9. 3/4 cup melted butter
  10. 1 cup buttermilk
  11. 1 TBSP almond extract
  12. 1 tsp vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and poppy seeds in a medium sized bowl. Set aside.
  2. In another medium sized bowl combine sugar, molasses, eggs, sour cream, melted butter, and extracts thoroughly. Add one third of the dry ingredients, combine; one third of the buttermilk, combine; and so on, ending with the buttermilk.
  3. Scoop into lined muffin tins 3/4 of the way. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick is inserted comes out clean and the tops are golden. Allow to cool.
Lavender and Honey http://www.lavenderandhoney.net/

What’s your go-to breakfast?

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Should you buy a Pet Parakeet? What you Should Know!

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When I was little my parents bought two of my sisters and me each a pet parakeet as a surprise! It was a wonderful idea and we loved watching them that day deciding which we would each adopt. Hannah and Caroline chose the sky blue and the steel blue, which left the olive green for me, who I named Layla.

Layla was a shy bird. At first this resulted in aggression, because she was afraid and would bite (rather hard) to protect herself. Thankfully we learned how to help her trust us and I would spend many hours with her in an enclosed room talking to her whilst feeding her, and it worked. She was still a shy bird, and wary around other people and cameras, but she trusted me. There were times when she would be flying around the room, become scared, and would fly over to me and land on my head because she knew I would protect her. It was incredible and is a rather special memory to me.

It’s now been about four or five years since I lost Layla to old age, but I’m ever so thankful that I had her for nine years of my life. She was a comfort and encouragement to me. I’m currently unable to get a new parakeet, or budgie as they are properly known, but I have plans to find a new little feathered friend as soon as possible.

While Layla lived to an old age, and the other two birds, Arwen and Rosie, lived a long time as well, there are still some things we should of known about owning budgies. Oftentimes people will buy pets without knowing a lot about them, which can work out alright in cases like ours where we continued to learn about them, but sometimes it ends up not so well. Here is a list of some things you should learn about and consider before buying your own budgie.

Cages: Oftentimes people will unknowingly buy a cage that is much too small for their budgies, I know, we did the same thing. Your cage should be 1.5 feet wide x 1.3 feet deep x 1.3 feet tall per budgie, minimum. The bars need to be no more than 1/2 inch apart each, or the budgie may slip through.
You can find both horizontally and vertically placed bars for cages, I prefer horizontal as the birds enjoy being able to climb the bars.
You need to make sure the cage is made for birds. Once we found a rabbit cage for free, so we cleaned it up and used it for the birds as it was really large and they could fly around. Since it wasn’t made for birds the type of metal used made the birds sick when they chewed on it, and we had to replace the cage.
Make sure the cage is stable. We once owned a cage that was not very wide but was tall, and could easily of been knocked over and injured a bird. It’s better to get a cubed or rectangular shaped cage as it’s more stable and gives the bird more room to play and exercise.
Birds are smart, and some will learn to open the cage doors. In our case Arwen would hold the door open while the other two birds flew out and then fly out herself. Using a safety pin to hold the door closed fixed this problem.
Placement of the cage is important as well. You want it in a central location, so that the bird can come to know you better and not become lonely, but you don’t want it in the kitchen. Some fumes, such as from non-stick skillets and some cleaners are deadly to birds.

How Many Birds? We had three birds, one for each of us, which worked well for us. However, the more you have the larger the cage will need to be. If you don’t think you have a lot of time to devote to your bird you should get at least two so that your bird does not become lonely and depressed. If you want to spend a lot of time with your budgie and become tightly bonded together you would only want one, because if there are multiple budgies they will bond more with each other than with a human. If you choose to get one budgie for this reason avoid giving him a mirror toy, as he’ll bond with his reflection instead of you.

Care: Your budgie will need fresh food and water daily. Most believe you just have to feed your budgie a mix of seeds and be done with it, however this is not the healthiest for your little guy. Budgies should be fed a combination of seed, pellets, fruits, and vegetables starting from the time you bring them home. They might not eat it all right away, but if you continue to leave it in the cage they’ll warm up to it if they’re young.
The cage should be cleaned daily, which will take only a couple of minutes.
You should spend 45+ minutes with your budgie most days, though this can be as simple as it resting on your shoulder while you do the computer or on a small parrot stand/play area, if you have a single budgie. If you have multiple budgies they will be able to keep each other company most of the time. 
Your budgie will need a cuttlebone to help keep the beak from growing too much, preventing them from eating. 
Every few months you will need to file your budgie’s nails so that they do not grow out too far as well, making it painful to stand. Do not use clippers, this can cause you to cut the quick and your budgie will begin to bleed. This is very dangerous with a budgie as a small amount of blood loss can mean their death. This almost happened to Layla once and I’ll never make that mistake again.

Clipping Wings? Clipping the wings on your budgie is a personal choice, know the pros and cons and then decide. I never clipped Layla’s wings, I wanted her to be able to fly. For my next budgie I’m planning on clipping the wings, as I’ll be able to take him out of the cage more easily and often, among a variety of other reasons. It just depends on your situation and the bird.

Toys and Accessories: Budgie cages typically come with a standard sized wooden dowel perch. Throw those away. These perches will give you bird many foot problems, they can be extremely damaging. The same goes for the sand paper covers. You can either make your own with wood that you know is from a tree which is non-toxic to budgies and has not been treated with chemicals, or you can buy them
Give your bird plenty of toys to keep them entertained. It’s best to have a stockpile which you can switch in and out between the cage every couple of weeks so they don’t get bored. Large toys can scare some budgies. They love noisy toys. Make sure there aren’t any choking hazards.
Budgies love music, especially happy/boppy music. After Arwen and Rosie passed away I would play Owl City during the day for Layla when she was in her cage, so she wouldn’t get lonely. She loved it and would dance around her cage whilst picking up and dropping her mirror so that it made a loud clang, which was always a sign of her glee. 

Budgies are a wonderful pet and if well cared for can live up to twelve to fourteen years, when on a healthy diet. Just like any pet they need proper care, interaction with other budgies or humans, exercise, and entertainment. They truly are magnificent, intelligent, and friendly birds. I hope this will help you learn if budgies are the right pet for you and help you make a wise decision when it comes to their care.

Did you like this post? Have any questions? Comment bellow and I’ll get back to you!

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An Exciting Announcement

2014-08-19_1408487162I have some very exciting news to share. During the next couple months I will be preparing to open up my very own Etsy shop to sell prints and greeting cards, and more to come later, Lord willing!

Etsy is an online marketplace designed to connect people world-wide to buy and sell unique items made by real people. Etsy is part of the B corporation movement, meaning it’s like fair trade coffee, but for businesses. In November of last year alone Etsy sellers sold 7,430,698 items and 1,381,666 new members joined. This is all in the space of one month. Thanks to Etsy hosting everyone’s shops this also means added buyer and seller protection, ease of use, reviews for individual shops and products from buyers just like you and me, and the ability to buy gift certificates to use in any shop if you’re unsure what to give a loved one. Some sellers even have a feature enabled to allow requests for custom work!

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I’ve loved art for quite some time. I can remember ten years back or so taking some how-to-draw books everywhere with me along with a notebook and pencils, just in case I had the chance to practice. I haven’t always worked on my art consistently since then, due to my health, but in recent years my passion for art has grown, and so has my commitment to finding ways around the hurdles my health may throw at me.

Recently I moved away from watercolor pencils and turned to tube watercolors. This opened many new doors for me. I absolutely love this medium and feel as if I learn something new every time I paint, along with a deepening passion for the craft. The photos shown here are only a couple of my first attempts, as I want to keep an element of surprise until the opening of my shop, however it shows my love for the painting of animals and geekery (fanart, however, will not be for sale, due to copyright).

2014-08-22_1408670085I love the idea of being able to share my love of art and my expressions through it with others. It would be an honor if others felt a connection with a piece of mine and wanted to use the greeting cards to share their thoughts with a dear friend, or wanted to put one of my prints on display. It would be amazing if some of my art spoke to someone else. With the holiday season and some other surprises coming up I’m not sure when I will open my shop, but I am starting the preparations now. If you want to keep up to date make sure to follow my blog, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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Casting All Our Anxieties on Him

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“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
-Philippians 4:6-7

There are two trends I’ve noticed when it comes to prayer. One is televangelists who make claims such as “if you only make a donation of $___ the Lord will fill up your bank account!”. The other one, the one of which is on my mind today, is the hesitance to bother the Lord with our prayers.

I understand this, I will often forget to pray about the “little things” in life, because who am I to ask for something seemingly so trivial when He has blessed me so very much? The wonderful thing, though, is that this year the Lord has really been showing me how He desires us to bring these things to Him! He is our Heavenly Father and He values us! (Psalms 103:13-14; Matthew 10:30-31) We should go to Him humbly and wishing for His will to be done, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t bring all of our troubles to Him. (1 Peter 5:6-7)

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. “-1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

 While the Lord might not answer our prayers right away, or in the way we hoped, we know that His will is our best. Though He may not remove our trials when we would want, we know from His word that He uses these trials to help us become more Christlike and to grow closer to Him. (James 1)

I’ve been learning a lot this year through Him about prayer, and it amazes me those times when He confirms those lessons for me, both through His Word and through answered prayers. One such instance was back in March. I was shopping for some craft supplies so that I could send an encouragement package to my dear friend. I had found everything I needed, and then I looked down at the supplies I had in my hand and realized I had mistaken one item for something else, and then I couldn’t find what I truly needed. I started getting extremely anxious as I scanned all the items and was finding nothing like I needed, and I really wanted to do this something special for my friend. As I looked I was reminded of casting all our anxieties to Him and praying without ceasing. I said a simple quick prayer asking for His help in finding the object I was searching for, and as soon as I finished mentally saying the prayer my eyes landed on the exact object I needed. It wasn’t anything big, just an item that costs a couple of dollars for a gift, but it reminded me that He cares about those little things. He helped me remember to cast my anxieties on Him and then helped me see what I needed to encourage my friend. It may have been small, but it meant a lot to me and has stuck with me all these months. 

A more recent event was that I’ve felt isolated and the need for Christian fellowship, since we’re currently between churches and my health doesn’t allow me to get out very often. I didn’t know how He might work it out, but I prayed for an opportunity to have discussions with other Christians that would honor Him. A couple of weeks later I was invited to a weekly Skype group phone call where we pray and discuss subjects relating to Christianity and how to glorify Him through our walk. These discussions have truly been an answer to prayer and have blessed me greatly in the last few weeks since they’ve started.

I’m a terribly slow learner, but thankfully I have a Father who’s helping me along my walk in this crazy life, and will continue to do so until I’m Home with Him! 

What are some answers to your “small” prayers that have impacted you?

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