Thursday, October 24, 2013

Recommended For You:

    Hello ladies and gentlemen,
    I have recently been thinking about some websites and programs that I am aware of and  would like to recommend to you. If you already know about and take advantage of these, bravo! If not, your missing out. :)

    First, I will be sure to tell you that I am not being paid or reimbursed in any way for recommending these sites and cannot be held responsible if anything unfortunate happens when you use them. They are simply sites that I've had good success with, and I'd like to share my reviews with you, my friends!

    The first site I'll tell you about is: sells gift certificates to local restaurants for very discounted prices! The participating restaurants are never chain businesses like DQ or Pizza Hut, but are usually personally owned establishments in your area. Some areas have lots more participating restaurants that others, so I hope you can find some near you. The prices you pay for certificates on are usually less than half of what the certificate is worth. But, when you have a code like the one I'm about to give you, you can do even better! Today and tomorrow, use the code CARVE when checking out and you can get a $15 certificate for $3 or a $25 certificate for $5! The great thing is, these certificates don't expire, unless of course the restaurant were to go out of business, which I've never had happen. So, I'm telling you, go check it out! These deals make date night feel even better! :)

     Secondly, there's:
   This is my favorite site for digital photo books so far. I love Mixbook because there are some many options for customizing your book. That means you can pile lots of pictures on one page if you like, add text anywhere, change text color, add stickers, etc. They also have great codes every now and then, so you can wait to print your project until a deal comes along. Check out the website, or sign up for their emails to get the codes!

    I love unique fonts, and to fill that need in my life, I use:
     Dafont provides hundreds of free fonts for personal use. There have been times in my life when I used this site more than I do now, back when I was designing our family newsletter, or making graduation or other event invitations for our family. In another life, I think I would maybe go to school for graphic design, because I love that kind of thing, but in this life, I'm a mom-to-be and very happy! :) I still find opportunities to mess around with it...home decor, invitations, Christmas cards and the like.
    And speaking of graphic design, there's one more program I'd like to share:
    This one is new to me...I just discovered this week. If you're into layering text, photos, ect., but don't want to pay for expensive software, this program might work for you! Now, I'm so not a pro on this kind of thing, so I may not be the best person to recommend this software. However, it works well for what I need it for, and it's free, so you won't lose much if you want to give it a try! :)

    And that's all for now! I hope that one or more of these sites can make your day a little better.
                   Happy Thursday to you!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

An October Afternoon

     What I'm listening to:
     The O'Neill Brothers album Autumn. Piano seems like the perfect music for the mood when you're having a cozy day indoors. It also makes me miss my girlhood friends and wish for a chat over coffee and dessert.

     What I'm smelling:
     A batch of granola baking, all full of almonds, craisins, and coconut. I can't wait to try it. I'm still looking for that perfect recipe!

    What I've accomplished today:
    Not a lot.☺ Gave the blog a face-lift, made a trip to the bank, mixed up the granola, mended my husband's Sunday pants. It's a nice day for doing little projects and taking lots of breaks...☺

    What I'm feeling:
    Baby kicking...well, it feels more like twitching, but I guess that's about all the punch the wee one can pack so far. I love the feeling, and this baby's dad grins big when he can feel it too!

     We've had snow already...real white stuff that actually stayed on the ground. It covered all those leaves on our lawn too, but we still knew they were there, so now that the snow is gone, we plan to tackle the raking this evening until it gets dark.
    The icky weather changed our plans to take the youth out deer shining on Sunday night, but we still had a nice time with a chili supper and games, hot drinks and sweet stuff to eat.
   I'm not sure if it's officially too late to do fall cleaning or not, but I hope to tackle the upstairs in the next couple of weeks. Maybe it will be winter cleaning...anyway, it needs to happen before December. Tom's parents are coming home then for their first furlough, and his sister's family will also be joining us for the week, so I want to get things company ready! Plus it will give me a good head start on that nesting that is supposed to happen before the baby arrives!☺
    One last picture:           
     (not a real obvious picture of the baby bump...I don't seem to have any good ones on hand. Maybe later!)


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Really Radical Room Rearranging *

   * Thanks to Tom for the title--I think I shall have make use of his talent more often. 
    When we moved in to our master bedroom in the new place, pretty much all we did was plunk our furniture into place and hang a few pictures on the walls wherever there was a nail handy. My MIL already had window treatments up, which I left in place.
     It may be hard to see in the picture, but the swags are tan with purple flowers, and the bedspread is gray and black, so nothing was meshing; and I was stalled on decorating ideas. My biggest issue was, since this is a temporary move; I was not willing to spend a lot of time or money on paint, new curtains, new bedding, or new anything for that matter. Does that sound hopeless or what? I thought so too, which is why it stayed that way for over 3 months.
    One night last week, I was ranting to my husband about how horrible I am at decorating and all sorts of random blubber...How about those hormones? :)  Barely three days later, ideas started to form, and I emailed my sister telling her that she needed to come soon to help me do a face-lift on the room. She had Saturday free, so we set the date, and she arrived, bringing leftover tulle and lights from our wedding. Here are the results:
      I'm just loving the effect of the white lights...I've always loved the cozy feeling they give to any room!
      I dried at least a dozen hydrangeas from my flower beds with no real idea of what I would do with them. Obviously, I found plenty of places to put them to use!

    I had found those little corner pieces at a thrift store for around 25¢ quite awhile back, so I just painted them to match the flowers. The purple hydrangea is artificial, and belongs to my mother-in-law. That's one fun thing about living in her house, I just scouted around to find things to add little touches here and there! The white cabinet will be used for baby things when that time comes!

   I'm sure it could use the hand of a more skilled decorator, but it's an upgrade from what it was, so it makes me quite happy! I'm keeping my eyes open for a bunch of decorative pillows for the bed...if I have to make my own, I will.
   Here's the best part of the deal: other than the white lights and tulle from my mom, I found everything I needed either in my collection of stuff, or somewhere in my mother-in-law's stash. The most we spent on this project was 21¢ for an anchor to hold the tulle and lights up on the ceiling. :)
   So, I just had to share a little bit of my happiness with you, and now I'll go on my merry way! Have a lovely evening!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Warning: Boring Pregnancy Update

   You've been warned, so if you get to the end of this post and say, "boy, that was boring", don't blame me. :)
   It's mid September can it seem like the months are passing quickly, but the weeks of pregnancy are ticking by so slowly? Strange.   
     It's officially feeling like fall here. There have been frost warnings the last two nights, though I haven't seen any on our lawn yet. The crisp autumn air and blue, blue sky make me feel really excited. I'm not exactly sure what I'm excited for, but there's just something about this time of year that I love! A few of us church ladies have been enjoying some of our last days of picnic lunches and chats by the lake. Soon we'll move indoors for sewing circle and book studies.
     This Thursday I'll hit 18 weeks. By our best guess doctor wants another ultrasound next week to see if we're on track with the due date. I kind of think I've felt a few flutters of movement, but at this point it's still really hard to tell baby movement apart from other rumblings in the belly! I think someone switched out my digestive system, because it's not behaving like the one I had before...I now keep a big bottle of Tums nearby!
     I definitely have a tummy, but it's not really out there yet. I know I should be thankful for this, but, like my doctor says, it could just look like I had a big thanksgiving dinner. That's a bit disconcerting, because to people who don't know I'm pregnant, well, I just look like I had too much supper! :) I guess that's ok, I'll get my fill of being humongous I'm sure.
   Up until now, I've said that I didn't really have any specific pregnancy cravings. However, I've recently discovered a unusually strong liking for orange juice, so I stocked up on it yesterday when I was grocery shopping. Google tells me that this pregnancy craving is not unique to me.
   I've noticed one big blessing of being in my 2nd trimester: my energy levels are much higher! Maybe not quite normal yet, but what is normal when you're pregnant, anyway? I am very thankful that I was able to can 30+ pints of salsa, and freeze 50+ quarts of applesauce without feeling too tired and overwhelmed! Even though I didn't have a garden of my own this year, God provided a way for me to get the things that I was really wanting to put up this year: a good price on really yummy corn from the neighbors, free tomatoes from my mom's garden, and a good deal on 3 bushels of nice apples!
   In other news, we attended our 4th and 5th weddings for the summer over the last two weekends! We sang as part of an octet at the first one, which was quite fun, actually; and served drinks at the second. Serving brought back memories, because that's how Tom and I met just over 4 years ago! :)
  And that's it for now...forgive me for a picture-less post. Perhaps in the future I'll be brave enough to post a baby bump picture, but not today. :)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

First Trimester, Vacation, and a Few Photos

   So, my waistline is thickening. Apparently when I wrote my last post, I thought I would enjoy gaining weight. My opinions have altered slightly since then. Don't get me wrong, I'm still excited about the baby growing inside me, but does any woman really enjoy watching the numbers on the scale get bigger? On the brighter side, this week I get to spend a whole day shopping with my sister for bigger and better clothes. We always have grand times while shopping together, and it's not unusual to end up laughing until we're nearly in tears. Of course, now I need to make sure there's restroom nearby before laughing too much.
   I eat quite a bit, am sleepy at most times of the day, and drag my half sleeping self to the bathroom at least once every night. I'm sure it's good practice for all the midnight wakefulness that I have in my future! Other than those slight inconveniences, Baby is treating me very well...I have only had a couple bouts of nausea that are anything to speak of, so I am grateful.
   We had an ultrasound since my last update and now have a more specific due date: February 20. That means that on Thursday I'll be 12 weeks along!
    We took a vacation during the last couple of weeks, 11 days in all, and covered 2500 miles in our trusty white automobile. That gave us quite a bit of time to talk about baby names, and we're about 99.9% settled on a girl's name, so that's a start at least!
   On our trip we attended 2 weddings, saw lots of family and friends, went to Niagara Falls, and learned some lessons about reserving cheap hotel rooms online.
    A few pictures:

Supper at Tom's uncle and aunt's place. Lovely evening out in the gazebo!
Games with Grandpa B. They really were enjoying themselves in spite of their sour expressions here.
Tom and his first-cousin-once-removed, Summer. She is adorable!
The Falls...we picked a gorgeous day to visit!
Us, being all touristy and taking selfies.

We took a ride on the Ferris wheel, which was pretty sweet!

  In between the two weddings we visited Tom's sister Faye and her family in WV. It was fun to get to know the two little nieces that we don't get to see very often!
The ever energetic and inquisitive Becca. She fell in love with her Uncle Tom, and her 
parents weren't sure what she would without him.
Sweet and smiley Kate.
       I failed to capture all the good times we had along the way, but there's a little sampling at least!


Friday, July 5, 2013

When The Prospect of Having a Fat Belly Makes Me Happy

   To me there is one reason for gaining weight that is not wholly unpleasant...and only one. That is when it involves making a baby. Our very own baby.

     By now I think many of you have heard that we're expecting. The due date is mid February, shortly after our second anniversary, which puts me at about 8 weeks along! We are very excited...and a little apprehensive, which I assume is a common emotion for first time parents.
    I'm looking forward to watching Tom be a dad. He will be a super one... I already know this from watching him with other people's children. I hope our baby looks just like his/her daddy.
   And to answer your next question, no, we do not plan to find out whether it's a boy or girl ahead of time. Nor do we plan to reveal our name choices.Speaking of which, pray for us; we really don't want choosing a name to send us into marital counselling! Ha! No, it's really not that bad.
   Overall, I have been feeling well. Definitely less energetic than normal, and nap time happens almost every day, but I can't complain!
   Thank you for all of your congratulations and well wishes! I'll try to keep you posted as things progress.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The New Place

   I've been meaning to do this post for days, but without further excuses--here it is!
   As much as I thought I would miss our little first home, the adjustment to the bigger place has been great! I guess it really is true that home is where the one you love (and your stuff) is.

    A bit of an upgrade, eh?

The mantel is one thing I like about this place. I've always wanted one of these to decorate!

I'm also enjoying the established flowering bushes and trees here! Plus I've had fun planting some of my own annuals. I hope to post more pictures of my flowers if they ever grow out of their awkward, thin stage!

I also love the back yard. Photos don't quite do it justice, but it's cool, shady, quiet, and oh-so-green! We put in the little fire pit since we got here, for nice evenings on the deck. Plus there's a raspberry patch back there!

And for today, I'll leave you with a couple of shots of a cute niece and nephew of mine!

Monday, May 20, 2013

We're moving!

      Two weeks from now, the little house on Namekagon Trail will no longer be our place of residence.
      A couple of months ago Tom's parents were asked to spend two years in Haiti with CAM, teaching local pastors and running the mission's guest house. One big question in their minds while making this decision was what to do with their house here in Wisconsin while they're gone. Tom and I decided that we are at a stage of life where it would be relatively easy for us to pack up and move over there and take care of their place for them for two years. Not to mention that it's a significantly bigger house with more bells and whistles than where we live now! We were able to find renters for our house...a newlywed friend of Tom's who just "happens" to need the house just at the time we need to move out! I feel like God has worked out the details for all of us involved in this situation!
    We're excited, but as the time comes closer, we also are finding that we are going to miss this little place! I've discovered that even a little simple double wide house can be special, when two people in love put  in lots of time and effort to make it a home!
    But, it's just a house... at least I get to take my husband with me! :) And as far as we know, we will back in two years to pick up where we left off!
   So here's to new chapters in our story of life! I hope to keep you updated with pictures as we set up house  at the new place!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Inside vs. Outside

I'm wondering if I somehow missed the memo that Wisconsin slid up to the Arctic Circle.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Life as I see it today

   The sun keeps peeking through the clouds today, and it's warm enough that the snow is melting. The weather is an overused subject right now. Pretty much anyone who lives in Wisconsin is longing for spring and not afraid to say so. We thought it would come a month ago, but alas, tonight's forecast calls for 5-8 inches of fresh snow.  Hang on folks, we have this promise:
   "While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” Gen. 8:22
   On Saturday we met Grandma's ride from Indiana, and took her to Dad's. The whole family knew she was coming--except for Mom. We slipped Grandma right into the kitchen before Mom found out...the look on her face was quite satisfactory. :)
    Sunday morning, I was teaching my preschool Sunday school class when the lights went out. The boys wanted to jump up and try all the light switches in the room to see if maybe they could turn them back on. Instead, as one of the girls said, we finished class with "God's light" coming through the window. Preschoolers are fun...4 and 5 year olds love to sing, and the more motions the songs have the better! They listen with big eyes as I tell them Bible stories, especially when the story is about Daniel in the lion's den. They love to critique each other's coloring pages, and often have to be reminded that they need to focus on their own picture and be kind. (A lesson that could apply to my own adult life in many ways, methinks!)
    Back to the power outage...we are on the food committee, and this just happened to be carry-in Sunday. We had 8 crock pots and 4 casseroles to go in the oven, and an hour to figure out how to get them hot without electricity! A couple of ladies took the oven things to Debbie's house, where she has a gas oven, and several men brought generators to run the crock pots. Just as the food was hot and ready to set out, the power returned. :) It was one of those days when you'd kind of rather not be head of the food committee, and I was more than ready to collapse in a chair by the time the food was served. Thanks to all the helping hands, we were only about 15 minutes late with lunch though, so it turned out well!
     Last night we (the youth sponsors and the youth group) met at the Hershey's for supper, games, and a meeting. We had a good discussion about getting some events scheduled for the summer, and the possibility of doing some fundraisers for a potential missions trip! Beth made a delicious supper for us! Pulled pork sandwiches, baked beans, chips and a veggie tray, plus root beer floats and bars!
    Today I'm doing laundry, and having a nice quiet day at home! I had bigger goals on my mental list than what I've gotten done so far...things like cleaning out my fridge, and sewing my dress for the chorus program.
   Which reminds me, we have two weeks until the program and are working hard to get ready. You are all more than welcome to join us for that. We have two programs: May 3rd in Sparta, and May 5th here at our church. If you want more details than that, you'll have to let me know!
    Have a lovely week, and join me in praying that spring will come soon! :)

Monday, March 4, 2013

Wherein the Blogger Finally Overcomes Writers Block

    I know that there are some of you (at least a few) who faithfully check for updates on my blog. I'm sorry I've been such a disappointment to you, I hope you can forgive me! :)
    Instead of getting overwhelmed about everything I could/should post about, I'm just going to hit the high points, and add one or two pictures!
     My sister Kara stayed with us for several weeks through January, while she was a substitute teacher at our church school. I really enjoyed having her around! Even though she was gone most days, and alot of weekends, we got to connect more than normal, and she was good company on the evenings Tom had to be gone for fire dept. or church meetings!
     We celebrated our very first anniversary on the 4th of February...actually we didn't do a lot of celebrating, since we planned to do that over the weekend, but Tom did get the day off unexpectedly due to inclement weather, which made the day seem more special! The following weekend we spent an overnight in the Twin Cities, and did some shopping the next day. I love being married to this man of mine, and I hope to celebrate many more anniversaries with him!
     Shortly thereafter, it was time to celebrate Valentine's Day. Tom wasn't so sure anymore why we chose to get married so close to Valentine's Day...he said, "What am I supposed to do? If I don't buy you flowers for our anniversary, I'll be a bad husband, and if I don't buy you flowers for Valentine's Day, I'll be a bad husband...should I do both?" :) But I know the truth, and that is that whether or not he buys me flowers for every significant occasion, he's never going to be a bad husband! He's just lucky I wasn't born in February too! ;)

     I attempted to make a simple little romantic meal for us that evening, consisting of Cheesy Broccoli Soup and heart shaped garlic bread, served on my fine china. The soup turned out with a texture uncomfortably close to baby food, and the color wasn't much better, but at least it tasted ok! I tried to redeem the dinner later in the evening with individual homemade ice cream desserts, which we ate while relaxing with a movie.
         A few days later, some of the ladies from church had a belated Valentine's turned out much smaller than anticipated due to sickness, but it was a nice time anyway! We each brought food with the Valentine's theme in mind. Instead of making sweets, which I figured we'd have plenty of, I went a different route:
     For the meat, cheese and cucumbers, I used cookie cutters, and for the tomatoes, I did this. I used this technique for the egg. The story behind that one egg perched in the middle of the plate is this: I was going to make a whole plateful of heart shaped deviled eggs, but after experimenting with one, decided that it required too much effort! I couldn't let that one cute little egg go to waste though, so I used it as a garnish.
    Also around that time, Tom's cousin Stephanie stayed with us for a few days. I really enjoyed getting to know her better, since she lives in far away Ontario!
     More recently, I've been thinking spring and flower beds. I ordered some seedlings and got the first part of my order last week. It was so fun to transplant the little things and set them in the sun inside my patio door. They're so cute! :) I'm in the office this week, with plenty of time to Pinterest, and dream of a lush backyard and mounds of fresh flowers. Hey, it doesn't hurt to dream, does it? :)
   More realistically however, they're predicting a winter storm for these parts tonight, with a possible accumulation of 4-7 inches. I guess I'll have lots of time to "inspect my fields"! 
   Have a lovely day folks, and hang in there...spring will come in due time! 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

God's Pruning

    Why do "bad" things happen to "good" people?
     Do I realize that anything that happens to me- good or bad, easy or difficult, must first pass through the hand of God?
     But then there's the question, do trials come from God or is the Devil the one who causes pain? Here is a quote from Becoming God's True Woman*:
     "When God prunes us, the result will be greater growth and sweeter fruit. When the Devil attacks us, his intention is destruction. It is important to know the difference. As believers we must understand that Satan can ask God's permission to prune us in some way, but the Devil only has the power to do so only if God allows it."
      Consider the story of Job for a moment. Those trials came upon Job, only with God's permission, and only because God wanted to accomplish something in Job's life. I don't believe that this means that God reveled in Job's pain, or that He delights in seeing us go through trials, but that He sees a bigger picture. He's pruning us to bear sweeter fruit.
     Satan does want to cause destruction in my spiritual life, and yours too, we know that for a fact. But here is where, with the power of God, we have a say in the matter. By our response to the pruning, we decide whether Satan wins a victory or not.
     If my day hasn't gone as planned, and I respond by lashing out at those I love, or by having a grouchy, self-pitying day; I'm allowing Satan to destroy my day.
     If someone says something unkind about me, and I respond by turning around and saying something unkind about that same person, Satan has won.
    If I am afflicted with some physical pain and I respond with a complaining and ungrateful attitude, then Satan has accomplished what he desired.
      What if instead, we use trials in our life as a reminder to pray, as a prompting to go deeper in our relationship with God? What if we choose cheerfulness, kindness, love, and gratefulness as responses?
     You lose, Satan. God's pruning is going to bring forth sweeter fruit!

    *The book mentioned above got me thinking along these lines, and is filled with many other thought provoking subjects as well. You can find it here.