Monday, October 6, 2014

Change is in the Air

It seems fitting that the air is getting crisp and the leaves around me are a blaze of color. Seasons change, not just in nature but in our lives too.

My season is changing.

Change is in the Air {Gypsy Magpie}

For the past two years there has been this struggle inside me, not wanting to letting go of the season I was in.

I first talked about it HERE when my hubs bought me chickens and again, HERE, last spring.

This inevitable change got real this year when my doctor discovered that my illnesses and steady health decline had come from a negative auto-immune response my body had to pregnancy. I will never forget that moment, sitting in the doctor’s office, when I was told that my body couldn’t sustain more children. My messed up ears tried to block the sound and yet it echoed through them all the way down into my very soul. As I drove the long road back up the mountain, I let myself cry. The most difficult and most beloved chapter of my life had just ended for good, whether I was ready or not.

I know that for some of you, this all may sound silly. I have 4 healthy and happy children, and trust me I get it but, if you have to say that, then you don’t understand.

You see, never in my life have I felt such purpose as I did as a young mother.

Those years full of babies and tiny children were absolutely the hardest and yet most rewarding of my life. It’s when I fully understood who my Father in Heaven was and how someone could love unconditionally. It’s when I lost myself, and in the process, where I found myself also. I have never grown as much as a person in all my previous years combined as I did during those short years of late night feedings, wiping noses, and kissing owies. And, though I was utterly exhausted and pushed beyond my limit, I felt completely blessed and whole.

You see, some women find their purpose in a corporate office, some on a remote mountain top, and some may find it late at night in a busy emergency room, or giving their all to a classroom of teenagers.

I found mine in the trenches of motherhood while serving 4 tiny humans and one giant man.

In the blink of an eye, my days of babies are past and my tiny humans are growing up.

Change is in the Air {Gypsy Magpie} 

My roly-poly has now sprouted into a handsome, skinny young man who is on the countdown to be taller than me by the end of the month. Some days I just sit and stare at his men’s size 10 shoes in awe as it doesn’t seem possible that they could belong to my son. His voice is changing and his shoulders are slowly becoming strong and broad like his father’s.

Change is in the Air {Gypsy Magpie}

My Lou Lou will be a pre-teen in a few short months. Her curves are just beginning to show and her features are no longer those of a little girl. She is as smart as a whip and I’m pretty sure she could out read a librarian. Her days of dolls and playing house are rapidly coming to a close. What a tender mercy for me that she still loves to play in the mud and that those piercing baby blues are still just as full of mischief and wonder. 

Change is in the Air {Gypsy Magpie}

Miss June, my glorious ray of sunshine, now has hair cascading down her back and enough spunk to light up an entire city block for a week. She ties her own shoes, makes her own lunch, and even writes her own stories.

It is a well known fact around these parts that you have not experienced the true magnitude of a hug until you’ve been wrapped up tightly by June.

Her hugs are heaven on earth.

Change is in the Air {Gypsy Magpie}

My Baby Girl is no longer a baby girl. That fact hit me hard this weekend as I watched her running just as fast as the big girls and taking such good care of her younger cousins. I am cherishing every day I have with her little 4 year old self because on the horizon I can see age 5. I don’t want to miss a thing.

Perhaps it is her growth that has been the hardest to witness.

My last baby, the last leaf of the season. She started preschool last month and she couldn’t be more thrilled. Our newly acquired pre-school routine has opened up something that I haven’t had to myself in over 11 years… time.

My new season has begun.

Even though I mourn the loss of the last one, I am excited for what this next phase will bring. This new gift of time has been inspiring and reinvigorating. Dreams that I had put high up on a shelf for over a decade are now becoming a reality. I am taking on challenges and experiences that I never thought I’d ever have the courage to try.

My children are growing up, and so am I.

(105 of 145)

My life is in a bit of upheaval and I am overwhelmed, yet happy.

I’ve got 30 plates spinning, dinner cooking, YOUNG WOMENS, a messy house, a busy/traveling husband, a table full of math homework that I have no clue how to help my kids with, and the Mag taxi to drive among a hundred other things. In the middle of it all, I’ve started my own little business and with that, this blog is getting a makeover. I ask for your patience as I try to mesh it all together.

My life may be pretty chaotic for a while, but I guess that just comes with the changing of the seasons. A chill hits the air, the leaves change their colors, the landscape becomes a flurry of movement and then, slowly and silently, the snowflakes peacefully begin to fall.

Change is in the Air {Gypsy Magpie}

I have faith that with a whole lot of prayer, PRACTICING MY BREATHING, and some good old fashioned hard work, things will eventually fall into place.

In the mean time, I’m just going to enjoy the beauty in the changing of the seasons.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

How to Freeze Zucchini for Winter Deliciousness

If you love to garden then chances are you have zucchini coming out your ears round about now!

Here in the mountains, we are gearing up for a big freeze so everything is getting harvested. I have green tomatoes galore that I will have to box up and store in the basement until they ripen. I also need to hurry and bottle the rest of my beans, dig up the potatoes, and store the butternut squash, among a ton of other tasks.

My counter is completely hidden under a giant mound of zucchini that is getting in the way, so I’m going to tackle that later today.

One of my favorite ways to use excess zucchini is in baked goods. Don’t get me wrong, I love roasted or grilled zucchini as a side dish in the summer but when your kids forget their harvesting duties and you end up with some torpedo sized zucchini why not bake with it instead of letting your hubby use it for target practice? Of course, that’s always fun, too.

How to Freeze Zucchini {Gypsy Magpie}

Since fresh zucchini only lasts so long, I freeze my extra so I can use it in the winter.

It’s so easy and useful. Here’s how…

Step One: Shred

Wash your zucchini and slice off the ends then get to work shredding. I like to use my food processor with a fine grating disk.

Just FYI, you’re probably going to make a big green mess so be prepared and just go with it.

How to Freeze Zucchini {Gypsy Magpie}

Step 2: Strain

Zucchini is surprisingly juicy, which if not strained will leave you with a very mushy end result so the next thing you want to do is strain the shredded zucchini in a colander set over a bowl for a few minutes.

You’ll be so glad you did.

How to Freeze Zucchini {Gypsy Magpie}

Step 3: Label

While your straining the shredded zucchini, pull out some quart sized zip-top freezer bags and label them with permanent marker.

I like to use the quart sized because I store 2 cups of zucchini, which is the amount most bread recipes call for. It makes it quick and easy to pull out only as much as I need.

How to Freeze Zucchini {Gypsy Magpie}

Step 4: Roll Top and Fill Bags

I think I’ve shared this with you before, but one of the easiest ways to fill a zip-top bag is by rolling the top down. Not only does it help the baggie stand up, but it also keeps the zipper clean and free from food so it seals correctly.

How to Freeze Zucchini {Gypsy Magpie}

If you are struggling to fill your bags, another quick tip is to stand the bag up in a mixing bowl or large yogurt container.

This frees up your hands to fill the bag.

How to Freeze Zucchini {Gypsy Magpie}

Step 5: Press out the air, flatten, and freeze

After you get them filled, press out the air, then flatten like a pancake, and seal. I like to flatten my bags so they lay nicely in the freezer and don’t take up a ton of space. They also will thaw quicker when you are ready to use the zucchini this winter.

I stack my baggie pancakes up in the freezer and then freeze until solid. After they are good and frozen, I stand them up and sort of file them into a little box in my deep freeze.

Step 6: Make some deliciousness!

When you are hankering for some baked goods, pull out a zucchini pancake or two and let them thaw. After it’s thawed out, I like to strain the shredded zucchini one last time just for good measure. Then it’s ready to use in whatever recipe you’d like!

It works great in breads, muffins, soups, etc.

Hey, speaking of zucchini recipes, I found a really good one last month!

If you love lemon, like me, then you’ve got to try Eat Cake for Dinner’s  Lemon Zucchini Bread with Lemon Glaze… it is seriously divine!

Honestly, I didn’t even get around to making the glaze because the bread itself was so good. I’m sure that the glaze would take it clear over the top, so next time I’ll make that first before everyone gobbles it up!

How to Freeze Zucchini {Gypsy Magpie} 

I’m serious you guys, you have to try it because it is soooooooo good!

How to Freeze Zucchini {Gypsy Magpie}

Well, there you have it!

It’s that easy to save some of that prolific garden goodness for the bleak winter months. You’ve totally got this!

 

**While you’re here, what’s your favorite zucchini recipe?**

Thursday, September 11, 2014

DIY Craft Fail: How to Screw up a Cheese Knife Set

Kitchen Papers by Cake Cheese Markers (Set of 6) | Nordstrom - Love this idea, but I'm going to see if someone on Etsy will make me a custom set - my mom always has a different spread of cheeses.

via Nordstrom.com

A couple months ago, my friend pinned this BEAUTIFUL CHEESE KNIFE SET onto one of her Pinterest boards and I got the wild hair to recreate them for her birthday using the random pieces of flatware that I had been hiding saving down in my hoard basement.

I already had the flatware and the letter sets, so how hard could it possibly be, right?

Oh, glory!

DIY Cheese Marker Craft Fail and What I Learned {Gypsy Magpie}

I know these days that everything on a blog is supposed to be beautiful, glossy, and perfect, but well, I’m not really that type of gal. I make mistakes, I will never be perfect, and let’s be honest, most of the time it’s the oopsies that we learn the most from.

So, I’m going to tell you the rest of the story…

On the morning of my sweet friend’s birthday I headed downstairs, bright eyed and bushy tailed, to start on my special gift. I carefully picked out the best pieces of flatware I could find, making sure that they eclectically coordinated. Next, I got my letter set, a board, and a hammer then set to work.

My first mistake was not researching the project enough. I had stamped pennies and keys before so I didn’t think it would be a big deal, but yeah baby, it was.

via Amazon

I should have bought one of THESE jeweler’s bench blocks, but that would have been the smart thing to do. Instead, I used a piece of 2x4 from the scrap pile. My flatware moved and bounced off the board EVERY SINGLE TIME I hit the punch with the hammer.

*smacks head*

Parmesan Cheese Marker {Gypsy Magpie} 

Check out the sheer awesomeness of that A and N in Parmesan! Wow, that is pure unadulterated skill, right there folks.

Bleu Cheese Marker {Gypsy Magpie}

How about missing the whole top of this B? I seriously went over it again and again, but it just didn’t want to be there. B was picky like that.

Sadly, this lone goat cheese knife was my greatest success of the day.

Goat Cheese Marker {Gypsy Magpie}

At around the 2 hour mark I had officially lost my mind. I should have stopped there and walked away, but I just kept powering through. Yep, you guessed it, another oopsies.

Cheddar Cheese Marker Fail {Gypsy Magpie}

Then, came the nail in the coffin, the dreaded cheddar knife.

Do you know how many times I misspelled the word Cheddar?

FOUR TIMES!

Yes, I went through 4 different knives trying to get it right. I know how to spell cheddar, dang it, but for some reason after “squirreling” just once, my mess up cemented in my brain and it all went down hill from there.

After 3 hours and more wasted flatware then I care to think about, I called it a day. (P.S. taking pics of detailed, shiny flatware is difficult, so please give me some slack.)

DIY Cheese Marker Fail {Gypsy Magpie}

This project just wasn’t going to work out and if I didn’t stop, I was going to stab something with those horrid knives I loathed so much.

I had decided that there was no way in heck that I was giving my friend those knives. I would just write her a nice card and she wouldn’t even have to know I tried… and failed… miserably. I left the little bundle of defeat sitting on my table and went about the rest of my day.

As the afternoon turned to evening, I kept thinking about those silly knives. My friend lives in a beautiful home, her husband owns several businesses, they spend the month of April in Hawaii. She could easily go buy that set she pinned from Nordstrom’s.

And yet, I just felt like I needed to give them to her.

Cheese Marker Fail {Gypsy Magpie}

I wrestled with my pride for the better part of an hour before I finally threw those ugly things in a gift bag and stepped onto her doorstep.

Guess what? She didn’t care that I had failed.

As cliché as it sounds, it really was the thought that counted. Somewhere buried in the bottom of a drawer, my friend has a little reminder that she is really loved and I have a reminder that I’m human and can’t do it all.

The point of my little story?

Well, basically that we aren’t perfect nor should we pretend to be. Life is hard, and in my experience, it’s even harder when we are trying to carry the burden of perfectionism on our shoulders. We’re all going to mess up, we’re going to have off days, so do your best and then be ok with the outcome.

It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes by Gordon B. Hinckley,

“Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he’s been robbed. The fact is that most putts don’t drop, most beef is tough, most children grow up to just be people, most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration, most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. Life is like an old time rail journey…delays…sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling burst of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.”

Sometimes we’ll win and sometimes we’ll fail, how we handle those failures and what we learn from them is our choice.

Happy crafting y’all.

 

**What is one of your most memorable failures, craft or not, and what did you learn?**

Friday, August 22, 2014

Friday Favorites: My New Go-To Jeans

I have a few problems finding denim I love. First, I have an athletic-ish build with strong legs, a shapely backside, a smaller waist, and a 34 inch inseam. The second, I don’t like bling on my booty. Third, I don’t have $300 to spend on one pair of jeans.

A little while ago, I was in desperate need for some jeans. I avoid jean shopping like the plague. In order to find jeans that fit over my thighs I have to go up in size. Going up in size means that the waist is way too big which causes gaping and the constant feeling that at any moment I will loose my pants. There are not many people who can pull off the plumber look, except maybe Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch…

Mark Marky and the Funky Bunch

via BET.com

And, don’t even get me started on the broken belt loops from tugging and pulling! If by some small miracle I find something that sort of fits, they of course are bedazzled up the wazoo and heaven knows I don’t need a disco ball for a backside.

I had no idea where to start looking so I asked my friends on Facebook for suggestions. One of my girls suggested that I go to the Levi outlet in Park City because they had several new fits. I was a total Levi 501 girl in high school so my curiosity was peaked.

I drove up to the outlets and was completely surprised with my experience. The store manager walked me through the whole store and personally brought me a big pile of jeans to try on. This manager was fantastic, the dude needs a raise! He taught me a lot about what to look for in make and fit, made me feel comfortable, and I left the store with 2 pairs of jeans that actually fit!

3 months later, I am still loving my new jeans and I’m really excited for fall so I can wear them more.

I never have to tug at them to keep them up, I don’t have gaping at the waist, I don’t look like I’m waiting for a flood, and there is not a plumber in sight! Now that I have the right fit, I feel a lot more confident. I never knew that having the right fit could do that?

Here’s what I bought:

Star  Demi Curve Skinny Jeans in Extra Wash

 

Star  The other ones I got at the outlets are called the Bold Curve Modern Skinny in Black.

I couldn’t find them on the Levi’s website so you’ll have to look for them in the store. I LOVE the Bold Curve fit. They hug me in all the right places without making me look like a sausage in a casing which is a definite bonus if you ask me! I need to go back and pick up a pair of boot cut for winter and I’m crossing my fingers that they come out with a wide-leg soon. {Please please please Levi’s!}

You can find out what your most flattering fit would be by taking their Levi's Curve ID fit test. They have something for the straight body all the way across the spectrum to the booty-licious.

I have found that the prices at the outlets are much cheaper than online, especially if you watch for sales or use the 20% off outlet coupons. I got two pairs of jeans for less than the price of one pair online, so keep that in mind when you go shopping.

Who knew that a great fitting pair of jeans could bring so much happiness! 

 

**What are your favorite jeans?**

 

P.S. I didn’t get any compensation for this post, I just love my jeans and wanted to share.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

What I Learned from my Own Pinterest Boards

Last week I had a big surgery (well, 7 in fact) on my sinuses and I have been homebound ever since. Being stuck inside for a couple weeks actually sounded nice at first. I could lay in bed, watch T.V., read, and have an excuse to play on my phone. Nobody told me that the only thing HGTV plays all day is some version of House Hunters! Why HGTV, why?

Yesterday I started to get extremely stir crazy.

Unfortunately, along with the surgery comes recovery and with that comes exhaustion, lots of blood, and killer sinus headaches. Doing projects and getting things done around here just isn’t going to happen for a little bit and I guess that has to be ok.

But, what do you do with yourself when you are restless and bored out of your mind? Yep, you play on Pinterest. This time instead of mindlessly scrolling through an endless sea of pins, I went to my own boards and I learned a few things in the process.

 

1. My Pinterest Boards are for Me:

As I sat looking at my boards I thought about why I have them. Is it to show off my crazy awesomeness and gain followers? Or, do I save these pieces of information for a different reason. Having people like my style and what I pin is definitely a nice self esteem boost, sure, but that’s not the reason I find myself drawn to Pinterest in the doctors office or late at night when I can’t sleep. I am saving these little bits of randomness because they motivate or inspire me.

 

Gypsy Magpie Pinterest {mountainmagpie.blogspot.com}

 

My boards are just that, mine.

It’s where I collect the the things that get my creative juices flowing. Things that give ideas and bring focus… and things that I just love because, well, I do.

I realized that if this bulletin board of sorts was just for me, then I am doing it all wrong!

I needed to make it work in a way that makes me happy.

 

2. Pinterest is a lot more Fun and Useful when it’s Organized:

If you are like me then when you started your PINTEREST journey you really didn’t have a clue what you were doing so you just made up some generic boards and started pinning ALL the things…

 

Nielsen Report Shows Explosive Pinterest Growth image PinterestMeme1

via Business2Community.com 

 

…4,000 pins later and you can’t find a dang thing.

Create as Many Boards as You Need and Arrange Them in a Way that Makes YOU Happy. It sounds odd, but take a minute to create some Pinterest order.

Use your boards in a way that allows you to keep that crazy mess in check. For example, instead of trying to pin all your recipes on one gigantic “Recipe” board, make it easier on yourself and create separate boards for appetizers, beverages, main dishes, salads, etc. Then when you are needing a recipe for a great soup, you know where to start looking.

I know that people always say to put your best boards at the top to get more followers, but if it’s not about followers then I say do what works for you!

I decided to arrange my boards alphabetically and then I placed all my seasonal/holiday boards together in sort of a chronological order depending on when they occur in the year. {Just FYI: Boards are easy to re-arrange, you just click and drag to where you would like them to be. You can also change the cover photo, edit the name, and choose a genre that they fit like Travel or Food. If you need step by step instructions go HERE.}  

If you want to put all your food boards together, all your decorating boards together, and then all your comic strip boards together and that makes you happy, then go for it girl!

If this collection is truly about you then there is no wrong or right way.

 

3. Edit, Edit, Edit:

After I got my boards set up how I wanted, I started going through each individual board. This is where I’ve had the biggest aha. Not only were there a ton of duplicate pins floating around, but half of my labels made no sense at all. When I first started pinning and saw a rad headboard bench, I pinned it as “Rad!” well, that does nothing when I’m searching my stuff for the headboard bench that I know I pinned somewhere and now want to DIY. Take some time and comb through each board. Give your pins searchable names, get rid of the doubles and the stuff that no longer interests you, then find and, for the love of Pinners everywhere, delete the broken links.

*Climbs on soapbox*

Please for the love! Don’t pin something that is a dead end! If it doesn’t have a link, find it! Click HERE if you need a tutorial. It makes me rage when I get all excited about something and the pin takes me nowhere. I am so not kidding, people!

In the words of President Dieter F. Uchtdorf…

via House and Hone

 

{While we are on the “Stop It!’ subject, stop sending me game invites on Facebook.

Please and Thank you.

Good grief, now I’m really pushing it. Sorry, President Uchtdorf, it’s just so catchy!

To read his totally amazingly awesome, uplifting talk, please, go HERE.

I’m a very bad person.}

 

As I was editing, I found a bunch of pins that didn’t really fit where they were. If that happens to you, move them around, create new boards, like I said before, do what works for you. I found once I had edited and moved the pins from one of my boards, I was able to delete that board entirely. I also found that I needed to create new boards so that things were easier to find and made more sense.

Editing is probably going to take you a while so don’t expect to get it all done in one day. Go slow and be a good librarian.

You are the curator of this collection of internet idea craziness.

Kind of cool.

 

4. Take a Look at the Bigger Picture:

When I started going through my boards I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of things I have accomplished the past few years. As I looked at old pins, I realized that many of them had inspired ideas and projects in my home. I was also suddenly keenly aware of my style, what I like, and what my passions are.

I was able to take a step back and look at the bigger picture of who I am.

How cool is it that you can see a mirror of yourself on a pin board?

 

If you aren’t sure what your style is, or what is important to you, take a minute to look through your collections. If a third of what you pin is green, then maybe you should add some green to your home because obviously it inspires you.

If your constantly pinning workouts, maybe you are trying to tell yourself that it’s time to focus on your health. Lace up those shoes and get out there!

 

Jaipor Rug from RugsUSA.   Can we just talk a little about how happy this rug is? I love it!

via RugsUSA by way of Pinterest

 

I pinned the same yellow rug 6 different times, I think that’s a sign. Now when my hubby asks what I want for my birthday, I can send him the link! Except it has now been discontinued because I waited so long, but you get the idea.

Sometimes you already know what you want, you just have to step back and recognize it.

 

5. Get Inspired:

The coolest part about this little organizational project is how inspired I now feel.

I have been reminded of all these wonderful ideas, plans, and goals that I had made for myself over the past few years that somehow got lost in all the pinning. I think sometimes we get so caught up looking for the next big thing or hopping on the newest trend, that we lose focus on where we want to be in and how we want our lives to feel.

Next time I find myself in a funk, I’m going to challenge myself to go through my boards and pick out one thing to focus on. Maybe it’ll be a project I’ve always wanted to try, maybe attempting that braid again that I gave up on, maybe trying a new recipe, reading that book I loved as a child to my daughter, or studying that scripture or talk that somehow the spirit knew I needed.

 

art therapy

via Indulgy

 

When it comes down to it, life isn’t about having 20,000 Pinterest followers. It’s not about how popular you are or how many people think you are amazing.

Create the life you want to live. Be inspired! There is inspiration in everything around us. Don’t do something because everyone else is.

It’s ok to use someone else’s idea as a starting place but you don’t have to be stuck there.

Find what you love and honor who you are.

Live authentically.

 

In the words of Genie…

…Be Yourself.

 

It’s kind of fun what you can learn by looking at a bulletin board, isn’t it? 

 

**What is your favorite personal board on Pinterest? Why do you love it and how does it inspire you?

Please share with me in the comments, I’d love to see!**