Friday, November 30, 2007

Fireplace Facelift

Last year between Thanksgiving and Christmas my sweetheart and I gave our living room fireplace a complete facelift. We had planned this for a long time, saved pictures from magazines, catalogs and brochures and dreamed of the day our old, out-dated fireplace would be transformed. The change was incredible and we love it! No regrets.

This is what the fireplace looked like before the re-do. The mantel was very narrow and hard to decorate. See the one nearly white brick? That was my trial-run with Kilz. My sweetheart couldn't believe I did that before we started the project! Just checking. This was the 'old' built-in bookcase beside the fireplace.During the process it looked like this.And then this.Finally, after many long hours of cutting, nailing, sanding, priming and painting there was no way to miss the beauty of the finished project.Over the top - better than we dreamed possible. . .Every detail just right. . .Every little piece a labor of love - a team project with the goal in mind. . .In time to decorate for the holidays.We didn't tell our kids what we were doing. They only knew that we were working on a project in the house. Imagine their amazement when they arrived Christmas morning.

I love the fireplace, the mantel and the bookcase now and I don't want to hide any part of it. Last year I kept the decorations very simple so I could enjoy every little detail. This year I will make a few changes and add something new (perhaps) but I won't do anything to hide the charm we worked so hard to accomplish.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Carrots And Cousins

What do these two things have in common? Absolutely nothing except they were 'happenings' on our trip home from Idaho that I shared with you yesterday.

We had been in the car for many hours, had left the snow-y mountain roads behind and arrived back in Oregon when my sweetheart said, "There are carrots on the road." "Carrots?" I asked. "Yes, every once in awhile there are carrots on the road - some have been run over and some are whole." I wondered if he had been driving too long and thought perhaps he was imagining things. (He really loves carrots and eats them often!) I asked how long he had been seeing carrots on the road. He laughed and said, "For at least 15 miles." Soon he said, "There's one!" and he pointed to an orange spot on the road. Sure enough - it was a carrot. Now I was intrigued and began to watch for carrots, too. Every time one of us saw a carrot on the road ahead we would say, "Carrot!" and we would laugh. Sometimes it was just one carrot and at times there were several carrots. He thought they must have fallen off a truckload of carrots. I wondered if we were following a big rabbit. We wondered if we would ever know where the carrots came from. Many more miles down the road my sweetheart said, "Look ahead - there's the carrot truck!" He was right - it was a big truckload of carrots. The tarp over the load had come loose on the back and as we watched carrots would 'fly' out and hit the pavement below. I grabbed my camera as we approached the truck. I was sure no one would believe my story unless I had a picture. (See the orange - it's carrots!)


Not far ahead of the carrot truck we came to The Dalles, a community on the banks of the Columbia River, about 2 hours from Portland. When my sweetheart and I were first married we lived in a small, rural community near there and we did our shopping and business in The Dalles. That's where our son was born. Whenever we travel we hope we are close to the area around mealtime. Our favorite place to eat there is at Cousins - good food, friendly staff and great atmosphere.

Farm animals 'talk' to you when you open the front doors. Everything around and about the restaurant is done in a farm theme. As soon as you enter the hostess greets you with "Good afternoon, cousins." The interior is so interesting that it's hard to follow her to your table or booth. The counter and stools area is special. It's usually full of people but I just happened to 'catch' it between occupants.

The stools are milk cans!

Everywhere you look around the restaurant you will find farm and country items. Water is served in pint-sized canning jars. Reading material that includes a cute little recipe book and farm and cowboy stories is provided at every table for your enjoyment while you wait for the food to arrive. My sweetheart grew up on a farm and he loves tractors. Imagine his delight when we were seated next to this one.

If you are in or around The Dalles, Oregon near mealtime you might want to check out Cousins Restaurant and Saloon on the west end of town, just off of I-84. You won't be disappointed, I'm sure!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Seen Through The Car Window

We arrived safely home last evening from our quick trip to Idaho. The service for my sweetheart's cousin was a wonderful tribute to a dear lady who was loved by so many people. We will always hold close to our hearts the hours spent with family from far away and the chance to share bits and pieces of our lives together.

Most of the hours of the past three days were spent in the car - driving east and then heading west again toward home. One of my sweetheart's sisters and one of his brothers rode with us and we shared a spirit of comraderie and togetherness during those long hours on the road. We engaged in serious conversation and funny talk and miles and miles of silence. Silence spent reading, doing Soduko puzzles, knitting and snoozing. Lots of time looking out the windows. The weather changed often as we travelled each day. We left home under blue, sunny skies. Not far from home we entered The Columbia River Gorge and soon we looked up and saw The Vista House at Crown Point on the cliff high above the highway. Not far down the road it was obvious that temperatures outside had changed. The bluffs beside the highway are filled with gorgous waterfalls - most of the year. But during cold weather some of them freeze to the rocks soon after they fall over the edge.And then - a quick glimpse of Multnomah Falls as we passed on the freeway. Continuing east we left The Gorge and rode through miles and miles of this.
After a brief stop for gas, a snack and a chance to stretch a bit we were soon high on a mountain pass. Somewhere in Eastern Oregon, daylight began to fade and the skies over 'The Blues' (Blue Mountains) changed.Long after dark we arrived at our destination and settled into our motel where we were soon joined by my sweetheart's youngest brother and sister-in-law and his youngest sister, her son and daughter-in-law. We enjoyed dinner out together and talked until long past bedtime for some of us. Time together. Family time. Such.precious.time.

Our trip home yesterday was a bit different than the trip east. We woke up to snow flurries and icy roads. My sweetheart is a good driver and has had experience driving in difficult winter weather. I knew if anyone could handle the trip ahead of us he could do it. And I knew he wouldn't take risks on the roads and he would change our plans if he felt it was wise. Two snow-y mountain passes and the possibility of difficult conditions in The Gorge ahead of us were on our minds as we paused to pray together before embarking on the long trip home. Shortly after leaving our motel we were surrounded by thick fog.
While climbing toward the summit of a mountain pass we were safe and secure in the knowledge that God was watching over us. Especially when we saw vehicles that had encountered problems.
After many miles we made a quick, important 'breakfast' stop in Historic Baker City, Oregon.At times, through the day, the scenery was breathtaking. Mountains rising above fog-filled valleys. . .
The Mighty Columbia River winding her way through The Gorge, blue skies and sunshine once again and barges carrying on the business of commerce. . .Clouds again, rain and the sun breaking through the clouds. . .
And, finally - at long last - home! In time to see a gorgeous sunset painted in the skies above our neighborhood. Somehow a reminder of God's grace and mercy to us and of His tender care for us.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Give Thanks

To be grateful is to recognize the love of God in everything He has given us - and He has given us everything. Thomas Merton

Give thanks with a grateful heart
Give thanks unto the Holy One
Give thanks because He's given Jesus Christ, His Son
And now let the weak say, "I am strong"
Let the poor say, "I am rich
Because of what the Lord has done for us"
Give thanks

I will be away for a few days. We are leaving this morning to drive to Idaho for the memorial service for my sweetheart's cousin tomorrow. We would appreciate prayer for safe travel through the mountains and for our time together with family during these days ahead.

Song - "Give Thanks"
Written by Henry Smith
Integrity's Hosanna! Music

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thanksgiving Day Memories

Don't you love the memory of a good holiday spent with family and friends? After all the anticipation, the cleaning, cooking and fussing over little details what really lasts is the memory of time spent with the people we love. This year was no different. We had a great day together - we had way too much food - but we enjoyed being together again. There are not many pictures of me at family gatherings because I'm usually the one behind the camera but my dear son, Mr. J., took this one with my camera. Here's a picture of the Hostess (me) and the Star Of The Show (Little Mr. H.).
We served our meal buffet style and sat at two tables. The 'big' table was for the men and children and a small table-for-four was in front of the fireplace in the living room for the ladies. We've done this for family get-togethers in the past since our family has outgrown the table in my tiny dining room but I miss sitting together and serving a family-style meal. You can see that there were children all around the table. (My daughter's niece from a neighboring community joined her family at our home this year.)Mr. JE, our son-in-law, had to work on Thanksgiving Day and he asked us not to reschedule our dinner for him. (He is the head cook at a large retirement community near their home not too far from our town.) He arrived near the end of the meal and enjoyed plating his meal after the initial rush had settled down. After the dishes were cleared away our three oldest grandsons, Mr. G., Mr. C. and Mr. R. set up 'shop' at the end of the table to do some artwork.Later, a game of Clue took center stage at the little table in the living room. Mr. R., Miss Ash., and Miss A. played a rousing round of 'who-dunit' while Miss E. looked on.
In another room, a game of Racko kept the younger cousins, Mr. G., Mr. C. and Miss E., busy while grandpa looked on. Mr. H. spent time with nearly everyone. His mama, Mrs. K. . .His cousin, Miss A. . .And he had a chance to rest in the arms of his daddy, Mr. J.Miss E. and her mommy, Mrs. M., spent time looking at the pictures taken on their new camera.Everyone seemed to enjoy being together again. Our grandchildren love to be together and their conversations were 'interesting' and often humorous. It was just what we needed - time together to be thankful and to count our blessings. Blessings too many to number and some so simple. Mr. H., the newest member of the family, was too little to understand it but one day he will.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Song of Thanksgiving

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow.
Praise Him all creatures here below;
Praise Him above ye Heavenly hosts;
Praise Faither, Son and Holy Ghost.
When our two children were young we usually travelled from our homes somewhere in Oregon to join my parents for Thanksgiving. Each year we joined hands around the table as my dear father led us in a prayer of thanks for God's rich blessings to us. Dad never prayed short prayers and he didn't pray quietly! We always held hands around the table as we prayed together. One Thanksgiving Day when our kids were in their early teen years we sat down, held hands, bowed our heads and waited for Dad to pray. He began to sing the song above - the Doxology. Most of us joined him. I realized our children were not particating - and they knew this song of praise. So I opened one eye to see what they were doing across the table from my sweetheart and I. They sat staring at me with questioning looks on their faces. Our daughter whispered, "Isn't Grandpa going to pray?" I whispered back, "That's what he's doing!" When he said Amen he immediately began to serve the turkey and our time at the table began. Our children learned a valuable lesson that day - we can pray in unexpected ways. It's the words coming from our heart and our attitude of thanksgiving that matters. They've never forgotten it! May we have praise in our hearts and thanksgiving on our lips today as we recall our many blessings.

Song - "Doxology"
Based on Psalm 100
Words: Thomas Ken (1637-1711)
Music: Louis Bourgeois (c.1510-1561)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thoughts Of Thanksgiving

Thou hast given so much to me,
Give one thing more, - a grateful heart;
Not thankful when it pleaseth me,
As if Thy blessings had spare days,
But such a heart whose pulse may be Thy praise.
- George Herbert

Today I am cleaning, cooking and finishing the preparations for our family Thanksgiving celebration together tomorrow. I am so thankful for you, dear friends - when I count my blessings, you are on the list!

Have a happy - and blessed - Thanksgiving Day wherever you are.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

It Won't Rain Always

Someone said that in each life
Some rain is bound to fall
And each one sheds his share of tears
And trouble troubles us all.
But the hurt can't hurt forever
And the tears are sure to dry.

And it won't rain always -
The clouds will soon be gone;
The sun that they've been hiding
Has been there all along
And it won't rain always -
God's promises are true.
The sun's gonna shine
In His own good time
And He will see you through.
Thank you, dear friends, for your messages of condolence and prayer support for us at this time. We appreciate each one more than you know. We are resting in the confidence that God's arms are strong enough to hold us no matter how heavy our load seems to be. We know the sun will shine again!

Monday, November 19, 2007


Dear child of God, by sorrow crushed,
May this your comfort be;
The Lord is ruling over all,—
He loves and cares for thee.

Though Satan seek to buffet sore,
He bows at God's command;
He cannot touch nor harm thee
when God says, "Stay now thine hand."

The One who shed His precious blood
To set the sinner free;
With that same matchless love untold
Is watching over thee.

The Lord who stretched the heavens forth
The earth's foundation laid,—
With that same power He guards His child
And says "Be not afraid."

For "God is faithful"—blessed Word!
Temptation, fear, or snare,
He never will allow one test
Above that ye can bear.

The trial and testing He allows,
By love and wisdom planned,—
When His own purpose is fulfilled
He speaks —"Stay now thine hand."

The pathway may seem rough and steep,
You'll feel His presence near,
You'll hear the precious Shepherd's voice,
" 'Tis I, child, never fear."

Then trust His love,—keep looking up,
On Jesus fix thy gaze;
The way He leads will give thee cause
For everlasting praise.

In glory we will give Him praise
For all the way He led;
Then we will understand His ways,
But here, we trust instead.
-Lois Beckwith

In loving memory of two special people whose lives ended very differently this weekend. One, our former son-in-law and daddy to our firstborn grandchild. He lost his way and believed it best to end the struggle. Our hearts grieve for the pain and despair he felt. The other, my sweetheart's dear cousin who lost her brief, rapid battle with cancer just a few days after she learned of her illness. Our lives have been touched once again by the loss of someone who held a place in our hearts. Once again we find comfort in the Father's arms.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Time Away

I will be away for a few days. We have rented a house at the Oregon Coast where our family will spend the weekend together. We will have a private memorial time for our dear friend who recently lost her battle with cancer. It will be a sweet, quiet time - just us, as she wished. There will be moments of tears and times of laughter as we share what she meant to us and how she touched our lives. Tears for our loss and laughter as we remember the special ways she brought such joy to our hearts.

Here is where we will be safe and warm from the stormy weekend that is predicted. Today my dear little mother, my sweetheart and I will travel to the beach. Later today our son and daughter and their families will join us there. We are all excited and looking forward to our time together. We have talked of making this an annual event. Wouldn't that be great? I'm sure I'll have lots of pictures and much to tell when I return home on Sunday evening.

Monday, November 12, 2007

More Pilgrims Have Landed

More pilgrims can be seen in my home - just in time for the Thanksgiving festivities. A terra cotta couple stands on the table. . . (The 'vase' belonged to my great grandmother, Nanny. It is a spooner that sat on her kitchen table as long as I can remember - full of spoons.)

Another pair stands on the entertainment center. . .a sweet gift from a special friend.
Nearby a few more signs of the season.The book on the lamp table is "The Art of Abundance: A Simple Guide To Discovering Life's Treasures" by Candy Paull. She writes that "The art of abundance is the art of awareness. It is a way to count our blessings and practice mindfulness in our daily living. . . My spirit has been renewed and my heart refreshed whenever I have chosen to thank the great Creator for the blessings that come my way." Her challenge is to "discover how rich you are in the things that count." Appropriate at this time of year. Or any time of the year.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Best Advice

"So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life, your sleeping, eating, going-to-work and walking-around life and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you." Romans 12:1-2 (The Message)