Monday, October 7, 2013

Gratitude Journal Monday

Start saying, "Thank you, thank you, thank you!" Stars are aligning for you and I can't tell you how good things are going to turn out for you, just like I've always known they would. But receiving always begins with giving. No matter how you fight it, there's no denying the unquestionable Law of the Universe: what ever you send out will come back to you! I wish you would just try it and see what I mean. It's a Law more true than a cloudless blue sky. It's more pure than a baby's giggle. Once you choose to accept this Law as truth, you'll have so much fun anticipating what the Universe is planning for you as you spread joy, love, and gratitude. Be thankful that you're about to get something to be thankful for. Anticipate it and it will come. As long as you're giving with a pure heart, you will be taken care of and you'll receive so many unbelievable blessings in your life. Just be thankful for the big, be thankful for the small, be thankful for the miracles, and be thankful for the simple.

506. I am thankful for the prettiest blue I've ever seen blanketing the sky this morning.
507. I am thankful I have the eyes to see such beauty in nature.
508. I am thankful I have the right heart to be able to enjoy the simplicity of life, to notice the little things, and not take the basics for granted.
509. I am thankful that I am forgiven on the days when I fall short, forgetting to look up at the sky and notice its color and enjoy its beauty.
510. I am grateful that my heart is changing little by little each and every day and I am beginning to see all that I have, not all that I have not.
"Only by grace and gratitude will the heart become strong enough to change the mind."
- Lilly Slater, LOVD

Monday, September 30, 2013

Gratitude Journal Monday

The weather is fully aware that it's Monday morning. Cloudy and gray, the rain falls, not in droplets, but in a constant mist that surrounds your entire face, hair, and body as you try to get your morning walk in. I think about how much this same mist treatment facial would cost at a ritzy spa? I knew I should have done my morning walk in a bathrobe and slippers. Maybe next time.

Happy Monday to you all! Now, let's get to some gratitude...

501. I am grateful for ordinary days.
502. I am thankful for the warm cup of coffee I hug between my hands this misty morning.
503. I appreciate the good smells that hit you when you enter a home that just made apple crisp.
504. I am grateful for the start of Autumn.
505. I am thankful for the nice weather promised this week; upper 70's and sunny!


Monday, September 23, 2013

Gratitude Journal Monday

Maybe things didn't turn out quite the way you had anticipated. You're not alone. The majority of people in this world seldom see their plans work out as they hoped and wished they would. But, that's why they're called dreams; an intangible goal that is so sweet to the spirit it entertains us on our journey while we try to capture its reality. Sadly, there's a lot that goes into converting dreams to real life. Sometimes it doesn't matter how hard you work or how long you struggle, the dreams you've been dreaming may not be yours to hold. Some times it's bad luck, some times it's poor timing. Some times the dream is not worth the compromises that must be made to attain it. But, those are only excuses to why we aren't living our dream. The real point is, we may be chasing after the wrong dream.

Has your dream gone stale? Every so often we have to take stock and reevaluate what it is that we're so busy chasing. We need to remind ourselves that it's OK to change a dream we visioned years ago, when we were different people, not the person we've become. Change the dream to fit your new goals. Say a little silent prayer for the death of an old dream and rejoice at the prospect of trying to take hold of a new one.

Lean in close, friends, because I want you to hear this. Whether or not you ever achieve your dreams just doesn't matter. What matters is the attitude you have during your chase. Don't get depressed, upset, or feel devalued because things didn't turn out the way you expected. The true dream we all should be striving for is enjoying the chase and being flexible to handle the turns, be strong when we are on the downward slope, and be humble and thankful when we find ourselves on the upswing.

I know even the most positive people get down at times when things don't seem the way they should be. This is when my declarations of gratitude get real nitty gritty, down to the most simplest of thanks. Will you join me?

496. I am grateful for my life, just as it is.
497. I am grateful for Super Hubby and Kiddo, just as they are.
498. I am grateful for my parents' love.
499. I am grateful I can pay my bills.
500. I am grateful I have a fridge filled with good food.

Happy birthday, Betty!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

You Will Eat Your Words

Every so often I do a little exercise a couple months out of the year with life's good ol' instruction book, The Bible. Proverbs is perfectly sectioned into 31 chapters and if you dedicate time to reading a Proverb a day, you will receive in return a month rewarded by peace and contentment. I'm not kidding, try it. Nothing soothes the soul like a month of Proverbs.

So, earlier this week on the 18th of September, I turned my well-used, broken-in Bible to Proverbs 18 and halted my inner voice on Verse 21. I read it over and over again until I was inspired to share with you its message meant for us all:
"Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and they who indulge in it shall eat the fruit of it (for death or life)." - Proverbs 18:21
To all of you who, like me, have eaten our words a time or two in our lives, I invite you to dwell on this Verse. Recite it over and over again until it begins to sink in deep within the caverns of our soul and roots itself into the core of our being. Until we realize the power of our words, we will not want to tame our tongue. When we speak, we are either giving life to future blessings or we are squashing them. When you speak badly of someone or something or if you fill your mouth with negativity, you are damning yourself. The worst part is, if you're paying attention, you know it. That strange weird feeling you get in the pit of your stomach is conviction, knowing that what you are speaking is not good for anyone, and especially not you.

The sour words we speak will, no doubt, deliver to us a bitter result. But, if we speak words of encouragement, the blessings will be sweet. We have free will, we get to choose. Gain control of your mouth and you can gain control of your life through the promises of God. Think about it.

To keep my mouth at bay, I use this little checklist for "THINK". I committed it to memory and when I have an opinion to share, I immediately go to this list first and it helps me to not be in a position where I might have to eat my words later. I have a sweet tooth so let's leave any bitterness at the gate of the throat, not allowing it to spill out over the tongue.

THINK not only applies to how you speak to others, but how you speak to yourself. If you're spouting words like "I'll never be happy" or "I'll never see my dreams come true" or "I just can't do it", then, you know what? You are right. You have spoken those words and the power contained in those words make it so. When you start speaking to yourself in an inspiring and kind way, you will begin to believe that you can do the things you are speaking so positively about. The power of those words will begin to work on your mind to believe in what you desire, which will translate into seeing good results in your life. Watch those powerful words and choose them wisely. And always remember the choice we sometimes forget we have: silence.

Have your words ever gotten you into trouble? Are you ready to take control?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Gratitude Journal Monday

Good Monday to you! To refresh your memory, I like to take Monday's to rejoice in the peace and plenty of my life. 490 gratitude declarations ago, I began my Gratitude Journal. Click here to see my beginnings and my reasons for getting started. My hope is for you to be inspired to begin your own Gratitude Journal.

This is probably the most important post I write all week! It doesn't matter what you are going through, gratitude is the key to happiness. Gratitude is your missing puzzle piece to peace. Gratitude is the spark that ignites joy, love, and understanding. Gratitude is the root of all things good.

There may be days when getting out of bed is a challenge. You're probably sitting there at your computer right now saying, "Oh, Lilly, you don't know my problems." I may not know your specific burdens, but I do know that issues are a part of everybody's life. I know that troubles will always be in our paths, even on our bestest of days. But, stop your complaining and start saying thank you for all that is good in your life. Declaring thanksgiving and abandoning the negative perspective on your life is a natural lifter of spirits. There is power in that action!

What if your life is peachy keen and you're sitting there thinking, "Life is good. I can't complain. I'm thankful enough, even though I don't officially declare it." Uh-oh! Don't be fooled by a complacent attitude of gratitude. You've got to record your blessings and tuck them away for when you truly need a reminder of all that you're thankful for. It's when times are bleakest that we truly forget our good fortunes and our simple blessings. It's in those times when we can't get our minds off ourselves or our problems that we must take out our Gratitude Journal and begin to be reminded of what's truly important and how the darkness we may find ourselves in will be unveiled by grace and thanks.

So, you see, it doesn't matter. In bad times, give thanks as much as you would in good times. It's a habit you want to own. See how wonderfully blessed your life becomes when you make gratitude a priority in your life. I hope you give it a try. Nothing is too big or too small to declare!

491. I am grateful for apple picking season - love those Honey Crisps!
492. I am thankful for my family's understanding, grace, good humor and patience.
493. I am grateful both surgeries that occurred last week on my grandmother and my father yielded successful outcomes - thank you God!
494. I thank God for giving me the strength in the morning to get myself out of bed and spend time with Him through His Word.
495. I am grateful we arrive to and from school safely and without too much trouble.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Such a Tease

Reader, please forgive me. It's been a week since my last post. After a beautiful 2-months off during the summer, I was back last Monday. Then, the next day, crickets. The silent treatment continued throughout the week until broken by today's post. Many of you thought you were experiencing Internet problems, or perhaps your Feedburner subscription went haywire again? But, no, not this time. It's not you, it's me.

With few exception I've written a blog post every week day for the past 2 years. That's a lot of posts! Writer's Block isn't an ailment I've had luxury to use as an excuse for not posting on time. I'm filled with opinion and am willing to share with all who are willing to endure. But, I have fallen victim to time management. As Kiddo gets older, I find I have less, not more time to sit at the keyboard and type. I have and always will clean my own house, do the family laundry and ironing (yes, ironing), prepare home-cooked meals, cut the lawn (although I've wrangled Kiddo into doing it recently), and devote some time to service. 'Tis the season for college applications so I've been busy with clients from my college admissions consulting business. Whew! After all that, I'm surprised I was able to be as consistent as I was these last few months!

The last month of my blogging everyday got me to start thinking about the quality of my posts. I had all this self-inflicted pressure, not to share meaningful, heartfelt, well-written and equally well thought-out ideas, but rather to just post daily. Posting everyday regardless of content became the goal and that was wrong. I began to feel the blog was an obligation and that was wrong.

It was evident to me that I got burned out by blogging daily, hence the 2-month summer break. I re-evaluated the blog, its purpose and mine within it, and I've come to a conclusion. First, I love writing and the fact that so many visit this blog to read what I've written is as humbling as it is awesome. So, I'm not going to stop writing and sharing with you, dear reader. Second, I respect and love the people who take time out of their busy lives to sit awhile and read what I've written. Because of that, I believe the LOVD reader deserves nothing short of the best posts I can give. That may come daily for awhile, or it may come in spurts. Regardless, you will only receive my best going forward. Excellence is my new obligation.

Of course, excellence doesn't mean perfection (thank goodness). It means going a little bit beyond what you know you can get away with otherwise. Imagine a world where everyone could do just that, go a little bit beyond. Mediocrity has become the world's new standard and I don't want it to become mine. If you're not careful, you can easily catch this contagious disease. I choose to be better than that and I choose to apply excellence to every facet of my life, including this blog. You deserve it just as much as I do.

My posts my be sporadic in the future. You don't have to point out that my blog name is feel LOVD "EVERYDAY". Yeah, I know, but sometimes life is ironic like that. You don't need a blog post to feel "loved" everyday. If a post from LOVD happens to be a new one for you to read upon your visit, well all the more love to feel that day! Just know that when you read future posts, you're getting my most excellent best.

With future posts being inconsistent, I'd hate for you to lose out on any new writings. Please consider subscribing to feel LOVD everyday so each time I write a new post, it gets delivered to your Inbox as an e-mail. If you'd like to sign-up, just enter your e-mail address in the box to the right under the heading "Feel LOVD Everyday by e-Mail". You will receive an e-mail from Feedburner to which you will have to respond to by clicking on a link for verification. That's it, just a two-step process and you're done! Thanks and LOVD tidings, Lilly

Warning: the verification e-mail from Feedburner ususally ends up in your SPAM folder so check there to get the verification e-mail.

And, if all else fails, there's always Facebook. If you "Like" LOVD, you'll know each time a new post awaits your loving attention. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Labor Day in a Whole New Way

Summer 2013 = Lots of friend-time, baseball, golf, sparklers, movies
Hey, LOVD readers, I'm back! My hope is that you've had a fantastic summer and there's not one item left to cross off of that seasonal bucket list of yours. My summer respite was filled with hot, sticky, and, more times than I care to admit, very rainy days where time was not part of our vocabulary and commitments to any type of schedule were scoffed at. No, this summer was brilliant in a different way that many wouldn't understand. There was no spectacular vacation of a lifetime. The days didn't consist of lounging at the local pool hours on end, not this year. Instead, we eased into the day each morning without alarm clocks, sat leisurley at the breakfast table while reading this book series aloud together. We'd linger a little while longer on the back deck, soaking up the East-rising sun before heading inside to get ready for a day that promised nothing but time, rest, relaxation, and rejoicing life. Ahhh, now I know the meaning of a lazy summer. You have to experience those every once in awhile. 

And so, appropriately, I'm back on Labor Day. Not for more R&R, but rather to mark the beginning of my own labor. It's time to get back to the work I love: writing, sharing, discovering, growing, connecting with you. It's time to birth some new dreams ("labor" - get it?) and breathe life into forgotten ones. The contractions are beginning. Will you stick around with me here and see what we get? Welcome back, LOVD readers.

Happy "Labor" Day!!!!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Enjoying Summer, Family, and Friends

I get a little nervous around this time of year. It seems Independence Day marks the summer check point for me. There's only half of summer vacation left and I begin to reevaluate my days. I don't want summer to melt away like a popsicle in the sticky hands of a 2-year old.

There's also only so many hours in a day. I've never been good at having each foot in 2 different canoes, so, I have to cut some time-consuming activities out of my schedule, just for a bit. One of those time stealing activities is blogging so I'm taking a short term break to be TOTALLY present for my family and my friends. I will soak up the sun, read a few books sitting on the bedside, and prepare exciting meals for Super Hubby and Kiddo. I may even get used to taking some afternoon naps.

Whoever said we could have it all lied. Having it all doesn't come all at once, all at the same time. Not if you want to keep your sanity and happiness. Life is about making choices. I love blogging and I'll be back soon but, right now, I choose to balance my life with other elements. I hope you stick around and visit often. If you don't want to miss any future posts, please consider signing up via e-mail Subscription, delivering you every new post in your e-mail Inbox.

To tie you over, re-visit my blog Series on Elements of Happiness. It's a goodie.
Elements of Happiness Part 1
Elements of Happiness Part 2
Elements of Happiness Part 3
Elements of Happiness Part 4
Elements of Happiness Part 5
Elements of Happiness Part 6

Be back soonish and enjoy your summer days! I know I will.



Friday, June 28, 2013

Goodbye Week. Hello Weekend. Lessons Learned: Take 101.

Goodbye Super Hubby's birthday celebration with all his faves like ribs and angel food cake with 7-minute frosting.
Goodbye night games all this week; getting home at 10:30 after a baseball game is not fun, especially when it's a loss.
Goodbye lounging poolside pretty much most days and not feeling guilty about it because it's Summertime!
Goodbye feeling the pains of summer with my burnt to a crisp, lobster-red legs - ouch.
Goodbye picnic in the park with $2 burgers, $1 dogs, and live music - love this city where I live!
Happy Birthday, Super Hubby!
Hello keeping up with client obligations amidst all this summertime fun.
Hello low-key time at home getting the yard work finished, if the weather cooperates.
Hello searching Pinterest for a new recipe I'll venture to make and we'll feast on the deck.
Hello wishing we had a gas grill instead of charcoal on those days when you need the heat high fast (but the charcoal taste is so worth the extra effort).
Hello itching to plan a little get together for July 4th and wondering if I really have the time.

My lesson learned during this week of intense heat is when you're going to be poolside ALL day, don't forget to put sunscreen on ALL parts of your body. Shoulders? Check. Face? Check. Arms? Check. Back and chest? Check. Legs? Oops!

I'm paying for it, that's for sure. I'm in so much pain that by the end of the day, I can't even stand, that's how much they are throbbing for relief. I should know better so, in the wise words of Baz Lurhmann, Wear Sunscreen!

Have a pain-free weekend and be smart, lather on the lotion!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

When Fiction Means Trouble

Caution: Reading fiction may cause you to lose yourself.

Disappointed by my proclamation of not being a lover of fiction, my bloggy buddy, Michele, encouraged me to give The Dog Stars by Peter Heller a try. I respect Michele and I love reading her blog. She's always in search of good books at the library and I hunted down her recommendation at my own borrowing institution.

I started reading. Then, I read some more. Then I sat down to read some more and was surprised to find Super Hubby home from work and I hadn't even thawed anything for dinner. I read some more and found Kiddo was going to be late to his baseball game (only happened once so give me a break). I then realized why I'm not a lover of fiction. It's that I can't be. Good books seem to take over my life. I want to turn the page and find out more. I want to see where the story is going, how it will play out, how it will end. This brief escape encapsulates my attention sometimes and I don't get a lot done, unfortunately.

The close calls were worth it, though. The book was gripping. There was even one section of the book that may have been along the lines of 50 Shades of Grey (not that I've ever read that one, but I don't live in a hole, either). Yes, that chapter was attention grabbing to say the least.

My most favorite part of the book was a couple of lines at the beginning and I absolutely love the words so I wanted them captured here on my blog. I don't want to forget how important and meaningful these words can be.

"I thought Maybe there is a different translation for meek. Maybe it's not the meek who inherit, maybe it is the simple. Not will inherit, the earth, they already own it." - Peter Heller, The Dog Stars
Oh, how true that is. OK, Michele, I'm ready for another recommendation! I'll keep visiting and see what you got!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

What I Made Wednesday {Lord of the Rings/Minecraft Birthday Party}

Ever since Kiddo was born, we've always had his birthday party at the house, put on by Super Hubby and me, and always themed to the max. When Kiddo got to be a little older, we took birthday-themed parties to a whole new level. Each party we created whisked the party guests to an imaginary world, depending on the theme. To get a glimpse of the lengths we go to create these imaginary worlds, just check out Kiddo's birthday party from last year, click here.

For every party we made it easy for the kids to really get into the theme. Kiddo has always been into imaginative play and he befriended many kids of the same nature, so you can imagine how cool it was to don a Jedi uniform and pretend you were mastering Jedi skills like at the Star Wars party. Or, how about donning a pirate's sash, eye patch, and bandana as they scavaged the yard looking for doubloons at the pirate party. There has been a spy party, Ninja party, I can go on and on. As wonderful as this was, we knew it would come to an end once Kiddo turned a certain age. That age was 11. Kiddo still likes imaginative play, but he was inviting kids that perhaps could not appreciate getting into the spirit of things and dressing up and pretending to be in another world just wasn't going to go over as a huge hit.
The various adventure locations on the map.

So, how do you have a Lord of the Rings birthday party, create a special world, and get 11-year olds to be willing participants? You create a virtual world where they adventure into a video game, all together as a Fellowship, and complete an adventure Minecraft-style!

Super Hubby has his own computer consulting firm so it didn't take that much effort to procure 8 computers, and all the other hardware we needed to make this work. To see how we prepped for the party, click posts here and here to get caught up. Now, on to the party itself!

The explanation of this party is beyond my comprehension so if you're really interested in replicating this party, please e-mail me directly and Super Hubby will give you all the technical details. Here's our To-Do list for the party from a technical level. Techies should get it.

Dense Forest
Time Portal
Upgrade Beds, chests
Fix mountain pass – stairs out, bridges
Minas Tirith – scavenger hunt
Update syntax of notes
Texture pack
Setup laptops

spawn-animals – false
view-distance- 9(far)
Add my username to ops.txt to become operator
Test move command, etc

On a more understandable level, imagine 8 party guests, brought in to the party as Elves, following the calling indicated by the party invitation, see it here. Each has their own computer and mouse already awaiting their arrival. Each guest sits at the computer and designates their own avatar in the virtual world where adventure awaits. Thanks to a server, each guest is in the same world, at the same time. They see each other. They must work together, as a Fellowship, to complete the adventure. Contrary to Minecraft, this adventure requires no mining or crafting. It is purely an adventure.

At designated areas, there are notes dispersed to our adventurers to help them along their journey. Because I didn't want our guests to be glued to a monitor for the entire party, we had designated stops along the way during the adventure. For instance, when they left Hobbiton, they were to all meet at the Prancing Pony in Bree. There, the elves left their computers and came upstairs to partake in meaty snacks only a Hobbit could love: salami, cheese, crackers, olives, pickles, and ham. To quench their thirst, we served Butter Beer. (I know, it's a Harry Potter thing but it was such a big hit last year, we had to repeat it).

  I purchased iced coffee glasses at the Dollar Store and embellished the glasses with border stickers. Believe it or not, I've washed these glasses in the dishwasher and the stickers have stayed put!

Back to the adventure, and through the portal, our Elves returned to their posts and continued on. They stopped at a cave; another opportunity to take a break from the computer screens. We served them Lembas Bread at that point.

Before the big battle, they reached the Castle in Gondolin. Here, I used our dining room and made a royal spread consisting of very Lord of the Rings-inspired foods like potatoes, steak on a stick, chicken kabobs, more Lembas Bread, corn on the cob, and, of course, more Butter Beer. During the feast, we found some great riddles we had the kids try to figure out during dinner. Great fun!

Finally, the kids went back to their adventure for the climactic end - the big battle. They all had to work together to defeat the enemy. Afterwards, they headed to Minas Tirith for a scavenger hunt. Each floor, 5 total, had at least 4 artifacts in chests which the birthday guests could find. It was a free for all at Minas Tirith.

This 5-hour party was so cool and I know I'm not doing it any justice in describing it in my non-techie way. Everyone had a blast, it was unique, and memorable, and we still created a world, just in a virtual sort of way. So cool! Great job, Super Hubby!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Birthday Wishes for Super Hubby

What do you say to a man who holds your heart? What do you do for a man who gave you the world wrapped up in one little bundle of boy? Whatever it is, it just isn't enough to express my love and devotion to Super Hubby. Happy Birthday, my sweet!

Kiddo and I love you dearly, respect you immensely, and cherish you like crazy. There won't be a big party, expensive gifts, or 45 balloons, but there will be love. Love is all we need!

I love you and consider myself the luckiest girl in the world! Happy birthday to my best friend. 

And, since it is a day of gifts, congrats to apham17! You are the winner of the Jack and the Giant Slayer Blu-Ray Combo Pack! Just shoot me an e-mail with your address and it'll be sent to you! Congrats!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Gratitude Journal Monday

We've hit the 2-year mark at feel LOVD everyday! Thanks so, so much for being here with me. My only hope when I started this blog was to reach out to those needing a bit of encouragement and inspiration on the days when you needed it. This blog also became a source of creative spark that glowed around the world thanks to many What I Made Wednesday projects. The power of the Internet is real and daunting all at the same time. Although my numbers don't even come close to some "professional" bloggers, I'm pretty proud, anyways.

515 Posts.
85,436 Page Views.
75 Countries.

486. I am thankful for 2-years of inspiration and finding the right words to share with you.
487. I am thankful for the blogging community and all its wonderfully talented people.
488. I am grateful for my brand new camera that allows me to capture moments so beautifully.
489. I am thankful Feedburner started working again for my e-mail subscribers.
490. I am grateful for you, LOVD reader, and your interest in visiting my blog; thanks for being here with me.

Here's to more inspiration, more creativity, and more love in the next year of LOVD! 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Goodbye Week. Hello weekend. Lessons Learned: Take 100.

My Dad and Kiddo
Goodbye blessed week filled with summer sunshine and warmth.
Goodbye celebrating the first win finally of this summer's baseball season.
Goodbye pool time, friends time, and family time.
Goodbye Kiddo sleeping in for the first time - ever.
Goodbye good times pickin' strawberries at the patch.

Hello continuing dental saga for Super Hubby.
Hello hair cuts for the boys.
Hello baseball team pictures, a game, and a graduation party - whew!
Hello putting our picked strawberries to good use with a homemade shortcake recipe.
Hello Sunday lounging and pancakes.

My lesson learned this week is something's got to give. When you're "doing summer" at home, there's a lot of things to do and see, and between it all, blogging falls pretty low on the list. I even missed this week's What I Made Wednesday. I just couldn't squeeze in the hours needed to write the post between Kiddo's baseball game, hours at the batting cage, preparing breakfast, lunch, and dinner at home, and still continuing my never-ending spring clean-up of the yard and garden beds. So, I'm not going to sweat it. If I get out a post, great! If I don't, oh well. There's just too much summer waiting for us and once it's gone, it's gone. I hope you take the time to soak up every little bit of summer, too!

Great weekend ahead! Hope yours is awesome. Happy Summer Solstice!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

What? It's Thursday! and a Giveaway

How did Thursday happen? I thought the catalyst for Thursday coming was What I Made Wednesday. Oops, sorry! What happened? Summer happened. 'Nuf said.

Check back next Wednesday for the conclusion of the Lord of the Rings/Minecraft birthday party. To catch up, you can click here and here.

To make up for my lack of post, please accept this giveaway as a peace offering. Winning is easy! Just leave a comment and you'll be entered to win this awesome blockbuster movie, Jack and the Giant Slayer. You have until Monday, midnight to leave an entry! Winners to be announced Tuesday, June 25 (Super Hubby's birthday!).

The Giveaway: The Official Blu-Ray Combo Pack

Warner Bros. is proud to announce the arrival of Jack the Giant Slayer released on DVD & Blu-ray on June 18!

Unleashed on the Earth for the first time in centuries, the giants strive to reclaim the land they once lost, forcing Jack (Nicholas Hoult), into the battle of this life to stop them and rescue the princess!

The question is... are you courageous enough to rescue the princess? Are you brave like Jack?  Take the quiz to find out!


The prize will be sent via FedEx or UPS. No P.O. Boxes please.
Disclosure: Please note that the assets included within this message were delivered in promotion of the Warner Bros. release of the Jack the Giant Slayer Blog App. I am working with Warner Bros., and Warner Bros. supplied these materials to me for this giveaway.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Emergency Numbers

When life gets a little tough to handle, why is it we grab the phone and dump our frustrations on girlfriends, mothers, sisters, anyone who will listen to our rants? Maybe it's time we turn to another? When life is throwing you a curve ball, try calling one of these numbers instead and see if it helps. The person usually at the receiving end may very well thank you for it!

Pin it, print it, use it.


Monday, June 17, 2013

Gratitude Journal Monday

There will be days of gloom, days of sorrow, days of not being the awesome person God made you to be. You gotta shake it off and change your view. Perspective is a funny thing, you know. Whenever life is going pretty well, I sometimes still find something to complain about. How silly is that? I almost feel my Father uttering the parenting phrase, "If you don't stop, I'll give you something to complain about." Ok, ok, let's not go that far. I'm just fine with the way things are and I am truly blessed and, sometimes only the fear of God will make me see it. It's time I stop looking for a crisis and start thanking the Universe for not having one. That starts with gratitude.

I'm coming upon my 2-year bloggy anniversary. That would mean almost 2-years in keeping a Gratitude Journal. I cannot detail for you all the amazing things that have happened to me since I've started a Gratitude Journal, there just isn't enough Internet space for the entire testimonial. But, I can tell you that declaring gratitude in a purposeful way will change you as a person. Sure, there will be setbacks and days of questions and confusion and, dare I admit it, selfishness, but no matter what, there will always be progress. If you want to be the best self you can be, the self you know was meant to shine in this world, then I don't think you can achieve your full potential with the absence of gratitude. It is the foundation, the root, the catalyst, to being the person only God could have created to "go about doing good". If your mindset isn't naturally there, take time to declare gratitude on a regular basis and your heart will soon change your mind.

You can start right here, right now. Leave a comment declaring some gratitude and see what happens. My beginnings began almost 2 years ago. Click here to see my start.

481. I am grateful for the audience that has been drawn to my blog, receiving positive messages that are delivered at just the right time to so many.

482. I am grateful for the unchanging and steady love of God; regardless of my many setbacks or my occasional triumphs, His love is constant.

483. I am grateful for my caring and loving family; we're tight and we're mighty, unwavering with God's grace and protection behind us.

484. I am grateful the differences between good and evil, excellence and mediocrity, are clear and very black and white in my mind, with no gray area to confuse me and send me down the wrong path.

485. I am grateful for choosing to follow God's light as he reveals His path for me, little by little, and reminds me I do not walk alone.

Only gratitude can give you what you seek in your own life. But you cannot receive these precious gifts until you get started on your path. Plant the seed of gratitude today and see what blossoms in your life.

Happy Monday, friend!  


Friday, June 14, 2013

Goodbye Week. Hello Weekend. Lessons Learned: Take 99.

Goodbye rain and cool weather, preventing us from taking the plunge at our community pool.
Goodbye beginning a new chapter with a new client: thanks, Dad, for watching Kiddo while I was away.
Goodbye sportin' a new bike basket that makes the loads to the library so much easier.
Goodbye delicious meals whose leftovers transition into other meals: homemade chili one night, delicious chili dogs the next.
Goodbye watching Kiddo sprout right before my very eyes and being glad it's shorts-weather so I don't have to go buy him new pants just yet.

Hello celebrating my grandmother's 90th birthday - party on!
Hello hoping for warmer weather and sunshine for a birthday party at the lake for Kiddo's school-friend.
Hello prayers for my brother-in-law as he sits in a hospital this weekend with renal failure and water in his lungs.
Hello sending strength to my sister-in-law and nephew as they patiently wait for him to come back home.
Hello honoring the awesome fathers in our lives: Super Hubby, my Dad, Pops, J.B., and Grandpa Allen - HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!

My Lesson Learned this week is how much I don't understand the concept of a "lazy summer". Kid's have this down-pat and I wish I could learn a thing or two from them. Kids have a knack for being able to do nothing, and have it be the most entertaining thing in the world. How? If I sit down for even a moment, my mind starts racing to what needs to be done around the house. I begin making a list in my mind and nothing brings me more pleasure than the act of crossing out a task on that list. I've got to get a grip and realize that "the list" will forever be there, growing line by line until I'm put in the grave. Oh, and, surprise!, that day will come without everything being checked off before I check out. It's summertime! Time for me to just chill. It's just too bad I have to work so hard at it.

Have a relaxing weekend and Happy Father's Day!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

What Technology Takes Away

Cover art: Modern Family on Vacation
I'm not a huge techie of a person. In fact, despite the urgings of Super Hubby and friends, I do not own a SmartPhone of any kind. I still use them-there flip-top phones, y'all! Yet, around me the world is moving forward while I'm dragging my heals into the dirt of status quo. I can only speak for myself, of course, as Super Hubby has the latest and greatest. He has to, as a computer consultant. So, our house is filled with gadgets to which I do not know their purpose. There are remotes lying around the house that I'm not exactly sure how to use. Just to turn on our television you need two remotes and you must go through at least a series of 3 action sequences just to catch the local news channel (I feel so bad for the babysitter). And, there are electronic boxes in our home that go blinky-blinky to which I probably rely on daily and not even realize it (i.e. internet router so I can publish this daily blog).

We have some how become so dependent on our electronic devices that we deem it a personal victory, a declaration of freedom, if you will, to turn off the device for an evening. Or, dare I say it? An entire weekend! Why is this an accomplishment? Yet, we itch for the quick e-mail check, the brrinng of the text coming in, just like a crack addict on the first day of re-hab.

I'm beginning to despise the SmartPhone, the iPad, the iPod, because it's taken away something I'm beginning to miss these days: looking into people's eyes. Yes, that's right. Admiring the beautiful coloring and unique shapes of people's eyes. All I see now is people's foreheads, and I'm wondering as I'm speaking to their hair follicles if I'm even being heard by the person right in front of me. As much as we'd like to boast or believe, multi-tasking is not a human trait that is adopted easily. If you think you've got it down pat, you've probably been misled between the simultaneous texting, scheduling, driving, coffee drinking, and child-rearing. But, anyway, who's going to notice?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

What I Made Wednesday {An Elevenses Birthday Party: Tolkien-Style}: Setting the Scene

Sharing our birthday details is a huge undertaking. If you haven't noticed, I'm giving it to you in teeny tiny bites, like I did Harry Potter. Not because I don't think you can handle all the info all at once, I do. It's that I'm not motivated enough to sit down for looooonnnnggg stretches and write it all out from beginning to end. That's precious summertime daylight I'd be wasting! Seriously, though, it's just way too daunting of a task for me. So, little batches it is. Thanks for your patience:-)

Last week, I shared with you the the all-important making of the invitations. Click here if you missed it. This week, I'll share with you the party props we made and/or used to carry the theme through.

Oh, yes! The theme! It probably needs some explanation. Kiddo L.O.V.E.S. Lord of the Rings. Tolkien is his fave author and he is so into that kind of fantasy-type world. Additionally, if you have a tween boy in the house, you are also probably VERY familiar with an online game called MineCraft. With me so far? What if you combined MineCraft with Lord of the Rings by creating a virtual world? A virtual adventure within MineCraft, where all the party guests work together, not against each other, but as a Fellowship to complete the mission at hand? I know what you're thinking? Yes, it would be superb, but is it possible? Not only is it possible, my friends, it's what we did for this party!!!! (You can send the Parent of the Year Award to our P.O. Box).

I'll explain all the details of the party in next week's post, but I'll show you all the decor we used to set the mood in this post. We decided to combine the two themes into one so, some items will be Tolkien-based, and some items will be MineCraft-themed. It works, trust me!

The Decor
We used our finished basement to set-up all the computers and equipment we needed to make this adventure come alive. To better set the mood, we replaced all of our spotlight bulbs with black lights. The effect was quite amazing and very awesome!

Super Hubby found a great number of MineCraft-themed posters online via Google images and had them printed on a large-format printer. Although the posters were adequate on their own, I mounted them to neon poster cardstock paper to help them really shine! They came out perfectly.

Super Hubby took the main characters of MineCraft and made life-size cutouts of Steve, a Creeper, and a Skeleton (sorry for the lingo non-Minecraft readers). This was a bit of a challenge to put together because the life-size figures measured over 3-feet. How do you print-out something that big? You print sections of it and piece it all together by taping the backside. (I was geometrically challenged on this task but I pulled through.) If you are interested in re-creating this party and want files of these "sectioned" print-outs to do on your own, please contact me and I will send to you. 

The Cake
The pixels read "Happy B-Day Jack", The coconut is only in the middle!
We continued the MineCraft portion of the party with the cake. Easy, peasy folks! I just made a brown sheet cake. Any normal person would have just used a chocolate box cake to achieve the required brown color for "dirt", but my son doesn't like chocolate. I used a white cake mix, bought some brown food coloring, and poured the entire gel right into the cake batter, resulting into successful results. 

Next, I created butter cream frosting and dyed it the same color green as the grass in MineCraft. To get the texture right, take 4 ounces of coconut, place in a plastic bag, and sprinkle a few drops of green food coloring into the coconut. Shake the bag until all the coconut is green. (Powdered food coloring works best, if you can find it. If not, the liquid will be fine. Just let it dry before sprinkling on the cake.) Set the bag aside.

To frost the cake, take another 4 ounces of coconut and add it into the butter cream frosting before spreading it onto the cake. (This is optional as many kids do not like coconut frosting.) To please all, I frosted both ends of the cake without coconut, and only the middle with coconut. YOU WILL NOT FROST THE SIDES. Remember, you are trying to create a MineCraft block of dirt and grass! Sprinkle the top of the cake with the green colored coconut to give it the texture found in the MineCraft game. When you cut the cake, cut in perfect squares so each guest has a "block" of their own.

Finally, I bought Starburst fruit candies and took all the red cherry ones out. I unwrapped each, cut many into fourths for tiny squares, or pixels, and spelled out "Happy B-Day". For my son's name, I used the whole Starburst square because I wanted it to stand out.

Let me guess what you're thinking. Where the heck is the Tolkien part of the party? Sounds to me like it's only MineCraft! Hold your horses, because the entire adventure is ALL Tolkien inspired, from an elves point-of-view. I'll talk more about this next week.

The Sign
Upon arriving at the party, I did make this famous Hobbit sign found at the front gate of Bilbo Baggins's home. I love how this sign turned out. Definitely a keeper. Here's how I made it.

What You'll Need
Thin, but long piece of wood, already stained to your liking
Black paint marker
Awl or very large, sturdy pin
Print-out of the words, enlarged to fit your wood piece (found on Google Images)
Ribbon for hanging the sign

What You'll Do
Super Hubby found this perfect piece of wood that was already stained and already had holes for the hanging ribbon already in place. What luck?!?! Unfortunately, it was one of those types of woods that was varnished to death. If I traced over the printout onto the wood, I couldn't make any impression into the wood no matter how hard I pressed down. I had to come up with a new plan for this to work (since I'm no artist).

To remedy this inconvenience, I taped my paper across the piece of wood and took a very sharp but strong pin. I followed the outline of the letter by poking through the paper and into the wood. It left a small hole that allowed me to just connect the dots once I removed the paper. That's how I was able to transfer the lettering onto the wood! Then it was easy. I just took my black paint pen and filled in the outline. A black Sharpie permanent marker works just as well.

What You'll Need to Know to Finish
Our piece of wood already had the holes in the corners for hanging. If yours doesn't, take a small drill bit and make your holes. Then, take a ribbon, pull it through the holes, and you're ready to hang your sign, just like Bilbo Baggins did. I wish we had a gate.

The Party Favors
One of Kiddo's birthday gifts: The Ring!!!
The take homes were simple this time around. Luckily, I was at Kohl's before the party and found MineCraft t-shirts. They were already on sale for $8 a piece, and, I happened to have a 30% off coupon. Woo-hoo, meant to be! I purchased 8, one for each party guest. 

Then, at the Dollar Tree, I found these glow-in-the-dark mini swords (see first pic). Those were just so perfect for our elvish adventurers. And, finally, the guests had some really cool candies to choose from like marshmallow ropes, RING Pops, Peach Gummy RINGS, and, of course, Swedish Fish (Gollum's favorite). Are you getting the "ring" theme?

Check back for the party details on next week's What I Made Wednesday!


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