Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Year's Eve Party Ideas

Wow-can you believe that 2010 is almost over? This year went by fast for me! 2010 was a very good year in some ways and a sad year in others. (I lost a favorite uncle and my godmother.) However, I'm looking forward to a new year and a party to celebrate it.
So to help you ring in 2011, here are a few places to find fun party games, activities, appetizers, great non-alcoholic drinks and more appetizer ideas. This site has a fun party theme for kids. How about some free printable New Year's Eve subway art?

On this last day of 2010 I am thankful for my sweet wonderful family that I have enjoyed to the fullest over the holiday! I am thankful for you dear readers.
I am thankful that tomorrow I will awake to a New Year filled with hope, joy, and a plate overflowing with new projects and possibilities. Have a safe and festive night and a wonderful start to the New Year!

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

I’ll be spending the next week with my family–wrapping up loose ends, celebrating and enjoying time with our kids and grandkids. (Son and daughter-in-law flying in from Florida. Daughter and son-in-law flying in from Colorado. I'm hoping for a break in the snow so they can make it here!)

I hope you’ll be doing the same! Thank you for following along and posting your comments this past year. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Some Thoughts On Faith

One of the e-newsletters I get is from a guy named Jim Blasingame. He has great insight and advice for small business owners. His latest newsletter had some inspiring words about faith....

"As we continue the holiday season and move into the New Year, I encourage you to contemplate your capacity to have faith, and how faith manifests in your life. Not just religious faith, which is important to many of us, but faith in yourself and faith in others.

August Wilhelm Von Schlegel said, "In actual life, every great enterprise begins with and takes its first forward step in faith." How many things have you accomplished in your life where, regardless of your research and experience, the first forward step was taken in faith?

Awareness of faith can be very exciting. William Newton Clark wrote, "Faith is the daring of the soul to go farther than it can see."

Exercising faith can be very powerful. Sherwood Eddy once observed, "Faith is reason grown courageous."

Faith can transcend mere facts, and can actually be a lever for reason. Blaise Pascal believed that, "Faith is a sounder guide than reason. Reason can go only so far, but faith has no limits."

Have faith and take that first step. Have faith and dare to go farther. Have faith and be courageous. Have faith and leverage reason.

Have faith in yourself, and when you do, anything is possible."

Isn't this great advice--especially heading into the New Year?

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

All I Needed to Know About Life I Learned From Santa

Encourage people to believe in you.
Always remember who's naughty and who's nice.
Don't pout.
It's as much fun to give as it is to receive.
Some days it's ok to feel a little chubby.
Make your presents known.
Always ask for a little bit more than what you really want.
Bright red can make anyone look good.
Wear a wide belt and no-one will notice how many pounds you've gained.
If you only show up once a year, everyone will think you're very important.
Whenever you're at a loss for words, say:
"HO, HO, HO!"

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Friday, December 10, 2010

Peppermint Fudge Cupcakes in a Jar

I just had to share this with you! An easy recipe and directions on how to make a great little gift. (I especially love easy!) Need someone you want to impress? Or...just make some for yourself. Either way, you're going to want to check this out. Click here for recipe AND tags! signature

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Book Review Outlive Your Life by Max Lucado

I am a big fan of Max Lucado. I have several of his books including ones he has written for children. His new book Out Live Your Life is an inspiring read. Once again Lucado has given us insights into how to improve our life and the lives of others. This was an easy book to read and to digest.
Lucado starts his book out with a fable. He then uses biblical references and real-life stories to get his points across. He is a master storyteller so each chapter is a lesson in itself. He knows how to relate each story/chapter to the ordinary person. In this way he calls us each to action.

Some of the stories are hard to read because they aren’t necessarily pretty. He tells us the nitty-gritty story of Jose, a fellow in Brazil who sells medicine out of a tin-walled shed. He tells of Bzuneh Tulema who lives in a dirt-floored house in Africa. He tells of Xu Yonghai who was locked in a Beijing prison for working to get house churches legalized. He tells of Necati Aydin, a Christian in Turkey who was murdered for standing up for his faith in a Muslim country.

This book asks each of us to look at the world around us. We see poverty, famine, disease in the news but it seems very far away at times. But watching and reading about these how can we not realize that we need to make a difference? Lucado says that those who suffer belong to all of us. He says that “God comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others.”

Lucado points out that most of us really want to do good, to make our life matter. He asks us to reconsider our role in this world. At the end of the book are questions for discussion. Here Lucado give us ideas for action. They are ways to use our gifts, passion and opportunities to serve others.

I highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to make a difference in their neighborhood, community and in the world. (It would make a great Christmas present!)

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Please note that Thomas Nelson Publishing has provided me a complimentary copy of this book for my review; however, the opinions are my own. I have not been required to publish a positive review.
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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Inspired Gift Wrapping

I'm always in awe of the gifts my sister-in-law Mary gives because they are always so beautifully wrapped. (They are almost too pretty to open!) So when I saw these pictures of creatively wrapped gifts I just had to share them with you.

You'll also find links there to get directions for jazzing up your packages. (You might not want to give those beauties away after you try some of these!)

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Friends are Life's Greatest Accessory

My best friend Gail and I don't see as much of each other as we'd like. Grandchildren, jobs, hobbies all take up precious time. When we do get together we have so much fun!

I thought of Gail when I saw this girly picture frame on the Infarrantly Creative Blog. There's a tutorial and more pictures. Wouldn't this make a great gift for your best friend?
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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Four Candles

My daughter and I teach the Children's Liturgy of the Word at our church . This past Sunday was the first Sunday of Advent so we lit one candle on the Advent Wreath. Here is a little poem to go along with this season of Advent.

The Four Candles
The four candles burn slowly.

The first one says:
”I am peace! However, nobody can keep me lit. I will go out."
It’s flame rapidly diminishes and goes out completely.

The second one says:
"I am faith! I am no longer indispensable, it doesn’t make any sense that I stay lit any longer." When it finished talking, a breeze softly blew on it putting it out.
Sadly the third candle spoke in it's turn:
”I am love! I haven’t got the strength to stay lit. People put me aside and don’t understand my importance. They even forget to love those who are nearest to them ."
And waiting no longer it goes out.

A child enters the room and sees three candles not burning. “Why are you not burning? You are supposed to stay lit till the end." Saying this, the child begins to cry.

Then the fourth candle said:
”Don’t be afraid, while I am still burning we can re-light the other candles, I am Hope!"

With shining eyes, the child took the candle of hope and lit the other candles.

May the flame of hope never go out for you!
Blessings to you all at this very special time of year.

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Little Black Dresses

It’s the holidays and the parties will be starting. Who doesn’t want to look like a million bucks? (and hopefully not to have to spend that much to find one.) What better way than to have a great little black dress!

Calvin Klein makes a great simple sleeveless sheath. $128.

If you’ve got great arms you might look good wearing this. Banana Republic $150.

A black dress with a little glitter to it. $158 at Nordstrom.

A slinky strappy little number—a Susana Monaco Cami Slip $100 found online at Eves Apple.

A reasonably priced ruffle bow trim little black dress $59 at Newport News.

A bargain black dress (but very cute!) the Silk Sophia dress. It was $165, now $49 at J Crew. (I love a bargain!)

Also at J Crew if you have a little more spending money. Lace Luciana only $1,295.

If you go to Ann Taylor you’ll find lots of black dresses in many styles and prices. Do you need a long black dress? You'll find one here.

For those of you who wear petite sizes, JCPenny has a really cute Jessica Howard Velvet and Satin. Was $100-120 is now $49-59. (That should help your holiday budget.)

Whatever your taste or price range, it seems like there is a little black dress out there for you. Which is your favorite style? Do you have a special occasion coming up to wear a beautiful black dress?

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Friday, November 26, 2010

Collage Offer

Get a free collage print at Walgreens. Limited offer so act fast. These collages are really fun! I did one of my grandkids and one of my children and their spouses.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Easy Thanksgiving Centerpiece

I am thankful that I am not hosting Thanksgiving at my house but instead have been invited to my brother and sister-in-law's house. (We have a very large extended family.)We do all bring a dish to share but they get the work of preparing the turkey,potatoes and dressing, not to mention figuring out where everyone is going to sit!

I'd like to share with my sister-in-law and all of you a really pretty, yet easy Thanksgiving centerpiece. Directions can be found here.

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Friday, November 19, 2010

Thoughts for Thanksgiving

I asked my students today to tell one thing they were thankful for. I was amazed at how many could not come up with anything! We live in a society that takes too much for granted. I found this article on I think it is great" food for thought" for Thanksgiving!

Consider the following facts. Then count your blessings.

•If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep ... you are richer than 75% of people in this world.

•If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish someplace ... you are among the top 8% of the world's wealthy.

•If you woke up this morning with more health than illness ... you are more blessed than the million who will not survive this week.

•If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of are ahead of 500 million people in the world.

•If you can attend a church or other places of worship without fear of harassment, arrest, torture, or death ... you are more blessed than three billion people in the world.

•If your parents are still alive and still married are very rare (and your parents too!). My parents celebrated 58 years this past Sept.!

•If you hold up your head with a smile on your face and are truly thankful ... you are blessed because the majority can, but most do not.

•If you can hold someone's hand, hug them or even touch them on the shoulder ... you are blessed because you can offer healing touch.

•If you can read this message, you are more blessed than over two billion people in the world that cannot read at all.

Have a good day, count your blessings, and pass this along to remind everyone else how blessed we all are.

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Snug as a...Bedbug?

My son and daughter-in-law are traveling to New York soon. With all the media attention give to bedbugs I thought it would be helpful to do a little research on the critters. I would hate to have their vacation ruined!

Wikipedia says “The name 'bedbug' is derived from the insect's preferred habitat of houses and especially beds or other areas where people sleep.”

Bedbugs usually congregate together and can be found in beds, couches as well as luggage and other furniture. They especially like cracks and crevices associated with the bed frame and mattress. Bedbugs don’t care if their surroundings are clean or dirty. They can be found in even the most pristine accomations. Bedbugs usually are active at night and that is when most people get bitten.

Bed bugs are small, oval non-flying insects. Adult bed bugs reach 5-7 mm in length, while nymphs (juveniles) are as small as 1.5 mm. (They areabout the size of an apple seed.) Bed bugs have flat bodies and may sometimes be mistaken for ticks or small cockroaches. Adult bed bugs are reddish brown in color while nymphs are clear in color and appear bright red after feeding.

Bedbugs don't usually stay on their human hosts after their meal, but they might hide in your clothes or luggage left nearby on the floor. If you're traveling and bedbugs get into your luggage, you could end up bringing them home with you.

Travelers may want to get in the habit of checking their bed for signs of bed bugs. (Tiny dark spots reveal the presence of bedbugs.)Placing luggage up off the floor onto a luggage rack is a good idea. Vacuuming is not effective against these pests and most pesticides don’t work either. You could try pouring boiling water over them or using extreme temperatures. Or…you could try something a little easier and safer.

Kayla at Essential Wholesale has put together a video on how to make a natural Bed Bug Spray. Using Lavender Essential Oil as one of the main ingredients you can fight these little pests. On her blog Kayla says that lavender has been used for generations as a natural remedy for bed bugs.

I hope to never encounter these guys on any of my hotel stays. I will now travel with a spray using Kayla’s recipe. It’s hard to believe that the bedbug problem could become an epidemic! YUCK.
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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sole Survivor and the Empty Nest

My husband and I have been empty-nesters for a few years now. At first, the house seemed too quiet and I really missed having our kids around the supper table. Now, I still miss our kids but Jerry and I are having some of the best times! We get to travel, go out to eat during the week and when the phone rings it's for one of us.
One very nice thing we have been doing for each other is giving mini pedicures. I found a book at a garage sale that has detailed instructions and pictures on how to give a massage. So once a week, we soak our feet, use a foot scrub and give each other foot massages. It is SO relaxing! After a hard day at work I really look forward to this! It is so simple, yet we each feel so pampered. (I haven't gotten him to paint my toenails yet).
Of course we use Gathered From The Garden's foot soak, foot scrub and foot cream. The invigorating peppermint aroma is just that--invigorating! We also carry a foot spray and a foot powder.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Veteran's Day

Wishing all of our Veterans a very special day. We can never thank you enough for all you have done to keep Freedom alive. (A special shout out to my dad, a WWll Veteran.)God Bless the USA

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Thankfulness Project

Tell us something you are thankful for. It can be big, it can be small, lengthy or short and sweet, share it with us. This project will be open until Thanksgiving day for your comments. Feel free to post as many expressions of gratitude as you want whenever you think of them. I will be posting my own thankful thoughts throughout the month in the comment section as well. I hope you'll join me and I hope you enjoy reading what others have to say.
Thanks for participating!

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Sunday, November 7, 2010

National Love Your Body Day

I didn't realize that October 20 was "Love Your Body Day" until I read a blog post from Allison over at Create Positive Spin. (Isn't there a day for everything?) Anyway, I enjoyed reading her 10 reasons and it got me thinking about my own body. We are usually so intent on noticing the flaws when we look in the mirror that we overlook the good parts.'s goes a little body love.

1. I have really long fingers. Great for playing piano and holding newborn babies. (Need to have some more grandbabies!)

2. My brown eyes can be very expressive. This comes in handy when reading stories to my second graders.

3. My body has kept up with my urge to be a runner. It hasn't always been easy starting this at a late stage in life but so far, my body is ok with it.

4. My brain is willing to keep learning. I enjoy learning more about aromatherapy, baking, crafting and how to use technology in my blogging.

5. I think my body tolerates pain pretty well. I had one baby without any medicated help, tons of dental work done and my body made it through.

6. My body has been very healthy. I haven't had any surgeries or broken bones. (knock on wood)

7. I have very thick hair so I don't think being bald will ever be an issue.

8. Am I only on eight? This is a little more work than I thought. Really am not used to thinking so positive about my body. Hmm...oh yes, my parents have terrible histories of heart disease/heart surgeries/procedures. So far, my heart has been healthy and is filled with gratitude for this blessing.

9. I can't forget my skin! So far, no age spots on my hands. I've been dreading this as I age but so good!

10. My lap--does that count? It has been home to many little children, my own and others. It has helped me comfort, snuggle and share.

There I did it! It took some reflecting but I came up with 10. Here's a challenge for you. Can you do the same? Care to share at least one great thing about YOUR body?
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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Tips to Avoid Dry Winter Skin

Being a teacher I have recess duty in the afternoon. Going outside for fresh air can be invigorating here in Minnesota. But alas, winter is harsh on the skin. There is no getting around this fact. So here are some tips to do your best in protecting and treating your skin right.

1. Watch the temperature. Make sure that the water is not too hot for the shower. I know, a hot shower feels so good but warm is better for your skin. Hot water dries the skin by removing oils, thus making your skin scaly and prone to itching. Avoid spending too much time in the shower. Can you get in and out in 10 minutes or less?

2. Exfoliate. Keep your scrub downs to no more than twice a week. If you have sensitive skin, choose a scrub with soft, synthetic beads. A sponge or loofah works to slough dead skin cells too. You can make your own body scrubs.
3. Moisturize. Pat your skin dry instead of rubbing with your towel. Then apply a cream, lotion or oil to lock in moisture. I like to end my shower with a mug of water to which a teaspoon of jojaba oil or almond oil has been added. Since water is easily absorbed into the skin, the oil will penetrate into the skin more efficiently, making it soft and smooth.

It's hard to feel your best when dealing with dry skin, especially during harsh winter months but following these tips will help.

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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Craftily Ever After (Blog)

Jessica at Craftily Ever After has the cutest FREE printable collection for your Thanksgiving d├ęcor. Check out what she does with them at her house. I really love the "Gobble" one!

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Autumn Blues

This time of year it's hard not to get the autumn blues. Here in MN we've lost not only our warm temps but hours of daylight. If you're like me, you might need some help to chase away those blues.

*Try lighting a candle. It's warmth and encouragement will help to add some light to the dark evenings of autumn. I like to use a fall aroma such as pumpkin spice, cranberry or cinnamon. (An alternative to using a lit candle would be to try a reed diffuser. You'll get the wonderful fragrance but not the light and warmth. An essential oil blend in a room diffuser is awesome too!)

*Make a cup of herbal tea or hot chocolate. It's a pleasure just to hold the warm cup!

*There's nothing like a steaming bowl of soup to warm you on a cool fall day.

*Take a soothing bath. A warm soak after a chilly day is just what you need. Using oats in your bath is a terrific way to soothe the skin.

*Dig out the warm, fuzzy socks and slippers. Keeping your feet warm helps you feel warm all over.

*Keep exercising. This seems like a chore sometimes and I think I just don't have the energy. In reality, if you exercise, you'll have more energy to fight off those blues. Add some of your favorite music to get motivated.

*Spend more time with your favorite people. This is a great time to snuggle up with someone special!

These are just a few ways to make the days of autumn go by just a little faster. Soon it will be the holidays and that's a subject for another day!

Check out Gathered From The Garden's website for an autumn treat to pamper yourself!

What's your favorite part of Autumn?

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Sunday, October 31, 2010

And the winner is...

Our giveaway winner is... Dr.Ann Becker. We hope you enjoy your Gathered hat and surprise gift. Thanks for reading our blog and commenting!

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