Thursday, December 25, 2014

it's Christmas morning...

We've hit a new 'normal' as far as Christmas goes.  No little ones at home to ready the place for Santa to visit, no one at home now, to celebrate Christmas morning with.  They all have their own homes and little ones.  So, what does this new normal look like? BLAH! How does it feel?  Lonely, at best.

Everything is just 'off'.  We celebrated very early for our family this year. Recognizing that a lot of families do this, but, it was new for us.  Kind of threw me off from the get go.  It was a great time together.  Not dismissing that, but overall, it just threw off the balance.  The BIG hoorah!

Now that our kids are grown and have families of their own, their schedules have multiplied to get everyone in.  They are now doing the crazed, "gotta get to everyone's house" dance.  I'm glad those days are over.  But, it does leave a loneliness that we've never really felt before.  A new normal.

So, our Christmas Eve was spent in the quiet of our home relaxing and watching Christmas movies, while snacking.  No meal, just snacks, and adult ones at that.  Good quality cheeses, pickled asparagus and gourmet olives to name a few.  It was nice relaxing and enjoying the quiet.  But, it was a bit blah!  

So, we did what we wanted and opened our gifts from each other.  It started with new p.j.'s.  Then, we said, oh, let's open a couple more...then, what the heck, let's open all of them.  And we did.  

When my head finally hit the pillow, I laid there thinking of the first Christmas so long ago.  I think I was searching for the 'real' meaning.  Something of substance now that I could really focus on what it's really all about.  So, I laid there and envisioned what it must have been like.  The trudge, the fear, the angst of having a baby born in a barn.  Knowing that you were going to give birth to a king, knowing the way in which you were 'with child', the scorn of the world upon you.  Strange but all-knowing at the same time.

What must it have been like for the Shepherd's?  The Angels?  How did the inn-keepers feel after they found out what they had done? 

So, I fell asleep with visions of Jesus birth.  I awoke with the same.  Then this came across my Facebook page and I thought, this is what I want to share. I was inspired to share it with you.  

I think this will be my new normal... and, it's been here all along. Merry Christmas from me to you.  Beth

Monday, December 22, 2014

I've really missed...

I've been pretty darn lucky to get to do so much of what I enjoy these past few years.  I'm working towards a more simple and less stressful way of living.  The first step was leaving my career in real estate four years ago.  I enjoyed it a lot, but noticed the last two or three years that I was in it, that my interests and ambitions were towards a creative lifestyle.  It was the best decision I made.

It's not been easy and financially, has put a strain on our budget.  But, it's been good.  Really, really good.  I'm okay with living with less.  I'm overjoyed with living a more authentic life. A life that allows me to have more time for family, when needed.  I find I'm writing more.  Sending more notes the old fashion way.  I'm working on enjoying my friends over coffee.  I'm loving my home and decorating again. I'm remember what I've loved all my life and now, I'm getting reacquainted with those things. It's just been good.

One of the things that has happened is I've realized how much I miss what I used to love to do.  Sewing is one of those things.  I used to sew quite a bit. My mom let me take sewing classes and I was always in Home Ec. in school.  My mother-in-law gave me her sewing machine early in my marriage.

I would wake up with the hubs, get him off to work and then sit down at the sewing machine and sew for hours, my baby-to-be's newborn gowns, made from flame retardant flannel.  Sweet little gowns, with ties up the middle. Nothing fancy, but I loved doing it.  I've allowed time for myself to remember.

A couple weeks ago, my granddaughter was over and asked me to make her dolly a skirt.  I actually sat down, while she was there watching and whipped out a hand stitched skirt for her dolly.  Then, she wanted one for her stuffed kitty.  I happily obliged.  It was so nice. She was thrilled and so was I! 

I'm inspired to remember and reacquaint myself with more of what I've really missed and I encourage you to do that too!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Coffee mugs and other musings...

This is the mug I'm drinking from these days.  It's a tall, sturdy mug that feels good in my hand.  Much a like a handbag has to work for me, so goes the mug.

I have mugs from a variety of places.  It seems to be the one souvenir we get on vacation.  It's easy to pack, easy on the budget and truly, the memories one conjures up when sipping from a souvenir mug is priceless. 

This particular mug was painted by moi.  Several years ago...and I do mean several, I purchased mugs for everyone that was going to be at our Christmas gathering at my sis-in-laws.  I also purchased a paint your own mug kit so we could all create our own personalized mug. 

It was fun.  The gals got into it more than the guys and my father-in-law, with a little urging and cajoling, complied, too.
I love my cup and all the memories I have of that day and time.  The kids were all smaller, of course, I loved being at my hub's sister's home, a happy time with family.  It's just a really nice reminder, that otherwise, you might not have, if left to your own "forgetful" devices. 

What inspires memories in you?  A photo, a pillow, a coffee mug...

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

We had an early Christmas this year.  If all of my family isn't together, it's just not the same.  And, this year, we had a special gift for the grandkids.  I've been "mindful" of a gift request from our then, almost five year old granddaughter, Makenna, last February.  She thought it'd be a great idea if we got her a pony for her upcoming birthday.  Well, I was keen on the idea right away...Grampie, not so much.  I told Makenna that that was a great idea, that it'd take some planning and it'd have to be a gift for the grandkids, not just for her.  She was happy with that and new it wouldn't be any time soon before there would be a pony to come and live at Grammie and Grampies.

This past October, we were heading out of town for the weekend, when I checked my Facebook, and low and behold, someone was selling a pony!  In our price range, close by.  Long story short, we were able to get her.  Spirit is her name.  We've had her at our place since October, anticipating the big reveal.  Keeping her hidden until Christmas.  Talking over and around, spelling and hand signals when the kiddos were around.  (Note to self:  won't be able to use the spelling card much longer as Makenna is learning to read.)

Since the pony was their "big" gift, I made up a small package for each of them.  It had their ornament that I made; a cowboy and cowgirl, a cowboy hat embellished for each, pony books for each, a pony comb and a bag of carrots.  Lincoln, who's 3-1/2 didn't recognize a pattern, but, Makenna was showing some signs of a pattern to the gifts.  The carrots were a crazy gift to get for sure.  So, with a puzzled look on her face, we talked about what each thing was for and if she thought there was some clues.  Then, we got the signal that the pony was in place.  The look on her face was so precious. Like, "am I seeing what I'm seeing". 

Here's the video of the big reveal.  Enjoy! 

Monday, December 8, 2014

There's just something about weekends.

Another weekend full of life...home stuff, family stuff, Christmas shopping and more. It's been a terrific one at that.

This past Saturday was opening day of shotgun deer season.  It's also my son's birthday.  He was born on opening day, just before daybreak.  His daddy was an avid deer hunter.  It was Tanner and I right from the get-go, so to speak, as he was no sooner born and his daddy took off.  How apropos that he grew to be an avid hunter himself.

So, our weekend started off with family.  Our 3 year old grandson spent the
Lincoln mimicking Grandpa cute!
night, anticipating our granddaughter's visit early Saturday.  Makenna is 5-1/2 and we're starting to notice that the age difference is playing into their time together. But, there is no denying it...their love for each other is amazing. I was almost giddy with excitement myself.  Funny how the grandkids can evoke such a feeling in you.  

We've noticed that Lincoln mimics our actions allot here lately.  He found a book and some play glasses and saddled right up to Grandpa to do some evening reading.  Love it!
It was one of those lazy days.  I had plenty to do, but my time was going to be devoted to the kids.  It was a p.j. relaxing kind of day.  I started chili and vegetable soup in the crockpot.  Coffee was on and at the ready.  

Makenna liked her baby doll's skirt
We had lunch and then it was time for a nap for most everyone in the house.  Everyone except my granddaughter and me.  Lincoln had fallen asleep in my lap, so I laid him down.  Tanner, in for a warm up, had fallen asleep in the easy chair and Abbie, our daughter in law asleep on the couch.  It was the perfect time to make those doll clothes Makenna had asked me to make for her.  A skirt for her kitty and baby doll.

Then, she asked if she could learn to sew so we tried that.  She's a lefty and I'm a righty.  More time and patience is needed with less commotion.  We'll try the lesson again another time.  I love her age right now.  She's so interested in everything and learning is exciting. 

In my studio, I'm designing mixed media canvases...I believe this to be true!

Sunday morning took us to church and then a day of Christmas shopping.  It was lovely!  Funny, when the kids were little, I did all the shopping.  Now that they are out of the house, the hubs comes along.  It's so nice...wish we would have done more shopping together back then...but, then, maybe not.  Now it's kind of relaxing and a bit romantic.  Lunch here, a coffee break there...and, maybe a stop for dinner on the way home.  

There's just something about weekends.


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Our's a magical place!

We had a lovely Thanksgiving with my husband's sister and family and his parents, a brother, and of course, our children and grand-kids.  The weather was perfect, with a light dusting of snow the day before.

We invited my sister-in-law and her husband to stay overnight at our place.  We always have our guests stay in our sunroom.  It's just a magical room, and we have the bed situated so that it faces the east.  The sunrise is most always fabulous and offers a pleasant "wake-up call" as sunrise gives way to full blown daylight.

Returning guests always request the sunroom and we happily oblige.  Sometimes, though, it's hard for us to give up, as we spend most of our winter in the room in the evenings.  A comfy couch and chair take up their spot on the east end, where sunsets can be viewed from the west window.  We have an electric stove that keeps us warm and cozy.  It's just a place of rest and relaxation. 

It's where I'm writing my post from today.  I have the pleasure of working from home most mornings, and this is the best place in the house to do it.  I find the bright sunshine invigorating and the wide sweeping views inspire my thoughts.  It's a safe haven, a place of joy for me.

The birds keep us entertained, as we feed them from this location, which is on the second story of the house.  It feels like we're in a tree house, sharing our space with our feathered friends.  The grand-kids love it!  Hours could be spent watching the birds.

Our's a magical place.  We feel it and so do our guests.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

First-timers to our farm

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It's a super day here in the rolling countryside of Warren County, Iowa.  It's brisk, yet the sunshine is deceiving.  It warms the sunroom, from which I post today.

I had some gal pals over this past Sunday.  They were first timers to our farm, and wanted a tour.  We've been here for eight years.  We've worked on many reno projects, and still have some to do.  I love to show off what we've worked so hard on.  Here's just a few snipets.  Enjoy!

the girly room in the house...for our granddaughter

Fabric~my inspiration piece for the room

a wall in our master bath

lace valances in the master bedroom

vintage wire basket turned light fixture

close up of the fall bounty display. i love the colors in the vintage enamel ware. the gourds were grown in our garden

looking on into the sitting room from the dining room

     small mirrored sconce refreshed with Websters Chalk Paint Powder and black paint i had on hand

more from the girly room

i really love these paintings and colors blend in perfectly with the inspiration chair fabric

close up

close up

the wall art changed out and a new lamp

ceramic birds...i love birds

a plaque in the guest bath...have you discovered your passion?

Monday, November 24, 2014

'Tis the season for merriment and good wishes!  Thanksgiving is quickly approaching.  We're hosting at our home.  How about you? 

pre-holiday turkey
A traditional meal is kids want it, so that's what we'll do. I actually enjoy changing it up a bit.  I'd be happy with tacos or pasta.  But, turkey will reign and ham, too.  Potatoes, and gravy and stuffing taboot!  Pumpkin and pecan will be the desserts, we'll be so stuffed, we'll be untucking our shirts.

I made a turkey last week.  I just loved how it browned up. Here's what I did:  Removed the inside packets, washed with cold water, placed in a roaster and covered with olive oil.  I packed the interior with onion, carrots and seasoning mixture. I then sprinkled the seasoning mixture for poultry all over.  Covered with aluminum foil, baked at 350 for two hours, then removed foil, baked another 45 minutes allowing the bird to brown.  The turkey weighed 13 lbs. and took exactly three hours to bake.  Of course, you'd need to alter baking/browning time according to weight.

The thing I really like about baking turkey up, is that it gives us about five meals.  Later in the week I made turkey and noodles.  The rest went into the freezer for later.

Here's wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

My inspired life: Homemade Margaretta pizza on the grill.

My inspired life: Homemade Margaretta pizza on the grill.: Wow, with all the great fresh produce coming out of the garden and available at area farmer's markets, this light and delicious pizza ...

Homemade Margaretta pizza on the grill.

Wow, with all the great fresh produce coming out of the garden and available at area farmer's markets, this light and delicious pizza is so easy to make...

I've been wanting to make a pizza on the grill, so one evening, I just tried it out.  Couldn't be too difficult, I thought to myself, and I was correct.  It was E-Z.

I purchased ready made thin crusts and then added veggies from our garden.  I really, really like pizza Margaretta and had all the makings for one.  I spread thin layer of pizza sauce all over the crust, out to the edge.  Then, I used pear tomatoes and red grape tomatoes, by cutting them into small pieces.  "Pearl" mozzarella was added and fresh basil.  For the basil, I place the leaves one on top of each other, roll them up, then chiffonade them.  Then I spread them out all over, too. 

I had the grill going for about 15 minutes, so it was hot and ready to go.  Just put the pizza on the rack, close the lid and let it cook.  The top will not get bubbly, but the cheese will melt down and spread a bit.  Turn the crust periodically so the bottom does not burn.  Adjust the fire accordingly.  Approx. 30 minutes cooking time.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Vintage linens...they speak to me, you?

Vintage linens just have a way about them that brings me fully into the moment.  Holding, washing, folding, decorating and even using them in my repurposing.  

The photo to the left shows several pieces of linen layered, providing an opaque window treatment. 

They call out to me of an earlier time.  A time when Mondays were wash days, Tuesdays folding and Wednesday ironing.  Some were used for utilitarian purposes, others merely for an elegant splash of sophistication.  From checked, to bright and vivid colors and design. to creamy cotton linen, each have a past and today, a future to those who love them...their look, their pedigree, their provenance.  

I just finished making my bed with fresh bedding for spring.  I went with a neutral palette with hints of cream, yellow, peach and green.  I want a room of rest and freshness, light and airy.  I accomplished what I was after. 

I had all of these items in my collection; used at different times in different combos.  Today they come together for this look.

For vintage linen care, here are my tips for making old look their best and brightest.

To remove stains, pour lemon juice over the stain, sprinkle with salt and let it sit in the sun for several hours.  Rinse through a couple of times then hang on a clothesline or, if possible, lay the linen in the grass, where the chlorophyll in the grass is a natural brightener.  If the stains are really stubborn, soak in luke warm water and mild detergent.  DON'T ever bleach.  Rinse many times.

When the cloth is damp and chilled, press with a very hot iron on the wrong side.  Work at it until they are completely dry.  Creasing the fabric can break fibers; so it is preferred that you don't iron them in.  In addition, folding fabric can weaken at the fold. It is best if you roll them, using cardboard wrapping paper rolls or mailing tubes.  Keep them stored in a well-ventilated place, out of light.

To finish my light and airy spring into summer look, I will use these items on my walls.  A vintage picture of sheep grazing, an old, chippy mirror and a vintage paint by number picture.  These items reflect the same colors and hues in the bedding.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Websters Chalk Paint Powder Workshop 101

WEBSTERS Chalk Paint Powder 101
Saturday, May 17th 1:00-4:00
Sunday, May 18th 1:00-4:00
min/max 4 participants
McCoy True Value Hardware~Indianola, Iowa
Howard and Boston
 You'll learn the basics and benefits of using W.C.P.P. for your painting projects. We'll have fun and you'll go home with a finished project. Two times being offered.
You must PRE-REGISTER with PAYMENT to Beth Cort-Voltmer @515-238-7720. FEE $40.00

Roosters Call TAG Sale

Rooster's Call TAG and ESTATE Sales


508 West Street
New Virginia, Iowa 
Saturday, May 3rd
No early sales.
Vintage and new home decor
'project' pieces, junk and more.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Rooster's Call Tag Sale

Saturday, March 29th


101 E. Salem Ave.

Indianola, Iowa

Burlap & Roses has closed it's doors on the SE Corner of The Square in Indianola.  Lots of stuff has to go and at reduced prices.  No EARLY SALES!

You can find Burlap & Roses at the Brass Armadillo in Des Moines.  Booth 53-54, ROW Nebraska and at various shows in and around Iowa.  Watch here or to be included in our newsletter, email Beth at

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The music moved me...I swayed.

A few years ago...quite a few years ago, now that I think about it, I served as the youth leader at the church we attended.  In some way we were introduced to Corinthian Baptist Church in Des Moines, Iowa, and were invited up to a church service during Black History Month...which is February, every year.  The congregation was predominately black.  We were the minority.

We were so excited to go and experience not only a different denomination, but a cultural difference, too.  We.were.blown.away!  The music...the music was tremendous.  Joyful.  We had not heard anything like it.  We had not ever seen anything like it.  They clapped. They swayed. They raised their hands in worship.  It was amazing.  

I've often thought of that church and how they really, really worshiped and did not have any inhibitions in doing so.  They were happy, proud, beautifully in the moment.  

Last week, my husband and I visited a new church after many years of not going to church at all.  We've missed it.  We've missed being part of a church family.  We've been participating in a weekly LIFE group at the home of friends. We were introduced to their church through these weekly group sessions.  

So, we went.  I felt at home immediately!  Greeted in the parking lot with special parking for visitors, greeted at the door, introduced to different areas of the church and handed the bulletin...all while hearing worship music wafting through the doors.  I was eager to go in.

A pretty simple layout; contemporary in design without all the typical emblems and markings of a traditional church.  On the stage was something I was not expecting to see.  Guess what it was?  A mostly black choir.  I don't know what I was expecting or if I had even given it any thought.  I was so happy!  I was so elated.  The music moved me; I felt like I was back at Corinthian Baptist Church where there was an energy and excitement and wholehearted longing to be there and worship and praise His name.  

Now, this is what is so interesting to me.  A difference between the black culture and the white culture that I am accustomed to.  What I know. One not better than the other...but, an observance.  Something I've noticed.  Something I wondered about then, many, many years ago and was reminded of it this past Sunday.  Black people move and express themselves without abandon.  White people seem to hold back.  Why is that?  I have to tell you...I was swaying right along with the best of them.  Back and forth, swaying to the music.  The white people that I saw, stood there, hands clenching the seat back in front of them; no movement.  No joyous abandon.  Why is that?

The music moved me...I swayed...the music moved me!