2.28.2011

The List that Never Ends: # 171-180

Thanking God today for...

171. weekends - time to rest and regroup.

172. Josh's surviving midterms.

173. a sunny day and 9 holes...


174. a fun time with Josh, family, and friends...


175. goofing off with a sweet little nephew in a golf cart...


176. a change of perspective on some things...



177. hymns and chances to sing them...

It Is Well With My Soul


178. Veterinarians who take good care of my doggie and do all the necessary (but painful) things he needs done so that I don't have to do them.

179. chances to see old friends.

180. magnanimity.

Are you giving thanks today? Link up with me over at:



Have a lovely week...
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2.27.2011

Quotables: George Eliot



"Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving us wordy evidence of the fact."
- George Eliot



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2.23.2011

Cleaning Frenzy...

Hiya, Peeps.

Not much to report this week... After a big project like the mural I just finished last week, I like to take a few days to unwind and get caught up on things around the house. I've been doing a little spring cleaning this week, and now, I'm enjoying the sparkling, fresh-smelling, and oh-so-transient luxury of a clean house.

Ahh... it was a beautiful 34 seconds...

...and thus the Second Law of Thermodynamics marches on.

Anyway.

Since my husband has been going back to school (and since I am a starving artist), I have been trying to look for ways to slash our budget within an inch of our lives be frugal. Because I have also developed some crazy allergies to a lot of different chemical fragrances and products over the past few years, cleaning supplies seemed to be a logical place to save some money (and kleenex, and allergy-induced misery). A while back I started doing a little research on making my own cleaning products from basic supplies at home.

I thought I would share a few of the recipes I've found/adapted here in case you'd like to start mixing your own cleaning supplies as well. I've found that they work just as well as (or better than) the more expensive versions at the store, and they are much healthier and safer for you and your family.

So, without further ado, here are a few of my favorites. Some of these I've created myself from recipes I've found online and tweaked. If used as-is, I will add the credit source.

Homemade Glass Cleaner

1 cup water
1 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon dish soap (I use Joy brand)

Mix in a spray bottle, shake well, and spray on mirrors and windows - use a glass cloth or newspaper for a streak-&-lint-free shine.




Homemade Furniture Polish

2 cups water
1 cup white vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
5 drops essential oil (I like lemon or sweet orange)

Mix and pour into clean spray bottle. Spray on furniture and wipe with a microfiber cloth.

Homemade Kitchen Spray (I got this recipe from this sweet lady)

2 tsp. Borax
2 Tblsp. white vinegar
2 c. hot water
1/4 tsp. sweet orange essential oil
1/4 tsp. eucalpytus essential oil
1/4 tsp. lavender essential oil
3 drops tea tree essential oil

Mix together and stir until dry ingredients dissolve. Pour into spray bottle. Spray as needed on any surface except glass. Scrub and rinse with a clean, damp cloth. Eucalyptus, lavender, and tea tree oil have antimicrobial properties and the orange oil cuts grease.

Shower Cleaner

2 cups water
1/4 cup white vinegar
3 drops tea tree essential oil

Mix, spray, scrub! If you need a "scouring" product, baking soda works great.... Use the baking soda mixed with water or dish detergent first, rinse, then follow with the above recipe. Be aware that vinegar and baking soda will react when mixed - it will fizz and foam a lot (so do not combine in a bottle - it might explode). If used seperately, the vinegar will help rinse away the baking soda residue.


Homemade "Air Freshener"

I am HIGHLY allergic to plug-ins, candles, and chemical fragrance sprays. However, I do like for my house to smell nice.... especially when having company over. So, to get a clean and festive scent in the air, I simmer a pot of hot water and add in the following:

Orange slices or peels
Whole cloves
Cinnamon sticks

It will give your house a lovely "potpourri" scent, it's all natural, and it will also help add some humidity to the air during the dry winter months.... However, don't forget about it! It doesn't smell too good when all the water evaporates and the oranges start to burn (not that I speak from personal experience or anything, ehem...). Also, be sure to tell your guests that this is NOT hot cider - someone will inevitably want to drink it!

Homemade Carpet Shampoo Recipe

I just discovered this one - you can substitute the pricey store-bought carpet chemicals with white vinegar! Simply mix 1/2 c. white vinegar in with your hot water, then shampoo as usual. It removes odors, gets your carpet clean, and vinegar is also supposed to kill mold. The nice part is, it's great for people with allergies or chemical sensitivities (like me) and it's much safer for you and your kids and pets.

White vinegar is a great all-purpose cleaner to keep on hand... there are so many different uses for it. A few random uses are:

Use it to remove mineral deposits and hard-water buildup from your shower tiles. You can also soak shower heads in it to loosen up deposits.
Use it (along with baking soda) to help unclog drains. (Be careful - they will react and fizz a lot!)
Use it to loosen burnt or baked on food from pots and pans - simply pour some white vinegar into the pot (so that it covers the burnt stuff), let soak for a while, and then scrub away.
Use it to de-odorize furniture (spray on, blot, let dry)



So, those are the homemade recipes I've been using so far. I do still purchase a few pre-made products...

I use...

Clorox Wipes- for disinfecting bathroom countertops, fixtures, and toilet seat/exterior
Scrubbing Bubbles' Nature's Source - for cleaning inside toilet bowl (it smells so good, I wish they made a shampoo too!)
Pine Sol - for mopping the wood & tile floors
Swiffer Wet Mop Wipes - for mopping up quick spills

I don't make home-made versions of everything, but I've wound up saving a bundle by mixing some of my own cleaning products at home, and they are much more gentle on the ol' schnoz (and skin & wallet) than many of the harsh chemical versions you'll find at the supermarket.

I hope this post has been helpful! Not exactly my typical kind of post, but I thought some of you might find it interesting.... I'll be back with some more creative projects soon!

Hope you're having a lovely week!
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2.21.2011

Happy President's Day, and the List that Never Ends: #161-170

Tomorrow is technically Washington's birthday, and Lincoln's was on the 12th, but today is the national observation of President's Day, celebrating both...

Here's a little collage I made last year with a great quote from our 16th President.... 
Digital and Mixed Media Collage by Beth Stone
Copyright ©2009 Beth Stone
I wish our current political leaders would take this to heart....





Multi-sized prints and greeting cards of this collage are available for purchase in my Etsy shop!
 
 
 
...and... below is today's installment of
"The List that Never Ends."
 
It's been a rough week in a lot of ways, and I've been a little down in the dumps about several things. Whenever I feel that way, the quickest way for me to get my thinking in line is to start counting my blessings... so here we go:
 
161. The power of prayer.
 
162. One extra "weekend" day for Josh at home.
 
163. Second (and third and fourth and.... ) chances
 
164. An exciting mystery package from a faraway country...
 
165. The fun of finding and giving a perfect gift.
 
166. My Mamaw's homemade BBQ. (Seems like BBQ is becoming a regular theme here. Hmm...)
 
167. Being blessed by hearing  Ken Ham, Jason Lisle, and Henry Morris speak at the Origins Conference last week.
 
168. People who live like they believe that what they believe is really real.
 
169. The satisfaction of a completed project.
 
170. That the answer to every problem we have can be found in the Bible if we would just look for it and believe it and live it.
 
Are you giving thanks today?
Link up with us over at:
 
 

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2.20.2011

Quotables: Martin Luther



"The authority of Scripture is greater than the comprehension of the whole of man's reason."
-Martin Luther




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2.19.2011

The Weekend Gallery of Miscellany

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1. Hallmark Card Racket Valentine's Day: Although I do normally enjoy the holiday (in spite of the typical over-commercialization of it, like every other holiday), this year was pretty simple. Since Josh has been in PA school, we haven't had much time for anything else.... So, on Valentine's Day, he studied and went to school in Knoxville, and I worked on my mural in Greeneville... I DID, however, come home to some beautiful roses and a sweet card.... I had given Josh a new sweater and some snacky-type foods to take back to school with him on Sunday.... Unfortunately, Harvey found the heart-shaped box of Reese's Cups and enjoyed quite a few of them before we discovered him. There were a few left for Josh though. The little turkey... (Harvey, not Josh!)



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2. I finished the mural on Wednesday, which gave me a couple of much-needed days at home to clean up the house, unpack my mural supplies, fill some orders, and generally restore order to life. Whew. I like that feeling. I was also pleasantly surprised when Josh came home a day early due to cancelled classes on Friday, so we got some good extra time together... even managed to go out to our favorite Thai place for dinner last night with some good friends. Good times.

3. I always listen to audio books while I'm working on paintings - especially murals. So, while finishing up this latest mural, I worked my way through several audio books. Below are the titles and a few thoughts on each:

Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan
  • An excellent book - one every Christian should read (or listen to). I read this in high school, but it was great to revisit it via the audio version. It is such a vivid description of the Christian walk/life. I said this before, but I think it's an interesting exercise to go through the book and then try to figure out what your name would be if your entire character had to be summed up in one word.... Scary thought - we might behave a lot differently if people called us by our REAL names... just a thought.
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • I had read this one before also, but it was a fun listen. The reader for this book did an excellent job - he did the "voices" for each character and such. Lots of fun, and a quintessential adventure story. Stevenson is so good at character development.
Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton
  • Wow - what an excellent book! I would like to read this one again after hearing the audio version. It's similar in many ways to C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity. He basically tells his own conversion story and the thinking process that led him to his "discovery" of Biblical Christian orthodoxy. He's quite brainy, which is why I'd like to read it again myself without multi-tasking - I'm sure I missed a lot of good points. He's also quite funny - I really enjoyed his sense of humor.
Tremendous Trifles by G.K. Chesterton
  • Another gem... in this, Chesterton takes everyday little objects or occurrences and turns them into profound object lessons. I plan on going back and reading this one again without any other distractions.... good stuff.
Ben Hur by Lew Wallace
  • I read this in high school or junior high, but I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting it in the audio version. Such an excellent story... When he started planning this novel, Wallace was not a Christian and set out to "disprove" Christianity through the research and writing of this novel. Things didn't turn out the way he planned, however - his studies led to his own conversion, and the novel is one of the best pieces of Christian fiction ever written.
The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain
  • Another fun book. I read this in college for an American Literature class I took, and I have been enjoying it just as much the second time around as I did then. Twain is a master of humor. The novel is the chronicle of the narrator's trip "across the Pond." If you're an American and have ever travelled outside the United States (especially with a group of other tourists), you will find this especially funny and insightful. His insights on human nature (and perfect descriptions of the stereotypical "American tourist") are priceless. Those of you from outside the United States (who have been so kind as to allow us tourists into your own home countries) will probably get a chuckle from the descriptions as well... :o) A little warning - it does contain some of the racial slurs and stereotypes that have made Twain's book so controversial, so be prepared for that. Twain does, however, make just as much fun of himself and his own companions as he does of any of the foreign folks they encounter, so I suppose you could say that he mocks everyone equally. Anyway, on the whole, the book is hilarious.

4. Today I received something exciting in the mail from a faraway place....


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One of my favorite things about blogging is the way it lets you discover "kindred-spirits" all over the world. I recently connected with this sweet lady when she was kind enough to e-mail me after finding my blog, and I have been enjoying "getting to know her" here in blogland. Jenni C. is from South Africa, and I am completely fascinated by her photos of her beautiful country. I was also excited to discover that we share a mutual love for Jesus and also for creating art...

A few weeks ago I was thrilled to learn that I won a giveaway she was offering on her blog..... and today, the package arrived in the mail!

After oohing-and ahhing over the beautiful South African stamps, the handmade tag, and lovely fabric wrapping the surprise....


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...I opened it to discover a beautiful, shimmering piece of Jenni's original artwork:


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The piece is entitled "I Am Captured by His Love," and is a 6"x8" mixed media on a canvas panel. You can't really see it in this photo, but it has a beautiful iridescent sparkle to it, and the theme is perfect for a month celebrating love.... I love how this piece captures the feeling of God's great love for us and how we can rejoice in it.

Thank you so much, Jenni! It's beautiful! This will be getting an honored spot in my little studio - a great reminder of God's love for me, and also some beautiful artistic inspiration. Thank you! :o)


I hope you are having a lovely weekend, wherever you are, and rejoicing in God's great love for you....
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2.17.2011

Finis....

Well, after a little over two weeks, it is finally done!

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Yesterday, I finished up a few little touch ups and added some bugs, did an antiquing glaze over the whole wall, and then applied a protective clear coat. The "cloudiness" you see below is a combination of the glaze which hadn't dried completely (it goes on milky white, but dries clear), and reflections of the lights on the wet wall....but you get the general idea. You can see how the antiquing glaze sort of "unifies" the colors and makes it look like a finished piece.

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The bright colors got toned down a bit, and now the subjects don't feel like they're popping off the wall....

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I like the way it makes it look like a vintage storybook too.

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One of my favorite things to do in a mural is to add some tiny little details, like insects. Not only does it make the mural more interesting, but it also gives parents/teachers something with which to distract fussy kids....
 
"Let's hunt for bugs - can you find....
3 bees?
2 ladybugs?
a line of marching ants?"
 
That sort of thing...
 
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So there you have it! I hope you've enjoyed the in-progress posts and this little "tour" of the finished mural! Thank you for all of your very kind comments - they make my day! :o)
 
Hope you're having a good week....
 
Linking up at:
StudioJRUJoin  us Saturdays at tatertotsandjello.com for the weekend wrap 
 up           party!


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