Monday, August 26, 2013

All Things Puffy

With Labor Day just around the corner, I wanted to share a couple of ideas with you for your par-tays.  I titled this post "All Things Puffy" because, well, it's about puffy things like marshmallows and balloons.

Let's talk about marshmallows first.  Raise your hand if you like s'mores.

Yep, my hands were raised.  Both of them.

S'mores are amazing!  Gooey, puffy marshmallow goodness all mashed and melted together with warm chocolate, then smooshed between crunchy graham crackers.  Oh yeah!

At our middle monkey girl's teeny bopper birthday celebration,  we designed a simple "make your own s'mores" bar in lieu of a cake.

Here's what we did, and what you can do if you agree to accept this Marshmallow Mission.

Take a medium terra cotta planter base and insert two Sterno canisters.  Surround canisters with small river rocks or sand.  Add metal skewers and you have a mini campfire for your marshmallows.

We made sure that the girls had plenty of choices at the bar.  Vanilla, plain and mint-chocolate marshmallows, a variety of chocolate squares, sprinkles, fruit, etc.

You can customize those s'mores till the cows come home.  That's campfire talk.

The s'mores were a hit, but the floating alien orbs were the stars of the evening.  Check these bad boys out. 

We took 12 inch latex balloons and placed a activated glow stick inside each one.  Then, we blew up all 24 of them. My lips hurt real bad! (Name that movie.) Finally, we put them into the pool.

They looked like floating space aliens.  They made great bouncy balls for bopping back and forth.

You could totally rock these ideas at your Labor Day party or picnic.  Let me know how it goes!  Also, please feel free to share any other ideas.  I am all ears.



P.S. Warning!  Go easy on the the marshmallow consumption my friends, or they won't be the only things that are puffy in your life.  Trust me ;-).

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Something Beautiful - The First Look

Pete and I went to a very special wedding recently.  Our dear friends' son, who we have know since he was 10 year old, married his college sweetheart.  It was such a breathtaking ceremony, overlooking a shimmering lake at sunset.  Everything was golden and airy.  Quite romantic!

But what really took my breath away (and all the other guests' as well) was the groom's reaction when he saw his lovely bride coming down the aisle.  It was the sweetest, most moving response I have ever witnessed at a wedding. Truly touching...

 There were very few dry eyes in the room after that amazingly pure display of love.

After the tears, came a smile that seemed to compete with the sunlight streaming into the room.

See what I mean?

That was definitely something beautiful!

This made me think about our wedding, and I still remember the smile that Pete had on his face when the church doors opened and he saw me in my wedding dress. It makes me all gushy inside.

How about you friends?  Any "first look" stories to share?  This hopeless romantic would love to hear them.



Wednesday, August 21, 2013

From Uterus to University - This Ain't Your Mom's Dorm

We took our oldest monkey girl back to college last week. It was bittersweet.  We are so proud of her and our oldest monkey boy as they have embraced college with gratitude.  They are both have such a strong work ethic.  They understand that education is a privilege and they take it seriously. We love how they each invest in the lives’ of fellow students, especially the incoming freshmen.  They love to encourage these college newbies because they remember all too well what it was like to be a “freshy”.  As part of the resident life team on her campus, our oldest monkey girl is fully engaged right now in making the new girls in her dorm feel “at home”.  It is beautiful to watch her shine as she pours into the lives’ of others. You go monkeys!!!

Speaking of resident life, has anyone seen this article?  Apparently, the dorms of today are, ahem, a bit more posh than my funky college dorm.  I mean, gourmet kitchens and art galleries? Say whaaaat?  My college dorm was so old and funky that even if the walls could talk, they were too ancient to remember any stories. With carpeted halls straight from “The Shining” and an ancient claw foot tub in the middle of the bathroom, the freak out factor was high.  I hated studying in the study room late at night.  I was sure that any minute those creepy trike riding twins from “The Shining” would pop out from around a corner.  Oh, and the radiators creaked and groaned all. night. long in the winter.  No bueno!

Our daughter’s college is not quite a “Glampus” and her room is pretty conservative, but it light years beyond my college digs. It has all the basic creature comforts, no frills, and it’s clean (most of the time ;-) ). We sure enjoyed helping her decorate it a bit this past week  She and her roommate came up with a really cute “cafe” theme.  They want their room to be an inviting place for other girls to come and hang out.  

Of course, being the poor college girls that they are, they needed to keep a few things in mind: budget, budget, and oh, yeah, budget. I think that they totally nailed the cafe theme on a shoe string budget though.  Here are some of the fun ideas they incorporated into their room.  

They dreamed about having a coffee / tea / hot cocoa service area in their room, because nothing is more inviting than a late night cup of hot cocoa.  So, we went to IKEA and found a simple kitchen cart that can double as a table for two (or three if they really squeeze together).  They are on the hunt for some simple cheap or free stools.  The kitchen cart holds some inexpensive mugs, glasses, spoons and small glass IKEA jars full of teas, coffee, sugar, cocoa, plus an borrowed espresso maker complete with a hot water dispenser.  In my opinion, all college students should own an electric kettle for hot water.  It is great for coffee, tea, cocoa or instant morning oatmeal. 

The girls each are adding their own personal touches.  Whether it is homemade artwork or pictures of family and friends. As a little splurge, we found a very fun canvas at IKEA to add to the cafe theme.  It will easily transition to a kitchen wall in our daughter’s first home. I would even be willing to “keep it safe” for her on my kitchen wall until she is ready ;-).  Also, nothing sets a cafe ambience quite like twinkle lights. 

Add in some simple, washable bedding complete with a new comfy mattress pad and cuddle-worthy blanket, and you have a stylishly functional and fun dorm room.  Although, we don’t want it to be so fun that they forget to study.  They would never do that though...

A few other touches that would be nice for the college student are plants (air plants are great) for purifying the "dormy" air, an extra lamp or two for reading, and maybe some big, puffy bean bag chairs or oversized floor pillows for lounging on movie nights. 



Trying to Catch a Deluge in a Paper Cup

I have always loved the song, "Don't Dream It's Over" by Crowded House.  The title of this post is from a line in that song. The line (not the entire song) reminds me of the times in my life when the floodgates have completely opened after a long period of emotional drought. The resulting monsoon of feelings can be all consuming.  Like trying to catch a deluge in a paper cup.  That poor flimsy thing doesn't stand a chance.  That, my friends, is when you have to call in the big guns (or cups).

In Luke 22:42, Jesus is praying to God.  He is deeply troubled with the knowledge of what is about to happen to Him, as the time of His death is drawing near. It is fair to say that he is overcome with floods of emotion.  I wonder, is he terrified?, sad?, anxious?, all of the above? as He prays, "Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me.".  Jesus is obviously distressed.  The suffering for Him is inevitable.  It is a cup full to the brim and overflowing, and it's not some crappy paper contraption.  This is cup is the ultimate cup.  A cup poured out for me, you,  and all of humanity.  A cup full of the Living Water.

Here is the part of that verse that I really love as Jesus goes on to say, "Yet not my will, but yours be done." Jesus ultimately affirms that He trusts God with that cup, come what may.  God's will is done. Love poured out that day as Christ died.  Love came in a deluge of Living Water to wash over humanity.  Jesus suffered and died for us, washing us clean and paving the way to eternity.

As I struggle and, yes, even suffer in the messes of this life.  As the emotional floodgates open and nearly drown me.  I tend to see that "paper cup" and despair.  That cup can't hold it all.  That cup is too weak.  It's going to be destroyed.  I'm going to be washed away.  Then I remember Jesus, praying to God in that garden, fully aware of the suffering to come.  And God, fully capable of sparing Him the suffering. Yet, God's will was to spare me instead.  Me.  And you.

And though, I may (and have) suffered great loss and heartache in my life here on Earth, I know that this is my temporary home.  My real home is waiting for me, full of people that I love and that love me. My real home is with Jesus.  Though the sorrow may last for a night (or even a lifetime), joy comes in the morning.  I'm trading my sorrow, I'm trading my pain, I'm trading my sickness, I'm laying them down for the joy of the Lord.

One last thought, I love my life right here and now.  I am a very blessed wife, mother and child of God.  However, there is a bunch of junk from the past that I am sorting through.  It's a healthy process and I am glad for it.  That deluge of junk will not be poured out into a paper cup like it has been for years, because that does not work, but it will be given to God.  He is my comfort in times of trouble and He is mighty to save. His cup of love, grace and mercy is everlasting.

Wherever you are in your life right now, my prayer for you is that you will also trade any suffering for the joy of the Lord, and that the only paper cups in your life will be full of sweet tea at picnics. You know, the kind of sweet tea that you can stand a spoon up in? Is there any other kind really?

All of the photos above where taken on Governor's Island.  That island has a ton of history and it really intrigues me. 



Sunday, August 18, 2013

Full Steam Ahead

Whoa! August, you have come at us like a freight train! How is it that you are already half over? I guess time really does fly.  Especially when you:

1.  Get your college student settled back at school.

2.  Get your elementary student, middle school student and high school student settled back in school and start teaching.

3.  Celebrate one of your dear friend's son's weddings.

4.  Build a rocket ship.

5.  Celebrate your middle monkey girl's 13th birthday.

6.  Oh, and make homemade play dough.

This week, as time allows, I plan on posting about all these happenings and much more from our trip to NYC.  So stay tuned...because we are moving...






P.S.  The series of pictures above was taken in Central Park, in the most lovely clearing surrounded by giant trees.  Our monkey girls had a blast running downhill letting my scarves blow behind them in the breeze.  It was a rather chilly July afternoon in the city.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Harlem Shambles

One of the infinite number of reasons why we fell in love with Harlem (the area of NYC where we stayed for a month) was the presence of community. From the friendly and knowledgable local health food store owner to the animal care clinic with its sweet resident kitties, the sense of community was tangible.

One of our favorite neighborhood stops was the local butcher, Harlem Shambles. Hands down, this chop shop had the freshest meat in town. It was fun and convenient to pop in and order a couple of pounds of freshly ground beef for dinner. From butcher to table in under an hour is pretty nifty. Also, the staff is helpful and they wear old timey uniforms with hats to boot.  Oh, and their homemade Italian sausage is out of this world.

Little Monkey loved the butcher shop, even if he thought it smelled a little gamey.



Monday, August 5, 2013

Ripple Effect

Hi friends!  It's been awhile.  I have missed you. I've missed blogging and sharing.  There is so much more that I want to share about our time in NYC and I will soon.

The truth is, I have not been feeling very well for a long, long time and right now I am trying to regroup a bit.  I want to share more about that too, but for now I just want to encourage everyone who reads this blog to take good care of yourselves.  Be gentle with yourselves.  Listen to  your body.  If something doesn't feel right, don't be afraid to seek help.  We are so much more than our physical selves.  We have physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual needs.  All are interconnected.  If one part of "you" is suffering, all parts will be affected.  It's like a ripple effect.

So, I will talk to you again soon.  It may be tomorrow or next week, but I will be blogging.  It's one of my passions. Just for the record, I am going to be just fine.  I am on a really good track of getting to the bottom of what has been making me not feel good.

Little Monkey loved throwing stones in the lagoon at Central Park and watching the water ripple.  These pictures were taken in my absolute favorite part of Central Park called The Ramble (more on that later).



P.S.  I love this blog and I love you!