Thursday, February 11, 2016

in honor of bird-watching

While we enjoy a serendipitous moment or surprise just as much as the next person (ok, maybe more) we still deeply adore our yearly traditions.  The ebb and flow of one season coming and settling in deep in our bones and home, while the faint memory of season's past lingers.  Any reason for new traditions and rhythms to our day is a good enough reason for us.  Winter is undoubtedly, our hardest season as a family.  I know, I know…us southerners have had it so mild this year!  But there are cows to be fed late in the dark, cold toes in the morning, and dark that falls early.  It just simply isn't our most favorite cup of tea yet I don't believe in wishing away seasons of life.  Instead, we've learned to lean into winter.  To fully embrace this season of rest and slow-down.  To sit by the fire and drink hot tea.  To bird-watch.


I used to think bird-watching was just for the bored.
How very wrong I was indeed!  
There is nothing boring at all about watching these flights of fancy flock around the bird-feeder!






Even Farmer Brett gets in on the bird-watching.  He captured this stunning shot of our favorite-the woodpecker.




In the midst of the brown and grays outside, it is simply a delight to my eyes when a flash of color goes flying by, or sits pretty in the tree long enough for me to enjoy.  

I hope you watch some birds today!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Coffee filter garland how-to

Good morning friends! I have a fun diy project for you today that only requires a few materials and some patience.  The results are fabulous and I think you'll have fun along the way.  

Join me in learning how to make a coffee filter garland! The grocery store's unsung heroes.  Anything that helps get me from asleep and warm and cozy in my bed to awake and ready for the day deserves a medal in my book.  Even without the coffee in them, these super thin papers come in handy.  About a month ago I styled a tea party for a little girl's birthday and made one of these banners to go along with the decor.  I was instantly hooked.  The garlands are easily customizable because you can make them any color you like and they are very affordable to make! No expensive paints required. 

To start, you'll need several packs of plain white coffee filters.  I used two whole packs for my over-the-table garland.  You'll also need some deep pans lined with foil and whatever colors of paint you'd like to use.  I used the inexpensive acrylic paints like you can buy at Wal-Mart, Hobby Lobby, or Joann's.  You will use almost a whole bottle. 
 Let's get this party started! 
First, line your deep pans with foil, coming all the way up to the edges.

 Next, squirt or dump a generous amount of paint into each pan. If you're using the acrylic paints from the craft store I would use at least half of the bottle, if not all. 
 Now you need to fill the pans with water and carefully use a paintbrush to mix the paint you just poured in with the water.
Last step for now is to divide your coffee filters into piles, based on how many colors of paint you have.  Then flatten each pile of filters and place deep in the water.  You want the water to completely cover the stack of filters!

Leave the filters in the paint water for at least 6 hours.  If you have time, leave for a full 24 hours.  The longer you leave them, the more saturated the color will be.  

*BLOG Fail, I forgot to take a picture of the drying out step. So stay with me here! After your filters are all done sitting in the paint water, begin picking up small sections of the stack at a time.  Once you pick up a small section, fold all the filters over and squeeze the excess water back out.  Since the filters are all stuck together they are pretty hardy and shouldn't tear.  Continue to do this with all the filters.  Pick up out of the water, fold over, and squeeze the excess water out.  Last, lay them on a foil-lined baking sheet in the sun to dry.  If it's cold and gray outside, it may take 3-4 days for them to fully dry out so be cautious of your time if you have an event coming up that you need them dry for!
 After your filters are all dried out (remember, this can take a few days since it's winter!) you end up with this!
A beautiful, interesting, full of texture, pile of coffee filters!
 My mind instantly races with all the possibilities for these vibrant papers, but for today I'll stick with sharing how to make a garland out of the filters.  This is a great step to do while watching a show or listening to some music! It's easy but repetitive.  Use something to poke a hole in the middle of all the filters.  I use an awl. (a small, pointed tool you can find at Joann's…so, so handy!) Next, scrunch several coffee filters in your hand at once.  If you watched the paper bird's nest video you'll remember I gave this tip about working with paper-always scrunch! It adds texture and depth to your project instantly.  

After all the filters have a hole poked in the middle and are scrunched and then fluffed back out, poke a string through the middle of the filters, doing a few at a time.  

 Then your hard work is done!  Hang anywhere for added joy. 
Can you spot my latest filter garland?

Where do you plan to hang your garland? Give yourself a few days to spread this project out over and give it a try! It's one of the easiest, most fun projects I've tried.  I hope you enjoy! 


Saturday, February 6, 2016

Favorite Links and ask me anything (almost)

Happy weekend everyone! 
I hope you have some fun planned :) I have some fun links from my favorite spots to share with you today! Then stick around 'till the end because I'm giving you the chance to ask me anything….errr, almost anything. 



I want to make these.

I made these Valentine's last year! You can find them here.

Now it's your turn!! 
Have a question for me?  About food, crafting, art, adoption, or something entirely different?! 
Ask away in the comments or email me at sunshinebysara@hotmail.com
and I'll gather your questions and write a blog post with the answers next week! 

Happy weekend! 




Friday, February 5, 2016

Serendipity: the story and a special


Happy Friday friends! I want to share one last story and special with you today, which I hope prompts you toward having some fun this weekend. 
You know, "cut a rug",
let your hair down, 
invite the serendipitous moments in. 

As I look back over the last year or so of my life a giant lesson has been learned for me.  I used to over-plan everything.  I would list dreams, page after page.  I rarely just let things happen.  I held on tight to my ideas, plans, and daydreams with a clenched fist.  Then, through several of these things not going according to plan I started to let go, open my hand a bit, and let my rigid plans sift through the cracks like sand.  Prayer, Bible reading, talks with Brett, and simply time have taught me to not hold so tightly, if to hold at all.  The word "serendipity" means "pleasant surprise."  And you know what? As I've learned to go with the flow, take one day at a time, and pursue the whole of life as art, I have been pleasantly surprised.  

A few of my favorite memories from the past year are camping, going to a concert with my twin and her husband and Brett, traveling to New York, and trying out a new tea shop in town that is simply gorgeous and a favorite from now on.  All of these were things it took some faith to say yes to. Take New York City for example.  I've wanted to go there my entire life.  I decided we should go before our adoption, since we won't be traveling alone for quite some time.  I got really excited and then talked myself out of it at least a dozen times.  Somehow, I talked myself back into it and hurried to buy the tickets before fear could get the best of me again.  I am so, so, SO glad I did!  It was by far, the most favorite trip I've ever had with Brett. 

So my question for you is….what can you be pleasantly surprised by today?  Perhaps leave the "to do" list on the fridge and try out a new restaurant or park instead.  Play some music you can really dance to.  Cook a new meal with flavors you've never tried.  Wander. Daydream. 
Embrace serendipity. 

This piece ends our "stories" series for now and you can purchase an 8x10 art print all weekend long for half-price (that's $9!). You can find my shop here.

Come back tomorrow for a few fun links and a chance for YOU to ask anything you want! 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

We are all a beautiful story: The story behind the art and a special

Thank-you all for your enthusiasm and encouragement this week as I've peeled back the layers on my art and shared the story behind it.  There is truly a connection to each piece of art I create.  Sometimes I forget others can't see inside my crazy thoughts and forget to share the story that is behind each piece.  This has been fun for me too! 

"We are all a beautiful story" is a piece I painted first many, many months ago in my art journal.  Then I painted another piece (the one you see here) just a few weeks ago, as adoption was pounding on my heart.  If you've been around the blog for long, you know that I truly believe this.  From the people in my community that serve me a smile (like at the post office or the grocery store), to the family members that love us so big, each is beautiful.  Ann Voskamp has a quote that says a big heart will trump a big title every time.  I have to agree.  I don't think big titles, tons of Etsy sales, or thousands of IG followers is what makes our story more beautiful than someone else's.  I think it's all about the love.  People are really interesting.  I am fascinated by people-where they've come from, where they are now, where they're headed.  

As we started our adoption process our thinking was mainly one-sided.  Us.  That's mostly all we were thinking about.  As we began to work with Bethany Christian Services our thinking and hearts expanded to make room for the beautiful soul that is also a part of our story now-our birth mom.  Not a day goes by that we don't pray for her (multiple times), think about her, and honor her.  

I told our case worker that most of the questions I was getting so far were about the process and how when I keep speaking about the birth mom a lot of people don't understand.  She reminded me that maybe I could be a voice to help change the perspective on adoption.  So today, will you join me in praying for our birth mom (no, we haven't met her yet), and all the other beautiful, brave souls across the world who are united in this miracle called adoption. We are each a part of the other's story, none more important than the other.  

And will you see those around you as beautiful stories today? 
As living, breathing, walking, interesting stories? 

(as always, you can purchase this 8x10 art print here for half-price at $9 for one-day only!)

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Happy Camper: the story and a SPECIAL (one-day only!)

 This morning I want you to grab a cup of strong coffee and lean in close for one of my most favorite stories and art pieces, "Happy Camper".  I remember the early spring morning very well.  It was last year and Brett had been working on me for months, wanting to buy a camper.  I say "working on me" because I was totally not up for it.  I was worried about spending the money, that the girls wouldn't sleep, and that we wouldn't make time to go.  Then Brett stumbled across a great deal on Craigslist for a pop-up camper.  This was in early enough spring that prices hadn't jumped up yet and I nodded in agreement that we could go look at it.  Well, you can figure the rest of this story out for yourself.  Once I saw that little adventure on wheels, I was hooked.  I'm pretty sure I came home and listened to "Let the good times roll" by Ben Rector and let my imagination run away with me.  


 I'm ever so glad I did. 

 Throughout the months of spring and summer and even fall, we had many camping adventures that you simply just can't put a price tag on.  There is something in the air about camping that is just magic.  It's the early morning fog and sunrise, the campfire smoke and warm breakfast.  It's staying up late reading a book and rising early, warm under the covers.  It's late nights by the campfire, food so good you don't even think about a restaurant.  It's twinkle lights strung on the pop-up, time with cousins and best friends, going for a swim in the river.  It's fishing, building sand castles, and hiking.  It's country music playing, friend making, outdoor loving, happy camping. 

It's all of that and so much more. 



 It is with great, great excitement we look forward to camping this year!! I'm crossing fingers and toes our sweet baby is with us by then and we can snuggle them in-between Brett and I for early-morning cuddles.










THAT is the story behind "Happy Camper". 

For today only, an 8x10 Happy Camper art print is reduced to $9 (that's half-off!)
No code necessary, simply buy here.

**And don't forget, only a few hours left to enter the giveaway for a $50 shop credit! See Monday's blog post***
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