• September 21, 2016

    Photo Fun

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    It’s fall, ya’ll!  If you know me, or if you’ve been reading this blog, then you know that I LOVE Fall!  In honor of the first day of fall being tomorrow, I decided to deck out my house with fall things and candles.  We also spent some quality time with the pup playing with the ball and walking the neighborhood to enjoy the beautiful, cooler weather!  I hope you enjoy my little start of fall photo diary!  *grin*

     

    dining-room

     

    pretty

    aaaand some close ups!

     

    owl

     

    pantry

     

    pumpkin-muffin-mix

    These muffins are really yummy!

     

    pumpkin-muffin

    mmm… look how yummy!

     

    roses

     

    fireplace

     

    jack

     

    ball

    Happy boy!

     

    walkies-for-ollie

     

  • September 7, 2016

    Hair Cut for a Cause

    Pony-Tail

    This may  not seem like a very big deal, and really it’s not, but I got my hair cut over the weekend.  What makes this worth writing about is what happened afterwards!

    You see, I’ve been growing my hair out for about 4 years and finally decided it was time to say goodbye to the heavy curtain that pulled me down and made me look a little bit depressed and far too young.  It’s strange, but it took all summer for me to finally feel ready to part with it even though it really didn’t do anything for me.

    Back

    Anyway, the important part is the after part!  Now that I have a ponytail that’s not attached to my noggin, I’ll be mailing it to the Pantene Beautiful Lengths program to be made into a wig for a woman who has lost her own hair from cancer treatments.  I haven’t known anyone while they were going through chemo, but cancer has touched my grandmother, dad, friends, and co-workers in various ways and to various degrees.  I can only imagine what it’s like to involuntarily surrender ones hair to the treatment and how alienating that must feel sometimes.  I think about the people in my life and the stories I read online or in magazines of courage and strength and I think about how hard it must be to have to be strong.  To have to put one foot in front of the other, no matter how uncertain the path.  And then I think, if something so small to me could make life a little more “normal” or a tiny bit more bearable for someone, then I should give it freely and openly.

    Side-View

    And so I do.  I chopped it all off with the hope that my heavy burden might help another feel lighter and free to be herself again.  I share this, not for recognition or praise, but to encourage you to do the same if you are able.  Give what you can to make this world a little happier, a little less dark, and little more free.  Sow seeds of love and peace – our world needs all the good we have to give.

  • July 27, 2016

    30 Before 30

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    A friend of mine has had some health issues recently and we were talking about how everything kind of went to hell when she turned thirty.  That got me to really thinking about those 30 before 30 lists and how maybe enough people know that everything craps out on you after you turn 30… so I figure I better get my crap together this year and do some amazing things!

    1. Go for a wine tasting at a vineyard
    2. Sit on a beach
    3. Run another 5k
    4. Take a class
    5. Have family photographs taken
    6. See a ballet
    7. Learn to make pizza from scratch
    8. Eat vegetarian meals 2x week
    9. Make an incredible cosplay costume
    10. Find the perfect little black dress
    11. Play a video game all the way through with my husband
    12. Learn calligraphy
    13. Take better care of my skin and hair
    14. Research family history
    15. Have a homemade Christmas
    16. Buy myself a beautiful piece of jewelry
    17. Cover my home and office with art
    18. Clean my home with all homemade cleaners
    19. Fully embrace my inner nerd
    20. Do something that scares me
    21. Put up fantastic Halloween decorations
    22. Stop letting fear run my life: Be assertive when appropriate, Stop waiting for someone else to approve or tell me it’s ok to do what I want, Open up to people – maybe make a friend
    23. Complete a 30 day photo challenge
    24. Make something that makes my heart happy
    25. Learn about meditation and give it a try
    26. Learn how to make cheesecake
    27. Go to a theme park
    28. Take a girls only trip
    29. Read 30 books in the year
    30. Start an Etsy shop

    Some of these things are silly, some serious, and some are pretty freaking ambitious.  I hope to accomplish all of these things in the next 365 days, but at the very least have a plan in place to move forward!

    Wish me luck!  *grin*

  • March 30, 2016

    Dad’s Surgery

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    Despite the beauty of spring and freshness of everything in March, this month has been extremely hard for me.  My Dad had back surgery in mid-March and was confined to his bed for 3 days and the hospital for about a week.  Fortunately, everything went pretty well and he’s made great progress in his healing.  But, for that time before and just after the surgery, we were all exhausted.  Daily trips to the hospital were taxing not just because of the change in routine and so on, but because of the emotional toll.

    My Dad is the strongest, most manly man I know.  He’s a big, tough cowboy who fixes everything and never shows weakness (until you get him talking about his girls or his pets).  He hunts and fishes and camps.  He wrangles and brands cows.  He fixes cars and spent his life working a tough blue collar job despite his college education.  A former Boy Scout, he always knows how to tie the right knots and prepare for whatever may come.  As a child, he awed me with his physical strength and I was pretty sure he could never falter of fail.  He was my hero – still is, in a lot of ways.

    So, now, to see him in such pain and so reliant on others for their strength… it’s hard.  He suddenly seemed small to me – shrunken from his former strength.  I suddenly had to face his mortality and what that means for me.  And for my mom.  It’s one of the hardest things I’ve had to do and I had no idea it would hit me so suddenly.

    Through all of it, though, he has kept his humor.  In the hospital, he joked and flirted with the nurses.  He had late night talks with one of the male nurses about hunting and camping in the area – getting ideas and making plans for this fall.  He was already planning his next adventure from his hospital bed!  I think this speaks enormously of his character.  My Dad doesn’t do the whole sitting around doing nothing thing.  He always has a project or plan going.  He may have slowed in his old(er) age, but he’ll never stop.  If he ever does, that’s when I will know he’s in trouble.  If he ever can’t joke around or find something to work on…

    But that is not today!  That is not now.  Someday, maybe… but not any time soon.  I admire his strength and his trying to stay positive.  He wasn’t really raised that way, this attitude is all his doing.  And it’s amazing how much he has to give even when he’s feeling his worst.

    I hope I can be so strong and so positive when I ever have trials to persevere.  I hope I can make people who are there to care for me laugh and get excited about their passions.  I hope I have half his strength.

  • March 23, 2016

    Throwback Thursday on a Wednesday: Easter Edition

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    Happy Easter, friends!  I hope you feel especially close to your family and friends this season!

    I’ve been thinking a lot about my family traditions and things that were meaningful to me in my younger days.  Easter was never a very religious holiday in my house – we didn’t go to church on Sundays and that didn’t change on holidays.  Instead, I would hunt Easter Eggs and enjoy some form of lovely breakfast with my parents.  When I was done searching out eggs, I’d beg my folks to hide them again and again and when they tired of my little game, I’d toss them all over the yard (if there wasn’t still snow on the ground) and hunt them myself.

    Along with the little candies and pennies hidden in the plastic eggs I would hunt, my parents usually would give me a little gift or two.  As you can see in these pictures, I must have gotten a new teddy bear, tricycle, and coloring book that year:

    Easter

    Now, as an adult, the holiday takes on different meaning and different purpose for me.  I still feel lost in this season and no closer to God than when I started my little project for Lent (actually, I never even finished my project… I don’t really know what happened), but I am trying to keep faith and seek out the good in it.

    I hope you find renewed hope and peace in this season, no matter what you believe or don’t believe.  I hope you feel close to your life’s purpose and confident in your place in the world.  I hope you worship what you choose with all your heart and know that you alone are enough – you alone are wonderful.

  • March 2, 2016

    Bicycle Race

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    Ooooooh boy, I can’t imagine those ladies are comfortable riding their bikes.  But, hey, I’ve never tried nekkid bike riding before, so who knows.  *grin*

    Anyway…. I finally got my bike, ya’ll!  It’s so shiny!  I don’t remember if I ever actually brought up my bicycle dreams here or not, but it’s something I’ve been working towards since we decided to move.  You see, there is a beautiful park near our home as well as some fabulous restaurants and shopping all within walking/biking distance.  So… I’ve been dreaming and scheming for quite some time now!

    By-the-Water

    With the weather getting nicer every day, I decided it was time to take out my savings and bite the bullet.  Lucky for me, the bike I wanted went on sale at the same time I was ready to go and I got a screaming deal on it!  *patience is a virtue for a reason*  Also lucky for me, I have a coworker-friend who is super into bikes and her husband graciously offered to put mine together for me so I could save some money on the shipping.

    In-the-Park

    So, now it’s all put together and looking beautiful – I’m almost afraid to take it anywhere, lest it get scuffed or marred.  Of course, that doesn’t really stop me… but I do think about it every time I take it out.  I realized while we were putting it all together that I haven’t ever had a brand new bike… and I haven’t really ridden one since high school.  High school, ya’ll.  So I’m a little rusty.

    All this talk about my excitement, I’m sure you’d like to know more about this bike that has me so enamored.  First, she’s a Public bike.  I decided to go with a Public brand bike over others for several reasons: 1. style 2. quality 3. affordability 4. they had exactly what I wanted.  I did a year’s worth of searching and reading and pouring over reviews before landing on this one.

    Public

    The bike I got is the Dutch Step Thru C1 which means that it only has one gear.  I went back and forth a lot about one gear vs. 3 or more and ended up deciding on the one gear because of the terrain I’ll mostly be riding on – park and neighborhood only.  I don’t have any plans to take her on main roads or try to commute to work and there aren’t any major hills in my nearby area.  Once I get better at riding again, I might look for another bike with more gears and that can travel faster on main roads, but that’s probably quite a ways off!

    Bike

    And, one of the best things is, because I got the bike on such a great sale, I was able to also get some really amazing accessories too!  There’s nothing like customizing stuff so it genuinely reflects you as a person.  I have some other customization goals in mind… but I’m totally broke now… so it’ll have to wait.

    What was that about patience being a virtue, again?  ha!

  • February 3, 2016

    Lent: 40 Days and 40 Nights

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    Can I be really honest and serious for a minute?  I’m struggling.  I mean, for the most part, things in my life are great.  I have family and friends who care about me, a nice home and plenty of stuff to fill it up with.  That’s not the problem.  The problem is that my spiritual self is feeling pretty lost and lonely these days.  I’ve drifted away from my faith and don’t have a clear path back.

    Here’s the thing, I believe in God, but have little confidence in churches as they (in my experience over and over and over again) currently exist with so much focus on the negative and nitpicky details, exclusionary behaviors, and political leanings.  I believe in salvation through Christ, but can’t stand the behavior and beliefs of the extremely vocal (hopefully) minority in America whose outspokenness has alienated not only those who don’t believe, but many, many followers of Christ as well.  I don’t want to be associated with people who use the Bible as a weapon to hurt and shame people or a soapbox to stand upon and to hurl their bigotry and hate from.

    That is not my faith.  That is not my Bible.  That is not my God.

    Because of a combination of these problems and many personal hurts and wrongs from the Church, I have not had my butt in a pew in a very long time.  For a while it felt fine because Hubby and I had a regular Bible Study with friends that kept us connected to God and allowed for questioning, conversation, and learning that is impossible to fully achieve on one’s own.  As all good things do, though, this too fell apart and left me on my own to maintain my relationship with God and continue to learn what I could.  You can guess how successful that was.

    So, now, looking at the season of Lent that is before us I wonder what I can do to bring myself close to God again.  How do I cultivate my faith with no leader and no others with a commitment to study or pray or learn other than myself?

    I don’t know.

    I do have an idea, though, that I hope will be a good place to start.  I found this book, 40 Days and 40 Nights by Ilene Segalove, that is intended as a journal guiding the reader on taking time out of each day (for 40 days) to focus on self-discovery.  It’s set up in such a way that you choose your own intent – love, relationships, career, religion, etc – before starting and let that focus area color your responses to each journal prompt.

    Book-Pages

    So, this is where I begin.  Starting next week until Easter, I will not be giving up things so much as adding to them.  I will follow the daily journal prompts and try to open my mind to God’s plan for me.  Perhaps by the end of it all, I will have either built such a routine that I am able to study on my own, or I will find others to study and share encouragement with.

  • January 27, 2016

    Setting up a Gluten Free Kitchen

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    When we moved into our new home, my hubby and I discussed what to do in the kitchen to keep it safe for me to eat.  Previously, we had shared everything for both gluten and gluten free foods but, given the opportunity to start fresh with a brand new, squeaky clean workspace, well, we couldn’t pass it up!

    kitchen1

    Now we have taken the following steps to clean up our act and run a completely gluten free household:

    Step 1: Get rid of gluten containing food products from your pantry and fridge.  Sort through everything and either throw out or give away any foods you can’t eat.  This is a great opportunity to check expiration dates and get rid of old food at the same time.

    Step 2: Sweep away any crumbs or flour that may have collected in the pantry and fridge as well as the floor.  If you are using the same appliances (fridge, microwave, oven, etc.), deep clean everything the best you can.

    Step 3: Replace old, glutened up cookware and utensils.  When sorting through items to keep or be rid of, consider the following questions as it applies to each item:

    1. Is it made of porous material (wood, plastic, cast iron, stone, etc)?
    2. Are there chips or scratches in the surfaces where gluten can hide?
    3. Is it possible to clean every nook, cranny, and hole to rid it of gluten?

    Some common gluten catchers that you’ll definitely want to replace include:

    • Wooden and plastic utensils
    • Toaster, Bread Maker, etc.
    • Pots and Pans – especially non-stick and cast iron (replace with stainless)
    • Colander
    • Pizza stone
    • Cutting Boards, Rolling Pins
    • Cookie sheets
    • Cleaning supplies – sponges and brushes

    It is ok to keep glass, ceramic, and stainless steel cookware as long as you carefully clean it out with hot, soapy water.  We kept our pyrex storage containers, but got rid of the plastic ones and bought new lids for the pyrex.  We also replaced all of our cooking spoons, pots and pans, colander, cutting boards, and toaster.  Our bread maker was already only used for gluten free breads, so that got to stay!  :)

    kitchen3

    Step 4: Once you have your new gluten free kitchen set up, keep up on it!  Keep gluten foods out of your space as much as possible and don’t allow your new supplies to be used for those kinds of foods.  Clean your kitchen and appliances completely and frequently.

    kitchen2

    Now that  you have everything set up, you can look forward to feeling better and being healthier than ever!  Keeping gluten out of your home won’t be easy, but it’s worth the effort to maintain your health!

  • December 30, 2015

    Christmas in Our New Home

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    Moving is hard, ya’ll.  Know what’s harder?  Moving right before Christmas.

    Oh. Mah. Gawd.

    Fortunately, I can tell you that we did survive and managed to have a nice Christmas and everything on top of it all.  We even managed to host a Christmas/Housewarming Party complete with homemade cookies!

    But certainly you aren’t here to hear about my struggles.  I know what you are really here for: pictures!  So, without further ado, here is what Christmas in our new home was like:

    I love getting hand written cards!

    I love getting hand written cards!

     

    Deer

     

    Flowers from my in-laws.

    Flowers from my in-laws.

     

    So much food!

    So much food!

     

    And, of course, an owl!

    And, of course, an owl!

     

    I hope you all had a wonderful, exciting Christmas and find yourself feeling very blessed in the new year to come!

  • November 11, 2015

    House Update

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    Wow!  So much has happened with the house in the last month, I hardly know where to start!  I mean, we still have a ways to go… but it’s really starting to look like a home!  *grin*

    Ok, so at the last update, they were still working on the siding which is now finished:

    Siding

    They also completed the roofing and outside paint!  So pretty!  Every other house on our street is brown so far, so the blue-gray really stands out and looks amazing!  The stonework is incredible with the gray too – I wish I had an up-close picture of it to show just how well it matches.

    In addition to the work outside, they have also come a long way inside.  We have all our cabinets:

    Kitchen

    And the tile and granite is almost complete:

    Tile-and-Granite

    And they put in the faucet and dishwasher last week:

    Dishwasher

    You guys, my kitchen is starting to look useable!  We saw the oven and microwave in the garage, so that must be coming next week.  Doesn’t it all look so beautiful together?

    Let’s see what else there is…. Oh!  They did all the tile and floors and cabinets and fixtures in the bathrooms too!   I can’t wait to soak in this tub with some fancy bubble bath!

    Bath

    Another big thing they recently wrapped up is the lighting.  Look how pretty at night!  *grin*

    Lights

    I’m sure I missed something else they worked on, but there is just so much!  They still have a long way to go… we need the stonework on the fireplace, carpets, lots of touch up spots and re-painting, as well as all the grass and fencing outside.  BUT STILL.  Hopefully we’ll stay on track and we’ll be able to move in the first week of December.  We better stay on track… we gave notice to the apartments yesterday so… yeah.

    Keep your fingers crossed for us and hopefully the next house update I do will be the finished product!