Busy as a....well....bee...

 Hey, Friends...

Whew! It's been a busy few months for us! When we weren't entertaining company, we were doing a little traveling of our own. I'll try to share some travel photos with you soon, but first, I thought I'd show you what I spent my time working on in the car!

This first "bee skep" hat was knitted for the new baby of some very good friends of ours... I had been wanting to try making one of these ever since I spotted a similar one on Pinterest, and overall, I'm very happy with how it came out. I'm still working on perfecting the art of using DPNs without the dreaded "laddering" effect, but it's not too terribly noticeable on this project. The hat itself is knitted, and the bees are needle felted and then sewn on.

My second project was another baby hat for my sister-in-law's new baby. In the first few photos (forgive the groundhog - I don't have any babies or dolls around for models!) I accidentally put the hat on upside down - the scallops should be along the bottom, not around the face. Oops. However, it's on correctly in the photos of my niece (isn't she adorable?). I guess I should pay more attention when I'm photographing projects.

If you'd like the patterns or my notes for either of these hats, you can find them on my Ravelry profile. If you'd like to learn more about needle felting, check out my tutorial videos in the sidebar!


Back in Business!

I am happy to announce that after ten months of navigating through red tape, moving continents, career changes, traveling, loads of company, and life in general, my Etsy shop has now re-opened!

My new hymn collage, "A Mighty Fortress," is available in a variety of print sizes and greeting cards, and I will be adding more new items over the next few weeks. And of course, all of my older pieces are still available. Stop by for prints, greeting cards, handmade jewelry, and magnets.

Thank you all for your loyalty and patience as we transitioned into our new life here in Spain. I'm looking forward to getting back to work.

By the way, it's never too early to start Christmas shopping... ehem. ;o)


And the winner is....

We have a winner for the Diamond Candle Giveaway....

Congratulations to Amanda Reed! Amanda, I've already sent you a private e-mail with your free candle code which will allow you to choose any candle you'd like from the Diamond Candles website.

To the rest of you, thank you so much for visiting the blog and taking time to participate in the giveaway. If you'd like to try your own Diamond Candle, be sure to visit the website and do a little shopping!

Congratulations, Amanda!


Diamond Candle Review and Giveaway!

Recently, I was contacted by the nice folks at Diamond Candles, who asked me if I would be interested in doing a blog review in exchange for a free candle for myself and one to give away to one of you, my fabulous readers!

Image Courtesy of Diamond Candles

I wasn't familiar with Diamond Candles, so I did a quick Google search and discovered that a Diamond Candle is an all natural, eco-friendly, 100% soy candle that contains a surprise ring worth anywhere from $10-$5,000 inside!

You: Say what?!!

Yep, it's true - buried treasure in each candle! It's like the lottery, except you will actually get something for your money every time.

You can check it out for yourself on their website, blogYouTube channel, Facebook, TwitterInstagram, or Pinterest. People are finding some really gorgeous (and in some cases, really valuable) rings inside these candles, peeps!

This was the point when I reached a bit of a dilemma. I was very curious; but, if you know me well, you'll know that I don't do candles or air fresheners - not because I don't want to, but because my nose is a serious over-reactor. No kidding, if you met my nose at a party, you'd give your friends a knowing, sidelong glance and mouth the words, "Drama Queen," when its back was turned.

You: Huh? Why would your nose be at a party without the rest of you? Gross.


Anyway, due to my intolerance of most candles, I wasn't quite sure if I should agree to the review or not.

But did I mention that there would be a ring worth up to $5,000 inside???

Um, hello?!? I had a pirate-themed birthday party when I was 9. You had me at "buried treasure."

So I agreed to the review and hoped I wouldn't be wearing a clothespin on my nose while I burnt my candle down in my treasure-hunting, ring-lottery mania.

You: You'd better stay away from Vegas, weirdo.

I deliberated long and hard over all of the fabulous-sounding scent options, but finally decided on "Apple Slice."

My candle arrived very quickly, and I immediately lit it.

I was pleasantly surprised by how natural and "real" the scent was... It didn't smell like an artificial, perfume-y imitation of an apple. It smelled like an actual freshly-sliced apple...  I was almost tempted to taste it! (Don't worry, I didn't. Don't you try it either.)

I burnt the candle for several hours two days in a row and didn't have any type of adverse nasal reaction (a small wonder in my case). The candle was strong enough to fill my whole house with a delicious, fresh apple scent; but not so strong that it was overpowering. It was just right. So you might want to give these candles a try if you, like me, are sensitive to fragrances. These just might work for you!

You: Okay, okay, quit talking about your nose and show us the ring already!

After about 12 hours of burn time (these are long-lasting candles), I finally glimpsed some foil! I grabbed my tweezers, blew out the flame, and fished the little protective pouch up out of the wax. (Be careful when you do this - it's hot!) The ring was inside a small plastic baggy, then wrapped in foil to protect it from the wax. I opened it up, and found this:

How pretty is that?

You: So what's it worth?

Well, I'm not sure. It DOES have a stamp inside (I've read that the $10 costume pieces don't.) I think it says, "China," and something else too small to make out. According to the website, the ones that say something like "China" or "Thailand" are worth around $100. The more expensive ones have "14K" stamped inside. So, it looks like I have one of the mid-range rings, which is pretty exciting! Next time I go to a jeweler, I might take it along and see if they can give me an estimate.

The only con to my Diamond Candle experience was that the ring is a bit big for me, and there was no option to choose a ring size when I placed my order. The website says they include rings in the most common sizes, so if you have average-sized fingers, your ring will probably fit. However, if you're like me and have munchkin hands (my wedding set is size 4 1/4 to give you an idea), then it may run kind of big on you. Of course, if you get one of the more expensive rings, then it would be worth paying a few bucks to have a jeweler size it down for you.

If you get a costume piece that's too big, you could always give it to a friend, or you can get creative with it - like the lady on Pinterest who turned several rings into a pretty statement bracelet. People are also getting creative with the glass jars after their Diamond Candles burn down. So, it's like three gifts in one!

Speaking of gifts, a Diamond Candle would make a fun and unique gift for a wife, girlfriend, fiancé, mother, daughter, sister, grandmother, aunt, in-law, bridesmaid, or friend...

And now, for the exciting part: I've got a coupon code for a FREE DIAMOND CANDLE to give to one of you! To enter, simply choose from the options in the form below. Once the contest ends, I will contact the winner with your free candle coupon code! Good luck, and be sure to share this with all of your friends! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

P.S. I've tried the "Hawaiian Coconut" candle now too, and it's fabulous - it's the closest thing to sitting on the beach sipping a fruity umbrella drink without, you know, actually sitting on the beach sipping a fruity umbrella drink. Bonus: it didn't freak my drama-queen nose out either! You can check it and all of the other great scent options out HERE.


{ART} I Corinthians 13 Sign

We recently bought a new king sized mattress set, but haven't found a bed frame or headboard that we like to go with it... I wasn't digging the giant blank space above the bed, so I thought I'd whip up a little something to fill the space while we continue the hunt.
I've had this piece of plywood sitting around for several years, and I decided that this would be a good use for it. I love the subway and chalkboard art that I'm seeing everywhere right now, so I thought I'd do something in a similar style, using one of my favorite Scriptures from I Corinthians 13:4-8. We had this read at our wedding so it's special in that way, plus it's just a good reminder to have hanging in our home.

I had a lot of positive feedback when I posted this on my Facebook page, so I thought I'd do a little post on how I made it, and include the graphic so that you can make one too, if you'd like.
My piece of plywood was 30"x48," and after sanding the edges and front and back, I coated the whole thing with a layer of white acrylic gesso. I used several different colors of acrylic craft paint, ranging from a light celery green to an aqua blue and burnt umber. I squirted small puddles of each color onto a paper plate, then added a puddle of acrylic blending medium in the middle. Using a large, regular paintbrush (like you'd use for painting trim in your house), I dipped the bristles into a few of the colors at a time, including a little of the medium, and then brushed it onto the plywood. I kept the brush fairly dry, and added different colors in a streaky pattern (don't just blend all the colors together - if you dab one end of the brush into one color, the other end into a different color, then tap it into the medium, that should make it turn out like this. You want a streaky, weathered look that makes it seem like it's had several layers of different colors of paint, and they've worn off in places.
After my base coat had dried, I used an art projector to transfer the lettering onto the board. When you project it, you need to make sure that the lines are straight, and that the projector and board are perfectly facing each other, without being at an angle (or it will distort the lettering/lines). I penciled the letters in first, then used a small flat brush and a small round brush to go over the letters in an antique white. This part can be a little intimidating, but trust me, mine doesn't look perfect up close.
If you don't have access to a projector, another option would be to have a printing place (like Staples or Kinkos) do one of those giant prints for you (like they do for blueprints), then you could use graphite paper to transfer it to the board by tracing it.
Once my letters were dry, I mixed a small amount of burnt umber into the acrylic medium, and did a glaze over the whole thing to give it a uniform, "antiqued" look that toned down the contrast between the background and the lettering.
I let that dry, then added some hooks and wire to the back for hanging! I also used some sandpaper to knock a little paint off the corners and increase the "weathered old sign" look.
I'm sorry I didn't take pictures of each step so you can see what I'm talking about - this was kind of  a spur of the moment project - but feel free to send me any questions you may have. I'd love to see pictures of your finished project if you make one yourself!
Here's a copy of the graphic I made in Photoshop - feel free to copy for your own personal use.


{Art} Hymn Series: "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God"

My latest collage, based on the hymn,
A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
by Martin Luther
A mighty fortress is our God,
a bulwark never failing;
our helper He amid the flood
of mortal ills prevailing.
For still our ancient foe
doth seek to work us woe;
his craft and power are great,
and armed with cruel hate,
on earth is not his equal.
Did we in our own strength confide,
our striving would be losing,
were not the right man on our side,
the man of God's own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His name,
from age to age the same,
and He must win the battle.
And though this world,
with devils filled,
  should threaten to undo us,
we will not fear, for God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us.
The Prince of Darkness grim,
we tremble not for him;
his rage we can endure,
for lo, his doom is sure;
one little word shall fell him.
That word above all earthly powers,
no thanks to them, abideth;
the Spirit and the gifts are ours,
thru Him who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go,
this mortal life also;
the body they may kill;
God's truth abideth still;
His kingdom is forever.
I hope you're having a lovely week.



Mi casa es su casa...

Last weekend we were invited to our landlord's birthday party, and for the occasion, I wanted to do something special. The house we live in is a stacked duplex, of sorts. The top level is our home, and the lower level (which is completely separate) is our landlord's.

I decided to do a watercolor of the house; the original was a gift for our landlord, and I plan on making a print for us to remember our home in Spain.

Here's the finished piece:

And here are the in-progress pictures for you to enjoy...

The gift was a big hit, and now I've got a special piece of artwork to commemorate this unique time in our lives...

In other news, I'm in the process of getting my business approved by the command here, so I hope to have my shop reopened for business in the next few weeks.... stay tuned!


Day Trip to Zahara

About an hour and a half from where we live is the charming pueblo blanco of Zahara. Josh thought it looked neat on Google Earth, so on Saturday, we loaded up in our little Peugeot and drove over to check it out. It was a beautiful day, and a beautiful drive...

Along the autovia, we noticed that sunflowers are now blooming in many of the fields out in the country, and of course, we had to stop for a photo op...

 It was amazing! But we kept driving towards our destination...

Zahara is one of the many pueblos blancos (white villages) for which Spain is famous, and this particular village is tucked between the ruins of a medieval village and castle built by the Moors and a beautiful lake, surrounded by mountains. It's lovely.

The streets are as quaint as they come, with flowers and cobblestones everywhere, and neat little garden spots tucked away in every nook and cranny.

We made the trek through the village to the very top of the mountain, where we explored the ruins of this ancient castle and took in the magnificent view.

We may or may not have gotten a little dizzy looking down....

We came, we saw, we conquered, we took our shoes off because the rocks were so slippery.

Olive groves are a common sight in Spain.

This was definitely one of the coolest places we've been so far, and we had a really wonderful day exploring it.

We also enjoyed the variety of wildflowers that were popping up everywhere....

Yep, that's the type of snail that they eat here, but only three months out of the year, when the snails are feeding on dry grass. I guess that makes them taste better. I ate one a few weeks ago, can you believe it? Honestly, the taste isn't bad... but they are a little chewy, and it's hard to get over the fact that they have little faces and antennae and you have to suck them out of the shell. Best eaten with the eyes shut....

Mmm... delicioso.

On our way back to our car, we happened upon the hangout of the Classic Car Club of Andalucía and enjoyed checking out some of the sweet rides...

We headed back home, then decided to go to our favorite little café beside the castle in Rota, El Castillo.

Next to the café is a church, where this carriage surrounded by rose petals was waiting to pick up a bride and groom...
They waved to us as we were eating our dinner!

We enjoyed a beautiful sunset...

 ...walked along the boardwalk...

...then headed to the base to catch the late show at the drive-in theater. It was a fairy-tale kind of day.