Saturday, December 14, 2013

12 Blogs of Christmas - Blog post # 7 - Where is your hope?

Hi friends,

Today's Christmas post is about hope.  Recently I listened to an excellent podcast by a great and inspiring speaker - Andy Stanley.  The topic of the message was 'How to be Rich.'  No - I didn't make a typo - the message wasn't how to get rich - although I'm sure there are plenty of podcasts on that.  His topic was how to be rich because he states that he wants everyone to be prepared in case they become rich they will do it well (much better than how most rich people we know do it.)

I can't possible do the message justice, but I'll try to share the ultimate message he was driving at. Regardless of how much wealth any one person or family has, it is very tempting for each of us to begin to put our hope in our wealth and not in God.

First, let me tell why putting all your hope in wealth is a bad thing.  Do you think all the money in the world can cure a terminal illness?  If you are diagnosed with a terminal illness (and let's be frank here, all of will die at some time - so in a way - humanness is a terminal illness) would your wealth help you out?  Of course not. When you are faced with the immediacy of death, your hope suddenly shifts from your money and wealth toward God.  God can be with you in the transition from life into death and if you call out to God, he will even help you achieve ever-lasting life - life after death.  Can your money do that?  No, of course not.

So, if you are going to put your hope in God at the end of your life, why not consider putting your hope in God in the middle (or beginning!)

Another reason why it's not always a good idea to put all your hope in wealth is that it is fleeting.  History shows us many, many situations where hard working, smart people lose their fortunes.  Yes, sometimes (okay maybe many times) people lose their wealth over foolish or greedy choices.  But it happens often enough that circumstances beyond someones control cause it all to be lost (stock market crash anyone?)

One more reason why it isn't wise to put all your hope in your wealth is that wealth rarely satisfies.  Have you ever spent time with a rich person?  When I was a teenager we had wealthy neighbors.  These people were RICH (at least in my mind.)  They had a house way bigger than ours in CT that was just for weekends.  They had more fancy cars than room in their 4 car garage.  They had 4 nannies for their two kids (two nannies for their Manhattan flat and two for CT.)  Anyway, I was amazed at how stressed Michael was - all the time.  When he spent a fortune on landscaping for the yard, he was freaking out because he couldn't get well water to irrigate it.  You'd think when your rich you could avoid stress, but my experience showed it only magnified it.

So what's the alternative? Well, put your hope in God!

God will provide for you for your physical needs in times when you are stretched beyond your own resources.  I have a friend who shared a story of one time when her and her husband had no food in the house and no money in their wallet or bank account.  A bag of groceries arrived on their doorstep that fed them and their 3 little children.  Stories like this are not uncommon - even though they are hard to believe.

God will provide for your satisfaction.  Think about yourself.  Think back to times in your life when you felt whole and complete and satisfied?  Are those times when you had some great material possession?  Are those times when you had a huge wad of cash in your hand or your bank account?  Probably not.  Most likely you had those feelings during times of helping others, feeling loved unconditionally or being charitable - things that God says will fulfill your purpose on earth.

God will provide eternal life.  Do you wonder what happens when you die?  Do you hope their is something beyond the grave?  God promises there is life after death.  When Jesus was dying on the cross - two thieves were on crosses next to him. He said to one thief 'Truly I will see you in paradise.'  He offered eternal life to the thief dying on the cross.  He will offer eternal life to you two.  Think you are too far gone for God?  You are wrong.  If it wasn't too late for that thief in Jerusalem, it's not too late for you.

'Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.'

Thanks for visiting my blog today.  If you are curious about Andy Stanley's podcast I included a link below to the series.  The one I am referencing in my blog above is 'Be Rich part 2 - side effects.'

Andy Stanley Podcasts

Thursday, December 12, 2013

12 Blogs of Christmas Blog # 6 - Listening to the lyrics of beloved Christmas Carols

Hi friends,

I don't have a crafty thing to show you today.  Things have been quite busy here as we prepare for the arrival of my daughter Sarah, future son-in-law Ivan and son Eric on Friday night.  But I do have a post for you today for 12 blogs of Christmas.

So, do you ever stop and ponder the lyrics of the beautiful and classic Christmas Carols that play this time of year?  The lyrics are stunningly beautiful and most of them are right on target with accurate biblical theology. Let me just share one famous carol; Joy to the World!  The music was written by George F. Handel and the lyrics by Issac Watts.

The first verse says more theology than many sermons.

'Joy to the world, the Lord is come; Let earth receive her King; Let every heart prepare Him room and heav'n and nature sing; and heav'n and nature sing; and heav'n, heav'n and nature sing.'

  • How beautiful to consider that the Lord came to earth.
  • How wonderful that earth (and the humans that inhabit it) would receive the long awaited for King - Jesus Christ - Promised Savior.
  • How hopeful that each person would prepare their heart to receive the glorious salvation and grace that Christ Jesus offers.
  • Of course, all heaven and nature would sing when this happens.

And I'll leave you all with verse 2 & 3.  Won't you ponder the lyrics of this beautiful hymn and consider how God may be asking you to respond?

'Joy to the world!  the Saviour reigns; Let men their songs employ; While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains - Repeat the sounding joy, Repeat the sounding joy, Repeat, repeat the sounding joy.

He rules the world with truth and grace And makes the nations prove The glories of His righteousness, And wonders of His love, And wonders of His love, and wonders, wonders of His love.'

Thanks for visiting my blog today.  Stop by again this weekend.  I should have another post on Saturday.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

12 Blogs of Christmas Blog # 5 - How to celebrate Christmas if you are a type A personality!

Hi friends,

Before I get to my Christmas post, let me share a Christmas Card with you.  This uses the darling Christmas Tree stamp and die set from Papertrey ink.  So gosh darn cute!  I love it!

Today's Christmas post is on a lighter topic.  For those that know me I'm a type A personality.  Well, maybe a type A+ personality.  What is a type A personality?  Well, here is the wikepedia definition.

Type A[edit]

The theory describes a Type A individual as ambitious, rigidly organized, highly status conscious, can be sensitive, truthful, impatient, always try to help others, take on more than they can handle, want other people to get to the point, proactive, and obsessed with time management. People with Type A personalities are often high-achieving "workaholics" who multi-task, push themselves with deadlines, and hate both delays and ambivalence.[citation needed]
So, how would a type A personality 'do' Christmas?

Well, let me describe how I do Christmas and you can get an idea of one.  Now don't get me wrong - I'm not saying that ALL type A's do it this way, but it's how I do it.

First of all, Type A personalities LOVE lists.  So Christmas starts with an excel spreadsheet.  The spreadsheet has pages.  The first page is for the budget and includes mostly gifts.  Every person I expect to buy a gift for is listed in a row.  Each name is listed, The next column is called budget.  This includes how much I intend to spend on gifts for each person.  The next column is called Final.  This is a calculated field so as I buy gifts I add them into the final number.  So for instance if the person has 3 gifts, when I buy the first one is says =10.00.  Then if I buy another gift at 35, I make it = 10+35.  and when the last gift is bought I add that amount = 10+35+17 and the cell displays 62.00.  If my budget was 50.00 it tells me I am over budget for that and at the bottom I keep a running tally of budget vs actual.  I add another column called 'done.'  Then if I have bought all the gifts for that person it shows yes and I can visually get a sense of what % of my shopping I'm done with.  Are you with me so far?  Do you think I'm nuts or are you thinking - 'hmmm, that's a great idea.'  come on now all you type A's out there......  you know who you are!
  • Christmas 2013
    EricHeadphones, jacket150
    JessaYoga Clothes50

After the gifts come other things we spend money on at christmas.  I have a row for decorations, a row for wrapping and a row for charity.  Our goal is to spend as much on charity as all other people on our list so once I have a budget for all the people we buy for, i put that amount in my charity row and yes, this doubles the amount we spend on christmas.  Yes, we give a lot to charity at Christmas and yes, it also keeps us more focused on our budget.  A budget of $750 times two is $1,500, but a budget of $1,200 times two is $2,400.  As for which charities we give to at Christmas time, we do a few things.  First we do a few shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child.  Second I sponsor 2 social service kids at work and third (my favorite) is we pick items from the World Vision Christmas catalog and give the bulk of our spending there.  We give goats, soccer balls, portions of a deep well, portions of a cow, bicycles, medicine, school supplies etc.  Every year on Christmas eve we, as a family, look through the catalog and argue about what to give to until the money is gone.  It's actually a lot of fun.  Oh, and I'm not bragging, I hope you don't read it this way, but we don't only give money to charity at Christmas.  We give every month to church and we have 7 world vision children that we support.  We believe very strongly in giving back so part of our month to month budget and Christmas budget are focused on charity.  We have been so blessed and it's not that big a burden to take 10% -15% of what we get and give to others.  I feel very blessed that we have extra and can do this without sacrificing food or heat.  For many, this isn't an option, but for us it is, so it's what we do.  

Okay, enough about that.  What else do type A personalities do?  Well, for me, I plan and plan and plan.  For instance it's December 10th and I can tell you what's going to be for dinner on the 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 19th, 20th & 24th.  Yup.  I've actually started making some of those meals.  I make a calendar every week of the upcoming days.  I note if both Bob and I will be home and if so I decide what we'll have for dinner.  I buy the ingredients during my weekly shopping and often prep some of the food before hand.  For instance on Friday the 13th we will have minestrone soup.  I have already cut the meat, browned it and put it in the freezer.  I will cut up the vegetables tomorrow and put them in the fridge.  Then Friday morning Bob will put them all in the crock pot before he leaves for work and we'll come home to home made minestrone soup.  I'll whip up a salad and heat up some rolls (or make grilled cheese) and yum - dinner is ready.  The same is true for the 'big' holiday meals.  I have 12 for dinner on the 20th and I've already planned lasagne and cherry pie.

Another list making thing I do is I send myself e-mails of 'things to do.' So when I'm in a boring meeting at work and am not especially paying attention (don't judge me - lately I spend 6 hours a day in meetings with my projects and trust me, not everything being discussed pertains to me)  I go into my e-mail and send myself a message.  I send it from my work e-mail to my personal e-mail.  It goes something like this:
It's way better than writing a list and then on Friday I can open my e-mail (from my phone if needed) and ensure I got everything on my to do list done.  So what happens if I run out of time?  No problem.  I just transfer things from Friday's to do list to Saturday's to do list.  and yes, if you are wondering, almost every day has things to do!  I told you - not just type A, probably type A+.  and yes, it's a 'good' day if everything on the list gets done! And yes, sometimes I put things like 'shower' on the list and 'nap' on the list - partly so I have more things to check off but more importantly so I make sure to do them!

Lastly, I color coordinate all my gift wrapping.  What does that mean?  Well, I buy 4 different rolls of gift wrap (all in complementary colors that 'coordinate.)  Then we decide which paper is for which person and all gifts for Sarah get wrapped in 'her' wrapping paper.  Then I don't have to do tags and on Christmas morning, everyone knows whose gifts is whose (well at least for the gifts from someone in our house.)  This year I bought 5 rolls of paper because this year, we'll have gifts for Ivan (our future son-in-law.) Note - Jessa gets a gift too, but I put that in a gift bag this year!

So, are you type A, type A+ or something else?  Are you inspired?  Are you intimated?  Are you sorry for me?  All are fine.  I hope you have a wonderful Christmas season.  Thanks for stopping by today and visiting my blog!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Denami Blog Hop - Razzle Dazzle

Hi friends,

Are you here for the DeNami Blog Hop?  Welcome!  The theme for December is Razzle Dazzle.  I added a bit of bling to my Christmas card to fit the theme.

I used the DeNami polka dot border and stamped it up in Red and Green.  Then I added red sparkle stickles to add a bit of bling. For the main image I used the Merry Christmas sentiment and added holly and berries to the edge.  Voila - Razzle Dazzle Christmas!

I also made a few other DeNami Christmas cards.  Want to see?

Which is your favorite?

Leave a comment below to be eligible to win DeNami prizes!

Your next stop on the blog hop is:

Emily Keaton's Blog

12 Blogs of Christmas - Blog # 4 - Drawing near to God

Hi friends,

Today's Christmas blog post is about drawing near to God.  When you think of drawing near to God what emotions does that invoke in you?  Does that give you a warm and fuzzy feeling or does that give you a feeling of being 10 years old in the principles office?  I think for most people they get more of the principle feeling than anything else.  Don't feel bad about that, I think most of the people in bible had a strong fear of being near God too.  In most all bible passages when God revealed himself to someone the first thing that is said to the person is 'fear not.'  I think that emotion is natural.  But I would challenge each of us to fight that instinct and instead overcome our fear and look at drawing near to God as a positive.

So often God's blessings came when people slowed down their day to day and listened to the 'still small voice of God.'  So what would it mean to draw near to God and how would it benefit us?  Well for me I think the way I best draw near to God is to slow down, get outside, listen to uplifting music (Mandisa!) and read my bible.   For many of you the thought of reading a bible is akin to having nails on a chalk board, but you should try it.  The stories are so interesting (well don't start in Numbers) and you'll be surprised at how the insights and messages are totally applicable to your life!  Start with the book of John or Proverbs.  Start small and see how it goes!

I find it easiest to draw near to God when my life is in balance and I'm not over-committed.  I love when the pace of life is such that in the morning I can drink my coffee and read from my devotion book 'Jesus Calling.'  These are one page inspirational messages that I can read and ponder in 10 minutes.  It's a great way to slowly start my day.

It's also good for me to every few months set aside a few hours to get away - to a quiet place and ponder some scripture passages and thought provoking questions.  The last time I did that was at least a year ago, and it's high time I put that on the calendar to do.  Even though I have time off from work at Christmas, the schedule is already filling up so if I want to make that happen before the New Year really kicks into gear in a just a few short weeks I'm going to have to put it on the calendar and plan for it.

How about you?  What would make you desire to draw near to God?  How would you do it?  Will you plan for it?

Friday, December 6, 2013

12 Blogs of Christmas Blog # 3 - Home for the Holidays.

Hi friends,

Before I get to my Christmas blog topic today, let me share another Christmas craft creation with you. This is a fun little creation I made with some scraps.  I have to remember to keep my scraps and save them for another project.  So often (like with this card) it makes the card come together in a jiffy and it's a great use of products that would otherwise wind up in the trash!

Today's blog topic is Christmas -  Home for the holidays.  When you think of Christmas, do you think of home? What is home to you?  Even though this seems very straightforward, this is a difficult and complex question. When you are a child, the answer to this is very simple.  Home is where you live, it is the place you slept last night and it is the place where your toys are and your family.  Even if you've only lived in your place for a few months, to a child, home is where you are now.

When you are not a child anymore, home can be something very different.  For instance for my son Eric, it is not obvious to me where he considers 'home' to be.  It's not Clemson, that is where he lives 9 months of the year while in college, but he may not yet consider our condo in Waltham to be home.  More likely when he thinks of home, he thinks of the house we just left in Northbridge MA where he lived for the last 5 years of his life, where his friends are.  For my daughter Sarah, it is also not clear.  Home is not Ukraine, where she has lived for 27 months.  But home is probably not our condo in Waltham either.  She hasn't even seen the condo, although she'll live there with us for a time until she and Ivan are able to get their own place.

And many people don't spend Christmas at home, when their jobs or other responsibilities pulled them away from the town they lived in when they were growing up or away from their loved ones.  For many people, the idea of spending Christmas home would mean a lonely Christmas since everyone they love is somewhere else.

So I think of the thought of 'Home for Christmas', to me it is much more about 'with loved ones for Christmas.'  How about you?  What does Home for the Holidays mean to you and when do you feel most at home?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

12 Blogs of Christmas - #2 Celebrating Christmas in good times and bad

Hi friends,

Today is blog post #2 in my 12 blogs of Christmas series.  First up, a Christmas card.

So today's Blog Topic is 'Celebrating Christmas in good times and bad.'  Holiday's can be really hard when things aren't going so well.  It is important for us to be sensitive to this fact.  This year is a very happy time for our family.  My daughter Sarah is coming home soon - she's been overseas for 27 long months and her service with the peace corps is over.  It will be very joyful to have her home and back in the U.S. for good.  It is also joyful because my son Eric will be home from college and my immediate family is happy, healthy and thriving.  It seems 'easy' to celebrate Christmas in good times, but there is also temptation in these celebrations as well.  Even though things are going really well, it's easy to worry about things.  For instance there is significant political unrest in Ukraine this week.  I could spend my days worrying about this and fearful that Sarah and Ivan won't make it home.  I can worry about the job situation - will my job continue to be stable in 2015?  Will Sarah and Ivan find work?  So, even in good times, it's easy to let worry and anxiety overwhelm us.

It's also easy to get caught up in envy and greed at Christmas when times are good.  I can look around at other families near me and think  - I should make cookies that look like Martha Stewarts - or I should buy more gifts to go under the tree, or I should have liposuction so I look like a model.  With all the advertising and marketing around me, I can feel like my life is not complete without _______ (fill in the blank!)

And I think it's much, much harder to celebrate Christmas when times are bad.  As much as we can let things get out of hand with greed, jealousy and anxiety in good times, there are far worse things that come along with holidays when times are bad.  When times are bad it's easy to be overwhelmed with grief, loneliness, fear and sadness.  How hard it must be to see other families when you have lost a loved one.  How hard it must be to see the advertising and marketing when you've lost a job and have significant financial challenges.  How hard it must be to see people ice skating and walking around when you have a medical condition that leaves you unable to move around.  I have not yet experienced a Christmas when I've faced these challenges but I'm sure it is very, very difficult.

So what should we do?  Well, I think when times are good we need to avoid the temptations.  We need to enjoy the moment and not worry and envy.  We need to be realistic about our expectations and not try to out-do the others around us.  And we need to be sensitive to those around us who are struggling, because not everyone is experiencing what we are.

When times are bad?  Well, again I don't have personal experience with this, but I've heard one of the worst things you can do is isolate yourself.  It's very tempting to do this - just stay home - not go to events - but that will only make it worse.  If possible, even if you don't feel like it, I've heard its good to get out - be with people - and help others!  And have hope!  If you are facing a difficult time this Christmas, turn to God.  Ask him to show you how to bring joy into your life even as you deal with ________.  Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback church has a number of great blog posts about being joyful in the midst of significant hardship - he should know.  His son died this year from suicide.  He won't say it's his best Christmas ever, but he will offer ways to find small joys in life without his son.

I hope whatever type of Holiday you are celebrating this year (good times or bad) you are able to see God's significant love for you and that God meets you where you are at.

Thanks for visiting today.

Monday, December 2, 2013

12 Blogs of christmas #1 - Is Christmas in America about Christ?

Hi friends,

For the month of December I intend to blog every other day on a different topic related to Christmas. I figure everything, everywhere you go is Christmas so why not blog about it too!

So at the start of every one of the 12 blogs of Christmas I will showcase a Christmas Craft. Today's craft is a card!

The card I'm showing you today is a simple design using a classic DeNami image.  It's so fun how much extra just a little glitter on a leaf and berry stamp can make.  I love this and it was super easy to make.

So today's blog post is about Christ in Christmas.  I know lots of Christians who spend a lot of time talking about how disappointed they are in the way America celebrates Christmas, but I'm not one to do that at all. I love American Christmas.  Now, I'm not saying I love everything about American Christmas but the whole package, everything that goes with it - overall - it's a big, big positive for me.

I say that with my faith intact and secure.  Am I ignorant to the fact that many Americans who celebrate Christmas don't know anything about the roots of the holiday or it's meaning?  Of course not.  But I embrace the holiday and the way my fellow Americans choose to celebrate it and I love that for an entire month (for some - way longer) my God is at least at the root of most of the things going on around me.

Let's just talk about Santa for a minute.  Some Christians are very 'anti-Santa.'  Okay, I respect that.  I can see many reasons why a Christian would have misgivings about the big guy, but as for me, I love Santa and what he represents.  Santa is based on Saint Nicholas.  He was a devout Christian who chose to show Christ's love for mankind by providing gifts for children.  That's a good thing.  We always talked about and welcomed Santa in our home and it was a real joy to do so.

Another thing I love about American Christmas is the fact that Christmas Music is played EVERYWHERE; the mall, the skating rink, the grocery store, the radio.  And a good chunk of those songs are about worshiping the Lord Jesus Christ.  I love walking in the grocery store humming classics like 'O Holy Night' or 'Go tell it on the Mountain.'  I also don't mind at all when 'Rocking around the Christmas Tree' comes along.  It's not a christian based song but I listen to country music and the Zac Brown Band singing about Fried Chicken isn't about Christ either, but I listen to that.

So do I think that American's leave Christ out of Christmas?  Well no more than American's leave Christ out of their lives in general.  If you aren't a follower of Christ, how could you, and why would you put Christ in Christmas?  It's really only something you would do if you know the wonderful forgiveness that He offers.  It's only something you would marvel at if you believed that God sent his son into earth to dwell among man and to bring hope to all mankind. Now since I know and believe that, Christ is the center of my Christmas and Christ is the center of every day of my life.  The only reason I'm concerned that American's don't include Christ in their Christmas is because I love Americans and truly desire for them to know the wonderful and life-changing effects of being known by God and being loved by God. I pray that every American can know God the way I do and be blessed in that relationship.  Until that happens, I don't fault them for celebrating American Christmas however they want.

So, how about you?  How do you celebrate Christmas?  Do you love the winter themes that come with it?  Do you focus on the family gatherings that come with it?  Are you like me and marvel at the wonder of a loving God who so loved you (and me) that he would come to be Immanuel - God with us?  However you celebrate I hope you have a WONDERFUL Christmastime!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

New Car!

Hi friends,

Today I am going to get my new car.  I'm very excited.

Before I tell you about my new car, let me show you my baby card creation.

I typically don't buy a new car.  Here I am 50 years old and this is my third new car in my life.    I usually get a low mileage used car, but this time I got a great deal on last years model so I am getting brand new this time.  Yeah!

You may be wondering - why are you getting a new car in late November?  Well, there is a very good reason for this.

Do you remember 'Cash for clunkers' back in 2009?  Well in 2009 we had an old Chrysler Town and Country mini-van that got 17 miles to the gallon.  It was old and we really didn't need a mini-van at that point of our life anymore.  Sarah was a junior in college and Eric was driving so we decided to trade in the 'clunker' for a new car.  Our car made us eligible for a $4,500 credit so we got the new car for about $8,000.00.  We made a deal with Sarah where we would make the first two years of payments on the car and she would make the last two years of payments.  Pretty nice deal for Sarah. So Sarah got a cute little Nissan Sentra.

When she decided to head off to the peace corps she really wanted to keep her Nissan.  It was only 2 years old and in great condition and she really liked it.  So we decided that I would sell my Volkswagon and drive her Nissan Sentra for 2 years, then we'd sell it to her at the end of her time overseas for the fair market value.

Well, the two years are up, Sarah is heading home in Mid-December soooo, Mom gets a new car!!!

I had a funny experience while shopping.  I did lots of on-line shopping using and found a dealership that had a ton of inventory on the Mazda3.  I randomly picked one of the cars they had in stock and sent an e-mail inquiry on it.    So I make an appointment at the dealer to see the car and headed into Quincy (40 minutes away) to check out the car.  I arrive at the dealership on a rainy day and go inside and meet young Stu.  He was a nice kid, barely 24 and new on the job.  He says we have your car you want to try right out front.  It's a manual transmission, Do you know how to drive a stick shift?  Well, that was an easy answer, yes - I do know how to drive a stick.  So he says so are you ready for the test drive?  And without thinking too much, I say 'sure.'  Well, what he didn't ask me was when the last time it was that I drove a stick shift and now that I think about it, it was 25 years ago!

So, I get into the drivers seat and try to familiarize myself with the logistics of a manual transmission.   Like riding a bike right?  Only did I mention it was raining and I was in a city I've never been to before, in a brand new car I've never driven before?  Well, Stu was a fun guy.  We only stalled twice and it was only a bit hairy when the Quincy police car was behind me, but again, we survived.  I like to think I am keeping my brain cells young trying new things.

I loved the car and made my dear husband go back to the dealership the next day to look (and drive) the automatic version.  They had quite a few 2013's in stock and therefore had some really good prices so we bought the car and today I get to pick it up.

Thanks for visiting today. I hope you have a great day.
I think I'm going to love it.  It has all the bells and whistles - blue tooth - heated leather seats - moon roof.  I hope I like it because I'll probably drive it for 6 plus years!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving - DeNami Thanksgiving card

Hi friends,

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.  I made this fun DeNami card yesterday (while the pies were baking in the oven) and I'll bring it to Bob's aunt Joanie (along with a thank you gift) since she's hosting our Thanksgiving meal this year.

I had fun combining the polka dot stamp with my polka dot washi tape.  I don't know about you, but I always forget about washi tape.  It's such a fun and easy thing to use on a card, but even though it's in a clear jar on my crafting desk, it's very rare that I think to use it!

So, Bob, Eric and I were going to participate in a Turkey Trot this year, but decided to not go.  Eric's flight was delayed on Tuesday night and he didn't get in till 2:00am.  Thankfully he arrived safe and sound, but quite tired.  The weather is bitter cold today (low 20's with a strong wind) and frankly we all just decided we'd rather sleep a little late and not be rushed heading out to his families.

What will I do instead?  Well, they are having a Zumba class at my gym at 9:00am.  I'll go to that, get all sweaty and tired.  Then head home to clean up and hit the road. I'll probably get a better work out in my hour long zumba class than running a 5k race.  Maybe we'll do it next year.  I really enjoyed doing the race last year, but it just did not seem to the right thing this year.

I hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving.  Stop back on Monday for the start of my '12 blogs of Christmas' series.  I may have some other things to show you this weekend too!  Enjoy.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Christmas Cards for World Vision Kids

Hi friends,

One of the things our family does (that I absolutely LOVE doing) is we sponsor children in Africa and Haiti through the World Vision Child Sponsor program.

Our first 'adoption' was part of a church program in 2004 (almost 10 years ago!)  At that time, we adopted Grenala and she was the same age as Eric.  Since then we've added Dieugot, Emily, Louvensky, Angela, Isaack and just last month we 'adopted' Shakira.  I would love to add a new child every year and plan to do whatever I can to keep the budget in effect so we can do this.  Well, at least until we have 10 world vision kids.  At that point we'd be budgeting $350.00 a month to child sponsorship and unless Bob or I come into a big raise or job promotion, we may have to cap it to that level, but who knows.  We have a few more years before we reached the 10 child level so we'll deal with it then.

So why am I telling you this?  Well, because my card today is a card that I will send to each of my world vision children.  Yes, I have to get busy - I have 6 more to make, but luckily, in Africa, it is not especially important that my Christmas card arrive before Dec 25th.
If you zoom in on the picture you can see that the sheep are fuzzy.  I had some fun with flower soft and hope the fuzz is still intact when the cards arrive at their destination.  There is something so fun about a card with texture!!!

This card uses Karen Giron's Sweet Sunday Sketch Challenge layout.  I love her sketches and really have fun playing along and linking up to her blog. Check out her blog by clicking the link.

Karen Giron's Blog

Below is her sketch.

I struggle to know what to make for my world vision kids Christmas cards because especially in Africa, the traditional stamping images for Christmas probably wouldn't make a lot of sense.  They don't do Christmas trees or wreaths.  They don't know about Santa and the elves and they don't get toys and gifts for Christmas.  My understanding (from my limited google research) is that Christmas in Africa would include church, singing, dancing and a family dinner.  So I try to keep to the christian themes of Christmas for them by using manger scenes with Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, the star of Bethlehem and animals.  I generally write a standard letter to all of them sharing news from our family and America and I try to include fruit leather, a bandana or stickers in the envelope.  World Vision doesn't allow gifts, just small things that fit in a 6X9 envelope.

World Vision is such a great organization, I can't recommend them enough.  They have so many ways to get involved in global poverty and we've participated in several of their programs.   First, one of their largest programs is child sponsorship in many different countries.  Our children are from Malawi (one of the poorist countries in the world - in central Africa) and Haiti.  They have programs in eastern Europe, all over the carribean, Africa and many other places.   It costs $35.00 per month to sponsor a child.  For those who can't make a monthly commitment (or who prefer to contribute in a different way) they have the world vision gift catalog.  Here in the gift catalog, you can select an item (a farm animal, school supplies, soccer ball etc) and just do a one-time donation for that item to go to a family or individual.  Some items are really big (like a water buffalo or a deep well) and some are small (like a mosquito net or blanket.)  It looks like they have also started doing the micro loans too.  So many ways to help.

We have been involved in world vision for over 10 years and they have proved trustworthy with our donations all along.  I believe they are very highly rated as a charitable organization - Bill Gates listed him as one of the charities to support in his Giving Tuesday tweets a few weeks ago.  If you are looking for a way to address the issues of global poverty and/or give back to others, I highly recommend you check out the organization by clicking the link below.

World Vision

Below is a photo of my 'fridge photo collage.'  Each of our sponsored children are on there and I see their beautiful faces every time I open the fridge (which is OFTEN!)

Thanks so much for visiting my blog today. I hope you have a great day.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Christmas in the city

Hi friends,

When I saw Dawn McVey's card using Papertrey Ink's City Christmas stamps and dies, I fell in love.  I shamelessly copied her design for my christmas card this year and only changed the colors and removed a few elements.  With everything going on this year for Christmas and given that I'm starting so late, I figured I didn't have time to play around with a design so I hit the easy button.

Isn't this card darling?

I love it and think it's perfect to celebrate our first christmas living in the city.   So above is my version of the card.  Below is Dawn's.  As you can see they are VERY similar, of course Dawn's is perfect in every way and mine has all the lovely elements of handmade with love.   Thanks for the inspiration Dawn.

And speaking of city living, I realized I never updated my blog with pictures of the condo now that the window treatments are up and the paint on the wall.  Want to see?  

One thing I love about the condo is how the light comes in from the windows.  Oh and I love the gas fireplace.  I just hit the on button and instant heat and fire!  I do miss a roaring wood fire, but given the size of the space, this is perfect.

Above is a close-up of the window treatments.  These are roman shades that go up and down.  We tend to leave them in the same position.
Tank loves to 'perch' on top of the couch with a good view of the whole room (and all the windows.)

These wood stairs are gorgeous, but can be a little slippery (reference the previous blog entry about Joey falling down the stairs.)  I may have to get something on the steps to prevent future injuries.

Joey loves to sit in the sun. Can you blame him?

We are so glad we kept the wood dining table.  There was a bit of debate over which table we would keep from the old house. I love the wood and having the 'big' table in the room.
Tank loves sitting in the sun also.
We love it.  We are getting more comfortable every day and it really feels like home now.  Soon chaos will reign as my two adult children come to live with us for a month - plus my new son-in-law, but it's 2,200 square feet with three bedrooms so hopefully we'll all fit.

Thanks for visiting today.  Stop back later this week for some other Christmas cards and starting December 1st, I hope to do my 12 blogs of Christmas theme (a blog every other day about some conversation topic related to Christmas.)

Monday, November 25, 2013


Hi friends,

I have awesome news to share with you.  My future son in law had his interview with the U.S. Embassy in Kiev ukraine today and his fiance visa was approved.  We are all so excited!!

We can't wait to have them arrive in the US in a few weeks to begin their american life together. Who knew that when we sent one child off 2 years ago, we would have 2 children return? We are so excited to welcome a son into our family. And actually, who knew? well I knew.. kind of. Like all good government organizations, the peace corps has lots of propeganda, literature for would be peace corps volunteers and their families. Do you know the one thing I read in that information that stuck with me more than anything else? The statistic they published that said '85% of peace corps volunteers meet the person they will marry during their peace corps service.' So, I can't say I'm totatally surprised to see Sarah return with a fiance.

So what's next? Well, Ivan will receive the visa from a special courier, hopefully within a week. Then he'll have to pack all his belongings to fit in 2 suitcases (weighing less than 50 pounds each), say goodbye to his brothers, mother and friends and board a flight (with his sweetheart) to NYC. There I'll greet them both and drive them to their new home (our darling condo.) Hopefully he will survive the culture shock of American Christmas and find work quickly. They will go through some pre-marital counseling at church and then have their first wedding in January. I say 'their first wedding' because they will have two weddings. The first will be teeny-tiny - just Bob and I, the pastor and them. This will marry them and satisfy the legal requirement to wed within 90 days of arriving in the US. It will also enable them to have marital relations in our home! The second wedding will be the white dress event in early June. Like many before them, they'll have two special anniversary dates to commenorate.

So, all of us are very, very relieved that this critical step in the process is behind us. You can imagine how anxious Sarah and Ivan were for this interview. There was nothing that SHOULD have caused an issue, but we all know how it can go.... something unforeseen... some little detail or glitch that hadn't been anticipated, suddenly crops up at the last minute and everything is put on hold. We all worked very hard to check/double check and review all the documents to ensure it was complete and accurate to avoid any unnecessary delays. The only thing I can relate it to is taking a drivers test. you can be an awesome driver, but sometimes something goes wrong during the test and if one thing is done wrong - the test is failed and you are back in line, waiting... waiting..... So check back in with me in 3 weeks for a blog post about their arrival. I'm sure I'll have photos from JFK airport of two tired young people ready for their new life together!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Hi friends,

So, do any of you have adult children?  My youngest son is 20 and I had a challenge this fall trying to stay out some of his stuff.  So before I get to the story, let me share a card with you.  I had two friends from church have surgery recently and I wanted to let them know I was thinking of them as they recover.  I made two identical cards and dropped them in the mail this week.

I inked up Papertrey Ink's 'on the couch' set and had fun playing with lime green.

Isn't this so fun?  I hope it brightens their day.

So on to my story.  When Eric graduated high school he did all kinds of research to decide which laptop he would get.  He decided upon a Hewlett Packard and headed off to Engineering school with a fine new computer.  Well, there was an accident and the original laptop was shot.  Let's just say that there was some horsing around in a dorm room and a bunk bed railing found it's way into the LCD display and it stopped working.  Thankfully HP has a generous extended warranty program and Eric was given a replacement laptop under the warranty. Note - if any of you have college students - ALWAYS buy the extended warranty.  Both Sarah and Eric got replacement laptops while in college.  College students are HARD on those machines and it's worth the investment.  Okay back to the story.  Well I don't know why but Eric never liked his replacement laptop.  He complained a lot about it and drove us all crazy with his whining..... it's so slow.... it's not as good as my original....   So when his birthday rolled around this year he asked for money toward a new laptop.  We were happy to help him with that.  He figured he could sell his old laptop (which was really only 6 months old) and use some of the money to help pay for the new mac.  Sounded good to me.  The first mistake he made was thinking that his 6 month old laptop was worth a  lot of money.  Sadly, in the world of electronics, these things get devalued very fast.  He estimated it was worth 550.00.  I told him I would buy it from him for $250.00 if he couldn't sell it for what he thought it was worth.  He accessed this and decided to go ahead and get the mac.  So on his birthday weekend he had a nice Mac computer and began the process of selling the old one.

I really wanted to jump in and help him out.  I have sold a bunch of stuff on crags list and ebay and while I'm no expert, I'm not a newbie but he was in South Carolina and I was in MA, so I stayed out of it and only offered advice when he asked.  I would have had him bring it home on Fall Break and I would list it on craig's list or ebay, but he wanted to do it himself and again since he thought it was worth more than I did, I figured it would be better to let him handle the deal himself.

So, a few weeks ago, he tells me he put it on ebay with a buy it now price of $550.00 and some guy bought it.  Then the fun began.  The guy texts him and tells him to ship it to South Africa.  The guy was willing to pay him an extra $60.00 in shipping fees and that the computer was for his son.  Both Eric and I were on alert.  There were a number of things that seemed fishy.  For one, the guy couldn't pay via paypal on ebay.  Eric had not set up the listing correctly.  Then the guy wants to ship it overseas.  I was pretty concerned the deal was risky but both Eric and I wanted to believe the buyer was honest.  I sent him info about ebay scams and warned him not to ship to an address that is not verified on paypal.    I also said 'be sure to get a signature upon delivery' and get a tracking number.  He calls ebay and discusses the situation with them on two occasions and they assure him the deal is fine, he was smart to be concerned but it was all set.   So he heads to the post office and pays $77.00 to ship the computer to the South Africa address.  He tells me that he shipped it and I ask him about signature delivery and a tracking number.  He tells me he couldn't get either of those and I get even more nervous.  At this point, I'm invoking my yoga breathing to stay calm but everything inside me is thinking - how could you ship something worth $550.00 and not have a signature, to a foreign company!!!!??????  but I did my yoga breathing and thought to myself..... if he doesn't get his money, it's bad, but it's not tragic.  He won't be in the hospital or jail, the mafia won't beat him up.. he'll just have lost quite a bit of his hard earned money from his summer job.  Sigh.  So I try to encourage him realizing at this point, the shipment is on it's way and he's probably just as anxious as we were about the deal.

So today he calls me....  the paypal account that was used to pay for the item was phony.  When he called paypal to find out why his payment hadn't cleared, they told him they had no record of his order number.  He realized he had been scammed and was not too happy about it.  Sigh.  The worst part is that not only is out the value of the laptop, but he spent $77.00 to ship it!  Bummer.  Big Bummer.  All he can do now is file a police report, which he did, but none of us think anyone will ever see any money or the laptop again.

He actually was pretty calm about it.  He realized a few places he went wrong along the way.  He talked to ebay twice about it and both times they assured him the deal would be fine.  He never talked to paypal and if he had talked to them before shipping, he would have realized the account was phony.  I think ebay should have been clear that from THEIR end the deal looked okay, but encouraged him to talk to paypal about the money part.  I'm not very happy with ebay.  If they are going to staff customer service, why re-assure a first time seller if in fact he is at high risk for a scam.  Arghhhhh.  My instinct was that it was a scam because the ebay buyer was willing to pay more than the market price for the product.   As much as Eric wanted the computer to be worth that, it was probably only worth half that.  So, tough, tough lesson learned.  I don't think Eric is going to be doing a lot of high ticket items through ebay anytime in the future.  Sadly, when I talk to people about this, others have similar stories of scams.  One guy told of a $30,000 RV deal gone bad.  Yikes.  It's really a shame, because ebay and craig's lists are GREAT venues to sell unwanted stuff.  A few bad eggs spoil it for so many others.  Sigh.

As for me, I am doing just fine.  I was proud that I stayed out of it and let him do it himself.  I know maybe I could have prevented the loss by being ubber controlling mom and insisting on doing it for him, but he would have always felt that I cheated him out of the true value of the computer and wouldn't have learned this tough, touch lesson.  I've heard it said, let your kids make mistakes when the stakes aren't quite so high.  Who knows what valuable lesson Eric learned from this $550.00 deal that in later life will prevent an even greater financial error. A long time ago, Sarah made a very bad money decision regarding her clothing allowance and she learned at age 12 from that mistake.  Basically she spent her entire fall clothing allowance on a 2 piece bathing suit (in October) but she learned to budget her money better when her spring clothing allowance came out.  And yes, she enjoyed that bathing suit for many years, but how often can a 12 year old wear a bathing suit in New England.  Luckily for her she didn't out grow her 2 pairs of jeans that she had from the year before.   Lessons like that are hard to learn, but necessary.

Well, thanks for visiting my blog today and hearing our sad story.  Do you have an experience with your kids of letting them do things for themselves, even when it may result in mistakes?  How did it work out for you?

Monday, November 18, 2013

A new look to my blog

Hi friends,

I was inspired this weekend to update the look of my blog.  Do you like it?  I added a few new features like translate (in case any of you are from non-english speaking countries) and some extra ways to follow my blog.  I am way overdue to update my photos.  I hope to get some new photos taken over the holidays and my goal is to have the website updated by January 1st.  Let's see how I do.

So do you want to see the crafty goodness I was working on over the weekend?  Here you go.  As I mentioned yesterday I was BUSY making Christmas Cards on Saturday.

Here they all are and as you can see, there are similar.  All use Karen Giron's sketch from her sweet sunday sketch challenge (details about this on yesterdays post.)

The first card using a Denami stamp.

 This next card is made with Taylored Expressions Woodland Winter.
 This next one also uses Taylored Expressions Woodland Winter only this time with the tree and owl image.
 Next up is a card made with Taylored Expressions Baby It's Cold Outside Santa image.
 And below is also Taylored Expressions Baby it's cold outside christmas tree image.
So that's it for my creations.  Which is your favorite?  Thanks so much for visiting my blog and let me know what you think of my changes!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Christmas cards

Hi friends,

Today is my first post with Christmas cards.  I know, I am sooo late this year.  I was able to head into the craft room for most of the afternoon yesterday.  At first I was stumped: So many option, which direction should I go?  So I started with the idea to make 'the kids'  cards.  Now 'the kids' in our family are age 16-24, so they are youthful cards but not too cutesy.

I was in search of a sketch and found Karen Giron's, sweet Sunday sketch and got busy.  I actually made several cards using this sketch and over the next days/weeks, I will post them here but for now I'll share one of my favorite creations from yesterday.

This is a great sketch and Karen is showcasing many beautiful creations on her blog.

Karen's blog

Below is a view of the sketch.... get used to this because I made LOTS of cards using this template.

Oh and if you are wondering how Joey the invalid dog is doing, he is doing just fine. He clearly doesn't understand the doctors instructions about bed rest.  Yesterday while I was crafting on the 3rd floor I hear a sound in the stairwell.  Sure enough, he had broken through the make-shift barrier and hiked his injured self up the three flights of stairs.  He looked pretty uncomfortable once he got there and to ensure he gets the rest he needs,  we went to Target and got a secure baby gate to restrict him more completely.  He seems to have gained his mobility back for sure, now we just have to restrict him to ensure he heals.

Thanks for visiting, have a great day.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Sending Prayers

Hi friends,

Today I have a card to share with you for a friend who is hurting.  A woman I've worked with for over 15 years is on leave because her husband is very ill with cancer. Hospice has been brought in and they are trying to keep him comfortable but it doesn't seem like he's got a lot more time.

I have been praying for her and her family and wanted to send a card to let her know I care, so I had seen a beautiful card by Lori Tecler and decided to use her sympathy card as my inspiration.

Here is what I came up with.

I'll get this off in the mail tomorrow and hopefully it will encourage here.

While I was working on this card today I was also taking care of my invalid old dog Joey.  My dear doggie Joey is getting old.  He's 14 now and he gets around pretty good, but not the same as the old days.   Last night I was at a church meeting and didn't get home till 9:30pm.  When I arrived Bob had told me that Joey had eaten dinner and gone up to the second floor to bed and hadn't been around all evening.   After a bit, we heard him get up and start down the stairs.  Kaploohy.  He came rumble, tumble down the wooden steps and laid on the landing looking quite miserable.  It didn't seem like he banged himself up all that much on the way down, but he couldn't get up from the stair landing.  So I picked him up, carried him to the couch and tried to comfort him.  I carried him upstairs to bed when we went up and this morning was disappointed to see that he couldn't lift himself up from his bed.  So I carried him downstairs, carried him to the lawn and watched him very lightly put a slight amount of weight on his hind legs to do his #1 and #2.  I carried him in, laid him in front of his food and he lay on the floor with his head lifted and ate his dog food.

He went into the vet this morning and they prescribed bedrest for 2 weeks with pain medication and anti-inflamatory medication to ease the swelling and pain in his hind quarters.  They offered to do an X-ray if I wanted but didn't insist on it so I opted for the bedrest and pain pills to see how he responds.  the fact that he could stand and walk for short periods of time was a good sign.

So Joey is now the king of the house.  I put his bed in front of the fireplace, brought him some food and medicine throughout the day and gave him love and attention.  The medication makes him sleepy so he hasn't been too disappointed about spending the day in bed.  It was kind of eye opening that he's not as young as he was.  We are all hoping he makes a full recovery but we are not especially optimistic that he'll be climbing up the 3 flights of stairs and jumping on the bed again.

Here he is getting his pill with peanut butter on a lovely ceramic dish....
 And here he is in front of the warm fire, in his cozy bed relaxing and healing.
I'll keep you updated on his progress.  Thanks so much for visiting my blog today.  I hope to hit the craft room this weekend and get going on some christmas cards.  Stop back by next week to see some of my creations.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Demani Blog Hop - Twine!

Good morning friends!

How are you on this fine November morning?  Here in New England it is COLD, but sunny!  Snow is coming this week and it feels like it.

Are you here for the DeNami Blog Hop?  Welcome.  You should have arrived from Greta Hess's blog -

I'm so glad you stopped by.  My card below features two cute chickies: Hula girl and soccer chickie.  This card is for my niece Hannah, who turns 12 years old today!  She is a fashionista AND a jock.  I had fun putting pink and bling on my touch of twine card.

As I write this post I am enjoying the yummy smells of home-made chex mix.  Want to see?  Is your mouth watering yet?  I love chex mix and always make it for fall/winter parties.  I don't like store bought, always make it 'from scratch' and never use the microwave instructions.  I made a double batch for the party today.   I'm hoping their are left-overs!
Enjoy your day and don't forget to leave a comment to be eligible for the DeNami prizes. 

Next stop of the blog hop is: Lisa Petrella

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Taylored Expression Fall Fun Card & getting ready for our house warming party...

Hi friends,

We have had a beautiful October here in New England.  We've had mostly sunny days with cool temperatures in the mornings and evenings and warm sunshine during the afternoon.  This past week it got close to freezing but my flowers are still alive so we have yet to have a killing frost yet.

So I've been inspired to keep using my Taylored Expressions stamp set 'Bushel and Peck' to make cards reflective of the fall beauty.

I wanted to create a clean and simple image where the pumpkins were sitting inside a pile of leaves so I used a masking technique to achieve this.  It's so easy.  I stamped the pumpkin image on the cream card stock, then stamped the pumpkin image again on a post it note pad.  Then I cut the edges of the pumpkin image from the post it note and adhered it (temporarily) on top of the cream cardstock over the pumpkin image.  Then I stamped the leaves right on top of the post it image, removed the post it image and voila, a clean line of pumpkins sitting in fallen leaves.

This will another one of the designs for our November party.

And we've been busy getting ready for the party.  I'm hesitating to call it a house warming party, mostly because I don't want anyone to feel obligated to bring a gift and also because we moved in in July and we are only having people over in November.  But regardless of what we call it, it will be party to welcome family and friends to visit with us in our new home.

I wanted to wait to have the party until we had finished the bulk of our initial decorating projects.  I don't think anyone would ever be invited over if I waited for all the decorating projects to be completed.

Last week was big in finishing things up.  First, the roman shades arrived and they look beautiful. Second, Bob hung up the new light fixture, shelves and hanging vases in the master bedroom and third our painter came Saturday to paint the living room.  Now that the paint is done, Bob can hang the window treatments and that is pretty much the last 'initial' decorating project I wanted to finish.

Do you stress about paint colors?  I sure do.  In my last house I hired a decorator and completely trusted their advise on which colors to use, but I didn't want to incur the expense here so I used a combination of Pinterest, Houzz, paint chips and opinions of friends to choose the color.  We finally agreed to go with Benjamin Moore Great Plains Gold #1077.  I am really happy with the results.  We originally were considering Alexandria Beige HC-77 but after careful consideration chose to go with the slightly lighter, slightly warmer tones of the great plains gold color.
Benjamin Moore Great Plains Gold 1077
Want to see it on the walls?  Of course you do.

Below is a picture with the old color.  Can you see the difference?  The old color was a very light gray.  It's very pretty and looked fine in the room, but now that I look at the new color I love how it's a little more dramatic of a difference between the white trim and I love how it complements the wood in the floors and furniture.
I'll post more 'before' and 'after' shots after the window treatments go up.  I'm excited to see how it looks when it's all done.  Now if only I could find the perfect picture to go on the wall in the dining area.  Bob and I both want a pretty floral (maybe sunflowers or poppies) but have yet to find one that is 'just right' so we'll hold out.  It may take us years to find it, but I'm sure we'll know 'it's the one' when we find it.  We saw an artist this summer who had several gorgeous oils of sunflowers but we hadn't moved in yet and had no idea what art we would want so we didn't buy it.  Maybe we'll go back to that festival next summer.  You are probably wondering 'well, did you get her card.'  Sigh.  Yes, I did, but somehow in the craziness of the move, I can't find it.  I'm sure it will be fine to have a patch of wall with no picture for quite a while.  It will be fun to poke our heads into home-goods and art galleries periodically to see if they have one we like or go to the festival next summer and find our sunflower artist then.

Thanks so much for visiting my blog today.  Have a great day and Go Patriots! Go Sox!

Monday, October 21, 2013

My dear husbands birthday card

Hi friends,

My husband has a birthday coming up so I decided to play along with Karen Giron's Sweet Sunday Sketch challenge to make his card.

I love this Taylored Expressions stamp set and matched it up with some fun green patterned paper.

Thanks for visiting my blog today.  Have a great day.