Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Shallow Comforts

* This post was written in September of 2007. Originally it was posted on another blog where I occasionally guest posted. In light of all "resolution talk" that goes around this time of year, re-reading this post was a good reminder to me. A reminder to focus back on what's important.


It is a bit long. So getcha a cup of coffee...You'll need it if you plan to stay all night tonight anyway!
~~~~~~~~~~~~

Several weeks ago I started a Beth Moore study on the book of Daniel.  


The beginning of this study opens with Beth making parallels between the Babylon of Daniel’s time and the culture we live in today.


I agree with Beth, we do live in a modern day Babylon, where outward appearance is of supreme importance and everything from the magazine stand to the shampoo bottle is telling us that we deserve to be happy and wealthy; we “can have it all”. 


Our culture tells us that we can wish for, buy, steal or borrow happiness.  As a culture we are inundated with slogans, ad campaigns and “people” that tell us what we can do, think, and feel to achieve success and be considered ‘highly’.  


These products and philosophies are all distractions, taking my focus off the most important thing in life and replacing Him with surface level band-aids not meant at all to help the core of the problem. What is my problem?  Glad you asked!


My problem is that I am a sinner, completely and totally needy for a Savior. I have not committed any really “bad” sins so far in my life. I am faithful to my husband; I try to be a good mom. I give to the church and make meals for the needy. I am involved in ministry and do my best to be nice. OH! I have several pastors’ wives as good friends and I go, every week, to lady’s bible study, so I keep nice company. 


And yet…


 I do have a problem. One you can’t see and I try to keep hidden. A deep seated ugliness that I could pin on the whole Adam and Eve/Fall of Man thing. It’s the problem of not realizing how much I depend upon the things of the world to satiate my need for the One Thing. 


I need to sit down and remind myself that it is not a new wardrobe, not a pill, not a new exercise program, not to lose another five pounds, but The Savior alone, that can cure me. 


For the record, I’m talkin’ Jesus here.


I have become so beguiled to the culture I live in, that not only am I sucked in by the hype, but worse, I have stopped seeing how much it affects me.  


Apathy: that’s a scary place to be.  The trap apathy lays before me is one that isn’t the easiest to escape.


I’m reading Thomas a Kempis right now. This quote hit where it hurts this week:


It is unthinkable that a man can truly find happiness in this life, if at the same time he views himself as an exile here and sees his soul surrounded by many dangers.


On a day to day basis, I don’t see my soul surrounded by many dangers. I have grown complacent and comfortable in a culture that tells me that I am good and deserve happiness, and spoon feeds me information that I have been told I want to hear. To add insult to injury, I have found myself licking that plate clean and asking for more.  Because the things I think will fix me cannot satisfy my neediness.  It’s like eating cotton candy; a beautiful mound of fluffy pink cloud, full of empty calories that leave me wanting.  


All is distraction. Dangerous distractions that keep me from the realization that I cannot find happiness in a place where I am not meant to stay. Even if my time here lasts 90 years, this world is not my home.


Blessed is the man who can set aside all distraction…

Act with courage, for habit is broken by habit.

 –Kempis


At the beginning of the study it was suggested that we exercise a tiny bit of self-denial in a culture full of indulgence, abstaining from rich meats or something that would give us a chance to tell ourselves “no”. It could be anything and not just food and only for a time. 


This is suggested to be a tangible reminder to stand apart from our culture, a lot like Daniel and his friends did when they asked to be fed on a diet that was the antithesis of the Kings table. He did this because he refused to lay down the standards of God in exchange for the standards of men.  


I asked God to show me the ways in which I feed my mind upon the things of the world that are harmful to my soul.


And He answered.


I am a current events and news junky. I get on line several times a day to look up multiple news websites to see what is happening in the world. CNN, NYCTimes, and my local paper. Oh, and to keep up on “current events”, I also go to the People Magazine website. Every. Day.  


I was sad when I clicked over to People and saw that we, as a country, are watching young women deteriorate right in front of our eyes. 


One young singer in particular is in-over-her-head in an apathetic trap; losing her friends, fans, career, and maybe even her children.  She is losing her life, and I am logging on every day to see what will happen next; Aiding and abetting a mockery that is chewing up this woman and spitting her out.  


I am not saying that reading a People magazine is “bad”.  What I am saying is that I have become so indoctrinated in the way of the world that I can no longer identify her ugliness with the fact that it is really the same as mine...she is trying just as hard to feed that needy place reserved exclusively for Christ, with the cotton candy lies of the world. It’s just that my neediness isn’t plastered all over the world in a black sequin bikini; Mine is hidden behind a casserole and standard pew at church. 


So, I am giving current affairs and news stories a rest.  I have limited myself to the local 5 o’clock news and weather.com from now until December.  It’s been hard this week because browsing the news websites has become a habit. But I am looking forward to hearing what God has to share with me in the weeks to come as I clean out my head and heart of the rubbish, and replace them with the things of God.


The “shallow comforts of this world” aren’t enough.  I know that, but I don’t live that. 


It’s time to start.


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Back to Life, Back to Reality

Just checking in on this fine Tuesday morning.


Life here is good. Full of puppy training and after Christmas clean-up.  

I was able to get all the Christmas decorations packed up and put away yesterday. Now I just need to clean.  Which will take some time since I did virtually NO house-related work last week. No laundry or picking up. Right now, as I type, there are seven pairs of shoes sitting in the corner of the foyer. The stairwell has books and toys, and all sort of things piled in between the railing posts. 

You can tell that our week of Christmas was a success just by the mess!

But now, it's back to the realities of life... the laundry must get done. 

Before I go off to the  sweat shop   laundry room, I just had to tell you how shocked I was to walk into Target on December 27th to find the Valentine display already up and ready to go. But what REALLY had me shaking my head was when I rounded the corner to ladies clothing and walked right into a rack of bikinis!!!

Whatever

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas 
from the 
La Vida Dulce Family 
to yours.

With Love,
Kellie, The Mister,
The Boy, The Girl,
Kona the Wondermutt,

And introducing:

~  Sophie Joy  ~

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
We pray that your day will be filled with renewed wonder in Christ!

"So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”- Luke 2:16-20

Monday, December 22, 2008

Weekend Recap

I have a bazillion things I would love to write about but it's the week of Christmas and I know you don't have the time to read a long post.  So I am going to mete out my weekend news over the next few days...


First on the agenda: Christmas Pizza (and why the Internet is out to get me.)

As I have posted on this site about eleven-ty times, Saturday night is pizza night. I have a bread maker so making crust is super easy.  I usually make the crust and bake them just a little bit (without topping) so that I can put the finished pizza directly on the oven rack for a crispier crust. 

Well, on Saturday evening I got the first crust baked and placed the second crust in the oven. It was at this critical point that somebody distracted me with a questions and I neglected to set the oven timer. That need-to-know-right-now question led me to a Google search. That Google search led to the checking of email, and the skimming of headlines, and a quick search on You Tube on how to train puppies to do this, when suddenly The Boy says, "Do you smell smoke?"

AUUGGGGHHHHH!!!!!!! My pizza crust!

The entire middle portion of the crust was burned.

Exhibit A: 

To say the least I was a bit frustrated with myself. As a matter of fact, there may have been swearing involved, but I'm pleading the fifth. 

Seeing my irritation, and wanting to diffuse the situation, The Mister wisely suggested that I should take a picture, you know, for the blog. Which TOTALLY turned my mood around. (Does he know me or what?)

That, I thought to myself, is a great idea! You can turn this bundt pizza into a "Christmas pizza" and then post it to the blog like you meant it to happen...

So that's what I did.

La Vida Dulce!

Friday, December 19, 2008

FirDay Randomness

Every SINGLE time I type the word Friday, I type it Firday, and then I have to go back and fix it.


Just a little La Vida Dulce trivia for y'all on this fine Firday.

Actually, these are pictures of how foggy and wet it is right now. 
Its actually more foggy than the picture shows. 
The sun hasn't shown here in over three days and this desert girl needs some rays!  

I am not really complaining as much as I am, well, complaining. 

So I'll stop.

Today is a big day. 

I will shop at the one store that I love/hate, for the last time this year: Walmart.

Seriously, unless I am shopping with a friend at eleven o'clock at night because I have run out of a gallon of milk (and The Mister needs a new box of un-frosted strawberry Pop-Tarts) I generally avoid this place. As if it carried the plague.  

Although, now that I think about it, it probably does carry the plague.  

But as least its cheap plague.

Speaking of strawberry Pop-Tarts. Last week, around three in the afternoon I needed a snack. Normally I would grab a granola bar and a cup of decaf, but alas, the granola bars were gone. Not being a fan of snacks that require too much effort I decided to try a Pop-Tart. 

Now, if you are a fan of the Pop-Tart, please don't take this personally, but YUCK!  I was forced to pull out the toaster and warm it up, which did absolutely NOTHING for the taste. I tried really hard to like it, but in the end I had to throw three-quarters of it away. 

And speaking of yuck, while shopping with a friend last week I came across a box of chocolate covered cherries. At .99 for a box of twenty, I picked one up. My friend wrinkle up her nose. She doesn't care for chocolate cherries. 

Turns out, neither do I. Every year I buy those things, and every year I eat one and wonder why I thought I liked them. Next year, do me favor, and remind me that I'm not a fan. Does anyone want 19  chocolate covered cherries?

Moving on....

I am going to do my baking today. I also decided at the last minute to make Chex Mix and Ranch pretzels (requested by The Girl) hence the run to that dreaded store, with children, on the Firday before Christmas. 

Good times.

However, I am looking forward to getting this errand finished so I can come home, put on another pot of coffee and bake the day away. 

Speaking of coffee...The festivities of Christmas can officially begin because I have ordered this.
Actually, I ordered two pounds in decaf and two fully-loaded. Its a little Christmas gift to myself. Which I normally don't do. 

But, since The Mister and I are planning few rather large projects on the house in the new year, we agreed not to give each other a gift this year . 

This is hilarious because I happen to know that he got a gift for me, after our agreement. He tried to tell me that if a package came from a certain store, it was for him. This from a man who hasn't really shopped for himself (without me encouraging him to do so) in 13 years.

He thinks he's being all sneaky, but I'm wise to his ways. He's cute and all, but he's not very good at being sneaky.

It's just as well that he got a gift for me, because I totally bought one for him. It's not anything special, just a little something he needs. 

Of course, I'm actually quite proud of myself, because when it comes to gifts, I'm not the most discreet person either. I like giving gifts, so its hard for me to be silent.

But I was talking about coffee wasn't I? For those of you who don't know why the blog is named La Vida Dulce, it was name of my fave coffee while living in North Texas. But it was discontinued (oh! the shame!)

 The fine people at H-E-B swore that it was packaged under the new name, Taste of Austin, and you know, its close. Very, very, close. If you happen to live in a place where they have an H-E-B or a Central Market go get your self a cup, it's delish.

All right, this post is getting long, and suddenly I have a sneaking suspicion its turned into a reason to stay at home, out of the dreary fog. I must stop typing (read: procrastinating) and go to the store.

Happy Firday!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Decisive Decision

I'm happy to report that the Annual Ladies Christmas party went off without a hitch last night. The weather was cold and wet, but that wasn't going to bring us down! We know how to celebrate!

However, this morning, after two days of cleaning and preparing, (and yesterday feeling a bit high strung with nerves over speaking) I find that I am a bit on the tired side, and I have a serious case of indecision.

If there is one thing that will drive me the shortest distance to Crazy, it's when I wake up feeling indecisive.

It only takes one early morning, indecisive, decision to turn the whole day into a day of what I could do, or what I should do, or what I ought to do.

For me, being indecisive breeds indecision. 

This morning it started by pushing the snooze alarm, but not being decisive about sleeping in. 

So I laid in bed, thinking about how I should get up, but then I didn't.

Big mistake.

Sleeping in wasn't at all restful, since sleep never came back, and instead indecision took its stay. Now my morning routine was 30 minutes "off schedule". This is when I should have made the decision to skip the work out and head down stairs for a cup of coffee and some quiet time. But I didn't. 

With my mind only half awake, and a tired body screaming out for the warmth of the bed, I put on running clothes and groggily walked down the stairs to the coffee pot. 

While drinking coffee, and trying to figure out how I was going to make up the lost time, I told myself the work-out would happen...later.  Sometime, in the indecisive, nebulous, later.

Luckily the schoolwork decisions have already been made. So I get kids get busy with breakfast and school (this week is review and a lot of reading- so minimal teaching on my part). I keep wandering from room to room; more coffee in hand. I should do laundry; I could clean up from the party; I ought to get on the treadmill; I might bake cookies...

It's drizzly and dark outside and so far, still chilly. Now it's noon and I have flittered the morning away with indecision. Thinking of everything, and doing almost nothing.

So you know what I am going to do?

I'm going to decide.

Decisively. 

I will make us some veggie soup for lunch. Then I will skip today's work out and go straight to the shower.  I will pull chicken out of the freezer for dinner. Then I will ask the kids to help me fold some laundry while we watch a Christmas movie.

There. I feel better already.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

And the Pendulum Swings


The tables are set.

The lights are twinkly.

But let's be real for moment, shall we?

Remember yesterday, when I walked around with a bird on my finger all day? My out look sunny and my disposition light?

Well, I'm still full of anticipation, except today I am aware that I also carry great fear. 

Often irrational fear. 

I have written about major fears in my life on this blog before. Fear of failure, fear of change, fear of being out of control, the list goes on...

Some times the fear is reasonable, but many times the fear is unfounded. For instance this Sunday in church when, all of a sudden, I was racked with anxiety. Or this morning, as I kissed The Mister and he drove off into the foggy morning, and my mind went to the fear gutter.

Instead of praying about my fear I chose to let my imagination make it worse: What would I do without him? How would I get my life in order? Where would I live?

Suddenly an audible voice inside my head said: STOP!

Whew! Thank you Jesus. Chasing my thoughts is exhausting.

Tonight I will give a 15 minute devotion on Luke 1:46-55: Mary's Magnificat.  I love this short piece of scripture because Mary's song can be our song. Should we choose to sing it.

It's a song of the past that rings true in the present, and gives us great hope for the future. It's a song of praise to God who reigns in heaven on earth, who has been (and will be) true to His Word. 

This song is the antithesis of fear. It's a focus on God and His love in a time that was certain to be difficult. If there was any reason to fear in the life of this young woman, it would have been in this time. But scripture says she didn't fear (vs. 38), because God was in control. 

In the verse just before Mary's song, we read these words twice : Be not afraid. (Vs. 13 and 30)

This morning as I bustle around trying to make everything "just so" (which is what I do when I'm afraid), God is reminding me that I don't have to be afraid. 

So, the tables are set, the lights are twinkly, and God is in control.

"My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour." - Luke 1:46-47

La Vida Dulce!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Anticipation

I feel good this morning. 


It could be the happy little work-out endorphins.  Or it could be this yummy piece of toast with a bit of peanut butter and sliced banana on top (oh! and my second cup of coffee to go with it.)

Maybe it's because tomorrow night I get to host the Ladies Christmas party right here at the La Vida Dulce house.  (There is nothing that makes my heart patter more than preparing for visitors.)

Maybe I feel good because last night between eight and nine we had some friends come over unexpectedly for a cup of tea and a nice chat. 

Or maybe it's because my Dad and I exchanged fun emails yesterday: him sharing fun news with me and I sharing good news with him. 

Perhaps it's because after this fun week I get to spend nine glorious days with The Mister and the kids.

I feel good, and I think I am feeling this away because of anticipation. Though my life is far from perfect, I could list a thousand imperfect reasons why I feel the way I do. Instead, let me show you some pictures:

I don't know what tomorrow will bring (or this afternoon!), but for now, I'm content. Happily (busily) anticipating, enjoying this season.

Happy Monday!

Friday, December 12, 2008

How I Know She Really Is My Child

Can't stop to blog for too long right now.  We're taking a five minute snack break, so I wanted to give you a glimpse at what The La Vida Gals are up to today. I couldn't be more proud.


The Girl has had a craft project in her head for over a month that we are finally trying to get made today.

Why am I proud?  

Because today my Girl is wielding a crafters weapon for the first time: The Hot Glue Gun

She saw one of these Christmas/apple/topiary things in a magazine and has wanted to make it for so long. 

She's having fun, but not as much as I am watching her.
Sweet Girl,

May this day be the first in many happy, creative days for you. 

Love,

Mom

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Christmas Meme

Thank goodness for this meme! Early yesterday morning after my work out I did something awful to my back. Now I cannot sit or stand or lie down for more than five minutes. Luckily, I happen to be married to my Physical Therapist. He say's I am what they call "non-compliant" in the therapy world, but he helps me all the same.
Happy Thursday!
~~~
1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? I buy one gi-normous roll of double sided wrapping paper at the Costco. IF you do this you have to be committed. That roll will last at least two years!

2. Real tree or Artificial? For the first 11 years we used real, but in my cranky old age I got tired of finding pine needles in the house until July. So two year ago we bought a pre-lit tree. Turns out everybody was allergic anyway. Now we can all breathe fine through the month of December.


3. When do you put up the tree? The Day after Thanksgiving.

4. When do you take the tree down? The day after Christmas if The Mister is working. If not I give him one more day, because I am generous like that.


5. Do you like eggnog? To me it's like sweet mayonnaise. So, no. With the exception of the year we received homemade egg nog from a friend (and co-worker of The Mister). I didn't realize that it was "real" eggnog, and after a cup full, I would have eaten mayo out the jar with spoon, without the slightest care in the world. Good times.)


6. Favorite gift received as a child? a life sized handmade Raggedy Ann Doll. (how I wish I would've kept that now.)


7. Hardest person to buy for? The Mister's Mom and Dad.


8. Easiest person to buy for? Myself...(Just kidding!) (Sort of)...The kids.


9. Do you have a nativity scene? No. I need to change that.


10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail! It's my favorite part of the holiday hub-bub!


11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Wow...that's a hard one...Oh! I remember! There was one year as a teenage when my brothers gave me one of those suctions cup sticky things for the back window of your car...it was of Kermit the Frog flipping the "bird", which was on a spring so it would wave back and forth. They were in the 6th and the 9th grade, so you know they were shopping at Spencer's. i am certain that that was never in my car.


12. Favorite Christmas Movie? I don't know if I have a favorite, but I do enjoy Christmas Vacation for a good laugh, and I also enjoy Elf, for the same reason.


13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Usually way into December, but this year I was nearly done by the 4th. Which felt good. I just have to get everything mailed out now!


14 . Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Only for the white elephant gift exchange.


15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Homemade fudge and my Mother-in-laws recipe for Ginger Cookies.

16. Lights on the tree?
Color! and lots of them!


17. Favorite Christmas song? O Holy Night.


18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? This year we are staying home in NC. 


19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? Absolutely! 


21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? We let the kids open them one on Christmas Eve, while we sip hot cocoa, eat popcorn and watch a Christmas movie. Then we torture them by making them sleep in on Christmas morn. But don't feel too bad for them. Sleeping in for this early bird isn't really what you think it is. 


22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? Crabby people. 

23. Favorite ornament theme or color? Our tree is filled with decorations that have meaning to us. And we allow our kids to decorate, so it will never make it into a decorators magazine, but it's beautiful to us!

Oh and also, you will NEVER find tinsel on my tree. I had an unfortunate event as a child that involved my 18 month old brother who got hold of tinsel while under my charge. He choked on it and I've hated tinsel ever since. (FYI: that baby lived to tell this story...Every. Blessed. Year.)


24. What do you want for Christmas this year? This is the time of year that I wished owned a private jet so i could quickly (and easily) travel all over the country to see my peeps, but other than that, I lack for nothing. 

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Happy Little Handbags Make Me Glad

Why is it that the ink in our printer always runs out the morning that I plan to address Christmas cards?


This seems to happen every year, so you might think that I would be prepared. 

The truth is that I thought I was prepared. Right before we moved in September I bought not one, but two, ink cartridges for this very purpose. The last thing I wanted to do was to have to spend $50 in printer ink in December.  

However, I cannot find nor remember where in tar-nation I put that extra box of stashed "Christmas Ink".

Of course, the minute I finish hand writing 75 Christmas cards that little cartridge will show up. 

In the meantime, to completely shut down Christmas Card production, as well as tiring out my writing hand, I have spent this afternoon making handbags.  

Teeny, tiny, paper handbags for Christmas decorations that will hang on my tree. 

On Saturday I found this book in hardback at our library. I was sort of in a hurry so I just grabbed it off the top shelf with the hopes that I might have a free moment later to look inside. 

That very night, while in my fuzzy pajamas and sipping some decaf, the book magically opened to the exact page where these sweet little ornaments were displayed, and it was love at first sight.  

I have scoured the Internet for a template for these sweet little morsels of handbaggy goodness, so you could make one too. But the only one I could find was this one, go check it out. It's cute too. 

All that to say, my Christmas cards may not be sent on time this year, but my Christmas tree is going to be very well accessorized.

La Vida Dulce!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Worry

Over the course of the last 14 weeks, homeschooling has felt like we have a newborn in our home.

Suddenly, I have a tight schedule to keep and I am no longer shopping alone. But the hardest thing for me to handle is the mess. The toys that are all over. The dishes of three meals at home. The papers that used to come home in the afternoon backpack are now all over my desk. 

There is never a moment when my entire house is clean, all at the same time.

And it's driving me crazy. 

This was especially true the week before Thanksgiving, when my inability to keep order turned me into a shrew.

Then, during our Thanksgiving break, as if Mrs. Moofish knew that I needed a reality check, she sent me a copy of Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World, by Joann Weaver.

And let me tell you I NEEDED to read this book. 

In the third chapter there is an assignment to re-write Matthew 6: 25-34 according to what your worry is at the moment, and then write a prayer. (If  you're not familiar with this verse, go check it out at the link above.)

I thought I would share mine and then encourage you to do the same if there is something you are worried about today. 
~~~~
Therefore I tell you,do not worry about a clean house, what people will say when they see laundry on your couch; 
or how many dog hairs you see gathered on the floor.

Are not the people in your life more important 
than assuaging your high need for order?

Look at the birds of your nest. 
They flitter from here to there and squawk and sing; 
making great messes and yet, the Heavenly Father loves them.
There is nothing more valuable than they.

Can you make your home cleaner by being a grouch?

And why do you worry about what others may think?

Do you see the trees in your yard?
They drop their leaves when the weather turns cold, and yet nobody comes by to pick them up. Yet I tell you, in the spring the green leaves will come and 
by summer there will be no sign of the fall.

If the God of all order can use the mess of the autumn to bring the fullness of spring, 
can He not bring order into your heart?

O you who sets her sights (and heart) on things that bring false security.

So, do not worry, saying "My life is out of control!" or 
"When will I have time to do the laundry?!" or
"What if someone comes over and the floors have not been swept?!"

For people who don't understand that God is in control worry over dust and dirt;
and He understands the importance and practicality of a clean house.

But, God is saying to you, 

"Seek My house first. Seek Me and all these thing will find their place.
Delegate and don't worry about the dishes being put in the wrong cupboard.
Assign jobs and don't worry about the whites being turned pink.
 
Tackle a load of laundry today, and don't worry about tomorrow."

For each day has enough laundry of it's own.
~~~~~~~

Lord, I pray you will order my day. And that I would not resist you. 
I know nothing good comes from chasing order for the sake of order, 
at the cost of a kind and gentle disposition. 
Help me to seek You first
and allow all other things to be an outflow of your awesome love for me 
and those around me.
Amen.

Friday, December 05, 2008

In "The Zone"

The most exciting thing happened this week, which has stirred-up the craft zone that lives in my heart.

A friend of mine from church has a friend who is an interior decorator who specializes in custom drapery. This weekend they are having a garage sale. This interior decorator lady was selling her high priced fabric for $4/yard!!!

And she let me come to her house and buy fabric before the crowds.  So I have been busy, busy, busy trying to think of all sorts of things to do with this fabric!  

Speaking of sewing projects...

I have already made the bed for our new little addition. The bed was harder than I anticipated and I am not totally pleased with how it turned out. Coming up with this bed without a pattern was difficult for this right-brained mind of mine. 

I think I used too much stuffing the bottom of the bed, and not enough in the sides.

I hadn't intended for it to be reversible, but somehow it ended up that way. Go figure.
Although this didn't end up exactly like my mind had envisioned, I think it will do. 

Also, if you are trying to make any gifts this year I highly recommend taking a look at this list
It is a list of 100's of things you can make for Christmas this year. 

Also I am folding paper like a maniac to make a variation of these star ornaments, which will be mailed to friends far away. I am also making these ornaments for the people in my life who are nearby.

I am also thinking about making a few more of these. Although not in the amount I made last year! 

All right. I should run. The Mister has today off and so we are taking the kids to a friends house so that we can shop together. By the end of this day I should be done with my Christmas shopping!  Yippee!!

Happy Friday Y'all!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Because I Can hardly Contain My Joy

Meet Joy, the Maltese puppy.


In this picture she is only 2.5 weeks old. She's older now, but this is the most recent picture we have of her.

She will be coming to live with us on Christmas Eve...

As a surprise gift to The Girl.

I am so excited about this new addition to the family that I have had trouble sleeping at night. Which is just as well since I will probably be spending the next 6 months getting up to take her outside in the middle of the cold Carolina nights.

Last night, my friend K2 and I, went Christmas shopping to find all the assorted puppy items that one needs: a crate, puppy toys, dog dishes, puppy shampoo, a collar and a leash.

I was on an all-out hunt for a pink collar and leash. 

More ashamedly, a pink collar and leash that I plan to tastefully bedazzle with some beautiful rhinestones. 

Yes, I own a Bedazzler.

I am also in the process of sewing up a puppy bed, and matching little girl/doggy capes. Pictures to come.

Y'all, I may have lost my mind. 

But it's sure is fun!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Bloggers Block

I have started and re-started this post about ten times.

I may have a case of blogger-itis.

You know how it goes:

You haven't been posting as frequently, because you've been just trying to keep up with the fast pace of life.

You sit down to the computer half-heartedly. You have fifteen minutes until the timer goes off, letting you know that dinner is ready. It's Sunday night, you might not get another moment to sit down before next Friday.

You haven't really written about anything of great significance. You've already talked about your hair. 

You lost track of where you saw that great Meme that went around two weeks ago. But that would be old material by now anyhow. 

You already took a break. Made deeper commitments to post. You even tried pre-posting a weeks worth of blogging on the weekends.

You haven't complained about laundry, but with aroma of Thanksgiving still lingering in the air, it doesn't seem right to complain. 

So you sit. 

And look at the screen.

And pray for something relevant. Something funny. Something original to type. 

Yep. A severe case of blogger-itis.

Is there any cure?




Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday: A Crowded Kind of Day

I don't know about y'all, but you would would sooner find me sitting in the dentists chair for eleven root canals than find me in a mall today. 


I like to shop, but in all things there are limits. I guess my problem is crowds. Well, actually, it depends on the crowd.  I like the crowd of a race, all lined up at the starting line. I like the crowd at a theater. I like crowds in the right time and place. I guess you could say I like friendly, peaceful crowds.

Shoppers on Black Friday may start out peaceful, in those wee hours of the morning when they are waiting in line in the dark and the cold. Bleary eyed and clutching a cup of hot coffee they are sweetness and light. But once the store doors unlock and the lights come on, it's every shopper for himself.  Grasping and pushing for that last Talking Elmo or Wii.

It's just not worth it for me. 

I have some dear friends who brave the Black Friday sales, and I will admit, they have gotten some good deals. But for me, it's like eating sunflower seeds: too much work for such a little nut.

What about you? Do you shop or stay home?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

It's Gonna Be Good, Y'all

You might want to sit down for this post.

Y'all, there has been a Thanksgiving Miracle at the La Vida Household. I can barely type through my excitement.

I could've entitled this post When I Found Her I Knew but I am hoping that this post isn't entirely about my hair.

My appointment went exceedingly well yesterday. Not only did she give me a fabulous hair cut, but she also trimmed The Girl's hair and I didn't have to take out a loan to pay for it. Then, when I asked about whether or not she might be able to help me out with my unfortunate "grey hair" issue, she said, "Yep, I do it all."

It was then I sheepishly asked, "Um, what about unsightly facial hair? Do you take care of that too?"

"You bet."

Hallelujah

As it turns out, I knew her. Her boys went to the pre-school that I taught at when we were here last time. 

She has the cutest little shop attached to her house. I'm going back in two weeks to get my roots done and to tame the eyebrow.

Moving on to other things....

The Girl had her first horse riding lesson on Saturday afternoon.

My little animal lover has been asking for riding lessons for a long time. We have a sweet gal at our church who owns two horses and has generously offered to give The Girl some lessons. We bundled up and headed out in 40 degree weather for a trial lesson; just to let The Girl get a feel for being around such a big animal, and to see if she really did wanted to continue after seeing all the work involved in this hobby.

She loved it.

I knew she would.

So after the New Year she will be taking a weekly lesson. 

On Sunday The Mister celebrated his 40th birthday.  I had envisioned big plans for this day. (Which he would've hated since he is the don't-bring-attention-to-myself type of guy.)But, with the move and an already full schedule, I decided on a quiet affair.  Which was probably best since he will be working without a weekend for the next couple of weeks. 

He chose the menu for his day. We dined on grilled hamburgers, french fries, and homemade chocolate cake. Then we watched the old re-make of Maverick.  All in all, a birthday success.

In keeping with The Mister's request to be anonymous on the blog, here is a picture of The Boy lighting the candles on the cake.  I chose this picture only to demonstrate what happens to normal, sweet, kindhearted, eleven year-old boys when given the opportunity to play with fire. Look at how crazily happy he is to just be playing with a lighter.

Last, but not least, I present, The Impromptu La Vida Dulce Thanksgiving Celebration. 


We had our feast last night: roast chicken (thanks to Sam's Club), green bean, mashed potatoes, cranberries, and stuffing. 

Every Thanksgiving The Mister's has two very important jobs: to get the wine and to carve the bird. This year our bird was small but he carved it just the same. I swear I felt a little tryptophan action, but then again it may have been the Pinot Grigio.

This year, although not quite as decorated, or fancy, or planned, or fussy, was just as sweet
I am so very grateful.

La Vida Dulce!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Apron

I made an apron this week that turned out so feminine and beautiful. 

A friend of mine,  NC Mama, celebrated her birthday this week. She is a tiny southern woman with a huge heart and a gift for hospitality. 

She needed a La Vida Apron.

It's funny. I have spent the better part of three years making and giving away aprons in various styles and colors, but I don't have many myself. I have two that I use all year long. And I have a couple of seasonal ones I use at Thanksgiving and Valentines.

It's very rare when I make something I contemplate keeping.

This was the first. 

I just loved the pale colors of pink and mint. And it's totally reversible. Here is the reverse side.
(Do you like the annoyed look on my face? I was trying to get my pint sized photographer to get a photo without all that crazy unkempt hair! However, her tiny hands cannot hold the heavy camera without shaking, so this in the only one that isn't blurry.)

I did make a mistake on the straps at the shoulders, but I was able to fix it without it looking too horrible. Although I did seriously contemplate starting over and keeping this "mistake".

In the end, I was able to part with it. There was far more joy in watching NC Mama open it up and put it on. It looked amazing on her.

So now I am ready to tackle another project. Oh, the possibilities.....

La Vida Dulce!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Choosing Gratitude

I was so motivated to finish this week strong, but it didn't exactly go the way I planned.

The week of Thanksgiving is one of my favorite weeks of the year. In anticipation I had scheduled in advance to take the entire week of Thanksgiving off from school.  In all honesty, I am need of a break. 

Thanksgiving week is fun for me because I can organize with an end in mind. It's when I get my menu all put together, and my favorite holiday recipes pulled out. 

It's when I anticipate the setting of my Thanksgiving table and where I will set things.  It's when I dust the full service china settings and remember how much I love my dishes.

It's when we decide what movie we will watch on Thanksgiving night. 

It's when I get to anticipate a full day with the family. 

Even when it's just the four of us, as it would have been this year, I bake and cook and celebrate as if I am having the dinner party of all dinner parties.

I enjoy Thanksgiving. 

So, when The Mister came home and told me that he wouldn't be home for Thanksgiving because he had been pulled for a week of Administrative Duty, you could say I was deflated. 

I went from Martha Stewart to Oscar the Grouch in 2 seconds flat.

At first I was understanding. Then I was angry. Now, I'm just disappointed.

There have been a number of things happening around me that remind me to be grateful.

The family of a friend of mine buried a loved one yesterday. Next Thursday they will sit around a table and give thanks with one forever-empty chair. 

Another friend of ours lost his job. He had no idea it was coming. He just walked into work, was told to pack up his desk, and was escorted out, along with several co-workers.  They will eat turkey with their family and give thanks without knowing what their future holds.

I have friends with spouses fighting in a war.  Thousands of miles from home, they haven't seen their loved ones for over six months. They will give thanks that their husbands (and wives) are fighting for freedom, even though that means missing family milestones and many holidays.

I'm trying to keep things in perspective. Trying to remember that life goes on...even when I don't get my way! The flesh cries out to be heard. To be soothed. To be answered.

Deep in my heart, in that place that never speaks out loud, it cries "This isn't fair!"

But the rational part of my grumpy old self is remembering to choose gratitude.

God has blessed me with a tender-hearted and loving man; two healthy and sweet kids; we have family and friends who love us and care for us. We have a warm home and food to eat. We are, in comparison to many places outside of America, rich and spoiled people. How could I possibly forget to be grateful?

So, there won't be a Thanksgiving event here at the La Vida household this year.  It may be lasagna and salad on Sunday. But I'll remember to give thanks all the same.

Isaiah 51:3 - 
Joy and gladness will be found in her, 
Thanksgiving and the sound of singing.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I Really Am Alive. Really.

....although it may be hard to believe.


Here are some random facts:

- For you blogger-friends, I have yet to make it to your posts. Sorry! I really am going to get there! I've missed reading you!  

-For you friends IRL, my phone is D-E-A-D. Dead. Actually my friend,  K1, called me on Saturday and according to my phone, she is still calling me. Only I cannot answer the phone, nor turn it off. Which is ironic since this phone hasn't held a charge for more than two hours in several months. I could unhook the battery pack to turn it off, but the last time I dropped the phone the backing cracked, and it's currently being held together with duct tape.  

-Do you think it's time for a new phone?

-Speaking of phone, I made an appointment for a haircut on Monday. It's the first NC haircut with a new stylist. I've seen her work, and she's good. At first I was sad because she wasn't taking new clients, but now she is. I'm thinking she could be The One. Pray for me.  

-Today I am working on a the most beautiful apron I have ever made (if I don't say so myself), but I can't really talk about it until the weekend.

-I have to figure out the best way to harass The Mister. Because on Sunday he will be 40 years old!!!!

-The beautiful apron is not for him. He's not the apron wearing type.

-Do you remember when forty sounded older than dirt?  And here we are...(although I still have a few years.)

- Among the piles of things that must be done around here, I have to figure out what to do with these:
-These are Rome and Gala apples from West Virginia. We have a friend from church who can get these apples from WV at $24 a bushel. I had no earthly idea how big a bushel was so I ordered half.  

-FYI: Half Bushels are still pretty impressive.

-Got any good apple recipes.

-I'm not a big apple pie fan. (but if you have a killer recipe, pass it on)

-I'm in a lunch rut.  I really wish lunch could just be skipped. I love lunch when I am with a friend or something fun. But daily, it's seems like such a waste of time and energy.

-Back to the cell phone...all my numbers are programmed in that baby, and have been for years. If I need to find a phone number any time soon, I'm in trouble.

-I finally did something I haven't done in years. I bought socks. Real, wear with your everyday shoes, not running, kind of socks. I bought 6 pair in black, and these babies:

-Am I living on the edge or what?

-My feet are toasty, and this is good because as I type it is SNOWING OUTSIDE!!!!  

(According to the weather guy, it's not really snow, but a flurry. And before I finished with spell check, it's over. Bummer!)

La Vida Dulce

Friday, November 14, 2008

Giving Thanks


I'm sneaking out of the Time-Out chair to share a quick recipe with you.


Today I had The Carolina Gals over for lunch. We dined on Tortilla Soup, Nutty Apple Salad and homemade whole wheat bread (Thanks Vickie!). Oh, and chocolate cake, which tasted all right but looked horrendous, so i almost forgot to mention it.

But on to other things.....

Jen with One N, my friend in Texas who doesn't have a blog but who I talk about from time to time, used to make the Nutty Apple Salad al lot for summer salad luncheons. I enjoy this salad, so I pulled out her recipe to find out what ingredients I needed. 

I had everything on hand except Sugared Walnuts, but I figured it couldn't be all that hard to make some since I had walnuts and sugar on hand. I found this recipe online.

Now, I just want to tell you that I don't actually recommend these sugared walnuts. As a matter of fact, you probably don't want this recipe. Because quite honestly, they are so tasty you may take my name in vain after you eaten the entire batch. They are addictive, and they tasted great in the salad too.

Anyway, the group of ladies today was smaller than anticipated because the weather is so dreary and wet. But I had a fantastic time with the gals that did brave the weather. We didn't end up needing the second little table which is just as well, I like when we can all sit around the table together.

Ok, I promised myself to not take more than fifteen minutes to post this, so I will quickly share Jen with One N's recipe for Nutty Apple Salad. I hope it's not a secret family recipe....if it is, you didn't get it from me.

9 cups mixed greens
1 small granny smith apple
1 small red apple
1/3 cup sugar roasted walnuts

Dressing:
3TBL apple cider vinegar
3TBLS olive oil
1/4 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar

Tear lettuce; chop apples; Mix Dressing; Pour over salad; toss; and sprinkle nuts on top.
Enjoy!


OK, I'm going back to time-out. But just between you and me, I have managed to get mostly caught up, although I still haven't gotten to my "blog reading" stack yet. But it is on my list for tomorrow! Yay! See you there!

Happy Friday!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Blogging Time Out!

Hi Y'all,


I have gotten so behind in correspondence, both telephone and email, that I am putting myself in blogging time-out. 

Actually, I pre-posted all of last weeks posts in an attempt to catch-up, but unfortunately I need more time. 

As soon as I am done with phone calls and emails. I am going to get caught up on ten days worth of blog reading (y'all are prolific, I tell you!) 

I am tempted to read and not comment, but i can't stand that idea at all. Not one bit.

So, it may be quiet around here until I get caught up. 

Until then, Happy Monday!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Ice Maker Mystery

Three years ago, right before we moved to Arizona, our ice maker died.  A low blow to this ice chewing, cold drink drinking, frozen water lover. 

I knew that getting the ice maker fixed would be expensive, and that a new fridge was out of the question, since the fridge works quite well. But I've had this secret dream of a free standing ice maker for most of my adult life. 

In high school and college I use to babysit for a family that had a free standing ice maker with a little plastic scooper.  I babysat for them often and when I arrived to work the first place I would go was to that ice maker. I would fill up a gigantic plastic tumbler cup to the top and munch ice while playing with the kids. 

Just talking about it makes me want some.

Anyway, I had this dream that maybe, since my ice maker was broken, we might put a free standing ice maker in the kitchen of this house. 

Saturday I woke up very early and was sipping coffee and checking email when I heard rumbling in the kitchen. With the dog at my feet and everyone else sleeping soundly in the bed I bravely walked around downstairs anticipating something big and rodent-y creeping in my dark kitchen.

But nothing could be found. 

Then I heard a whirring of the freezer and I walked over to investigate. Sure enough the ice maker had come back to life and the ice was almost overflowing from the bin.

Bummer. 

There goes my free standing ice machine with the cute little scooper. 

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Of Falling Leaves and Fire Pits

I wanted to share with you the amazing talents of The Mister. Now, among all the things that he can place behind his name, he can add master fire pit builder. Although he would tell you that isn't true, because he isn't actually finished with the pit. He has some decorative ideas that involve hauling in some rock to keep the mud down to a minimum, and some sort of rustic benches made out a huge dead tree that needs cutting down in the front yard.


Which brings me to another topic. Why do men think they can cut down a GI-NOR-MOUS tree all by themselves? Oh, but he says he is going to do it, and he's been looking for just the right chainsaw to do it with. (can you just hear that old Tool Time man-laugh? Ar! Ar! Ar!)

Anyway, that Mister of mine is a good man for making me such a fine pit. Even when he arranged that flagstone in a certain pattern that didn't appeal to my high need for symmetry and orderliness. So he let me tell him how I wanted them. It's a good thing he's got muscles. 

I also wanted to show you the pictures of the tree's in my yard. Yesterday I walked by the window and was suddenly was taken back by the fanastic-ness of the trees in my back yard. 

Y'all, the leaves are putting up a show that makes me almost want to weep and laugh all at the same time.
These pictures aren't even good. They look so much better in real life!

I had something else I wanted to tell you, but for the life of me I cannot remember what it was.

Oh well! La Vida Dulce!