All Hallow’s Eve Gala 2012.

My husband and I hosted a(n) Halloween party All Hallow’s Eve Gala this year. As part of my goals for 2012, I want to do more things that I like to do. That meant putting  more effort into it so that our guests could really enjoy it! Here’s some of the things that we did. Maybe our ideas will create some great ideas for your parties in the future! And I’d love to hear any ideas that you have to make our next gala even better.

Pumpkin Bowling: 2 liter bottles filled with split peas for weight and pie pumpkins with the stems cut off.

Decorations: I put old childhood Halloween costumes over small Christmas trees and plants. Here are a couple of them. Super cheap and scary!

I made these mummies last year…2×4 boards, some cheese cloth and googley eyes.


Food: We had people bring food to share, but the items that we contributed had Halloween themed names.

Photo booth: instead of renting a really expensive booth, we just used a program on our computer. These are just a few, but as you can see, it worked well!


Last week, I had the privilege of cheering my husband on during his very first marathon. 26.2 miles…and he did great! I’m so proud of him for sticking with the training and finishing with a great time.

BUT, that’s not the reason for this post. I experienced something amazing that morning. Thousands of people ran the marathon, which means there were thousands of spectators from all around Ohio (and probably out of state too). With all of those people in one place, I expected a lot of headache – grumpy people who hadn’t had their coffee, crowds that were rude and cared only about seeing their runner, pushing, shoving, littering…utter chaos and distress. What I actually saw was something completely different and I left the marathon with so much inspiration. Here’s what I experienced:

Encouragement from everyone. Signs made not just for the holders particular runner, but for everyone that ran by. People who did not have a friend or family member in the race standing by the road anyway to cheer everyone on. Bystanders reading the names of the not-known-to-them runners (on their safety pinned number) and saying, “Go, John! You can do it!”, “Keep it up, Nancy! Only 5 more miles!”  The runners saying thank you to the bystanders who are cheering them on. Loud (and I mean loud) cheering for everyone that crossed the finish line.

My husband had a similar experience as a runner. Towards the end of the race, his right leg started going out so he slowed down quite a bit. He said that two runners, that he didn’t know, came up beside him and started encouraging him. “We’re almost there, keep going! You can do it!”

So, no, the inspiration I found at the marathon wasn’t for me to go run a marathon or how impressive everyone’s physical endurance was (although that is true). It isn’t often that you see so much kindness from strangers. We watch the news and decide that strangers are murders, kidnappers, shop lifters and people that we don’t want to be around. So I’m very thankful for this experience and the faith in the human race that it brought back to me. We are, after all,  made in God’s image. It’s just that we often forget how to act like it.

#21: Completely remodel a room – COMPLETE!!!!

I’m excited to be writing this post for multiple reasons.

#1. I have completed one of my 40×40 list goals: #21 – Completely remodel a room (floor to ceiling)!

#2. I have a working bathroom with no giant holes in the walls. See the before pictures here.

#3. It looks AWESOME!

My husband worked so hard on this project. Thanks, babe, for being so great! Here’s the results of our hard work:

And just for fun…here is a picture of the artwork I made to hang above the toilet.

Doing what I Love: Learnings and Challenges.

My goals for this year include doing more things that I love to do. It’s been really hard because this year has been really busy. Fortunately, I have a God that is continually teaching me and molding me into the child of God that he wants me to be. That means finding joy in the things that I have to do, which sometimes are awesome and other times are challenging. My job, commitments to my family, commitments to the church, etc. Among the busyness of life that never seems to slow down, I’ve also found time to do things that I LOVE doing. Crafts, camping, being outside, spending quality time with family and friends, etc. The biggest thing for me this year is finding the balance between being a crazy lady who is going to pull her hair out if she has to add one more thing to schedule and being…Free. There are three things that I’ve learned to help me keep that balance:

1. Keep God first.

2. Make time for what I want to do. And don’t stress out about my to-do list while relaxing.

3. I need a Stress Relief outlet… it’s finest.

Backpacking vs. Car Camping.

I just recently posted about backpacking. Shortly after our backpacking trip, my husband and I went car camping with my dad, brother and brother-in-law. You can check out a few pics from our family fun weekend below. But what’s the difference between backpacking and car camping, you ask? Let me ‘splain.


  • Minimalism in everything you pack.
  • You carry everything you pack in a backpack over miles and miles of trails.
  • 100% Seclusion at times.
  • Quality time with your trip mates.
  • Freeze dried food and cliff bars for meals.

Car Camping:

  • You can pack whatever fits in your car.
  • You drive to your campsite…within feet of where your tent will be pitched.
  • Depending on where you go, some seclusion but you’ll still be around other car campers most of the time.
  • Quality time with your trip mates.
  • Whatever you pack, you eat. S’mores, hot dogs, cookies, sandwiches…

We have chairs! Can’t take those when you go backpacking…

The Scion is within a Frisbee toss of the tent. Makes for a really good flashlight at night!

Pongo found a good swimming hole during our trip. He made it a ritual to play in the water for the first hour of every morning.


You can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl.
That’s what my parents always tell me since I moved to Ohio’s capital city. Growing up in southern Ohio, I’m a country girl at heart and love being outside. LOVE. That means I would prefer to be camping, hiking, four wheeling, etc., etc., etc. instead of watching TV, going to the mall, eating at a fancy restaurant, etc., etc., etc. Out of all of the outdoorsy things I’ve done however, I had never gone backpacking. Until recently.
Backpacking IS camping but you have to hike to where you set up camp… carrying everything (food, clothes, tent, sleeping bag, etc) in a backpack. Hence the term “backpacking”. My husband was an Eagle Scout and has been backpacking in New Mexico in which he hiked over 100 miles over 10 days (or something like that). Not exaggerating. He’s the real deal.
For my first time out, we chose to go to Zaleski State Forest. A short drive from Columbus and a beginner trail – only 19 miles! By the end of our adventure, my feet were tired (I blame it on the new boots), but it was so much fun. Although there are pro’s and con’s to everything, I can’t wait to go back again and discover some more of God’s beautiful creation!

Pros of backpacking:

  • Cheap trip (AFTER all you have all of the equipment, that is.)
  • Awesome views of nature
  • Quality time with your backpacking buddy
  • Disconnecting from the real world (Zaleski had NO CELL SERVICE…and it was BLISS)
  • Great exercise

Cons of backpacking:

  • Freeze dried food and Cliff Bars (which actually wasn’t THAT bad)
  • No bathrooms
  • No showers
  • You have to carry a lot of stuff a long way


Zaleski Trail Map

Our camp site

Cooking our freeze dried dinner: Beef Stew

Cool Cave Photo Op

Family Vacation.

Most people don’t have the luxury of going on a family vacation after they’re grown and out of the house. I am very, VERY blessed to have a family that still loves hanging out with one another! About a month ago we went to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (notice the spelling…the spelling was a point of discussion during our trip. E-Y? I-E?) Anyway, if you are looking for vacation ideas, I highly recommend the trip to the good ol’ Appalachian Mountains. If you like outdoorsy stuff, then read on for some recommendations.

Place to Stay: Black-Eyed Susan Cabin It’s AWESOME and a great value!

Things to do that we recommend: Cades Cove, Andrew’s Bald hike, Elkmont, Roaring Fork Motor Trail

Things that we don’t recommend: Cherokee, Pigeon Forge (Unless you like tourist shops…to each their own!)

Here are a few highlights of our trip (out of about 1000 pictures taken), courtesy of my husband and his fancy photography skills.

My dog ate my bathroom!

He really did. A giant hole in the drywall right near the bathroom door. Poor guy thought he was trapped in there forever, never to see the light of day again. So he panicked and tried to eat his way through the wall. If I were in his shoes, maybe I’d do the same. Who knows.

My husband and I are taking the situation and turning it into an opportunity to redo the entire bathroom. From floor to ceiling. Which means it will count as one of my 40×40 items: #21.   Completely remodel a room (floor to ceiling). Wooo!

Here’s what we purchased:

  • New door frame and door that match our new baseboard
  • New light fixture
  • New vanity, faucet and sink
  • New mirror
  • New Italian porcelain tile floor
  • New dry wall
  • New paint
  • New toilet paper holder
  • New towel holder

Here are some of the “before” pictures. I wasn’t lying about Pongo trying to eat his way through the wall! I’ll keep you posted on the “after” pictures when we’re done…wish us luck!

Getting away from it all.

Vacation is an amazing idea that God came up with. God took a vacation after spending 6 days creating the world. He sat back and admired the beauty of his handy work. And he rested. Truly rested.

That desire for the same kind of rest is what prompted me to list one of my 40×40 items: 37.   Go technologically “dark” for at least a day

It’s not that challenging of a goal, but it is difficult to pull myself away from the mind-numbing hum of the TV, the do-everything cell phone, addicting Facebook feed, and oh-so-interesting pinterest boards. Even while on vacation, I find myself wanting to just lose myself in those things because they are easy and thoughtless. So, I made it a goal to go technologically dark for at least a day and by-george, I did it! Wooo!

We went on family vacation to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It made my goal a little easier that most of the park doesn’t have cell service. But, I still completely turned off my phone, stowed my laptop and steered away from the TV for at least a day while I was there. It was freeing. Instead of using electronics, I spent time talking with my family, hiking, reading my Bible and having focused prayer. I did things that left me feeling full and accomplished instead of hollow and wanting.

Why don’t you give it a try? I’d love to hear your stories of going technologically dark for a day.

Best things in life…

I saw this bumper sticker and just had to snap a picture. I don’t have a bumper sticker on my car, and probably never will. But if I were forced to get one, I think this would be it.

And here are the two little furries that currently have my heart:

(Yes, Simba is spoiled rotten and under the covers in this picture.)

(Yes, Pongo is a goofball and sleeps like this on a regular basis.)