Friday, December 17, 2010

Aloha


{Aloha, paradise. Photo.}

I'm not fluent in any language other than English, so I will use the one word I do know that is another "language" if you will: Aloha. I hear it means both hello and/or goodbye, depending upon the situation.

So, Aloha. Just for a just a little bit. Not forever.

Have a Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

I'm Martha Stewart. Plus, an upcoming CSN Stores review!

Actually, that's a lie. I'm the opposite of Martha. But the upcoming review thing is true. See, here's the thing about me: I love home decor. I like painting, DIY-ing, re-doing and lots of other things that end in -ing. But liking something and being good at something are not the same. The part of my brain that likes pretty things and wants to make them rarely communicates with the part of my brain that is impatient and incapable. But I subscribe to Martha Stewart Living anyway, just to have a moment to pretend that I'm crafty and fabulous.

I truly realized my Martha status was lacking last night when the curtains I ordered arrived on my front porch. It was exciting. I tossed them into the dryer to get out the wrinkles, and then put them on the rods only to realize....one of them was at least 44 inches shorter than the rest. It's like the window is wearing a mullet. But, for the first time in my life here on planet Earth, it was not my fault. One more check in the Martha column.

But on to this review situation. I was recently contacted by the fine people at CSN Stores to do a review for their fine company. They are a Boston-based company with lots of fabulous products and numerous websites; 200+! They have cookware, they have bedding, they have purses and they even have TV Stand. There are some beautiful pieces on there too; I have my left eye on one of the corner stands in oak, which is currently on sale for just $375. Oh, and free shipping. Shut the front door.

Just the mere thought of a TV Stand makes me giggle though, considering the large slice of awfulness upon which my TV currently rests. It's a super hand-me-down from some relative who likely found it in a trash heap and/or rummage sale. Why is it so awful? Well, because it's made to look like it was fashioned from bamboo. Newsflash: it's not bamboo. But when your TV is the un-flattest television on the block, the stand upon which it sits can't be more fabulous than the TV itself. It's State Law. The other great part of having an awful TV is that you can enjoy the comforts of nearly every sporting event without having to worry about that darn score all the time. You know, because wide screen kicks it out beyond the reaches of your current, non-wide screen, TV and out of your view. I don't like sports, so it really only bothers one person at our house. Which is not me. Of course. Go Team!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

This blows


{Just hanging out in my awesome, well-lit attic, ya'll. Photo.}
 As 2010 quickly draws to a close, something important is about to take place: the super-fantastic 2010 IRS Federal Home Energy Tax credit expires. At our house, this equates to a mad dash to install insulation in our attic. You see, our house has a major attic situation happening which typically means it's really cold upstairs in the winter and what? That's right. It's hot upstairs in the summer. It's delightful, really.

But the thing about installing insulation yourself is that it requires you to spend extended amounts of time in the very worst part of your house: the attic. Have you ever visited the attic? It's not fun in there. It's dark. It's cold. There are random nails sticking out of things, waiting to give you typhoid. And if you come to our attic, there is rat poison, mouse droppings and dead mice carcasses. Oh and by the way, there's no standing! Only crouching and kneeling, please and thank you. And, in case that wasn't bad enough you have to always remember one very important thing: the floor of the attic isn't just the floor, it's the ceiling of the room below. Ergo, you can only walk on these things that people call "joists" that look suspiciously similar to thin beams of wood.

So, as we departed on our fantastic insulation voyage, we bought all sorts of wonderful things: there were batts and rolls of fiberglass and foam board and reflective sheets of things and my most beloved variety, blown-in. Installing this stuff was especially infuriating because of the printed material used to make installing said product appear to be an exciting, non-mouse poop filled experience. Seriously, these people do not look like they have ever had the joy of stepping foot in an attic, nor do I believe they are enjoying themselves. So why, for the love of all things holy, must they create brochures with these people, embracing in front of insulation?

{I love you. Also, I love insulation. Photo}
 That's from the Not Going to Call Them By Name Company, popular insulation maker and distributor. I want to talk to these people, who are embracing, smirking and loving one another, and ask them if they know how deceptive their embrace truly is, considering that I have no desire to embrace anyone (and I mean anyone) in front of insulation. Or, near insulation. Or, in the attic. Actually, it would be more realistic if they were wringing each other's neck because the insulation was causing such turmoil in their relationship.

Why's that? Well, because I had the distinct pleasure of knowing what it's like to assist my husband in blowing insulation into our attic last night. Allow me to be the first to inform you that it only took a few seconds of this task for me to realize that if I am ever banished to fiery bowels of Hell, this will be my job for all eternity. Not that I think I'm going to Hell, I'm just anticipating this incredibly unpleasant task as my 'special project' until forever. My dear husband took his post in the bowels of our attic, while I had the pleasure of hanging out in the garage. With the garage door open. With below zero wind chills. Also, with the door to our home open for the large tube that carried insulation into the attic.

It's sooo easy, the package said with a stupid cartoon woman loading bushels of insulation into the hopper with an awful smirk on her face. "Look! That's you!" said my husband. "And that would be me!" he said about the idiot cartoon man in the cartoon attic, cheerily blowing dust particles everywhere. Just because you describe something excitedly does not make it exciting, mmkay? Especially when 20 bushels of "non-itch-super-recycled-good-for-the-planet-isn't-this-so-super-great" insulation that weigh at least 15 pounds each must be cut open violently, hoisted above my head and loaded into a hopper with rotating teeth inside. {More on that later.}

So, with my mask on my face and glasses on my eyes, I went to work. I cut open packages and didn't do the same to my hand! I loaded bushel after bushel, even though I couldn't feel my fingers! I blinked, even though the dust was coating my eyelashes! In the end, after I couldn't breathe or feel my hands, it was over. To which my dust-covered eyes revealed the truth: I did not enjoy the experience.

"Home improvement project! Together! Isn't it great?" he asked, arms spread for a dusty embrace.

I didn't respond.

To which he said, "You know, you did just as good of a job as my dad. Plus, you're better looking!"

True story.

He encouraged me to load the remaining particles and let the blower run for a few minutes. To which I decided it was a good idea to shove a broom handle into the machine to get out the remaining particles. Despite the warning stickers, naturally. The machine successfully turned the broom into a pretzel. I love pretzels. Oh, and Maple Nut Goodies. Which I received as payment for a job well done.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Thursday Thought: He Maketh No Mistake



He Maketh No Mistake

My Father’s way may twist and turn,
My heart may throb and ache,
But in my soul I’m glad to know,
He maketh no mistake.

My cherished plans may go astray,
My hopes may fade away,
But I’ll trust my Lord to lead
For He doth know the way.

Tho’ night be dark, and it may seem
That day will never break,
I’ll pin my faith, my all in Him,
He maketh no mistake.

There’s so much now I cannot see,
My eyesight’s far too dim;
But come what may, I’ll simply trust
And leave it all to Him.

For by and by the mist will lift
And plain it all He’ll make,
Through all the way, tho’ dark to me
He made not one mistake.

by A.M. Overton

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Our weakness is no stranger


Do you have a favorite Christmas song? I do. I know it's my favorite Christmas song because it always (yes, always) makes me cry. It is the most touching, beautiful song I have ever heard. I typically spend the entire month of December waiting to hear it. The fact that I always cry over a song makes my husband giggle when he realizes that I'm not crying about something sad, I'm crying because something is so wonderful.

But this song always gets me; there's just something about it that has always spoken to me since I was a child. I remember sitting in Midnight Mass at church, waiting for the choir to start singing "my" song. I loved that the choir sang "my" song in my favorite childhood movie, Home Alone. I can't say that I necessarily know all the words by heart, but after looking up the lyrics to post them below, it makes me fall in love with its beauty all over again.

December is a funny time, really. It's dark, cold, snowy and very hectic. We buy gifts, reflect on the year and sometimes, find quiet moments to reflect on the blessings and joy in our lives. That's what Christmas is all about. That and listening to this beautiful song. It's about that, too.


O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,

It is the night of the dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!


Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
O'er the world a star is sweetly gleaming,
Now come the wisemen from out of the Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friends.
He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!


Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Christmas Spirit

I'm having some difficulty in getting with the program. Is it time for Christmas presents? What happened to November? Is it too early for candy canes? Is $39.95 too much for a reindeer made from grapevines? How do I untangle my Christmas lights? What is this fluffy white substance falling from the sky? Who on this earth could possibly have enough Christmas Spirit to listen to the "Holly" Christmas music station on XM without insanity side effects?

This is likely because I'm in denial that it's December or because we will be laying on the sandy beaches in paradise for Christmas. (You feel so sorry for me, I know.) Ergo, I am trying my darndest to fit all the Holiday cheer possible into the next few weeks. I'm all Christmas, all the time. Well, except for when I'm thinking about bathing suits, straw hats, sunglasses and packing a suitcase that weighs less than 60 lbs. and also supplies me with 9+ days of outfits. Do I think about Santa or do I think about the salty ocean waves? Flip flops or Ugg boots? Winter parkas or strappy maxi dresses? Sunburns or hypothermia? Hot coffee or drinks that are served with a small paper umbrella?

Perhaps wasting my time trying to decide what I should think about isn't the most useful task. So, I have focused my attention upon one concept at a time: I purchased a new swimsuit during my lunch break today, while sipping a warm cup of cinnamon tea. See, the two halves of my brain CAN get along!

Here are the other things I'm filling my brain with over the next few weeks:



1. Harney & Sons Hot Cinnamon Spice Tea, $8 for 20 Sachets
2. Guerlain Terracotta Bronzing Powder, $47
3. Rosebud Perfume Co. Rosebud Salve, $6
4. Victoria's Secret Ruffle Sliding Triangle Top, $9.99 and String Bottom, $9.99
5. John Frieda Frizz-Ease Hair Serum Extra Strength Formula, $8.99
6. Danskin Now 10 lb. kettlebell, $18.77


1. This is the best tea ever, without question. It's sweet (and it has no sugar!) and filled with great spices and flavors like black tea, cinnamon, orange peel and sweet cloves. I have a big cup every afternoon and it is fantastic. Oh, and the metal tin is pretty neat, too.

2. If I didn't know better, I would say that this bronzer is made from dreams, it's that fantastic. Expensive? Yes. Worth it? Absolutely. Guerlain has been around for ages (they are the oldest perfume house in the world) and this is a product that they have mastered. I don't fake bake, but I will be using this product to offset my current pastiness on the beach.

3. You know those painful little cracks in your skin and lips that develop in winter? This is my solution to that pesky problem. My skin is a strange mix of oily (my face) and incredibly dry (my body & hands) so I am very picky when it comes to what comes near my skin. It's soothing without being greasy and healing without a big investment. I use this primarily on my lips and hands.

4. Isn't this suit adorable? Oh, and the price is pretty cute, too. I bit the bullet and purchased this little number on my lunch break today from the VS website. While sipping a heaping mug of item #1, naturally.

5. I've said it before, I shall say it again: my hair belongs in an insane asylum. It's really thick, naturally curly and typically frizzy. The winter months, paired with my eternal longing to be blonde forever, has completely zapped the moisture from my hair. This stuff has been my savior and the shine and softness has returned to my tresses.

6. I recently discovered the kettlebell and I think I'm in love. It's an awesome total body workout and I've seen big results in my muscle tone after the last 6 months. It has added shape to my lanky body--and it will help when I'm donning my new swimsuit, too.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Easy Way


{HT}

I pretty much do everything the hard way. It's almost as though I have no idea there is an easier way to do things--in fact, it could be suggested that I prefer the hard way. Which typically results in me hurting myself, damaging personal property or screaming obscenities. All because I'm too stubborn to ask for help or too lazy to locate the appropriate tools for the job. You could say it's a gift.

However, when it comes to my heart, I prefer to do things the easy way. You know, the way that protects my fragile heart and soul from harm. I have been protecting those treasured possessions of mine for quite some time. I keep them tucked away in a really good hiding place away from gawking eyes and painful questions, and they stay locked away in a blissful ignorance at all times. They could stay there for all eternity, trapped by the hands of time and my own urging to live without them. But life sometimes has a way of finding those hidden spots, those forgotten crevices, and pulling the contents to the surface and allowing them to bob in the waves of an endless ocean. Today was one of those days.

After trudging through the pain, stress and heartbreak of infertility, I decided that enough was enough. Truly, I was finished with every solitary aspect of that world. It has been holding me captive for too long. I am a prisoner to the unknown, the opinions and tests and grand announcements that left us with more questions and disappointment than we could stuff into Mary Poppin's bag. So, I did the easy thing: I just turned it off. I flipped the switch, turned off the lights, locked the door and walked away. I stopped dwelling on it. I surrendered to it all, falling to my knees and proclaiming that I was setting that part of my life free. I couldn't hold it anymore. I didn't want to live there anymore. It was time to pick up and move someplace else. So that's what I did.

I stopped crying. I stopped begging. I stopped talking about it. I stopped asking questions that had no answers. I stopped being angry. I stopped allowing myself to wish my life upon someone else. I just stopped. Until I was reminded today that I can't hide "that part" away forever. I thought I could, but I can't. Because ignoring a part of who you are--the part that hopes, dreams, believes in miracles, the part that believes in the impossible--well, isn't possible. I hardened myself to the beautiful side because it was easier that way. And, because I had been supremely disappointed. My hope had been dashed over and over again, and it was painful.

Sometimes it's easier to turn off the noise completely than it is to try and figure out how to turn down the volume. It doesn't have to be all or nothing; perhaps it can be just a messy hodge podge instead, I often remind myself when something tries to pry open that side of my soul. Maybe I can just let a little out today, perhaps I can just see what it feels like, if just for a brief moment.

So, what exactly was it that pried open the lid? It was a simple, sweet gift from a friend with a card that had the following inside:

I don't know how you feel, but I want you to know that I think, pray and hope for you every day. This reminded me of you.

"The English language lacks the words to mourn an absence. For the loss of a parent, grandparent, spouse, child or friend, we have all manner of words and phrases, some helpful some not. Still we are conditioned to say something, even if it is only 'I’m sorry for your loss.'


But for an absence, for someone who was never there at all, we are wordless to capture that particular emptiness. For those who deeply want children and are denied them, those missing babies hover like silent ephemeral shadows over their lives.

Who can describe the feel of a tiny hand that is never held?" - Laura Bush


Perhaps the "easy way" isn't the easiest way, after all.

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