Death…and Life!

My sweet grandmother left us last week…and I was with her when she passed away. It’s been a rough several days, but the story/picture below really seemed to help carry me through. I think God sent it my way as a form of comfort – to know that death is not just a black hole of nothingness, but rather a gateway of better things to come: Once there was a sweet little woman who had lived a very long life. She was kind to all who met her, and found joy wherever she looked.

 One day it came time for that woman to take a journey. She could no longer walk (because her life had been so long you see) so she set out in her wheelchair along a dark, gray, and gravely path. – The clouds were thick around her as she wheeled along, bumping over stones, and in and out of ruts in the ground. Her family stood on either side of the path: encouraging her, cheering her on, but at the same time – wishing she would abandon her journey for now and stay awhile longer with them instead…

 But she knew it was a path that she must travel, and something kept pulling her on.-

 Eventually she saw a door up ahead. A very cold and unwelcoming door. It had a huge vault-like lock and handle, and was a dull metallic gray. She didn’t much like the look of that door, and neither did her family. They wanted to keep her safe and warm…with them – not give her up to the dark unknown.

 As she drew closer with trepidation, the heavy handle on the door started to turn. Slowly it rotated, and then began to creak open. Suddenly a bright sliver of sunlight pierced the dark gloom of the path. It was only a sliver at first, but it grew wider and wider until the whole path was bathed with its light.

 As she gazed through the door, the little woman could see a field of buttercups: so yellow and cheerful, the hills rolling up and down…stretching all the way to the horizon. The sky was blue there, and she could feel the inviting warmth of that place on her face already.

 But then she looked around her and saw her family standing close by with pain in their eyes. She knew, with a sinking feeling in her heart, that they could not go with her through that now-beautiful door. This was her journey. They could only stand and watch from the outside boundaries of the path.

 Still, the warmth and brightness drew her forward. She wheeled to the threshold, and with feeble arms, pressed herself up and out of her chair. She caught herself on the door, and slowly turned to look at her family again. Why did she have to make such a choice? She saw the sadness on the faces of those she loved. She knew they wanted her to stay. Why did she have to leave her family, in order to finish her journey to this wonderful land? It didn’t seem fair.~

 She hesitated another moment, shed a tear, knowing that it was goodbye, and shakily took a step through the door that was calling her. As the shadow of her feeble foot crossed through the door, the warmth seemed to embrace her whole being. She felt her sagging skin renewed, felt her aching joints grow strong, felt the years of hardship and toil fall off her back. She was young and vibrant again! Her clothes turned from the heavy knitted sweater of the aged, to a light and flowing summer dress that nipped her waist and skimmed her knees. It was the same beautiful color as the buttercups. Her hair was dark and silky again, and as she stepped into the lush grass and sea of glorious flowers, she turned back one last time, smiled a smile of winsome youth, and life, and peace, and sweet contentment. She waved and said, “I love you all so very, very much. I’ll be here waiting for you – someday, we’ll be together again. Remember that I’ll never stop loving you in the meantime!”

 Then she turned, and ran, into the glorious sunlight.

 

Cozy Things

This time of the year, the things that warm my heart are the cozy things. I look for them everyday. Here are some of my favorites:

Hot breakfasts. They make mornings worth it.

 

S'mores in the fireplace. Gooey and delicious.

 

Tea. Good alone. Better with someone you love.

 

Beds made up with plush flannel sheets. Can I jump in right now?

 

Apple raisin pie. Ready to be topped and baked. 50 minutes 'til bliss.


What are some of your favorite cozy things?

 

What I Wore Wednesday

It’s been ages since I’ve done a “What I Wore Wednesday” link-up with Lindsey over at The Pleated Poppy, and so here I am joining in the fun! I’m also joining The Letter 4 for the first time today, and linking up to the always fun Monday Mingle.

The Coze Factor
Cardigan and Lacy Tee: Old Navy, Jeans: Wal-Mart, Moccasins: RackRoom

Smarty Skirts
Top: NY&Co., Skirt: ?, Belt: Thrifted, Booties: RackRoom

 The Vintage Librarian
Top: JCrew, Cardigan: Stienmart, Jeans: NY&Co.

Sweetly Prep
Corduroy Jacket: TJ Maxx, Rosette Top: Fashion Bug, Jeans: NY&Co., Shoes: RackRoom

Oh WAIT!!!! Did you see it???? What’s that mess I’m standing on in the last picture?? Those of you who are just stopping by for WIWW will just think I never clean my floors, but those of you who are regulars around here might have guessed that I’m standing on our NEW WOOD FLOORS!!!! Yup, this photo was taken while they were still in progress (hence the dust all over the place and the lack of furniture), and I’ll have some real pics to share of the finished room very soon! I hope. They are still in progress…

 

So I’ve Been Thinking…

You know, beginning of the year resolution and re-evaluation time, step-back-and-take-a-magnifying-glass-to-your-life time. Am I happy with what I’m spending my time on? Am I feeling deeply connected with my sweet husband? Am I feeling stressed out on a regular basis? What goals do I have for the coming months?


Lots of questions, and lots of introspection still to do… But I have come to a few conclusions as regards blogging, and I thought I’d share them with you today. Maybe you can relate?

First of all, these aren’t new conclusions that I have come to – but apparently things like this don’t stick very well with me and I’m in need of constant reminding.- Onward:

1. I place way too much worth/affirmation value in comments and statistics. – This is not healthy for me. SO, I have decided in order to relieve some depression and self-esteem issues to take a break from comments here on the blog. After today, you will no longer see a place to leave a comment on a post. Of course you can always send me a quick and easy message via the e-mail button at the top of my sidebar, or leave a message on Facebook if you have a question or would like to say hello.


2. Followers are a close second. I know many people (myself included) glance at the followers widget to get a quick estimation of the quality of a blog – and I worry about people leaving instantly if they don’t see the GFC widget up on my sidebar. But I ultimately want people to stay because they enjoy what I have to share – not because of how many other people do. Right? I’m still convincing myself on this one, but you may well see my followers widget disappear too…at least for awhile. I hear they are discontinuing this service for wp users soon anyway…

3. I don’t do a good job of keeping blogging within the parameters it deserves. It is not a job for me. I make no money blogging. I do have other jobs (and household tasks) that are more worthy of my time and attention. SO, I want to find a fence that is a good size for this alternate universe, and STAY WITHIN IT!


4. Partially, that means being organized about which blogs I read on a regular basis.- I have a list of my favorite blogs: blogs that teach me things, make me laugh, encourage my organization, inspire the renovations and decorating we’re doing around here. These are the types of blogs that I want to be conscious of visiting. Because of the season of life that I’m in, I simply don’t have time to continue to read all the “just for fun” blogs, life blogs, and friend blogs that I would like to on a regular basis. And I need to be ok with that.

5. I want to blog more about things that I really enjoy blogging about – not what I think my readers will respond to. I want to focus more on finding my voice this year: refining what I want this blog to be about. And now that I won’t have any days to lament the comments that weren’t left on thus-and-so a post, hopefully I’ll feel more confident in posting just what I love here on Vignettes.


6. Popularity contests are SO 8th grade. Done with them. Done.

7. I want to commit to “pay it forward” more consciously in blogland. When I read a great post, or find a great blog – I want to pass it on!

8. Blogging is a very small part of my life. Yes, I am a blogger. But I am also a wife, piano teacher, WholyFit instructor, stamping demonstrator, cook, housekeeper, and friend. I must order my days accordingly.

So let it be written. So let it be done!

 

My Freezer – My Hero!

Hello Friends! I hope your week is off to a great start! Have a fun weekend? Mine was…ummm…let’s just say not fun. But we made it through to the other side, and it’s a brand new week. Thank God.

No fancy segue today…let’s talk about the virtues of freezing food, shall we?

I’ve been making large batches of food and freezing the excess for years – even having a “freezer cooking day” every now and then. You can read about my soup freezing methods HERE if you’re interested. Up ’til now, my husband and I (and the occasional house sitter) have been the main beneficiaries of our freezer bounty.- However…

Recently, we had a bit of a “food emergency” and thank goodness, it was able to be averted with already-prepared food that had been tucked away in the freezer. Just another little plug for why cooking big and freezing excess is the way to go!

We were hosting a dinner for 4 of our friends that night. I was planning a lovely crockpot meal that had never failed me, makes plenty to feed a crowd, and is always a favorite.- I had all the veggies and other ingredients chopped, grated, stirred and ready to go, when I started placing the chicken on top. Everything was going great, until I got to the last piece of chicken *cue scary music*. A rather unpleasant smell wafted through the air and twinged my nose. My heart sank to the floor. It was starting to spoil. At first I thought: “Oh well…it was just this last piece, and it hasn’t touched all the other ingredients yet…we’ll be fine”. But as I was mulling it over, I realized that there was no way that that one piece of spoiling chicken could NOT have affected all the other pieces that were cozied up in the same package with it.- And goodness sake, I was not about to give our unsuspecting guests food poisoning that night! So into the trashcan went the entire contents of a full crockpot – while I shed a tear or two (or ten). I called my hubby and was boohooing out my tale while bemoaning the fact that I was going to have to trek to the store to re-buy all of those ingredients, when he said, “Well, wait. Don’t we have some delicious soups in our freezer at the moment?” And by golly, we did! (Thank you God for husbands with calm and sense! – You know common sense, calm and sense – never mind -) So he picked up some buns at the store on his way home and I made a salad and mini ham sammies to go with our two soup selections. – Disaster averted. Money saved. No one was the wiser. Freezer to the rescue!*As an aside, a friend recently shared that this same thing happened to her too (the bit about the spoiling chicken)…strange…

Moral: sniff your chicken before you take it out of the package and let it touch any other food!

Thank you, dear freezer,  for your faithful service. I know I complain regularly about your lack of cubic footage, but alas, you have redeemed yourself well.