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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Fresh Coffee Filter Bouquet

My Christmas decorations are still up on our front porch/windows.
Does that make me a redneck? Oh well. That's ok if it does.

Thought you might like this little ditty I made,
I found the idea here and made my own version of it.

foam ball from the dollar store.

Grande pack of coffee filters from Costco.
straight pins.
If I'd do this again I would buy longer pins, (do they make longer pins)?
While I crafted the boys played UNO, (NEVER-stinkin'-ENDING-UNO). Sometimes I think I play 30 times I day, but I try to say yes most of the time, (not all the time by any means) because someday I'll be old and want my children to play card games with hopefully they'll remember their younger days and how I always played with them.

Probably not, but maybe.
Plus, my Mom always said yes to playing UNO with me and I remember that.

And there's my laundry pile in the background.
It's very important when running a household to have your priorites in line!!
Craft first.
Laundry second,
(that would be a great bumper sticker)!

It's going to be a busy week.
I'm gearing up for it by staying up late on a Sunday night.

The gas man, (I'm sure he has a name) is coming tomorrow to hook up the gas to the carriage house.
The flooring is in....LOOKS BEAUTIFUL.
The painting is done, needs a bit more touch ups here and there.
The cabinets are in, (SOOO JELLO OF HER KITCHEN).
And you should see that place when it's snowing outside, it's so peaceful. When you stand in the middle of the room you have 8 windows surrounding you and yet it's completely silent. It's stunning. We're so excited for Mama to move in,
SHE'S SO EXCITED TOO! Looks like it might be in time for her Birthday next Sunday!!!
I love my husband and the way he GIVES so selflessly to his Mom! It's an HONOR to watch their relationship. It's precious really.

"It is only possible to live happily-ever-after
on a day-to-day basis
~Margaret Bonnano~

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Spring Ideas

This is what it's doing outside.....

Tonight our friends Josh and Nellie came for a drive by in his rip-roarin' Jeep!!
He gave the boys a little ride down the BLIZZARD ROADS....they loved it.
I got them out of bed when she called and said they'll be coming by! *cool Mom award* :) And yes, Tyler has shorts on because our living room is practically a sauna at a steady 87*-90*. Our woodstove isn't messin' around tonight....the wood we're using is super dry so it burns like MAD!!
Well, it may doing all that snow/blizzard stuff outside, but in my head it's doing this.....
In my attic sits this new "bed in a bag". I cannot wait to wash this thing,
hang it out to dry so it smells like sunshine and grace our bedroom with it!!
I would like to call it shabby-vintage! And the minty green!!!
And this pretty little bird from Pottery Barn will be my new jewelry holder.....or perhaps my candy holder's an idea, my candy necklace holder! Perfecto!!
And see that little blue darling....I'm keeping my eyes open for something similar that I can paint that color....or maybe I'll just paint the one I already have.
And while I'm at it I'm going to buy some silver/metallic spray paint and go for it at my existing brown lamp bases. The shades are already very similar to the above picture.
Cool. Crisp. Clean. Shiny. Hopefully. INTRODUCING OUR NEW BATHROOM SINK for the upstairs of the carriage house, otherwise known as Jake's's going to be AMAZING!!
We will pretty much live there.
And hopefully she, (the sink) will sit atop something like this....inspired by Pottery Barn. I love the old, weathered look and we have a leftover random piece of granite to use and then the bowl will sit on top. LOVE! And that glass shelf. love that too!
And this is the back splash that we're using for the kitchen of the upstairs, (not for Grammie's house~which by the way is looking sooooo darling. Hope to be completed in less then 3 weeks)!!!
And I want this shirt.

"Remember that the most beautiful things in the world
are the most useless;
peacocks and lilies for instance
~John Ruskin, The Stones of Venice, 1851~

Monday, January 24, 2011

Young Death~A Tribute.

My tears fall so easily tonight, emotions that have been dormant for so many years have been rekindled. One week ago there was a tragic accident in our county. Four young, handsome, grabbing-life-head-on boys died when their car lost control on a small knob along a country road. They were all on the same football team. Just starting to live. Tonight there was a memorial service at a nearby church with more then 2,300 people in attendance. These boys were loved by many. They have brought together an entire town, an entire county for that matter. So young. I have no words.

However, I have a heart that understands and remembers so well the pain of young death. It was a sunny, September morning as I drove to school. A fresh 16 and the world was at my feet. The beginning of our Sophomore year, a whole year ahead of us. Passing an accident only a minute after it happened I said a prayer and couldn't get the picture of the wreckage out of my minds eye. A car smashed against a small four foot cement wall. No other vehicles.

Several hours later news began to travel through the school that our dear friend Anthony had been in an accident. We, his friends gathered together, prayed, cried, hoped. A few of us went to the hospital that night and fewer still got to see him. When I close my eyes even now, 16 years later, here at my kitchen table I can picture the room. I can hear the incessant beeping, see his Mom holding his hand, see the huge softball size welt on his forehead and one tiny scratch on his hand. I can see him seated upright in the hospital bed. I can see myself walking over to him and saying, "he looks good"....and he did. Nothing wrong from the outside looking in. He looked so peaceful, he looked so much like himself. Quickly we were ushered out of the room, left to cry alone in the elevator going down. The next morning he was gone. So many internal injuries, too many.

(Back in the days of 35 mm film. I only have a few pictures of him.
This was taken when a group of us went to the beach the Summer before he died).

He was born on my Dad's birthday, June 24th.
I met him when I was just a little girl wearing leg warmers and a matching headband. I was in 4th grade at a new school and walking down the hall came my first love....strutting was more like it!! Every Spring from 4th-8th grade we were the item. Of course, since Kirk Cameron was too far out of my league, I would have to settle for Anthony! Oh, the "check yes" notes we passed....too many to count! And then one day at recess he asked me if I liked him and I just stopped him in his tracks and laid a big one on first kiss behind the snack bar next to the softball diamond. I was 13. "I guess that's a yes" he replied!

(Claiming our seat next to one another for some random track and field picture. First row, far right, both in white t-shirts, you'll notice my lovely white hightops).

In high school we remained close friends, our options expanded and thus our love life as well. We still spent countless times together with so many mutual friends; hiking, camping, cliff/bridge jumping, (into water), playing soccer, dance parties, late night bonfires, roof top talks, you know, all that delicious stuff that makes up those fleeting high school years.

(Roaring fire atop Chickie's Rock with plenty of Turkey Hill Iced Tea of course)!

Except with him, it was only one glorious year. He turned 16 on my Dad's birthday and 3 months later he had died. He was so proud of his yellow Volkswagen Golf. And when I look back to those moments of passing his car accident, I can see the hand of God blinding my eyes to his one-of-a-kind vehicle. All I saw was a man, (later realizing it was his Dad who was following him to school) run up to the freshly crashed vehicle, slowly lift a limp head from the steering wheel and call out for help. And that is why the image stuck with me all morning long.....such desperation and sadness. I still cannot believe I didn't know it was him. I'm so thankful I didn't know it was him.

(8th grade. The front row jokers, Jon Hash and Anthony holding a flower)

He died the day before my Mother's birthday, September 7th. Four days later he was buried. Many of us met at my parents home and we walked together to the church, just a short stroll down a back country road. A sad procession of young, black clothed mourners.

(The first boys soccer game shortly after he had died with one player missing. We released yellow and black balloons from the middle of the field and all the players from both teams wore black wristbands in his honor. We made a HUGE sign that had been signed by all his friends. We celebrated that night with zeal and passion, just as he had lived life).

The days and nights that followed were filled with so many questions, some were found at the bottom of a bottle or the end of a joint, but mine were found during quiet nights at his graveside. For years I could see his grave stone from my bedroom window. The church where he is buried was that close to my home. Sometimes the moon would look like it was shining down a single ray on his grave and on those nights, if it was warm enough, I would walk up there and lay beside his grave in the moonlight. Sounds creepy. It wasn't. It was the closest I could get to him. I would close my eyes and just remember.

(Chilling in our tree along Zook Road~far right. For some reason a yearly tradition started, parties at Janelle's house. The entire class would come over and we'd play all day; eat hot ham and cheese sandwiches wrapped in tin foil, make our own ice cream sundaes, my Dad would give us a candy scramble and we'd just be kids. This happened every year of our elementary time together and even into high school. Throwing parties is still one of my favorite things to do).

For MANY years I would have very vivid dreams of him on that exact date, September 7th. My most favorite and deeply moving was the one where we were cliff jumping. There was a group of us taking turns. We would jump, swim to shore and then watch the others jump. When all of us had come to shore, it was his turn. He had his hat on backward, typical Anthony style. He backed up, ran with such force, speed and vigor. Out he went, away from the cliff wall, but he didn't fall into the water. He went up. Waving all the way.

I still cry thinking about it. That was him. Leaving in the middle of an adventure. He spent his one life well. He loved his Mom. He hugged generously. His older brother Mike was his hero. He didn't hold grudges. He could throw a mean punch. His Dad was his friend. He had the most precious birth mark on his cheek, that was huge when we were in 4th grade, (in my eyes), but by 10th grade had become much smaller and quite endearing. I sent letters to his parents for years, every September. Just to let them know I had not forgotten him. I've lost touch with them, much to my sadness. I think they moved down South. If you read this someday Phil and Sue, he's still alive in my heart, just as he is in yours.

(See that cutie in the middle? His name was Chris Cox. He's the one responsible for jacking up that picture of Anthony! Somehow I got placed next to these guys in the yearbook. {And for the record that hairdo took me 30 minutes to get right and it still looked crooked. Oh, the days of bangs!} Chris also lived a very short life and at his viewing, peeking out of his shirt pocket, was a picture of his best friend Anthony. They are together now. More on Chris's life someday).

I've wanted to write about Anthony for years now, but never found the right time. His life meant so much to me, still does. And even though the last time I saw him he was lying in a casket with a baseball cap and cowboy boots, he didn't stay there in my mind. He stayed in the memories; in the sunshine and candy scrambles, in the kickball games and the hidden-back-of-the-bus kisses, in the bike rides during the Summertime, (we lived only a few miles from one another and would meet up underneath the evergreen trees at the edge of our property~~not to DO anything, just to say we met up).

He remains fast on the soccer field and fearless through the forest trails, brave to those bigger then him and kind to the underdog. He remains in my sons eyes because I don't know how long I have them on this side. We are not guaranteed a long life and this I have learned the hard way. He remains in the crackle of firelight and the thump of cowboy boots, in a good country song and a muddy, dirty jeep. He remains clad in a weathered red baseball cap, faded cut off jeans, shirtless and sitting on a mountain bike flying down Zook Road, he remains.

Anthony Mark Freed
June 24th, 1979-September 7th, 1995

And this was not the beginning of young death for us, over the next 5 years I lost 5 more friends to tragic accidents. And they will each have their own post at some point in time. It's the least I can do.

"And now I'm glad I didn't know
The way it all would end the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance I could have missed the pain
But I'd of had to miss the dance."
~Garth Brooks, "The Dance" this song was played at his funeral~

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Ski tags

A few nights ago Jake and I went to Olive Garden's. We took his nephew and his wife out to dinner and enjoyed our time so much. You see, they just left the Amish a few months ago, and are in the middle of transitioning their entire life, their mindset and their very way of living. She just got her permit a few weeks ago, she's 23. He has new shirts and a haircut. They are brave.

(pictures taken at the local Farm Show.....a huge indoor arena that is transformed once a year and dedicated to all things farming).

It's no easy thing to pick up your very way of living and CHANGE EVERYTHING ABOUT IT. I'm not trying to say that they are better now because they are no longer Amish. I know there are many conservative readers here and my point in talking about this is to share their journey, not to cast judgement on yours. There are many Amish and "English", (what the Amish call the non-Amish) people who need freedom. Outward appearances can be deceiving to what's truly going on inside; from tattoos and leather to cape dresses and bonnets.

As we were waiting to be seated, in walked a group of young girls, maybe 16 or 17 years old. I noticed the one girl because she sort of reminded me of myself at that age. She was surrounded by her friends and sort of leaning her head against her one friends shoulder, (something I would have done and still do). I show affection. I'm a hugger. Always have been, always will be.

The thing that caught my eye the most were the ski tags on her shiny red North Face jacket. I use to do that too. Go skiing, yes, because I liked to ski, but probably more to get one of those lift passes that I could then wear on my jacket for the rest of the Winter for all to see, (preferably 3-4 would do the trick).

(I want to be as cool as these ladies).

I even joined FFA, (Future Farmers of America) to go on the FREE ski trip, hilarious and sad, but true. I did come to enjoy FFA though despite my ulterior motives! I met a whole new *group* of people I would have otherwise not met. Sat with some new people at the sacred lunch table in the cafeteria! I got to compete in the tug-of-war at the Lampeter Fair and came to enjoy country line dancing at good ol' Low Places! I learned to sport cowboy boots, (the ones my brother Tom purchased for me when I turned 16 and just pulled out of the attic last week to wear to the Farm Show, along with a triple strand of pink pearls of course)! HA HA!! Those were the days!

(above mentioned boots!!)

Her ski tags got me thinking, what tags do I wear in my life now to gain the approval or nod of others? Just like it was back then, but perhaps not so obvious, (well, maybe it's obvious to others and not to myself). You know, like having well behaved children or a clean house. Having a garden or a nice blog. Being influential or inspirational. Maybe for you it's your husbands job, your desire for control, your looks, your income, shopping, gossiping, your career, what you wear, where you live, who your friends are, whether or not your children love Jesus, whether or not you have children, the church you go to, the church you don't go to, traveling, spiritual authority, knowledge, even our soul freedom or the pursuit of it....all that STUFF we do to keep our approval ratings high.

(YES~that is made out of BUTTER)!!

Non of these things are *bad* in and of themselves. However, if I feel that I have to maintain them in order to maintain affection or love or acceptance, then it's not ok. It's bondage.

It's loving what we THINK others will love, talking the way we THINK others would want to hear, parenting the way we THINK others would want, going to church because we THINK we should, or just dressing a certain way because of what others will THINK. In some cases this is true, as with the Amish, there are definite things that will change, (for example, being shunned for the rest of your life) so the decision SEEMS like a bigger deal, (and it is, I am not belittling the drastic decision one must make).

Sometimes I wish I had a more sure way of seeing the changes in myself. Like literally wearing a new type of clothing, an entirely new wardrobe because of the decisions I've made!! Relatively speaking, my decisions are easy to come by. Maybe that's what Jesus' dear friend meant when he said:

Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:12-14

Those attributes aren't as easily noticed as ski tags,

but then again,
maybe they are.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Ordinary Moments

*music can be muted at bottom of page*

"because this is how you spend your one life well.
receiving each MOMENT for what it is.
amazing grace.
a gift."
~Ann Voskamp~

Monday, January 17, 2011

Communication and underwear

In contrast to this picture, the snow is gently falling and it's so beautiful outside right now. All the kids are sleeping, not soundly though, they all have fevers ! Nothing else along with it, except Paisley sounds a little croupy, so I rubbed Vick's on her chest and after warming a burp cloth over the woodstove, placed that on her chest as well. I can't tell you why I do that EXCEPT IT'S WHAT MY MOTHER DID!! And I remember that warm feeling of being cared for.

I got a lot done today because of everyone being so down and out. Much TV was watched and much fruit was eaten by the children. Annie and I painted her cabinets today, just the primer. Tomorrow the final coat will go on......"Antique White", (doesn't that sound pretty)? On Saturday we painted her home the most peaceful CELERY GREEN's lovely. My friend Angie posted this on my facebook wall tonight and it cracked me up:

"Did she tell you i stopped in on Saturday? she is sooo adorable!! she insisted on taking me on a tour (even though we had never met before. =)) she was so proud & happy & excited! telling me why she choose "green paint & not tan...heavens..not tan!" =) such a sweet sweet lady. i'm sure you ALL cannot wait until she is moved in!"

And that about sums it up!! She and we are so excited for MOVE IN DAY!! It's been a long time coming and the date has been pushed back so many times, (as often happens with extensive renovations)! WE HOPE THAT ON HER 72ND BIRTHDAY she will be in there, that would be February 6th!

Found a beautiful brand new kitchen sink for her today, (from craigslist) it's beige porcelain and will go so nicely with everything else. I have to drive to Philadelphia to get it, but it's a steal of a deal.

Tonight we talked about churning our own butter and looked for a butter churner on ebay. This makes me happy. I'm weird.

I am not foolish enough to believe it will always be easy with her here. On the contrary, I am foolish enough to TRUST AND BELIEVE that we WILL HAVE GRACE for whatever may come our way. Just tonight as we were painting side by side I told her that she doesn't have to be afraid of getting sick, that God will help us deal with that if it happens. She said that all her life she has prayed that if she gets sick she would "go in the wink of an eye" and not be on a sick bed for years. I pray too that God would grant her humble request. And up until then I pray her days will be SO FULL OF JOY that she will forget the pain and suffering that has been hers so much of her life. Someday I will do an interview with her and you will know more the BEAUTIFUL WOMAN SHE IS.

And yes, she is my Mother-in-Law, but WHO AM I to not extend love to her and welcome her onto our property? THIS IS NOT THE CASE FOR MANY AND THAT IS FINE. If you cannot stand your Mother-in-law, at least THANK GOD that she birthed & raised your husband, (and if you can't stand your husband, well, I can't help you there)!!!!


Tonight I told her that I don't want to feel like she is watching me to see if I'm working or not, (working hard is highly valued in the Amish culture). There may be days that we all stay in our pj's and the dishes don't get done and the boys have no underwear or socks and I don't do laundry even because of that. I will probably sunbathe more in one Summer then she ever did in her entire life and my garden will have weeds in it. Three days a week I will probably have a friend here and that's just the way we roll.

She so graciously told me how it use to be when she took care of, (lived with) her Mother-in-law. She told me stories of the way it was, (lack of privacy, trying to gain approval, gossip and slander, etc.) and promised to me that it will never be that way. The thing that is different here is I respectfully say it how it is....I hope I can continue that when things come up with sharing this property and such.

We have concluded that RULE #1: no just walking into one another's home. CALL FIRST and if they don't answer then that means it's not a good time. The children too will know Grammie's phone number an WILL CALL BEFORE VISITING. "I don't want to feel like I can't walk around in my underwear for fear that you'll walk right in" I said to her, (and for the record I don't walk around like that, BUT IF I WANTED TO I could do so freely). "Oh, Amen to that" she replied!!!

So, we start there and pray for GRACE TO FACE whatever may come our way! I can honestly say to you that I don't really care about myself, (at this moment) truly I WANT HER HAPPINESS!!!! Now, ask me this 3 years, (or 3 months) from now and I'll let you know how we're doin' on that one!!!

"He will also send you rain
for the seed you sow in the ground,
and the food that comes from the land will be
rich and plentiful.
In that day your cattle
will graze in broad meadows."

Isaiah 30:23

*pictures taken from last October....a double rainbow over the carriage house!*

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


There are a lot of lonely people around us.

Even though we may not be able to tell or see from their outward demeanour, it's there and VERY REAL.

Personally, I think we as a society lack the HUMAN INTERACTION that we were CREATED TO EXPERIENCE.
We are MADE FOR COMMUNITY, not for anonymous living or superficial cyber acceptance! There are so MANY PEOPLE WHO WONDER IF ANYONE CARES WHETHER THEY LIVE OR DIE. We have a BEAUTIFUL OPPORTUNITY while we walk this earth to SHOW AFFECTION TO OTHERS through our tiniest of actions.

Sometimes I wonder why we were placed here in this farmhouse by the side of the road. Yes, we loved it and knew it was just what we were looking for.....we took out a mortgage, paid the closing costs, moved in and took a picture by the "SOLD" sign, but BEYOND that and more importantly then that WHY ARE WE HERE, on this street, in this town, in this state?

I don't make New Year's resolutions very often, (if ever). It feels like too much pressure on myself and being the fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kinda gal I am, I don't do well when I feel there are expectations put on me, (by myself or by others).

Anywho, this year I DID make a resolution and it is to get to know at least two neighbors within two houses of my own,
north, south, east or west.

We all would be surprised to realize how LITTLE WE KNOW THOSE RIGHT AROUND US. I'm not looking to have a new best friend and don't have expectations of a blossoming friendship, HOWEVER, I DO HAVE EXPECTATIONS TO SHOW THEM THAT SOMEONE CARES and that people are still friends in REAL life and not just one click away. And this is not in my own strength or vision, it's just something that has come to my mind so often as I pass by the same houses day after day after day after day!

"Dear friend, you are doing good work for God when you take care of the traveling teachers who are passing through, even though they are strangers to you. "
3 Jonh 1:5


Now, I have NO IDEA how I'm going to *meet* these neighbors.....

*knock, knock*

"um, hi, i'm your neighbor and just wanted to say hi, i'm your neighbor."

smile and stare blankly at each other.

Ok, so hopefully it won't go like that......but I do have food and FOOD ALWAYS OPENS DOORS right, (unless they think I'm trying to poison them)! Oh well, it's not for me to figure it all out right now. It's the WILLINGNESS that matters at this moment.

How about you? Wanna join me and meet two of YOUR neighbors within two houses of your own? We could call it "two within two" or something cool like that, (I like to name things and events)! :)

Leave a comment and let me know if you want to join me and we'll keep each other accountable and share the neat stories that ARE BOUND TO SURFACE when we get outside our ourselves!!

"I nod to a passing stranger,
and the stranger nods back,
and two human beings go off,
feeling a little less anonymous."

~Robert Brault~

Monday, January 10, 2011

Laundry room the color of fabric softner!

So I wanted a different color in our laundry room.
Something CHEERFUL to help take away the "laundry" blues!

and THIS is what happened!!!

Got a little bit BRIGHTER then I had first wanted!
It matched my fabric softener just it was a keeper!
And Jake was so sweet, "if you like it honey!" Seriously. So nice of him!
I love it, in all it's CRAZINESS & BOLDNESS! Took me a bit to get use to though!
And especially now with a landscape of white snow outside,
it's so inviting and warm!

i love tablecloths.

all sorts of lovely, bright, vintage tablecloths.

our shoe system for the kiddos.
our shoe system for the adultos.
that bin was from target.
the cool mint trashcan $1 from our neighbors garage sale.

plastic picture frames from the dollar store!
i didn't want glass ones hanging up that high.
i don't think they look too "cheap" when grouped together like this!
one of my favorite walls in the house!

if you HAVE to do something,

the floors use to be this color.
but since I was going with a beach colored theme,
I decided to just paint the floor a sand color,
(plus, the kids were in Vacation Bible School every night that week--SCORE)!!

A lovely print by my incredibly talented cousin Freiman Stoltzfus.
garden buckets.
garden hats.
garden gloves.
what a GREAT deal one year at a garage sale.
ALL these curtains for the SIX windows.....
PLUS, ones to go in the kitchen too!
THANKS for stopping by.....
don't worry about letting the screen door slam on your way out!!
"The light is what guides you home,
the warmth is what keeps you there."
~Ellie Rodriguez~