Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Holiday Photo Wrap-Up!

Just a few last holiday photos to close out this wonderful holiday season. I'm looking forward to a great, life-changing, prosperous, and fun New Year!

 Since Abby came into our lives, I put away my BIG Christmas Tree and use this "skinny" Primitive Tree. To better corral her energy and curiosity, we moved hubby's computer desk to the corner of the living room where the bigger tree always went. I use a smaller space on the opposite side of the room for my Primitive tree. I like it a lot though. Not only does the decorating go quicker now, but it seems to suit my 'simple life' that I'm trying achieve. The country/primitive quote "Live Simply" is something I want to do more of. You think more about the REAL important things in life. :)

 I love this little letter tube. The end comes off so you can put Letters to Santa in there with all of your Christmas Wishes. I won this about 3 years ago at an office Christmas party playing the Dirty Santa Ornament game. It was stolen a few times before I ended up with it.

Below is another close-up of the tree. It's not real clear but the clear glass ornament holds burgundy and cream berry garland pieces that go with some other primitive accents in the room.

I hung several rusty metal Snowman Stars in the berry garland over the cut-out window between the living room and kitchen. 

I love this tree skirt with the snowman family on it! It matches everything else perfectly and Blessings are just what I wish for all of my family. 

Before Santa showed up and left everyone's gifts (below) this was the daily scene beneath our tree.
My cat, Beanie watched the activity of the room from this spot, along with his buddy... a knitted snowman I received from a co-worker in a few years ago.

Our family began a new tradition last year with the Dirty Santa Ornament game, stealing our favorite ornaments from others around the room. My older sister, Bev decided to wear her winning ornament 'earrings'. 

Two Tony's... Two Crosses.
My dad (Tony Sr.) and older brother, Tony (Jr.) both ended up with matching ornaments in the game.

 Abby and I at mom's house for the family gathering on Sunday, December 26th.

Always the comedian. My son, Adam making a face for the camera. 

My nephew, Joey. 

My other older brother, Danny. He was sick for the family gathering but still managed to look good and pull off a great smile in spite of himself. :)

Two of my beautiful nieces (I have 4). Nicole and Samantha.

That wraps up my holiday photos. I have tons more but just chose few highlights to share. I'm trying to enjoy my school break and spend more time on fun things and family time, before school starts back in mid-January. I have been hopping around trying to catch up on my blog reading and see what is going on in blogland during my down time.

I hope you all had a WONDERFUL Christmas! And I hope the New Year brings you many wonderful blessings and much happiness! :)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Two Tickets To The Christmas Ball

I have a fun and cute Christmas story to share with you.

This is a fun book and a quick read. It has a little bit of everything all wrapped up in one... some romance, a Christmas story - that touches on the reason for the season, a little bit of fantasy - the Wizard's Christmas Ball, and a little bit of family dynamics.

Cora is estranged from her family and their never-ending drama. She enjoys her life apart from them and the sanity it provides her. Simon is her boss and has placed himself as caretaker of his family... his child-like sister, Sandy and his mother. This story brings Cora and Simon together in a most unusual way.

Thanks to a mysterious bookstore on a "hidden" street and some holiday matchmakers,  tickets to a secret Wizard's Christmas Ball bring Simon and Cora together... with the prodding of Simon's sister, Sandy.

The story is magical and gives you the fairytale ending we love, but not before facing the troubles with relationships that we all face. Cora's troubled sister returns and threatens to destroy her sister's life in order to satisfy her selfish desires. With love and understanding, Cora and Simon reach out to her, much to Cora's resistance. Cora finds a fun and loving new family that gives this Princess her happily ever after.

If you love laughter, romance and a message of love and forgiveness, then you will love this magical novella by Donita K. Paul.

Thank you to Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for my review.

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas...

One busy part of my life is almost behind me ~ Fall Semester college classes. I have just one more week, two more tests and it's done! I am SO thankful that neither my Psychology nor my Business Math instructors are requiring Final Exams. WOW! That's a first!

Another busy part is just beginning ~ Christmas!! I LOVE Christmas though, it's my favorite holiday. So the busy that comes with it is much more welcoming. :) I have been working on a few Christmas projects around my house and I'll share those with you in the days ahead.

I've been working on my Christmas cards. I am making two designs this year. I will post some photos later this week of the designs.

I spent Sunday getting my tree up, decorated and other areas of the living room decorated as well. Here is one area, the wall to the left of the tree. My wooden plate shelf with stockings hanging below and these adorable metal signs I found at CWI. The plate shelf and Christmas wooden plates came from Guhl's Country Store in Jackson, Ohio. 

My wooden plate shelf with stockings hanging below and these adorable metal signs I found at CWI. The plate shelf and Christmas wooden plates came from Guhl's Country Store in Jackson, Ohio. 

Below are some close-ups of the wooden Christmas plates.

I'll share some other areas I've decorated as well as my skinny "pencil" tree I am using this year (and the reason for that) in the next few days. How is Christmas starting to look around your house? :)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Thanksgiving Memories

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving Dinner at my mother's house on Saturday, two days after Thanksgiving. We spent Thanksgiving Day with my husband's sister and her family in Ohio then my family gathered at mom's the Saturday after. My sweet mother voluntarily gave up the "official" holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas years ago when we started acquiring in-laws. It was more important to her to have ALL her children and grandchildren together than empty seats because some were with another part of the family. And because my family is all close, we wouldn't have it any other way! I've been working today on some Christmas decorating around my house but before I share those photos with you in a couple of days, I wanted to share a photo slideshow of my family from Thanksgiving. The only one not present is my sister-in-law, Amber who was busy using my camera taking pictures of everyone there. 

Thank you, Amber for catching these memories for me. I love you!

Here is the rest of my family that I am very thankful for!

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Bring on the Cards!

I LOVE cards!... making them, buying them, giving them. And what better time of the year than Christmas!

Getting Christmas cards ready and sent out kicks off the holiday season for me. I always have a hard time picking out just the right card. I have spent as much time and effort on this as I have picking out gifts for family. 

Shutterfly is helping me out this year! There are so many to choose from and I've lost count of the times I've looked through these. First I have to see them all. Then I have to go back through again, making notes of the very best ones, my favorites. I finally get it narrowed down to a few that really stand out to me. 

Here are just a few of of my favorites Christmas Cards...

It's not going to be an easy decision since there are so many great cards to choose from... hundreds in fact! This just means I have to keep coming back until I get to use all of my favorite designs! :)

Shutterfly also has some great gifts for giving this Christmas. Their calendars are great for office and home.

The possibilities are endless with their beautiful canvas art, wall decals, mugs and more. 

Wall Decals
Tiled MugsCanvas Wall Art 

There is something for everyone on your list at Shutterfly. And right now they are offering 50 FREE Christmas cards to Bloggers! How could I not blab blog about this great offer?!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Mama's 2010 Wishlist with Gamestop

Mama’s Holiday Wish List Meme
TodaysMama and GameStop are giving away a sleighful of gifts this holiday season and to enter I’m sharing this meme with you.
1. What is your holiday wish for your family?I just was us all to be together and happy and healthy! The holiday isn't complete if everyone isn't together.
2. What is your Christmas morning tradition?
We don't really have the typical "Christmas morning" thing. We plan OUR Christmas morning when everyone is available so  no one is missing (see answer to #1). So this year it is on Sunday, Dec 26th.
3. If you could ask Santa for one, completely decadent wish for yourself, what would it be?
I want to be my "ideal" weight. That's all I'd wish for myself. :)
4. How do you make the holidays special without spending any money?
By making Christmas cards for family and close friends. I also like to makes goodies to give away as gifts.
5. What games did you play with your family growing up?
Monopoly, Yahtzee, and a variety of card games. 
6. What holiday tradition have you carried on from your own childhood?
Just "family". We don't have Christmas til everyone is together at mom & dad's house.
7. Where would you go for a Christmas-away-from-home trip?
The "where" isn't as important as the "who" (refer back to #1 again). But if it were possible to take all my family with me... I'd love a trip to the mountains somewhere. I'd choose a LARGE log home in the mountains... Tennessee or Colorado maybe. What can I say, I'm a country girl at heart. :)
8. Check out GameStop (link to: http://bit.ly/gamestop10) and tell us, what are the three top items on your GameStop Wish List this year?
The World of Warcraft-Cataclysm game set for my two guys.
* A Nintendo Wii for my mama.
* And lastly I'd get a gift card for my son so spend there. It's one of his favorite places to shop. :)

What are you wishing for this year? Join in and link up to enter! :)

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Sunday, November 14, 2010

My Sunday Evening

Not a lot of excitement around our house lately. That's okay though. I won't complain. It will be busy and crazy soon and will last from Thanksgiving to New Year's. I'm working to keep up with school work and trying to do a little purging and organization around the house too. 

Today has been a day of laundry and cleaning and finally removing a few pages here and there from my magazine collecion to save for later... a recipe, a decorating or craft idea, or a healthy living article I want to refer back to. After removing some pages, just a few, I threw out STACKS of some great magazines. I think now I probably should have donated them somewhere but I'll keep that in mind for the next purge. I LOVE my magazines and these are just a few that I like to read regularly...

I like a variety of magazines and this isn't all of them. Nothing exciting, I know. But the give me ideas and inspiration for making some scrumptious goodies and help me to decorate, organize and make my home more inviting. And besides, I have to get rid of a stack of these to make room for the next stack as they arrive in the mailbox. :)

So now that my chores are done for today, it's time to relax and enjoy the evening in preparation for a BUSY work week! So after a "pool party" (that's what Abby knows a bath by lol) I will be watching the following shows and no doubt reading/doing Business Math homework during commercials...

The Next Iron Chef ~ Food Network @ 9pm

The Walking Dead ~ AMC @ 10pm

and an encore presentation of:

Sarah Palin's Alaska ~ TLC @ 11pm
since the first showing is @ pm and The Next Iron Chef competition is almost over and I HAVE to watch that... and I have always wanted to visit Alaska, what a beautiful state. So I will let Sarah show me her Alaska. :)

Hope you have had a great weekend. What did you do today? :)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Abby turns 2!

If you've read much of anything here you know I have a spoiled rotten an adorable little chihuahua, Abby (her daddy calls her Katie Ann). Abby turned 2 years old earlier this month. She got a few birthday toys... a sweater for the coming winter and a matching blanket and rabbit, whom we call Spot. See why... 

This is probably the cutest of all her toys... in my opinion. :)

Here are all her birthday gifts... the blank and matching rabbit... along with the matching pink and black sweater. Those two pink hearts on the sweater are on two cute little pockets. I suppose I can tuck little treats into those for snacking away from home. :)

Don't let her size fool you though. She may be tiny but all 6 pounds of her is FEARLESS!
Here is a cute little video clip of how she taunts our 15 pound house cat, Beanie.
It's really short, less than a minute. And it shows how she gets attention after she gets bored with  her toys. She's no dummy... at least she backs into him to protect her face lol.

This video was actually from about 8 months ago but she hasn't changed a bit, her looks or her actions. :)
She can be as demanding as any toddler can be but just like I felt with my son... I can't imagine life without her.

My schoolwork is paying off. I hate that it takes so much of my time and keeps me away from blogland more than I want to be :(  but it's paying off. I received my mid-term grades last week and have an A- in both Psychology and Business Math. I am looking forward to be DONE with school after Spring Semester is over. I still read all my great blog rolls regularly but to get to my homework and study time I don't comment on near all that I'd like to. I'm still here though, peaking in on you often. ;)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

After The Last Tear Falls

I was introduced to a great new singer/songwriter this evening. Have you ever heard of Andrew Peterson? Well I hadn't. My aunt Sharon shared a video on Facebook. The song was a wonderful tribute to marriage... all the ups and downs but the wonderful joys that make it all worth it. The song is Dancing In The Minefields. You know me, "the big sap"... I got a little teary-eyed as usual.

Why is it that every time I click on a link that takes me to YouTube that I find myself seeing what else is there by a particular artist, comedian, etc.? So I searched to see what else I could find by Andrew. You need to check him out too. He has a beautifully gifted voice and I'm so glad to have found out about him... Thanks to Sharon and Eric for introducing me to him. :)

One of the videos I found of Andrew's is "After The Last Tear Falls". Yes, again I cried. It reminded me of this passage... 

You keep track of all my sorrows
You have collected all my tears in your bottle
You have recorded each one in your book
~Psalms 56:8 (NLT)

The tears you and I shed are not ignored. God sees every one... those in public or in private. He shares our sorrows. Have you fought with a friend or loved one? Lost someone you love? Maybe things aren't going well at your job... or you have a child who breaks your heart when you see them making all the wrong decisions. You are not alone. God sees your tears and records each one. He sees your hurt. And He's standing there, ready to wipe them away, hold you and to love you. His Love is always there waiting for you to accept and to heal your heart.

I hope you will watch this video and take comfort in His abiding love that is there after the tears.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Pass the Tissues!

I'm a big cry baby! Not only do I cry on sad and sappy-happy movies... I have been known to cry on a few commercials too. You know the ones. It's usually around the holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Someone is coming home that's been away. You barely notice the real sales pitch at the end. Here is one I found recently.

So anyway... I was focused this weekend on getting a lot done on my school work. I took two Business Math chapter exams yesterday with my proctor at the library. It went well. I was on a time limit of 70 minutes per exam. I completed BOTH exams in an hour. 

Today, after some domestic duties... cleaning the living room, kitchen and doing two loads of laundry... I settled in to work on some Psychology assignments. I finished about a third of the new chapter for the week - on developmental psychology - and watch 8 videos assigned to go along with the chapter.

It was a PBS link actually... video series on "Life's Greatest Miracle" (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/miracle/program.html). I saved the link to my favorites titled "Where Babies Come From". Why you ask? If you are a parent, you have no doubt heard that question asked... and find yourself dumbfound on how to explain it. Granted this set of videos isn't for a pre-schooler but does explain the scientific aspect of it all to a pre-teen who can understand it and take it all in. I just wanted to have the link handy in case I'm ever asked that in the future. :)

The videos cover from conception or egg fertilization through birth... the stages, changes, growth, etc. Very well done and even at age 42 I managed to learn a thing or two. :)
At the very end, when the couple they followed through the video gave birth... I CRIED! Can you believe it? Sitting here on the couch, doing a Pshychology assignment... I got all teary-eyed. The video series is correctly named because bringing new life into the world truly IS Life's Greatest Miracle.

Now I can't wait to watch an up coming movie on the list for my Psychology class, called  "Charly" The YouTube clip is almost 9 minutes long but if you're a sucker for a sappy movie, and I enjoy them as much as a good comedy, then you'll enjoy the time spent watching the clip. If you're not interested, then don't click on the video. But feel free to leave a comment. =)

Anybody else out there a sap like me? 

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Friday, September 10, 2010

Renewing Friendships!

It's been a busy, rushed, hectic week but came to a perfect end. I worked an hour over yesterday and used that time today for an extended lunch break with a wonderful high school friend! I've seen Teresa here and there since graduating high school... in 1986! But not near enough! You know how it goes... great friends through high school, then after graduation it's college and/or working, marriage, kids and life gets busier and busier with each year that passes. 

It was so good to spend time with her. We got to catch up on each other as well as what our families are up to. Funny we found even more in common with family dynamics than I ever thought before! But it was like time stood still all these years. 

The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart.  ~Elisabeth Foley

Teresa and I decided today at lunch that we should make this a new habit... lunch together at least once a week. There were supposed to be three of us but our friend Tammy couldn't make it. I haven't seen Tammy at all since graduating high school. So we're going for lunch again next Friday and I'm hoping to have a group photo of us to post then.

In less in exciting news... 

  • I'm back in school. (Have I mentioned that yet? I'm getting so forgetful!) Two interesting classes, Psychology and Business Math.
  • I'm 3 weeks into a 6-week schedule (3Xweek) of physical therapy for back pain. I'm not sure I'm going to finish the last 3 weeks though. Life is so busy! I'm not feeling worse, but in all honesty I'm not feeling better for it either. Not to mention the scheduling issues coming up now trying to juggle work, school, and the 'home life' too (i.e. cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc.) Three days a week leaving work early to go to PT, then pile on errands on the way home to get a quick dinner through then schoolwork. I'm getting tired just thinking about it! :)
  • Work is crazy busy too and the holiday on Monday left me a day short getting the work done that keeps pouring in. 
So tonight I'm hoping to sleep good. Tomorrow I'm looking forward to a relaxing afternoon at a friend's house for a short bit then taking my mom to a Stampin' Up! Card Party.

What is your weekend looking like? =)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

End of Summer, Reunions and Rehab

It has been a busy, busy week for me! I have had to family reunions in the last week, started outpatient physical therapy, had a Scentsy party and attended a 31 party. Oh... and school starts back in session tomorrow for me. I need a vacation!

Last weekend was our Lyons Family Reunion. It was a great turnout and a huge auction success! Here are a couple of photos of our "clan". 

A collection of my Granny Lyons (pictured here) children and their spouses.

I think a few got away from us but this was the most of the crowd at the reunion . It was great to see some faces that I hadn't got to see there for a few years!

I had another reunion yesterday in Chillicothe, Ohio. This was the Bell Family (my mother's side). I was running late and forgot my camera when I left the house but there were several people taking pictures and I'm waiting to get some of those in my inbox to share with you.

I started outpatient physical therapy last week for my back. I have issues just gradually getting worse over time and I need to try to improve things and avoid surgery later down the road. I had a fall on icy steps in 2003 that left some parting gifts of damage for me. Combine that with Degenerative Disc Disease and a little bit of arthritis setting in and I have some rough days sometimes. So 3 visits a week for 6 weeks and they say they can have me moving and bending in ways I can't now. Can't wait to see the pull that off. I have a great friend who is a wonderful physical therapist but I can't work it out to see him. :( John is the best! His office is about a 30 minute drive away but since I have to leave from work and get straight to therapy, I can't get to John's that many days a week with at least a 45 minute drive from my office. :( Stinks having to "settle" for second best (but still good therapy though).

I can tell it's the end of summer. My college classes resume tomorrow. This semester is Business Math and Psychology. I'm excited to get started again but I'm sure in a few short weeks I'll be counting the days for my short fall break again, as usual. :)
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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Getting To Know You Sunday

I attended and awesome family reunion yesterday. I'm working on getting my pictures ready and will post them tomorrow. I really enjoyed spending time with family I hadn't seen in a few years and really enjoy being around. Now it time for Getting To Know You Sunday with Keely @ MannLand5 

The questions this week are: 

1. If you could host a Reality TV show, which one would it be?
It would probably be a cooking or home makeover show. I really like the Bachelor/Bachelorette shows but I love the ideas I get from the HGTV and Food Network reality shows.

2. Do you put your seatbelt on before or after you start the car?
Sometimes before, sometimes after... but I never put it in gear and hit the road without it on!

3. Shave or hair removal cream?
Shave. I have the smell of the hair removal creams and honestly shaving is faster. I don't wanna stand there and wait to take the cream off. And it doesn't stay on good in a shower while I'm tending to other body parts. So no hair removal creams for me!

4. What's your favorite feature in a house?
I enjoy relaxing in the living room on a comfy couch but I also like a big, roomy kitchen to work in and have room for a few people at a time to work, mingle and visit all at the same time. I don't have a kitchen like that :( but it's something I love.

5. What is your favorite "Fall" scent?
It has to be the pumpkin & spice scents. They of course make me think of all the wonderful smells that associate with fall.

6. What tv show are you looking forward to seeing the most this Fall??
I honestly don't have anything I'm waiting to watch. I always have something I look forward to seeing most anytime but nothing comes to mind that I am "waiting" to watch this Fall. I guess since I start back to school Aug 30th and I know that between working full time, domestic duties and school, I won't have a lot of time anyway, I haven't gotten myself hyped up for anything in particular. I'll just see what's on and good to watch when I do find the time.

7. Personal Shopper or Personal Chef?
I have to echo my friend Stephanie on this one. I'll take the Personal Chef! I really wanna be a GREAT cook, but until I am, I'll handle the shopping and choose a Personal Chef. That way someone else is making those great meals I see on TV while teaching me along the way. =)

8. What is the first word that comes to mind when you think of "Fall"?
I look forward to the fall decorating and activities that go along with that time of year... hayrides, bonfires, etc. The crisp cool air - certainly more inviting than the humid, muggy evenings of summer.

It's your turn now. Go ink up @ Keely's place and play along!