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I haven’t done much garage saling since I moved here.  With the price of gas as high as it is, I can hardly justify driving all over the countryside to peruse what may be just junk.  Yesterday, I was pleasantly surprised to see a few yard sales in my neck of the woods and couldn’t resist peeking at their offerings.  These were garage sales on lonely roads and their price tags reflected that.  The vendors seemed happy enough that someone had stopped, was open to chatting while looking and they accordingly threw in freebies and slashed prices even further if you bought a few things.  I’m living in the right neck of the woods.  These are my kind of folk.

My freebie found a home immediately:

It’s looking pretty in a corner of the upstairs bathroom’s vanity.

My $1 candelabra with lots of extra candles is holding its own for now in a corner of the dining room:

My $40 full length mirror is my next painting job:

This  $1 picture frame with hooks will replace something much uglier left behind by the previous owners:

These 3 for $1 funky mirrors are the subject of much consideration right now:

These platters which were thrown in for 50 cents each show promise for a special future project:

I’m so totally eclectic.  I love to surround myself with stuff I like whether it seems to go together or not and garage sales are the perfect place to find the neatest things.

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It seems now like a lifetime ago that I first joined a small group.  I came to it broken-hearted, weary of life as I knew it and wanting answers to questions that were plaguing me.  I found kind and caring ordinary people who accepted me right where I was at.  They never judged me despite my tears and relentless “yes but…” attitude.  They came alongside me and walked with me as I finally allowed myself to grieve the loss of the love of my life.  They held me when I cried, prayed for me when I was weak, supported the boys and I when I just needed a helping hand and were entirely hopeful that I could come out of the tunnel I was in intact and stronger than before.  I looked forward to Friday nights when I could go to Merv and Jill’s small group.  For me, it was a little piece of heaven on earth; a place where I could be unconditionally loved and where I didn’t have to be Miss Perfect Christian.  These fantastic people let me be ordinary.  They let me struggle with the harder things of life.  They received me again and again and rejoiced with me when I saw light at the end of my tunnel and found my way out to more abundant life.

God must have know that I needed more than unconditional love at that point in life because I was also invited to join a women’s only small group self-named Yada Yada.  There I began to laugh again.  It was pretty hard not to crack a smile hearing Diana burst into uproarious laughter as only Diana can do or to sit in on the playful banter between Claudette, Kelly and Heidi.  We prayed together, we discussed together, we ate together and we just plain enjoyed together.  Sometimes we went out to restaurants or mini putt together.  Maybe those were commonplace activities for the rest of the group but it was luxury for me to go to these places.  I had all but cut out adult fun in my life deeming that someone living on my kind of budget just couldn’t do things like that.  They were so understanding.  Usually one of their spouses or friends from my other small group would babysit the boys.  They counted it a privilege to serve me in this way and save me a little dough.  When it came time to launch out and try internet dating my Yada Yada sisters were right on board as my prayer partners and cheerleaders.  I was discouraged about my ho-hum looks so they threw me a make-over party.  One of the group member’s daughters cut my hair and did my make-up.  They counselled me what to wear and snapped some pics on a digital camera.  I didn’t have one at that point and wasn’t sure how to get my photo on that crazy web sight.  When I was nervous about going out on a first date they were willing to secretly tag along and keep an eye on me from another table.  I don’t know where I would be without people like these that I met in small groups.

Moving out here was a big step of faith for me.  It meant leaving behind the wonderful support groups that had helped me so much.  I hoped to find Christian community here so when the church I was attending announced a Group Link night to get individuals into a small group setting, I jumped.  I haven’t regretted that leap.  God has His people everywhere and what I have found here has been every bit as blessed as what I had discovered in Ottawa.  I’m still a bit messed.  I still have questions.  I’m not always the most positive and sometimes I bring weird snacks to the group.  That hasn’t deterred them from accepting me and going the extra mile for me.

Last night, DA and I were supposed to meet with the pastor who is marrying us and his wife at a restaurant.  When we arrived, the small group was waiting for us.  It was a surprise engagement party.  We were told dinner would be on them and after we ate the gifts came out.

One of the group members had taken engagement photos of DA and I.  Inside the manilla envelope we found our smiling faces on a print.  Under that was a card full of best wishes, an envelope stuffed with cash and a Connexus Community group certificate for a three hour cruise of Washago.  Another couple, who had been part of our group before being led to another church, presented us with a beautiful welcome sign.  It has yet to find its permanent niche in the garden but wherever it lands up it will remind me of the caring people who gave it.  It’s not often that I am dumbfounded but I was that night.  All I could say was, “thank you” and “I really didn’t expect this”.  As a young widow with kids in tow, I’ve been given many things.  Most often these things are given with a pitying look cast my way.  That was not the case last night.  As awkward and guarded as I am, they have received me as one of the group.  I’ve been enfolded and it’s their joy to celebrate with me a milestone in my life.

I have spent many years of my life crying myself to sleep.  Late last night the tears flowed again.  This time I wasn’t sad; I was overwhelmed with gratitude at the gestures of my small group.  I don’t deserve anything and yet I’ve been given the gift of friendship in abundance.  That’s a beautiful thing.

I’ve been practicing walking around in the ultra-high heels and the veil I hope to wear on my wedding day.  Both have a bit of a story to them.

The shoes are the something old in that familiar English saying – “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue”.  I found them gently used at Value Village.  They are like Cinderella shoes to me.  They are quite high and not the most comfortable but hopefully they will propel me to new heights so that my man won’t have to stoop to kiss me and I won’t have to strain up to meet his lips.  It would also be nice to have our heads in the same photo without me having to stand on a rock or something.

Ever try photographing your own feet?  It’s not easy!

I bought my veil the same time I bought my dress even though I wasn’t sure I was even going to wear it.  Here’s the skinny.  For starters, I have an unusually small head for an adult.  Things like tiaras and flower circlets just don’t seem to fit my noggin.  I was assured by the woman selling these items that they could be made more secure with bobby pins.  This woman has obviously never tried to put anything in my hair.  It is very straight and very slippery.  I’m the person who can wear a barrette, move a little and have it just slide right out.  The last thing I want on my wedding day is to have to try to balance something on my head.  The veil I bought had a comb in it.  Notice that word had.  That’s past tense.  Combs also don’t work in my hair.  If you look in bridal mags, you’ll notice that every model wearing this type of veil has long hair that has been swept up into a glamorous up-do with the comb cleverly hidden inside of it so that the veil flows beautifully out the back of her head.  Well, I don’t have long hair so there is no chance of doing an up-do and my hair is so fine that I don’t think anyone could hide a silver comb in it.  So, I cut the comb out.  Yes, you read that correctly.  I cut the comb out and attached the remaining veil to a hair band.  I can now walk around and move my head and actually have the veil stay on.  Let’s hope that there are no big gusts of wind on October the fourth.  If there are, I still might walk the aisle veil-less.

Ever try photographing the top of your own head?  That’s not easy either!

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Warning:  The colour in the photos you are about to see are off.  The tablecloth is actually dark pink and not neon orange.  I’m not sure why my camera insisted on lying.

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Many moons ago a new flea market opened not too far from where we live.  I’ve driven by it many times but have never checked it out as that sort of thing is about as interesting to the boys as brushing barbie doll hair.  They look at places like that and just see mounds of junk.  Me?  I’m a treasure hunter looking for that elusive gem that I am sure is hiding in all that stuff somewhere.

Today, I had a chance to pop in all by myself.  I found something I thought was interesting.  I bought it, managed to get it home intact, filled the pieces with salt , added some pink-hued flowers and – voila! – here is what I have:

The swans and vase are handblown glass and can also be filled with coloured water.  I think this creation is very pretty and I want to put it somewhere on the head table at my wedding.  I don’t think that I can use it as a centrepiece as it is quite tall and will block the view of the bride and groom.  I’m sure I’ll find a spot just right for it and that it will be quite the conversation piece.

After the wedding is over I want to package it up and pull it out as a table centrepiece for our first anniversary dinner.  I know that most people eat out for important dates like that but DA is such a fabulous cook that I am really hoping that we won’t end up being like most people.  The idea of a romantic dinner with the man I love and this cool throwback to our day of wedded bliss sounds awfully good to me!

After a long walk yesterday and a soak in the tub, I got to thinking about people and began to wonder if everyone has one sense that is more heightened than others.

Auditory people would be passionate about anything that has to do with sound.  Some of them would be musicians.  Others singers.  Still others would have huge CD collections and would always have music as a backdrop to life.  Sound would be where they would invest money.  They’d have good quality equipment and would pay through the nose happily to go to a good concert or something like a jazz festival.

Olfactory people, on the other hand, would be concerned with smell.  These would be the people who would walk into a room and notice that it smelled like vanilla.  They would brew things on the stove just to make their apartment smell nicer.   They would invest in flowers for their smell as much as for their beauty.  They likely would wear scented products and would be much more keenly aware if others around them were wearing too much perfume or not enough cologne.  They might be so sensitive that less than pleasant smells, too much odour or the wrong combination of aromas might actually make them sick.  They likely would be intriqued by aromatherapy.  Their world has a lot to do with how things hit their proboscis.

Then there are people of the palate.  They would be intensely interested in taste.  They likely would be good cooks and bakers and would be keenly interested in sampling new flavours.  They would think nothing of investing their money in eating out at a nice restaurant or pairing a homemade meal with the perfect wine.  They could probably distinguish flavours in a dish with far more accuracy than someone who didn’t fall into this category.

Tactile/kinesthetic people would be those whose world revolved around comfort.  I suspect that athletes would fall in this category.  They love the feel of the turf under their feet, the experience of powering their way through water or the thrill of pushing themselves to reach the top of some summit.  I also suspect that couch potatoes could fall into this category on the other end of the spectrum.  What they like most in life is the feel of a comfy chair and the fit of their favourite track pants.  It’s all about how it feels for these people.

Finally, there are the visual people.  I fall into this category.  For this group, it’s all about how things look.  They are the fashionistas, the interior decorators, the hair stylists, the artists, etc.  They invest their money to make things more visually appealing.

I realize that this categorizng of people is very simplistic and that most people are way too complicated to be sorted into five neat categories but it does explain a few things to me.  I have a son whom I believe is auditory.  As a baby, he was drawn to toys that honked, squeaked or made some kind of noise.  More than any of us, he loves stories on CD – the kind with sound effects built right in.  He often calls me to the computer to listen to some new tune that he finds interesting.  My other son is definitely tactile/kinesthetic.  His world is all about comfort.  He doesn’t want me to “mess” with his room because it’s comfortable for him the way it is.  There are certain items of clothing in his closet that are stylish but unworn.  The reason?  They just don’t feel right.  Neither of them is natually interested in how things look and therefore we are different.  That’s good.  It takes all types.

O.K.  This has been a huge lead in to the painting project I’ve been working on.  I did this project because I am a visual person.  I took something that was good and made it into something that I found more aesthetically to my liking.  Here’s what I started with:

I found this lovely pair at a used store and though they were sitting on a shelf with lots of other dodads, they stood out to me.  I bought them and they have sat in various places in my house.  I liked them but their bronze colouring just didn’t seem to suit any nook I could place them.  So, I decided to use my favourite medium – paint – and change them a bit.  They now look like this:

At first, they were too starkly white for me.  The room they are sitting in has browns, greens and creams in it.  To soften them up a bit, I rubbed them down with a spent tea bag.  I love how the tea pooled in crevises and made these two look less like white painted knick knacks and more like garden statuary.

For now this handsome couple has landed on my fireplace mantle but I can see them flying away to other perches as I wish to dress this area for certain seasons and activities.  With their current colouring, they’ll look great just about anywhere.

This is not the blog entry I wanted to write.  I started on a painting project yesterday that I was hoping would turn out well enough to feature.  That was before “the disaster” happened.  I knew it was bad by the cries of my children.  They weren’t hurt but something terrible had definitely happened.  I went out bracing myself for just about anything.  What met my eyes was a big blob of white semi-gloss latex on the carpet, one son with paint in his hair and the other son holding a comforter dabbed in the white stuff.  I won’t go into the details of what happened.  I’m trying hard to not rehash the whole scenario in my head.  I won’t go into my reaction to what I saw either; that was uglier than the actual disaster.  Things only got worse when the two guilty tried to help clean up.  Both got paint on their clothes, and some of the white stuff ended up on the sofa.  I sent one straight to the shower and the other upstairs to try to rinse out the comforter.  Not good.  The kitchen then became a fiasco.  I have to confess that I very quickly broke down and cried knowing how much work this clean-up would be.  Yes.  This scenario is deja vu for me.  We’ve had a paint spill on the carpet in a previous house.

I worked for a few hours last night on that mess.  I finally stopped from exhaustion and a nagging from the Holy Spirit that I needed to repent.  Hours of clean-up of that magnitude at the end of the day did nothing for my attitude.  I did manage to fall asleep but woke up early with thoughts of that enormous stain in my carpet.  No such luck checking it out though; the power was out and the spill was in a windowless part of the basement.  I then decided to zip to the grocery store and get some more carpet cleaner.  I had used up the last of my instock supply the previous night.  It was me and about 20 other really old people waiting outside No Frills for it to open.  Turns out its pension cheque day.  Well, I beat them all to the carpet cleaning section and got fresh supplies with the intention of working that stain until it was out or I died trying.  No such luck again.  The power had come back on but now my water wasn’t working.  It took several hours before I got hold of a well specialist – my dad – and was coached over the phone to tinker with this:

I’d like to say it was smooth sailing from there but that’s really not the case.  I did get  the water working but then tried calling some carpet cleaning specialists.  The first guy said that he could fit me in some time next week.  I was pretty sure the latex paint would be dry and pretty permanent by then so I declined.  The third guy told me it was hopeless and that he wouldn’t even bother trying.  The second guy I didn’t even get a hold of; I just got the machine.  Thoroughly discouraged, I worked very hard and ended up with this:

See that big white spot in front of the loveseat?  Kind of hard not to.  Wasn’t sure I could stand looking at that so I subjected my children to something that for them is one step above Chinese water torture.  That’s right.  They had to come shopping with me and look at whatever I wanted to for as long as I wanted to.  (That was preceded by mounds of physical labour.  I told them that they had created lots of extra work for me with this “accident” and therefore I thought it only fair that they do my work for the day.  But I digress…)  I wanted to look at area rugs so area rugs it was.  If you can’t beat it, cover it up right?  I can’t get this stain out so presto!, here’s my $21.46 solution:

As an aside, I really don’t like this room.  The new area rug placed as it is isn’t helping me to like it more.  Prior to the disaster, I had reconfigured its contents at least four times.  None of them were pleasing.  I now have two more elements to throw into the reconfiguration game:  a spot to hide and a navy blue area rug.  Stay tuned.  Maybe beauty will visit this room and it will be shown again in a more favourable light.   Until then, I think I will try to get back to that painting project which quite literally has been temporarily shelved.  Hopefully, someday soon beauty will revisit this blog and ho-hum cover up stories will be a thing of the past.

I want to make my own desserts for my wedding.  I really like baking and have some ideas of what I would like to make.  I am in the testing stage right now.  I made these carrot cupcakes with cream cheese icing last week:

The taste was good but the presentation was a little lacking.  I may try to make a carrot wedding cake since I love, love, love carrot cake with cream cheese icing.  I’ve been looking on-line for wedding cake ideas and have found them in plentitude.  I can hardly wait to try making a tiered cake.  I’m sure my boys can hardly wait either.  They’ll likely be eating the results of my experimentation.  If I do get this cake built though, it will first have to show up on the blog and then I will have to experiment transporting it.  Fun, fun, fun!

I heard sometime back that the difference between a four star restaurant and a five star establishment is presentation.   Doesn’t that cake plate just elevate these humble cupcakes to something more grand?  If you have a cake plate, pull it out.  It really can make your dish or dessert stand out as something more special than maybe it is.

Here’s a recipe that got the thumbs-up from me and DA:

They are jam-topped mini cheesecakes.  They look pretty, taste yummy and are very easy to make.  I topped them with blackcurrent pomegranite jam because that’s what I happen to have in the fridge.  They could be topped with any flavour of jam and look and taste great.  Here’s the recipe for anyone that wants a simple but elegant dessert option:

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

3 tbsp. butter, melter

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened

1/3 cup sugar

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 tsp. vanilla extract

assorted jams, warmed

In a bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs and butter.  Press gently onto the bottom of 12 paper-lined muffin cups.  In a small mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth.  Spoon over crusts.

Bake at 350 for 15-16 minutes until centre is set.  Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.  Refrigerate for at least one hour.  Remove paper liners; top each cheesecake with one tsp. jam.  Yield:  1 dozen.

I’ve never really experimented much with patterns in my home but I’ve seen photos of very nice homes where the owners have mixed stripes, florals, plaids, paisleys and pretty much everything else very successfully.  The idea intrigues me but I’m afraid to try it out for real in my house.  My solution?  I’m experimenting on a very small and inexpensive scale.  I’m mixing patterns on homemade cards.

I chose three pretty diverse patterns: stripes, floral and a star all in shades of blue and was surprised how much I liked the combination.  This idea is growing on me.

I was looking through a folder of photos today and came across this one that I had taken at my parents’ home this summer:

My mom and dad had leaned some found driftwood up against a tree and then tucked some garage sale pots in it.  The playful purple flowers in their pretty white pots added some colour and a touch of whimsy in what could have been a rather dull spot in the garden.  I like the idea.  I have a tree in my front yard.  Now all I need to do is find some driftwood and a couple of pots and make it all fit together.  I think I’ll put this project on next summer’s garden plan.

Since a major theme of this site is beauty, I would be remiss to withhold from you the loveliness of my natural surroundings.  Every now and then I get some photos I really like.  I hope you enjoy these!

Ecclesiastes 3:11

He (God) has made everything beautiful in its time.