Tutorial Treasury

With the weather getting cooler, if only for a few days, always puts me in winter craft mode.  Then I start hauling out everything artsy fartsy, paw through it like some kind of crazied tree rat, get a million ideas, make a mess and still not know what to do.  Si I move on to phase two  – I spend hours looking at tutorials on the Internet. There are so many great ideas out there that people are more than willing to share.  This time I thought I would narrow down my hours of searching and make a list to share. ( and so I can find the tutorials again!).  I hope I will be able to post complete projects through the cooler weather days so stay tuned for that.  Please feel free to add any great tutorials in the comments section. I hope this gets your creative juices flowing like it does mine. 

Stamped Silverware

 Great to gift:
Stamped Silverware – actually making garden markers for Christmas gifts
Fabric Covered Wood Beads Bracelet by A Lemon Squeezy Home – she even shows different closure ideas
Re-purposed Jean Apron by Betz White – a great tut and a fun read
Herringbone Wire Wrap by Fusion Beads  – fantastic was to make stunning earring
Gathered Zipper Clutch by Noddlehead – I actually followed this tutorial to make gifts last year. 
Freezer Paper Stenciling Bird Pillow by Running With Scissors – The tutorial for the freezer paper alone is great!

Grandma and her quilt

Great to keep (or gift to someone really special)
Charm Square Quilt by Diary of a Quilter – I made a little bigger version for my grandma.
Cathedral Window Quilt by Hyena in Petticoats
Tote Tutorial by I Still Love You – Just challenging enough to still be fun.

Disclaimer:  The pictures are a few of my crafts.  If you find your tut here and feel I have misrepresented you.  Please email me and I will happily remove the link.

The Bacon Phenomenon

One of my favorite combinations is sweet and salty, but I would never think of bacon as the salty to the sweet.  I have seen bacon chocolate chip cookies, bacon jelly beans, bacon wrapped twinkies, bacon toffee and even bacon and cupcake flavored dental floss! (do people really eat this stuff?)  If thats not enough, bacon lip gloss, bacon soap, bacon perfume……do what?  I’m sure most of them are novelties but still, how strange. Check it out, Think Geek even has a whole page dedicated to it.   So….have you been swayed by the bacon phenomenon to try any of these items?

Fall Brews

When some people think about seasonal fall flavors they probably think about pumpkin bread, apple pie, candied pecans, caramel drenched something.  I think of the same thing but mixed with barley and hops, because I’m thinking of beer.   I absolutely love the fall seasonal brews.  The are few whose return I am patiently awaiting, and a laundry list I’m waiting to try.   

I’m eager for the return of Brooklyn Brewery’s, Post Road Pumpkin Ale.  The brewery web site describes it as “a beer with orange amber color, warm pumpkin aroma, biscuity malt center, and crisp finish”.    Another tasty brew is Peacan Harvest Ale, from the fine beer crafters at Abita Breer.  Typically know for their raspberry wheat Purple Haze, this beer is made with Louisiana pecans.  They even recommend trying it with Gouda cheese, yum I’m putting that one in the mental file for later.   

Moving on to the important list, what I want to try this season.  Last year I think I tried a half dozen pumpkin ales.  However I missed Smuttynose Brewing Company’s “homage to the craft and heritage of American brewers” with their very own pumpkin ale.  There will no doubt be other pumpkin ales to try this year but that one is on the top of the list.  Alright, if your gonna talk beer ya have to talk Oktoberfest!  To be fair I did have a teeny tiny taste of the Paulaner Brewery’s Oktoberfest, but I would like a glass to myself.  I would love to tell you more about the beer but alas, their web site is in German.  The final beer is a little more general, it might not even be considered seasonal.  I want to try a banana walnut beer, or banana bread beer.  Sounds strange, but I think it would be interesting to try.

Well that about wraps it up!  I would love to hear any recommendations!  I have tried countless beers from run of the mill grocery store shelf stocked to the obscure micro brews.  However, there are always more out there as brewing is an art form to so many.  Please comment away! 

Sources and Links of Interst

Brooklyn Brewery
Abita Beer
Smuttynose Brewing Co
Paulaner in Deutch!

Unravel my Travel

Unravel my Travel: Pittsburgh and vicinity
Disclaimer: Truthfully its Butler and vicinity but no one knows where that is.  Butler is where my parents live, a small country town outside of Pittsburgh.  Travel south towards Pittsburgh and there are museums, restaurants and sightseeing.  Move away from the hustle and bustle there are some of the most beautiful parks and trails.    The purpose of this travel blog is to highlight what I feel is the best the area has to offer, discovered over many visits.  
Another Hustle and Bustle Day: The Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium
The zoo and aquarium are located in a 77 acre facility on a hill, that’s a big hill!!  Which brings me to a comment, its not stroller friendly.  I can’t tell you how many people I saw huffing up that hill pushing a stroller- anyway.  The path is lush and winds up the hill providing great vantage points the habitats.  
  Each individual area has a common geographical theme.  The Asian Forest area has all the leopards and tigers.  Their own little greenhouse of sorts is the Tropical Rainforest with lots of monkeys and gorillas.  Most of them are behind glass so you don’t have to worry about poo flinging making a disaster of your family vacation.  I know that’s what I worry about.   If it’s a nice day the gorillas might even be outside having a little lunch.
My favorite was the African Savannah with the elephants, ostrich and giraffes.  One of the elephants was even playing in the water, stomping his feet and slinging water with his trunk.  
The Bears Den has well…..bears.  It is one of the oldest existing exhibits at the zoo, established on the 1930’s.   Waters edge was filled with polar bears, sea lions and playful seals.  The aquarium, unfortunately, was very loud and crowded.  Many of the tanks were impossible to view because the only vantage point was smack in front of them. Its quite possible that the exhibits were wonderful but I only saw part of the penguins.  The aquarium would be better to visit when the crowds aren’t so thick. 
On the way out of the zoo we were fortunate enough to see the tigers playing.  There was a storm rolling in so the air was starting to become cooler.  The animals responded by becoming mischievous.   The growing cubs were play fighting with the male while the female lounged nearby.     Then the male would decide he had enough, gently swat them away to go pester the female.  “Go bug your mom kids”  Considerably fun to watch! 
We didn’t make a full day of the zoo but I’m sure its completely possible.  There are feedings and shows scheduled throughout the day.  An outdoor food court in the middle for lunch, and a petting zoo in the children’s area could easily stretch the visit to a full day.  I can see why the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium is held in such high regard.  Well laid out, enjoyable to wander through and completely captivating make for a brilliant experience. 
References and links of Interest: Pittsburgh Zoo and PGHAquarium

Pastors Wife Barbie

Retro Blog:  Once upon a time I use to blog elsewhere, original air date March 2008

Disclaimer:  I really don’t care if you agree with or like my opinions.  To find out why I don’t care you will have to get to the bottom of the blog.  
So when I wear my heart on my sleeve its not as funny as my other blogs but I will try.   As I am sure many of you know I have been married happily to a wonderful man with a strange profession for four years now (well almost four).  By strange I don’t mean urinal cake tester or zoo infertility specialist that collects “specimens” from the male elephants, I mean a minister.  So that would make me the “pastor’s wife”, or PW for short.  What a wild ride it has been trying to figure out what that means to me as opposed to everyone else.  It has been one of those ‘be yourself everyone else is taken” journeys.  So the brief chronicle begins, it’s a four part trilogy. 
Part 1:  The novelty
For the first six months it was more of a novelty as the bliss of marriage, with its extra dirty clothes and man hair on the bathroom floor, began to invade my life.  The hair on the floor is a literal invasion; they have their own navy and everything.  I think I just grinned and smiled through this phase, kinda like tour guide Barbie. “oh my cheeks hurt”. 
Part B:  Greater Expectations
Then I started seeing what was expected of me.  Obviously it would be tacky of the church to come right out and state many of the expectations.  For example, no one would say “don’t wear your blue jeans to church” even though it was a contemporary, laid back church and I had worn my jeans since day one.   The day I wore a dress (which I hate for many reasons) there was a comment from someone high up on the totem pole. They said “aw she looks like a pastor’s wife”.  Hmmm…. confused much??   I started catching on to the expectations and started to panic.  Way in over my head I joked that I was going to make a pastors wife Barbie.  She would come wearing a strand of pearls, with a book on how to play bridge, and 101 casserole recipes.  Don’t forget the accessory packs; how to decorate like Martha Stewart and how to dress like Mary Poppins. 
Part 3:  Becoming Barbie
I felt like perhaps I needed to re-invent myself.  I bought dresses (which now reside at good will), cooked for everything, allowed my home to be invaded by toddlers with chocolate fingers and hyperactive kids terrorizing my dogs.  I felt captive, like I wasn’t allowed to have my own space and my own rules.   Then I started to think pastors wife Barbie should come with a little pink Bible in one hand and a little pink Prozac in the other.  I don’t have the statistic in hand but the number of people in ministry that end up on mood altering drugs is staggering.  I thought about counseling, even though I was told by someone (again high up on the totem pole) that they didn’t believe in counseling, only deliverance. Point being I was stuck in a rut, and needed something. I voted for counseling instead of prescription drugs, they just weren’t for me.   So I guess you could say my demons made me go to conseling and it was well worth it.  Thanks guys, you’re the best? 
Part now: No more Barbie
Eventually, I came to see that their expectations were just that theirs.  Next step, I had to figure out what God put in me and who He made me to be.  Not what pathetic plastic clone with a stupid grin plastered on her face another wanted me to be.  If they were upset that I wasn’t what they expected that was their deal not mine.  It’s not about being a rebel or wearing a “here I am deal with it” chip on my shoulder, so please don’t misinterpret. It is about being comfortable as me.  We are in different church now that is so wonderful; everyone is genuine which makes it easy to be me.  I feel like I am back at step one but smiling for a different reason and minus the novelty.  The man hair has been here all along to comfort me. 
So in conclusion this isn’t a rant against where we were, or a pity party.  It’s to say two things.  First: don’t let anyone put you in a box that they have fashioned for you.  I guarantee the junk in your trunk won’t fit, believe me I got a lot of junk in my trunk.  Its hard some days, I still get sucked in, I have to remember to  let go and let Him.  Second: be genuine with your pastor’s wife.  If you missed her on Sunday morning just say you noticed she wasn’t there and missed her.  Keep your expectations of her just that, yours.  If she doesn’t match up oh well.  For goodness sake tell her she is a sexy woman of God, we love that stuff!!  So now you see why I don’t care, your opinion of me isn’t mine to worry about its yours.  Thank you and come again.