Thursday, January 22, 2015

Painting Beauty From Ashes - A New Blog

Several years ago I started this blog, The Lavender Tub.  I didn't think of myself as a blogger, or really a person that anyone would find interesting enough to follow; I just wanted a place to share some recipes and other "how to" ideas.  An insatiable desire to learn and try new things, combined with homemaking skills learned from my stay-at-home mom put me in a position of being a resource for some of my younger friends.  It made sense to have a public place to publish information that I seemed to share over and over again.

As time went on, however, The Lavender Tub became a place of therapy for me.  The death of my remaining parent (both to cancer), a job loss for my husband that lasted two full years, learning of the lengthy abuse of some children I love - which sent me into counseling to deal with issues from my own past - were all so difficult and wounding.  There were wonderful events that greatly eclipsed those painful things - my daughter gave birth to the two, most beautiful children on the planet, my hubby eventually found work and then became a partner in his CPA firm, my boys acclimated to public school from homeschool very successfully, and I even stumbled upon a little business that keeps me in some spending money.  Still, the hurt could be so heavy at times.  This blog has been a lovely escape for me as I've worked on those hurts.  When I was emotionally unable to reach out the way I once did, I found I could still blog and share ideas that might help someone.  I could get lost in editing pictures, and learn new techniques as I worked.   I could even find a calming joy in remaking a piece of outdated, undesirable furniture into something that is pretty and quite useful for our home.  It made me feel like I was Painting Beauty From My Ashes, and healing happened.  I wouldn't say I'm 100%, but I'm certainly in a better place than I was.

Since I didn't realize I was starting a real blog when I began The Lavender Tub, I made choices in my set up that locked this blog into formats and styles I am unable to change without undesirable consequences.  Honestly, I'm kind of eager for something fresh that can evolve as my skills change, and as I learn more about how to be a blogger.  For those reasons, I've decided to start a 2nd blog,  

I don't think I will abandon The Lavender Tub, for it is dear to me - mistakes and all.  I just wish to have a place to present better pictures with a cleaner format for some of what I blog about. But then again - you just never know! 

Or in the words of  
Lady Violet of Downton Abbey fame, 

I do hope you'll continue to visit, and please check out and consider following, Painting Beauty From Ashes, here.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being here for you are the reason I keep blogging, and you helped me through a most difficult time.  You will never know how much you mean to me!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

My Family's Favorite Cheese Ball

I honestly can't believe I've never shared this recipe on the blog before, because it is one of my most requested recipes 

- for 2 reasons:

            #1  It really is one of the best cheese ball 
recipes around


            #2  Family members can't seem to find their 
                  copies of the recipe at Christmas time!

The conversation always goes, "Hey, I just did a search on 
your blog......and I can't find The Cheese Ball Recipe......

So, if for no one but my family - Here It Is!

1 pound Cheddar Cheese, shredded
2 - 8 oz. packages Cream Cheese, room temp is best
2 tsp. Garlic Powder
2 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
1/4 - 1/2 Cup Mayo (I lean toward the 1/4 Cup)
Chopped Pecans (about 1/2 Cup)
Chili Powder

Combine the cheeses, garlic powder, Worcestershire sauce, and mayo.  Mix well with your hands.  Shape into a ball, Christmas tree, heart, log, or whatever your mood dictates.

On a piece of plastic wrap spread the pecans and sprinkle chili powder over them.  (You can mix some pecans into the cheese mixture, but I just coat the cheese ball with them in case someone does not like pecans.)  Now, just roll the cheese ball around on the pecans and chili powder until it is completely coated.  I usually finish off with some extra chili powder.

Lavender Tub Tip:  I hang on to the plastic wrap with the pecans and chili powder.  If the cheese ball is not consumed in one sitting,  I can always reshape and roll it again.  Sometimes I use the leftover cheese ball in a pan of enchilada casserole - just break it into small pieces and use in place of the shredded cheese.  It tastes wonderful.

Lastly, if you are watching your carbs, this makes a super yummy treat when eaten with almonds.  It really hits the spot when you need something snacky.

I hope your family enjoys this recipe as much as ours does!  At least my family can all pull it up on our phones now!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Cropping Pictures for Ornaments or Jewelry - PicMonkey

Christmas is just around the corner, and I'm already in the mood to put up a tree!!!

Darn that Hobby Lobby!
They put Christmas stuff out so early - 
who can help themselves?

Truthfully, I think one of the reasons I'm so excited is I get to add a 2nd sweet grand baby's face to my tree.  I didn't used to decorate much with those kinds of ornaments, but when you have grand babies as cute as mine - it's a must!

See what I mean?
This handsome man joined our
family in July of this year.

Here is a quick, little tutorial to help you get a nicely cropped, quality picture that will look great in your ornament, piece of jewelry, or tiny frame:

Go to and click the Edit button.  (PicMonkey is a photo editing site that has tons of cool edits for FREE!)  When you click Edit, places you store pictures on your computer will pop up, and you just need to select the picture you wish to edit.

Once you have your picture pulled up in PicMonkey, click the Crop button on the left.

Within the Crop function, you will click on the little drop-down menu and select "how" you wish to crop your picture.  For my application I'm choosing a Square.  As soon as you click Square - a square highlight will pop up on your picture.  You can now drag this anywhere on your picture to frame what you want included in the crop.  You can also adjust the size by grabbing one of the corners and sliding it.  When you are happy with the size and position, Click Apply.

This will leave you with a wonderfully squared picture.  All you need to do now is Save it back to your computer with a new name.

To print the picture, open Word (or some other word processing software), and create a New Document.  Click on Insert, then select Picture - and choose your newly created picture from where you stored it on your computer.  When you hit Enter, your picture will appear in the document.  The last step is to go over to the right of your screen and enter the dimensions you need your picture to be.  If it is an inch - use 1.0   If a half inch - then .5   All that is left is to print your picture and cut it out!

Wasn't that easy?

If you need a circle for your ornament or jewelry - I made a tutorial for that here.

This little lion is my beautiful grand daughter about 2 years ago.  Don't you agree that my tree will look much sweeter with these two precious babies lighting up its branches?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Spooky Welcome Sign - Printable

One day this past spring I heard quite a commotion in my yard.  When I went to investigate, I found dozens and dozens of birds squawking and carrying on.  It really was kind of like a scene from The Birds, and kind of gave me the eebie jeebies.


I'm much more about pretty fall decorations this time of year than all the gory stuff, but there is something kind of enticing about old, creepy houses.  When I saw this image on The Graphics Fairy's site - I thought it would be fun to marry it with my bird picture to make a spooky Welcome sign.  To see this image on her site, go here.
I took the color out of my bird picture and heightened the contrast quite a bit.  Then I overlapped it onto the Graphics Fairy image, and finally added some texture.

You're welcome to print one for yourself, if you like.  And please stop by anytime - pay no attention to my little welcoming party at the front gate.  I think they'll let you enter......

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Furniture Feet Pumpkins.....?

Yesterday I shared my fall mantel here on the blog with a little teaser that I had a confession to make.

I've said in the past that nothing in my house is that valuable; therefore nothing is really sacred.  So, when I noticed that the feet of the ottoman I am currently reupholstering would make great pumpkins - well, off they came.

They are just perfect with these candlesticks.  I get bored decorating with candles, so these feet made me happy - and they gave Edward a good laugh when he realized what they were.

Luckily, I had a spare set of feet in the garage, so the poor ottoman can still stand tall.  Don't you just love them as pumpkins, though?  They're such a great color.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Fall Mantel

Yesterday, I shared how I'm trying to simplify my decorating as the seasons change.  I don't want to spend days decorating for a particular season, because there are so many other things I want to do instead.

Except for the mantel! 
This is my fun space.  
My let's-get-creative-and-do-something-totally-new space.

My favorite thing in the world with decorating is to take something that is totally junk, and make it at home with lovely, pleasant little things.  

(I have some rusty furniture springs I really, really wanted to incorporate - but they just weren't least not yet.)

Our home is pretty formal by nature, but we are not.  I guess adding a little junk is my way of not taking this house, or decorating, or myself too seriously.

I can't say my dear husband is as enthusiastic about the cast-offs as I am, but it has become a source of intrigue and humor for him.

I bought this picture for the frame, but the painting is so perfect  for this time of year.  Isn't it pretty?

In the 2nd picture above if you look at the bottom of the large frame, it is damaged and most of the ornamentation is missing.  However, it is quite old - and I love its character!

I have a crazy little confession about this vignette.  If you come back tomorrow, I'll tell you what it is!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Simplified Decorating With Glass Displays

I Looooove to decorate.  I do!  
Especially for all the different seasons.  

However, I'm learning that my decorating style is simplifying and changing.  I find that I'm not as interested in spending an entire week getting out the new season's decor and packing up the previous season to stack in the garage.  I seem to be migrating towards things I can change up in short time that still look fantastic for the season.  

One reason I've been posting about apothecary jars/cloches of late, see here, here, and here, is because it's a great way to pull off this simplified approach.

By gathering and making a very eclectic collection of glass displays, I can update my decor for the season just by changing what's inside.

It's fun, too, because if I don't have enough variety for all the different displays, I can just walk around my yard and pull a bit of what's happening outside - inside.

I think it keeps the decorating a little fresher as I'm not just getting out all the same stuff I've used year after year.

Of course I have favorite pieces I want to hang on to and continue to use, but it does force some new and interesting combinations.

And should I decide to have some friends over for a little tea, I can replace a few decor items with some cookies or cupcakes, keep some of the decor in place - and have a special little dessert buffet.

If you decorate for the different holidays, do you like a simplified approach, or is part of the enjoyment spending several days getting your house all pretty?