Thursday, January 31, 2013

Before Sunrise

Sleep is evasive.
Evasive sleep.
Meant to heal, strengthen  and comfort.
With a flutter it is gone.
Yet, night remains.
Thoughts settle in.
The room is cold.
I nestle into my warm cocoon.
Inspite of cold.
Grateful for warmth beside me.
Night lingers.
Wishing for sleep.
Pondering my path.
Looking for light.
Light in darkness.
Light for the next step.
Faith isn't seeing.
It is knowing.
Knowing a deep kind of knowing.
Knowing without seeing.
Don't fear failure.
Be stronger than fear.
Strength beyond fear is brave.
Tired of strength.
Tired. of. brave.
Tired of holding on.
Tired of knowing without seeing.
Yet hold steady.
Stay the course.
Learn from mistakes of yesterday.
Oh yes, that, yesterday's mistakes.
Move forward.
I hear the wind.
Howling intense gusts.
Pushing the house.
Rattling windows.
Lashing everything in its path.
Its strong voice pushing the night away.
Its icy fingers pulling in dawn.
Morning comes.
Fresh sunrise.
New mercy.
Glorious faithfulness.
I rise to face the day.
A good day.
Was your night restless or restful? How will you spend your day?


Wednesday, January 30, 2013


There are some things in life I don't take for granted.
A few of them are:
I am alive
I have a roof over my head
I have a husband who loves me
I have healthy children
I can breathe
I can walk
Yes, I am grateful.
What are some of the things for which you feel grateful?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

I'm So Sick

Yes, I admit it. 
I have a terrible case of perfectionism.
Perfectionism:  a personal standard, attitude, or philosophy that demands perfection and rejects anything less.
Ha ha you say.  Not you.  Look at you.  There's NO WAY YOU are a perfectionist.
So that brings me to my point.  Opinions of perfection will never match.
The struggle for perfectionism, though very real is absolutely unattainable.  It is a lie.  The standard is always just a little out of reach.  It sets you up for disappointment, unmet expectations and a feeling of failure.

Please do not confuse what I am saying about perfectionism with a pursuit of excellence.  I truly believe that we are to always strive for excellence.  What I am talking about here is an unrealistic desire to achieve an unattainable goal...never being satisfied with excellence...always wanting more.  I am talking about a goal or standard that is more a figment of your creative imagination than anything else. 
So many times I have pondered this "illness",  this "way of behaving and thinking" and wondered where it comes from.  When is it rooted and grounded deep within us as truth and something to which we should aspire?
In my opinion it is important to strive for balance as I pursue excellence.  If I have left nothing but heartache and disarray scattered across the path of my pursuit, was it worth it?
For me it isn't.
So I search and strive for balance.
Years ago I knew of two ladies.  As I think about it now I really didn't know either of them well, but I did know them and their situation well enough to know this:
One was extremely picky and her life was structured and orderly following just her plans. Everyone and everything fell in direction to her desires.  Everything had to be just so so or she wasn't happy. 
It seemed this caused trouble for her family and her friends who preferred not to come around.
  At least, that is the way I perceived it.
Though in difficult circumstances, the other seemed to live a life of flexible balance.  Her family and friends loved her and doted on her.  They wanted to be around her and her door revolved with the ones who constantly came and left.  She was loving and giving.
 At least, that is the way I perceived it.
As a youngster observing these two situations the impact on me was profound and I made the choice to not let the unattainable lie of perfectionism consume me. 
As I have lived and faced many situations, there are times perfectionism will raise its' ugly head and start boasting its' lofty claims.  That's when I have to step back, get a new perspective, say I am sorry, regroup, search for know the drill!
The truth is, my standard of perfect will never be the next persons standard also.
I hear my mother's voice saying, "Just do your best Rachel and then let the rest go."  I think she knew I was "sick" before I did! Then to balance it off, I can hear Daddy say,  "If it's worth doing, it's worth doing right."
I can only be me.
But I certainly choose not to be a miserable unbalanced and frantic sort of  "me".
I choose to do the best I know to pursue excellence and balance and please the only One that matters.
So no...just kiddin' I'm not really sick.
But I could be.  Oh sure, I  definitely could be.
Do you struggle with this type of perfectionism?
Don't believe it!
This is true!   It's a lie!
Or are you content to pursue excellence?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Six Years Ago Today

Cold and misty dreary Sunday morning.
We were at church.
A voice mail on my phone.
Daddy was gone.
Ninety one years young.
Gone so soon?
Pride for his incredible life.
Gut wrenching faithfulness.
Relief, he was with Mother.
Rejoicing, he was with Jesus.
His race was run.
He won!
The carving shown in the photo above of the cowboy making coffee over the campfire was one of many different pieces that Daddy carved betweeen the age of 75 and 85, when he started carving as a new pass time.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Bat Mobile!

We've seen a Bat Mobile around town a few times. 
Have you seen it too?
It usually shows up on the weekend.
Be on the lookout.  It flies sort of low!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Citrus Yum!

I LOVE these. 
 I mean seriously now, I can't eat enough of them.
  And this bag was particularly juicy and full of "delishusniss". 
 Yeah "delishusniss". 
 They're just that good. 
 They deserve their own word for delicious.
Do you like Clementines too?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Too Cold For Comfort

Though the thermometer says it's only 12 degrees heart is longing for Spring.
The first day of Spring is ONLY 56 days away!!
How can that be?  This year is flying past!
Is it too cold for you?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Making A Stretch Headband and Rainbow Love

Our daughter has been wanting some stretch headbands like this for a while.  Poor thing, she's been in line behind the other  customer orders. You can buy this elastic ribbon trim at most fabric or craft stores in the trim by the yard section.  JoAnn Fabric had it for around $2.69 per yard I believe and since you only need 1/2 yard for each headband, it was quite economical.
 When I laid the ribbon on the table to cut it to length, I noticed that there were rainbows scattered across my work area.
So off I went to take photos.  I timed it and in two minutes the rainbows dancing through the rooms were gone.  I'm so glad I took time.

I was hoping to show you how easy this was by using black thread and zigzagging the stitch across the two ends of the stretch ribbon.  Instead I simply had a frustrating experience of the loops getting stuck in the presser foot of the machine.
So I stopped and finished it by hand.  Take an 18 inch length and fold it in half at 9 inches with right sides together.  Then sew both of the loose ends together.  After that I chose to open my seam (working from the wrong side of the ribbon) and stitch the loose edges down, so it wouldn't be gunky and wadded.  But you wouldn't have to do that.  You could even pin it with a safety pin instead of sewing it if you wanted, however, I wouldn't recommend this project to be done with a hot glue gun.
Over all it is super easy.  And I had them done in less than 30 minutes.  You could add puffy flowers or a bow, but she wanted hers plain, so I obliged!
Have you ever made these?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Our Wonderful English Language

Our daughter asked me why do is spelled d o and dew is spelled d e w and due is spelled d u e, when so is spelled s o and sew is spelled s e w  and well then there is sue and it is pronounced like due? 
Oh my, please tell her why!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Infinity Scarf Alternative

I found this necklace somewhere at a thrift store or yard sale and snagged it for a buck or two.  I honestly don't remember the details.  Though I didn't really like the look of it, however, with the length and the big chunky chain I knew I would be able to re purpose it in some way.
Thanksgiving morning I had the idea to use it to give my very "boringish" black outfit some pizazz.  I shortened the chain, pinned a piece of trim (one yard purchased at Jo Ann Fabric) in place and hot glued it on.
 Later I found some rhinestones and beads cast away from another project and I hot glued those on the rosettes.
I LOVE infinity scarves.  They dress up the most mundane of clothes. I think that the girls who wear them look so stylish and cute.  But with all this brown curly hair going on, they just don't fit my style.  Around my shoulders and neck, an infinity scarf feels like too much of a wad.
This piece is going to be so versatile.  And it was easy!  Anyone can do it.  It is simply a cast off necklace and rhinestones and a yard of trim of your choice. 
For my girlfriends who don't like to sew, this was ALL done with hot're welcome!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding (well not mine but hers)*revised*

Several weeks ago on a Sunday afternoon, my cell phone buzzed.  Answering, I heard my son's voice.  With amazement he said, "Mom, you've gotta see this Limo.  It is PINK.  And I'm not talkin' about Mary Kay Cadillac Pink."  I've just gotta love a guy that can come up with a description like that!  So the rest of us jumped in our car and drove to see.  We could have easily "hoofed" it on foot, but hey, why not drive?  So we did. 
I loved the driver's costume as he stood "guard" over his wheels.  Top hat and cane, it was all there.  He nodded as we passed.  I may or may not have been hanging out the window with my phone taking pictures.
For those of you who follow programming on the "The Learning Channel" (TLC) you will be interested to know that the wedding taking place was being filmed for an upcoming episode of "My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding" which is scheduled (according to our local paper) to be aired in the Spring. 
A few days after we snapped these photos, our paper had an interesting article about how it all came to be.  If you've read my blog for a while you may remember that this tiny wedding chapel was used for the filming of Season 3-Bret Michael's "Tour of Love".
I blogged about that in September 2008.
The newspaper article stated that the Bride's dress carried a modest 50' wedding train.  Yes I said, MODEST FIFTY FEET.
I have done several dresses for brides who were married here in this darling little historic church, but admittedly, none have sported a 50' train.
Have a happy day.  I hope you see pink!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Black and White "Squirrely" Story

Growing up in the densely wooded hills of Northwest Arkansas, I rarely saw a squirrel. I don't know if I wasn't paying attention to them, or if there were so many woods that they were scared of people and just didn't come around.
Now though, my family enjoys watching the antics of squirrels and they are plentiful right in our own backyard. They jump from treetop to treetop and walk the tightrope of electrical lines with great ease.

My friend Susan used to live in this house.  I wonder if she ever saw this white squirrel when she lived there?  Hhmm Susan, did you?  See it there?  It's the little speck of white in the grass by the sidewalk.  My son took this photo as they passed it in the car and texted it to me.
This red squirrel was barking like a crazy person. Well, I guess I really don't know if there is such a thing as a "crazy person who barks" but you get the was loud and incessent. Whatever he was saying to the world from that vantage point certainly seemed important.  I wondered if he was scared out there on the tippy edge of the vines that have consumed this old church building.
Oh my! This little black guy was gorgeous.  He let me get fairly close.  To say that I freaked out when I saw him would probably be an understatement.  I freaked out as in: "Is that squirrel really black? are you kiddin' me? I've never seen such a thing.  it's black! look at him! he's adorable! I've gotta take pictures! yes, mom, HE IS BLACK."  You know, that kind of "freaking out".   So I followed him all around the parking lot taking pictures and pictures and pictures until I heard, "MOooooommmmm come on!" I was so fascinated. Well, just because I'm easily entertained like that.
There is a gray squirrel in the fork of this tree.  It is the first little bump that you see just past where the limb juts out from the trunk.  These gray squirrels are speedy little guys I tell ya, and it is hard to get very close to them.  They weren't as accommodating of my photography session as I would have liked.  They seem to be so skitterish.  Skitterish? Is that a word?  If you can't see the squirrel just enjoy the gorgeous blue against the rough texture of the tree bark.
These photos that follow are my unnecessary attempt to PROVE that I did follow this squirrel around the parking lot and take A LOT of pictures.
And my husband followed ME around taking pictures of ME taking pictures of the squirrel.  Because, well, because we weren't working and I guess we get giddy and goofy like that.  I don't have any of those pictures tho, so I will spare you the joy.
And he also drove the car vvvveeeeerrrry slowly ( or was it very ssllloooowwllyyy?) so I could get some of the pictures.
So, that is my squirrely story, and I'm just stickin' to it. 
P.S. No squirrels were harmed in taking these photos or posting to the blog.  And no one saw us chasing around the parking lot getting said photos.  Did they?  Oh yeah, the kids, but I think they had shrunk down below window level of the car or something like that.
 ...thought you might wanna know...
just kiddin'

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Our Cotton Candy Sign

Years ago we found this old sign that had been left in our carriage house.  With delight I rescued it and nailed it high up on the porch wall.  It has been there ever since.
I wish I knew the story behind it.
Last summer I bought Martha Stewart's brand of pink glitter paint to repaint it. I thought the sign would be so cute painted pink, but the pink seemed to dry clear with just a little bit of sparkle from the glitter. So I stopped painting and the sign is still red.  You can't tell where I tried to paint it.
 I was kinda glad that I didn't change the color last summer. But now, I'm back to wanting it cotton candy pink again.
Hhmmm what to do, what to do, to paint or not to paint?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Do You Have A "Legacy Plan of Action?"

The other day we were working on a job and though the temps had reached near 60 degrees F, there were still mounds of snow pushed to the side. As we trudged through one particularly deep bank of snow she said, "Now Mom, just step where Dad steps and you will be fine." Inwardly I smiled. She understands the value of following one who knows where they are going.

I'm sure I'm not alone in pondering what I want my life to say about who I am. Certainly if asked, you would say you have done this also.

Recently a sweet friend passed away at the youthful age of 91. Her eulogy stated that she was known for her wit and humor and hospitality.

Though we are in a busy phase of life, I don't want to be described as being known for my busyness, with my eulogy stating, "We knew it was coming to this as she finally ran herself ragged!"

This past year I set a goal to go through every single item we own.  The things that are no longer of use to us, I have passed along in appropriate ways. I'm not finished, but I'm getting close.  Though I only have tiny snippets of time to work on this project, I know that I will accomplish this task. It has been monumental and excruciating. I was not prepared for the emotions I would face.

  With running a business and being from a large family and having most of our family living in other states, we have collected so  many reminders of the history of our lives. One morning last Fall, in the darkness and solitude I was overwhelmed. I felt as though everything we (my immediate family) had ever done or hadn't done was sitting on my shoulders to resolve. I know it wasn't real or true, but the feelings were still there. Every photo and card or handwritten note or  piece of clothing or furniture or too small and ragged mitten, "and such what baubles of every kind", were reminders of the past gone and the present to savor.

The world seemed quite and silent there in the darkness. I was alone. I thought about the loved ones we had lost this year and how the span of life at the very longest is so short. Time is fleeting and illusive. In the silent mooring of predawn, I felt a reminder to consider the woman mentioned in Proverbs 31 (Old Testament). We aren't privileged to know her past circumstances or what she was facing.  However, in my opinion, this is what we ARE told: She wasn't looking back. Nope, uh uh, she wasn't looking back at all! She was busy in the present with the task at hand.  To my way of understanding, it seems she knew that wise choices to the best of her ability, in every moment, would bring joy and peace. 

Have you noticed, every person has a "back story", the part of life we don't see and we don't know?  I believe we have been given the potential to over come hardship and challenges if we try and trust and keep on trying. I also realize that the outcome is not always what we wish for but we can still move forward and have a legacy as an overcomer, rather than being identified with the issue to which we succumed.

Do you know what you are following? What drives and challenges you?
 What do you hope your legacy says about you?

Every day I pray that my little family will make a difference in someone's life.


Proverbs 31: 10-31 NIV
The Wife of Noble Character
10 [a]A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Our Crazy Snowman Kit

My niece, Leslie, has great ideas  for gifts and we were actually the recipients of one of her awesome creations.  Her Crazy Snowman Kit had a hat and scarf and buttons and a plastic carrot for the nose.  It had plastic hands and crazy snaggle (I don't think that is a real word!) teeth. 
So we bundled up and went out to build a snowman to dress.  The snow was so powdery that it wouldn't pack into balls. 
We decided that the pile of snow wouldn't look very good with the Crazy Snowman outfit, so we just jumped in the pile instead.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Frozen Fog

This morning as we rushed to the airport to take our last Christmas guest away, we experienced a beautiful winter weather phenomenon.
There really is no way to adequately describe the beauty that we saw in our 15 degree F weather.
In the distance is fog.  We call it frozen fog.
I'm  not sure how a meteorologist would describe this, but I think that the mist particles from the fog, freeze on the surrounding surfaces, due to the extreme temperature.  The frozen mist is particularly beautiful on the trees.  I like to think of it as crystal lace.
This week has been fun, visiting with you on "A Romantic Porch".  Thank you for dropping by.
Our holiday guests are gone now.  They have returned to South Carolina and Florida and one of our sons is back to the University in Illinois.  The phones are ringing, emails and texts are coming in from customers and the 2013 rolls on down the pike. Our hearts are full of memories and experiences from this past holiday season.
I hope that your year will be filled with peace.
I'm not sure how often I will be able to post as my responsibilities progress, but I will be back.
It is hard to believe that  I first posted to this blog five years ago.  Yes, FIVE years!   Some of you have stuck with me from the beginning.  I appreciate it more than you know.
My duties are calling,  Enjoy and be safe.
P.S. We wish our nephew David a most Happy Birthday.  He has suffered the day away in balmy Costa Rica! ;) And we sang Happy Birthday to the memory of my amazing Mother.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Opportunities Beyond

She is not afraid of snow for her household...
 Proverbs Chapter 31 Verse 21
 Holy Bible Old Testament

This week Christmas break ends and school resumes.  Our schedule will shift.  The calendar is quickly filling with deadlines, appointments and events. 
  How does that happen?
  Is there a slow and leisurely pace to life?
  No, probably not. 
I will choose to view the busyness and haste as new opportunities...
...opportunities to meet someone new,
opportunities to learn a new skill,
opportunities to feel deeply for others,
opportunities to overcome challenges both past and present,
opportunities to learn to deal with feeling overwhelmed,
opportunities to become wiser NOT older!
And a myriad of opportunities to choose not to be afraid.

Saturday, January 5, 2013


I hope to have Christmas decorations put away tonight. I'm ready for a different "look".  Aren't you?
The roots of our rhubarb plant are silently sleeping under the cover of snow.  I can't wait to see those first crisp sprouts.
More snow is predicted the next two nights, so maybe we will get our very own snow sculpture after all.
Hhhmmm.  Fresh snow or Spring? 
What a dilemma. 
What to do?
 What to do?
Oh wait...that's not a dilemma. 
 We will just take what we get AND be happy 'bout it!

Friday, January 4, 2013


Obviously we recently closed the door on 2012 and opened the new one to 2013.
It seems this past month or so, more than ever, people would say to me, "I'm so ready for 2012 to be over.  Let's just be done with it and move on."
As I am prone to do, I have asked myself if that is the way I feel.  For our family there were difficulties in 2012 in which the pain and hurt lingers, but there were snippits of joy and laughter that I would have liked to savored a bit longer.  Those memories linger also.
I'm curious. 
Are most people glad to put the old year behind?
Do you feel this way?
Why or why not?
Moments make days.  Days make years.  Years make a life. 
Mostly beautiful moments, make a beautiful life.
Look on the bright side.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Another View

I tried to get this view of the snowy fish sculpture posted on yesterday's post with the photo of the side view.  However, blogger was giving me fits as I tried to post pictures.  For some reason this one never would link in, so I thought I would try again today.
YIPPEE!! Here it is!
The person who did this makes a different sculpture every winter that there is enough snow.  It is interesting to see what creation he will design each time.  If you are traveling South on State Street,  you can see it on the left hand side of the road as you are leaving town.  Go take a "look see".  Stop right in the middle of the road and take photos!  It's worth it!
 At 12 degrees F, we may not even build a snowman.  It would look kinda normal and boring compared to that don'tcha think?
Have I mentioned that it is COLD outside?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Snow Sculptures

The snow has been beautiful. I love the glow our lamp casts in the predawn light.
A few blocks away someone braved the cold to sculpt this horse from a mound snow. 
Farther down the street we were once again thrilled with this design.  It is completely sculpted from snow and finished off with beautiful paint.
Bbbrrr! Baby it's cold outside!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

As the crystal ball dropped on Time Square in NYC, the clock in our downtown chimed midnight, and 2013 came to Central Indiana. 
Across the snow covered rooftops, the clock face on the tower of the courthouse, could be seen illuminating the darkness.  With steady certainty it ticked away the seconds.
As people all around the world celebrated the New Year, our young daughter cried.
 I wanted to cry too.
She said, "There is no way I will EVER live to see 12-12-12 again, and 2012 seemed like it only lasted a week."
In the darkness we talked together about not letting fear and sadness and regret steal our joy for the moment. 
This moment is what we have and we need to feel its' joy and embrace its' essence.
  Still she cried. 
She shares a grief that I attempt to carry in silence.
Time is priceless.
  Time is urgent.
  Time once gone cannot be replaced. 
 Every minute counts. 
The thought is always in the forefront of my mind that the way I spend my time matters.  For me, it is difficult to see time pass and feel confident that I have done my best with each moment I have been given.
I don't want to squander the precious commodity of time.
I am a goal setter.
I am a list maker.
However, I rarely make New Year's Resolutions.
Each day is a fresh chance to improve and do better.
This one thing I know...
...forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on.
Philippians 3:14
Happy New Year!  Happy 2013!  Happy Day!  
I am embracing it, to do my best with what I have!