Worth a Thousand Words

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The upside to social media is that you can stay in touch with the friends you have made over the years.  Like it or not, it’s a great way to know what is going on with those friends you don’t get to see every day, but wish you did.  A great example of this is my dear friend Niki Moyer.  Niki and I worked together at Victoria’s Secret and have remain friends through the power of Facebook.

Since our Vicky days, we now both have families and different careers.  Niki has started her own photography business and a few weeks ago I had the privilege to have her to Eden Valley Farm to take a few shots of me and this beautiful place.  Since pictures are worth a thousand words, it is with great pleasure I share some photos with you, my readers…

I hope you enjoy the beauty that Niki so wonderfully captured in these photographs.  Please check out her Facebook page at NikiM.Photography and give it a “like.”

Also, a HUGE personal thank you, Niki.  I can’t wait to have you back in the future.  Good luck with your new adventure!

The Sound of Silence

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“Be Still and Know That I Am God” ~ Psalm 46:10

Sometimes I need to turn it all off.  Yes, everything..the radio, the computer, the TV and sometimes even the lights.  There are times when life gets so noisy I can’t even hear myself think, but most of all, I can’t hear what the silence is saying.

My stolen title, from the great Simon and Garfunkel song, poetically points out the need to rise above all the idle chatter and really hear the things that matter in this world…and dare I say, choose my own words wisely so I don’t become part of the noisy babbling.

This is not a new age concept. In fact, God commands us to “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10).  In today’s language this means “Chill out, and know that I (God) am in control.”  The only way you are going to know what I God is trying to tell you, is if you stop and listen.  God speaks to us in whispers.  Whispers of nature, whispers of friends, the whispers of our hearts and minds, and of course, the reading of his word..The Bible.

I challenge you to turn off all the noise and with an open heart and mind listen to what the universe is trying to tell you.  Some of the most important things in life to be heard, will be in the sounds of silence.

Chicago ~ My Kinda Town

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Bijan’s Bistro ~ A Chicago Dining Gem

The Windy City…No, not called that because of the high winds that blow off Lake Michigan, but from the bantering between the Chicago Tribune and the New York Sun papers.  Supposedly, Chicago was being mocked by the Sun for all of Chicago’s (and I quote) “rabid boosterism and shameless boasting.”  Well, let me add to that boasting, and say that Chicago is my new favorite big city.

I was lucky enough to attend the 2012 KBIS (Kitchen and Bath Industry Showcase) event that took place in downtown Chicago.

Candice Olson ~ KBIS

The keynote speaker was my idol, Candice Olson, from HGTV.  Anyone who knows me well, will tell you that HGTV is pretty much the only channel I watch on TV.  I’m a house and garden junkie.  Addicted.

On Michigan Avenue

This was my first trip to Chicago and it will not be my last.  Chicago was right up my alley, or should I say, right up my Michigan Avenue.  Michigan Avenue, is to Chicago, what 5th Avenue, is to Manhattan, NY.  It had all the best stores and restaurants, and it’s architecture was simply beautiful.  What more could a fashion savvy girl like me ask for?

Although most of my time was spent wandering up and down the aisles of the kitchen and bath industries top selling brands and their elaborate displays of sinks, faucets, bathtubs, tiles, cabinets, counter-tops and so many LED lights, that for a moment, I thought I was on the stages of Broadway, I was secretly hoping that I could call a cab and hit some of those high-end stores.  Though, it did save me a ton of money window shopping in the arena of high-end kitchen and bath accessories…Btw, I found the sink of my dreams while I was there.  For a mere 1,500 dollars I could have had the coolest kitchen sink of anyone I know.  However, it didn’t come with anyone to wash the dishes that don’t fit in my dishwasher, so I passed. :-)

Even though most time was spent at KBIS with my new designer friends, I did managed to sneak away for a quick walk down Michigan Avenue for a photo opportunity and a huge bite of Chicago Deep Dish Pizza.  One slice of that is a meal in itself!!

Strolling the streets of Chicago

I even got to use my umbrella which made it feel like I was walking through the streets of Europe as an American tourist taking in all the sights, sounds and smells.  It was a mini vacation, for sure.

Thank you, Chicago, for welcoming me to your lovely city.  I will visit you again, soon.

What is your favorite big city?

Personal Pizzas

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Parmigiano and Zucchini Pizza

As you know, I’m always on the lookout for quick and easy recipes.  Like most of you, I’m constantly on the go, but still need hearty, healthy fuel to keep me going.  My new favorite lunch idea is the personal pizza.  It’s fast to make and filling to the tummy.  Plus it’s a great way to clean out the produce drawer in the fridge.

I keep balls of good quality pizza dough in my freezer and have my pantry stocked with tomato sauce.  Both products keep for a long time so it’s easy to keep it stocked full.  All you need is to defrost the pizza dough (which will last up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator after thawing) and you are ready to create an eatable masterpiece.

Just the other day I created a Zucchini and Cheese pizza, which is one of my favorites.  With Summer and endless Zucchini around the corner, this is a great way to use some of it up.

Pizza Dough (Quartered)

To make the pizzas you start by dividing the pizza dough into quarters.  This will make 4 individual pizzas.  (You could also make one large pizza, if you wished, to feed the family.  Personal or full-sized can be made the same way.) Roll out each quarter of dough till you have a circle about 6 inches in diameter.  Then let the fun begin…

Spoon a thin layer of tomato sauce on the dough and sprinkle with cheese.  Mozzarella works best, but you can use whatever you have on hand.  (I used cheddar and grated parmigiano on my zucchini pizza.)   Once that is done, you can put as many toppings on your pizza, as you like…mushrooms, onions, peppers, zucchini, broccoli, basil, or whatever you have in your refrigerator.  You can even add meat, for all you carnivores out there.   I happen to love an all veggie pizza, but the combinations are endless as to what you can create.  Let your taste buds decide.

Place pizzas on a cookie sheet (I line my cookie sheets with non-stick aluminum foil.  It makes cleanup a breeze) and bake in a 450* oven for about 20-25 minutes depending on how many topping you have put on and until the edges of the dough are golden brown.

By the way, if you have no tomato sauce you can create a white pizza.  Drizzle garlic infused olive oil on the dough and add herbs like basil and oregano.  Top with ingredients of choice.  Sliced tomato and feta or Swiss cheese, mushrooms and caramelized onions are two of my favorite pizza combinations

The best part about making individual pizzas is that you can make them to your own liking and the liking of your family or your guests ~ Personal Pizzas, for sure.

What kind of pizza would you create?

The Power of a Thank You

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Thank you ~ Two little words that carry a ton of weight.

Recently, I had the pleasure of attending two memorable events.  One was hosted in my friend’s home and the other I was a guest at a concert of some friends. As I left each place, I was filled with an overwhelming sense of gratitude.  I remember saying, out loud, “I MUST write them a thank you note and let them know how much I appreciated their kindness.”

Believe it or not, studies show sending words of appreciation and thankfulness actually causes you to become more grateful.  Whether you believe it, or not, there is no harm in taking the challenge.  Spreading words of affirmation and kindness never hurt anyone.

On the flip side, receiving a “thank you” makes me happy that someone took the time to notice my efforts.  It lets me know  I have impacted their life, in such a way, that they, too, have the same sense of gratitude and took the time to express it to me with a thank you.

As an old-fashion kind of girl, I love to hand write thank you notes and have made it a point to get my daughters in the habit of writing “thank yous,” also…They may not appreciate the practice now, but someday, when they are older and wiser, they will thank me…A handwritten note on pretty stationary is a beautiful memory that can be kept forever…But don’t underestimate the power of a quick and verbal thank you.

Take it from a mom who, for the most part, does a thankless job each and every day; when one of my girls utters the words “thanks, mom” it makes all my hard work worth it.

Next time you see or use the words thank you, remember the power they hold.

Oh, and by the way, THANK YOU for stopping by my blog.  I sure do appreciate it.

Are You Living Up To Your Name?

About a month ago, I had an interesting conversation with a friend who is a professional counselor and also a pastor’s wife.  The conversation led to the importance of names and she ended the conversation with the words, “You will always live up to your name.”

I’ve been thinking about those words ever since and quickly decided to look up the meaning of my own name…I will get to that in a minute.

Ironically, in the past few weeks the meaning of one’s name has come up in other events in my life.  First, in my Sunday School class, as we study the book of Nehemiah (God Comforts), Nehemiah’s friend and helper, Eliashib (God Restores), and one of his enemies, Sanballat (Enemy in Secret) …to the birth of my friend’s son, who made it a point to announce this joyous event with his new son’s name, Deacon (One who Serves), along with its meaning.

Certainly those bible characters in Nehemiah lived up to their names, and by no means a coincidence, I’m sure.  God has planned biblical names from Adam (Mankind) to Jesus (Savior).  I also think my friend has high hopes that his son will grow up with the desire to serve the Lord.

So what about my name?  Well, after a bit of research, I found that my name means (Youthful and Soft-haired) and the biblical meaning (Having Faith).

Looking at all of the beauty products I own, you could say I am definitely living up to the youthful part of my name…or at least I am trying my best to maintain my youth, and my hair, for as long as I can.

As for having faith?  This part of my name depends on my relationship with the Lord.  The closer my relationship with Christ, the stronger my faith can grow.  I have never seen someone move a mountain by faith alone, but I do know that God is powerful enough to move a mountain, calm a storm, and part a sea.  My faith lies in Him.

Do you know what your name means and are you living up to it?

Signs of Spring ~ From Daffodils to The Cross

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Today is officially the first day of Spring, but even if you didn’t own a calendar, you would know Spring has arrived.

For weeks now, the weather has been turning warmer and the days are becoming longer.  There is a freshness in the air which comes with the newness of life that only Mother Nature can bring after the dark days of Winter.

As a lover of nature, I look for all of those little signs that say Spring has arrived like Daffodils blooming, grass turning green, and calves being born…and the occasional sneeze from those blooming allergies.  Spring is also the rebirth of things which have died in the Winter, and it signals the start of new beginnings and new life.

There is another sign of Spring’s arrival and comes in the form of jelly beans, colored eggs, and chocolate crosses… leaving no doubt in my mind that God planned Easter to be celebrated in the Springtime where the resurrection of His son was the ultimate example of rebirth and all things becoming new again.

God raised His son from the sting of death so that we, too, may be born again and live a brand new life.

1 Peter 1:3
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…

What are your favorite signs of Spring?

Be Spontaneous

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Normally, you would have been reading this blog on my usual Thursday posting, but instead of typing out a blog yesterday, I decided to be spontaneous and leave the blogging world and my world of laundry, cleaning, and cooking behind.

Yesterday was a gorgeous Spring day filled with beautiful sunshine and warm breezes blowing….that’s when it hit me.  I said to myself “there is no better day than today to just say to heck with housework and go have some fun.”  I threw on a pair of jeans and a shirt, grabbed my purse and away I went…well not before feeding the dog and putting a roast in the crock pot….Starving the ones I love was not part of the plan, or non-plan.  I’m talking spontaneous, here, not foolishness.

I found myself cruising down the highway with the sun-roof open, my shades on, and the radio cranked up to 11.  My spontaneity took me straight to the King of Prussia mall where I strolled the stores and had a blast spending some moldy money.

It was a day spent not worrying about anyone or anything… just living in the moment.  It was a day for me, myself and I.  No cell phone, no kids, and no one there to interfere with the spontaneous mood I was in…and I loved every minute of it.

I came home late in afternoon, with shopping bags in tote, to a house that was still standing, a dog that was super excited to see me and the smell of a deliciously cooked roast.  Best of all, was the huge smile on my face.

Yes, the earth was still rotating on it’s axis after my spontaneously perfect Thursday.

When was the last time you were completely spontaneous?

Excellence vs Perfection ~ From a Mother’s Point of View

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Utter the word perfect in my home and you will hear a chorus of girls replying with the words “perfection is so overrated” followed by laughter.

If there is anything which I hope to have taught my daughters, it is the difference between perfection and excellence.  Perfection does not allow for failure, whereas excellence allows for grace.  Excellence rewards you for just trying (no matter what the outcome), whereas perfection penalizes you for not succeeding…

“Perfection is being right.

Excellence is willing to be wrong.

Perfection is fear.

Excellence is taking a risk.

Perfection is anger and frustration.

Excellence is powerful.

Perfection is control.

Excellence is spontaneous.

Perfection is doubt.

Excellence is confidence.

Perfection is pressure.

Excellence is natural.

Perfection is the destination.

Excellence is the journey.”

                               ~Stepping Stone Ministries

There will always be moments in their lives when something does not go right or has turned out wrong…was not the way they thought it would be in the end, and there was something they tried, but failed at…and such is life.

It is my job as a mother to build my daughters’ core values and their self-esteem.  My wish is to celebrate their journey to becoming the excellent women I know they are…all while laughing in the face of perfection.

What will you strive for..excellence or perfection?

It Scared Me Healthy

It stopped me in my tracks… For the first time in probably 15 years I took an antibiotic to cure a sinus infection.  This may seem like no big deal, but let me tell you, it was an awakening to start taking care of my body and my health.

For the most part, I have always been a healthy and fit person.  I exercised and ate whole foods before “whole foods” became the in thing.  I live on a farm where we grow our own food, exercise is just doing daily chores, and you can’t beat the clean country air.  So why did I get so sick?  Simple, I forgot to take care of ME.

Sometimes it is so easy to get caught up in our daily routines and our lives are so hectic that we forget about the insides of our bodies…and that was me.  I was so determined to keep going even when my body was telling me to rest and feed it better.  So determined, that after an 8 hour work shift, I found myself in the local emergency medical clinic, on a Saturday night, in severe pain from a sinus infection. After a nice little pep-talk from the doctor, I went home and pondered how I needed to change some little things in my daily routine.  It was time to make some small changes that would impact my health in a big way.

I’m not talking radical, here.  I’m not at the gym 24/7 and I have not turned into a vegetarian or vegan (Though I do not have a problem with any of those practices.  To each his own.)  I’m talking about making a conscious effort to think of me and my insides.

Here are some of the things that I have purposed to make a habit of doing…

~ Drink more water (especially first thing in the morning, before my cup of coffee)

~ Eat organic yogurt (yogurt is great for your metabolism and is a great pro-biotic)

~ SLEEP (yes, getting a good, full nights sleep is a must.  Good for mind, body and soul)

~ Eat more fruits and vegetables (an obvious one)

~ Vitamins (extra C and D, among others, are a necessity for me…especially in the Winter)

~ Take a walk (a nice brisk walk in the fresh air.  BTW, I have no desire to run a marathon; just the thought of that makes me tired)

It has been about 3 weeks since I have stuck to these simple lifestyle changes and I must say, I look and feel better.  Better than I have in a very long time.

It’s true what they say, “beauty comes from the inside, out.”  Not only from a kind heart, but a healthy heart…liver, kidneys, brain….. Well you get my point.

What are some easy things you can change or add to keep your body healthy?

*please check with your doctor before making any changes to your diet and exercise.

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