My blog dress and header has changed! As a newlywed, I am excited to present a whole new theme.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Li'l Luau!

What fun I had this weekend! I was hostess for a home party, and it gave me a great excuse to do a tiny tablescape as the theme for the party was Hawaiian Luau. It also gave me a great reason to clean my house, and it probably won't be quite this pristine again for a while.

I had so much fun putting this together! Just a tropical green bottle with faux lilies, a pineapple, coconut, and bananas placed on a bright strip of fabric, and tied with coordinating ribbon.

The Hawaiian-looking napkins were left over from my son's birthday party over a year ago.

I even wore this tropical print shirt. It was purchased this summer at Goodwill for a luau at a camp event.

Though I had invited many people, only one person...just ONE!...was able to make it. So disheartening. This is why I never hold home parties. *sigh*

A post by my friend BJ at Sweet Nothings (she's in my sidebar) got me to thinking about tables. When I got my first apartment, my parents gave me their old drop leaf table. I loved it because when it was just my daughter and I, I would drop both ends down and it was perfect for the two of us. When I had a party or get-together, like the little party I just had, I could put the ends up and put the leaf in the center, and have enough room for 8-10 people. I loved it! Alas, during a home move, my ex dismantled it and didn't put it back together right, so nothing slid into place any more, plus my children just about ruined it during their young destructive years.

I have a table that I adore now, but sometimes I do miss that little table, especially when I lived in my last apartment which had less room for my dining room table.

Some of you may have guessed, and yep, this is a teaser post for another great CSN review! I absolutely adore the beautiful lamp I got with my gift certificate last time. I was floored with their quick shipping. Stay tuned to see what I review next, and please do click on the link above to check out some drop leaf tables.

Maybe you'll find one to love as much as I loved my table!

I'll leave you with a recipe for a dish I served at my luau. So easy to make, and really delicious, even for those who normally don't like a dessert with Jello:

Pineapple-Lime Delight

1 can crushed pineapple
1 6 oz. pkg lime Jello
1 8 oz. pkg cream cheese, softened
1 8 oz. container Cool Whip

Drain the pineapple and reserve the juice. Add enough water to the juice to measure two cups. Boil and stir in gelatin. Add to bowl and chill until thick (like molasses), but not solid. In another bowl, mix together the softened cream cheese and the fruit. Add into the thickened Jello, then fold in Cool Whip until all is mixed thoroughly. Chill.

You can also make this with sliced strawberries instead of pineapple, and strawberrry gelatin instead of lime. I like that version even better, and sent my honey home with the strawberry dessert tonight.

Stay addition to the upcoming review, there is more excitement in the works!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Hiking at Goll Woods

My sweetheart Mike, his children, and I took a walking tour of a state park last month. Our visit was to Goll Woods in Fulton County, Ohio, and a park ranger led a group of people along the trails, pointing out interesting things.

It was an unseasonably warm day, about 75 degrees, so there was a nice group of people. Right before the tour began, the ranger pointed out a little woodland critter, and here is the group getting a gander of this...

...a little frog! Not sure what kind of frog, but it was native to the woodlands.

One of the first things we learned about was the paw paw tree, which grows a fruit that tastes similar to a wild banana. There were none left for us to try though as the deer and squirrels got first dibs.

There were some very tall trees here. This is one of the very few remaining virgin forests in Ohio. Here is Holden craning his neck to look up at one while Corinne keeps her eyes close to the boggy area on the ground.

This is the largest oak in the area.

I kept taking pics of Mike because I think he is so cute! Love this pic of him.

I thought this rotting log was interesting as it was covered in moss.

The ranger was pointing to this tree and telling about how the peeling bark is often a good place for bats to nest and live. Glad I didn't see a bat!

I thought the tree stump was interesting too.

Red leaves in the trees. Unfortunately, due to the dry summer, there were not as many pretty red leaves as usual.

I liked the look of the sunny sky through the tree branches.

More pretties on the trail.

This tree looked interesting, especially the roots. I think that the roots on the right side of the second pic look a lot like a dragon's head.

The group on the move.

I couldn't resist a pic of my honey's cute butt as he hiked.

Holden in profile.

And Mike in profile.

A closeup of Corinne who has no idea of how beautiful she is!

And a pic of the three of them. No pics of me today. I was called home unexpectedly due to my son needing a ride to work, two hours earlier than he planned.

I found a pretty red leaf untrampled on the trail.

These heart berries were pretty. Bet they would be nice in a romantic centerpiece for the table.

More things that I found to be photo-worthy on the trail.

Before we left, we also toured an historic barn on the property. It is about 150 years old and was recently restored and being shown for the first time that weekend.

The view through a door in the barn. I call it "Oops, your barn door is open, but wow, I sure do love what I see!"

On the way to my car, I spotted this trail through a pine forest. It beckoned to me, so I will have to come back another time to explore.

A tree tunnel! I think these are so cool, and there are more down the road. What a unique way to leave the park!

It was a great afternoon with my sweetie and his great children. I liked that it was also totally free. You really can have fun in these trying times if you look for events like this. We all learned a little something too.

Hope you are still having wonderful autumn days!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Spiritual Sundays/Joy -- Sermon Excerpt

Once again, I have been absent from Blogger for the better part of a month. For two weeks straight, I have worked 14 hours of overtime. In addition to that, I have been trying to keep my home clean (a never-ending process), trying to see my sweetie as much as possible before he goes to Kairos (prison ministry), and trying to get a decent amount of sleep despite it all (unsuccessfully).

Coming up, I have an autumn trip through a forest, and some fall prettiness on my front porch, but first...

With no further ado, I am sharing an excerpt from my sweetheart's recent sermon. I was delighted that he mentioned my dog. I have to say, he is right on the money in what he says about my little Jack Russell dog Jake. Oh, he looks so innocent here. "Berry Sweet" and "Berry Good" it says. Ha! Not quite. Anyhow, this is what Pastor Mike had to say. And I have to admit, I enjoyed every bit of it!


"I have a friend who has a dog. I don’t want to sound bad, but this is the most useless dog I’ve ever seen in my life. This dog would have to improve a lot to be as smart as a lamp. He makes messes on the floor, he barks at the wall. He bites sometimes for no reason. But still, I have to say I kind of like this dog. I have a soft spot in my heart for this dog. Because every time I go over there this dog nearly turns himself inside out because he is so happy to see me. He has this little stub of a tail and he almost wags it right off. And he’s happy about everything – you know how dogs are. You feed the dog and the dog is happy and dancing around – oh boy, oh boy, I’m going to eat the same thing I ate yesterday and the day before and I just can’t wait! You take the dog in the car – oh boy, oh boy, I get to go in the car – this is the greatest thing ever! And I think, why can’t Christians be as smart as dogs? How’s come dogs are better at showing joy than Christians are? We have so much to be happy about – we have so much to be excited for, but you would never know it most of the time!

OK, I read this and its supposed to be true – I have my doubts though. But even if it isn’t true it’s a good story. When missionaries were in the northern part of Alaska they were trying to translate the Bibles for Eskimos, but there were some problems. Any time you go to translate the Bible in any culture, there’s a difficulty in translating some words because cultures and languages don’t always have the same words. There was no word in the Eskimo language for joy. And as they were trying to translate joy, biblically, they drew from experience. And as they watched, they saw that the happiest, the most joyful moments in those Eskimo villages were in the evening when they fed their sled dogs. They’d go out, and the dogs would yelp and wag their tails and get all excited. And so, out of that experience, they pulled the word for joy: "wagging their tails." So like, for instance, in that passage where it says, "The disciples, after the resurrection, saw Jesus and they were full of joy," in the Eskimo version it would read, "When the disciples saw Jesus, they wagged their tails." Why can’t we wag our tails?"


I wonder why we don't show more joy. We live in an incredible world. Even on my worst days, I can look out my window and see something to be joyful about. This earth we live on is so beautiful.

Sometimes joy is a choice. We can choose to look out the window on a fall day and see all the leaves on the ground and think about all the raking we have to do, and how we dread the approaching cold winter temps and weather, or we can look out that window and instead see the beautiful colors in the trees, and we can go outside to enjoy the sound of the crunch of leaves under our feet, the smell of autumn in the air, and enjoy marshmallows roasted over a bonfire to create s'mores.

Mike used a passage from Romans 5 as inspiration, which includes the verse, "And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God." He leaves His glory all around us! All we have to do is look for it and take joy.

And if we get so excited that we wag our little (or not so little) tails in joy, well then, isn't that just a testament to His awesomeness?

C'mon and shake your tailfeathers....I know you can do it!

Have a great week. And for more Spiritual Sunday goodness, head on over here.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Spiritual Sundays/eDevotion -- Blind Date

It's time for Spiritual Sundays. This week, I am sharing a post about love...God's love and the love that we as humans seek from each other. The author of the eDevotion is my sweetheart, Pastor Mike. This one is called "Blind Date."

Blind Date

"Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea. I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers." 2 Corinthians 11:24-26

I was sipping some kind of harsh Kenyan brew at a coffee shop in Toledo. The woman across the table from me was surprisingly lovely, and our conversation was pleasant enough. Then at some point she excused herself to go to the ladies room. She took her purse.

I got down a whole cup of that blistering hot coffee and started another before she got back, apologizing like a monk in sackcloth for taking so long.

No more than a minute went by and her cell phone rang. She said, "I’m sorry, I better get this." Hey, I understood. It was her friend – her car had broken down and she was stranded at work and her boyfriend couldn’t pick her up and could she please, please come and get her and take her home?

My date apologized again and then the evening was over.

I sat there fascinated. Never in my life have I watched a grown adult perform such an intricate act of unmitigated horse manure. Never have I seen anyone work so hard just to get away from little old me!

Now, before you feel sorry for me being dumped and all, let me say in all honesty I wasn’t that interested either. Quite frankly I would rather have the story than her any day.

Still, dating can be a real kick in the chitlins. That’s why they write country songs like, "She Ripped My Heart Out and Stomped That Sucker Flat," and "Billy Broke My Heart at Walgreens and I Cried All the Way to Sears."

I could be wrong, but my theory is that God created romance partly to make a point – the more real living you do the more vulnerable you become. And the more vulnerable you are the more real living you do. If you want to be warm and safe climb into a coffin. You can get them now with silk sheets and everything. But if you want love you’re going to take your turn on the whipping post. And if you’re going to live the love of Christ, call your tailor right now and have yourself measured for a cross.

I might be veering a bit away from the spiritual here, but I thought it would be a great time to talk about how I met Mike. We have been dating 5 months as of today.

I had been alone for 10 years and 5 months as of the day I first met Mike. I jumped into the dating pool almost immediately after my marriage of 12 1/2 years split. Believe me, I felt at times like I was going through all of those things that they talked about in the above Bible verse. I estimate that I had at least one date (and some long term) with about 30 different men in that time. Some were nice sweet guys, but a pretty fair number were quite the opposite. I dated men who turned out to be liars, cheaters; one was a swindler and later went to prison for raping someone. I had been grabbed at, inappropriately kissed and groped. I remember how flat-out dirty I felt after one date who, upon my leaving, full on grabbed my breast. Yes, dating is a sometimes bumpy road. I also met men that I fell for, but apparently, they didn't return my same feelings.

Every single one of those men that I had dated since my divorce were men that I met on the internet. I had tried meeting men in other ways, but no one ever asked me out. Still, I never ever gave up, but in the last couple years had started slowing down on the dating. I figured that if I wanted a good, quality man, I had better start being a good, quality woman.

One day, I was browsing profiles on a site called OkCupid. I can't remember if he spotted me first, or if I was the first to notice his profile, but when I read Mike's profile, I liked what I read. He had a great sense of humor. Then I read that he was a pastor. What? I had an idea of what sort of men I liked, and a preacher was NOT one of those types. Still, I had a feeling that I should write to him. If nothing else, I might have a really nice friend.

We began writing. It's funny, but he lived only 6 miles from my hometown! It was easy to verify that he was exactly who he said he was. Soon we started talking on the phone, and it wasn't long at all before he asked if we could meet. I was happy to say yes, and was eager for our first date. In the past, I might not have been so excited. After a series of dates where you meet someone new and they don't meet your expectations, or you get your hopes up only to have them dashed...well, dating can be something you actually sort of dread after a while. But not in this case. I was ready to be open and vulnerable, and I was really excited about meeting Mike.
(This picture was created by an artist named Doug Hyde)
Our first date was wonderful! After a great meal at a Chinese restaurant, our conversation was flowing so well that we went to a local state park and spent more time talking.

From that point on, we have been seeing each other an average of twice per week, and sometimes even three times a week, even though my home is now about an hour away.

And this week? This wonderful, handsome, sweet man told me he loved me.

That sure makes the trials and trepidations and heartaches of the last 10 years worth it, because if not for that, maybe I wouldn't be as appreciative of a truly good man.

And I thank God for him every single day. I love you too, Mike!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Product Review for CSN stores/ New Lamp

As many of you online have done, I accepted a gift certificate to CSN stores in exchange for a product review.

And just look at the gorgeous thing that was delivered last week!

I am so in love with this Fangio Country Table Lamp in red.

The gift certificate I was sent was for $40. Now, I had really been wanting a lamp for my black end table as it sits between two chairs, and I didn't have a good reading light. Well, I won't even get into my recent financial situation, but it was just not in the cards for me to be able to buy a lamp.

So when I spied this in their clearance section, my heart did a little flip-flop! This lamp was PERFECT! I was beyond excited to rip open the box and pull out my new treasure.

My kids were more excited about the bubble wrap.

Got to admit, its one of my favorite stress releasers too.

I am so pleased at how pretty this lamp looks in my home. It matches so well with all the other red that I have in my living room.

I am thrilled beyond words with this product.

It came in the mail VERY quickly after I ordered it, and shipping was free! You'll never guess what the cost for this lamp was....$34! The reason for this was because it was on clearance due to having been returned. I cannot imagine any reason that this was returned, because it was just fine. There was not a single thing wrong with it. For anyone else to buy it though, it's going to cost you $84.99, but even that is a markdown from the original price of $164.97. What an amazing bargain I got!

The only negative I could find was the packaging, but this is because someone else returned it to CSN stores, and they did not repackage it before they sent it to me. Also, the original owner's invoice was in the box, as was her address, but the invoice part, that would have been her fault, not the company's. However, the lamp was still securely packed and arrived safely, and the lamp was absolutely just like new. I wonder if the first person had even put it together and turned it on! Didn't look like it. I am very, very pleased, and will be happy to spend my own money someday to purchase from CSN stores.

Disclaimer: Though I did receive a product for free in exchange for this product review, the opinions stated here are my own. I was not influenced in any way by CSN stores as to what I should say about the product. This product review is my own honest evaluation of the product I received.

If you are one of the lucky bloggers who are emailed an offer from CSN stores, I highly encourage you to go for it. I am so happy that I did!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Day Trip to Auglaize Village

The smell of autumn is definitely in the air. Leaves are just beginning to turn, and Mother Nature has turned down the thermostat. This weekend, I don't think it got above 55 degrees in my neck of the woods. Even though skies were overcast, it was a perfect day for me and my sweetie Mike to go to the Johnny Appleseed Festival at Auglaize Village, an historic museum just a few miles west of my city.

You can tell fall is here when you see all the pumpkins for sale.

One of the first things I saw was this big red barn. Treats were being sold outside and inside.

If I had need of a mailbox (I don't), I would have been sorely tempted to cart this one home with me!

This little birdbath was cute. I took a pic because I figure that one of these would actually be pretty easy to make.

Auglaize Village features rooms, office, and businesses from days gone by. I loved this door to the little dentist office.

It had the former owner's initials etched into the glass.

Now this dentist office looked pretty scary to me. I couldn't imagine some of those instruments in my siree!

Next door was the cobbler shop. I was trying to imagine my big feet in these cruel shoes. They are cool, but Mike remarked that he thought they were children's shoes. I don't think so. People were much smaller a hundred or more years ago.

I am enchanted by windows. I always wonder what is just beyond. Ever see that commercial on HGTV where the couple are driving through a neighborhood at night and looking at the houses? Well, that could be me.

Here was a display of keepsakes from years gone by.

My grandmother had an iron like one of these. And we think we have it hard now if we have to iron something.

I was struck by some of the portrayals of old time kitchens. I know that I complain if I don't have a dishwasher. Think of all the hard work it was to wash dishes in sinks like this! If you didn't have a pump in the house, you had to tote in the water.

I do love this blue stove though.

Ugh, washing day was really a chore! Now all we have to do is put the clothes in, push a button to wash them, push another button to dry them, and then all we have to do is hang them up or fold them. Not so hard really when you consider the alternative.

I would love to have carted these home with me!

Outside, vendors were making caramel corn. Yum! There were a lot of things for sale, crafts and also flea market wares, but my camera was being persnickety and I didn't get pics of all of that.

This was the actual office for an old-time phone company in the county.

You didn't get to talk to anyone until the operator connected you!

Just look at these old phones! I grew up with a phone just like the one on the left. Things sure have changed!

I love old insulators. I like the turquoise color.

Next we went to school!

Love these old school desks! Not sure how comfortable they would have been though.

Can you imagine writing with inkwells and quills?

I must be getting old, because I remember going to school in the 60's and having blackboard like these with the alphabet above.

After that, we went by a blacksmith shop. No one was demonstrating the art, which I think would have been fun to watch. One of my great-grandfathers was a blacksmith.

This bellows was huge!

We then decided to go to church. I love old churches. One of the churches that my boyfriend pastors was built in 1875. I think it is really interesting.

I didn't get a picture of the hay-bale maze, but it seemed to be really popular with children. This display was nearby. Ah...fall!

I have always dreamed of living in a log cabin...the modern kind though! These were fun to go through.

Again, me with the windows.

The fire in the fireplace was welcoming and offered visitors a bit of warmth. We climbed the stairs to the left... discover this upper room!

In a time when we all want a walk-in closet, its hard to imagine even a generously sized armoire holding the clothes for a whole family.

The bed frames were really cool, and I loved the quilts, but they really didn't look at all comfortable to sleep on.

Here is another, smaller cabin.

Yet another window.

Interesting mill stones.

I think these are traps for small game.

Not sure what they did with this wheel.

There was another visitor that remarked that "those were the good old days," when viewing the rustic, simple way of life that people used to lead.

You know, although it seems that way, Mike and I both thought of what a hard life it was back then. It seemed that you'd never ever be warm in the winter, and that you'd have to deal with all kinds of vermin coming in through the floor. Life was not easy. We didn't have modern medicine, and many people died during epidemics.

No, while it was great fun to look back into the past, I wouldn't really want to turn time that far back!

On our way out, I spied this old firetruck. My dad, a former fireman, would have loved this.

Right near the exit were these carriages. Mike thought they were too small for adults, but like I said, I think people were a lot smaller back then. We are not far from Amish country though, so it really isn't all that unusual to see people in horse drawn carriages yet today, but they are bigger.

What a fun day we had at Auglaize Village! Mike wants to take his kids there next spring when it's warmer.

Even though it was a chilly day, Mike and I were tempted by the pumpkin flavored flurries offered at the dairy bar behind my apartment. It was raining, so we sat inside his car. I love that they added a little candy pumpkin, whipped cream and cinammon to the treat!

Mike liked his too!

Hope you enjoyed sharing the day as much as we did!

So what do you think...would you trade today's conveniences and go back in time?