Esther 4:14b

"...and who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this."

Monday, September 21, 2009

Am I the last one... get hooked on the Twilight series?

All the rage between my friends on Facebook a few months ago was how great the Twilight books were. I'm not normally one to read the latest "must read" (case in point I've never read any of the Harry Potter books nor do I think I ever will), but something about how many different people were saying these books were good caught my attention.

I picked up the first one a couple weeks ago and was wondering what all the hype was about until I got about half way through the first one. Then, I'm said to say, like the rest of the world, I was hooked.

I quickly finished Twilight and then moved on to New Moon. A couple days ago I finished Eclipse and now I'm anxiously waiting until there's a copy of Breaking Dawn available in the library to be checked out.

It's a very good series and a fast and entertaining read.

I still haven't decided if I want to see the movie, though. Any suggestions from those of you who read the book and saw the movie? Is it worth it?

And, if you were Bella, would you rather be with Jacob or Edward? Call me crazy, but I think I'd choose Jacob.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Gettysburg Photos

I mentioned here that hubby and I spent some time with my parents in Gettysburg over Labor Day weekend. We had such a great time! Here are some photos from the trip:

We met up with our friends Luke & Melissa for breakfast at Cracker Barrel. God provided a ride home for hubby from the house in a neat way. Luke & Melissa were going to come visit us for Labor Day if we didn't have any plans, but I told them we were going to be in Gettysburg. Mel just laughed because they had already decided if we weren't available to drive out to visit her aunt and uncle who lived near Gettysburg instead. So, hubby hopped a ride from the house with them and I still got to see them for a little bit at breakfast. How fun!

The rest of that day, my parents, hubby & I toured the brand new visitors center. They had a great video, cyclerama, and museum that was very informative. We also did some antique shopping where I found a beautiful silver tray for $12!

Before heading to the ghost tour (which was very lame, but gave us great things to laugh about) that night, we had dinner at Dobbins House. It's one of the oldest homes in Gettysburg and even has a spot where you can see where they hid slaves on the Underground Railroad.

The next morning was our horseback tour and we were all look forward to it a lot. It was so much fun and the weather was awesome. But we were all a little sore at the end!

Here is a Confederate soldier (renactor of course) that we came across right near where Pickett's Charge started. We actually saw him as we were doing a driving tour of the fields after the horse ride.

On the horseback tour, we came across this barn which had a hole shot through it with a canon. It's located beneath the two diamonds in the brick. See it?

L - R: My dad on Stormin' Norman, my mom on Robbie, Hubby on Red, and myself on Simon. I was so excited to get a Paint because I love Paints. He was such a sweet horse. The headphones are how we heard the tour guide who was stationed in the middle of the pack.

Group photo after a great ride.

Our last stop before heading out of town was at the National Cemetery. It was here that Abe Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address. This was one of the many canons situated throughout the cemetery.

On the driving tour, we came across so many monuments honoring the brave men who fought so valiantly for their beliefs. My favorite was probably this one that honored the men from the state of Maryland.
They were one of the few states that had men fighting on both sides of the battle and this monument depicts a Union soldier on the left and his Confederate brother on the right. Very moving.

The fields where this battle was fought are absolutely breathtaking. It's hard to imagine the numerous men who were lying wounded and dead on this particular field after Pickett's Charge.

If you've never been to Gettysburg (or any of the battlefields for that matter), I highly recommend you go. It's definitely an awesome experience!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Fall Decorating

Just like everybody else around blog world these days, I'm so ready for fall. It's absolutely my favorite time of year (besides Christmas or my birthday or vacation...) and I can't wait for it to roll around.

A couple nights ago I was finally bitten by the crafting bug again (that or I decided it was time to clean out some of the "junk" taking up space in my craft room) so I decided to do a mini makeover on the living room.

Now, I consider myself a member of the P.O.O.P.I.E. club (shout out to the Nester), but for some reason when I came across these at Michael's fall clearance last year they were just calling out my name.

I'm still not 100% satisfied with them - some times I look at them and really like them, other times they just scream, "Look at us! We're FAKE!". What do you think keep or give away on Craig's List?

(Tangent: What is up with my camera? I definitely think it's time to get a new one. The flash just loves to wash everything out when it's on and if it's off everything just looks grainy. Ugh!)

I also did a mini redo on the mantle. The gun is a must stay - past done through the fam' from the Civil War, but I did add the books, vases, jars filled with acorns and rearranged the dried hydrangeas in a new vase and added some faux leaves. I love the Shakespeare print that I picked up on the cheap a few years ago and leaned that up there too. Still not the best mantle scape, but much better than the mini bunny I still had sitting up there from Easter! Yeah. Guess I've been a little busy.

Now give it to me straight. The flowers on the side table...bad or good?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Happy Birthday Chelsea!

Happy Birthday, Chelsea! Can't believe you're already in the later part of your 20s. Would you please stop getting older because it means I'm getting older too. I don't think I'll ever stop seeing you in my mind as my "little" sister - even if you did get married and have two kids before my 2nd wedding anniversary!

Remember when we used to love having matching Easter bonnets and insisted on Mom buying them for us only to be too embarrassed to actually wear them to church? Or how about me teasing you about ladybugs and ghosts? Or all the times we'd make forts in our room or throw Care Bears out our window (oh wait I guess that was just me)? Then there was the time we acted like pirates...

Have to admit that your "pirate face" is definitely much more fear inducing than mine! Sure there a few times (perhaps I should say a lot of times) we'd fight, or I'd make you call me "drill Sargent" when I was left in charge, but through it all I think you turned out pretty darn cool.

Mom always said we'd grow up to be great friends someday, and while I admit at times I thought it'd never happen seeing how we're complete opposites, I'm glad to see that like normal, "Mom knew best." You are definitely one of my very best friends and I'm so glad I have a sister like you.

Thanks so much for the stellar example you set on being a godly wife - especially through the challenging and difficult times - and for giving me two very handsome nephews. Looking forward to many more years as sisters and friends.

Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

On the road again...

It seems like I say this every couple weeks! It will be so nice when we're not living between two houses in two completely different states.

Hubby and I are leaving on a jet plane again tonight to go work on the house some more. Hopefully this trip we'll finally get some framing done in the kitchen so we can continue to keep that project moving forward.

From there we're heading directly down to South Carolina, Charleston in fact, for a friend's wedding. While there we're going to try to hit Fort Sumter to get the South's take on the whole Civil War. After all, we did get the North's viewpoint not too long ago.

I have a few posts that will publish while I'm away, but for the most part you get silence from this part of blog land. What's new for me lately, though, right?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Cherry Cola Birthday

It was yet another birthday at work today. This one was for someone turning the big 4-0 and he most definitely did not want people to know about it. So, I was happy to oblige. My making sure EVERYONE knew how old he was going to be! Ha!

I use the guys at work as my guinea pigs and today was no exception. I was flipping through my Woman's Day magazine the other day and came across a delicious recipe for a coconut marble bundt cake. It sounded (and looked) downright heavenly. I had all the ingredients except the coconut and well, you just can't make a COCONUT marble bundt cake without coconut. Running to the store was definitely out of the question because that place is a zoo on Sunday afternoons and I was not about to get trampled in that stampede.

So, it was on to plan B.

After going on a hunt for supplies, I came up with a boxed chocolate cake mix and some canned frosting. B-O-R-I-N-G.

In an attempt to jazz things up, I pulled out my Southern Living cookbook (thanks again so much to Tom and Jen for that wonderful gift a couple years ago...I love that thing!) and found a recipe for a Root beer cake that used a boxed cake mix. Of course I didn't have root beer, but I did have a can of cherry coke. Where it came from I have no idea because there are absolutely no cherry coke drinkers in my house whatsoever.

The recipe still sounded a little too dull for me so I then looked to see if there was a can of cherry pie filling anywhere and I was in luck!

For the cake, I used one box chocolate cake mix, 1-1/4 cup cherry coke, 2 eggs and 1/4 cup oil. I blended all those together until moistened. Then I added 1/2 can cherry pie filling and stirred that together. Pour into a greased and floured bundt pan and bake for about 35-40 minutes at 350, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool and then remove from pan.

For the icing, I used the rest of the can of cherry coke (about 1/4 cup), the rest of the pie filling, 3 T cocoa, 1 tsp. almond extract and about 1 cup of powdered sugar (or until it's how sweet you desire). Place all ingredients in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until cocoa and powdered sugar have dissolved. Cool and then pour over cake.

And the verdict from my guinea pigs?

Not too bad. Definitely didn't get the rave reviews or the desire for 2nd helpings from everyone that my cakes have received in the past, but they said it was good.

Personally, the cake had too much "fake cherry" flavor for my liking. The cake had barely any cherry flavor, but the glaze was a little too strong in the cherry flavor. Definitely not my favorite cake, and I probably won't be making it again. But, it was fun to experiment.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Still have not forgotten

I admit this year I've been so busy and sidetracked, I completely forgot that today was Sept. 11.

Eight years ago today there was mass terror inflicted not only on the people of NYC, but on our country as a whole. Last year I reflected on where I was on that day. Where were you?

I cried today just like I do every year when I remember those I know who lost loved ones that day and just recalling the events of that fateful day all those years ago.

The radio station I listen played this poem this morning and I thought it very fitting:


You say you will never forget where you were when you heard the news on September 11, 2001. Neither will I.

I was on the 110th floor in a smoke filled room with a man who called his wife to say "Goodbye." I held his fingers steady as he dialed. I gave him the peace to say, "Honey, I am not going to make it, but it is OK ... I am ready to go."

I was with his wife when he called as she fed breakfast to their children. I held her up as she tried to understand his words and as she realized he wasn't coming home that night.

I was in the stairwell of the 23rd floor when a woman cried out to Me for help. "I have been knocking on the door of your heart for 50 years!" I said. "Of course I will show you the way home - only believe on Me now."

I was at the base of the building with the Priest ministering to the injured and devastated souls. I took him home to tend to his Flock in Heaven. He heard my voice and answered.

I was with the Firefighters, the Police Officers, the Emergency Workers. I was there, watching each brave step they took.

I was on all four of those planes, in every seat, with every prayer. I was with the crew as they were overtaken. I was in the very hearts of the believers there, comforting and assuring them that their faith has saved them.

I was in Texas, Kansas, London. I was standing next to you when you heard the terrible news. Did you sense Me?

I want you to know that I saw every face. I knew every name - though not all know Me. Some met Me for the first time on the 86th floor. Some sought Me with their last breath. Some couldn't hear Me calling to them through the smoke and flames; "Come to Me...this way...take My hand." Some chose, for the final time, to ignore Me. But, I was there.

I did not place you in the Tower that day. You may not know why, but I do. However, if you were there in that explosive moment in time, would you have reached for Me?

September 11, 2001 was not the end of the journey for you. But someday your journey will end. And I will be there for you as well.

Seek Me now while I may be found. Then, at any moment, you know you are "ready to go." I will be in the stairwell of your final moments.

~~~ God ~~~

Written by: Stacey Randall

Friday, September 4, 2009

Giddy Up!

I've been looking forward to this Labor Day weekend for a VERY long time.

I picked my mom and dad up at the airport last night and we're on our way to pick up hubby in Dillsburg, PA. He hoped a ride with our friends Luke & Melissa (our reno buddies) from the house to their relatives house there. Once we get him, we're off to GETTYSBURG!

I love Civil War history (don't ask me to recall a single date or name, though because I enjoy learning it, not remembering the specifics!) and can't wait to tour this battlefield again.

The first time I went was about 8 years ago with my parents. This time we're taking hubs for the first time (even though he's lived three hours away from it for his whole entire life) and we're touring the fields on HORSEBACK! How awesome is that?!

We're also going on a ghost walking tour tonight where they'll tell us stories from that time in history.

And to top it all off, the weather is supposed to be gorgeous.

Now, where are my boots and hat?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

House Update: We now have a (sub)floor!

I've been meaning to post these for awhile, but just haven't made the time to sort through the hundreds of photos I have to try to give you an idea of the progression of the project. But, today is DIY Day at A Soft Place to Land, so I'm linkin' up!

We were out working on the house for three weeks in August and are glad to say we're finally at the point where we can start putting things back together instead of tearing them apart.

On the way out, we stopped at a Dairy Queen to enjoy yummy blizzards and to give hubby an opportunity to fix the trailer brakes that got severed on the road.

We were very pleased when we went out to the yard the first morning we were there and discovered 10' worth of gorgeous black raspberry bushes. I picked a few to put on top of pound cake and they were so yummy! I'm very glad I picked them when I did, though, because the next day our next door neighbor had a worker trimming trees in their backyard and she decided to hop on our side of the fence and trim the raspberry bushes back a foot from the fence and chopped them in half! We were so mad! Hopefully they'll recover from the shock and grow again next year.

My hubby is so handy. This was just one of the many roles he performed while there - removing part of the terrazzo stone hearth around the fireplace. He also played the role of pipe remover, mason, electrician, gardener and carpenter to name a few.

My main jobs right now consist of "clean up crew", "nail puller", "floor plan sketcher", or "cook". Guess we all have to play our role in order to get anything done, though.

Our dear friends Luke & Melissa came by for a couple days to help us out. Melissa and I were great supervisors! And, she LOVES to clean, organize, and paint so I'll definitely be having her over more often!

Luke was a HUGE help to hubby with removing the subfloor in the kitchen. We had to remove it all in order to level the joists so our new tile floor doesn't crack when we lay it down.

We also had to demo the future media room that is located directly above the kitchen. We did this now so that junk wouldn't be falling through the ceiling onto the finished kitchen. Here's what part of the room looked like when we were first looking at the house:

Part way through the demo. Still need to remove the bathroom. We have four others on this level so I think we can do without one in here! This area used to be the maid's quarters. There were three rooms, a bathroom and a hallway all in this one spot! If you look close you can kinda see where the walls would have been in the floor.

Here is where it stands for now. This past week hubby was back there working on fixing the joists that had huge chunks cut out of them for the bathroom plumbing and laying down new subfloor in that area.

This is the other half of the room before it was demolished. This picture gives you a better idea of where the three maid's bedrooms were (where the floor boards change color). Too bad those maids don't come with the house!

In the process of being demoed. This wall will hold the screen and electronic equipment, as well as the 2nd floor stop for the dumbwaiter.

All ready for insulation and drywall. Just have to finish moving the wires.

Here are some photos of the kitchen demo process to give you an idea of how far we've come. Sometimes it feels like it is taking forever, but when we look at these, we're reminded of how much work it actually entails. It's a lot more involved than the 30 minute HGTV shows lead you to believe! This is what the back door and eating area (to left of photo) looked like on move in day. See the straw in the walls?

This is what it looked like sometime late last summer/early fall.

Here is what it looked like at the beginning of this August. All the plaster is down, the trim and molding have been removed, the walls are gone, and the hardwood flooring has been removed.

Here is what it looked like for the vast majority of the time we were there last month. The joists were almost all leveled and almost ready for the new subfloor. The wall by the back door still needs to be removed to allow for new french doors.

In the process of taking the wall down.

What it looks like now! We have a (level) subfloor! Wahoo!! I never thought I'd be so excited over a floor, but this is great because now it means we can start putting it all back together. The only thing is we have to figure out one tiny problem of moving a double joist where the dumbwaiter is supposed to go before we can finish laying the last 1/4 of the subfloor. Guess our architect forgot to check for that sort of thing. Doesn't it look much more open?

Here are the photos of the other side of the kitchen. This is what it looked like when we were first looking at the house:

What it looked like last fall after we removed the plaster.

What it looked like before we pulled up the subfloor.

I don't have a picture of this angle at the lastest stage, but imagine all the stuff cleared out and the floor boards pulled up.

So, that's where we're at for now.

We head back out in another week or two and are hoping to get a start on framing the kitchen out so we can insulate it before we take a break over the winter.

Next summer is the projected date for getting the kitchen completely finished. I can't wait!