Thursday, March 31

Little Projects

Looking For Something To Do?
The Meticulous Mr. Wooley
Within the past few years, I've taken up knitting and crocheting.  I don't claim to be an expert, or even proficient, at either hobby, but it is certainly a pleasant way to pass an evening while listening to my favorite television shows.  I did a lot of knitting and crocheting a few Christmases back to make gifts--mostly blankets, but I also made a few scarves, and I tried something that is so fun and easy to do called amigurumi.  This is, quite simply, making a cute little plush animal or toy.  I made a wool kitty cat out of the remains of a brown wool skein used to make a scarf for my husband (which sadly has gone missing).  I made the kitty cat and gave it to him, and he aptly named the little cat "Mr. Wooley".  Too cute!  I'd like to make more, and perhaps if I do get around to it I'll list them on the "for sale" page on this blog.  If you would like to see examples of what I'm describing, click here.  There are many other sites out there that offer free amigurumi patterns as well, but I find that these are great examples.  I have so many projects that I would like to start, and I just never seem to find or make time to do it.  Plus, I have a hard time starting something that takes a long time to finish, which is why I have so many started projects and few finished ones!  But that's where these patterns are good.  Depending on your level of skill, these cute little projects might only take two or three hours to finish.  Now, that's what I'm talking about!

The Civil War
Flags of Gettysburg
Some of you know that I recently blew through the documentary "The Civil War" by Ken Burns in three nights while my husband was away on business.  It's one of his favorite documentaries, so I don't know why it took this long for me to see it.  Of course, I didn't really have a strong interest in the Civil War until we took our trip to Gettysburg last fall (to view that blog entry, click here).  I have to say, I really liked the series.  (Side note: it will be airing on PBS starting April 3 at 8 pm in honor of the 150th anniversary of the start of the war).  While still heavily focusing on the slavery aspect of the war, it was very in-depth in portraying aspects of the war as seen from soldiers' and civilians' point-of-views.  There are a total of nine episodes, most running right around an hour in length (with the exception of the first episode), and each one is just as interesting as the one before.  I think that the person I enjoyed listening to most was author Shelby Foote, whose books we own but I have not yet read.  With a smooth, deep Southern drawl, he is shown in more interview segments than any other expert, and he lent a bit of humor to the documentary.  As it went on, I felt more and more like I was really understanding, and almost in a way, experiencing the battles for myself!  Very well done.  Another great aspect of the documentary was the wonderful soundtrack that accompanies the various segments.  This is a collection of common mid-1800s music that fit perfectly.  From the theme song "Ashoken Farewell" to "The Battle Hymn of the Republic", to "Lorena" and "Dixie", the songs feel familiar and comfortable regardless of whether you've heard them before or not.  I think I will have to add both the documentary and the soundtrack to my ever-growing list of things that I would like to buy someday.  Summary: If you are ever looking for something to watch one night, cue this one up in Netflix.  You won't be disappointed, and you might even learn something!

There was a common theme in the documentary that pointed to the country's belief in divine providence--both sides believed that God was on their side, and that their side was bound to win because of it.  Many in the North felt that God was with them because they wanted to abolish slavery, and the South believed that God would allow them to win the war because of the many victories they were able to enjoy at the beginning of the war.  Truthfully, God was with them all.  God allowed the war to happen, He allowed for the slavery, He allowed for the abolition of slavery, He allowed the states to become one entity, and He allowed us to slowly, over the course of the next 150 years, to give away our freedom, piece by piece, until we no longer remembered what true freedom really was and is: "19They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him" (2 Peter 2:19).  But there is freedom in Christ, as long as we accept His gift: "1It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery" (Galatians 5:1).  We always have that freedom to look forward to, even when we are slaves to earthly things: material possessions, addictions, debtors, the list can go on and on.  Christ can set us all free when we least deserve it, if we will only let Him!  

Wednesday, March 23

Happy Spring!

Sweatin' to the Wii!
Stock photo
With the warmer weather that has set in (for now), I'm enjoying the benefits of being outdoors for a change.  I have been trying to make it a point to do the exercise DVDs that I bought to use with the Wii fitness board before work each morning, but one day last week when the temps outside climbed to almost 70, my husband invited me to join him for a walk around our neighborhood.  I really enjoy walking outside (and just being outside) when it is nice out, so of course I accepted!  It feels good to make it a point to get some exercise in each day.  I don't know if I've lost any weight (the scale scares me!), but I'm glad that I've found some motivation to try and take care of myself more.  We did a one and a half mile route through the neighborhood, with some inclines.  All in all, a nice workout on a beautiful day!  It makes me realize just how ready for spring I am.  It seems like it's been a loooooong winter!

Veggie Time!
My sprouts!
I need to get out and try to work the garden beds some.  It's been very wet these past weeks, so I haven't ventured out to see what it's like.  Usually, when we get heavy rains, the area around the beds becomes very saturated and muddy, and it takes a long time to dry out thanks to the clay soil that we have here.  We built raised beds to help with the drainage around the plants, but it still makes working out there pretty messy at times.  I want to get things going, though!  I have started my indoor plants, which are sprouting already.  It's such a great feeling to plant something and watch it feel like you've really accomplished something special.  For as long as I keep a garden, I hope I never lose the enjoyment of watching things grow!  Right now, I have tomatoes, celery, and pansies that have started to grow.  My peppers have not popped up yet, but they are supposed to take a bit longer to start.  I have a good feeling, though!

Summer Grilling
We were able to break out the grill for the first time this year.  Yum!  I don't think we ever got to use it last summer, due to the work schedule that my husband had then.  I had picked up some petite sirloins at the grocery store during my last trip, and with the weather as nice as it was last week, it sounded like a great idea to grill some steaks.  May I just say that my husband is the best griller I know?  It was like eating at Texas Roadhouse without the dancing and loud music.  And I'm not just being biased.  He's a good cook anyway, but he's really good with the grill.  I think that he should make up for last summer and grill all of the time this summer!

Well, it looks as though our desktop computer is out of commission for the time being.  The fan broke on the tower, and apparently it's not a good idea to run the computer without a fan (duh).  So we need to get it replaced, fixed, or my husband's personal preference, buy a new computer altogether.  He's been wanting a new one for a while anyway.  I don't know what we'll do, but I can't download photos from my digital camera onto the laptop I'm currently using (software compatability issues), so I won't be able to share any new pictures with you for a while, at least until something changes.  :(  Update: as of March 24, the computer seems to have mysteriously healed itself.  Weird...

Prayer Request
I found out last night that my father has to have a heart catheter done in a week and a half to explore possible blockages.  He is not saved, and does not really want to know anything about the Lord.  Please pray that the Lord might use this opportunity to open some doors for witnessing.  Thanks in advance!

Worry is normal for me.  I think that women tend to worry more than men, because we are more emotional than men (which is the way that God made us!).  It's normal to worry and wonder, especially when you don't know the outcome of something.  It's a human emotion.  If you find yourself an excessive worrier, like me, a good passage to remember is out of Matthew 6:
"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."  God has everything under control.  Even in the worst of circumstances, He has a reason and purpose for everything that happens.  We just rarely have the capacity to understand!

Wednesday, March 16

The New, The Mundane

Snow Gone For Good?
Can it be true?  I think it is, but it is still March!  There is none in the forecast for the week, though, so I'm cautiously optimistic.  It's nice to look out and see the ground again, and to be able to venture out of the house without all of my winter gear protecting me.  The weather today was beautiful, and promises to be even nicer tomorrow and Friday.  Oh Mr. Groundhog, could it be true??

Anniversary Trip
I didn't think that hubby and I would be going anywhere for our anniversary this year, but we have decided to make plans after all.  We are going to be heading up to the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village.  I've been there before, a long time ago, but hubby has never been.  I'm really looking forward to it!  We're both taking a week off and we'll spend two of those days there.  If you've never been there, or don't even know what I'm talking about, the museum and village are huge.  It'll take a day to go through each one.  The museum itself is home to many displays that range from the beginnings of the Ford company and the history of automobiles and aviation, to more current events like the car that Kennedy was assassinated in, as well as clothing, Civil War, and all sorts of other unique exhibits.  I would guess that it is similar to a small-scale Smithsonian museum, as far as artifacts go (although I've never been to the Smithsonian.  I'd love to go, though!).  Greenfield village is an outdoor history park.  Henry Ford actually started Greenfield Village, purchasing several of the buildings that now exist here.  All of the buildings are historic in some way--from Thomas Edison's home, and displays of several different light bulbs that he tried before creating the light bulb, to the Firestone Farm (of Firestone tires), to the Heinz home (duh, ketchup!), all the way back to the thatched-roof Cotswold Cottage from England that dates back to the mid-1600s (a great display of 17th century life), as well as a variety of historic homes and stores in between.  Some buildings have interpreters, but others are just open to walk through.  I really hope that my memory serves me correctly; it seems like when I revisit things and places from the past, they have changed too much, usually for the worse.  I'll be sure to write all about the trip after we get back.  But, I think that this will be very fun and enjoyable.  Besides, I'll be celebrating seven years of marriage to the man I love!  That will make it all worthwhile.

Cameras I'm Considering to Buy--Any Opinions?
Since we are planning a trip, I'm desperate to find a camera that I will love, and that will give me great pictures of what we see and do.  I've been researching cameras for a while, and just came across a Nikon Coolpix that I am very interested.  The only thing that doesn't interest me about this camera is the price--over $300.  They are releasing a lower-priced version this week, and it might not have as many bells and whistles, but that would probably be fine for me.  I love to take pictures, but I am amateur at best, and can't really justify spending that kind of money for a camera right now.  I would love it if you wanted to tell me what kind of camera you would recommend, or what digital cameras have worked best for you in the past.  I had a Nikon Coolpix when I was in college, and I liked it a lot, but it was very low-powered, right when digital cameras were coming onto the market and were very expensive.  The cameras I have been considering are below:
Nikon Coolpix s8100
Nikon Coolpix s6100
Canon Powershot SX200-is

I'm leaning towards one, but I would love input!

Marriage--Oh, The Things I Can't Tell
I will admit that I love being married.  I think it's the one thing I've always wanted in my life.  I've never been bent on a high-powered career, I've never felt the urge to raise children, but I always wanted to be married and have someone beside me who I loved more than anyone or anything else in life.  Sure, it's not for everyone, but it was absolutely for me!  I know seven years isn't long in the grand scheme of things (I'm shooting for, say, fifty or sixty years!), but it's been long enough to know that while it's a lot of work, it's also a lot of fun.  I have a built-in best friend right there all of the time!  There are so many stories I wish I could share, because they are so the first time I gave him a haircut (and my first time cutting hair ever!), who knew I was capable of giving a near-buzz cut with scissors??  Or that a purple giraffe balloon animal would become our mascot?  Or the time we drove to Naperville so that I could interview for a job--we ended up being part of one town's St. Patrick's Day parade (still don't know how) and ended up at a Days Inn that actually allowed you to check back out, and get your money back, within 15 minutes of checking in, which we did end up doing!  These things might seem mildly amusing to others, but to us they are great memories that we love to laugh about.  We have such fun together, but it's usually just little things that no one else would understand outside of our little world, population: 2, which makes the relationship all the more special.  I just want to say to my husband that you have been the greatest adventure I've ever embarked upon, and I am looking forward to every day together for the next fifty-three years ahead of us!  Praise the Lord for allowing me to meet my match :) !

"11 See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. 12 Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. 13 The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance. Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me.”--Song of Solomon, 2:11-13.  This time of year is associated with love, youth, and newness.  The beauty of spring  beckons our senses and awakens us after a long winter's nap.  Solomon and his lover were deeply in love with each other, and wanted to take every chance they could to express that between themselves.  Very romantic!  Need I say more?  If you have been blessed with a spouse, show them every day just how much he or she means to you.  Just maybe don't compare each other to goats!

Thursday, March 10

Spring Is On the Way!

Looking for Crocuses
I am thoroughly excited about the prospect of spring!  When I leave for work in the mornings, I hear birds singing that don't sing in the winter.  I see fuzzy buds on the pussy willow trees.  The rain, as copious as it's been here, has a fresh scent to it.  The garden has been planned out as of last night, with green beans, my asparagus patch, onions, lettuce, potatoes, tomatoes and green peppers.  I think I might even have a small patch left for trying my hand at a cut-flower garden!  Hard to believe that it's finally time to start working on that.  Winter seems to not want to let go quite yet, with a rain/snow mix forecasted for today and tonight.  But spring is surely just around the corner!  I might have to take back what I said in an earlier post about the reliability of the groundhog.  We'll see...

Busy, Busy...
We have our annual Maple Sugarin' program out at the McKinnis house farm this weekend, but I won't be able to attend.  My husband's parents are coming to visit, and it sounds like we will be spending a day shopping and exploring Toledo while they are here, which should be fun.  We have plans every weekend, I think!  If we are not out and about, we are trying to do some cosmetic work on our house that we had been putting off until we decided whether to refinance or move.  We refinanced, so now we need to get to work!  Seems like there is a lot to do and not much time to do it.  Hubby and I are also starting to exercise and eat right again, so that we can hopefully lose some of the weight we've packed on over the holidays (and after :) ), and I'll try to keep you posted on our success.  I'm doing a combination of treadmill and exercise with my Wii fitness board, and I am very sore this morning!  But sore is good, and hopefully I can keep getting exercise in before work in the mornings.  That's the goal!

It's important when we are busy to always keep God in everything we do.  Evangelizing is more in our actions than in our words!  Proverbs 3:5-6 states "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understandings, in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight."  I always try to remember to acknowledge God in my words and actions, but I will be the first to admit that as a human, I do fail.  But this passage is a good reminder that we are to have God in our minds and hearts in all that we do, regardless of how busy and preoccupied we might become in our own lives.

Tuesday, March 1

Singin' In The Rain

Our Yearly Flood
What a dramatic last few days it has been!  We made the national news again for our flooding problems here.  Hard to believe that we've flooded again, and yet, I'm getting used to it.  It seems like there has been some sort of major flooding in this area at least once each year since we've moved here.  I found myself backtracking twice on the way to work this morning, both times due to flooded major roads.  I wish I had taken my camera around to take pictures, but I really don't want to face a possible third-degree misdemeanor, whatever that may be.  It doesn't sound pleasant, I know that!  If you would like to see pictures of what the northwest Ohio area looks like that other people were brave enough to take, here are a few links from an area television station for you to view: Riverbend Recreation Area (you can see the main entrance to the reservoir, and the newly-built covered bridge that spans the river), Lighthouse Park (you can see the tops of the pine trees, and the tops of the pavillions, this photo was taken before the river crested), Riley Creek, near Pandora (notice the half-submerged mailbox on the far right half of the photo), and the Bluffton area (the community was reportedly evacuated, but this cute doggy seems to be patiently waiting for his owner to heed the warning).  The downtown is again under water, parts of I-75 were closed due to flooding, and surrounding areas and communities have been evacuated once again.  I don't know how these businesses keep rebuilding and reopening like this...unfortunately, it has taken a toll on our downtown area.  I know that this area is not the only area that has flooded; there has been flooding across Indiana, and other parts of the country too.  Please pray for all of the people that have again been affected/displaced by another flood.

The flooding seems to have stopped, and things are now slowing returning to normal.  Flooding is no stranger to our earth, it has happened to varying degrees for thousands of years.  God promised that he would never send another catastrophic flood again after THE flood He sent back in Genesis: "Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth." (Genesis 9:16)  Even when catastrophes do occur, God does not forget us, or turn His back on us.  Look for the rainbow in every bad thing that happens, both literally and figuratively!