Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 ~ The Year in Pictures

Warning: This might be the longest blog you've ever scrolled through. But what can I say? It's been a big year.

Oddly enough, the past 12 months seemed to fly by, but the year itself seemed quite long to me. I know that makes no sense, but I have no explanation. Here is a look back on how 2013 unfolded.

In January, I accompanied Leslie to the doctor to determine the gender of her child. I would've been happy with a boy or a girl, but Leslie was rooting for a boy. When the nurse told us it was a girl, Leslie was disappointed. However, after a few days, she embraced the news and I'm sure she wouldn't trade Miss Audrey for a boy now. I first shared about Leslie's unconventional pregnancy here.

February found me doing what I love to do: Decorating! Leslie asked me to bring a feeling of "home" to her new apartment, and I was more than happy to oblige. I love how it all turned out.

After months of debating the issue, I bought a Nikon D3100, and on a balmy day in March, me and Ann (my camera buff friend) enjoyed the early blooms at the nearby botanical gardens. If you're looking for a new camera, I highly recommend this one.

As April evolved, I attended a mass baby shower with Leslie. It's hosted by the Houston Fertility Institute, and the parents (and parents-to-be) of these much-loved and anticipated children come and celebrate their miracles together. It was quite inspirational. Here is Leslie, posing with Dr. Griffith and Dr. Williams, two amazing physicians at the Institute.

I also tried my hand at furniture refinishing. I bought this dull and boring coffee table for $20 at Goodwill...

...and transformed it into a gleaming, bright, useful piece.

May was a busy, busy month. Leslie's baby shower turned out to be perfect, despite an unexpected detour. The whole story is here.

...and I spent some time enjoying summer's bounty, along with my sweet grand niece, my spoiled grand dog, and a little DIY for my granddaughter's room.

I also celebrated Mother's Day with my dear mother. We tried out a new hamburger place in town, and the one you see here was the best burger I've ever eaten. Divine!

My beautiful niece celebrates a birthday in May, so I hosted her birthday dinner as well.

Without question though, June was THE month of the year. After many hours of painting and preparing a room for my new granddaughter, it finally came together. The coffee table fit right in, and the $35 chest of drawers was a great find.

But other exciting changes came in June...

After years of hating my kitchen cabinets, I called a contractor and did something about it. I LOVE how they turned out, and they continue to bring me joy on a daily basis. To see "before" pics, click here.

And then...

On Tuesday, June 18th, Miss Audrey Emeline (pronounced Emma-Line) made her debut. I had just stepped out of my car at work when my daughter called and said, "I think it's time." Audrey came quickly and peacefully at 2:59 p.m. Nonni cut the cord, and fell head-over-heels in love. My initial blog about her birth is here.

Audrey made her first official appearance 10 days later at my other lovely niece's birthday dinner. She slept like an angel the entire time.

July got off to a grand start with BBQ, watermelon and family. A great combo during any month.

And the heat of August didn't seem so bad when divided by three. We've done "sister trips" in the past, and I was thrilled when we were all able to enjoy a few precious days on Galveston Island. I don't recall a happier, crazier time. If you are intrigued, you can find a long narrative and lots more pictures here.

As the month came to a close, Miss Audrey popped in for a visit at work one day. Words can't tell how much I love this child.

Obviously, September was filled with "all things Audrey," including my first Grandparents Day. Memories for a lifetime.

Of course, October is birthday month for me and my beloved twin. Sadly, we couldn't celebrate together this year, but we both had memorable days.

 First here...

Then here.

As you can see, Dayle was far away, experiencing a little romance.

November is a time to give thanks, and we certainly did. My dear parents joined us for Thanksgiving Day, and how grateful we all are that Daddy is walking again and Mother remains healthy. Indeed, all the money in the world can't buy such riches.

December is birthday month for my one and only. If I close my eyes long enough, she is a little girl again. We celebrated her big day at my house with a requested brunch menu. I must say, the food was superb, and sharing it with my family made it even better.

And that's how 2013 played out for me. Sure, there were days of personal storms and struggles to battle through, but every rain brought its own rainbow, and every struggle brought a renewed sense of strength. I hope your year was a good one, and I pray that 2014 is filled with promise and peace.  ♦

Monday, December 30, 2013

Mosaic Monday ~ Christmas Memories

I'll let these pictures paint a thousand words.

I hope your Christmas was special.

Sharing at: Mosaic Monday

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Jesus - God With Us

In foretelling the birth of Jesus, the prophet Isaiah wrote. “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The 'mighty God,' The everlasting 'Father,' The Prince of Peace.”

Colossians 1:15 describes Jesus as "the image of the 'invisible' God." Indeed, the Creator, God Almighty, had revealed himself in flesh, coming to live among his creation. Not so he could better know us, but so we could better know him. Not so he could feel our pain, but so we could know that he felt ours. And not to condemn us for our sins, but to redeem us once and for all. What a glorious gift to mankind!

I hope you and yours have a merry Christmas filled with love, peace and good will.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Away In A Manger

While watching my precious granddaughter napping today, I thought of that first Christmas in Bethlehem, when God became flesh, bringing hope to a sinner like me. It is a gift money cannot buy, and my heart is ever grateful.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Easy Lemon Coolers

If you're needing a quick gift for a neighbor, or a co-worker, or anybody, here is a simple and quick cookie recipe sure to please.

Lemon Coolers (soft and chewy)

1 package lemon cake mix (I use Duncan Hines)
1 regular-sized container of Cool Whip, thawed
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1-2 cups of powdered sugar, sifted (or not)

Baking directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix together cake mix, whipped topping and egg. Dough will be sticky.
3. Drop by teaspoonfuls into flat plate covered in powdered sugar.
4. Roll to coat and shape into small balls.
5. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Do not brown!
Makes 4 dozen small cookies.

Here is how they look going into the oven...

...and coming out of the oven.

And these cookies are the perfect size for small holiday tins.

A great way to say, Merry Christmas!

Sharing at Mosaic Monday.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas at Home ~ 2013

I'm sharing at:

I haven't gone "all out" decorating this year, and I've not taken a lot of photos, but welcome to my home.

Nothing too fancy, but it brings me joy.

The tree is spectacular in the afternoon sun.
As you see, I tend to let my tree shine and go easy on the ornaments.

This winter wreath decorates an old window
hanging between my entryway and living room.

Nothing fancy in the dining room. Just a string of lights and a flurry of snow.

I love wrapped gifts with pretty bows.
I love my little granddaughter, too, cheek-to-cheek with her mom.

And speaking of her... Any time she is around, my day is merry and bright.

My favorite picture of the season thus far.
So impromptu. So magical.

And that's it for me. Thanks for stopping by. I hope this holy season is filled with peace and good will for you and yours. Nothing else really matters.