Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Bear, A Boy and A Possum?

It's hard to believe our week of vacation is almost over. We've been thoroughly enjoying an immense amount of rest which we have sooooooooo needed, but because today was such a beautiful day we decided to go for a road trip. We generally don't plan them...we just hop in the car and drive wherever the mood takes us.
Our recipe for a good time out on the road?

One cute bear acting like a goofball

One vente cup of  Starbucks each
and one cute fuzzboy laughing at our antics from the backseat.

We revisited some places we haven't been to since we were dating and some other places we have visited over the years, many I had taken pictures of before so I didn't duplicate them today. It was really sweet and romantic to just share memories of things we've done together and places we've gone. I love seeing things and remembering what we were doing when we were there last, or how things have changed since our last visit.  We saw some new things though, like this train at a machinery museum we passed. I love trains so I had to stop and take some pics.

And meanwhile as I took pics the fuzzboy was back at the car with Ben, hanging out of the back seat window, whining and crying because I had the audacity to get out of the car and not take him with me.
How DARE I ?!?!? LOL

Not that he has separation anxiety issues or
Once I was back in the car he was fine, but heaven forbid mommy leave to go somewhere without him. He was also a bit out of sorts because when we go for a ride in my car he has to ride in the backseat, unlike when we ride in Ben's car and he can ride in my lap in the front seat. So he was already feeling a bit rejected...oy vey. He got over
So anyway, the prize photo of the day...the piece de resistance...was this tasty tidbit we saw at dusk on the way one of the richest towns in the state......and uhhhhhhhh...yes we are still in New England....

That's case you are having trouble reading that it says, Possum Queen Contest and Auction... LOL....okie dokie then........I have to say, I never saw anything like that when I lived down south.
So it was a fun and interesting day. We finished it off with another stop at Starbucks and some Chinese soup and an eggroll for me.......definitely a good day.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Dreaded C word!

So it's that time again...the time when we go through the past year and assess all the things that we need to work on improving in the year to come.  Commonly called, making new year resolutions.  A few years ago I decided to stop calling them resolutions, instead I commit to making better choices and I don't announce to anyone what those choices were unless I manage to accomplish it by the end of the year.  Why do I do it that way? EASY 
Have you ever noticed that when you publicly air a goal or resolution a long series of events begin to present themselves that are aimed solely at tanking said goal or resolution? If that weren't the case why do people EVERY single year re-resolve to lose weight and eat healthy, stop smoking, meet their soulmate, do less work and more traveling and on and on. It's as if all the disgruntled resolutions and their resolution makers have a vendetta against the NEW resolutions and their makers and so they go on a mission to find them out and devise ways to cause them to fail. I'm tired of making resolutions that I don't's not as if it bolsters me towards success in the year to come, instead it's like taking a dive into a swimming pool with a lead weight attached to your ankle. Some of you can relate, I'm sure. Doesn't exactly inspire victory or success does it? Not even close.

Sooooooooo.......this past year I made a choice to start getting more organized and de-cluttering. One I have made in years past and never seemed to be able to completely accomplish. Now for all of you neat-nicks out there this is a goal that comes as easy as breathing, for those of us who are, shall we say, organizationally challenged however, it's a depressing death sentance. Now, the complete irony in this for myself is that I am actually pretty OCD about certain things. I love oranization and I love to have a place for everything and everything in it's place. My achiles heal however is that while I'm great at tactical organization projects and LOVE a challenge....the art of maintaining that organization has always elluded me....until this year however.
The year started out pretty much the same regarding my oh so familiar goal, but somewhere around July I had an epiphany. 
At that point I had already been working at sprout central for several months where every Friday we have to do a major cleaning of the entire facility. When I first started working there even the thought of having to do a deep cleaning in ONE DAY of an entire building that had been attacked by drooling, puking, pooping, dirt wallowing, snot wielding children all week was impossible to comprehend. However with teamwork we were all able to take on certain duties and even amidst caring for the children, by the end of the day the work was done. Pretty soon I had been able to get into the routine with the rest of the girls and some days we were even done by the end of naptime. The reason it worked however wasn't just people randomly doing things, it was because we had a plan, a list. So finally I got the idea to bring that list home and try implementing it. Well, it took alittle tweaking since we don't have kids..just a dog. Also I had to give myself some room and instead of expecting it to be done in a day I gave myself a week. With our crazy schedule that would be the only way I could be successful at it and not lose heart. The result? It worked!! an effort to reach out to all those others who are struggling to scratch this goal off their resolution list, here is the basic checklist I used. As you complete a task, check it off and remember in most cases each thing only needs to be done once a week. You may have to tweak it to suit the rooms of your own house, but the basics of each room are the same. Also, for clarity sake, the term "de-clutter" simply means those shoes thrown all over the living room floor should be put away and the purse and stack of bills tossed on the kitchen table should also be put away where they belong. If they don't have a place don't get distracted by trying to do it now. Make a list of things you need to create a home for or throw away and come back to them later. are the basic items that every room will require. Make a list of every room in your home and put these items in the section for each room.
  • sweep/mop/vacuum
  • wipe down windowsills
  • de-clutter
  • empty trash bins
  • wipe down tabletops and surfaces*
  • dust
Specialized items, these are the things that are only in certain rooms....add those that apply to every room where they are needed.
  • wash throw rugs
  • change bed linens
  • change hand towels
  • clean pet feeding areas
  • water plants
Now....if you notice I put an asterisk next to the line that said "wipe down tabletops and surfaces". That's because there are a lot of things that fall under that catergory. You may only need that general item or if you're like me you may need a more detailed breakdown of the term "surfaces" to ensure you don't forget something. So for those of you, here you go.
  • mirrors
  • counters
  • toilet bowls and tanks
  • sink
  • tub
  • refrigerator (inside and out)
  • microwave (inside and out)
  • stovetop and oven door
  • photos and picture frames
  • televisions
  • computers
  • stereo systems
  • large and small appliances
  • wall clocks and wall hangings
So that's it, pretty basic really. By breaking down the rooms in this manner it's amazing how much easier it is to accomplish the seemingly impossible. Kind of like that old adage about how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Now, the REALLY good news? The more weeks you go through your list the faster it will go each week and the easier it will get. So don't get disheartened the first few weeks. Give it about 6 weeks to really hit yor groove and see how long it will take you to complete each item on your list in a week.
Hope it works for you as well as it did for me and hope you can forever check off this item from your resolution list!
Happy Cleaning! :)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Frannie's Consumer Reports

Ok, so today I decided to do something a  little different.
I used to be friends with a woman that saw fit to not only share with me about any great shopping deals she found, but also about any new products she thought were worth my trying. Now on the surface that is a very nice gesture and I do actually like word of mouth recommendations and share them with my friends when I feel something is worth mentioning. HOWEVER, this chick became soooooooo over-zealous about her advice that it very quickly became horrifically overbearing, controlling and just downright obnoxious. She demanded that I not only adhere to her opinions, but any thoughts of my own on the items were quickly renounced as ignorant, therefore irrelevant and I was then hounded DAILY until I gave in and purchased whatever item it was. If I relented and didn't...she then took it upon herself to purchase it for me and present it to me at our next meeting as a "gift".  Now that just screams the term "true friend" doesn't it? NOT!!! Is it ay wonder that relationship was doomed?  ( Proverbs 21:9 It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop [on the flat oriental roof, exposed to all kinds of weather] than in a house shared with a nagging, quarrelsome, and faultfinding woman.) Thank God I DIDN'T live with her.....I WOULD have moved to the roof to live! LOL

To that end I was so turned off by that horrific experience with her that for a very long time I withdrew from recommending ANYTHING I thought was worthy of sharing out of fear I would somehow be percieved as even remotely obnoxious as she had been.
TODAY however I am finally going to break free of those old bonds and share my reviews on a few favorite items or product lines that I think are well worth passing on for others to try. WOO-HOO!!! Drumroll PLEASE!!! Oh and, won't bother me in the least if you disagree or have no interest in trying any of these things...I just thought the info was worth sharing. :)

1) Steinway Furniture polish. So I just recently went to Ocean State Job Lot and discovered some of this in the cleaning aisle. I needed some furniture polish anyway and for a little over a dollar a can I thought it was well worth trying. Not to mention I am familiar with the Steinway family name so I thought it might really be a good product. WOW was I pleasantly surprised!!! It is literally the best wood cleaner and polisher I have EVER used!!! I used it on my antiques and what a gloss it left!!! No extra work needed, just applied and wiped like I would normally do with Pledge which was my default product for years. However the differance was incredible! I was so impressed with the result on my good furniture that I immediately went to try it on our well loved and beaten up kitchen table. Immediately the wood grain that had been barely visible and hidden under layers of years worth of use suddenly popped out as if it was a brand new piece of furniture. GORGEOUS!! Definitely 4 stars!!

2) Downy Simple Pleasures. I've gotta say, Ben and I have really fallen in love with this product line. For the small amount required to fragrance and soften an entire load, even an extra large load, it is well worth paying a little more for these products in my opinion. The fragrances are subtle, organic and long lasting. Not to mention so pleasing to the senses that it takes fabric softener to a whole new level. Our personal favorite is Spice Blossom Dare and our second fave is Orchid Allure.


1) Garnier. It took me a while to get around to trying these products. I was a faithful Olay user and several other personal care products so I just saw no need to deviate from what I was happy with. Then someone gave me an exfoliant face wash from Garnier and I fell in love with it. Little by little I've been switching to all of the Garnier products and have been very happy with the results. From the hair care line to the skin care line...all of them have been excellent. I highly recommend them.

2) Burt's Bees Lip Care. Now I actually like all of the products I have tried from this company, but my faves that I always keep in my purse are the lip care products. They are all natural, smell nice and the results are easy to notice. The pomegranite lip balm is excellent and unlike standard chapstick it really heals and deeply moisturizes my lips. The colored glosses are very nice too, especially the shimmer ones. I have almost every color they make and use those instead of lipstick most of the time. The lip pots are nice too, but I don't use them as often only because with long fingernails I find it hard to get to the bottom of them without getting the balm under my nail. ICK. Other than that though, I highly recommend the products.

Well, I think 4 recommendations is plenty for one blog post so I'll save others for another day. Hope you enjoy the reviews and let me know if you try something here and like it too.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Reason My Heart Sings

Isn't it funny the things that bring us comfort in life? I was sitting here thinking of what I would write about today and as I mulled over the days events I decided to turn on the tv and see what was on. To my pleasant surprise one of the things on tv was the movie The Sound of Music. It's been a favorite of mine ever since I can remember....some of my earliest memories in fact, include sitting with my parents on their bed, eating dinner and watching The Sound of Music together. Back then it was normal for certain movies to be on tv every single year, and without fail this one always aired around Easter. I remember that little detail vividly because the windows in our home were usually open and the fresh smell of new Spring growth filled the air of our rooms and I always imagined it was how the air smelled in the mountains. I remember when I would see the scenes of Maria singing and dancing in the mountaintop fields a feeling of total peace and happiness would overtake me. For weeks I would spin around my grandmother's backyard or my bedroom singing the title song over and over and over again.....probably until my parents wanted to strangle Rodgers and Hammerstein.

The lyrics that made my heart sing as a child were you read them, you may understand why I couldn't help but sing everytime I heard them. Even now I can't help but sing along in my head as I read them.

The hills are alive with the sound of music

With songs they have sung for a thousand years
The hills fill my heart with the sound of music
My heart wants to sing every song it hears
My heart wants to beat like the wings of the birds
that rise from the lake to the trees
My heart wants to sigh like a chime that flies
from a church on a breeze
To laugh like a brook when it trips and falls over
stones on its way
To sing through the night like a lark who is learning to pray
I go to the hills when my heart is lonely
I know I will hear what I've heard before
My heart will be blessed with the sound of music
And I'll sing once more

Years later as I was going through a particularly difficult time those lyrics resonated on a deeper level to me. I remember lying across the bed, brokenheated and down and yet again on the television was The Sound of Music. I remember watching it and listening to the all familiar words and suddenly the last four lines grabbed me like they had never grabbed me before.

I go to the hills when my heart is lonely
I know I will hear what I've heard before
My heart will be blessed with the sound of music
And I'll sing once more

I remember when I heard Psalm 121 read for the first time I envisioned those majestic Swiss Alps from the Sound of Music. For years it was just a mental picture of what the hills would look like....but that day when I needed to hear God speak to me.....He used the lyrics of a song to remind me of His word.

Psalm 121 (New King James Version)
1 I will lift up my eyes to the hills—from whence comes my help?
2 My help comes from the LORD,who made heaven and earth.
3 He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber.
4 Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade at your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.
7 The LORD shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul.
8 The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore.

That day I realized that there IS music in my heart...there IS music in my soul....but it's not the lyrics to a's the written word of my God and the gentle pull of His spirit in mine....He is the music my heart hears, and He is the reason my heart sings. Now what used to just be a song has become a reminder of the real sound of music that I hear when I go to the hills for His help.

Sunday, December 27, 2009


     So it's a quarter to eleven on Saturday night and I'm listening to the sounds of icy winter rain pelting the bedroom window above my head. Ben is snuggled up next to me, deep in sleep and the fuzzboy is sprawled out across the foot of the bed with his head resting near my feet. The pillows are soft and the blankets all accounts it's a peaceful Winter night. I should be sleeping, afterall I am tired and I have to get up early in the morning....but for weeks I just haven't been able to shake the desire to get back to this partcular niche of the web. So tonight is the night....time to get back to the Anthem of My Heart.
    It's been almost a year since my last post, it seems almost impossible that time has passed that quickly. I've missed it, there have been so many days that I have wanted to post an entry, but for varying reasons just never got around to it. Sooooo.....I planned on taking back my blog life in January 2010, but as I sat here tonight listening to the sounds of the night, I just couldn't wait any longer.
    2009 was a pretty good year. It had it's highs and lows of course, like all other years, but overall, it was a really good year. So many changes......some horribly sad, some hard....but so many more were wonderful, not just for me and the bear, but for those around us too. We lost some very dear friends to unexpected deaths, we lost several others (in a sense) as they moved out of state, and then there were new friends brought into our lives. There were marriages, pregnancies and births. We saw God do amazing things in the lives of those around us as well as in our own lives. Answers to prayer were in abundance and more often than not, they abundantly exceeded what was expected.
   In essence, it wasn't just a good year, it was a GOD year. His fingerprints were on everything, every event left a thread that led directly back to Him and His marvelous grace. Proof that good comes out of EVERYTHING, no matter what. So, here's looking forward to sharing a year of God with you as we prepare to usher in 2010.

 “Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns. I am thankful that thorns have roses.”

- Alphonse Karr