Pregnancy and Loss Remembrance Day

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So, I’m on Instagram.

I follow chels819 and she’s the author of a blog called Starbucks, Peace and the Pursuit of a baby.

Her blog on the title of this post is here:

TrialsBringPeace.com

 She posted an Instagram post this morning that really tugged at my heart strings. October 15 - pregnancy loss awareness day

Here is her notes about the post -

Today is set aside to join together for ‘Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day’ – a day where people can find support in community, sharing and giving love despite the fact that all our circumstances may be very different. We offer support to those who understand what we have gone through by loss and we receive support from those who simply love and embrace us as observers in our story. We are so thankful for you all. My #blog has been updated with a special post about this day and the link is in the profile. To be clear, today isn’t about looking for pity or sad eyes or making anyone uncomfortable. It’s about embracing the love we have to give and share and remembering these little lives that were cut short and now get to spend time in heaven with their Creator. Too many suffer from this pain quietly. I’m here if you ever want to talk … or just have someone listen. You’re not alone and your lost little ones were so loved. I ask that today, between 7-8pm in your timezone, that you light a candle in your home and join in a world wide “wave of light” as we remember little ones lost from our own family or in honor of the families who have suffered. What a beautiful wave this creates across the globe and is incredibly touching. (DM me a picture of yours if you’d like, I would love to join in with a prayer and heart of gratitude as I remember our 2 miscarriages and 7 lost transferred embryos. Or if your profile is set to public, you’re welcome to tag me in it). Help us celebrate this special day … Give these babies and infants the honor they deserve and the love their families need.

#miscarriages #miscarriage #pregnancyloss #infantdeath #october15 #waveoflight #awareness #tearsandremembrance

I think the thing about my miscarriages that I want to get across to everyone that reads this post is this: I am not looking for sympathy or to make anyone uncomfortable.  That is so not me.

I would rather tell you something that is hard for me to fathom on most days.

Despite my miscarriages, I was blessed with three healthy, beautiful, perfect (to me) children.

Me.

I was blessed. pregnancy & loss awareness day

I remember when I was pregnant with my fifth child, my living daughter, I told my husband that I was done having children, especially if this one didn’t make it.  Thankfully she made it to full term and is now turning five really soon.

And then we were blessed with our third precious child whom I usually refer to as #mybaby or E.  He is our gift and still is.  I know the Lord has great things planned for him, as he does with my other children of course, but he is such a gift.

My posted picture on Instagram was planned in my head all day, taken by my husband.  I had a miscarriage before I had my oldest son, represented by the first candle.

My oldest son was 22-months old when I had a DNC for my third child, one whom I got to see the heartbeat and one that I will always hold in my heart.  That loss hurts the most.

The fourth baby was ectopic but thankfully I was spared from another surgery.  I was put on medication for almost four months before my body finally dispelled the pregnancy hormones in its entirety.  Those months were awful mentally and that miscarriage was the reason I didn’t want to keep trying.

As we took this photo, my children didn’t understand why we were taking it.  I told them I wanted to and they went with it.  Did I mention they were perfect?

My story: My life is full.

I have so much to be thankful for.  And yet, I will never forget my losses. 

You have hope. There is always hope.  My hope lies in Christ alone and I pray you know him and the joy he brings.

I look at those faces and will always believe with every fiber of my being there is a God and he loves me more than I love those children.

As I write this blog, mostly for my children to understand me when they are older, I pray my words will help others know that you are not alone.


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I Love my Hamster Wheel

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I’m posting today about my little world.

Here is a link to one of my favorite celebrities recent posts on Facebook – Mike Rowe.  It truly gives perspective into my little world and the article itself really spoke to me.  It’s really long, but it’s a really good read in my opinion.

Mike Rowe – Off The Wall Stephen Adams, Auburn, AL “Hi, Mike…..

Why would I post about this you ask?

Well, because you asked….

 I love my hamster wheel.

This is a photo of me in the early morning sun on one of my projects.  I joked on FB that I knew I had a halo around my head and here was the proof.

This is a photo of me in the early morning sun on one of my projects. I joked on FB that I knew I had a halo around my head and here was the proof.

By my definition, a “hamster wheel” is the little contraption that sits in a hamsters cage so that the hamster can get exercise.  But the exercise it gets, never takes it anywhere.  It’s still stuck in a cage, still keeps running in the same place but works extremely hard, even if it never gets ANYWHERE.

The analogy of a “hamster wheel” is one that can be used for people who feel that they are constantly working with no result or not getting anywhere in their place of employment.

There are SO MANY BLOGS written by and about people who couldn’t stand working for someone else (and hence not going anywhere with his or her career/life) and “got off the hamster wheel” by either starting their own business or chasing after their dream of becoming a  _____________________ (you fill in the blank.)

Then there are people like me.

I love my hamster wheel.


Don’t get me wrong, I don’t love everything about my job, but I do love the job itself, I love the sense of accomplishment it brings me and I enjoy (for the most part) working with the people I get to work with.

So what do I do for a living that I love so much?

Photo of men working on a box culvert in the County of Fresno.  They are pouring concrete into the base of the new culvert, or water diversion system.

Photo of men working on a box culvert in the County of Fresno. They are pouring concrete into the base of the new culvert, or water diversion system.

I am a Registered Civil Engineer that works for the County I live in (a government agency.)  My actual title is called a “Resident Engineer” but people are more likely to understand “Construction Engineer.”

I oversee the construction of projects by Contractors, ensuring that the plans and specifications are followed.  My duties include being a paper pusher, a manager, an Engineer, an advice giver, a listener, and an ambassador for Christ while working with men who need all those things in their lives, even if they don’t know it.

This is a paving machine at work in the hot sun. DeAndrasCrafts.com

This is a paving machine at work in the hot sun. DeAndrasCrafts.com

Many of these men go to work with little complaint.  Oh how we could learn from them.  They make great money but to much expense to their bodies and sometimes families.  They work in the hot sun, in the cold days and sometimes nights, bend their backs often, work around loud equipment and breath in fumes that would make any asthmatic person run away with screaming terror.

This is a construction worker cutting a sidewalk to improve it with a handicap accessible ramp.  He is using a sawcutting machine, that is extremely loud and makes you very dirty.

This is a construction worker cutting a sidewalk to improve it with a handicap accessible ramp. He is using a sawcutting machine, that is extremely loud and makes you very dirty.

But you ask many of them ~ and I have ~ and many of these strong men will tell you that they love their jobs too.

Oh how people complain when we work.  We disrupt their lives with our construction signs, our noises, our fumes and our traffic control to keep the public safe.

But these men are building bridges, putting in wheelchair and handicap accessible ramps, improving your roadways for a better driving experience in your vehicle and doing what needs to be done to complete a project in a specific amount of time, with a specific amount of money all the while trying to keep you (the public) safe from harm, sometimes harming themselves in the long run.

This is a bridge deck being built up.  There is a concrete pumper in the center of this picture and the men are stepping on the rebar portion of the deck while the concrete is being poured.

This is a bridge deck being built up. There is a concrete pumper in the center of this picture and the men are stepping on the rebar portion of the deck while the concrete is being poured.

I want to give a plug to Mike Rowe and his new show on CNN called “Somebody’s Gotta Do it.

I don’t have cable so I watched the first episode on the website link above.

The name of the show is exactly how I feel about my job and the people I work with.

I hope to enlighten those who don’t know what its’ like to work hard and still love his/her job.

It happens all the time.

People can love their job.

I love my job.  I hope you do too!


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Yoda Purse – An upcycled story

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Yoda Purse w-VansMy love for Star Wars has come to the point where I made myself a Yoda purse.

If you came to find this blog because of this purse, let me assure you that I absolutely love this purse and use it.  And no, it is not for sale.

Showing off my Yoda purses.

My own husband photo-bombed my special moment of posing with the two purses I created.

I hand drew this purse, based off of an image I found on the net.  I made this one for myself (instructions below) and then one for my friend.  Her purse is pleather (or fake leather) and I used the same process here with a couple more steps.  You can see those instructions here: Yoda Purse – Upcycled It Is

I found the Fossil brand name purse at the Flea Market with the specific purpose to draw Master Yoda on it.  I paid $5 for mine (real leather) and it was really clean on the inside. The Fossil purse I found at the Flea Market.

I used drawing items similar to the following:

Pitt Artist Pens – Wallet Set of All 4 Pen Styles in Black

Sanford Sharpie Permanent MarkersPilot

Gold and Silver Metallic Permanent Markers

I also copied and pasted this drawing to have a copy of.   The copy of the Yoda image I found off the net.

First of all, I simply cleaned the purse using a dry paper towel to wipe up any loose particles of dirt or grime. I didn’t rub the paper towel too hard either, as I didn’t want the leather to get anymore scratched than it already was. img_4576

As this was a previously used purse, you can see from the photos that the corners of the purse were already discolored from use. img_4574

I tried using a pencil to sketch the lines out for the Yoda, but it didn’t work. I ended up free-hand sketching the lines with the black art pens. img_4585 img_4587 img_4588I started at the top of the head again and drew the ears, forehead details, eyes, nose, mouth and chin/jawline, in that order.

Next I colored in the details of the hair and eyes with the silver and gold permanent markers. img_4592 img_4594 img_4596

I highlighted his facial features in a green permanent marker, to give some depth to the black lines. img_4601

I colored in the robe with a brown sharpie marker. img_4603 img_4606 img_4610

Lastly, I gave some additional highlights to the face and robe using a wide-tipped gold scrapbooking marker I’ve had for years. img_4615

I DID NOT spray the purse with any acrylic spray, although I will admit I tried it on the bottom of the purse to see what would happen. Just as I suspected, the spray turned the purse a darker color.

The permanent marker has not smudged (yet) on the purse and I don’t expect that it will.

Overall, I love it. I have gotten photos taken of it by complete strangers, I have been asked more times than I can count if I hand drew the pattern and where I got it, the list of questions goes on and on.

0Both Purses

Thanks for reading this! I hope you try to upcycle a purse in the near future too!



Why I enjoy Halloween

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Believe me, I’m not going to get all philosophical on you.

THAT IS SO NOT MY THING.

You can read a ton of other blogs on how Christians “should” view Halloween, or how Halloween was started out as a pagan holiday and all the rest of the “you decide” type of blog posts that get you thinking about something that’s supposed to be something fun in America, that in my opinion, some people take way too seriously.

That’s not what I’m about so I’m just going to get to the point:

I really enjoy Halloween.

What I don’t like about it –

Zombies, bloody corpses of any kind, and things that imply our individual, impending death, etc.

What I do like about it -

Kids thinking about all the things they could be.

Kids dreaming about being someone else, even if it’s for just one evening.

Planning and preparing and getting ready for just one special evening with my kids.

Okay, I really LOVE the last one!

My oldest probably has three, maybe four years left to go trick-or-treating before he gets to old and believe me, I remember this every year!

Happy Halloween from DeAndrasCrafts

Halloween 2013 of DeAndrasCrafts kids.


 We’ve been preparing for Halloween at our house.

I start Halloween talk in late August after my birthday by simply asking my children what they want to be for Halloween.  Usually and thankfully that leads to all kinds of discussions, mainly about characters that are “in” right now, and what might make a good costume.

Since the time that each of my children were three years old, I have asked them individually what they would like to dress up as for Halloween.  My oldest, now eight and almost nine, has picked out his Halloween outfit since he was almost three.

He’s been Darth Vader, Yoda, Iron Man, Boba Fett, Han Solo and last year he was Two-Face or Harvey Dent from the Batman series.  I made that costume and the link takes you to the Instructable that shows how I did it.

You might see a trend in his choices of costumes and I will say that my husband and I have always been a huge influence for the choice….

This year he has decided to be “A Jedi.”

Just a Jedi. I cheated  a little and bought a pre-made outfit to start with, but am in the preparing & creating phase to make it a better costume.

Don’t tell him but I’m pre-planning a FB post to my friends and family before he goes trick-or-treating to ensure that he is just going to be a Jedi, not someone in particular.

 Here’s the Jedi Robe I made one Sunday in September. Jedi RobeI got the instructions from Instructables – Sewing a Jedi or Harry Potter Robe.

My daughter, now almost five years old, has been Star Wars Child’s Deluxe Princess Leia Costume, Small, Queen Amidala, Hello Kitty, and last year was Tinker Bell.

This year, she’s planning on being Queen Elsa from the movie Frozen.  Thankfully that was an easy purchase for the costume from Amazon.

(Believe me, I have no shame in saying that.  I am just too busy to try to make a really good copy of the outfit.)

My youngest, at three-years old, had a hard time deciding what to be for Halloween this year.  He started out thinking he wanted to be a purple minion from Despicable Me 2.  It was going to take some work, but that was a relatively easy costume that I could put together.

Well, he changed his mind and wanted to be Super Mario instead.  This was after a discussion that he couldn’t be Darth Vader AGAIN.  (He was Darth Vader last year.)

Here’s a photo of the Mario Hat in progress. Mario Hat in progressI made this hat from an Instructable as well!  I will post the link of my Instructable when it’s complete.

Hopefully I’ll update this post with the instructions as I make the pieces of the costumes, but for now, enjoy the photo of my babies from last year’s Halloween.


Getting rid of the stuff….

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Boxes of StuffThe top photo is a photo I took at work.  It’s a hallway in a storage facility for the paper copies of old projects.

To my knowledge (and I’ve been working at the same place for 13-years) no one has tried to go through the boxes.

Now don’t get me wrong. This storage area has been “cleaned up” while I’ve worked there, at least twice that I can remember.  Someone had gone into the area and rearranged boxes, stacked boxes on other boxes, and I believe even thrown out boxes of paper work that were labeled over fifty years old.  I’ve known several people who have gone in there and swept the floor so we don’t kick up dust when we place more boxes of stuff in the room.

But as far as I know, no one has ever gone through the boxes.

I know why and I bet you could guess too.

No one has the time.

No one has ever really needed what was in the boxes, especially the old ones.

No one really cares.


I started what I think will be a short series on what I’ve been learning about myself lately.

I’m throwing it in amongst all the cool projects I finish and want to show off and the random bible lessons I’ve been learning along the way.

Today’s thoughts are on “my stuff.”

A very intelligent, wise woman told me recently that I have to “own” my stuff.

We were not talking about tangible objects at the time she told me this.  To me, this means that I have to own the junk, baggage, and issues that I have packed away in little boxes in the file cabinets of my mind.

I truly have not felt more enlightened than I did when this woman presented this concept to me.

It really seemed so simple.

I couldn’t blame my adult actions on what had happened to me as a child growing up.

See, my father left my mom, my brother and I several times when I was growing up.  He would come back, usually for anywhere from three months to even years before he would leave again.  From what I recall as a child of 8-years old until I was 14-years old, he left at least four times.  He would live with family members mostly – on couches and in spare rooms, in trailers in backyards, and at one point I remember him taking my brother and I for a weekend where he had rented a room in a house with two other people.

My father was not there for me as a child.

When I spoke with this woman about my issues, or what I thought were my issues, she asked me a question in the course of our conversation that changed my life: “When was the last time you felt rejected like that?

Without hesitation, I answered, “That’s easy, the last time my father left me as a child.”


My father left my mom, my brother and I for the last time, on June 17, 1990.

Yes, I remember the day.  It was a Sunday father’s day and my parents got into a huge fight on the way home from church.  My father, who hadn’t had a job in several months, spent my mother’s last $10 on gas, candy bars and soda from the closest mini-mart to church.  He claimed he didn’t know that was the last $10 we had to our name for the month.  Besides getting gas we were supposed to use that money for lunch for all four of us.

That’s how the story goes anyway.


If you haven’t read my blog before and you just read this post, let me assure you that my father is very much a part of my life.  He is the nanny to my three children and he is extremely co-dependent to me.  My mother and my father talk to each other at least three times a week and my father takes my mother places when I can’t.  We are extremely dysfunctional but it works for us.

So here I am in an office talking with a wise woman (draw your own conclusions) and she’s just asked me when the last time I felt rejected was.  And I told her.  And she responded with “I see.”

After a few more tense minutes of conversation with me she tells me that I have been using my father leaving me as an excuse to not do things.  It was an insecurity.

“What?  I’m not insecure about anything!” I told her.

Ultimately, (and seemingly ironically) my choices of not wanting to feel rejected and abandoned have hurt my marriage in choices I have made over the course of my life.

I had to own my issue that it was a feeling of abandonment that kept me from doing certain things, including keeping myself healthy and loving my husband for the fear of rejection by him.

I had to own it.

I realize that I did not describe what I learned from her as eloquently as she was able to describe it to me.

So let me go back to my boxes as that’s what helped me understand it further.

There is stuff (i.e. issues, insecurities, feelings of rejection and abandonment) in the boxes of the file cabinets in my head.  Let’s say those files are labeled “old and private”.

That stuff, no one else really cares about because it’s old, useless, and is just collecting dust.

But I hadn’t thrown it out yet.

More boxes of stuff as my life went on surrounded the boxes in those filing cabinets in my head.  They are labeled things like “marriage,” “children,” “vacation memories,” “life lessons,” the list goes on and on.

The filing cabinet, labeled “old and private” was still there, collecting dust and ready for somebody to read it.

But nobody cares. It’s in a filing cabinet in my head.

Personally, I now knew I needed to throw those files out.

I did throw them out.

I replaced the space with this verse -

The Lord will vindicate me;
    your love, Lord, endures forever—
    do not abandon the works of your hands.

Psalms 138:8

I am a precious work of the Lord’s hands.  I know that to be true without a doubt.  His love endures forever.  How could I ever feel rejected or abandoned?

I now own this verse.  Those feelings of rejection and abandonment are gone.  The love of the Lord is all I will ever need.  Ever.

Can you feel it?


Everybody has issues, right?

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Life Post #32It’s been a fantastic day.

I had a great day at work, a great morning and evening with my children, and got some things done around the house.

But, I’ve got issues.

I’ve got baggage from the past I can’t let go and I want to know why.

I’ve been soul searching lately.  I’ve been trying to find out what makes me excited to think about the future.

Well for me, the future generally means the next two months.

Literally.

We have a master calendar in our dining room that shows the next two months.  Right around my birthday in late August, I start planning for my two oldest children’s birthday parties (late October & early November), ask my children what they want to be for Halloween, plan for Halloween activities and find out when Thanksgiving day is because in the past we have had Thanksgiving at our home and I want to plan for it.

It’s August when I do this.

It’s now September as I write this.

My children’s birthdays have been planned – one at the end of October and one at the beginning of November with Halloween in the middle.

My children have decided on what their Halloween outfits are going to be.  I am in the process of getting them and purchasing them.

Did I mention I have issues because I know I do.


Today, I wondered why I do this.

I wondered why because I read about people who don’t do these things and I know I seem like one of those people that-have-everything-together.

There was a lady at church who was interviewed as part of the sermon this past week and one of her comments struck a chord with me. She said that she didn’t do Pinterest so that she could do everything else she had to get done in a day and that it’s unrealistic expectations on women to be able to do everything.

As much as I agree with that, my personality is to get things done.

It’s what I do and have done since I was an 8-year old girl taking care of my 7-year old brother as latch-key kids. I had a hard working mom and a father that was there one day and gone the next if he had a fight with my mom.  I had dreams of marrying a rich man when I grew up and having two boys and a fantastic day job making a ton of money so all my needs were met and I never had to stand in a food line like my mom did to get hard cheese and beans for free.

So far, every child hood dream has come true for me.  Definitely not in the way I’ve planned it, but they have come true.

I want to assure you that I don’t have everything together.

But I am trying.

I’m not kidding.  I am trying to have everything together.

That’s the only thing I can think of.  Maybe, just maybe, I am trying to have everything together so I get to look forward to the accomplishments that happen. That’s part of my motivation to continue to improve myself on a daily basis. A man's reach
Thanks for reading my thoughts.  I plan on continuing this discussion on subsequent blog posts.  The next one I’m planning for this series of personal posts is on letting “my stuff” go.


Please pray with me for our Nation today

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9-11I remember the day.

It was 2001 and I was driving to work early in the morning like I had been doing for the past few months. It was a few months after graduation from College for me and this was the first job I got after graduating college.

I live in California so 6:30 AM is 9:30 AM on the East Coast.

I don’t normally listen to the radio on the way to work but for some reason, that day I did, and the station was set on a local channel.  The DJ’s were mumbling something about a plane crashing into a building in New York.

As I continued to drive to work I continued to listen and details were coming in about a plane crashing into the Twin Towers in New York City.

We were under attack.Our Nation was under attack.

I will never forget.

I was twenty-five years old at the time.  I didn’t have any children and my biggest concern of the day was if I was going to get a pedicure or full set of nails.  I was also probably thinking I needed to go to the craft store, because I did that often back then, without purpose and just to spend money on the “someday” list of crafts to do.

I was a very different person thirteen years ago.

As I write this today I think of my children.  They weren’t around yet and I have a mix of emotions of feeling blessed that it wasn’t our City, our State, or anywhere near where I live.

I am still saddened that so many lives didn’t get to see their children, grandchildren and family members getting older.

I am joyful that more attacks did not happen.

I am thankful that the Lord blessed us all by saving us from attacks that could-have happened.

The older I get and the further away I get from that day you would think that I couldn’t remember details but I still do.

I will never forget.

I don’t think if you lived through that date and time you can forget.

Everything has changed since then and thankfully, things will continue to change.

I pray that the changes will be for the glory of the Lord.

I pray for our Nation, that we will again come to realize what the Lord and his son Christ has done for us and find our strength to fight the evil along side of Him that is hindering our choices and taking over our Nation.

I hope you pray with me.

Psalm 121:1-2

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Sweet & Tangy Tomato Jam

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Sweet & Tangy Tomato JamSometimes having too many tomatoes is a good thing!

I have all the cheesy lines memorized for healthy living:

Nothing’s better for you than homemade!

With homemade, you know what’s in it!

and

Healthy eating starts with fresh ingredients.

The lines could go on and on for healthy eating.

You know what makes healthy eating difficult for me?  Spending time making it.

I’ve got three precious little ones to take care of, a husband, two dogs and aging parents.  It’s seemingly impossible to set three-to-four hours aside to make homemade-anything, let alone tomato jam.

But I did it. And I made it twice.  It was that good and totally worth it to use up the tomatoes growing in our backyard.

 June 25th - our first harvest of tomatoesOur first harvest of tomatoes

We were still thankfully harvesting tomatoes in July, and had a bowl full of them that weighed in at just over 5-lbs.

Five lbs of harvested, homegrown tomatoesThe recipe I whipped up this tomato jam from is here.

How do I describe tomato jam?  Well, it’s pretty much like ketchup, but 1000 times better.

This jam has a small kick to it so my children didn’t care for it much, but I couldn’t stop eating it because it’s just all the flavor’s I love – spicy from the chili flakes, sweet with honey, tangy with the ginger, and above all, it’s made out of tomatoes!  I love tomatoes.

These are of course, all my original photos and recipe card made for your use, based off of the link above.


The first thing you do is finely chop up the five pounds of tomatoes.  As I cut them by hand, this process alone took at least 30-minutes and with kids asking me for things throughout the entire process, I think it took me about an hour to cut them all up.

Finely chop tomatoesI cut the tomatoes in half and then in small slivers.  Most of the photos are from the first batch.  (The second batch was more chopped up in chunks, and that came out just as awesome.)

Next you place the chopped up tomatoes in a pan.  I used a stock pot because I was too lazy to clean my large wide pan.  (I’m not kidding.)

Add chopped tomatoes to pan

Add all ingredients togetherAdd all the other ingredients – 2-1/2 cups honey, 1/2 cup bottled lime juice, 1 tablespoon sea salt, 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger, 1 tablespoon red chili flakes, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves.

Mix everything up and begin the cooking. Mix prior to cooking thouroughly

After the mixture comes to a roiling boil, set it on medium low and simmer.  STIR IT about every 15 to 30 minutes.  I set a timer for 15-minutes every time I went to stir it.  All that work and I certainly wasn’t going to let it burn.

Mine took close to 2 and a half hours to finally look like the photo below.

Tomato Jam is ready to can!

The first batch I placed in 16 oz Ball Mason Jars to eventually give away to friends and family to test out.  I did not seal the jam and made that clear when I gave the samples out that it had to be refrigerated and eaten right away.

 Non-canned tomato jam

I canned the second batch and ended up with five -8 oz. Ball canning jars and one full pint to eat.The second batch of jam I made getting canned.I am in no way, shape or form familiar with canning food.  I used the internet to help me, specifically this site: Canning Tomatoes on Instructables.

Five are now sitting in the pantry waiting for Christmas to be given away and the sixth one was consumed over the course of a month.  Happy to say it was good to the last spread of it!

Canned tomato jam

Total time involved – After chopping all the tomatoes I would say it took me a good four hours to get this recipe down.  There’s almost no way to mess it up though, unless you burn it.

I used this spread for a substitute for ketchup in many recipes, specifically for a couple crock pot ones.  I also spread it on crackers for snacks with cream cheese, and took it to a potluck where it got a great response.

I was surprised that some people were reluctant to try it!  I just told them that it was like a tangy version of ketchup, and a few co-workers told me that hadn’t tasted anything like it.  That’s the kind of stuff I like to make – surprisingly good.  Tomato Jam Recipe Card

Let me know if you try it and as always, thanks for reading!

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The Newest Addition to Our Family

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No, I’m NOT pregnant.  And I’m VERY HAPPY to say that.

This summer, our family became foster parents to two different furry-family members.

Fostering an animal is one of the most rewarding experiences for our family to date.  Sure we go to church and have helped build houses in Mexico and show love to people who wouldn’t may have felt Christ’s love, but this is different.

 St Francis de Sales Quote-Doing little thingsDoing little things with a strong desire to please God makes them really great. ~ St. Francis de Sales

 The Lord put man on earth to help care for the animals.  He put us over them.

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” ~ Genesis 1:26

I believe taking care of dogs are no exception.

In 2012, our yellow Labrador, Franklin, was no longer able to walk and had completely stopped eating.  I cried in my husband’s arms the night we knew our first puppy dog as a couple had to be put down because he was now suffering and the only option was expensive back surgery which may or may not have corrected the problem.  Franklin was 12-years old and we look at his photos with joy that he had a wonderful, full life and we were the ones that were blessed to take care of him.

 In 2013, through a friend on Facebook, I read about a program called Elder Paws Senior Rescue.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I hear about something and I know – I JUST KNOW – that I want to get involved and help.

But, with a family of three growing children, a husband that doesn’t share in the “save every animal we can” mentality that I do, sometimes there’s not much I can do.

I heard that voice in my head (call it what you want) that whispered, “You can help them.”

Then the other voice, the voice of reason says, “No, you have other goals, other priorities, no time and other things to take care of right now.”

The voice of reason was winning the argument.

My mom had progressed in her diabetes to the point of kidney failure and was on dialysis three days a week. My husband and I were disagreeing on many things and (at the time) he was suggesting I needed to get healthier so I wouldn’t end up like my mother.  I had children’s birthday parties to plan, a Halloween costume to make and other things I needed (and wanted) to do with life than take care of another dog.

After having a heart to heart conversation with my husband about how I knew I was supposed to help this charity, and give my lonely mini poodle a friend, we agreed to send an application to be foster parents to one dog (at a time) and as soon as my mini poodle passed away, we would request that the foster dog we had would be the last.

My husband made it very clear that we were not going to get another dog.

 I sent in an application to become a furry-friend-foster mom in January of 2014.  We had a home inspection performed within a matter of a couple of weeks, and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

I helped out the charity when I could, creating a few postcards, talking about it with my friends, going and visiting the adoptable dogs at their events on occasion with my children and my mini-poodle to show the lady in charge that we were a good, nice family with a well behaved dog.

 I finally got contacted by the organization’s leader in early June that she had a dog that was capable of being with our children and she explained to me that most senior dogs were skittish around children, tended to nip them, and didn’t like loud noises.  I thanked her for just knowing that my children were loud.  (Because they are.)  She had a dog that was deaf, blind, and was very sweet with everyone he had met.

Our foster dog JafariOur first foster dog was named Jafari. We got him on June 29th. In the above photo, he is on the left and my mini poodle is on the right.

He was a sweet and wonderful bichon mix and was soft just like my mini poodle and just about the same size.

I had to take Jafari to the vet for an eye problem the third week we had him.

Jafari and I at the vet.He ended up needing more care than what my family was able to do for him and the organization’s leader was not only aware of it, but suggested that he be placed with a better suited foster for him.  My husband and I were again, so grateful that she had the foresight to even consider this and we took the offer.

He ended up with one of his eyes removed and the last time we saw him at an adoption event, he was wagging his tail, barking away at everyone and everything that would listen.  As of the date of this post he has not found a forever home and you can find out more about him here.

The organizations leader told me that she had another dog for us that was healthy and totally sweet around children.  He did seem to have a problem with men though and was a nervous dog.

We began fostering Reese on August 2nd. Reese's Journey - 1

Described to me as a Chi Masterson Terrier Mix, he was extremely timid the first day he came home with us.  He was not potty trained and growled, although not loudly, at my husband when my husband was around.  He had been on the kill list because no one had come to claim him at a local shelter and he was found wandering the streets, friendly, just skittish according to the shelter workers.

Life passes by when you have children and are taking care of dogs.  The first night was the only night he slept on his bed in our room.  The next night he slept on our bed where our mini-poodle sleeps and knows that’s his bed now.

Reese's Journey -2He also loves to be cuddled right next to my husband.  It took him about a week to start that, but he responded really well to treats.

Potty training him was a challenge.  It took us three weeks but we finally broke him in.  Again, it was the treats that really showed him that he was being a good boy when he did his business outside.

As a dog owner only twice in my whole life (one in high school and that dog made it to 13-years old) and then as an adult to the two dogs my husband and I loved as ‘children’, I knew I was a “dog person.”

This dog was stealing my heart. Reese's Journey - 4I had knee surgery on August 12th and was in bed for a week.  He hardly ever left my side (it was a good week to potty train him) and he never did anything wrong.

Never.

Compare it to this: My mini-poodle was also a rescue.  They estimated him to be about 18-months old when we got him, and that was about 13-years ago.  His problems were/are extensive.  No matter what we do, he incessantly licks his paws.  We’ve tried sensitive shampoos, sprays of all kinds, hot spot treatment, pills, you name it and he still does it.  He also tries to dominate other dogs whenever he can, no matter how big or how small.  (If you’re a dog person, you know what that means.) Ugh.  He’s been fixed for 13-years it’s just as embarrassing as you can imagine it to be!

But he’s one of my babies and I still love him. Reese's Journey - 6 with my mini-poodleReese hasn’t done anything like that – at all. My husband and I couldn’t believe it.  Those first three weeks we were trying to figure out “what was wrong with him” but the answer kept being “nothing.”

When Reese got over his fear of my husband in about a week, he began spending more time with my husband (and my father during the day when he took care of my children.)  My husband would hold him in his arms, just like I do with my mini-poodle.

Around August 20th, my husband told me after the kids went to sleep that he thought we should keep Reese. Reese's Journey - In my husbands arms What?  I had to ask him if I heard that right.  I did.  He wanted me to make the decision to keep him or not.

I started to pray.

I had been under the impression that he did not want another dog.  Granted, this dog probably only has 10 more years left because he was five years old, but, still.

I kept hearing conflicting answers in my head.  The voice of reason kept telling me that he was just reacting to the moment and he would change his mind after something came up with the dog, and potentially blame me for saying it was okay to keep him.

It took me ten days to know that the answer in my heart was to keep Reese.

There were so many signs in those ten days and yes, I believe in that kind of thing.

I had asked the children over the course of a few days what they thought of Reese and if each of them, individually, would like him as a forever pet.  Independently my children said that they wanted to keep him, and my oldest was wise enough to ask, “What about daddy?”

The charity posted this to Facebook on August 30th, after confirming with the leader of the Elder Paws Senior Rescue that we could adopt him. (She was just as surprised as I was.)

EPFB PostAdoption of Reese - photo on FB WallAnd that my friends, is how we ended up with the newest member of our family.

 Proverbs 12:10


The DeAndrasCrafts Contest on Instructables – Results

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I can’t believe I haven’t shared with you the results from my DeAndras Crafts Instructables Contest.

Wait no further!

I couldn’t have been more pleased with the entries and the winners.  There was a total of forty-six (46) entries and it was difficult to narrow down the list to the 10 winners you see below.  That was one of the things I had to do!

Prizes were listed in the previous post about the contest if you would like to see what they’ve won.

Grand Prize

Mixed Media Festoon Pendent by watchmeflyy
Mixed Media Festoon Pendent by watchmeflyy

Judges Prize – The best charitable project entry in my opinion.  I got to pick the winner!

First Prize Winners (3)

My notes: The hat is amazing as it uses a chain stitch glued onto a hat.  What a simple yet effective idea.  I also love the flowers in the kusudama and may make those for other reasons!

 

Crochet Kusudama by ChrysN

Crochet Kusudama
by ChrysN

Runner Up (5)

Out of the five patterns below, I think the crocheted whale is the cutest!  I love how the author incorporated little felt pieces as part of the face.

Crocheted Whale by Little Dragon and Company

Crocheted Whale
by Little Dragon and Company

  Embroidered Vintage Wall Clock by lindarose92

Embroidered Vintage Wall Clock
by lindarose92

 I hope you get to check out some of the Instructables above.  My passion for opening up the conversation about using your talents to serve others is ongoing.

Please let me know if you have a yarn-craft pattern that you would like to feature here on this site that you can share with others to give away for charity.  Have a blessed day!