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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Tiramisu Gelato

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I adore tiramisu, absolutely love it. I tend to save it for special occasions, since I’m the only person in my family who enjoys it. However, once a year on my birthday I make some homemade mascarpone or a cream cheese/sour cream substitute, lady fingers, and then start assembling my tiramisu. This year I wanted to try out an idea I’ve been contemplating. Homemade tiramisu gelato. I’ve seen some tiramisu gelato, but it’s more gelato with similarities to tiramisu. What I wanted was something fully tiramisu and fully gelato.

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The morning before my birthday I got started. I made my ladyfingers and mascarpone substitute and then started assembling the items needed for my gelato. After making a coffee tinted gelato base and chilling it I was ready to pop it into the ice cream maker. The motor was dead. Day before my birthday, I had everything ready for my tiramisu gelato ready, except a working ice cream maker. I ended up having to pour the gelato into the frozen ice cream bowl and stir it by hand. The gelato didn’t turn out nearly as soft as a similar recipe of mine did in the past, due to the ice cream maker problems, but it would do.

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This was a success. It was both completely tiramisu and gelato, neither was lacking. The combination was even more magically enchanting than I had imagined. When taking a bite your eyes slowly close as you savor the flavor of the creamy vanilla gelato with a hint of espresso and the sweet tang of the mascarpone cheese swirled throughout. It’s sweet, as gelato should be, however it’s also not overly sweet, fitting of tiramisu. 

When you come across pieces of the layered ladyfingers you get a wonderful burst of that sharp espresso flavor paired perfectly with the smooth cream..
Topping this off are some shavings of dark chocolate. Any added sugar in this chocolate is unnecessary, as it blends perfectly with the tiramisu gelato adding a hint of the rich cocoa flavor which pairs beautifully with the espresso and cream throughout.

I hope the above adequately describes how I feel about this dessert, as I’m in bliss with every bite that I take. This dessert can vary in preparation time, depending on the route that you take. You can make homemade mascarpone cheese, use my mascarpone substitute, or buy it at a local store. Likewise you can make homemade ladyfingers with this recipe, or buy some locally. 

Mascarpone Substitute
Yields 1
I've made both homemade mascarpone and this substitute of mine, and there's very little difference between the two. I would highly recommend this if you don't have the time to make mascarpone or don't want to pay the hefty price tag for it at the store.
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Total Time
3 min
Total Time
3 min
Ingredients
  1. 8 oz cream cheese
  2. 1/3 cup sour cream
  3. 2 TBSP heavy whipping cream
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in a medium bowl, beat with an electric hand mixer until smooth.
  2. Store in fridge.
Notes
  1. Both regular and reduced fat versions of the sour cream and cream cheese are acceptable.
Lavender and Honey http://www.lavenderandhoney.net/
 

Tiramisu Gelato
A decadent dessert that is both fully tiramisu and fully gelato.
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Gelato Base
  1. 1/3 cup sugar
  2. 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  3. 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  4. 4 egg yolks
  5. 1 tsp vanilla
  6. 2 TBSP espresso
Tiramisu
  1. 1 1/3 cup mascarpone or mascarpone substitute
  2. 2 egg yolks
  3. 1 TBSP espresso
  4. 1/3 cup sugar
Ladyfingers
  1. 1 batch homemade stale ladyfingers or package of premade ladyfingers
  2. 1 cup warm espresso
  3. Unsweetened baking chocolate.
Instructions
  1. In a large heavy-bottomed pot whisk together sugar, milk, and heavy cream. Heat over medium heat stiring continuously until it reached a simmer. Remove from heat.
  2. In a small bowl containing the egg yolks ladle a small amount of gelato base over egg yolks whilst whisking quickly to temper the egg yolks. Add a little more gelato base and continue whisking. Poor egg yolk mixture into the pot with the gelato base and continue whisking. Add vanilla and espresso.
  3. Chill in the fridge or in the freezer until cold. If chilling in the freezer stir the contents every so often to prevent the forming of ice crystals.
  4. In a medium sized bowl beat the ingredients for the tiramisu until smooth. Store in the fridge until needed.
  5. Once your gelato base is compltely chilled pour it into your ice cream maker following the instructions that came with your machine. During the last minute of the gelato turning in the ice cream maker, after it is completely set up, add the tiramisu mixture and allow it to swirl almost compltely into the gelato. Remove from ice cream maker and place in the freezer.
  6. Dip your ladyfingers into your warm espresso until soft but still holding their shape. This will depend on the ladyfingers and the temperature, it might take a couple attempts to find the perfect amount of time, but it shouldn't be over a couple seconds, and sometimes it will be as quick as dunking the ladyfingers in and immediately removing them. Dunk one ladyfinger at a time then place it on a large plate.
  7. Once all your ladyfingers are ready remove your gelato from the freezer. Pour a small amount of the gelato in the bottom of a container, add a layer of ladyfingers, another layer of gelato, another layer of ladyfingers, then the last layer of gelato. With a vegetable peeler shave some baking chocolate over the top of the tiramisu gelato. Store in the freezer.
Lavender and Honey http://www.lavenderandhoney.net/
If you try this out I hope you let me know in the comments what you thought of the recipe! Thanks for the photography goes to my sister, Caroline. Please visit her blog and Youtube channel! This week I’m linking up at Girl and the Kitchen, so be sure to check out her blog!

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“Well you might change your mind…”

Apple / Lavender & Honey

I’ve been in many online discussions, from homeschooling alumni forums and chatrooms to Facebook. One phrase that I’ve witnessed being told many times over is “well you might change your mind…” Please, I implore you, don’t use this phrase. There are many phrases that should be avoided in a reasonable discussion, and this is one of them, I hope I can show you why.

It’s Demeaning:

With this phrase you’re implying that the other person’s views are not as valid as your own. You’ve thought your views through and find them reasonable, but because the other person disagrees with you they must be wrong and therefore may change their opinion over to the right one once they are as wise as you.

It’s an Excuse:

I often see this phrase used as an excuse to validate someone not wanting to listen to the other’s opinion. If you don’t plan on taking someone’s opinion seriously and don’t want to listen to it be truthful about it, instead of giving yourself false excuses.

You Lose Respect:

When having a polite discussion the two parties should have a mutual respect for the other’s opinion. This does not mean you have to agree or think it wise, but you respect that the other person is a person and therefore has a right to their opinion. When you disregard their opinion with this phrase it causes them to lose respect for you, as you won’t show them any. Respect should be mutual

It Could Go Both Ways:

Yes, the other person could change their mind. That’s life, we all grow from our experiences and trials and come to a new opinion on aspects of life. If you tell someone they might change their opinion (to your presumably correct one), the same goes for you. You might very well change your opinion on the topic one day as well. If the possibility of someone changing their mind was a valid excuse to not listen to their thoughts then we would never listen to anyone, including ourselves.

I hope I’ve made the case for avoiding this phrase. We may disagree with someone and think their opinion is uninformed, but let’s avoid using this phrase. Instead let’s listen to them, truly listen, and then once they are done give a thoughtful response of why we either agree or disagree.

What’s a phrase or word you think should typically be avoided?

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Productivity Through the Craziness of Life

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Productivity is one of those tricky things. Sometimes you’ve got it and you feel as if you could accomplish anything. Other days you feel like all you did was eat and explore Pinterest or browse your Facebook newsfeed. I’ve learned a lot about less than productive days, being forced to spend many doing nothing other than laying in bed due to the parasites attacking me from within. Thankfully I’m now also learning more about productive days, and how to have them even on not so good health days.

One of the biggest things for me to being productive is waking up early. Everyone will probably have a different waking time that’s right for them, which is okay, but I found six just right for me. When I was little I would automatically wake up around then, but trained myself out of it as my health declined and I was missing sleep at night. I find it an absolutely lovely time of the morning; the golden light rising through the sky while I spend time in the Word and still have a full day ahead of me, it’s a wonderful feeling.

To-do lists are also a big thing. Oddly enough I never think of writing myself one on the days that I oversleep, but I always benefit from them. When I was younger I hated them because I felt like a failure if I couldn’t accomplish everything, but over the years I learned that it’s okay if everything doesn’t get done.
The feeling of marking off an accomplishment is always wonderful, so sometimes I’ll get rather detailed in writing my to-do list, just to be able to mark more items off. Thankfully a more detailed list is also helpful for a forgetful memory.

A few months back I was able to set up a desk in my room, which has become greatly helpful, as long as I don’t let too many books stack up on it. It’s great because it encourages me to be organized, it only takes a minute to write myself a list or grab a pen, and it’s also a good workspace.

Putting social media on hold is important. I’ve gotten into the habit of checking social media when I’m sick, so I have to fight that other times when I’m on my computer with the need of accomplishing something. When writing this post between paragraphs I’ll automatically start opening a new tab to check Twitter or Facebook, but then have to stop myself. If I can stay on my task I can get it done quicker, so I don’t allow myself to stop my current task to check social media. 

I’ve found that if I play music it can help me work smoother. Oftentimes when I’m having my brain fog I will have to stop a bunch of times to remember what I was doing, but if I have music playing it seems as if my brain goes on automatic and I don’t slow down. I find playing Pandora or one or several of my favorite albums on repeat helps me get much more done during the day.

Finally, the most important thing is to remember Who is in control of my life, every moment of it. It’s okay if I’m too sick to do the dishes on the counter that are annoying me, my hands are too shaky to work on my art, or if all I can do is take care of myself by sleeping all day. The point is to bring glory to Him through all I do, whether it be eating and drinking, being productive around the house, or working on healing my body. 

What are some things that help you be more productive? 

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