Saturday, February 27, 2010

Keeping It Simple Saturday

A simple solution I learned this week:

Organizing dirty clothes as you go makes laundry SO MUCH EASIER! 

Earlier in the week, I read an interesting blog post which gave tips on easing into a laundry routine.  I made a trip to Wal-Mart and bought a few extra laundry baskets.  So, for the rest of the week, clothes were immediately sorted as they were taken off into their own little "color" basket.  All I have to do now is grab one basket a day, throw it in the wash first thing in the morning, and put it away at night.  I've been doing this for a few days now and I gotta say, wow...  This was a small but beneficial adjustment for me and my ever-growing loathe load of laundry.

Have a great weekend and keep it simple!

I'd love to hear more simple solutions or tricks that you've discovered for making housework a little more bearable.  Please email me your thoughts or comment below.  Your advice will be used in future blog posts with your permission.

Friday, February 26, 2010

"Frame-It Friday"

Our week expressed in photos...







 No sleep or smiles...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Good Thing, Bad Time

Man, I missed something really special today. I intentionally set aside the morning to go out with my little girl so we could spend quality time with each other. She and I haven't been getting along too well lately. Mommy and Daddy have been working really hard, trying to begin a new business from the ground up.  Even though she can't put her feelings into words, we can see her frustration.  The weather has consistently been too cold to burn much energy off outdoors.  The gloom of winter has taken a toll on the four of us, especially on her.  

So, the two of us headed out for breakfast and shopping early this morning.  As we pulled out of our driveway, I did something that has become second nature for me.  I grabbed my BlackBerry and made a call.  Now, that in itself isn't a terrible thing.  But before I realized it, our trip was over and I had missed it.  The two of us were together, yes.  But mentally and emotionally I was completely absent.  

That first call led to another phone call, to reading and returning several emails, to a few more calls, to following friends on Twitter and Facebook, etc.  You get the picture.  A good and useful tool has invaded my life in a negative way....

My mother/daughter date turned out to be a huge wake up call for me.  And I answered.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

He was a keeper!

So, to follow up with yesterday's post... yes, my sweet husband wrote that song for me when he was living in California.  The waves heard at the end of the recording are the actual sounds from the beach at Santa Monica.  He recorded the song on a cd and had it mailed to me at work.  I was working as a music teacher at the time. So at the end of a particularly hectic day, I found a box sitting outside my classroom door.  Inside it held two small beautiful glass bottles-- one filled with water, the other with sand.  There was a handwritten note, asking me to sit down and listen to the disc.  And then for the first time I heard the "silent waves."  That happened on Tuesday afternoon, February 8, 2005.  And the rest of that week is sweet history.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Silent Waves

Because so many of you enjoyed my Valentine's post, I thought I'd share another gem of mine... 

Just another Tuesday morning without the sunlight to greet her opening eyes
She obeys the routine of a predictable day, knowing Truth will carry her if she tries
The day continues on the road to work... turn left, change lanes, park here, walk there
Two thousand miles is what she sees approaching that stack of papers in her chair.

So she remembers her dream of a distant place where the land gently caresses the sea
Although the waves crash and majestically break, they fold before her now silently.

All day the sand slips through the glass, an eternity for each grain that falls
She dreads the treading of the stagnant water that awaits her in the halls
Forcing herself to endure the rhythm of the distant beating of her heart
All that carries her now is a silent thought that has awaited her from the start

So she remembers her dream of the silent waves where the sun no longer hides
And although it is quiet as she sits on the shore, she can feel the waves inside

There is only one thing in a never-ending day that can pull her through the gloom and the haze
A belief in hope of the beautiful scene where soon she'll hear the waves.

P.S.  Alec will DIE when he finds out I posted this... Will explain later. ; )  

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A New Journey in 40 Days

This past Wednesday, I decided to dig into an area of religion that I normally shy away from.  I’ve heard people use the word “Lent” my entire life.  Most of them were Catholic, Methodist or something similar.  I never really knew what they were talking about and honestly never thought too much about it.  I just knew that my traditional Southern Baptist roots didn’t include this ritual.

Then for some reason, it hit me differently this year.  I wanted to know about it.  What it is, why it’s celebrated, and what the purpose is behind it.

In a nutshell, this is what my mind has gleaned:

Factually, Lent is a 40-day period before Easter, beginning on Ash Wednesday and ending on the day before Easter Sunday.  In case you've never noticed, the number forty was a big deal in the Bible.  Whether it was 40 days, weeks, or years, it was always a necessary season of struggle, unrest, wandering, and growth before something amazing occurred.  I relate this closely with both pregnancies with my children... Forty weeks of sickness, aches, fatigue, and struggle; yet, something miraculous was created and birthed from those incredibly tough months.

Symbolically, Lent is more than just a time of fasting and discipline.  It’s a season of reflecting, searching, and repenting.  We spiritually imitate Jesus’ withdrawal into the wilderness for forty days, and use the same tactics modeled by Him-- prayer and fasting.

So what does Lent look like for me?

Even though, as far as I know, the Bible doesn’t mention anything specific about the custom of Lent, it does speak of fasting, mourning, repentance, and the like. I have committed to observing this season, identifying myself with Christ in His wilderness journey.  I need these 40 days to wrestle, learn, dig, grow... and especially to refocus on my relationship with my Savior.

It’s my fourth day into this journey, and I’m already thankful I chose to walk this path.  My specific fast from desserts and sugary treats/drinks is proving to be a much-needed challenge.  I look forward to what will be birthed through this forty-day season of retreating and reflecting.

What does Lent look like for you?  Do you celebrate this custom?  Why or why not?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

On a Day Like Today

 It's been a trying "winter" for our family.  
Yet, our chins are up and our hearts are strong.  
Winter has a purpose and we don't want to miss it.  
On a day like today, even though the temperature is 
still cold and the wind is brisk, we bundle up.  
We head outside to feel the warm sunshine on our faces.  
 I then think to myself, "Be patient... spring is coming."


For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 NLT

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Five years ago today...

On December 29, 2004, my darling husband and I met for the very first time.  We were working on staff that post-Christmas week for a Terra Nova Student Conference in Nashville.  You could pretty much say it was a "he'd never like me/she'd never give me the time of day" love at first sight.  The two of us were smitten almost instantly.  Yet, there was a tiny complication to the relationship that was quickly evolving... Even though born and raised in Music City, Alec was pursuing a film career in Los Angeles, California, at that time.  He flew back to LA less than a week after we met.

Even though there were thousands of miles between us, Alec and I continued to pursue our relationship daily via phone and email.  We didn't know if/when we'd see each other again...

Then, low and behold, a dear family at my church came up to me one Sunday night that January and offered me access to any and all of their frequent flyer miles.  Yep.  That meant I could fly to California any time I wanted.  OMG!

My first trip was booked and a few short weeks later, I was on a jet plane headed to the City of Angels.

Needless to say, the trip was more wonderful than I could have ever imagined... I had found the man of my dreams and nothing could keep us apart ever again!  Oh wait... except for that whole we-live-and-work-a-whole-country-apart thing.  Hmmm. 

So, the weekend finally ended and on February 13th, with giant alligator tears running- no, GUSHING- down my face, I got back on a plane to fly home to Nashville.  My Mr. Right was staying in California and I would spend another Valentine's Day sulking alone.  To make matters worse, my 2 hour layover in Denver turned into a 24 hour camp out in the airport terminal. For a 26 year old single girl, I had arrived at my pinnacle of hell.  Woe, woe, woe was me.

When I finally arrived at my Nashville apartment on Valentine’s morning, there was a delivery guy standing at my door with a large bouquet of gorgeous roses.  I could feel the corners of my mouth stretching out into a big, goofy grin.  I grabbed the vase and went inside to call Alec.  But as I was standing there admiring the flowers, I began to count each rose.  One, two, three, four........ nine, ten and eleven.....  Eleven?  Seriously?  Tell me this guy isn’t too cheap to pay for a full dozen roses on Valentine’s Day!!  GEEZ!

At this point, I hadn’t even bothered to read the small card that was attached from the sender.  Finally I took it off and began to read.  There wasn’t a name anywhere... just a riddle.  It instructed me to be dressed and ready at 4:00 pm sharp, because a limo would be picking me up for a hunt to find the twelfth rose. 

That night, I journeyed all over Nashville hunting for the missing flower.  The hunt took me to several familiar places that were significant in our first few days together:

Carrabba’s in Green Hills

Wildhorse Saloon on 2nd Ave

 and a Starbucks kiosk in Opry Mills Mall. 

At each stop, my instructions were to find an employee and say, “Hey, I’m Carmen!”  And they knew every time what to do.  They’d hand me another piece of paper on which was written the next clue of the hunt.

The final destination of my quest took me to the beautiful Gaylord Opryland Hotel.

The message card from the Starbucks barista had a map drawn on it, letting me know the location of the last rose.  My job at that point was simply to hunt it down.  Although a little bit confused, I followed the map as best I could down the halls of the hotel (it’s a BIG place).  The route eventually took me into the Garden Conservatory, to this little gorgeous nook:

There, at the rocks of the waterfall, was not only Rose #12, but holding it was my Mr. Right.  (Insert loud round of the Hallelujah Chorus here.) It was the best Valentine's Day a girl could ever ask for.  

Today, five years and two children later, he's still the man of my dreams.  Happy Valentine's Day to my dear husband and best friend, Alec.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Too good not to share!

I've found a new love in the culinary world-  goat cheese.  I seriously used to despise the stuff, along with many other foods.  But the older I've gotten, it seems like my taste buds have reincarnated themselves to appreciate a plethora of tastes.

I now crave goat cheese on everything... crackers, pizza, even scrambled eggs. (Thank you for that one, Ina Garten!)  But my favorite combination that I can't seem to get enough of lately is the following: goat cheese, bacon, sun-dried tomato, and basil.   YUMMMMM!  And from that combo was born these little bundles of heaven-in-my-mouth:



Basically, you just take a can of crescents and roll them out.  Then fill each one with those fabulous four ingredients:
cooked bacon
pieces of sun-dried tomatoes soaked in extra virgin olive oil 
chopped fresh basil
goat cheese

Roll the crescents up and bake for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees.  They are FANTASTIC!  You've just got to try them.

After you've tasted the deliciousness, I'd love for you to leave me a comment about what you thought.  Plus, I need help naming these things... Thoughts?

Happy eating and hurry back! 

Friday, February 12, 2010

Did you know?

Incredibly RANDOM facts about a certain mushy-gushy day that's quickly approaching:

*It's estimated that ONE BILLION valentine cards are sent each year, according to the Greeting Card Association.  That makes Valentine's Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year, with Christmas being the first.  (I can't ever remember actually sending a valentine card to someone in the mail...  )

*Can you guess who receives the most Valentine's Day cards each year???  TEACHERS... followed by children, mothers, wives, then "sweethearts."

*Children between ages 6 to 10 exchange more than 650 million Valentine's cards. (Wow... those tiny cards are making somebody out there very rich!)

*Approximately 85 percent of all "valentines" are purchased by women.

*About 3% of pet owners will give Valentine's Day gifts to their pets. (Seriously??!)

*A loooooong, long time ago, some people used to believe that if a woman saw a robin flying overhead on Valentine's Day, it meant she would marry a sailor.  If she saw a sparrow, she would marry a poor man and be very happy.  If she saw a goldfinch, she would marry a millionaire.  (I apparently never laid eyes on a goldfinch.)

*Supposedly eight billion candy hearts were made in 2009... enough to stretch from Rome, Italy, to Valentine, Arizona, and back again 20 times.  (If they tasted a bit better, maybe there would be even more made.  Hmmmm.)


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Love/Hate Relationship

Everyday I find myself checking up on all 400 of my “friends” on a website you just might have heard of...  Yes, the most used social network in the world is an addiction of mine.  But here’s the deal-- it’s a relationship that I hate to love and one that I especially LOVE to hate. 

Yes, there are great things about a network like this one.  Literally, if you have an account on Facebook and our paths crossed for 5 seconds at some point in our lives, then the site will “suggest” we be friends.  Because of this freaky unique feature, I am connected to people across the country and world who I otherwise would never talk to or see. 

I also find it valuable that I can get a message to hundreds of people all at once.  Much easier than email, in my opinion.  Facebook has also become a “home base,” if you will, for many businesses and bloggers.  Lots of products, posts, and events are launched through the site without spending a penny.  That’s free advertising, yo! 

Let’s face it, though.  There are soooo many annoying issues with Facebook.  The biggest one for me is that, in a nutshell, it’s a big bowl of narcissism.  If you’ve been a member for more than a minute, then you’ve participated in the “look at me” party.  Yet some really take it to the extreme... for instance, there are more than a few of my “friends” who post, post, and post some more about what THEY are doing; yet, under most circumstances, will never ever reply to anyone who leaves them a comment or remark on another person’s status update.  Narcissism at its very best.

And we certainly can’t forget all the needless exciting personal updates about who “became a Prolific Planter” in Farm Life or a do-or-die request to join the “I Bet the South Can Get 1,000,000 Fans Before the North” group.  I mean, what did we all do or worry about before this, dear “friends?”

My final grievance which sent me into a fury to write this post today... the constant layout changes.  Hey Zuckerberg... have you ever heard the phrase, “If it ain’t broke, DON’T FIX IT!” 

Alas, I will keep logging in and mingling with my Facebook world, despite my on-again/off-again relationship with it.  But watch out... sometimes simple is just better.  Right, Twitter?!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Where is God? by Dr. John Townsend

How many times have you asked the question, “Where is God?”  Throughout my personal experience, really difficult times cause my heart to ponder this mystery.  In his latest book, Dr. John Townsend takes a stab at giving us an actual answer to this often-asked question.

In Where is God, Dr. Townsend presents to the doubting soul his understanding of what the Bible teaches about God and suffering.  I commend him for tackling a difficult topic with wisdom and honesty.  The message is very meaty and tough, yet beneficial and sound at its core. 

Where is God gets 3.5 out of 5 stars from me... The book tends to get a bit wordy and definitely isn’t one to pick up for a casual read.  I feel as if the content may be a bit heavy for readers who are in the midst of an incredible life storm. 

If you’re wanting a new or fresh look at suffering and why God allows it, then go ahead and pick up this book.

Happy Reading!

This book was provided to me at no cost by Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their Book Review Bloggers program. I was not required to provide a positive review, only an honest one. The viewpoints expressed in this review are my own.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

For my fellow readers...

One of my favorite things to do is read.  Considering I have two munchkins running around the house these days, it's really hard to find quality (if any) time to read.  As crazy as it sounds, I absolutely love reading non-fiction books.  Once in a while I'll stray from my norm and blaze through a popular Nicholas Sparks work, or something similar.  But my literary desires are most satisfied when my nose is buried in a bestseller that's going to offer me new advice that I've never considered.

Since we started BluEyEdea Media recently, I've been racking up on books about business, money, self-employment and the like.  Often I find myself frustrated because there are more titles on my reading list than my free time allows.  When I do have a brief moment to read a few pages, I feel unfocused and rushed.  I've been thinking that I need to develop a new system, not of what I read, but of the WAY I read. 

Earlier this evening, I was glancing through all the new posts in my Google Reader and stumbled upon this blog post by Michael Hyatt- How to Read a Non-Fiction Book.  These pointers gave me a new reading plan with fresh focus and direction.

I hope many of you find Mr. Hyatt's ten reading practices helpful, as well.  I would love to hear your feedback once you try them.