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Thursday, May 14, 2015

better late than never

We bought our house over 2 years ago. It was a HUD home in less than show worthy state. The previous owner was a drug dealer and for the last month or so of his life in this house, he did not pay his bills. So he bbq-ed in the front yard and the house was disgusting from top to bottom. Yay! I painted all the walls, ceilings, and kitchen cabinets before we moved in. I will be the first to admit that I did not do a professional job. I just know it smelled much better in the house after painting. I am still, 2 + years later, painting the trim in the house. I lack 2 bedrooms and the hall. Today I tackled the trim in my bathroom. I also tackled a super nasty thing that has bothered me no end since we moved in: cigarette burns on the bathroom countertop. I hate them. It was a gross reminder of what had gone on in this home before we bought it. I had bleached them, scrubbed them with vinegar, and anything else I could think of. Nothing worked. I finally got the brilliant idea to check YouTube. Voila! I watched several and deduced what I could try. So here are my before and after pics:

These are before. Yucky burns ran the entire length of our countertop. Bleck!
Here is my after! Yay, clean!! The videos I had watched recommended steel wool and scrubbing powder (like Comet). As you can see in my second photo, I just used an SOS pot scrubber. They are steel wool and have a heavy duty cleaner built into them. It took a bit of elbow grease, but every single spot came off. That includes one in my shower. (don't ask me how they did that). I am a happy camper, but my arms are about to fall off from painting and scrubbing. Well, I just thought I would share this small victory with whomever shall read this.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Book news

Hi! I am so excited that my book is available for purchase on I thought I would tell a little about my writing in this post. Most of my friends know I've led an unusual life. I was born a navy brat in Rhode Island, of all places! We lived in Puerto Rico when I was a small child and many, many other places as I grew up. This includes Texas, Missouri, a brief 2 months in Guatemala, and Bolivia. I have encountered so many amazing people and experiences in my life so far. In 1998 I went to live with my aunt and uncle while I attended Dallas Baptist University for a year. I have my aunt to thank for introducing me to the whole world of Jane Austen. I was immediately hooked and wanted to watch the 6 hour version of Pride and Prejudice over and over. I read all of her books, several times, and sought out every version of each of the movies based on her books. (I draw the line at 90s interpretations). Well, back to writing. I am really not talented in many areas, but I love to write.
   Several years ago, I wrote 2 novels based (very loosely) on things I had experienced. They are my way of turning on the creative and writer side of my brain. True, they are extremely fictional, but there is emotion in those stories that I needed to express. You can read both of those novels here on my blog in some of my early posts. They are fun, suspenseful stories that I still enjoy reading. In thinking of sequels, I discovered that it was really not the genre that I was passionate about. I am very passionate about Jane Austen. I am not a dress up fanatic, but there are principles that resonate with me. I love the fact that I feel content when I read her books. There is nothing dirty or disgusting to wash from your brain. Yes, there are scandals. However, what they called scandals and the scandals of today are quite different. I have these same elements in my books. I have another angle added to my stories; I am a Christian and I am not ashamed to express my faith in my books. Just because a story is "clean" does not make it Christian.
Without further delay, here is the link for the print version of my book Helen Redding. While the sale of this book will really help my family, I am publishing as a step of faith for myself. I am pursuing my dream of being an author. My sincere thanks to all who have encouraged me, read my books, helped me, and shared my posts. Thank you!
It's our 15th anniversary today. I love my bear hubby!!

Monday, May 4, 2015

New things and Old things

Hi friends! I'm back. I know, you didn't ask. Ok, I'm going to write about something old first, save the exciting stuff for later. Oh, the suspense! Just kidding.
  Years and years ago, (sorry, just had to do that) my family lived on an organic produce farm in the foothills of the Ozarks in Missouri. My mom was always a huge believer in eating healthy and my brother and I were always subject to strange vitamins and supplements. (Dolomite comes to mind. Yuck!) Anyway, one of the health fads to pass through our farmhouse was Kombucha. At first I thought mom was making us swallow glasses of vinegar. After a while, though, I acquired a taste for it. Mom had quite the collection of Scobies (an extremely cute name for gross, slimy mushrooms). I knew at the time that I was bolstering my immune system with the strange tea, but not sure what else it was doing to me. Well, in 1996 we packed up our lives and moved to Bolivia as missionaries. We couldn't take the scoby with us (customs might frown upon a slimy mushroom in your suitcase) and thus, it was the end of our kombucha days.
  Fast forward a lot! I have hypothyroidism and it tends to manifest in nasty cycles of tummy issues a couple of days a month. I had begun to buy the fancy bottles of kombucha from the local health store and it helped me immensely. Kombucha is absolutely loaded with probiotics. Your body needs all the crazy bacteria and fermentation that goes on in that glass jar. As the saying goes, sooner or later you become some sort of manifestation of your mother. Here I am making kombucha! Let me tell you how I did it.......First I made a scoby from a bottle of store bought fancy kombucha. I read this blog post. It not only told me how to grow a scoby from the store bought stuff, it also has the recipe for the regular stuff. Here is a picture of my scoby and the tea it is now basking in to make a big jar of kombucha.
The stuff under the scoby is so strong it will curl your nose hairs, but it's still good stuff. I'll just pretend I'm taking a shot. haha. Next, I plan on making some flavored fizzy kombucha like the fancy store stuff. Here is a link for that recipe.

Ok, moving on to new stuff. Most of my friends already know that I self-published my first novel. I'm currently writing my 5th novel in the Jane Austen genre. It took me more than 3 years to get up the courage to self publish. I have been rejected by more than 30 literary agents. That tends to affect a person. I know the stories of lots of extremely famous authors who were also rejected a multitude of times. It proves that the agents don't always know what they are talking about. However, that thought didn't comfort me. Well, I finally asked the Lord to give me courage to go for it. Yep, it's done. Whew. I'm waiting by my mailbox like a school girl for my final proof copy. I love to write!! I have always had a crazy imagination and would dream up entire stories in my mind. It took me just a couple of days write the one I just published. I had the whole thing in my head and I had to just sit at the computer until it was done. My kids have gotten used to giving me space while I am authoring. I love how my step of faith has encouraged them. Now my girls are writing their own books. I love how I can't get them to do creative writing for homeschool, but mom publishes a book and they will start writing up a storm. Ok, so I will post a picture of my book. I drew the cover art and Amazon didn't like it because it's blurry. That is how I wanted it, though. so there.

I will make a special blog post when it is ready for purchase on Amazon!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Thrifty remake

So, before Easter I went to the Salvation Army thrift store close to me. (Usually even thrift stores are too expensive for me, but they have half price clothing on Wednesday.) I purchased dresses for myself and my three daughters. I posted the remakes I did on my daughters' dresses on Facebook, but didn't post mine because I wasn't happy with the fit even after alteration. So, today I tackled it and made a skirt I can love.

So here is my frumpy dress. It was about 4 sizes too big for me, but only 2.50 so I bought it. It originally had a floppy crepe fabric bow at the neck. I removed it and put a lace insert (to make it a little more modest). I put in a plethora of darts to take it in without having to completely disassemble the whole thing. I wore it on Easter with a nice cardigan and brown shoes. It was ok, but still felt like a Mumu dress. I still love the fabric! It's a cotton and linen blend. The pattern was a bit too busy for a dress, so I decided to chop it off and make a nice skirt. I love skirts and wear them all summer. So here is my final product!
Now that is a skirt I will wear with a brown t-shirt or yellow. Cute! So that is my remake for today. I had intended to do a skirt from a pair of jeans and a super cool jean skirt that I have outgrown. Alas, I am too efficient and had already donated the jeans to charity. Sometimes I am a little too organized!

Ok! Some big news! I just started the process today to self publish my first Jane Austen genre novel on Amazon! I will post as soon as it is made available!

Have a blessed day knowing that Jesus loves you!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


This week has thus far been occupied with sewing items for our two Etsy shops. In our 3anniemouse3 shop we sell eco friendly market totes and several things related to essential oil. When I first began sewing essential oil cases, there were not that many available. They were pretty on the outside, but made with elastic bands on the inside to hold the bottles. Not such a great idea as the elastic will degrade if it comes in contact with oil. I developed (through tons of trial and error) a design with fabric pockets that hold the bottle beautifully. My heart sank this week when I did a little search on Etsy for essential oil bags. Literally dozens of shops are now making this or a similar design. The kicker is they are charging less than I do. I have no idea how they can do that! Please tell me how to, well actually, I know. They are not charging for labor. Tis ever the dilemma with home made products. Anyway, I am now looking for new products to make so I can once again be unusual instead of usual.

Would you like to see pictures now instead of reading my rant? Why yes, of course! I think I will show you the bag I use for my oils first.

When we travel, I can carry all the oils I need, plus blends and the oils I have mixed with coconut oil in jars.

Ok, on to this weeks' projects!
Here is one of my new essential oil scarves. Lots of people like the essential oil necklaces for diffusing a scent close to you all day. I put a pocket with a special bead that can be saturated with oil. I think this turned out pretty cute. I also made two with cotton knit fabric.

Now to things for our Grapecake shop! I am always planning new Modest Barbie outfits in my head. This week I made a couple, plus a bedding set.

I like the jeans set because it is super easy to get on and off the doll. Great for smaller children! The white and black outfit is something I would wear!! So pretty. And of course, most girls love Paris, so I made a black and pink set complete with a cat bed.

So, I hope you enjoyed those pictures. The rest of the week will be playing catch up. I have two summer skirts with busted zippers. Oh joy. I really need them in my wardrobe, so they will be fixed. I'm also dreaming of making some more skirts. I'm a skirt kind of gal. I like to be comfy.

I think I'll go nurse my sore abs with some wintergreen oil. I started a rigorous pilates regimen yesterday. OW!

Friday, April 10, 2015


Hi! Surprised? I am back with some cheery pictures of my garden and a fabulous Pinterest success (for once). We live in South Texas and although I love gardening and have lots of experience, I find it so difficult to keep my garden alive down here. The summer heat zaps it like lightning and fries it before my eyes even as early as May. So for now, I am relishing the sight of my verdant garden and the sugar snap peas that I am harvesting.

I love Nasturtiums! They are so bright and happy. And edible! They fall victim to the heat every year, but in early spring they pop back up. I have gorgeous spearmint in early spring, also. I think this year I will build it a shade in an attempt to keep it longer. I have a self-propagated acorn squash, some cilantro, rosemary, sugar snap peas, German stripe tomato, small yellow pear tomato, and some really old periwinkles! I use rabbit, um, stuff to fertilize my garden, with an extra boost of Epsom salts every now and then. I am going to try to grow green beans as well. Ok, that is my garden. Sorry to all the folks up north who were hit with snow today......

On to Pinterest success! I absolutely hate pinning dozens of luscious looking recipes on my "recipes to try" board and have them turn out to be complete flops! Sometimes I think people who post recipes on their fancy blogs have done something different to the recipe to set us up for a fail. Probably not, but it makes me feel a little better to think that way. ha. Especially healthy recipes, don't get me started! Anyway, this one was NOT healthy! The recipe is found here. I whipped up fresh cream and slice some nice strawberries to top this lovely cake. I kept telling myself that this cake had lots of good fats in it, so it's ok to eat. hmm. It was a wonderful treat since I had company yesterday for lunch. I suppose lunch itself was a Pinterest success as well. I had searched for a good avocado chicken salad recipe and sort of frankensteined a few of them together. I can put that here if you are interested.
5 chicken tenderloin roasted and then cooled
1 large ripe avocado cubed
1 Tablespoon finely chopped onion
1 Tablespoon sour cream
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon herb seasoning
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
Chop the chicken into small cubes and then dump everything into a bowl! Stir! I served the salad in hollowed out croissants on a platter. It was so yummy!!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

how long?

  Having recently been hooked on reading certain types of blogs, I've become eager to write on my own. I know, probably no one reads them, but I enjoy posting. First, I'll tell you about my reading curiosities. My hubby is a huge history buff and is constantly watching documentaries on WWII and such. I do admit to enjoying them as well, but I have also developed a love for all things 30s and 40s. Specifically, fashions and sewing styles. So, I have searched about on the blogosphere and found a few gems. My favorite by far is . These three sisters sing music from the 40s for special events. They also sew their own dresses for these events in period correct patterns and fabrics. My own daughters roll their eyes and sigh when I talk about the Boyer blog, but I get tickled when a new post comes to my inbox.
  For those who follow me on facebook or have seen our Grapecake shop on Etsy, you know I have begun to sew 40s style dresses for Barbie. I had no patterns, so the whole process was so frustrating! I made three models without patterns. I will show them here:
This one a dress with belt, bows at the shoulders, and a pearl necklace.

The last one is a dress with belt, tiny black buttons, and Minnie applique. I made the iconic ear beanie as well.

So finally, a local fabric shop had patterns on sale for 1.99. I stocked up on all their vintage patterns for doll dresses. I hope this will cut down on my stress level!
  I am still sewing for my 3annimouse3 Etsy shop as well. I have been sewing more small size zippered pouches and trying to come up with new designs for my large pouches. Hand made scallop trim on the fronts of my bags take a lot of time. Time that I do not get paid for. The Etsy world is highly competitive and difficult to conquer.
I still love the whole process of being creative and blending fabrics, I just wish it paid better! I know my accountant hubby would love it if I charged a lot more for my creations, but the truth is ugly. People expect the same cost for handcrafted as store-bought. I suppose each person goes through the dilemma of supporting a family in Bangladesh or paying more to support a family here in the USA. Or not. Ah, here I step off of my soapbox.
   On the book front, I am chicken. I admit it. Rejection by more than 30 literary agents has made me thus. I still consider daily the option of self publishing my 4 novels. Courage! Pray for that!
And here I stop rambling.
I am hoping if anyone reads this that they are blessed and encouraged. God's loving kindness was new and fresh this morning when you woke up!