Monday, February 28, 2011

Guest Blogger: God Rocks!

Guest Blogger and friends Julie Isley and Lisa Pelton from God Rocks!! These amazing women transform ordinary rocks to beautiful one-of-a-kind creations. They have inspiration rocks, and they can make replicas of buildings, churches and steeples. Their artwork is amazing and an inspiration! Here is their story and samples of their creations.

Quaint Spring Church

How God Rocks Began
A former professional Recreational Therapist and competitive sports enthusiast, Lisa Pelton's Life took a dramatic turn in 1998 when a simple ankle injury triggered the onset of a disease called Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy.

In that same momentous year, she met Gary and married him in July of 1999. However, the newlyweds were immediately faced with constant trial. Gary was laid off from his job as a Wildlife Biologist and subsequently had to change his career. During this time of transition, he suffered a collapsed lung, resulting in surgery and hospitalization. Medical bills consumed their lives, and tragically, Lisa’s disease progressed. Her pain became so great she was forced to stop working and began to spend long days at home.

Lisa naturally began to grieve what she could no longer do. She felt as though God had taken away all the things she did well. She didn’t even have the money to spend on gifts she longed to give her friends.

Then God whispered a life changing truth challenging her to look at what she did have instead of what she didn’t. She remembered some brushes and paints she had and that with a little effort, she could paint some rocks as gifts.

Lisa painted a rock for Gary for their first anniversary and a few others over the years. She never thought anything of them. They were “just rocks”. But God had other plans.
To their utter amazement, these “God Rocks!” have reached throughout the United States and overseas, in Europe, India and Australia.

God Rocks! is a blessing from the Lord giving Lisa and Gary an opportunity to witness about the love of Christ and the miracles He can perform in the midst of pain and adversity.

Lisa’s health miraculously improved. She and her husband now run a ministry called Job’s Retreat. They minister to people who are suffering physically, emotionally and spiritually. God Rocks! are now used to support this ministry. Lisa and Gary reside in Fuquay-Varina, NC with their two children and their dog, Logos.

A church in the Fall

A Partnership is Born

Julie met Lisa at Church Alive MOPS in 2008. The following year, Julie became Creative Activities lead for MOPS and she and Lisa collaborated to decorate the tables. Lisa invited Julie over to paint rocks for the center pieces. Julie was amazed at the work Lisa had been doing for years painting rocks into churches. She enjoyed painting so much, she gave it a try. Lisa was a great teacher and Julie was a fast learner. It was the beginning of a beautiful partnership!

A few months (and rocks) later, Lisa and Julie displayed their rocks at the 1st Annual Holiday Shoppe at Church Alive. The experience was amazing! It was also an answer to a question she had brought to God about her purpose. Since then, she has set up a work space in her house and loves painting.

Julie happily resides in Fuquay-Varina, NC with her supportive husband, David, and their two children.

 More of their beautiful creations... 

Scripture Rocks

Christmas Manger

Check out our blog for other designs. We can also be found at Esty or you can contact Julie at
jisley316@gmail (.)com for more information on how to order a one-of-a-kind God Rock.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Guest Blogger: Rediscover Your Creative Passion

Hello, I'm Christa from Feeding Four. Maridith and I have known one another a few years now. We met through MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers), and we did an eight-week creativity workshop together last summer at my house. She asked me to guest blog about creativity while she's enjoying that scrumptious baby, and I was thrilled. I love to talk about creativity!

If you're like me and many others, you have a creative passion--sewing, painting, playing guitar. As much as I love to cook and bake, my deepest creative passion is writing fiction. But last year I was in a funk. My life was busy and beautiful and very full, too full for writing--or so I thought. I hadn't written a piece of fiction in well over a year. I heard a radio broadcast about a famous female writer one day and found myself in tears, at a loss to get back to a place where I could enjoy writing. Not long after, I started on a journey to re-focus on my creative passion. The following are a couple of ideas I'd like to share for others in a similar place:

1.) Just get started, and start small. You'll always think of your creative passion as a chore until you experience the benefits of doing it. Start with 15 minutes, and the time and space will follow because you'll be motivated out of desire and not guilt.
2.) Remind yourself that progress not perfection is the goal. This is a mantra from Julia Cameron, who wrote "The Artist's Way." I've found it very helpful to keep myself from being paralyzed by my inner critic as I create.
3.) Eliminate time and energy drains. For me, this meant canceling cable TV and letting the house get a little messier. But I also had to determine to fill that time vacuum with writing and not let other meaningless activities get in the way.
4.) Get rid of your 'To-Do' list. Start by saying “no” as nicely as possible. Believe it or not, the world will go on without you. Clear your calendar until what’s on it is related to the three or four things you were put on this earth to do, including your creative passion.
5.) Try a creativity workshop. If you're still having trouble getting started, check out Julia Cameron's "The Artist's Way" or "The Creative Call" by Janice Elsheimer. Each book will walk you through activities designed for a creative 'recovery' in eight to ten weeks. You can do this on your own or with friends.

If you've put off your creative passion or just not given it the space in your life it deserves, I hope this encourages you to re-prioritize. Your creative passion is a gift--open it, and use it. Have a great year and check out my food blog if cooking is your thing.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Guest Blogger: Alayna from Our Semi-Normal Life

Hello Strictly Homemade readers! I am excited, but nervous to be here today. I have never guest posted for anyone, so I hope that you like what I have in store for you today.

First off, my name is Alayna and I blog over at Our Semi-Normal Life. I have only been blogging since September of 2010. It started out as a way for family to see what we have been up to and has morphed in the last couple of months into a craft blog of sorts.

I try to do something crafty at least twice a week. With 2 kids, 5 and 13 months, it is hard sometimes. They like to "help." I use the word help very loosely:) The 5 year old likes to hand me things and cut out paper with my cricut. The 13 month old is content emptying out my box of baby food jars and taking all the trash out of the garbage. I think once the 5 year old is in kindergarten this fall, I will be able to get more done. I think. Maybe. Ah, who am I kidding? It will probably be that same as now. But I can hope, right?

Maridith has asked me to share my reward system that I use for the 5 year old, so without further blabbering, here you go:)

Reward System

We have been having a hard time getting our 5 year old son to do things and do them right the first time. I understand that he is 5, but he stills needs to learn to pick up his toys/dirty clothes/messes without me asking/yelling about it all the time. I am also tired of reminding him to do something that I asked him to do yesterday. Well, I think I have found the solution, at least for now.

A few weeks ago, my son got Monopoly out and was playing with the $. He was asking me how much a toy was, and then he would give me the $ and I would give him the toy. This went on the whole day. It gave me an idea on the lack of listening the first time in our home. All I needed to buy, for now, was the play money.

We found some play money at Zurchers (discount party store). Not knowing how much I would need, we bought 2 packs ($1 a piece), which is more than enough for now. This is how it works: each morning, our son gets $20 in $1 bills put into an envelope. If he misbehaves, doesn't want to do something that I ask him to do, whines excessively, etc., I take away some money. If he is extra obnoxious that day and has run out of money before bed time, we start taking money away from the next day. It has been a month, and I have not had to do that, yet;)

Whatever amount of money is left at bedtime, we switch out for larger bills and put those in a separate envelope. Once he reaches $500, we are going to Zurchers and he has $5 to spend however he wants. I figure that even if he gets all $20 everyday, it will still take him about a month to do this. It has been a month since we started and he is just over half way there.

The first day, he had $12 left. The next night, he only had $10 left. HE has been doing really well and there have been several days where I have not had to take any money away. When I threaten to take $ away, he instantly changes his mind and stops whining or does what I ask. If he cleans his room without whining, he earns $100. He has only done this once, but I will take it! He always asks for our help because he says he is just a little kid and it is a big mess. We tell him that he made the mess, so he can be a big boy and clean up the mess. I have also noticed that I don't necessarily have to help pick up the toys. If we tell him to pick up all the monster trucks or all the action figures, he will do it and then ask what else he needs to pick up. He just needs a little direction.

I usually only have to ask once to get results. It really seems to be working for us. I am very happy about that, too. This system has been a little hard on me, though. It is much faster and easier if I pick up the mess. What takes him 15 minutes to do, I could have done in a few minutes. But it is time that he takes responsibility for his messes. Drake does not understand time-outs. Taking toys and/or privileges away does not work. Bribery does not work. So for now, this is what we will do. I am sure that we will have to change it up soon. We will see what the future brings:)

Here are the envelopes. Drake picked out the paper and I used the cricut to cut out the dollar signs and numbers. Until I can figure out something to put on it, the blank envelope holds the money that he gets for the day. I have a larger envelope to put the money in that he has earned. I haven't decorated that one yet, either. They are kept on the top of the microwave where he can't reach them without a chair so that he can't cheat and pad his envelopes. I want to get a shutter and hang that in the hallway to store them. I just haven't had the time to find one. I guess I can just pull one of the shutters off one of the back windows though:)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Guest Blogger Tasha from Creation Corner

I am very excited to be here today guest posting for Maridith. I am Tasha, from over at Creation Corner. Maridith and I become friends probably close to a year ago through blogging and I truly love her and her blog. I always feel good after coming away from being here.

This is my cute family. They sure do make me happy. Can you tell we laugh a lot together?
Over at my blog Creation Corner I like to share lots of craft ideas. They range from sewing, quilting, painting, paper crafts, wood, party ideas...I seem to find I love a lot of different types of "creating". My greatest love really is sewing and fabric though. I always go back to it somehow. Whenever fabric is involved I just find myself happy.

Today, I am going to share with you a fun Valentine's Day headband tutorial. You could make it for yourself, your daughter, or friend. They are fairly simple and don't take too long to make either. Here is what you will need:
Fabric (It is only going to be about 1-2 inches wide but about 44-45 inches long.)
Needle and thread
Hot glue gun and hot glue stick
Iron and ironing board
Small pieces of felt

First you will grab you fabric and scissors. Mine was quarter of a yard of this fabulous red and white polka dot fabric called bliss.

You are going to make a cut that is about 1 to 1 1/2 inches wide. I just eye ball it.

Then you are going to tear the fabric. You want to do this along the long edge. In the end you want the torn piece to be about 45 inches long.

Once it is all torn you will iron it out flat.

Grab your needle and thread and start gathering the strip of fabric.

It should look like this when you are done. Tie off the thread at the end of your gather. You do not want it tightly gathered, but more loosely.

Then you will take the gathered strip and make it into a circle like this. Making the fabric overlap each other. Your outer layer should be larger then your inner. You are going to wined it in.

Cut out a circle of felt that will fit under your fabric circle. Put hot glue on it.

Place the circle you made onto the felt circle. Use more hot glue to make sure the whole circle is glued down.

The back should look something like this when you are done.

Grab a few more scraps of felt and cut out two hearts. I folded my felt in half to make my hearts. I made the white heart a little larger then the red one.

They were about this size when I was done. I glue them lightly together. Then I added a button on top for extra decoration.

Get your headband. Put it on your head and find the best place for the circle of fabric you are going to glue onto it. You will be sorry if you do not look first to pick where you want it. I like mine more to the side. Then put hot glue where you want the fabric piece to go.

After the fabric piece is glued on a take another small piece of felt and glue that on also. It helps to hold the fabric piece to the headband.

And now you have a cute Valentine's Day headband to show off all month long.

Thank you again Maridith for this opportunity to guest post. I wish you lots of luck with that new baby of yours. Happy Valentine's Day to all of you! I hope you will come meet me over at Creation Corner.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Baby Cailyn is here

The wait is over and my baby is here.  Cailyn arrived on January 31, at 3:25PM.  We are all doing wonderful!  I thought you would like to see some pictures of Cailyn and my family! 


My beautiful family!


We are completely in love!!


(Remember my hand-me-down bouncy seat cover??  Doesn’t she look angelic in her seat?)


Cailyn has even checked out her bedding!! She has not slept in here but she did take a tour!  Check out her name!  My friends gave me this as a gift.  I love it!! It is from Sugar Britches


Cailyn checking out her stylish bedding!! I love my little peanut!!

I am going to take a little break from blogging/crafting but I am going to have some wonderful guest bloggers here that were sweet enough to write something while I am adjusting to being a mom of 3.  Stay tuned and check them out!

Strictly Homemade by Maridith

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Kids Valentine’s Day Card- Personalized

I saw this last year and put it in my internal file box for this year and I am happy to say  a) I remembered b) I am finished 18 days before the holiday.  This is a record for me because most times I get projects done the day before, but the anticipation of a baby’s arrival has helped my normal procrastination schedule!

Here are my kids’ valentines this year!


This is really easy…Take a photo of your kids reaching out their arm.



It might take several takes!

Then with a Photo Editing Tool add your wording.  I used the free stuff that came on my computer but I prefer using Picasa which is free online editing tool and is so easy to use.


Wesley's Valentine Photo 2

I remembered a picture I had of Wesley and thought it would be perfect for his Valentine’s Day card!!  My little super hero!!!

Then with a hole puncher punch out two holes 1/2” away and add your lollipop.  I do recommend using tape on the backside so it doesn’t slide out.



My kids valentine’s day cards are done and they are one-of-a-kind! 

I also saw on Money Saving Mom where you can order 24 cards for $2.49 shipped and do the same thing!  Mine were already complete when I saw this! 

I am sharing this at


Strictly Homemade By Maridith

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