Monday, October 31, 2011

Gratitude Journal Monday

It's Monday and it's Halloween! What could be better than a little gratitude mixed with lots of candy and laughing children? Gratitude is a funny thing; the more gratitude you declare, the better your life. If you would like to begin your own gratitude journal, then click here for the details and go back to where I began. If you've taken steps to start your own gratitude journal, kudos to you and thanks for joining me again, today. Happy Halloween and safe trick-or-treating!

81. I am grateful for Airborne (works for me!) keeping me healthy as hubby and son get over their viruses.
82. I am grateful for kids' over-the-counter medicines meant to keep my son's fever down, his throat at bay, and his aches and pains subdued.
83. I am grateful for my son's recovery after a weekend of rest and fluids so he can enjoy trick-or-treating this evening (let's hope there's not a relapse).
84. I am grateful my son gives me every Reeses' Peanut Butter Cup he gets in his Halloween bag - yummy!
85. I am grateful I know God.

Thank you for joining me on this journey and have a wonderful and safe Halloween. Would you like to share any gratitude here?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Goodbye Week. Hello Weekend. Lessons Learned: Take 18.

Party at The Wiegand's this Weekend!

Goodbye sweet, soggy October as I appreciated each day you gave me.
Goodbye sleep and regular heartbeat as I just saw the scariest movie ever - Paranormal Activity.
Goodbye short week at new school as we hear praise, accolades, and insight for our son at parent/teacher conferences - we're right where we belong.
Goodbye sleepover and getting spoiled at grandparents' house - lucky kid.
Goodbye ghosts, goblins, and ninjas, oh my!

Hello linky party at the Wiegand's (see that cute button over there to the right at the bottom of the column or the link at the top of this post? Consider it your invite).
Hello birthday bowling party with crashing of pins in the alley and in my head - where's the Excedrin?
Hello "classic" family fun enjoying the world-renowned Cleveland Orchestra at their annual Halloween Family Concert.
Hello new followers - I am so excited to meet and get to know each of you better in our bloggy world.
Hello November quietly entering our lives with grace, beauty, and promise. Thank you.

Sneak peak of my Jump Ring Jewelry line: Royal Pearl Bracelet
The lesson I learned this week is I have to stop blaming my delayed, yet-to-be open Etsy shop on my lack of photography skills. That excuse has become old and has been running off the tongue a bit too naturally, lately. My new reason: fear; not so much fear of failure; that  I can handle; in that I have experience. No, it's the fear of success. It's how life may change if I actually start to get orders. Fear, fear. I'm completely relying on God for this and I'm s-l-o-w-l-y taking steps to see if I'm being guided by God...but the excuses come too easily. I've scratched away at the surface of my delay and here is what I've come up with: I must set fear aside making progress, regardless how minimal, each day toward the goal and believe He is with me, holding me up, never letting me fall, guiding me on this journey. In this I must trust and I want to honor that statement in doing something, anything, that helps me move forward toward my goals. Fear of failure doesn't bother me, but taking it one step at a time will, hopefully, lead me to where I was meant to be during this season in my life.

Dear friends, I hope you enjoy a weekend as beautiful as you! What are your plans?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Going Local: Chagrin Valley Antiques

Imagine walking into a store that cleverly disguises itself as the farmhouse home of your dreams. There is nothing majestic, grand, or new about this coveted dream home. No, it's more along the lines of vintage-aged; welcoming and inviting like the arms of a kind, old grandmother; cozy like a flannel blanket you wrap yourself up in on cold nights to warm the body as much as the soul. This embrace is felt as you enter through the front door via the front porch of Chagrin Valley Antiques. It's a quaint, unassuming place that holds so much treasure a sheer glimpse of the place can make one's heart skip a beat. 

Now that I've discovered for myself the wonders and magic this store of antiques, American folk art, and primitives holds, I can honestly say I am abashed at the shrugs I gave the place as I have passed it time and time again for years, always noticing the place, sometimes curious about it, but never stopping in for a looksie. What a mistake! Diana and Tom are the store's proprietors. Diana will more than likely greet you with her bubbly personality filled with spunk and a hint of a wild side from days gone by - but she's not telling. Immediately I can tell she's the kind of woman that never forgets a face. She represents the soul and personality of the place, and her husband, Tom, is, perhaps the quiet, unassuming glue that holds the place together. It's certainly a family affair and I think they make a great team.

OK, enough with the theatrical introductions, let's get on to the specifics of Chagrin Valley Antiques. If you love primitives, folk art, and antiques, you will be doing yourself a disservice if you don't go to this store now! Like, right now! Do not pass go, do not collect $200, go NOW! What's great about the place is they only sell Made in the USA! That's right, everything for sale is made right here, and right when we need it the most. Chagrin Valley Antiques is known for selling these gourds that are as individual as each human being breathing on Earth. The gourds are grown on a farm in Pennsylvania where they are picked, gutted, cleaned, dried, carved, and named - yes, each style of gourd has a name like George or Jack. These gourd guys are delightful and most come with a light attachment to really show off their carving. And, these gourds are seasonal, not just for Halloween. There are Uncle Sam gourds for Independence Day, Easter Bunny gourds, Christmas gourds - it's a year-round "gourd-geous" delight!

If you get a chance, treat yourself to your own feast for the eyes at Chagrin Valley Antiques. With each step the old, wood, wide-planked floors lead you to rooms awaiting to delight your senses. You never know which treasure will find a place into your home and heart.

Chagrin Valley Antiques
15605 Chillicothe Road (Route 306)
Chagrin Falls, OH 44022

* I was not paid in anyway by Chagrin Valley Antiques for this rousing endorsement. My opinions and comments are my own and based solely on my own experience.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What I Made Wednesday {Halloween Paint Chip Pennant}

Halloween is less than a week away and there's time for just one more last-minute Halloween project. If you've been a reader for a bit you might recall a similar paint chip project I did back in July. Click here for all the details. I only made some slight modifications from the original project and I incorporated a great free printable from the adorable Vanessa from nifty thrifty things. It's easy and cheap, but soo cute. I'm not sure what it is about pennants, but they make my heart flutter.

What You'll Need
Paint chip samples in your favorite fall colors
Twine, as long as you need
Pinking shears
Hole Punch
Free printable from nifty thrifty things post from Oct. 18, 2011

What You'll Do
If you need a step-by-step, please refer to my July post. There were some modifications this time around like cutting the paint sample pennants with pinking shears to get that jagged edge. After punching holes for the twine to weave through, I made sure to incorporate Vanessa's cute printable into the color pattern.

What You'll Need to Know to Finish
I don't have room in my house to make and store the holiday specific crafts I create so I make sure many of my crafts do double duty. Click here to see my most versatile craft to date! When Halloween is over I'm soooooo hoping Vanessa will create another free printable with cute Thanksgiving art. If that happens, then I'll switch out the Halloween pennants but keep the other pennants as is. The colors I chose work great for both holidays!

Is your house all decked out for Halloween?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Hoarding Bad. Sharing Good.

Borrowed from The Great Read

My blog friend Michele from The Great Read will appreciate this post. If you haven't checked out Michele's blog, then please pay her a visit because her love for books and the library are contagious. She'll introduce you to such a wide-variety of books, music, and movies, you'll need another lifetime to read, listen, and watch all the ones that interest you.

I rediscovered the library after my son was born. I lost my way to that wonderful brick and mortar wealth of knowledge through my college and early career years. But by the time my son could turn a book's page without tearing it, we'd bring home library books that, together, weighed more than he did. We'd read through the books quickly, and return them quickly, because they were, after-all, not ours to keep.

It was thrilling when my son applied for his very own library card. That meant we could take out double the books we were allowed since we had two library cards available to us - woo hoo! Even though we borrowed tons of books, we always read each one, and returned each one, on time, always.

As my son and I grew older, something changed. We were both still voracious readers but the books were longer, they took more time to read through, and the ton of books we took out would sit there, gathering dust. Our library allows 3-weeks until a renewal and you are allowed to renew up to 20 times. That's a lot of weeks!!! And, they make it so easy as everything can be done online so no excuses really on ever being late, right?

Then last week, it happened. I'll blame it on the blog, I'll blame it on the weather, I'll blame it on anyone but me who is really the one to blame. I went into the library to pick-up some books I ordered per Michele's recommendations see, I'm even blaming Michele and I got the news. The librarian looked down at me upon check out and announced I owed $15.00 in late fees. WHAT?!!!! Yes, $9 on my account and $6 on my son's account. How did this happen? Did I miss the e-mail? Obviously.

Honestly, it wasn't about the money. I considered it a donation where I was the real recipient of the funds, but the GUILT! Oh, the guilt! I couldn't get over it. I'm still having issues as it has wound up in a blog post. I'm dealing, I'm dealing.

When I got home I started investigating all our library stashes, piled high in my bedroom, my son's bedroom, the basket by the DVD player, everywhere in the house. I'd love to say I got a revelation all on my own. I'd love to say I came to my senses and saw the light. But, I have to give credit where credit is due and that would be due to my husband. He came home and, wrought from guilt, I told him about my $15 fine. He took one look at my son and me and said, "When you have over 80 books from the library, you are not reading them, you are hoarding them. The library is not just for you, it's for everybody. You are hoarding. The library is meant for sharing." Glumly, I gathered all the books we weren't currently reading and the ones that were already read, and I'll be returning them all to the library today for others to enjoy. All three bags worth. Enough said.

How often do you visit your local library in a month's time?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Gratitude Journal Monday

Good morning beautiful readers and happy Monday from my heart to yours. Have you started your Gratitude Journal? If you want to learn more about it, then click here. Since I started my Gratitude Journal it has been a sheer awakening for my soul and spirit. Do your own soul and spirit a favor and start yours here, today! Leave a comment for what you may be grateful for on this fine Monday.

76. I am grateful for the awe a field of sunflowers brings.
77. I am grateful my friends are like the stars; even though you don't see them, you know they are there.
78. I am grateful for the delight my darling, little family of 3 brings to me; "3 is our magic number" (remember Schoolhouse Rock?).
79. I am grateful achievement is only limited by the amount of hardwork and dedication you are willing to invest.
80. I am grateful my son earned his first-degree Black Belt and want to thank all of the kind readers who expressed their support and well wishes toward his impending accomplishment. Black Belt is looking good on him!

When you really want something and actually get it, do you believe a higher power had something to do with it or was it all just you?

* Today's photo: unquestionably the best flower photo I have ever taken to date. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Goodbye Week. Hello Weekend. Lessons Learned: Take 17.

Goodbye time flying by so fast I can hardly catch a breath.
Goodbye stopping to smell the fresh, sweet outside air after a fall rainstorm.
Goodbye worst offenders of fast food that I'm omitting from my diet (more on this next week).
Goodbye TaeKwonDo training every day this week for my son's Black Belt Test (nail-biter).
Goodbye last-minute Halloween craft I'll share next week on Wednesday (so cute).

Hello Black Belt test and 3-years of hard work and dedication put to the test for my son - good luck.
Hello watching it all unfold and praying he'll be able to deliver his best (he's only 9 years old).
Hello mother's heart bursting with pride for her son's efforts no matter what the results.
Hello reflection.
Hello acceptance.

This week I learned time seems to move faster while I get older. When I was a kid, time was irrelevant, it really did stand still. But as I become older I see time fleeting from me. As I try to grasp it, trying to slow it down, time oozes from my fingers just like Dr. Seuss' Ooblek. To avoid getting trampled in time's path, I ride it's wave and have week's like this last one - wondering how the end of the week snuck up on me so quickly, so quietly. As I get older the slow, melodic ebb and flow of time are left to the days of my endless childhood memories. Enjoy time as it passes so quickly and turn time into shared moments. It's those memories that are ever-lasting.

Is time moving too fast for you, too?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

My Happiness. My Responsibility.

It's not our fault really, now is it? Since the day we were born we've been relying on others to make us and keep us happy. As babies we weep aloud and a mother's response is to coax and soothe us, to make us happy again, to take away our discomfort. As toddlers we giggle from our gut and the reactions we get from onlookers are that of happiness and genuine smiles. We like it because we begin to make the connection that happiness is an outward emotion that can have positive effects on others and meet our needs when we're hurting. Happiness is an expression of give and take between humans, cause and effect between people, not at all an inward sanction of one's self. As children we look to others and favor those people in our lives who make us most happy. Is it any wonder we grow-up looking to others for our own happiness? Since birth it's the way we've been trained.

It takes a lot of growing up, a lot of inner reflection, and a putting on of big-girl panties to finally conclude that one's own happiness is solely reliant on one's self. I know Hubby means well and his heart is in the right place, but I cringe when I hear my husband say to me, "I just want to make you happy." As a sweet gesture from a husband to his wife, an expected showing of love, I would have accepted that notion 15 years ago, but not now. I know now that no one can make me genuinely happy but me. Sure, there are times others bring happiness to me but that is merely a fleeting emotion - I enjoy it while it's there. But let me ask you something directly. How do you feel when there's nothing exciting going on in your life, nothing in particular to look forward to? Are you happy? Genuine happiness is a state of being, not a state of emotion. And, the choice is yours, really. To be genuinely happy you cannot rely on others because, and I don't care who it is, people will eventually disappoint their fellow man in some capacity (usually not on purpose). Your happiness must come from you. It's what will make you stable. It is what will carry you through all of life's up AND down moments.

Author Elizabeth Gilbert finds just the right words to what I am trying to convey in her ever-so popular book Eat, Pray, Love.
"...people universally tend to think that happiness is a stroke of luck that will maybe descend upon you like fine weather if you're fortunate enough. But that's not how happiness works. Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it, you must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it."
When your eyes awake from slumber each and every morning, before you set your feet on the floor, decide what kind of day you will have. Then do your duty to keep it that way, no matter what may come to pass in the hours that lay ahead of you. You may not be able to control the state of the world around you, but you can be in total control of your own state of being.

When did you first realize your happiness was your own responsibility?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

What I Made Wednesday {Money Jars for Kids: A Financial Lesson}

If you think about it we only do three things with our money: we spend some (so easy), we save some (so hard), and we give some away (sometimes easy, sometimes hard, but you walk away feeling good about it either way). And the earlier you learn this economic concept, the more financially sound you will probably be as an adult. So let's do our kids a favor and have them make these Money Jars this week. You'll have to determine what sizes you want each jar to represent based on your family's values on money. Kids are visual creatures so if you want them to save more than they spend, then make the SAVE! jar the biggest one in the group. For our own project we made the SAVE! jar a smidge bigger than the SPEND! jar and the GIVE! jar was the smallest (not because we're not charitable, but we can't afford to give as equally as we spend or save). By doing this project you'll be teaching your kids a valuable lesson. Whenever I have extra change I hand it over to my son and he appropriates the change in each jar as he sees fit. Again, the visualization of the size of the jars helps kids grasp the concept when allocating the change to the various jars (the largest jar should get the largest portion, etc. etc.).

What You'll Need
Alphabet stickers
Plastic jars (The ones I used are from Target and housed trail mix and dried fruit and come in many sizes. Look in the snack aisle. When we were done eating the munchies, I saved the plastic jars for this project.)
Dremmel Tool for cutting a slit into the plastic lids of the jar

What You'll Do
Have your child paint the outside of the plastic jars with their choice of paint colors. When dry take the alphabet stickers and spell out GIVE!, SAVE!, and SPEND! and stick on to each jar on the sizes you want represented for each.

Throw away the paper slip found inside the lid of the jar. Carefully take a Dremmel Tool to cut in slits atop the lids. Screw the lids back on to the jar.

What You'll Need to Know to Finish
Be sure to place all three jars together in an area where your kiddos can reach easily. Because the paint conceals the money inside it's always a surprise when we open it up at the end of the year and add it all up. The money in SAVE! goes straight into my son's bank account. The money in SPEND! is for my son to do with as he pleases. And finally, the GIVE! money is the best part because my son gets to pick any charity he wants to help - his decision to make.

There's a lot of lessons to be learned here and we upcycled our plastic jars all at the same time!

When do you think is the best age to start teaching our kids about economics and money?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Winners! of a LOVD {Giveaway}

Winner, winner, chicken dinner - for real, I recommend the broasted!!! We have our winners from our Ohio's Amish Country giveaway.

The winner of the dinner for two at the Der Dutchman Restaurant AND $25 gift card to Carlisle Gifts is...
LEFTY, comment #18 who said, "I love the changing colors of the trees...nature does not lie. Wish I was able to decorate my house with these warms's so nurturing like a warm blanket!"

The winner of the $25 gift card to Carlisle Gifts (online store available) is...
NOTORIOUS NICK, comment #13 who said, "I also love the football and basketball games on TV!"

And, the winner of the last $25 gift card to Carlisle Gifts (online store available) is...
MANDY, comment #16 who said, "PUMPKIN PIE! Who doesn't love when you start to see it in stores, you know fall is just around the corner, if not already knocking on the door!"

Congratulations to our winners! To claim your prize you must e-mail me within 48 hours of this post and send me your mailing address. You'll find my e-mail address when you click on "I am LOVD" or "View My Complete Profile" over there in the left-hand column. That's it! If you don't claim your prize in time, the computer will pick again randomly.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the giveaway and for sharing your favorite things about fall. It got us all in the autumnal mood! If planning your Ohio Amish Country Staycation, be sure to check out my suggested itinerary, Part One and Part Two.

Thank you to Dutchman Hospitality for their generous giveaway offerings.
The comments were chosen using No human manipulation occurred in the drawing of winners. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Gratitude Journal Monday

Beautiful friends, it's Monday!! Let's get our head in the game and think about how lucky we are to be living in this world right now. And these days, I think we're getting back to core values and viewing the obvious with gratitude, like having a job, living in an affordable home, raising a happy family or successfully making it on our own. A gratitude journal can change your life, really! To read more, click here. And, once you begin declaring gratitude for what you already have, more will be afforded to you. Just you wait and see. But you have to get started!

71. I am grateful for the warm, lingering smell of last night's wood-burning fire wafting through my home this morning.
72. I am grateful for the POWER of prayer.
73. I am grateful for knowing the difference between truth and justice, and that I only play a role in the first and not the latter.
74. I am grateful for NETFLIX because it's a great alternative to a football game filled with commercials promoting sex and alcohol while young kids just want to watch the game. (We couldn't even get through the first quarter.)
75. I am grateful my husband's occupation is not that of race car driver: my prayers are with Dan Wheldon's family and the entire Indy Car organization.

Big or small, what are you grateful for on this Monday? Leave a comment and share.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Goodbye Week. Hello Weekend. Lessons Learned: Take 16.

Goodbye new haircut that is different than what I'm used to, but I went for it.
Goodbye first performance of new glee club, you guys are rockin' it.
Goodbye 350 degree oven working all day to produce bake sale items.
Goodbye color blue that I'm banning from the rainbow so my cake disaster is more accurate.
Goodbye to an 80-something year old couple I met in line at the grocery store that gave me an opportunity to do something good.

Proud of the Cake in a Jar, Cranberry-Lemon cookies, and Zucchini bread.

Hello Fall Family Fair.
Hello hayrides, football, bonfire, and picnic fare.
Hello hanging out with new school friends.
Hello settling in and planting our new roots quite nicely.
Hello being there in full support for those we love so much.

Total Disaster
Blue failed to leave the cake pan.
My lesson for this week is that I have to remain aware of my talents and gifts to the world. I can't be or do something I was not meant to do because it turns out disastrous. Stick with honing and growing the areas where I am gifted - it's better for the world and for my sanity. Ace of Cakes I am not. In the future, I will finally say "no" to cake baking as it is clearly not my calling.

Don't forget to comment your entry for the LOVD Giveaway! Time is running out!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Requesting an Extension

Did I do a good job distracting you with an awesome giveaway on Tuesday? Did I  make you forget with the adorable craft project on Wednesday? A little over a week ago I wrote a post vowing to do what ever it took to see that my little Etsy shop would open...last Tuesday. I have failed to make that happen, my apologies. But, I'm not going to beat myself up over it. Things happen like I didn't see the light of day on Saturday as I was sick in bed, Monday was Columbus Day and you know I was not going to waste my kiddo's day off from school (we had a blast down by the river) taking pictures of jewelry, and then there's the Fall Family Fair this weekend where I committed to making an entire bakery's-worth of homemade cakes and cookies (I want to make a good impression at our new school so I may have gone a bit overboard).

Yes, I know what you're thinking because I'm thinking the same thing: excuses, excuses, excuses. Well, I'm old enough to have learned that I'm only delaying success, postponing good results. The best is waiting for me and that's my motivation for fulfilling my promise. But I'm not SuperWoman, and I'm not going to make myself sick over trying to be one. What I am, however, is a person who puts her best out there and I want to get the photographs as good as I can for the Etsy shop to really show the jewelry's quality and beauty. That I will not compromise on, no matter what the deadline.

So, kind readers, I humbly ask for an extension for my shop opening. I think we've all been there, delayed fulfillment of a promise, in some capacity or another so I know you'll understand. I won't make any promises now because making excuses takes just as much work but you will be the first to know when the shop finally opens its virtual doors!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What I Made Wednesday {Halloween Framed Rock Art}

I was mowing the lawn, my mind wandering with random thoughts just floating around in my head. One of my thoughts turned to all the creative crafters in the blogosphere and how they never cease to amaze me with their unending ideas. I am in awe every day. I was trying to figure out how those amazing bloggers are able to store all the items they create week after week after week. I was quite perplexed because I personally could not afford the space to be that creative each week. I would certainly run out of room after the first couple of months. CRACK. WHOOSH. I was startled from my thoughts when I realized I must have mowed over a rock in the grass and sent it flying through the air like a jetted rocket missile. Annoyed by the event, sure the rock dulled my trim blades, my two random thoughts merged into one - EUREKA - today's project was conceived.

I decided to create a project that was multi-seasonal (ah! helping with the storage issue) and wanted to use rocks gathered from our nearby river and create what you see here. The project is simple, fun, and so uber cute when done.

Angry Bird in background not necessary for project.
What You'll Need
picture frame
flat rocks
flat super magnets
paint of choice
pencil with flat-top eraser
newspaper for surface cover
magnetic spray paint (optional)
chalkboard spray paint
polyurethane clear satin gloss spray paint
super glue

The mat on this frame is getting thrown out any way so I bought this frame, not caring it is for PROM 2011 (been awhile since my prom) at 90% off - $1.98 PLUS 30% off (I had the golden ticket)!!

What You'll Do
The funnest part of this whole project was when my son and I went rock hunting. He's such a natural.

The Rock Hunter
Clean and dry the rocks. Pick your rocks for each letter of your word or phrase.
Paint your rocks.
I used the end of a pencil eraser to make perfect polka-dots.
Use strong glue to adhere magnets to back of rocks.
Glue magnet to the highest surface on the back of the rock.
Spray to seal. It helps the color pop!
Take the frame and glass only to spray with magnetic spray paint. Wait to dry and apply twice more.
Spray the glass and frame with chalkboard paint. Allow to dry and apply again.
Prep the glass chalkboard by covering with chalk sweeps, then wipe with a paper towel.
Your experience may be different but the magnetic paint did diddly squat to hold my rocks to the glass. My solution: my obnoxiously powerful magnets held up the rocks by sandwiching the glass between the rock's magnet and another magnet on the back. See the picture? The rock is on the left, the additional magnet is on the right, and both magnets are sandwiching the glass.
Keeping with the Halloween theme, I took an orange chalk and colored the frame edge.

What You'll Need to Know to Finish
Put the frame all back together again. I placed the little ghost on the edge of the frame using the same sandwiching method with the magnets. I love the 3-dimensional effect. My son added candy corn chalk drawings around the rocks as an added touch. Voila!

So do you get it? Multi-seasonal! When Halloween is done I'll remove these rocks, wipe down the chalkboard, and paint new rocks for Thanksgiving, for Christmas, you get the idea. Talk about space saver!!!! Do you like it? This was so much fun to do, but I liked the rock hunting with my kiddo the best.

Don't forget to click here to enter the awesome Amish Country Giveaway! Just leave a comment and you've entered to win! (Comments for entry must be submitted on the the Giveaway post.)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A LOVD {Giveaway}: Ohio's Amish Country

There is no place else in Ohio that encapsulates the essence of Autumn as does Ohio's Amish Country. The glistening sun spotlights the crimson and golden leaves amid the panoramic, rolling countryside, all for your viewing enjoyment. This showcase of color is one of the best you'll find in the Buckeye State.

During the summer month's I posted our Staycation Adventures through Amish Country; read Part One and Part Two. These posts will help you plan the best trip possible if you're not familiar with the Walnut Creek and Sugar Creek areas. And, it will introduce you to the Der Dutchman Restaurant and Carlisle Gifts, today's giveaway sponsor.

NOW for the Giveaway: The generous folks at the Der Dutchman Restaurant are offering dinner for two at their fantastic, yummy establishment along with a $25 gift certificate to Carlisle Gifts (there is seriously not another gift shop around as beautiful as this place). And because the fine people at Dutchman Hospitality love to spread the wealth, they are offering 2 additional $25 gift certificates to Carlisle Gifts, as well. Not from Ohio and not planning to visit any time soon? No problem! Carlisle Gifts has a great online store carrying beautiful hardwood cutting boards, adorable wooden biscuit cutters, oh, I can go on and on. So be sure to enter no matter where you are from!

It's SO EASY to enter - rules are simple this time around. All you have to do is leave a comment AS MANY TIMES AS YOU WOULD LIKE indicating what you like best about the fall season. Each comment will be considered as an entry. You have until Sunday, October 16 to leave your comments for entry. 

Not sure how to leave a comment if you don't blog? No prob.
a. Click "Comment" at the end of this post
b. Type your comment in the "Leave your comment" box
c. Enter the word verification
d. Choose "Name/URL" as your identity if you don't know what the other choices are
e. Just put your name (or what you want to go by) in the Name Field
f. Don't have to put anything in the URL field - when the winner is picked, they'll have to claim the prize by e-mailing me next Tuesday
g. Then click "Publish your comment"

3 winners will be chosen by computer - 1st prize will receive dinner for two at the Der Dutchman and a $25 gift certificate to Carlisle Gifts, and second and third prize winners will each receive a $25 gift certificate to the gift shop. You must check back on Tuesday, October 18 for the list of winners. Winners must privately e-mail me their home addresses within a 48-hour period from time of announcement to claim their prize.

Lilana Slater from via Pinterest

I encourage everyone to visit Ohio's Amish Country this season. The views are spectacular and breathtaking. This is truly a great prize to win and I thank Dutchman Hospitality from the bottom of my heart for their generous hearts and sharing ways. Thank you, Vicki!

So, get your entries in and comment: What do you like best about Autumn?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Gratitude Journal Monday

Lilana Slater via from Pinterest

Awhile back I found this great print you see here on my bloggy friend's blog site at Zen and Living Simply (check her out, she's funny, quirky, and has a good attitude). I liked it so much, in fact, I pinned it to my Pinterest account. Since doing so you wouldn't believe how many people have repinned my pin. I'm talking A.LOT of people. So, it got me to thinking how these simple facts resonate with us all and how simply seeing the facts remind us of just how lucky we are to be living the way we do. What do we really have to complain about? So today, my gratitude journal will contain the simple basics on which gratitude should be founded upon. Want to start your own gratitude journal? Click here to get started.

66. I am grateful for the food in my fridge, the clothes on my back, and the roof over my head.
67. I am grateful for the wealth I have accumulated.
68. I am grateful I do not personally know the horrors of war.
69. I am grateful for the blessed life I lead everyday.
70. I am grateful I learned how to read and write. 
(In case you were wondering, I was grateful for my health last week.)

Happy Columbus Day to the Americas and Spain and happy day to all!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Goodbye Week. Hello Weekend. Lessons Learned: Take 15.

Goodbye hanging out with great gal pals crafting, talking, antiquing, lunching, sharing.
Goodbye perfect autumnal weather filled with golden sunshine and crimson leaves.
Goodbye meeting my beautiful, new God-daughter as she slept so sweetly and soundly in my arms.
Goodbye learning jewelry photography techniques by the seat of my pants - I think I can, I think I can.
Goodbye to our lifetime's number one rainmaker, Steve Jobs.

Hello discovery of a new world; thanks for the long weekend, Mr. Columbus.
Hello family time and some down time.
Hello yard ornaments waiting to be wrapped in burlap and tucked away for their winter hibernation.
Hello new, multi-seasonal craft project I can't wait to share with you.
Hello Indian corn, rustling leaves, scarecrows, and apple cider.

My fun lovin' son, circa Fall 2005

This week I learned greatness is immortal, but even "Superman" has an expiration date. And when the flesh of greatness disappears from the world, you are left with legend and legacy. Regarding the death of Steve Jobs, "We all knew it was going to happen, we all didn't want it to happen. Yet, when it finally happened, we all couldn't believe it happened." - Mark, my insightful husband.

To read my admiration for Steve Jobs when he stepped down as CEO of Apple, click here.
To read my husband's tribute to Steve Jobs on his death, click here.
Time to move forward.

Enjoy the weekend everyone.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Steve Jobs - Insanely Great

When Steve Jobs stepped down from his post as Apple's CEO due to his illness I wrote a blog post paying tribute to his leadership prowess and unrelenting push for innovation. As you may or may not know, my husband's business is focused on and around Apple. I thought it only fitting he write today's tribute as a guest blogger so, dearest husband, take it away.

On April 1st, 1976, the world saw perhaps the greatest "joke" of all time when two hippy geeks came together to completely change the world. On that spring day so many years ago, the seeds of the world's most influential and most valuable company were first sown. 35 years later, the influences of Apple, Inc. are everywhere. Whether or not you are a fan of Apple, there is no arguing that the company has had an impact on nearly every person in America and many throughout the world. And most of the innovation has come from the driving vision of Steve Jobs.

Described by many as the Thomas Edison of our age, Steve Jobs' contributions are far reaching and will be documented by many in the coming days. But in the end, he just made our lives better. Better like the light bulb. Better like the car. Better like the telephone. Just simply better.
Thank you, Steve. The world is a better place because of you.

Steven P Jobs 1955 - 2011

Thank you for those thoughts, sweetheart. Steve made our technology-filled lives better by making the unthinkable attainable. Rest In Peace, Steve, and thank you.

How have you been touched by Steve Jobs' visionary gifts to the world?

What I Made Wednesday {Applesauce Cake}

The big finale to your Homemade Applesauce you made last goes! Note: If you have no motivation on making your own applesauce, no worries. When I don't have time to make my own sauce which is 99% of the time I like to use store bought Mott's Natural Chunky Applesauce. It's yummy either way so no need to fret about a thing!

Applesauce Cake

What You'll Need
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 sticks unsalted, room temperature butter
2 cups packed light-brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 large eggs
2 cups Homemade Applesauce or Mott's Natural Chunky Applesauce
nonstick cooking spray
Bundt pan, preferred but not a show stopper
confectioners' sugar, optional

What You'll Do
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Coat the pan with cooking spray and don't be shy.

Whisk together flour, baking soda, kosher salt, cinnamon and set aside.
Using a mixer, beat butter, brown sugar, honey, and eggs until fluffy.
Lower mixer speed and add the dry mixture SLOWLY to avoid a flour shower. Blend well.
Add the applesauce and beat for 10 seconds.
Pour batter in well-greased pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes in a 350 degree, preheated oven.


What You'll Need to Know to Finish
When a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean, remove from oven. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then invert cake on plate, ridge side up. Cool completely. When cool, dig in and sprinkle on some powdered sugar if you are so inclined. Enjoy!

This cake is great in the morning with tea or coffee. Do you like to have sweet or savory for breakfast?


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