Monday, November 30, 2009

Brooklyn's New Purse

It's interesting to me to watch a little one just somehow know certain things.  For instance, we went shopping the day after Thanksgiving and mom found an adorable purse for Brooklyn.  Brightly colored beads on the handle, a jaunty hot pink bow and an embroidery bling'd crown that says Princess.

When mom handed the purse to Brooklyn she just automatically slung it up on her shoulder like she'd been doing it for ages!  Obviously a certain little two year old has seen other ladies do this, so she knew exactly what to do when the opportunity presented itself.

And as every lady knows, a purse (or bag as Brooklyn called it) needs to be filled with Very Important Stuff.  We started her on the right track by giving her a sample size bag of Craisins we'd gotten at the mall and a handkerchief from a box mom had just bought.  And when we stopped for lunch she had a toy from her kids meal to add to the bounty.

So where do the girlie traits come from at such a young age?

Monday, November 23, 2009

30-Day Giving Challenge Continues

Before November is but a memory I wanted to give a few more ideas for giving.  Keep in mind that there will always be needs, not just around the holidays.

- Overtip the wait staff.  Keith and were enjoying dinner out recently and noticed that they seemed to be short staffed for the crowd. Our poor waitress was running herself ragged trying to keep everybody happy. We came up with the idea to leave a larger than called for tip in the hopes that it might give her a smile.
- Pay for the person behind you in the restaurant drive-thru (an oldie but goodie).  This is something I've done for some time now, kind of my way to justify eating out perhaps. What I didn't realize is that apparently Keith had never been with me when I've done it.  It was perfect timing because the young man at the drive-thru window had apparently never heard of this and he was so appreciative. I like to think maybe it opened his eyes to future opportunities.
-  I don't remember who sent me this link or I'd give them credit, but the main thing is the site - tons of giving opportunities. The link I was sent went to San Diego Food 4 Kids and if you have a minute click through to the site. This is such a fantastic idea and maybe somebody reading about it will be able to start a similar program in their community. It only takes a spark...
- Fire stations.  As we sit down to our Thanksgiving meals across America this week remember the the police and firemen that keep us safe. Perhaps take something to them as a thank you.
- Sales clerks.  Black Friday approacheth!  Honestly, if you never had to work retail on this day you can't even imagine how exhausting it is. Maybe tuck a $5 gift card to a fast food restaurant in your pocket and give to a harried clerk - you know you'll see one or five - as a thank you for working on this day.
- Food baskets. I am certain that food banks would love to have gifts this time of year.  Our church is putting together baskets and made it very easy for us to donate to this project.

Again, these are just a few ideas to think about.  With the slow economy even donations to the "usual groups" are way down, so if you are at all able to give this year I know it will bless you.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galations 6:9

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday's Fave Five

Time now for Friday's Fave Five, brought to you by Susanne at Living To Tell The Story. 

1. Retreat with friends.  Last weekend I headed out for 3 days/nights of scrapbooking with friends. I love going on retreats for a multitude of reasons - a beautiful time to renew, rebuild and refresh friendships.  We sat at our tables and worked on projects and one of the best parts was when we would hear "Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner is ready!".  It's great to be somewhere and not have to worry at all about fixing something to eat.  I was teased towards the end about being a social butterfly because I love to flit from table to table and talk to everybody.   

2. New glasses.  I had gotten a new prescription and ordered my glasses, so was very pleased that they were ready when I got back in town from retreat.  Keith and I went on Monday to pick them up and lo and behold - there is a bit of bling on each side that is....a butterfly!  I had completely forgotten about that part and it made me smile to see it after hearing that at retreat.  I can see so clearly now and always enjoy right after getting new glasses.

3. Vacation.  Keith and I are using up some vacation time (we're at the 'use it or lose stage') so have this week off work. In addition to the trail riding, we also put down a new floor in the kitchen and dining room.  I guess really I shouldn't say we as it was entirely "he" that did it.  He's putting the last touch on it right now and I love it.  We even celebrated earlier this morning by going and buying a new broom.  ;)

4. Thanksgiving.  We're hosting the family meal this year and I'm tickled pink. I pulled up the menu that we used last year as a base for this year.  There are some additions and deletions, but it sure makes it easier to have that list in front of me to work off of.

5. BSF.  I'm finally really hitting my groove on this Bible study and look forward to it all the time.  Monday night I will admit that I wasn't really feeling like going (still tired from retreat!), but went anyway and ended up getting my socks blessed off! I've never been in a study quite like this one where I've really had to work at some of the answers.  I will admit that sometimes I get frustrated at having to work some of the answers out in my head, but I will also admit that I've learned more in these first few months than I ever would've imagined.  God is very good to have led me here. 

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Woman Who Loves Life and Laughter

Honestly I wasn't even going to post about this event. But the thing is, when I started this blog it was kind of meant to document some of the exciting and meaningful events in my life. So even though there might be some kind folks out there that will roll their eyes when they read this, I'm going to have to take that chance.

This is the underside of the new 4-wheel drive fun machine we got this week.  Keith and I are on vacation and having a lot of fun just enjoying being together and that included picking up our new toy.  

And in fact, we picked it up yesterday and headed to the atv park to play with it.  What we were not totally aware of was just how easy this thing rolls over.  Now thankfully we had our seatbelts and such on, so when it went over, my side is on the sand, Keith was held aloft by his seatbelt, thus giving me the chance to get out. 

I had a little pain in my side, so we headed back to our truck so I could just sit still for a bit while Keith and his brother went out riding some more.  We got home and I still was kind of uncomfortable, so we did a little internet searching to see what we figured might have happened.

This morning I still hurt, so we headed to the doctor's office, where we discovered that I had broken some ribs.  Funny thing is that they do absolutely nothing for broken ribs any more, so I got a pain med prescription and was sent on my merry way.

It has been suggested to me that perhaps it's time for Keith and I to stop doing things like this and realize that we are getting older. But honestly, that's not us.  We truly love to live life to its fullest each and every minute of the day.  So much more fun than sitting around at home waiting and letting life pass us by.

The moral of the story is this - every person must make their own choices as to what they want to do.  We feel so blessed by our lives and being able to play together, especially celebrating me being in remission.  There are no guarantees in life and I do not want to sit around and just "be safe" without living life.  What a terrible thing to have as part of my final "sermon" - She was a very safe woman.  No thank you.  I much prefer She was a woman who loved to live life and laugh all the way.

I hope that all that read this are encouraged to have fun in life.  We never know how long that life might be, so we might as well enjoy every minute we have.  And when the good Lord comes to take us home we will leave this earth with a big smile on our face and arms open wide to receive Him.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Painted Ball Jar Flower Vase

In my past life I did a LOT of canning.  I made all our jams, hot sauce (my husband still pines over that hot sauce and I haven't made it in years), applesauce and others.  But sadly, I haven't done much of that lately.  And sadder still, I have boxes of Ball jars that I'm storing.

I saw this idea online somewhere and was excited enough that I immediately went to Michael's (40% coupon in hand) to get the paint.  I'm happy enough with the outcome that I think I'm going to make some red ones to use at Christmas and Valentine's Day.

Look for paint called Vitrea 160 in the stained glass section of your craft supply store.  In addition to whatever color you want, pick up a bottle of their thinner.  I also had to buy a paint brush as I don't have any around any more.  I think I paid about two dollars for the one I used.

Pour a small blob of paint on wax paper or something plastic (I used the top of a disposable lunch meat container) and then add about a paintbrush full of thinner.  Swirl around to mix it up.

Use a clean, dry jar and paint it in nice even strokes.  At this point I will add that the directions I had said that it doesn't matter if you see the paint strokes on your jar as they will disappear.  I'm here to tell you that is not true, but in the end I decided it was ok.  So whatever you see at this point is about what it will look like when it's done.

Let your jar set for about 24 hours, then bake for 30-40 minutes in a 375 degree oven.  I did not believe these directions, so did research on the Ball site and yes you really can bake these jars.  Another bit of forewarning - I put this jar in the oven, set the timer and honestly forgot I was baking it.  About 15 minutes later I was in a semi-panic because I thought I smelled an electrical fire.  ;)

Let this cool completely before trying to add flowers and, more importantly, water to the jar!

In the end you'll have a beautiful rustic looking vase!  And looking at this picture you will see that I clearly do not have a future in floral arranging....

I"m adding this post to the Metamorphosis Monday post on Susan's blog - my first!  There are some seriously great craft/decorating ideas posted every Monday.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sweet and Spicy Kielbasa

We are trying so hard to eat at home now instead of going out.  For the most part it's not a problem because all of us prefer eating at home - it's cheaper, faster and so much better for you.  Best of all is time spent together at the table towards the end of the meal and afterwards.  We have some of our best share times during those moments.

The one thing that I do miss is chinese food - I love it!  The problem I run into though is that Keith has never been a big fan of it.  So I was quite pleased to run across a Sweet and Spicy Kielbasa recipe during my internet travels.

I will confess that I used frozen egg rolls as I have not at all mastered making those myself.  That did just remind me though that when my kids were quite young I worked with a lady that did make her own and one Saturday a bunch of us met at her house to make egg rolls together.  Very delicious, but at least in my memory it was a lot of work!

The best thing about Sweet and Spicy Kielbasa is that it's made in the crockpot, which make meal prep a breeze.  We all agreed it's a bit too sweet for our taste, so the next time I make it I'll use less brown sugar, add sliced green peppers and probably at least a splash of soy sauce.  I think with a little fiddling around this will soon be one of our absolute favorite recipes - and straight from the recipe as is we did enjoy it.

Sweet and Spicy Kielbasa

2 lbs kielbasa sausage, sliced
1 cup packed brown sugar (I'll probably use only 1/2 cup next time)
1/3 cup spicy mustard
1/3 cup finely chopped onion

Combine brown sugar, mustard and onion in crockpot, stirring well to combine. Add the sliced kielbasa and stir well.  Cover and cook on low for 3 hours, stirring occasionally (I did not stir mine until the end).

Serve over rice.

Check out more Crockpot recipes (and who couldn't use those?) at Crockpot Wednesday and other recipes at What's Cooking Wednesday.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Friday's Fave Five

What a beautiful week - and already time to reflect on some of the beauty of that week.  To be uplifted by positive posts, see more at Living to Tell The Story.

1. My birthday was Tuesday! And while I won't show a total gift list, there are two things I do want to share.

First is this bracelet that my daughter got for me.  Besides the fact that the colors and style are fun and me, she found it online at a great site, Hope For Women .  To quote from their site - Hope for Women offers handcrafted Fair Trade, eco-friendly products made by economically disadvantaged women worldwide.

Lynne' knows her mother well - these are things that are becoming more and more important to me.  I'll be wearing this great bracelet when Keith and I go out tonight and I imagine that every time I look at it I will think of my daughter's giving spirit.

2. Now how fun is this gift from my son and daughter-in-law?  Back in May a bunch of our family met at my brother-in-law's house for the weekend.  One of the highlights was spending a day at First Monday Trade Days for some great antique, craft and junk shopping.  Honestly I don't know if there is anything quite like it anywhere and I suppose if there is it would probably involve quite a drive for us.
ANYWAY... one of the things I was keeping my eye out for was a turquoise rotary dial phone.  We only saw one the entire day and it was pricey and filthy, so of course I passed.

Apparently though there were some little eyes watching me and remembering, because she managed to somehow find one!  My long range plan for an extra bedroom is to do it in a somewhat cottage like theme.  I haven't decided whether I want all white furniture or to go more traditional with antique brown furniture.  Regardless, I love this phone.

It doesn't ring and Keith says it's probably because we have a fiber optic phone system in the house and it won't drive the little bell.  Disappointing, but the bright side is that ring won't wake me up as it sits on my nightstand!  The grand thing is that it does work, including the dialing.  I had heard that some phone systems no longer support pulse dial, so it was a fun surprise to be able to call my kids to thank them.  And there really are few things in life as satisfying as listening to the sound of a rotary dial phone.  :)

3. Dinner out with the family.  Our birthday tradition is to eat out and of course whoever is celebrating the birthday gets to choose.  We went to Fuddruckers for my dinner as I do love hamburgers.  Even better, they now have "exotic" burgers and I was able to indulge in a buffalo burger.  Bliss!  They taste fantastic and are so much better for you.

4. Brooklyn!  Keith and I went to her daycare to get her for the dinner out.  When we went inside her class was coming in from the playground, all in a line.  She was chatting and laughing, then looked up and saw me, put her arms out and ran to me!  That moment of joy is beyond description.  The ladies there laughed and said there is no denying that she knew me. 

I don't have any pictures from that night, but I do have some video.  Unfortunately I don't have a clue how to get it out of my phone yet, but it will surely be featured here as soon as I figure it out!

5. Finalizing our Thanksgiving plans.  We are *this close* to having some actual firm plans for this year.  Truly we are blessed to be able to have options to choose from.  I do so adore my family.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

30-Day Giving Challenge

One of the blogs I follow is Keeping The Kingdom First and for the month of November she is having a 30-Day Giving Challenge.   The premise is simple - give something away every day in November and write it down in a journal.  The other side of this is to write down all that you receive each month.

The most important part of this challenge is to ask God to lead you each day.  The glory is for Him, not for us.

I will not be writing in my blog what or how I give as I feel strongly that if I give something simply to blog about it I am not doing it for the right reasons.  I'm not saying this is true for others, but I know it's how I need to do this.  I'll probably blog reminders though as I do love this idea.

It's also important to remember that all giving is not monetary.  When we give from our hearts it might also be an act, rather than a check.

For example:

- the next time you bake some cookies package some up and share with a neighbor
- send a card to one of the kids on the Make a Child Smile list 
- give of your time - maybe watch a neighbor's children while she gets the house ready for the holidays
- when buying food for your holiday meal consider buying extra and donating to your local food pantry
- knit a hat and donate to a homeless shelter

As I think of other ideas this month I'll share them.  And if those of you reading my blog have any ideas, please do share.  There are so many ways we can give beyond what we ordinarily think of.

I'm going to close with the same Bible verse that Alyssa used on her blog as it is so perfect for this challenge:

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galations 6:9