Month: December 2010

  • Weekend Getaway!


    This has been the most relaxing Christmas I’ve had in a long time. I miss not going home [childhood home] for Christmas, but it definitely makes it feel quiet around these parts…

    There is time to do a little bit of baking – some pans of cinnamon rolls to deliver to neighbors, both those we’ve met and those we hadn’t. As well as stick a plate in the mailbox for the mailman/lady [we happen to not have the same person each day]. I always thought that would be so nice to do, give the mailman a little plate of something baked, but I never had. Today was the day, but I forgot to look out of the window when he or she came by… I wonder if they’ve ever been given that before. :)

    Looks like a balmy weekend is in the forecast for us. So I’ll just be listening to songs of white Christmases and dreaming while we sit in air conditioning. :)


    Almost two weeks ago, Ben and I went on a weekend getaway- just the two of us! That hasn’t happened in over 2 years, that it’s been just us. Definitely past time! A huge thanks to Ben’s parents for watching the girls for us!

    This was also a late anniversary getaway [yeah, our anniversary is in June]. For our 5th, we really wanted to do something exotic, like somewhere in Europe, or perhaps Antigua, Guatemala, where I spent a few months before I got married. But in between our 4th and 5th anniversaries, we bought The Cottage. And hence, no $$$$$$ to go somewhere exotic. :)

    So we went to Jacksonville. And let me tell you, just going somewhere alone, just the two of us, well, it felt rather exotic to me! Especially when I saw the place Ben had pricelined for us…

    The Hyatt Regency.
    3.5 star. 19 stories. Ballroom.

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    Ummmm. Let’s just say we felt a little out of our league!!

    Fancy-shmancy. SWANKY.

    We like nice hotels, but this, we found, well, a little too nice.

    -No free breakfast [please eat at one of the 3 restaurants located on the ground floor]
    -No free water bottles ["Hey babe! How's your $4 water bottle tasting?"]
    -No free wi-fi [please pay $14.95 per 24 hour usage (which we didn't)]
    -No free carts [please pay bellboy who MUST attend all departing or incoming luggage]
    -No free parking [$15 per night for the parking garage]

    So, all in all, the super good deal we pricelined turned into a bit more expensive than we expected. Not that the room was that expensive, oh no. Super cheap, actually. But all the extra “amenities” that we really didn’t anticipate sucked up some money.

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    So now we know. For next time. Stay under 3 star. :)

    But for then, we enjoyed it. Because, really, why not?

    We had a wonderful time!

    I began reading a book, lent by a friend… I’ve only read one of Florence Barclay’s books before, and LOVED it.

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    We slept in [no pictures of this, please]. The week we were going we were saying to each other that we were both really tired, and were looking forward to catching up on some sleep. Little did we know how serious we both were. Twelve hours of sleep the first night and ten hours the second night. Yup, we sure were caught up after that! :) Ready to face the world of children again!

    We went to a local shopping center on Saturday. This was a mostly window-shopping day. Bless Ben’s soul for going with me! I’m not a bit clothing shopper, as in can just walk for hours and hours looking at clothes, but I DO like to look at home furnishings/interior design stores.

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    We were in luck. High-end stores like Pottery Barn and anthropologie were both there, among other super-expensive, far-out-of-our-price-range stores. I can just get LOST in places like that!! Not that I buy a lot, but I love the ideas… Like these:

    This was my favorite kitchen apron. I’m a sucker for these, because I wear one every single day. But $60? I’ll pass (and maybe try to copy one day).

    But seriously, how fun would it be to cook in something this precious?!

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    I thought this was such a cool idea. I haven’t had time to make them this Christmas, but I’ll store away the picture for another year… Muffin and coffee pot liners, who would have thought?!

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    This tray grabbed me with all the white, the many tiers, and just the creativeness of it… I’m mentally pulling out my hot glue gun for a future project… :)

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    As did this lamp. Not sure where I’d put a lamp like this, but it sure is cute.

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    THIS I thought was the coolest thing there: a dictionary-inspired lamp. Only $360 for the lamp and shade *cough*.

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    Closer-up… because I really want to make one like this one day. Seriously, how cool is that?!

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    And that was my trip into anthropologie… That place gets the creative juices stirring, I tell ya.

    And then we went and sat at Barnes & Noble together for a while, which, in my opinion, is one of the very happiest things to do… :)

    Another very happy thing was going to the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra for a Christmas concert. It was absolutely SPLENDID! Our small-town doesn’t offer a lot of Christmas programs/concerts, so being able to attend anything with quality is a great treat!

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    And the two days flew by… And we enjoyed each other so much. It had been so long since we just had fun together, and this was the weekend to catch up on just enjoying one another’s company. Not just as husband and wife, but also as friends. I married a good man. :)

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    And I’m already looking forward to the next getaway. Hopefully in less than two years from now. ;)




  • It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…


    Oh, it’s been a good week! A busy, fun-filled week!

    It started out last Friday with a weekend getaway with my husband and me – something we haven’t done in far. too. long! A weekend with no schedules, no deadlines, no responsibilities, no children… Those kinds of weekends are every-few-years kinds of weekends! Just so fun!

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    [front door wreath]

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    [front porch table]

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    We returned home on Sunday, and some dear friends from Ohio stayed with us for a few days. We all enjoyed our “COM-pa-nee” [Zoe's term of endearment for them) so very much. You know how some people you just love hosting and some people you just can't wait for them to leave [though you'd never say it aloud]? Well, these were definitely the stay-as-long-as-you-want-cuz-we-couldn’t-get-tired-of-you kind of friends…

    And now, it’s just our little family, soaking up the 70′ weather. Yep, that’s s.e.v.e.n.t.y. degree weather. We had a cold spell the beginning of this week, but that didn’t stick around long… I’m already seeing visions of the air conditioner running on Christmas Day, and I can’t say I’m too thrilled with that idea. I’ve been going back in the photo archives [definitely glad I paid an arm and leg to rescue pictures] and just gazing at snow pictures from a trip up north last winter. I just feel a little snow deprived right now! :)

    [music room mantel]

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    So, about looking like Christmas… The house is all decorated, the fireplace has been keeping us cozy if we’re in the living room on chilly days [which is needed, because the term "drafty old house" has definitely taken on new meaning since we live in the Cottage].

    [the little tree in the girls' bedroom]

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    But somehow, I was telling my husband last week, it just doesn’t feel like Christmas. I was explaining to him how the whole month of December normally has this aura about it – a festive feeling the whole month long, just a happiness. It just, well, feels like Christmas. And somehow, this year, it doesn’t.

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    He kinda chuckled when I was finished with my long explanation, and I looked at him extremely puzzled. “You’re just so funny,” he began [which I'm glad he didn't end there, because wives don't like to be told they're funny if they're disturbed about something], “you’re all about the Christmas spirit for weeks and weeks, and me? Well, I just like to get together with family on Christmas Day. That’s all I care about.”

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    At least I understood where he was coming from. Maybe my expectations are still that of a little kid. Christmas was my most favorite time of the year as a child – not that we even received a lot of gifts, but we did all kinds of fun things, went to lots of Christmas plays and programs and concerts, baked dozens of cookies, visited elderly people… Maybe I’m just expecting a childhood Christmas even now that I’m an adult?!

    Or maybe I’m expecting a perfect world, like my world felt when I was a child? And right now I am very aware of an imperfect world.

    Yes, in some ways I feel incredibly blessed, and in other areas I have such a longing for Heaven for when everything will be absolutely perfect. No pain, no sadness, no separation in death or relationships.

    [Christmas carolers, minus poor little brother who has only shoes]

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    So last week we invited an older man to eat supper with us, someone who has lived a very sad story of a life. He’s someone Ben and I want to especially care about this Christmas, in different ways. And I think we need to do more of that kind of thing – to not just interact with people who have happy stories and have something to give me in return. For me to realize that Christmas isn’t just about festivities, but about Jesus coming to save the world… And for me to brighten my little corner of the world…

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    Because, you know, Christmas isn’t about me and my childhood memories, however delightful they are.

    [pillows I made for the living room, inspired by Pottery Barn]

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    Christmas is about Jesus,
    and sharing Jesus with people who don’t know Him…

    It’s about getting to know HIM –
    whether He chooses to reveal Himself as
    Sovereign God,
    Holy Father,

    ‘Sovereign God’ is how I am learning to know Him right now.

    Some years it feels like the ‘Sweet Baby Jesus’ learning center.
    Now it’s about His Sovereignty.


    Along with that, I love to decorate the house for Christmas. This year it didn’t seem to “flow” like it did sometimes, but still, fun. I should have gotten pictures of the girls diving into my boxes, and the disaster for half a day – a whole day?? – before we finally got a bit of order. Because these pictures show everything once it’s in place, and well, it doesn’t really look that way for long around here. Two little girls, a father, and mother, make a house look very “lived in” quite quickly. :)

    I was reading somewhere about adding Christmasy touches in unexpected places, like the kitchen, or the bathroom. I liked that idea, and added just a few simple things…

    I mostly decorate with greenery – cedar and pine. It makes a mess by January but I LOVE how it smells and it makes everything seem so cozy!

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    [this makes me go, "EEEEeeee, too much bling-bling." But it stays nonetheless.]

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    The dining room:

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    I made a mini-garland for the curtain rods, with hanging ornaments. These almost blend into the wall too much, but it sparkles and adds just a bit without overpowering.

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    girls bathroom:

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    This was inspired by my friend, Bethany, who is an amazing floral designer. She just goes outdoors and finds all sorts of nature and brings them indoors. This is bark with dried moss that I found around our property that I just loved!

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    Master bath:

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    Master Bedroom:

    little snips of greenery…

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    A Christmas stocking hanging on a coat rack, now turned hat rack. I have a fetish for hats.

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    Living Room:

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    The nativity set. Within eye-sight of the girls. I must say too, Mary and the wise men have quite the conversations, courtesy of Zoe’ and her wild imagination.

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    This is the only snow found in the state of ________, unless someone else uses faux snow. :) Zoe’ thinks it’s the coolest thing ever. :)

    Pottery Barn sells it for $12.99 for a bag. Target sells is for $1.99 for the same size bag. Just in case someone else wants some – don’t want you to be ripped off like I almost was! :) You know, fellow bargain-seeker here…

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    Did you notice that I now have a mantel for the living room here?? Very simple and rustic, but definitely easier to place things on the shelf without my items feeling very precarious.

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    [yes, that is a c.a.t. in the house. he normally stays outside, but it was so cold the beginning of the week we felt so sorry for him... and he gladly took up the offer]

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    And that’s a little house tour for ya!

    Enjoy your Christmas, but most of all,
    enjoy JESUS…



  • Cyber-Less and Pajama-Clad.



    Lest you think I dropped off the face of the planet, well, I almost did.

    A week with no internet in today’s cyber world feels like falling off the planet. :)

    I actually kind of enjoyed it though. And was amazed at how much time I had! I read a whole book, and am partially through two others. That usually takes me a month. That was a rather sobering thought for me though, and now that I have the computer back I’m determined to gage my time better online… I want my children to remember me for fun things (reading books to them and me, baking, playing…), not for sitting in front of the computer…

    But our computer got MORE viruses (yes, we did have anti-virus protection that we actually paid a lot of money for, thus all the more frustrating), and after a week I went in to receive an overhauled computer. I walked in, handed him an enormous wad of cash (he only takes cash, smart guy) and said, “Here’s our life savings.”

    See, the week before when the computer got viruses, it was a simple matter. A hundred dollars, but still, simple. And I did back up alllllllmost all the pictures the very minute of opening the screen. Except a few. The few that wouldn’t fit on my memory stick. But I thought I at least had a week to get a new stick. Bad thought.

    This is one of the pictures I would have lost, and it was just too much. So, you could say, this is my
    $400 picture of  Olivia at the Zoo.

    [unedited, since I haven't loaded that program back on yet]

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    Everyone probably wonders why I didn’t just let the pictures go into the lost world of cyber space, but this day at the zoo was just too fun. I’m too sentimental, I know, but the sight in my memory of a little girl toddling around with two little piggies, a monkey backpack (please don’t call it a leash), saying, “UH! GOOK (look)!!” all day was the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.

    And I could not bear for the actual pictures to be lost. I think I’ll learn my lesson now about backing pictures up… :(

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    So, that, and a week in Pennsylvania for Thanksgiving is why I seem to have vanished.

    [Zoe seems to take nice photos... :) ]

    for audrey

    Today is a lazy morning… I woke up to a fire that my husband built in the living room before he left for work at 6AM (!!), and to me, that is one of the very nicest things he could ever do for me.

    If you’d come to my door now (yes, it’s lunchtime) you’d think we all just woke up, because we’re still in jammies, every one of us girls. :) But that’s the fun of Mondays, right? :)

    And after we get dressed, we’ll head out the door to the country and the Christmas tree place to gather greenery to finish up the Christmas decor… And I’m happy it’s actually COLD this week. There is something about 70 degree weather, barefeet, and open doors that don’t really feel that Christmas-y! :)

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    And  a happy start to a week to you all! May Jesus walk with you through every moment…