Valentine’s Cards

I have an embarrassingly large supply of materials  to make cards. Most have been picked up on sales or with coupons. I have used some over the years to make personal cards or for projects for our ladies’ group and missionaries, but I have quite a lot on hand still. Often by the time I think of making a card for an event. I don’t have enough time. But this year I determined it make Valentine’s Day cards for the family, and I thought I’d show them to you. I perused my Cards and Papercrafts and Valentine’s Ideas Pinterest boards for inspiration and used a few there as springboards but came up with a few others on my own.

This was Jim’s:

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The key is a little 3-d sticker and the only thing I bought especially for these cards: everything else I had on hand. He’s enjoyed joking that keys to my heart can be bought at Hobby Lobby. 🙂

This was Jeremy’s:

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The inside said “…To wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day.” I think the brown hearts look like chocolate, and they’re a great way to get hearts on a man’s card so it’s more masculine looking than the pink ones I gravitate to. 🙂 I usually make heart-shaped chocolate cupcakes decorated with sprinkles or icing for Valentine’s Day, and I thought these were reminiscent of those or of chocolate candies. Most of the hearts of various sizes on the cards were made with punches.

This was Jason’s:

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The inside says “That’s our love for you,” meaning it’s so great it can’t be measured. I just realized last night or some time this morning that I didn’t have a heart on his. Sorry about that, Jason! Here’s one for you: 🙂

This was Mittu’s:

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The inside says “On Valentine’s Day and every day!” The little envelope was made with help from a template I found by searching online for “small envelope templates.” I have a neat punch that rounds off corners and used that for the words here. By the way, the words were all printed out on the computer with the Bradley Hand ITC font except for the letters for “LOVE” here, and those were from a page of punch-out letters. My own handwriting, I’m sorry to say, would not make for a pretty card. The words on the other cards I cut out with a scissors with a torn-paper-looking edge. That one is a little more forgiving than, say, a scalloped edge. I have a hard time cutting in a straight line, so this particular scissors helps. I have a mini paper cutter for longer straight lines.

This was Timothy’s:

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The inside says, “To our favorite snuggle buddy.” It was inspired by this pin, but when I tried to click through to the site to see if the card maker had instructions or a pattern, I couldn’t find the original site, nor could I find it by searching Google using the terms I thought I had originally found it with. So I had to wing it (pun intended. 🙂 ). Then I realized this card was going to be from both my husband and I, so I needed more than just one adult with the baby bird.

This one was Jesse’s:

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I think the inside just said “Happy Valentine’s Day!”

With the last two, I was running out of both time and ideas, so they are somewhat similar. This was Great-Grandma’s (or Mom, to my husband and me):

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Sorry about the shadow on this one. The inside says, “Your example has taught us how to love….May we show you as much love as you have shown us.”

This was for Jesse’s girlfriend, Meaghan:

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All of the borders were from packages of stick-on strips – very handy! And Hobby Lobby has them on sale 1/2 price pretty frequently in the scrapbooking section.

And on the back of each card was this stamp with either Mom, Grandma, or Barbara written in accordingly:

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They were a lot of fun to make, though they did take quite a bit of time. Actually once I decided what to do for each one and chose the decorative papers, it didn’t take long to put them together: the decision-making was the hardest part.

I’m hoping this will jump-start me into making more cards rather than buying them this year. It will probably depend on how much time I have before each occasion and whether I remember to start on then in time. But I think they add a nice touch.

Occasionally I’ve thought about starting an Etsy shop to sell things like this. But I’d also like to do more writing and various other things, so I am not sure of which way the Lord would have me use my time yet. So for now I’ll just do them as I have time for the family and think about the possibility of expanding on them later.

 

Finished Project: Sewing Machine Cover

Whew! I don’t think I have ever been away from the blog this long before. My oldest son, Jeremy, was here all last week and my husband was off as well. Jason and Mittu and Timothy came over a number of times as well as Mittu’s mother, who was also in town visiting for a few days. Jesse’s girlfriend also came over a couple of times to meet the rest of the family. Between visiting, a few outings, keeping up with groceries and cooking, and then after everyone left recuperating, catching up on laundry, running errands, and more grocery shopping – well, you can see why I haven’t been around much lately. 🙂 It was a wonderful time, though – I’ll probably say more about it on my weekly Friday’s Fave Five.

My sewing/craft room doubles as a guest room. Jeremy would be staying there this visit, and though the room has been a continual work in progress ever since we lived here, I pretty much have it about like I want it with just a couple more touches to finish. One project I’ve been wanting to get to for some months was to make a new cover for my sewing machine. My old one was red (which I don’t care for or use in my decorating any more), Holly Hobbie (which I got over a long time ago), and looked like something had been spilled on it. It was about 30 years old, so I felt a new one was overdue.

Old Sewing Machine Cover

Old Sewing Machine Cover

I’ve been looking up ideas online for some time and gathered them into a Pinterest board for Sewing Machine Covers. Deciding what to do is the hardest, usually longest part of any project for me. This one was my main inspiration, but I didn’t want to do it exactly like that (and I couldn’t get to the original post about it – all I had was the photo).

I finally came up with a plan and got it in my head that I wanted to get it done before Jeremy came – not that he would notice or care about it, but you know how someone coming over is the impetus to get some things done. I didn’t get it completely finished before he got here, but it was far enough along that I could toss it over the sewing machine. I just finished it, or as much as I am going to do with it for now, this morning.

I knew I wanted a sewing machine on front, and this mug rug gave me the idea to add some sewing accessories. I was going to try to just wing it drawing the shapes I wanted, and then decided that the couple of dollars for that pattern as well as this one for the sewing machine would be money well spent. I enlarged the sewing machine pattern by 150% on my printer, but the other pieces are the same size as the pattern except that I cut the pincushion down a bit.

I had never appliqued before, except for one vague memory of an attempt at trying to use the satin stitch on my machine and having thread pile up in a lump at the beginning. So I don’t know why I decided to try to do that on a project like this that needed so much of it, and on a deadline. Glutton for punishment, I guess. 🙂 I did use Wonder Under to fuse the pieces on, but needed to cover the outside edges in stitching so they wouldn’t ravel. Much of the satin stitch actually came out looking like a zigzag stitch. You do have to help guide/push the fabric through while sewing, and it’s hard to get a feel for how much to do that without the stitches spacing too far apart. That really bugged me until one of the patterns I was looking at this morning said a zigzag stitch could be used – so I can just pretend I meant it to be that way. 🙂 It wasn’t until the last item I stitched that it began to look more like a satin/applique stitch.

Anyway – here it is:

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I was going to put a ruffle at the bottom out of the same fabric that I used for the sewing machine applique – but I didn’t leave myself enough room. That is one of my favorite fabrics – it’s from a maternity dress I made during my first pregnancy. 🙂 You can’t really find those shades of pink and blue together on fabric much these days.

I used a fabric that was already quilted for the base because I didn’t want to have to deal with quilting the background fabric (sorry Wendy — maybe next time. 🙂 Wendy is an expert at free-motion quilting on the machine and has been encouraging me to try it).

This was the last item I appliqued where it was just starting to look like I knew what I was doing.

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No, I’m not going to show you a close-up of the zig-zaggy ones! 🙂 Though you can see a bit of it to the right of the pin cushion there.

It might’ve helped to use a slightly wider stitch to be more sure of catching the fabric edge, but some of the pieces were so small I didn’t want the outline stitching to take up too much of it. There were a couple of places I strayed off the path a bit, especially with some of the pinks that were lighter and harder to see. At some point it occurred to me that I could use a washable fabric marking pen to outline where I needed to stitch on those hard-to-see places.

I’ve thought about adding some stitching like that in this piece to kind of tie everything together. I may also come back at some point and embroider some pins in the pin cushion. I was originally going to do another design on the back so I could change it around as desired – but I got to a point where I just felt like I needed to get it done. It’s usable now, and I can think about the other touches and add them later if I decide I want to.

It’s not perfect – but I like it, and it is much better than what I had.

Here’s my little sewing corner:

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No, my desk isn’t usually that clean, and yes, I did clear it off just for the picture. 🙂

It was nice to get behind the sewing machine again and especially nice to get a project done that has been on my mind for ages.

Help! Questions about scrapbooking and photo albums

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One of my side projects I hope to at least make a dent in this year is to get shoe boxes full of photos (from pre-digital days) into photo albums and to redo my old photo albums which are those old sticky kinds that are supposed to be bad for your pictures. Whenever I make any efforts in this direction, questions come up about the best ways to do it, so I thought I’d share those questions with you all and get some advice.

  1. Do you arrange your photo albums chronologically or by event or some combination? Do you do separate albums for vacations or other topics?
  2. When you make a baby album for a child, how for do you go in it? Do you just cover the first year or so? I struggle with what photos to put there and what to put in the regular family album.
  3.  What do you do with photos like the ones of animals in the zoo from 20 years ago that no one is that interested in any more or the extra photos of an event that you’re not sure whether to throw away? Do you end up still keeping some photos in a box?
  4. When you use a scrapbook, do you mat every single picture?
  5. Do you use those little corner holders, or do you use glue and page protectors? Don’t the corner holders poke into photos on the opposite page?
  6. What kind of glue do you use?
  7. When you do digital scrapbooking, do you print it out or does it stay digital? How do other people see it?
  8. What are your favorite tools?

I think that’s all for now.

For the record, I’ve made one photo album for each child up to maybe 1 1/2 to 2 years of age and then chronological albums (not one per year, but each one covers maybe 3-4 years). I’ve thought of making a “Friends and Family” album of those school and professional photos people have sent over the years. I’ve only made a couple of scrapbooks: one for Jason’s high school graduation of highlights of his life and one for Jesse’s graduation just of school and class pictures through the years. My scrapbooks are more about the pictures than the decorations – so far I haven’t gotten too decorative, both because of the time factor (both were made under a deadline) and also because I prefer to emphasize the photos rather than the layouts. But now that I’m doing this on my own timetable, I might try to be more creative with them.

I appreciate your feedback!

Sewing/Craft Room Cabinet

For some months now I’ve been searching for some way to keep my laminator and Cricut close by and ready to use, but off my work table so I have more space there. The room is small, so I didn’t have much wall space or closet space to put another storage unit (and I didn’t want to keep them in the closet anyway.) I wanted something on wheels, and because the laminator gets so hot, I wanted to avoid plastic storage.

I’ve been looking at various storage units and ideas and not seeing anything that would really work, and then one day this caught my eye in W-Mart:

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I had taken measurements of my work table and saw that this would fit underneath it! And it was the right width and already on wheels — perfect!

Except it was black. I appreciate black furniture in other people’s houses, but it’s just not my preference, and it just wouldn’t “go” in this room.

So, inspired by DIY projects I’ve seen on Pinterest and elsewhere online, I decided to spray paint it white. I knew it would take several coats, but otherwise it should be simple: just point and shoot, right?

Wrong.

I did know to paint the pieces before putting them together. At first I was holding the can too far away, so most of the paint went into the air rather than on the cabinet. (I was thinking, “Wow, there is more aerosol than paint in this thing! Then I realized the problem.) But when I got close enough for the paint to stick, then I had problems with drips, sputters, puddles, and uneven coverage. When I tried to dab off some of the drips, it took a whole chunk of paint out, down to the wood. I was SO frustrated. My husband came home at that point and took pity on me and helped me. I had been holding the button on the paint can down continuously while spraying back and forth, but he took short quick individual strokes back and forth. He sanded off some of the problems areas, and multiple coats of paint evened out everything else. I also learned the cheap 96 cent spray paint is not the best. Krylon worked the best for us.

We let the pieces cure for about a week, and then Jim assembled the cabinet for me last weekend. I had also wanted to put some decorative scrapbook paper on the back wall of the cabinet, to look something like this or this or this or this. But I just used two-sided tape because I wasn’t sure if I’d leave it and wanted it to be easy to get off or change.

So, here is the finished product:

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(Kindly ignore the other junk stuff on and around the work table – I’m still working on the rest of the room. 🙂 )

I love it. I like that it’s near at hand and I can roll it out when desired and put whichever machine I’m using on top, but I can keep it all tucked here out of the way otherwise.

I may decide I want to keep the Cricut out on the table after all, but if I do, I have plenty of other things I could store here.

The pink floral paper at the back really doesn’t show up except when I use the flash on the camera: otherwise it just looks dark back there. So in a sense that was kind of a waste, but mentally I’m glad to know it’s there.

I’m just tickled that this worked so well. This room is really starting to come together and be more functional.

I’m linking this project up with:

WYWWAnd

This post will be also linked to Women Living Well.

Friday’s Fave Five

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Welcome to Friday’s Fave Five, hosted by Susanne at Living to Tell the Story, in which we can share five of our favorite things from the last week,  wonderful exercise in looking for and appreciating the good things God blesses us with. Click on the button to learn more, then go to Susanne’s to read others’ faves and link up your own.

It’s been kind of an up and down week. I had thought about doing an “up and down” or family update post yesterday, but time got away from me. But here are some of the “ups”:

1. Jim’s birthday was last Wednesday, but he had to be out of town that day, so we celebrated Saturday.

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2. Wednesday night Coffeshop Apologetics. A man in our church has been doing a series called Coffehouse or Coffeshop Apologetics on Wednesday nights basically talking about ways to talk to atheists, agnostics, moral relativists, etc. Evidently God has given him a real ministry in that regard that we hadn’t even known about, but what he’s had to share had been very interesting.

3. These stands were on sale half price at Hobby Lobby:

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Aren’t they cute? They are smaller than normal, only about 8″ or so across, but I have an 6″ cake pan that will make the perfect small dessert for it!

4. Finally getting this project done. It was originally supposed to be a fall wreath, but I got stuck trying to make burlap roses — I never could get the hang of it. Then I was going to do a winter wreath in neutrals. But as we’re getting closer to spring I decided to throw some pink in there, and I think it’ll work, even though felt is more wintery in my mind.

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I made the pink felt roses using this tutorial but bought the other ones, gluing a button in the middle of a couple of them.

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It had been a long time since I had fired up the ol’ hot glue gun, but I enjoyed it!

5. Getting some things hung up around the house that had been sitting in the sewing room for months in some cases. Indecision is my biggest road block! But I finally decided to just go with what I had been thinking about, and I think it pretty much works. I guess I could have taken pictures of those…but no time just now as I’m off to a meeting at Jim’s mom’s place soon.

In family news, Jim did get the pathology report back from his kidney surgery, and the mass was indeed cancerous, which is pretty much what we expected, but there’s no sign of it in the lymph nodes or lymphatic system, so that is very good. He has a follow-up appointment with an oncologist next week just to see if we need to do any other scans to make sure there is nothing else lurking around somewhere. He’s continuing to do well, though still a little tender in places.

Happy Friday to you!

Hobbies

Apparently January is National Hobby Month, according to an e-mail from Michael’s. But even before that Katrina’s earlier post about hobbies got me to thinking about them.

Actually, her post was more about dabbling and whether or not that was a good thing. I think that can depend on personality. One of my sons dabbled in a number of different hobbies, and I used to be concerned that his not sticking with them was perhaps a lack of discipline. But each one was enriching in its own way and time, and maybe some day he’ll be able to come back to them.

I think you do have to dabble at a number of things before you can see what you really like to do. I’ve learned, for instance, that I’m not good at things that have to be exact. I have trouble drawing a straight line even with a straight edge. I have trouble cutting something out on a drawn line — I tend to go back and forth over the width of the line. So something like piecing a quilt would probably have me tearing my hair out when everything didn’t come together just right. But I am not good at things that are mostly free-form, either. I used to work part-time for a friend who had a florist business in her home. I mainly worked when there was a heavier workload, like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and when the local Christian college would have special programs for which guys bought corsages for their dates. With some introductory instruction from my friend, I could do corsages and bud vases, but bigger arrangements threw me. I could get the major flowers in — there is an almost geometric balance to them. But I was never satisfied with all the filler flowers and never seemed to strike just the right balance in placement and proportion. My friend, however, could throw something together in five minutes that looked gorgeous. But this same friend agonized over cross stitch and eventually gave it up, whereas I thought that was pretty simple.

I also used to think people either were creative or were not, and I didn’t think I was very much. But I learned, by dabbling and by observation, that there were different types of creativity, different ways to be creative. Creativity isn’t just craftiness. Some people are very creative in coming up with solutions to problems, in adding just a touch of something different to turn an ordinary meal into something special, in finding unique ways to teach, etc. (When we home schooled for four years, my husband taught a couple of subjects most days and had to do the bulk of it when I was ill for several weeks. He was much more creative than I was, coming to class as Einstein one day, etc. He began one of his speeches in college with a gas mask on.)

Dictionary.com defines a hobby as “an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation and not as a main occupation.” Pleasure and relaxation are probably the main benefits we get from hobbies, but I think they’re stimulating to everyday life in many ways. As a homemaker, a lot of my everyday tasks involve doing the same things — washing the same dishes, cleaning the same bathrooms, etc. Creating something that lasted more than a few days was very satisfying. It’s also nice to do something productive during what would otherwise be waiting time (watching TV, traveling, etc.). Sometimes it provides time to either think about or get away from our regular occupation. Stimulating our brain with different activities is supposed to be good for it. Years ago I read a quote from an unnamed pioneer woman that went something like, “I make my quilts warm to keep my family from freezing.  I make them beautiful to keep my heart from breaking.” That resonated with me, thinking of the hardness of pioneer life and the need to bring some beauty into it. I think one of the ways we’re made in God’s image is that desire to create. Of course, all thing must be kept in balance: time and expense are factors as are everyday demands of life. There may be seasons we can be more creative than others.

My family didn’t have many hobbies except reading. My grandmother crocheted — you rarely saw her sitting down without a crochet project in her hands. Even though I never took up crochet, I love that example she set for me.

So, what kinds of hobbies have I experimented with? In more or less chronological order I tried:

  • Reading — though that’s really more than a hobby to me.
  • Ceramics. I dabbled with this a bit in high school and have in a box somewhere a ceramic plaque with mushrooms on it I made for my mom.
  • Writing. I kept a lot of journals as a teen and, sadly, threw them away. I also wrote a lot of poetry then. When my kids were growing up my main writing was letters to the grandparents. 🙂 I’ve gotten back to writing in recent years with a few magazine articles and now an occasional newspaper column.
  • Sewing. I can’t do things that have to be extremely exact, so nothing I make is very tailored, but I’ve made clothes, curtains, things for the house, etc.

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  • Needlework of various types. Embroidery, needlepoint, cross stitch. This is one of my favorites, made either when I was expecting my firstborn or not long after he was born:

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You can’t really tell from the picture, but there are different types of stitching in different places and the little cookies are raised rather than flat.

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It was also a very big deal for me then to vary from the pattern: originally the background behind the trees was supposed to be yellow (for sunshine, I guess). But I thought it would look better with blue for the sky. Nowadays I am a bit more comfortable changing something about a pattern.

I did a lot of this kind of thing just before having children or when they were little, but as we had more children and they grew, I laid it aside. Most of what I made was either for children or for gifts, so I didn’t really have anything around the house that I had stitched. I’ve just gotten back to it the last few years and enjoy it though it takes reading glasses and a magnifying glass to see it. Here’s a more recent cross-stitched project:

  • Lampshades. I took one of those little college non-credit courses for that. This picture isn’t very clear, but it was fun to cut and then bend the paper (or whatever it was — similar to card stock) so the light shines through. I also stenciled one for the kids’ room.

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  • Quilting. Took a non-credit course in that, too, and I really love the idea of them, but can’t do piecing very well. Lately I’ve seen some that are a little freer than piecing that I may give a whirl some time.
  • Calligraphy. Took another adult ed. class in that and had great plans, but never really got into practicing it regularly. Now I’d rather use fonts on the computer for printing.
  • Smocking. A friend at church endeavored to teach a handful of us. If I’d had girls I probably would have done more with this, but little boy outfits with smocking tended to look too girlish except for very young baby clothes.
  • Cake decorating. Did not get that very well!!! It’s not something that came naturally, and it would’ve taken a lot of practice to get it to really look right, and I’m not motivated to do that for something that’s going to disappear post-haste. We pretty much only have cakes on birthdays, and if it needs to be nicely decorated for a party, I order it from somewhere else. But usually my family just makes do with my not-so-artful “creations.” They say as long as it tastes good, that’s all that matters.
  • Stenciling. That was really big for a while.
  • Stamping was, too, and I did that for a while.
  • Papercrafting, cards and collages:

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Fall card

  • Scrapbooking. I’ve done just a smidgen of this and would like to do more.
  • I don’t know if you’d call this “button crafts” or “gluing stuff. 🙂

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  • Blogging, of course. 🙂
  • Music: I only had one semester of piano one year in college. I would have loved to have grown up with music lessons (I say now — I probably would have disliked practicing as much as the next kid) but either my parents couldn’t afford it or didn’t think it important. I know I could learn now. I thought it was neat to find out that a grandma in our church is taking piano lessons! But I have too many other interests now to develop it to the place where it would be a joy.
  • One stroke painting. Took a couple of classes at Michael’s and would love to do more of that.

Blue snowman ornament

This Christmas ornament is, I think, the only thing I have made with that style of painting besides what I dabbled with on paper. I had a goal one time to make an ornament with every craft I had tried. I haven’t done so with all of them, but have with many. An ornament is actually a good project to try a new craft with because it is a smaller project.

I think I may have taken one class in knitting, but just didn’t get into it. I like the idea when I see sweet baby blankets at showers or cozy sweater patterns. It’s one of those things that I don’t know if I could do well enough to be satisfied.

There are other things I do occasionally but not enough to be called hobbies. I take photos here and there, more so since digital cameras and blogging came along, but not enough to really say it’s a hobby. I plant things occasionally but am not a gardener. I bake sometimes and enjoy the results but not necessarily the process. I don’t know if you can call decorating a hobby. I enjoy it and enjoy poring over decorating magazines and Pinterest, but I don’t change the decor around too much.

So there you have it. Some things I still do, some fell by the wayside, but I think they all taught me something. I mentioned laying aside some things while my children were young: I talked more about that in an article called The Back Burner. Some things have to be put there for a while, but hopefully the simmering will make it even more hearty and flavorful.

What kinds of hobbies have you had? Are there some you regret not keeping up with, and some you’re glad to have abandoned? Do you have one or two main ones, or do you like to dabble in a number of different things?

Friday’s Fave Five

Welcome to Friday’s Fave Five, hosted by Susanne at Living to Tell the Story, in which we can share five of our favorite things from the last week. This has been a wonderful exercise in looking for and appreciating the good things God blesses us with. Click on the button to learn more, then go to Susanne’s to read others’ faves and link up your own.

Here are a few faves from the past week:

1. Good results from my annual mammogram, plus just getting that over with for another year is a fave as well.

2. Dinner for Six. I think I mention this every time we participate, but it IS a favorite every time. Dinner for 6 is a program at our church where they divide participants into groups of six people who then take turns hosting each other for dinner over the next three months. It’s a great way to get to know people beyond what Sunday morning small talk allows. We had our first dinner with a new group this past Monday and just enjoyed it completely.

3. Framed cross stitch. I mentioned a couple of weeks ago having some great framing coupons at two different stores, so I was able to get my finished cross stitch pieces framed. I just got them back this week and love how they turned out.

Now I just need hubby’s help to hang them up. I really need to learn how to deal with the drill for these things that need more than just a nail to hang upon.

4. An exercise mat. I’ve started the Biggest Loser Ultimate Workout for the Kinect (and I’m feeling it!), but was horribly uncomfortable with any of the exercises on the floor until I got this.

I like how the strap keeps it rolled up and provides a handle as well.

5. Ceiling fans. I’ve mentioned AC on FFF before, but even with that I still sometimes get hotter than everyone else, especially while exercising or cooking. Ceiling fans really help provide extra coolness in the room I’m in so I don’t have to freeze everyone else out and run the electric bill higher by turning the AC down.

Happy Friday to you all!