Thursday, June 19, 2014

It has been a long, long time!

Well my dear friends, it is hard to believe it has been over a year since I posted last.  During that time I have my family has seen much happiness and also sadness.

In January my husband surprised me with a trip to London, Paris and Belgium. (several towns in Belgium).  It was a lovely trip!!!   We flew into London and spent two days there... we arrived on a Sunday morning, and decided instead of going to sleep we would go for a walk and see Buckingham Palace... much to our surprise and luck, we happened upon the Changing of the Guards!!  They only do this once or twice a week in the winter - and we were lucky enough to be there.  Funny! Then we took the high speed train to France and then another train to a little town called Kortrijk, Belgium.  ADORABLE!!  The hotel (Hotel Messeyn) was lovely and quaint.  My husband had to work a couple of days at the plant there, so I walked around the little town admiring the little shops and the beauty.  I don't speak a lick of Flemish - and the memory of my French that I took in high school is very limited... but the people of Belgium are truly gracious.  We spent an evening in Brugges - my Lord what a lovely place!! It is one of the few Mid Evil cities in Europe to have not been damaged in the war.  The canals, the buildings, the EVERYTHING was just breathtaking!!  Then, after a few days in Belgium we headed to Paris, again on the high speed train.  Too funny we were RUNNING - I mean RUNNING to catch the train.  We went to the wrong station in Lille which is about a 5-10 minute walk from where we were.  And we only had 10 minutes to make the train - we had to BOOK it.  I hate to run, but I was NOT missing Paris!! We clicked our ticket at the train and was told by the man at the gate to just get on anywhere and find our seat.  The car I chose to get on was First Class...LOL.  I walked up to a gentleman who's outfit alone was worth more than everything in my closet- and asked if he spoke English.  We was very kind, and said a little, and I asked if he knew where these seats would be?  He said, there are only 3 of his here in the car today, why don't you just stay here and join us?  Don't mind if I do.  It took me probably 15-20 minutes to finally catch my breath and for my heart to stop pounding out of my chest.  But, I finally relaxed and was able to enjoy the ride and the lovely countryside along the way.  Paris was fabulous!  We stayed at a nice boutique hotel called Hotel La Littre - upon check in, the man behind the counter mentioned that it being off season, he would be happy to upgrade us to one of the two suites with views of the Eiffel Tower if we would like.  My eyes grew so wide,  I don't think my husband could possibly have turned it down.  The sights of Paris are spectacular.  Versailles was unbelievable - what an amazing place! We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and each and every morning, I went out onto our private balcony to make sure the Tower was still there... it was! :-)  After several days in Paris, we headed back to London for another 2 days and were then on our way home.  What a trip of a lifetime!!

Well, low and behold, if my husband doesn't surprise me again!  He found out he had to go to Belgium again for a 1 day meeting.  However, it would be a 3 day trip just for the 1 meeting and would have cost a fortune with the last minute notice.  So he suggested that we both go for an extended 6 days and it didn't cost any more than if he went alone for the 3 days.  Well, Okay, count me in...twist my arm... whatever you got to do. :-)  We spent the first couple days in Kortrijk again, but this time we rented a car.  So we were able to drive to Brugges to spend some additional time there and really get to know the city.  I am so glad we did. Then we decided to go see a private castle with a moat in a little city about an hour away.  My husband was thrilled, he has always wanted to see a castle with a moat.  After that, we just explored...and drove through some of the cutest towns and tiniest roads!  The next day we were off to Brussels.  Well, we arrived on the side of Brussels by the train station, airport etc.  It was INSANELY busy, and not that neat and tidy.  Actually it was downright dirty and we didn't feel terribly safe. I am sure there are nicer parts, but my husband mentioned that one of the men in the meeting the other day mentioned Ghent, Belgium as being even nicer than Brugges.  I thought, that is impossible, but I pulled up the GPS and we were on our way.  WOW!!!  WOW!!! is all I can say.  Ghent is what fairy tales are made of.  Probably one of my favorite places in Europe that we saw- if not Europe definitely Belgium.  So, so fun!!

Some other fun news is that I am working on opening up my little potting shed as a shop again.  I used to own an occasional shop offering primitives, ladies accessories, home decor, etc.... however my partner and best friend decided to grow up and take a full time job and I just didn't feel right running it without her.  But, miss the retail soon to open will be "Bittersweet Ivy Mercantile, or Painted Daisy or..or...or"  Naming a shop is so personal to me but also so permanent too.  

Well, okay this was an overly long post, for which I apologize.  There was just so much to say! LOL  It feels great to be back and can't wait to start sharing with all of you again!! 


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Well friends, Happy New Year! I hope 2013 finds you all happy and healthy and brings to each of us many blessings throughout the year! 

2012 brought many ups and downs for our family.  The taking on a job that was far too stressful for me, and then having to leave that job and admit it was too much for me.  Being given the opportunity to stay at home - where I belong.  The engagement of our daughter to a very nice man - and the planning of their wedding.  Our youngest daughter graduating from high school and starting college - dorm life! Moving my middle daughter back from St Paul from university to home where she found a better fit in a university close to home.  The loss of our precious Farnsworth, our 12 year old Wire Haired Fox Terrier. Meeting our son's wonderful girlfriend when she came to spend the summer with us from London.  My mother's wedding this summer to Phil, whom I have grown to love.  Actual visits from family out East.  Moving my sister in law here, when no one else in the family would offer her any assistance... and seeing her and her boyfriend with jobs, living on their own with a little money in the bank.  The closing of my small occasional shop, when my partner took a full time job and was unable to dedicate enough time to it.  The planning of what to do next.... oh the possibilities!

One of my resolutions for 2013 is to be much better about attending to my blog and giving it the daily attention that I promised myself I would!

I'll be back on Monday with some great ideas! Can't wait!

Many Blessings!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Day 2 Random Acts of Christmas Kindness

Day 2 RACK'ed

First things first...  I found this little devotional and feel that it fits perfectly with what I am trying to accomplish!

Therefore, as God’s chosen people,
holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion,

kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
Colossian 3:12

I once read a story about an elderly gentleman who carried a can of oil everywhere he went. If he passed through a squeaking door, he poured his oil on the hinges. If a gate’s latch was difficult to open, he oiled it. People called him weird and eccentric, but he pressed on. He refilled his can when it became empty and oiled the rusty and creaky places he found.

Many people around us creak and groan harshly as they face difficulties. Nothing goes right for them. They desperately need healing oil applied to their hurts and troubles.

On the road called life people constantly come and go; some we only encounter once. God help us to be as diligent as the eccentric old man. When we see rough or rusty spots, let’s apply the oil of thoughtfulness. And when our oil runs out, may time spent in prayer refill us to do it again.

Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, Fill us with your lubricating oil. Open our eyes to the hard places in the lives of those around us so we can apply some kindness, gentleness, and compassion. Use your oil to diminish the jagged edges of many a sin-hardened life, leaving them soft, pliable, and ready to receive your redeeming grace. Amen.

Going deeper: Pray for those who have rusty, hard to open hearts and choose a random act of kindness to perform today.

So today my husband is taking the afternoon off and we are going to "finish" our Christmas shopping! We do this every year and I truly love this time with him.  He is usually right in the spirit with me and I love the sparkle he gets in his eyes! He loves to spoil our children...but since I made this a "handmade Christmas" for the kids exchange...we ourselves are NOT going overboard as we have so many times over the years!~  I will stay strong and keep him in check.

That said... I placed one dollar bills in 6 separate baggies with a little note in them that says "Santa wanted to give you this dollar to help you remember to stay on his nice list! Love, Santa's Helpers" 

My goal is to go into the Dollar Store and place these bags randomly in the toy section.  My hope is that an adult doesn't come and scoop them up... I want to surprise a child...but that's the beauty of this... if an adult does come by and take them.. so be it. Perhaps they are in need of the money!  This is in God's hands.

The second thing I did this morning although this isn't terribly "random" however, I brought a Christmas card over to my neighbor.  She is a very active mom who works a full time job, has 4 kids...and a husband who also works practically more than full time!  Anyways, in the card, I told her that this Saturday. I would like to pick up the 3 kids... take them to lunch and then take them to a movie.  I am also going to bring them to my home and make a couple gifts for their mom and dad... but I didn't tell her that! :-)  She was delighted!  So this will hopefully give the parents some time to finish shopping or just to sit in the silence and enjoy some time to themselves! I remember being a busy mother when my children were small, and believe the gift of time may just be the best gift of all during this season.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

RACK'ed Day One

Okay, well I started my Random Acts of Christmas Kindness today!!  I figured then I can get the full 12 days in and enjoy Christmas Day with my family!

First thing I did was print off some cute little sheets decribing to recipients what I am doing and why! Here is what I came up with...

I think it aptly describes my mission!!

1.  My first stop was our local medical center.  I filled a basket with 55 silky, pretty scarves with one of my notes folded with a "To the Jill
Chatterson Chemotherapy Unit"  Which is just what it says - established upon this very brave and beautiful woman's end to a gallant fight against cancer!  She was a friend and mother and wife.  And, she is still missed! 

I hope that these bring comfort and maybe a little joy to someone's day... during a very difficult time!

2. Next.. I stopped at the Save A Lot grocery Store to buy some candy canes to include with my little "gifts".  (I wasn't able to get a picture because there were some people that were checking out at the register, so I needed to be speedy!)  So I took some little snack size bags and placed my notes, a candy cane and a few quarters in each.  Then I taped them to those cute little "toy dispensers" that little kids love to stop at ...but sometimes mom is just too busy too wiped out or without quarters.  Hopefully some little one gets to have a little fun and a little prize.

3.  My next stop was at the local photo shop at Walgreens!  I needed to pick up my Christmas cards, and after the clerk got mine I asked her to do me a favor.  I asked her to choose one of the boxes of cards and that I would like to pay for the Christmas Cards.  She was speechless.. and I got a little nervous because this is not my purpose...I don't want recognition.... just to make someone's day and hope that they decide to do something for someone else in return.  Anyway she found one for a woman who just had heart surgery, and she knew she would be thrilled not to mention pay it forward.  Goal accomplished there!  (Ps. Again, no photo... no time and too many nerves!)

4.  Next I purchased several $10 gift cards to the local grocery store, and then went into a stall in the ladies room.  I then taped one of my notes with the gift card taped to it on the back of the door.  I hope someone buys a little something special for their family with it... or that it just helps out a little bit.  I know it isn't much... but hey every little bit helps!
I still have a few of the gift cards left, so I will use those in the future.

5.  Next stop the gas station.  I stopped first at the vacuum cleaner and taped a baggy with a note and 75 cents in quarters for someone to find.

6. Then I stopped at one of the pumps and taped a baggy with a note and $5 in it.

7.  Next I ran to the laundromat/cleaners to pick up my coat.  As I was leaving, I taped another baggy, note and $2 in quarters to two machines to cover a couple of loads of laundry for someone. (no picture, because there were people around... but they didn't see me!)

8.  Then, as I was leaving, I noticed the clerk's car parked outside.  This woman is amazing...and she gives and gives!  So I popped a note and a scratch off lottery ticket to the windshield wiper!

So maybe that wasn't as random as having a stranger find it, but she is so deserving!

9.  Then as I was driving home, I saw a car parked outside on the street of our local factory.  So, I decided to put another lottery ticket on their windshield.  Maybe after a hard day's work this will make their day.

10.  Last but not least... I decided to give our mail carrier a little surprise.  The weather today is good...but we got snow the other day and he delivered in it!  I wrapped a Dove bar in one of the notes and then attached a candy cane and put it on our mail box! I hope he enjoyed his treat and knows how thankful we are for his dedicated hard work!

Okay so today...I feel blessed.  I feel like I accomplished alot, and realize that the next coming days are not going to be about money...I figure at least everyother day - or maybe encorporate a little everyday - I will do alot RACKs that don't require any money or very limited money.  Bake cookies and take them to the assited living center, take some cards to elderly neighbors who I know don't get out and visit with them for awhile.... oh the ideas running through my head! This means so much to me!


Tomorrow, December 13 starts my 12 Days of Christmas!  Where I will try to make a difference in my little part of the world through Random Acts of Kindness.  I have wanted to do this for many years, and with cutting back a bit on my Family Gifts this year, feel this is the year to implement my plan of attack.

I encourage you to try as well.  Each day I will post my ideas for making a difference for that day...and then, will come back and tell you about my experience as well as any photos I may be able to get.

I also would love to hear from you on your experiences!

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Couple photos of our first snowfall!

 The first snowfall always has a certain magic to it!  Of course, that is the FIRST the end of February... not so much!
 I love the way the snow sticks to the tree branches.  It is so pretty...almost peaceful!
 Definitely beginning to look like Christmas! Better get my shopping done on that note! 

Secret Santa Exchange...

 So I participated in a Secret Santa Christmas Exchange with my "Country Sampler Forum" Friends on Facebook!  And, my oh my, I received my goodies on Friday! This is the loot above!!

 This adorable old suitcase (looks like it probably was a ladies makeup case) was filled with so many surprises! I just couldn't contain my excitement with each discovery!
 This little rusty tin was even inside the suitcase, with yes, you guessed it...more surprises inside with the wax gingerbread man and acorn...and a very cool old bottle that reminds me of my grandpa who collected bottles way way back in the day!  Interestingly enough, the person I had for my Secret Santa collects "Purple Sun Glass"... I had an old ink bottle that was purple sun glass from my grandpa's collection.  I included that bottle in her gift... ironic that I received a bottle back in return! 
Even the box was "packed" with a variety of pinecones! I am going to dip them in scented wax and place them in a big basket in the family room!

Well, Christmas is definitely on its way!

Today, I am going to do some decorating! I will post pictures soon!  What is your favorite Christmas decoration in your home??