Thursday, December 31, 2009

Get your game on

So here's our daughter after singing the National Anthem (with her school choir) at the Cleveland Caviliers pro basketball game last night. (Our seats were in the nosebleed section so these shots are from our old camera with the big zoom.) We also have pictures of Shaq and LeBron James!

Flanking the choir were both basketball teams. "Giants" is how our daughter described the players. During timeouts and half-time, a dozen police officers stationed themselves at various places on the court to protect the players. (This surprised, saddened, and fascinated me.)

Our good friends (orange shirts) had seats directly across from us -- too far to find them without the zoom, but easy with it. Angela and I texted throughout the game (which resembled a circus atmosphere with all the loud music, jumbo-tron games, and fire shooting out from the ceiling. Yep. Real fire. Towards the end of the game, my husband was rolling with laughter when he caught sight of me with my fingers in my ears).

Proud mama and the singer (and random happy boy).
Hey, Ruth -- that's my "Beautiful Life" necklace peeking out from behind my vest!

Lastly, I made a wonderful gentleman employee laugh himself silly when he realized the cotton candy I was desperate to find was for ME and not my kids. He was so suprised, his eyes got huge and he high-fived me. When I finally found the pink fluffs of heaven, I bumped into him again and held it up so he could see it. He grinned and told me he knew I'd find it because I had "a determined look" on my face. I love when God intersects our lives with fun people!

Be safe this eve, peeps. One of the reasons 2009 rocked was because of new blogging friends. And at odd times I find myself praying for you, being inspired by you, and smiling thinking about you!
I am grateful for your unique presence in my life.

See you on the flipside in 2010.
(I think "flipside" is trucker language from the days my parents had a CB radio.)
by the way...our trip to Cleveland is a hint to my WORD for the year (instead of resolutions).
Go ahead, guess!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


I bought our family a new game for Christmas. The Settlers of Catan! Rave reviews from all over the world-wide web!

My family groaned. "Is this a school game?" they asked. My husband reminded me we're not really game people...or when we are, we like roll-the-dice-and-move kind of games.

We were more like Nomads Around Catan!...wandering aimlessly while our fearless leader tried to decipher the directions in this strange, new land.

At one point our daughter held up her cell phone and declared "we've got a signal in Catan!"

Turns out that Catan is one intimidating place.

Notice someone spelled out HELP with their game pieces... and I just noticed there's a Bible on the table. We certainly needed divine intervention.

Our leader. Who donned a doo-rag and a walking stick when I announced we would be playing Settlers of Catan! (His get-up didn't help us one bit.)

After about 20 minutes of trying to settle the new land, we gave our daughter cash to go buy us all ice cream.

I'm glad we didn't settle Catan. Because our new game "Laughing Nomads of Catan" was way more fun.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Bird Paparazzi

I'm playing with my new camera.
And Picasa.
I had to start shooting birds since my kids are getting tired of my paparazzi antics.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Trashman Cometh

Avert your gaze from the tree on its side, the tubs brought up from the basement, the magical lights unplugged.

It's the day after. Time for clutter-free and clear. Simple and snappy. Resting places about the house for the eye. Breathing space. (A minature kitchen tree fell down 2 days ago and it took everything I had not to banish it to the basement right then and there.)

Goodbye Christmas 2009. You were as meaningful as always. Truly.

Time to apologize to the neighbors who hate to look out their front windows today...because their eyes can't help but see our much loved evergreen laying helplessly at the curb. (We've cared for it since Thanksgiving weekend, for heaven's sake!)

I'm sorry it has to be like this. Every year.

But I need my sanity. I need clean, crisp and bright in our home to battle the grays of all the days ahead. No more dark reds and greens. In with the creams and whites!

Bows in their boxes and memories tucked away in my heart. And when I see tulips at the grocery store, they're going in my cart, lickety split!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

All is Calm

google image

Merry, merry Christmas to you, my friends!

And thank you, God, for Christmas.

I switched on my computer this morning and Microsoft Windows flashed the date, implicitly acknowledging what the Gospels and the history book both affirm: whatever you may believe about it, the birth of Jesus was so important that it split history into two parts. Everything that has ever happened on this planet falls into a category of before Christ or after Christ.

In the cold, in the dark, among the wrinkled hills of Bethlehem, God who knows no before or after entered time and space. One who knows no boundaries at all took them on: the shocking confines of a baby's skin, the ominous restraints of mortality. "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation," an apostle would later say; "he is before all things, and in him all things hold together." But the few eyewitnesses on Christmas night saw none of that. They saw an infant struggling to work never-before-used lungs.

-- Philip Yancy, Finding God in Unexpected Places

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Time In Between

*please slip over to the right (and down) to turn off my music before playing

You were there when your Father said,
Let there be light.
You obeyed when He whispered,
Son, You have to leave tonight
to spend nine months in a mothers womb;
Three days in a borrowed tomb.

But it's the time in between,
That brings me to my knees,
Knowing You came for me,
And all that I can be.
I'm amazed... so amazed...
And I thank You for the time in between.

Don't take much for this crazy world
To rob me of my peace.
And the enemy of my soul
Says You're holding out on me.
So I stand here lifting empty hands,
For You to fill me up again.

But it's the time in between,
That I fall down to my knees,
Waiting on what You'll bring,
and the things that I can't see.
I know my song's incomplete...
Still, I'll sing in the time in between.

So many ways...
Your love has saved the day.
And I'm grateful for them all.

But it's the time in between
The middle of two thieves
That says everything.
It's the reason I believe.
I'm amazed, so amazed.
And I thank You for the time in between.
Oh, Lord,
I thank You for the time in between.

In Jesus, something new happened: God became one of the planet's creatures, an event unparalleled, unheard-of, unique in the fullest sense of the word...because of Jesus we need never question God's desire for intimacy. Does God really want close contact with us? Jesus gave up Heaven for it. In person he reestablished the original link between God and human beings, between seen and unseen worlds. Philip Yancey, Grace Notes

Sunday, December 20, 2009


My friend Angela thought it would be fun to have a Progressive Dinner. None of us had ever done one, but last night was so fun we've decided it will be an annual Christmas tradition.

We provided dessert...ta-da!

We had no lights on other than
Christmas lights and candles, so when you walked into our home it was pretty magical looking.

I stood on a step so I could wrap my arms around Steve.
At 6'5 and 5"4 I rarely get to do that.
Great food, beautifully decorated homes, kids talking and horsing around, laughter, and new Christmas memories.
A perfect December evening.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Of Friends and Tokens

So, I thought I would try out my new camera (a Canon Rebel T1i) on some loverly, perfection-in-a-box Christmas gifts I have received from two dear friends. I know this season is not about presents, but the thoughtfulness and beauty behind these gifts just make me smile from ear to ear.

Pool balls from Mary Beth. Little did she know I had them in my cart TWICE at Marshalls and put them back!

Paper Whites nestled in river pebbles nestled in distressed bird vase.

Be still my beating heart. As my new friendship with Julie blossoms and blooms this Christmas, so will the Paper Whites!


Mary Beth was thinking of me months ago when she picked up this 1934 copy of Sister Sally at a tag sale.

Speechless. Stunned. Blessed!

Whhhhaaaaaaaaaaaaaat? An Anthro dish towel from Julie. I want to WEAR it!

Angel ornament given to me by my very first & bestest friend, my Mom.

"Blessed are they who have the gift of making friends, for it is one of God's best gifts. It involves many things, but above all, the power of going out of one's self, and appreciating whatever is noble and loving in another.” -Thomas Huges

*The angel ornament was a gift from my parents' landlord the first year they were married. Too poor to afford a tree or ornaments, their landlady snuck into their apartment while they were at work and placed a tiny tree on their kitchen table. She proceeded to decorate the piney gift with beautiful ornaments. You can imagine their surprise and delight when they returned home from a long day at work to find...Christmas!

Friday, December 11, 2009


In my study stands this beauty.

An old set of post office boxes.

Yellowed slips of paper with faded names line the open-ended rows on the other side.

I used to sort mail into those slots as a young girl.

And as I gaze at them today I remember....

Mr. Overby, whose grandparents were real slaves.

Mr. Pierson who brought me back orange gumballs from Florida every year.

Betty, who stuck grey Teaberry gum into her mouth to mimic teeth. (And who we had to remind not to steal when she came through the line..."Betty, you need to pay for that ham inside your coat.")

Tex, the town bum whose hands shook so badly we had to help him steady his change. Putting our hands into his...steady now, it's alright...I've got it.

Rich, poor, white, black, young, old.

The Grocer and his Wife treated them all with dignity and respect.

As the Grocer's Daughter, I never thought about the legacy being built by my parents with each passing gallon of milk, loaf of bread, or (almost stolen) ham.

But when I walk by my post office boxes, I am reminded.

Don't judge.

Don't try to save.

With love in your heart, simply serve.

May it be so with me.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

We've Got a Rebel In Our Hands

We've got a rebel in our family.

I picked up my husband at lunch and we headed to the camera store, careful not to tilt our heads in case all the research and information we've gathered would slide right out of our noggins.

Since we got home, I've only had time to read a little (these camera books need a little more action...zzzzzzz) and snap a picture of these beautiful bottles.

So until I can take some more pictures...

Go here and here (and here) for incredible photography while you wait.

And here for amazing photographs of little ones!

Thanks Carissa, Patty, and Irene for all your help.

And my generous husband for thinking I would like a new camera...I love it!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Given to Hospitality

typewriter greeting to my in-laws and their friends last night who came here for a preconcert, fireside dinner

If I speak about entertaining, but my house stays dark, I am only trying to sound good for others. If I have the gift of hospitality, but keep it hidden, I miss out on the plans that God created me to carry out when He equipped me with those gifts.

If I cut out wonderful recipes and buy beautiful tableware, but never cook for others or set a beautiful table, it profitith me nothing.

If I say that “faith, family, and friends” are the 3 most important things in life, but I don’t live it, I set a poor example for those closest to me. Actions speak louder than words.

But, if I open my home and my hearth and beckon people come in!...I imitate the welcoming nature of God. If I stand at the stove and mix and stir to nourish stomachs, I imitate the true nourisher of souls who never tires of feeding us.*

So as I clean from last night's feast...

...and begin preparations for family company tomorrow (the kind who live so close you never invite them over!)...

...and recall fondly inviting someone over to simple lunch on the spur of the moment earlier this week...

I remember how good it feels to open my home and shower people with love.

When we use our gifts (whatever they are!),

it makes the Gift-giver grin.

And when the King smiles, there is life; His favor refreshes like a spring rain. (Proverbs 16:15)

*a play on words...1 Corinthians 13

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

True Love Is...

photo: Country Living

...lifting the large, fully decorated, light-laden, full-of-water, Christmas tree out of its current container and maneuvering it into the antique zinc tub because your wife didn't get the idea from her Country Living magazine until after everything was completely done.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


Yes, that's what you do! You inspire me to focus in on everyday life and see the beauty that surrounds me.

You've taught me that even utilitarian objects, like these saws hanging on an old mailpost, are a thing of beauty

Yoo-hoo! You, over there! I thought of you when I snapped this Santa sign. The contrast between the old barn door and the red sign is lovely, don't you think?

And you (yes, you) have taught me to take pictures of my children in totally new ways. "Say cheese" shots are fine, but you have taught me that everyday life without the "cheese" can be breathtaking!

You inspire me at every turn...

And whoaaaaaa! We're turning into a brand new week already.

Who is that coming around the bend?

Why, it's sweet December. Just on time!

May we focus on all the simple beauty she brings with her...

...and add to the beauty ourselves, too.

Life isn't perfect.

But it's beautiful.

(And I'm ever-so-grateful for the focus lessons.)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Grateful Heart

Dad & Me, 1965

Strong, wonderful, compassionate, wise, hysterically funny, handsome, never-meets-a-stranger, giving.

Heart of Gold.

Last week his golden heart was opened by surgeons and he is now home recuperating.

I get to travel south to love on him in the coming days.

I am thankful God saw to it to keep him around here a while longer.

(And thankful that if he would have passed through this life, we would be reunited one day in a "mansion just over the hill" the greatest Thanksgiving table there will ever be!)

My heart overflows with all my blessings today.

But mostly I thank the Blessing Giver.

My heart bursts its banks, spilling beauty and goodness. I pour it out in a poem to the king, shaping the river into words. Psalm 45:1, The Message

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

New Steps

tundra bridge, AK 2005
Ever walk a bridge not knowing where it ends up?

We're about to step onto one!

Do you hear my knees knocking? See me sweating?

Sense God grinning from ear to ear?

Oh boy! He's sTreTchiNg me...growing me...teaching me to be uncomfortable. (Oh, how I love comfort).

We have spent a good chunk of time these past 5 summers in a small fishing village in Alaska. We sing, dance, play basektball, run around, giggle, haul water, love, share, walk, eat, hug, cry, encourage, chat, smile, work.

A mission from God has turned out to be our family's home-away-from home. We feel comfortable, secure, safe.

We've got a rhythm going!

But we've gotten another assignment! We didn't ask for it! This mama likes comfort! (Have I said that already?)

We're going to a NEW village before the other one!

We don't know a soul.

[Lamaze breathing...hee-hee-haaaaaaaw]

Man, just when I'm feeling like I kinda, sorta, maybe know where this bridge is going, I've been given additional marching orders...on a brand new bridge.

God can be kinda pushy!

But wait! What's that I see on the bridge?

It's HIM! He's holding out His big, strong hand waiting for me to take my first step to join Him.

Well, that changes everything.

Wait for me! I'm cominnnnnnng!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Tree Grows...

Step 1: find a container to hold the tree branch from your (nice) neighbor's yard. Put some rocks in the bottom and stick in your branch.

Step 2: Print off vintage backgrounds, get your stamps out and go to town. Use double-sided tape to attach the labels to your container. (I did this Thanksgiving Tree for my husband's birthday).

Step 3: print off all kinds of fun images from the computer (I love vintage), attach to cardstock and write or stamp until your thankful heart is so full it's bursting. Invite your kids to make thankful cards, too.

Step 4: attach pretty ribbons, twine or string to the cards (I used tape, ribbons, and my petite European stapler).

Step 5: Start hanging. (Make sure the tree is where you want it before hanging--mine is kind of huge and could poke an eye out while moving it about).

Step 6: Got a bird's nest? Put some twine and other fluff in there and maybe a little birdy. Set it between some branches. I also hung some brick-brack on mine, like a little silver trophy.

Wa-la! A Thanksgiving Tree!

I think I could grow a Thanksgiving Forest this year.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Giggle pOps!

A Nebraskan aunt sent home some farm corn with my husband a few weeks ago.

"Put it in the microwave and make popcorn."

Really? said the city slickers.

Guess what? Really!

Our popping corn cob tickled our funny bones!

Kind of like when we used to do something funny to make our babies laugh, and just when their belly laugh was dying down, we'd do the funny thing again...and the giggles would start all over.

With each pOp, we'd laugh our silly little heads off.

[Who are those crazy people watching their microwave?!...that little kid almost fell off the counter he's laughing so hard!]

The simple truly is a gift...just like the song says it is!

Here's to some surprise pOps in your week.

And the giggles that are sure to follow!

Thursday, November 12, 2009


If you've been visiting this here blog very long, you know that I love all things pretty, that I spend more moo-la on home dressing than on human dressing, that I love God, and that I cherish my friends.

So what happens when all those things collide in one moment?

Tears! That's what.

I couldn't tell my friend Julie that it wasn't totally her house that was making me weep (although it is incredible). (After all, it is just a house as Julie says. But it is absolutely my kind of house and land!) . If I had told her the big reason behind my tears, I would have started with the jaggedy sobs!

The tender way God loves me makes me weep.

You see, through those big iron gates and down that beautiful lane, and inside that amazing house sat two beautiful friends that God recently just plunked right down into my heart. He knew we were kindred spirits and has been busy aligning schedules and desires so that we could finally meet through a women's ministry at our church this fall.

So this morning, I was simply joy-filled listening to her sing on the car cd player, traveling country roads on a sunny day, and knowing I would be spending a few hours with Christine and Julie.

That was enough!

On this sunny day.

But God put a cherry on my sundae-kind-of-morning.

And gave me all that plus a breathtaking backdrop that he knew would truly delight me.

Just because He loves to love on the ones He loves with the things and people we love.

And He loves each of us, don't you know, in His own special and personal ways.

I'm still smiling. Here in my own beautiful home, with beautiful people.

Some days there's so much love it has to spill out.

I guess that's one reason God gave us tears.

Amen. Amen. And Amen.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Sunny Day at Julie's

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Early Birds

My name is Cathy. And I love bird accessories.

Not just any bird accessory (they are everywhere now, aren't they?)

I just love the happy ones. The sweet ones!

I am always looking overhead for new bird friends to bring home.

I look up high on the tippy top shelf.

Oh hello, friends! Aren't you sweet!

Come here, I want to see you closer!

Oh, my! Don't be afraid...these are squeals of delight!

Are those cherry blossoms you're perched upon? Those remind me of my life long ago near Washington, DC when I used to watch the cherry blossom petals dance down, down, down onto water's stage.

How much to take you home to live with me?
Would you like that?

Let me look at your cage...

Quick! Into the cart you go before someone realizes this is much too low a price for such rare beauties!

I'll be gentle...(your family is heavy!) You represented them so well perched up high by yourself, you brave little birdie.

...they are all beautiful, too!

I was going to wrap you up until Christmas morn.

But you are too sweet and wonderful and cheery to hide!

You even sing a pretty song with my favorite Anthropologie apron.

Simple joy, you bring.

My early-bird Christmas friends.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Kitchen Nemesis

(exhibit A)

nem-e-sis: something that a person cannot conquer

(see exhibit A)

behold the bermuda triangle of our kitchen...

the dark and scary underworld...

the place of no return...

my nemesis.

Want the blender? Grab a flashlight, hunch down, contort your back, reach around, cut your finger on something sharp, find the utensil you couldn't locate last week, listen to your kids who always want to ask you something when your head's in the bermuda triangle, use your worst "cuss words" (crap! is my personal favorite*), sit down on the floor because your legs are cramping...

and pick another recipe that doesn't call for a blender.

Behold, the Greek Island of Peace! (no longer the Bermuda Triangle) -- also known as the

Baking Station

Nemesis gone.

(For now)

Do you have a house nemesis?

*I have boatloads of bad habits but cussing hasn't been one (yet).

Thursday, November 5, 2009

i wOuld liKe to ThanK mY DELL

I would like to, first of all, thank my Dell.

I'm practicing my acceptance speech for the award I won from Mrs. Dunbar of Living Intentionally! To say that I am tickled pink to win my very first award is an understatement! Thank you, my sweet friend!!!

In honor of this award, I get to share some things about me. I had planned to include some cool pics, but this post will never get published if I do, so here goes.


One of God's greatest, most undeserved blessings in my life is my husband. "Let him walk into a room and everyone in it seems to breathe a little sigh of relief." (line borrowed from "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society", it's about a man named Dawsey, but it fits my husband, too!)

I am reading "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" (still!) and it is, so far, one of the most delightful books I've ever read.
One of my favorite people to be with is our 16 year old daughter.

My favorite time of day is right now (ok, 12 hours ago at this point). Early morning. First cup of hot coffee (cream and sugar) in my hand. House quiet.

For the first 30 years of my life, I could eat anything I wanted and not gain an ounce. I can easily camoflauge 10 extra pounds but I decided (again) it was time to join Weight Watchers and take it off. I started (again) walking/running on the dreadmill. At first I was really crabby about the whole thing, but now I feel great about living healthier. I will probably repeat this process for the rest of my days.

Our kids are fun. We laugh together a lot. And I mean a lot.

Sometimes being a parent is really, really, really hard. Growing pains sometimes hurt the parents most. We parent first and hope to be wonderful friends with our adult children someday.

My Dad had a heart scare in September. I want him to live forever (or at least until I die of old age and he can die of really old age). He remarried after my mom died, and I cherish the few times that he confides that he misses my mom. It's so helpful to miss together.

I like to shop. And shop. And then shop some more. Usually alone.

We had to put our dear dog down last year at the ripe old age of 17.
Our new dog is a LEMON.

If you asked my kids "what one thing does your mom always say?" they would answer "wash your hands!" (even before H1N1) . Our daughter just walked in and said "we would say that your favorite thing to say is 'no'". Interesting.

Jesus is everything to me, but I can be a horribly pathetic disciple.

I would like to get Lasik surgery but I'm a chicken.

My heart sometimes lives in Alaska while my body lives here.
I never imagined I would make friends blogging.

Alright, Mrs. Dunbar says I must pass this award on to two other deserving bloggers, so I am passing it on to...

Carissa (The Brown Eyed Fox) who inspires me to be a better me through her uplifting words. You can tell Carissa is just plain fun to be around. Her blog is beautiful and so is her spirit. And if Carissa lived closer, I would pay her to come decorate my house (and we could go shopping and out to lunch afterwards). She doesn't blog much at all about decorating, but she is my favorite decorator in all of blogdom.

The other deserving blogger is Patty at Blessed Moon. Patty is a wordsmith and her creativity never ceases to amaze me! And her Patty is real and loving and energetic. She is a treasured friend -- in the unconventional and blessed way that we bloggers become friends! If Patty would just move closer to me, I wouldn't have to work so hard at living healthy because she would be my friendly trainer.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Goodbye October

Oh, October, how I love thee!

When you come along, I love to bake my favorite autumn cookie..."pumpkin cookie with cinnamon glaze"...oh, my!

How I love the warm colors God dresses you with!

I love the windy, smoky sound of the air when it carries your voice.

The only flaw that you have, sweet October, is Halloween. Well, some folks love you for that, but not me. I forgive you. After all, everyone has a few skeltons in their closets.

This Halloween, I decided we would make something zAnY for the school party...

They're CUPCAKES! (way!) Recipe from Hello Cupcake (those are chocolates on top with grated white chocolate "cheese") . The 5th graders ate them up...figuratively and literally).

Speaking of 5th's my favorite one. He loves you, too, October.

And 45 Octobers ago, God sent me to my parents (and my sister...and my husband to his parents...yes, all on the SAME October day!)

So in celebration of my birth day, I bought these amazing cowgirl boots with birthday dollars from my ever-so-gracious in-laws. They're Luccese, and I've wanted them for quite a few Octobers.

And guess who else owns them?

Yep, Pioneer Woman! I received her incredible cookbook in the mail yesterday and it looks wonderful. I think she loves October, too, because look at those October colors she used on her book! (If you have never read Ree's blog, hurry and do so now!)

Oh, rich October. I hate to see you go. Thank you falling away a little bit at a time...

...leaving all your leafy clothes for November to catch!

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