Easter Mini Garden

Several years ago, I stumbled upon the sweetest project while scrolling through the internets (thank you, Pinterest!). My family and I have enjoyed making an Easter Mini Garden together each Lent season since then. I have a hunch that you will LOVE this idea, so I wanted to pass it along today.

It is such a simple, but beautiful and powerful visual reminder of Christ's death for us and His resurrection from the dead!

easter mini garden hhh To give proper credit where credit is due, you can find the inspiration and instructions for the project here. Click over to see photos for instructions, too!

The Easter Mini Garden is easy and relatively inexpensive to whip up! I've seen a few different variations, but here are the basic supplies and instructions:

(It's possible you can find some/most of these items in your home or yard) shallow terra cotta potting tray terra cotta mini pot (for the tomb) little stones or pebbles grass seed (or moss!) potting soil twine or string a few small twigs (to make the crosses) one stone (to cover and then roll away from "the tomb")

1. Lay the mini pot on its side in the center the potting tray 2. Scoop soil on top of and around the sides of the pot. Pack it in to form a "hill" 3. Sprinkle grass seed all over the soil. Be generous! 4. Pour pebbles in front of the "tomb" opening 5. Use twine to tie together three crosses and then stick the crosses into the soil on the "hill" 6. Place the stone halfway in front of the "tomb" 7. Water the grass with a spray bottle each day to keep the soil moist 8. Place the Easter Mini Garden in a sunny spot in your house and watch the grass grow a bit each day! The grass might even need a trim if it grows well and quickly!

This project is such a joy. It provides yet another opportunity to chat with my child about what our Savior has lovingly done for us. We have not only enjoyed these in our own home, but at church, too! Sunday School kiddos have made them to use as centerpieces for Easter breakfast. They took them home to enjoy afterwards!

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die." ~John 11:25-26

Will you make an Easter Mini Garden? Or do you enjoy making another Easter project each year? Please share it with us!

God bless your Lenten season, dear friends.

RachelSignature

 

Floral Arranging 101: From Grocery to Gorgeous

Title Image I don't know of many women who don't appreciate a nice bouquet of flowers -- in fact, at this moment, I cannot think of a single one. Flowers have always fascinated me: the tens of thousands of variations, the intricate parts, the slightly different shapes to the petals, the stems, the leaves, everything about them is astounding. And to think that God could've achieved pollination in any other, much less beautiful way. . . it is true proof that God loves each and every one of us.

So maybe you are someone who receives flowers a lot. Maybe that special someone in your life fully knows the simple truth that flowers make women smile. Or maybe he doesn't. Or maybe you don't happen to have a special someone but you treat yourself to the lovelies once in a while. If that's you, kudos. With Sweetest Day approaching the weekend (for those of you rolling your eyes, I get it...my husband and I barely even mention it to each other), I thought it might be a good time to explore the possibilities of a grocery bouquet.

As a former floral shoppe employee, I can honestly tell you that the time taken with each stem, the expertise and skill used in each arrangement and the quality sources of the flowers warrant the higher prices paid at such a specialty place. But let's be real for a moment: many of us cannot afford to spend that kind of money on something that seems to be pure luxury. As much as a hundred dollar bouquet of flowers from my husband would look amazing on my dining room table, I think I may be more upset with him than happy if he actually purchased them given our current financial status.

Enter the grocery store. Sure, there may not be anything particularly unique about the mixed arrangements sitting in the buckets at the entrance. They may not be beautifully arranged in a $20 vase. But they are still beautiful. And they're still flowers. And believe it or not, you can make them look a little bit more like something that came out of your local specialty floral shoppe in just a few short minutes..

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One of the main issues when purchasing flowers at the supermarket is that they are all cut to the same height without much thought given to the placing of each variety within the bouquet. Therefore, you get them home, maybe give them a quick fresh cut and place them in a vase -- as a result, you end up with a bouquet of beautiful flowers which were simply cut and thrown into a vase (similar to the "before" picture above) because, well, that's what they are. But with just 10 minutes and the help of a few common household tools, you can create an "after" arrangement which is much more pleasing to the eye!

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Before beginning the steps below, fill your vase with water (within an inch from the top to insure that all stems will be reaching) and gather the proper tools: scissors, tape and a pruners if dealing with particularly thick and rigid stems, such as those of roses. Tip: When determining what temperature of water to use, consider the flowers. In most cases, cold water will be best as it will help your flowers last longer. However, if your goal is to open the blooms a bit quicker, for instance a bouquet of tightly closed roses or lilies, then use somewhat warmer water to encourage the flowers to burst forth in a shorter period of time.

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Step #1: The trick which I was most impressed by after beginning my job at the floral shoppe was that of "gridding" the vase. Take a piece of tape which is long enough to span the vase opening and also reach at minimum 1/2" down the side of the vase and carefully cut it in half lengthwise. Making sure that the top of the vase is as free from moisture as possible, attach the tape to one side and pull it as tightly as possible across the mouth of the vase before attaching it to the opposite side. Continue by placing additional pieces of tape in a parallel and perpendicular fashion, thus creating a grid of sorts across the opening of the vase.

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Step #2: Separate all stems out of the bouquet and arrange according to variety.

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Step #3: Begin with any filling "greens" which the bouquet may contain. Make the most out of the stems by breaking them apart into smaller pieces which can be used to better fill the vase. Place them within the grid at varying angles and heights. Tip: Having a hard time determining how short to cut a particular stem? Don't be afraid to hold it up to your vase to get a rough estimate before making the cut.

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Step #4: Continue on by selecting the most numerous of the flowers in your group. These will work to set the overall frame, shape and height of the finished arrangement. Again, break apart the stems as necessary to make the most of the number of blooms you have. When placing them into the grid, put some low, some high and some angled out a little further than the others. Tip: Keep in mind that you can always cut more stems or cut them shorter, but once they are snipped, they cannot be glued back together. Therefore, start small and cut more if necessary.

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Step #5: Select the next flower by considering which you have just as much of or a little less than the first. If not as numerous as the first, these flowers act more like accents in the arrangement but still can fill in some good holes. In this case, the yellow flowers are alstromeria, which tend not to have long stems which can be broken apart but rather have groupings of blooms at the top of shorter stems. Cut these as before and place where they best fit, being careful to give the bouquet equal amounts of each color throughout for good balance.

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Step #6: Finally, cut and insert any accent or focal point flowers (usually just one or two as to not compete with each other) to complete the arrangement. This is truly the "icing on the cake" as it should tie everything together and add a pop of pizzazz to an otherwise mediocre grouping of flowers.

And there you have it! While it may take a time or two to feel confident in your skills, I know you have it in you to take those supermarket flowers to the next level. Sound too involved and like more work than you're willing to do? Try a simpler method by creating a "hand-tied" bouquet: place all of the stems in your hand, one at a time, arranging them by height and variety as you go. When finished, take a piece of string or twine and tightly bind the stems together to keep them from moving out of place. Cut all of the stems at once and place in a vase!

Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these! ~Luke 12:27

 

MelBioEdit

let's learn something new, shall we?

hhh learn new things "I wish I could do that!"

"I've always wanted to do that!"

"I should really learn how to do that!"

I've caught myself saying a version of those words more than once lately. And I'm starting to sound like a broken record. A broken record that needs a new tune.

The silly thing? I really could do that. If I tried. If I carved out time. If I learned and practiced and enjoyed. And practiced some more.

And then last weekend I water skied. I learned years ago and each time I pop up out of the water (which is only once or twice a year), I surprise myself. It feels exciting and empowering and new.

So instead of being left with a wasted pile of wishes, I decided to be proactive. I scribbled a manageable, realistic I-can-learn-to-do-this list and a plan to make it all happen. It's not going to happen overnight - it may take me months or even a year to work my way through, savoring and enjoying the new experiences. This is a lovely, slow marathon of I can do that.

There is nothing super extraordinary about this list - I'm not shooting for the moon here. These are simple, happy ways to enrich my life, connect with others, and give glory to the One who made me.

Ok, here I go.....

bake bread from scratch 'Cause I'm all about the bread, 'bout the bread. And butter. I've got my apron tied and a few recommended recipes in hand. My family is pumped.

try my hand at hand lettering There's nothing like a lovely scrip across a pretty envelope. Am I right?! I dabbled with calligraphy for an art class in college and LOVED it, but I've forgotten much of what I learned. I'm guessing with a few new pens and online tutorials and lots of practice, I'll be able to fancy up the Christmas cards I send out this year.

understand a card game A person should know how to play cards. And I know nada about card games. Bridge! Euchre! Cribbage! Hearts! There's a group from our church that gets together for cards every Saturday. They don't know it yet, but they're going to teach me how to play a game or two.

drive a stick shift vehicle One of our vehicles has a, you guessed it, manual transmission. And I haven't the faintest clue how to operate it. The chances of me absolutely needing to drive it are very slim, but when you can't even move the truck that's blocking your mini van in your own driveway....then that's a problem. So my hubs is going to give me some lessons. In an empty parking lot. When no one else is around. Oh boy!

speak very basic Korean My son was born in Korea and spent the first 10 months of his life there. We always and forever want him to remain connected with his heritage and culture. Our wonderful Korean American friend has agreed to give our boy Korean lessons and I'm going to sit in and soak up some of the language. Fluency is not my goal at this time - I'd be tickled to simply have a pocket full of basic words and phrases that we can use at home....and take with us when we, God willing, travel to Seoul again in the future.

dust off my sewing machine I can sew on a button, but give me a loose hem and I'm at a loss. To be able to whip up some curtain panels would be dreamy. I have a slew of wonderful ladies I can ask for tips on this.

basic car repair I'm clueless about vehicles, but even a clueless gal should know how to pop the hood and locate the window washing fluid thingy. My hubs has been recruited to give me the run down in this area. Change a tire, jump start a battery, check oil and other fluids. This is all way out of my comfort zone and isn't the least bit exciting, but I'm willing to try.

photography  Taking photographs makes my heart sing. I've been feeling the urge lately to push myself to learn more about my camera and other aspects of photography. I'm going to take a class and read and keep on click click clicking.

knit or crochet Every time I see someone working with yarn and needles, I wonder why I haven't learned that yet. It seems so relaxing and productive and rewarding! I have a friend in mind to guide me and get me started. I've heard, too, that YouTube has an incredible amount of helpful tutorials.

play a round of golf This one is for my hubs who is always thinking of ways we can spend quality time. One of his favorite things in the world is golf, so he's convinced I need to learn to play so we can hit the links together. He says I have a decent swing, which makes me a tiny bit confident that I might be able to pull this off. If anything, it's fun to drive the golf cart. :)

Whew! What a list. I'm excited to get started and learn and try and practice. I'll keep you posted on my progress. This is going to be good.

How about you, my friends?? What is something you have always wanted to learn, but haven't tried yet? Let's chat about it! I'm here to cheer you on.

 

RachelSignature

Yes, I CAN!

After a wonderful family vacation on the east coast last summer, we reluctantly said our goodbyes. Still euphoric after a glorious three weeks of travel from Pacific islands to Atlantic seacoasts, life brought us back to reality.MauiObviously we love water. Ironically we returned home to about an inch and a half of it flooding our basement. While we were having fun in the sun on the beach, an eroded water heater slowly leaked out hundreds of gallons of water, leaving a stagnant mess. The water had wicked up the walls and furniture, leaving black marks and stale odors everywhere.

The first thing I noticed was an unusual waft of stale air when we entered our home. Next was a soggy shoe as my foot landed on the carpeting at the bottom of the stairs. Last was the splashing of my footsteps as I moved toward the center of the room. No longer could I deny that we had a problem. No longer could I ignore the fact that vacation was over and we had a long night of clean up ahead. How I wished that I could just walk away and leave the mess for someone else to clean up!

A few hours later we were exhausted and the glow of the much needed vacation had waned a bit. Little did we know that this event would start a year-long remodel of the basement space with foundation, electrical, cement and carpentry work. It would be expensive and disruptive.

However, the disruption has been a learning experience (ahem!) as well. We found out that we have been moved into another stage of our lives. We needed to downsize. We needed to get rid of so much stuff that has been a part of our lives for so long. We needed to move on and just get the remodeling done. We needed to… Aughhhhhhh!

OK, stop! I tell myself. Stop for the reality check!

If I am honest with myself, my human nature is very much like the stale water we found in our basement that afternoon. The water invaded at a time when I was relaxed and not ready to deal with a problem. In the same way, my human nature wants to lay back when I need to be more open to God's will. The water was stinky and smelly, a hotbed of mold and mildew. It wanted to sneak in while the real me was gone on vacation. It entered my life when I least welcomed it, and it hung around way too long. It created an unhealthy state.

Not only did my basement need a new interior design, so did my heart.

This is not a pleasant thought, and yet after diving into God's Word, I have the answer to any of the unwanted and hard things that confront us in this life. I was reminded of the secret to handling life, no matter what the stage.

I can do all things through him [Christ] who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

When you are in the Lord, it really is that simple. Water in the basement? I can do all things. Husband taking a new job in another state? I can do all things. New baby in the house? I can do all things. Lost my job, my status, my health, my family member? It may not be easy; even so, in Christ I can do all things.

Skeptics label this attitude naive and unrealistic. The truth is, without the Lord, I cannot do anything well. Name something that has you cranked up and weary. There’s a reason it came into your life. Ask me why I say this and my answer will be the same, “I don’t know why this happened, but I do know that God has a holy purpose for your life and he will turn this [insert problem/trouble/issue/trial] into a good thing for you.”

My heart gets so centered on things of this life at times. It takes an event to wake me up. While my focus is looking down, the Lord permits something that gets me looking up. After a lifetime of "disruptions", I no longer question the Lord’s wisdom. He does all things well. He gives me strength to handle anything. Yes, I can!

A year later, not only do we have a beautifully remodeled basement nearly finished; I have had an opportunity to get a different perspective on what is important. It is not about the exterior design around me. It is about the interior design of my heart’s response while I am in the moment.

How about you? What redesign opportunities have been sent your way lately?

Dearest Savior, thank you for times of relaxing and times to seek your will. Forgive the times when I see life's trials as expensive and disruptive instead of opportunities to see your strength at work in me. Guard my heart and keep it focused on you. In your precious name, Amen.

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