Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas

Merry Christmas to you and yours! 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Life in Photos

I have been busy Instagramming a lot lately.  And it seems like those are sometimes my only photos.  Here's a smattering of what I've been up to. 

I've been enjoying the holiday season.  And cookie baking.  And knitting (it's a gift, shhhh....). I've been spending time with neighbors who are moving away (oh goodness, my heart can't handle another one moving!).   I've been catching up at work.  When the students are gone, I can get so much done! 
I was back at the Working Dog Center early this week for a little puppy time.  Volunteering with puppies is the best thing ever.  I've also been able to use the bit of quiet at work to catch up with some friends from other offices on campus.  Lunchtime chats are the best! 
 And enjoying some treats left by my two colleagues.  Seriously, they are the sweetest! 
 Because what girl doesn't like flowers on her desk?  (Not this one in case you are wondering!) 
And last weekend I exchanged Christmas gifts with my good friend Katie.  I got this great keychain with a map of my adopted hometown, Philadelphia! 

Today, my mom arrives for the holiday.  I'm looking forward to time with her and a visit to see the Philadelphia Orchestra and some antique shopping.  Yes, 2012 is coming to a glorious closure! 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Some Rambling Thoughts...

By now, the whole world has mourned the school shooting in Newtown, CT.  There really are no words to describe the horror, the heartbreak, the sadness the permeates everything in this story.  I have been actively trying to avoid the news because it is just too much for me.  This hits a little too close to home.  I used to live in the community next to Newtown.  I still have friends there.  Their kid's schools were on lockdown Friday.  Thankfully, their kids are fine.  But so many peoples lives are forever changed in a devastating way.  What words can you offer?  The grief is palpable for people not at all connected to Newtown. 

There is also a part of me that questions whether I want to have kids.  I can't imagine the overwhelming heartbreak these parents must be experiencing.  It brings me to tears, quite literally, every time I think about it.  The dreams they had for their children have been ripped from them.  And now, in the midst of a holiday season, they are planning a funeral.  Could I handle that?  Yes, I've survived a lot of emotional things and I'm sure I could.  But the trauma, the sadness.... I just can't fathom how I would survive. 

I guess the message is to hug someone closer.  Tell your loved ones how important they are to you.  We never know what is around the next bend in the road....



Friday, December 7, 2012

Gifts and Puppies

Yeah, that definitely makes a good week.  Really, what's better than gifts and puppies?  I'm pretty sure nothing.
 It's been a busy week at work!  TGIF.  I've had a number of crisis, small and larger, to handle this week.  And I've had a number of good, fun student interactions.  I'm grateful for the last week of classes and the inevitable slow down that comes after it.  Next week holds reading days and exams, a time where everyone is more focused and fewer people are getting into trouble. 

This week was also my student group's Secret Santa/whatever gift exchange.  The council president used an internet program to draw names for everyone and I was lucky enough to draw her.  I found a great bracelet on sale at Loft.  It seemed just about perfect for her and as luck would have it, she loved it.  My package, above, of course needed a little flourish, and that feather ornament was perfect.  Gosh, I love a pretty package! 

My Secret Santa rocked too.  I listed some suggestions on the online site.  I've been wanting Crazy Stupid Love.  It's one of those movies I know I'll watch a number of times.... cute, funny and Ryan Gosling.  Plus, a great color of nail polish?  Awesome! 
 I did manage to find time to go see the pups at the Working Dog Center this week.  Gosh, they make any day better!  I got to watch a search and then walk a bunch of the little loves.  Throw in a few tug of war sessions and life is grand. 
I'm looking forward to the weekend and some good learning next week.  And hopefully some Christmas card writing soon too! 

How was your week? 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Things That Makes Me Smile

A big thank you to Sydney for posting earlier....

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I've Got Spirit, Yes I Do.....

What have you been up to?  It feels like life has been busy lately but I can't tell you I've achieved a whole lot.  I did get to the movies with the manfriend on Sunday to see Lincoln.  Can you say "awesome?"  Because it was.  Costumes, actors, cinematography, sets.... all awesome.  We also saw a preview for Oz The Great and Powerful. And now I'm kind of obsessed.

Yesterday I finished knitting a Christmas gift.  I'm loving the yarn and hope the recipient likes it as much as I do.  I'm already thinking about casting on something else for a special loved one. 
This hot chocolate accompanied my spinach, feta and tomato omelet on Saturday.  Yum!
Photo booth photos with the manfriend from Sunday
Last night, I also went through all of the Christmas gifts in my closet.  I'm thankful to report I have most of my Christmas shopping done already. (Yes, I recognize there are some of you hating me right now. Sorry!) I loathe shopping with crowds and I'm just so glad to not need to go into stores this time of year. 

I'm feeling kind of great right now.  Things seem to be falling into place.  Now, if I could just motivate myself to do my Christmas cards!  


Monday, November 26, 2012

Black Friday!

Best Black Friday shopping ever! I went to the Wexford General Store in Wexford, PA (the only Wexford in all of the US of A!).  This place is stocked with serious treasures and I just love looking around and taking them all in. 
 
I loved this little Christmas display.  I mean, sheeps and cute mini trees?  I'm in.  I got one of the mini trees for my house.  And I'm kind of wishing I bought two now....
Many a bowl of old ornaments were found in the store.  It is a Christmas miracle that I didn't leave with one. 
 A lovely Charlie Brown Christmas tree was decorated in one of the rooms.  I really loved how they Christmas-ed up the place!! 
 I kind of wish this Nativity family had gone home with me too.  It was $29 and just such beautiful porcelain. 
 Tons and tons of mirrors.... I wanted one of them too.  Thank goodness I keep the buying for self at a minimum at Christmas time.... I could have done serious damage otherwise! 
And this pretty little owl to guard your cookies!  Oh, how I love him! 

There were a lot of other finds too like a Ouija board, marbles, some cute little dog figurines and Ball jars galore.  I managed to just walk out with the above mentioned mini Christmas tree, a small pitcher that is on my desk to catch pens, scissors and the like and a gift for a friend for Christmas.  Less than $20 spent but a fantastic time spent browsing.  I'm quite grateful for a patient manfriend who browsed on his own and who I think may have actually had a good time! 

How was your Black Friday shopping? 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thankfulness

Happy Thanksgiving to my American readers.  (And Happy Thursday to everyone else!)  This year, I'm thankful for so much. 

:: My health.  A small scare this fall reminded me yet again that this blessing is great. 

:: My family.  I'm lucky to have so many who I love, who support and challenge me, and who are committed to me. 

:: My friends.  Goodness, they are a blessing. 

:: A job.  My job gives me the potential to impact lives for the better.  And they pay me. 

:: A home.  My apartment is my perfect little sanctuary. 

:: My Rosy.  She's such a ray of sunshine and love. 

:: Freedom.  I'm blessed to live in a country that allows me to express my opinions freely and which, every four (or eight) years, peacefully transitions.

:: My love.  He's a good man and I'm lucky that God brought us together. 

I hope you are able to also celebrate the blessings in your life this holiday season. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Weekend Love

 I finished spray painting this giraffe.  I wish I had taken a before photo so you could see how cheesy plastic it was.  Because now it is kind of classy.  As I said in my last post, he was inherited from my colleague who passed away.  So it's nice to have him around but I'm glad I was able to transform him into something that works in my home a bit better.  Now, to name him..... hmm...

Yesterday, I also went to see my friend at a craft show she was selling at.  I managed to get a Christmas gift out of the deal too - something for my mom.  Of course, I also walked away with a little something for myself.  A new pink iPad carrier with dogs on it!!  I bought it from the friend who was selling there - always good to support her! 

And I spent a good amount of time with Rosy - morning cuddles, goofing around on the living room floor with squeaky toys and some photos like the below.  She's a nose licker, that one.  Actually, who am I kidding?  She's a plain old straight up licker.  And I love her. 
Today, I'm headed to another craft show.  The same friend is displaying.  However, this time another friend is going with me so it will be even more fun.  And who know, maybe I can get another Christmas gift! 

Hope you are having a good weekend too!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Smiling

Hello again!  A couple of happy tidbits from my day....

I inherited a little plastic giraffe figure from my colleague that just passed away.  He was a big fan of giraffes and had a couple of them in his office.  Right now, I'm trying to coat the plastic with a coat of gold spray paint.  I think he could be a lovely little addition to my apartment if I class him up with some gold.  I can't wait to see how he turns out!

Rosy and I helped out a pup on the way to work this morning.  There was a wayward pup wandering the busy street by my house.  Another lovely lady and I stopped and corralled him.  After trying to contact the owner via the phone number on his tag, I ended up driving him to her place of business.  Cooper is now safely back with his parents.  I'm grateful Rosy was in the car so I could borrow her leash for him. 

Homemade bread.  Yum! My neighbor gifted me her bread maker as she and her husband are moving to California. I made my first loaf on Monday. 
It's cool to watch it kneed through the window on top.  I made the simple white bread, which was pretty awesome.  I think I probably need to try some of the other recipes too.  I love new toys! 

What has been causing you to smile lately?  


Monday, November 12, 2012

Keeping Out of Trouble

 Oh, I have such great intentions when it comes to blogging and then distractions get in the way.  Life has been busy with lots of stuff and my focus just isn't as good as it used to be!!  What have I been up to you ask?

:: Sewing a skirt. It's finished.  I'm not sure I'm a fan.  (Oh well!)

:: Walking amongst the leaves. 

:: Trying new dishes.  This is a new favorite, made last night. 

:: Going on an overnight retreat with a group of great fraternity men and hearing about how they are going to make a difference.  Sometimes my work is just so rewarding. 

:: Drinking lots of tea.  It seems to be my new favorite thing.  
:: Volunteering at the Penn Vet Working Dog Center.  Seriously, these dogs are amazing.  And it's so fun. 

:: Seeing Bill Clinton.  He was in Philly the day before the election. 

:: Playing catch up on email.  This fall has been tough with work changing and a colleague sick.  I'm just now able to catch up on things professionally and in my volunteer roles. 

:: Enjoying my book club friends.  We even talked about the book briefly.
:: Instagramming my heart out.  There are a lot of photos from the retreat site I visited this weekend, because they have a farm with sheep, a donkey, alpacas, a llama, chickens, mini horse and a peacock.  How could I not take lots of photos? 

:: Fooling around with new photo apps - Picfx and Signote are my two new favorites. 

:: Generally appreciating the gifts of fall..... I'm blessed. 



Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Skirting Sandy

Nothing like a hurricane to foster progress on that skirt pattern you have laying around.  It's been cut out and the bulk of it is sewn together.  I'm lacking a zipper (I think.... gotta go rooting around in my supplies to make sure I don't have a 7 inch brown one laying around) so it won't be finished today but it's pretty darn awesome. 

As for Sandy herself, I didn't have any problems. I never lost power (a small miracle since so many around me did) and the trees in the neighborhood seemed to weather the storm fairly well.  Some of them even kept their leaves!  My car looked fine although I only looked at it from afar.  And since I had power, I also managed to bake up a batch of double chocolate sea salt cookies.  Because sometimes a girl needs a cookie to get her through the storm. 
And, apparently, a girl also needs a pot of chili.  Every time we have extreme weather (though typically snow), I make a pot of chili.  It's simmering right now..... I'm looking forward to dinner tonight! 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Weekend Escape to Lancaster

I missed the Big Questions post yesterday as I was out of town this weekend with the manfriend and had to work late last night.  I plan to still post this week; it's just a bit delayed!

As for the trip with the manfriend, it was delightful.  We went out to Lancaster County, PA and visited the PA Renaissance Faire, some antique stores, a street festival and a brewery.  We stayed at a great little B&B named Furnace Hills. We ate good food. And bad for us food (funnel cake for dinner anyone?).  We drank some beer at Stoudt's.  We smiled a lot and celebrated two trips around the sun as a team.  Most of the antiquing yielded Christmas gifts so there will be a couple of posts about things purchased but not too much.  It was a great little getaway.

How was your weekend?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Funk-iness

I haven't been crafting much lately.  I felt the itch last week but couldn't quite get my machine out (my kitchen table looked too nice without it!).  I miss creating in my life but just can't inspire myself to do anything.  I'm not entirely sure why. It would probably help to get me out of my life-is-stagnant and I'm in need of positive change funk.  See, I can say that yet I don't act on it.  I did just buy a skirt pattern and some wool so here's hoping for a little crafting soon.  In the meantime, I'm going to soak up as much of the lovely fall weather as I can.

What have you been creating?  And how do you shake off the funk? 


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

From Orchard to Pie

 I wet apple picking this past weekend with my friend Katie.  We haven't visited Johnson's Farm as much as we have past years (we missed strawberry and peach season!) so I'm glad we made a date and went.  They were picking Red and Golden Delicious and Empire apples.  I planned to bake a pie so I stuck with the Golden and Empires. 
 After apple picking, it was off to the pumpkin patch.  I didn't come home with this large one, instead favoring a smaller one for now.  I also got some gourds for a dish in my kitchen and some Indian corn for my front door.  Always an awesome little adventure! 
And on Sunday, I made the pie.  It's delicious!!  Now, if only I could share it with all of you....

Monday, September 24, 2012

Future Dreaming

We're at week 4 of The Big Questions.  I looked at this week's questions and had a bit of an "oh crap" moment.  It's a great question but wow, it's going to require a lot of thought.  So, here it goes....

If money were no object, where do you see yourself in five years?

There are so many answers.  Too many.

:: I'd have a nice little cottage home in the Philly area.  I'd love to have a place with cozy rooms, space to garden and a sewing studio.  

:: I'd be a mom.  

:: I'd have a lot of traveling under my belt.  Africa, Iceland, back to Italy, Japan, Australia and back to London.  

:: And I'd take my mom to some of these places too.  Because I think she'd enjoy the travel!
:: I'd look for a little vacation home somewhere relaxing.... preferably on a lake.  Ideally, this would dovetail with my love's desire for a little place in the Poconos. 

:: I would probably change careers to do something at a non-profit that allows me to give back more.  

:: I'd donate more to the causes I believe in.  

:: Hopefully carve out more time for crafty pursuits. 

Although there are other great things I'd likely do, these are the really important things: relaxation, travel, personal growth, happiness, creating and spending time with those I love. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Exposure

Have you seen this TED Talk on vulnerability
That right there is the whole reason I'm answering the Big Questions on the blog.  I'm trying to practice vulnerability and authenticity in a variety of different aspects of my life.  I'm pretty sure that's the only way I'll be the most me I can be.  There is a lot going on right now.  And there is also nothing at all going on.  I think that is part of why I've been frustrated.  Because although work is busy, I'm doing a bit more than ever before, and I have lots of thoughts swirling around, nothing is changing in my life.  My job is the same. My love and I are keeping the same pace as always.  Friends are good and steady.  My family is healthy with no big changes materializing - no babies, no weddings, etc.  I'm maintaining good, good things.  But I'm craving change.  So I'm grappling with how to be okay with things staying the same. (Don't most people grapple with change?)  Part of that is appreciating the blessings of sameness. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Grab a Marker; Write Your Future

I started a new feature two weeks based on Tiffany's post on the Big Questions.  Here's the third one.  (You can read one and two here.)  This week's question is:

What is your mark to leave on this world? 

This is an easy and hard one.  It's easy because:
  • I'm an educator.  I work with college students each day to make an impact on their world.  Some of the good the hundreds of students I've worked with is in part because of what I have done.  
  • I try to be a good friend.  The relationships I sow hopefully enrich my friends lives.  
  • I love.  I think when you truly love, you leave a little part of you behind when you do pass.  
  • I'm creative.  When you create things - whether photos, quilts, essays or other things - you leave a mark.  

 It's hard because: 
  • I want to be a mom but don't know that it will happen.  Parenthood is the one definite mark people make on the world.  
  •  The philosopher in me wonders if one hundred years from now, who will remember me?  Will my experiences shape someone's life?  How?  Is what I'm doing enough? 
I think these doubts are good.  They spur me on.  They remind me to live fully every day.  Embrace uncertainty.  Explore. Take chances.  Bliss out on blessings.  Savor life.  Only by doing just that, will I live on forever.  

What mark will you leave behind? 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Smile

Gotta love the old school toys!
“Everytime you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.”
Mother Teresa

Monday, September 10, 2012

Sacredness

Hello friends, welcome again to Question Monday.  I'm slowly answering the Big Questions on Tiffany's blog.  This week, I'm tackling question #2.  It is:

What is most sacred to you?

This question gives me pause.  The automatic answer that popped into my head.... family and friends.  And yes, that's true.  But really, it's more than that isn't it?  It's God and nature.  It's love.  It's the feel of a breeze on my skin on a warm day.  Or the sound of laughter from one of my loved ones.  It's the sound of raindrops dotting the landscape outside my window. 
 It's that belief in my gut that blessings will continue to be bestowed upon me.  It's the Golden Rule.  It's a warm hug when life feels complicated.  Or the sound of a twig breaking beneath my feet when walking in the woods with my little dog.  Really, so much of life is sacred.  Sometimes we forget just that..... 


What is sacred to you?  

Monday, September 3, 2012

Monday Question

Susannah linked to this post by Tiffany on the Big Questions.  And, because I'm feeling introspective, I thought I'd give them a stab.  I'm going to try to answer one a week for the next few weeks.  Look for this as a Monday feature going forward.  Starting with the first on the list,

What makes you feel most alive? 

This question just makes so many things stream through my brain all at once! 

:: Creating, whether is it with fabric, paint, yarn, a camera or words.  Drafting curriculum for a program is powerful.  So is knitting a sweater.  I love the feeling of "I did that."

:: Connecting with family and friends.  Sharing thoughts, frustrations, life joys or simply moments.  Human connection is awe inspiring.  

:: Un-programmed time with my love.  Merely connecting without the need to shuttle off someplace or interact with anyone but him reminds me of why he is so awesome.  And how grateful I am that time and God brought him into my life.  

:: Tasting something delicious.  I do love food.  Trying a new recipe or enjoying a new food makes me taste buds dance with delight.  

:: The sight of a sunset.  I am a small speck in the universe but at that moment the world is putting on a show for (in part) my benefit. 

:: Hugs.  It goes back to the human connection.  I love a good, solid, loving hug.  

:: Sitting on a bench under my tree at the arboretum.  Nature surrounds.  I can think.  The branches of the willow envelop me.  

:: Watching Rosy roll around, play with her toys and engage with the world with great enthusiasm.  Dogs enjoy the moment.  I need to do more of that. 

Oh, there is so much more but I'm going to stop there for now.  What makes you feel alive (Freudian mistype - I almost put alove)? 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Cooking & Retreating

 Last weekend, I bought $16 worth of tomatoes from the farmer's market and made some spaghetti sauce.  Goodness, I love cooking my own sauce.  Mushrooms, ground turkey and onion added a little bulk to the sauce.  For dinner, I added tortellini and yum!  And I put two big containers in the freezer for winter consumption. 
The rest of the week has been a bit of a blur.  I had retreat with my students Tuesday and Wednesday and a training on campus today.  Between those events, general back to school issues and getting new staff members up to speed, things have been crazy busy.  I'm grateful I got to spend a little time down by the lake at retreat, just enjoying the water.  That's my kind of office! 
I can hardly wait for the weekend.  I have nothing planned.  Well, except a trip back to the farmer's market for more tomatoes so I can have some blanched ones in the freezer for chili this winter!  What are you up to this Labor Day Weekend? 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Kitchen Nesting Continued

I went into Michael's looking for one of those big cardboard letters so I could cover it in yarn.  No luck!  But you lose your craftiness card if you leave Michael's empty handed, right?  So I bought three small wooden letters and a wooden board.  Because "yum" is perfect in the kitchen.  And I had extra red paint left from the painting the kitchen chairs.  Add some of the varnish I had from a prior project, a bit of drilling and some ribbon and you have a new little kitchen sign.  Loving my new (less than) $10 project! 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Ontario, It's Incredible!

That's the tagline from an old Ontario tourism commercial.  Maybe circa late 80s/early 90s?  
Anywho.... I forgot to share one other little find from my trip!  In Hammondsport, we wandered into Hammondsport Mercantile during the morning of our last day there.  What a gem!  I meandered and searched.  There was a number of delightful treasures.  I fell in love with a 1950's (ish) toy cash register.  I couldn't come up with the perfect home for it in my home so I walked away.  There was also a large collection of vintage glass bottles.  And bowls.  Yes, it was amazing.  The store is essentially a consignment store with a lovely couple operating it in their retirement.  I ended up leaving with just this map of Ontario.  I have a lot of love for Ontario.  Not only did I grow up 20 minutes away from my favorite Canadian province but my stepfamily used to vacation there on Lake Muskoka every summer.  I love a little reminder of that awesomeness.  This treasure needs a frame and then I'll find a perfect little place to make it at home!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Hammondsport Getaway

My love and me at Heron Hill Winery
Last update on our trip!  We left Buffalo on Monday and headed down to Hammondsport, NY.  It is Budget Travelers "Coolest Small Town in America" for 2012.  And it's pretty cool.  Hammondsport is part of NY wine country.  We visited three of the local wineries on our Tuesday there: Bully Hill, Dr. Frank's and Heron Hill
All were great.  The tasting at Bully Hill was $5 for five pre-selected wines.  They do tastings every 20 minutes or so and there were probably 20 people in our tasting group. We left with a couple of bottles, one for my mom who was dog sitting Rosy and a Spring White Niagara to satisfy my sweet wine tooth. 

At Dr. Frank's we kind of fell in love.  The tasting was complimentary but we definitely paid for it in bought bottles.  We came home with a Chardonnay, semi-dry Riesling and the one favorite we both agreed on, a Gewurztraminer Reserve.  I think that bottle will be consumed on our anniversary! 
Our last winery was Heron Hill.  It's a quaint place.  We paid $3 for a tasting of five previously selected wines.  They were yummy and we picked up a couple of bottles to return with - Game Bird White and a wine I had tried the night before, Game Bird Blush.  We stayed at Heron Hill for a while, as they have a cafe too.  The stuffed mushrooms were crazy good.  We followed them with a crab pizza which was also yummy. 

Stuffed and happy, we headed back to town to hang out for a while.  It's a lovely place to walk around.  We were about 2 blocks from the lake so we walked there to enjoy the view.  There really is nothing like the sounds of waves lapping the shore to calm your mind and refocus your thoughts. 
The view from The Waterfront at dusk
For dinner that night we went to a place recommended by a friend of mine from college, who grew up in the area.  The Waterfront not only has great food but we were able to sit on the dock over the water and see the sky change colors as the sun set behind us.  The above photo was taken there and really doesn't do the view and overall atmosphere justice. 
Keuka Lake
It was a great trip with my love.  I'm so glad we were able to get away for a bit and just enjoy time with each other.  We're both often so busy that it is nice to just be with each other.  I'm truly blessed.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Cave of the Winds

A little more about our trip to Buffalo....

On Monday, before heading out of the Western New York area, we went up to Niagara Falls and visited Cave of the Winds.  In all of my time living in WNY, I think this might only be the 2nd time I did it. 
 And it's such a cool experience.  You pretty much walk under the Bridal Veil Falls on the American side.  The entrance is on Goat Island (the island where Nik Wallenda started his tightrope walk across the Falls).  After you get your special non-slip sandals, you take a elevator down the equivalent of 18 stories. 
 Once down at the bottom, you get your raincoat and can head out to the wooden walkways.  It was a gorgeous day and not too hot.  As always with Niagara Falls, the crowd was quite diverse.  I love hearing the happy exclamations in a dozen different languages. 
 You certainly get quite soaked.  Thank goodness for that great yellow raincoat and the plastic bags you get for your belongings!  I'm so glad we went.  It really is an amazing way to get up close to the Falls. 
And there was a double rainbow people!  Who doesn't love that?