Andrea's blog


Feelin' Crafty

I'm feeling all crafty and festive lately.

I spent this afternoon making handmade ornaments to give to our

neighbors and to the lovely ladies who watch Ayla every morning at the Rec. None of them read my blog so I can show you! :)  I'm pretty happy with how they turned out:

Instructions: (for those interested in an inexpensive, crafty project) 

  1. Stamp a large star onto chipboard.
  2. Cut out the stars from the chipboard.
  3. Cover the stars in mod podge and glue them to the back-side of your patterned paper of choice.  Wait a few minutes for it to dry.
  4. Using an exacto knife, cut out the stars from the patterned paper.
  5. Next, cover the other side of the star with mod podge and glue them to the backside of a coordinating piece of patterned paper or cardstock. Wait a few minutes for it to try.
  6. Again, cut out the stars using an exacto knife.
  7. Punch a hole through the top of each star.
  8. Use sandpaper to sand the edges of the stars (optional).
  9. Add any text or handwriting.
  10. Cover the entire star with mod-podge to create a protective coat. (do both sides)
  11. Add a loop of ribbon with a knot at the top to finish them off!

I also baked a batch of Aunt Dora Cookies for our Steed Christmas celebration tomorrow afternoon. Those things are teeny tiny! They only take about 6 minutes to bake, so it keeps you hopping.  I'm making them again next week for a Cookie Exchange, so I've got lots of dough rolls all ready in the freezer.

Finally, the last project of the day was on a whim, really.  I've had these white candles in our bedroom forever (they looked great in our old red bedroom, but not so great in our new tan bedroom).  I never light them, and I really would like to have RED candles instead, but I have trouble buying them when I have three perfectly good white candles.  So, I decided to just decorate the white ones instead.  Patterned paper, a little ribbon, and a metal alpha letter.  They were done in about 3 minutes.  


Tomorrow is Steed Christmas at Josh & Rachel's house.  Looking forward to lots of good food and Christmas music and gift exchanging.  Hope you all (not y'all) have a good weekend!


Afternoon at the Zoo

Today was gorgeous: 76 degrees, sunny, and perfect.  Yes, that's right all you Minnesota folks, Ben was wearing shorts today!  Hard to imagine, I'm sure, but it happened.  Anyhow, since it was so gorgeous we decided to take Ayla to the zoo this afternoon.  It was Ben's first visit, and we had a great time walking around, seeing the animals and enjoying the weather. 

We had a couple of memorable moments while at the zoo.  First, the hippo was being very entertaining and gave us quite a show.  Check out the video by clicking on the photo. 

And next, we saw the evasive cheetah for the first time!  According to my sister-in-law Janel, the cheetah is NEVER out where you can see it, and they had begun to think it wasn't even there at all.  He was there today, sleeping right in the middle of his area, plainly visible.  So I'm wondering if in the mornings (when Janel & the boys usually go to the zoo) if he's got a routine where he hides.  We were there from about 1:30 - 3:30 in the afternoon today.  Could any case, we got to see him and we took a photo for proof that he was there:





It feels like September.  Or maybe October, but definitely not November.  I can't believe that Thanksgiving is next week.  After living in Minnesota for the past five years, we're used to enjoying fall from about the second week of September until the middle of October.  Then winter comes full-force.  We've barely taken out our long-sleeved shirts this year.

So it's been a strange shock to our system when fall doesn't arrive until November here in Birmingham.  But boy has it been beautiful.  We were all worried that the leaves wouldn't be changing much since we've suffered from a serious drought all summer.  Thankfully, God decided to bless us anyway with gorgeous fall colors.  Since Birmingham is so hilly and mountainous, you get peeks of color across the horizon all the time when you're driving around.

I haven't been good about getting out and photographing it like I'd like to, but I did snatch a couple of pictures this week.  One is from the plane as I was landing in Birmingham on Friday afternoon.  I've never had the pleasure of flying into fall colors. After landing in a very very brown Arizona earlier in the week, this was quite a treat. 

The other picture is from the top of the mountain at a little hot dog stand in Hoover where you can see the whole valley of colors.  We stopped there briefly on Saturday while driving around with some friends.  Richard and Jennifer took on a tour of Birmingham and showed us some great little shopping areas, museums, places to eat, and things to do.  I highly recommend finding people like them who are willing to show you the sights--not each individual sight necessarily, but just to show you where everything is, and give you a taste of what you can enjoy in the city.  It was really fun to hear all about the city and see some beautiful areas that we can go back and enjoy.



If you've noticed that it's been quiet for a few days on my blog, it's because I've been going NON-STOP for three days. On Wednesday morning at 5:15am, I left for the airport to take a quick trip out to Mesa, AZ to have a brainstorming session with Jill Davis (founder of

From the moment I stepped off the plane and into her car, I was taken on a whirlwhind tour of all the scrapbook stores in the area, the offices and warehouse, and we made a pit-stop for a REALLY yummy authentic beef taco. Mmmm. And that was just Wednesday afternoon. Jill and I (and a few other wonderful employees) talked non-stop for 2 1/2 days, brainstorming, sharing, dreaming, analyzing, and confiding. It was awesome.

Jill amazed me with her unbelievable creative talents and shared all of her albums with me. She inspired me so much, I spent the entire travel time home today (the whole 9 hours) jotting down notes and sketching ideas. The last time I was this motivated to scrapbook, write and create was when we started working on Scrap Tutor One back in 2002.

Once again I was reminded of what a wonderful family and business the Davis' have. couldn't have been put into better hands. I'll leave you with a photo of the view from Mesa...




Lynn Austin

I used to read all the time when I was younger.  Then high school hit and we were TOLD to read, so I stopped reading for fun until after college.  Lately I've been on a reading spree again.  Since we moved to Birmingham, I've read close to 20 books.  I'm a regular at the library.  I read almost all fiction, and lately it's been mostly Christian fiction.  

I thought I'd recommend one of my favorite authors, Lynn Austin.  She writes historical Christian fiction and I haven't read a book of hers that I didn't love.  I like that I feel like I'm learning all about another time in history in addition to enjoying a great story when I read her books.

  • Refiner's Fire Series (3 books)  -  These three books surround the Civil War and are told from three primary perspectives: the North, the South, and a slave.  All three books are so fantastic. 
  • Chronicles of the Kings Series (5 books) - This series fictionalizes the reign of King Hezekiah and his son Manessah.  It has made studying these people in church classes and bible studies more relevant to me, because even though it is fiction, she uses scripture as a firm basis for the stories.
  • A Woman's Place - This book is set during WWII and follows the lives of four women who work in a shipyard building war ships. 
  • All She Ever Wanted is a multi-generational story about the women in a family who all make the same choices to run away.  The stories span time from current day to early 1900s (I think) in Ireland.
  • Currently, I'm reading Hidden Places, which takes place during the Great Depression and follows a family that owns an orchard.

They're all just so good I had to share! :)  I'm always open to recommendations if you have any favorite books or authors to share! 


The Lovely Bones

I just finished reading a book called The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold for my MOPS book club. I've never read anything like it. The narrator of the book was murdered and the whole story is told from "her heaven" while she watches her family and friend (and murderer) live their lives on Earth. It's an odd take on the afterlife, but I found it interesting.


The Birmingham Zoo

This morning we visited The Birmingham Zoo (to which we have an annual pass) with Janel and the boys. I carried Ayla with the Baby Bjorn (yes, she's 16 months old and still fits in the Baby Bjorn) so she could see all the animals. Otherwise the stroller is too low to see many of them. I brought my zoom lens for the camera and had a great time getting some awesome animal photos.

One of my favorites is this one of the white tiger:

I've always been a big fan of tigers and other big cats. Ayla has seemed to follow suit. She greets tigers with the sign for "kitty" and a growl.

Fun fact: When I was little, my imaginary friends were tigers.




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