Friday, December 17, 2010

{Merry Christmas}

From our home to yours!

I know this is a little less than traditional, but hey we are in a digital age :)

We sincerely wish you the blessings of Christ this Christmas...may He bring JOY to your home and LIGHT to your eyes this holiday season.

"Fear not, for behold I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."  Luke 2:10-11

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

a new favorite spot

Ben & I went out this weekend to find some good picture taking spots for some of my etsy products and to our great delight found this neat old railway.  Here's a few pics from the day!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

forgotten christmas

Do you have a minute?  I know it's a busy season & all, but I am always in need of the reminder to refocus on why we really celebrate Christmas in the first place.  Christ is the One we should be focused on this season; in every way, in every Christmas carol, gift unwrapped, & party attended, His story is what it's all about.

Take one minute to watch this video from Gospel for Asia.  Then head on over to Forgotten Christmas  to see how you can partner with Gospel for Asia this Christmas to bring to the Lost the most important gift they could ever receive: the gospel.  Oh, and while you're at it, check out their awesome Christmas catalog.  You could provide practical gifts like a goat, camel, bible, or a water well to a family or an entire community using GFA's resources!

sweep, sweep

Hello Hello Blog World :)  I am going to make a few "housekeeping" notes that probably most people don't care about, but it will make me feel better to do it, so there!

I recently deleted the fabric blog that I made for my fabric shop---why?  because it is too darn hard to remember to post to two different blogs.  I don't know what I was thinking.  So to make my life simpler, and because that blog really was very neglected, I just deleted it.  So that means The Carter Casa will be the go to blog for everything Carter related, including my 2 etsy shops!

Recently, Ashley Carter Designs reached 60 sales on etsy!! yayyy!! so excited!  The Lord has really been blessing my shop lately & for that I am so blessed & excited :)

And don't forget, a portion of the profit from both Ashley Carter Designs & My Sunshine Fabric go to Heartline Ministries in Haiti.   I am still partnering with Holly Day Cards & Jenn Straznicky Photography @ CreateforHaiti, so you should definitely check out the cool cards & photography they both offer--especially for the Christmas season!

That's all for now, folks! Thanks for bearing with me :)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

it's like Christmas in your mouth

I thought I'd share with you one of my favorite Christmas makes a great gift, you can get really creative with the packaging & the best part is that it tastes like Christmas in your mouth.  Seriously.

Hot Spiced Tea is one of my favorite Christmas treats.  Partially because it's a "nostalgic" thing for me & I grew up sipping on this deliciousness during the Christmas season, but also because it's just that good.

Unfortunately it is really sugar packed & from a nutrition standpoint I can't really say that it's the best, but for a once a year indulgence---it's pretty great ;)

You can see makes a great Christmas goodie to give to friends and family!  I packaged some of my mix up for friends with simple twine, shiny paper & ball mason jars--so cute!

And now for the recipe:

Hot Spiced Tea

1 cup instant tea (reg. or decaf)
8 oz. jar Tang
 (yes, Tang---can't believe there is actually a recipe I enjoy with Tang, but it's true)
5 oz. pkg lemonade
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup sugar

Mix together.  Makes a little over 1 dry pint.  To serve, mix 2 tsp into 1 cup boiling water.

And there you have it.  Christmas in a cup.  Enjoy! 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

from thankfulness to joy!

Remember this from a couple of posts back?  

Well I got a little attached to this guy over Thanksgiving, and decided that it needed to stay a while longer---or maybe permanently.

Of course, what a better way to make use of it during the month of December, than to make it part of our Christmas decor!

 In past years, my constant predicament during this season, is where to display all the lovely, thoughtful Christmas cards we receive.  Christmas cards are so pretty, require some time & effort to send out and each is unique.  Plus they are a wonderful reminder of how blessed we are with the friends and family that we have!  

So I am sure you can guess where this post is going.  I have found the perfect display for our Christmas cards this year.   A little changing up of the wording, adding some snow flakes and......


many thanks to the lovely couple & their dog who provided the perfect Christmas card example for this photo shoot :)

Monday, November 29, 2010

a carter-norville thanksgiving

Ben & I had a wonderful time hosting Thanksgiving for our families this year.  We were also able to invite some of his classmates to join us for the festivities (I'm not sure if they knew what they were signing up for when they joined our two crazy families, but they seemed to fit right in with the chaos!)

You will have to excuse these photos, they were taken from my mom's iPhone.  I was so busy with all the cooking and prep that I never stopped to take any pictures!  

Here is a sampling of our schmorgusborg of food.  

Our Menu:
Southern Living Turkey (turned out super moist)
Rosemary Sweet Potatoes
Mashed Potatoes 
Fresh Green Beans with Shallots
Mama Rhonda's Dressing
Mama Rhonda's Cranberry Salad
Orange Buttermilk Rolls
& of course plenty of pies!

 Here's a pic of the ridiculously large 23 lb turkey that took FOREVER to cook.

whisking the gravy

friends & classmates

fara mama! so pretty :)

more friends & family---and ben's signature face. so handsome.

brother & sister :)

It was quite a memorable Thanksgiving.  Lots of sweet mouths to feed, good food, good company, lots of catch phrase & Wii games, a good ol' fightin' Texas Aggie win, boys vs. girls games around the fire pit (which of course, the girls won), a trip to see Harry Potter, and the breaking down of Thanksgiving decorations to make way for Christmas!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


This year we are having Thanksgiving at our house & as such I wanted to find a way for everyone to express what they are thankful for this season. 

I got the idea for this "thankful" board from this website, and gave it my own style.

I am really pleased with how it turned out & hopefully it will be a good tool to get people to think about all the things they have to be thankful for!


Monday, November 22, 2010

I {heart} sweet potatoes :: part ii

This is seriously one of my favorite recipes, combining two of my favorite things: sweet potato & curry! Hope you enjoy!

Sweet Potato Curry with Chicken

1 lb. chicken breast, cooked, shredded
2 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground tumeric
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. ground red pepper
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 tsp. olive oil
1/2 cup vertically sliced onion
1 1/2 tsp. minced peeled fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (14  oz) less sodium chicken/veggie broth
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained (no salt added)
2 cups cubed peeled sweet potatoes
3/4 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed & drained
1 TBSP fresh lemon juice

-Combine curry powder, coriander, turmeric, salt, black pepper, red pepper & bay leaf in a small bowl.  Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium heat. Add chicken, and saute for 5 minutes or until slightly browned.  Add onion to pan; cook 10 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Stir in ginger and garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Add curry powder mixture; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Add broth & tomatoes; bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat & simmer for 30 minutes.  Stir in potato & chickpeas.  Cook uncovered for 30 minutes.  Remove from heat; stir in lemon juice.  Discard bay leaf.  Servings: 7

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I {heart} sweet potatoes

I have been on a sweet potato kick for quite a while now.  I love them.

Here are a few reasons why:

1. They are soooo nutrient packed ~ vitamins A&C especially AND they have a good amount of fiber in them.
2.  They can be flavored & seasoned so many different ways---think outside the marshmallow & brown sugar box.

3. They are Scrumdittily all by themselves.

4. They are super budget friendly {a major plus in my book}.

Here's a quick little recipe we tried last night:  
Spicy Pasta with Sweet Potatoes

1         Large sweet potato, peeled & cut into cubes
1/2      tsp each of sugar, chili powder, and cinnamon
8         oz. dried rigatoni
1/4      cup peanut butter
1         3-oz. pkg. reduced-fat cream cheese, cut up
2         tsp. Asian chili sauce (if you don't have this, I would just use red pepper flakes---healthier too)
1         TBSP reduced-sodium soy sauce
6         green onions, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 450* Oil a rimmed baking pan and set aside. Place sweet potato cubes in a bowl, toss w/ one TBSP olive oil, the sugar, chili powder & cinnamon.  Spread in pan and bake for 20 minutes.

Cook pasta according to pkg. directions.  Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta water.  

In saucepan combine peanut butter, cream cheese, chili sauce & soy sauce; whisk in 3/4 cup of the hot pasta water.  Stir over medium heat until heated through.  If too thick, stir in additional water.  Stir in most of the green onions.  Serve sauce over pasta with sweet potatoes & remaining onion.  Serves 4.  

Very yummy, filling & light on the pocket book!

Hope you enjoy----maybe next time I will share my favorite sweet potato recipe:  Sweet Potato Chicken Curry....soooo good :)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

trunk or treat

Thought you might enjoy a little taste of our night at our church's Trunk or Treat event.

We were the "bouncers" for the jump house ---if you could read our nametags from the picture, you would get it ;).  We monitored the little kiddos getting in & out of the jump house & kicked the overage kids out-- in true bouncer fashion.  

I was so proud of Ben for dressing up, he was a great sport.  We took it easy and didn't go too wild & crazy on the costumes, bouncers aren't usually the flamboyant type.

p.s.  don't forget about createforhaiti
check it out ;) lots of great things for Christmas & other occasions!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Create For Haiti

Create For Haiti is a week long initiative started by myself & two other creative friends who desire to use their gifts & talents for  Kingdom causes.

Check out the website:

This week, when you shop with any of the 4 shops listed on the website, 15% of the profit will go to Heartline Ministries in Haiti to help women in need!

Spread the word & Check out Heartline to learn about more ways you can help!

Friday, October 22, 2010

pretty things...

I've had fun using some of my new fabrics lately  :)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Weekend in Marble Falls

Ben & I spent a grand, extra long weekend in Marble Falls with Jim & Idie.  We were so thankful for the time spent with them & for the restful visit that it was.

Check out the AMAZING pumpkin patch that we visited at Sweet Berry Farms.  If you are in the MF area--you have to visit!

 They had lots great of photo ops with pumpkins, trailers, bails of hay, etc...

jim :) 

jim & idie (resisting my attempt to take their picture..haha) in front of the "stuff a scarecrow" barn!  How cool is that!?

behind ben & jim is a pumpkin painting area, a petting zoo, a field to pick fresh flowers in, and the list of wonderful fall attractions goes on.  they even had a corn maze!

in the spring this farm is a strawberry & blackberry picking farm.  these are rows of strawberry plants.

and i couldn't resist this one.  since we didn't have any cute little kids to take photos w/ at the pumpkin patch, ben was forced to be the stand in model.   you can tell he's loving it, right?

photo credit

Oh and after all our pumpkin farm fun, I did actually get a pumpkin....a Fairytale pumpkin.  
Look's like it's straight out of Cinderella, no?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

My Little Sunshine Spotlighted On....

yellow songbird

Thanks Kim!

Go here to check out her blog & the spotlight!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

My Little Sunshine Blog

Hey there friends,

Thanks again for those who participated in the giveaway!

Just wanted to let you know that I am starting a blog specifically for My Little Sunshine:

I'll be doing most of my craft posts, shop promotions & such over on that blog & will keep this one for real "Carter" updates.

My Little Sunshine also has a twitter account (although, I am not exactly sure how to use it) so be sure to check that out on the new blog as well!


 to everyone who participated in the giveaway!

I had a lot of fun doing my first giveaway & if you weren't the winner, don't worry, there will be more to come!

Ok, onto announcing the WINNER!!!!!!

This person will win 2 yards from my shop of their choice in fabric!

All the entries shuffled up in my cute little anthro hat:

a terrible picture of me blindfolded (just wanted to make sure you knew that i wasn't peeking!)

and finally, the winner is:


Here's how you claim your prize:

Email me at with:

Your desired fabric choice(s)

Your mailing address

Thanks again to everyone for participating!!  :)  much love!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Fabric Giveaway!!!

As part of the grand opening of my new shop, I am going to be giving away 2 YARDS (your choice!) of beautiful Anna Maria Horner fabric on this blog!  

There are three possible ways to enter:

1)  Leave a comment below with a description of your favorite fabric from my shop

2) Tweet about the giveaway, and leave another comment letting me know you tweeted


3) Facebook the giveaway link and again leave a comment letting me know you have done so

The winner will be revealed on Tuesday, October 12th, so get to work---You have THREE chances to win your choice of 2 yards of fabric from My Little Sunshine Fabric!

Ready, Set, Go!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

a new venture....

So.... some of you know this, and probably most of you don't. So here I am, spilling my desire & my new venture all at once. For about two years, or really ever since I started sewing and creating handmade purses and other crafty things, I have had this  huge desire to start a fabric shop.  Ben & I have tossed  around the idea for the past year and a half, prayed about it, let it sit and marinade, and have waited.  When we moved to San Angelo, we both decided it would be a good time to turn these dreams into a reality.  I have been working on the logistics ever since we moved, to get things in order for starting this venture & I AM SOOOO EXCITED because the day is finally here & my shop is up an RUNNING!!!


My Sunshine Fabric, or My Little Sunshine, however you wish to call it---was birthed out of my love for creating.  A love, which can be largely credited to my grandmothers, Sunshine & Mary Ruth.  They both spent countless and fondly remembered hours with me, teaching me to to sew and to paint.  I grew up wanting to become an artist, largely due to their influence & time spent with me creating things.  My grandmother, Sunshine, opened up her own home decor shop in her younger years, to share her creative juices with others & now I am doing the same.  In a way, it's my little piece of her, my Sunshine, who is now with Jesus.

Check out the shop here:

We are starting out small, but are excited for the opportunity!  I am basking in the thrill of having bolts of fabric in my home!  Enjoy & feel free to share with others!

Friday, September 24, 2010

fall wreath.

welcoming in fall with a burlap & muslin wreath. :)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Falling in Love with Fall Bags...

These newbies will be going in the shop--hopefully by the end of the day!

Friday, September 10, 2010

what i'm reading

I just started a new book study that I will be going over with a friend here in town & several other college aged girls.  I am still in the very beginning of the book, actually I just finished the introduction---so I haven't even started on the chapters, but I am very excited to get into it!

The book, on whole, is simply about encouraging women to become better theologians.

And what is theology you ask?  Simply put, it is knowing God.   Knowing God changes our patterns of beliefs, how we react to circumstances, how we choose to live our lives, how we serve our families, friends, church & the community.

Mrs. James states that "real theologians are those whose hearts are captivated by God himself, who cling to the truth in life, who humbly kneel to adore him, and whose lives are transformed by what they have learned.  Theology makes a difference to all of us."

She also states that "the purpose of this book is to reunite these two identities {the mary & martha identities} to help women begin the process of becoming better theologians.  There is no trick to this, no quick and easy method for deepening our relationship with God.  It takes time, something in short supply for most women.  But anything worthwhile takes time, and what could be more worthwhile than knowing our Creator?"

Even though I am just starting the first chapter of the book, I am already very excited to begin reading it!   The book is heavily endorsed by solid men such as J.I. Packer & R. C. Sproul, making me even more confident that it must be a good read.

I'll let ya know how it goes!  Or, why not check it out for yourself!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

a labor-less weekend

Ben and I IMMENSELY enjoyed our Labor Day Weekend.  With his crazy class schedule, we never get a Friday night to ourselves, making the weekends seem soooo short these days.   Often, he has to start his week on Sunday after church to get in as much studying as he can before Monday hits, so really our weekends are generally smooshed into Saturday and half of Sunday.   

This weekend he had most of Friday off, all of Saturday, Sunday AND Monday off!!!  ((YAYY!!))
We celebrated most of the weekend by doing absolutely nothing.  I mean we did DO things but not important time crunched things.  Instead we went shopping/small errand running at our leisure on Friday, with Starbucks in hand,  and ventured out to a new cupcakery in town and met the sweet little owner (her name was Fara, just like my Mama Carter).  On Saturday we slept in, food shopped & mowed the lawn, got another Starbucks then went to see Ramona & Beezus (we have a secret crush on Selena Gomez--not a creepy crush, just an "aww she's so cute" crush).  The movie was actually really cute and it cost us a grand total of $2.50 each at the on base movie theater---even better.  
Our main event took place on Sunday when we had Ben's class over for dinner---many of the fellas & ladies were out of town, but about half of them had stayed in San Angelo for the weekend, making it quite the perfect little shindig.  I cooked up some dinner, while one of Ben's classmates took care of dessert:  cupcakes.

It was a deelish night.  We set out different toppings and frostings for everyone to top their own cupcake.  The results were pretty fun & yummy, of course.  

Here's my cupcake:  chocolate cake, cream cheese frosting & shaved chocolate & espresso

What party is complete without a friendly game of Operation?   I say friendly, but this game really turned out to be quite dangerous---the "electric shock"  kinda freaked me out and well lets just say more than once, the game & different people in the room went flyin'

A couple of the guys & Ben getting ready for surgery...

The best part of the weekend, was knowing that we had Monday off too!   We had a super fun time on Friday, Saturday & Sunday---and still had time to recover & spend time together on Monday! 
ahhhhhh if only every weekend was at least a three day weekend....

Monday, September 6, 2010

Homemade Vanilla Extract

A while back, while we were still in Pensacola, I was a part of a a Vanilla Bean Co-op where I bought vanilla beans for $0.28 each!  If you have ever bought vanilla beans at the grocery store, you know what a great deal this is!  I have been looking forward to making my own vanilla extract from the beans, but with the move and everything, am just now getting around to it.   I love pure vanilla extract, but unless you are in Mexico, its SO expensive at the stores & for such a small bottle too!  Making your own, especially if you can get the beans from a co-op or online for cheap, is SO much more affordable.

Here's what you need to make your own Vanilla Extract.

Step one:  8-10 vanilla beans.

Step two: get yourself down to the local liquor store and find yourself a 1 Liter of Vodka-80 proof.
I got mine at the military shopette on base (tax free), so that's why it is called military special ;)
Not gonna was kind of comical going into the liquor store right after church on Sunday to get our bottle of Vodka.

Step Three: Split the vanilla down the center to expose the beans inside

Step Four:  steep split vanilla beans into the bottle of Vodka, or you can transfer it to a different glass container if you prefer.  Shake it real good, with lid tightened, and let steep in a dark area four four weeks to 6 months *waiting longer will yield best results.   Shake bottle about once per week until its ready to use!