Monday, December 31, 2012

Just WOW!

So I may have mentioned that I'm painfully and horribly with much frustration enthusiastically teaching myself how to play acoustic guitar.  I can play 6 chords.  No actual songs, yet.  But hey, that's 6 more chords than I knew how to play before, yes?  Yes.  New Year's resolution: practice and learn more!

My mum showed me this on her internet travels the other day.  Holy Smokes.  I want to get this good!  (It'll take six months from Never, but I'll keep working!)
*Insert other exclamations of flabberghastment here!*
It gets into your soul!  Love.  Lovelovelovelovelove!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


After a sleepless night (general insomnia), I heard the children wake up for Christmas morning.
After they had come downstairs and gasped with delight over their presents, there was paper everywhere and smiles and laughter and it was wonderful.
After the presents were all open, there was a breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast.  Simple, but so good.
After spending time playing games and setting up toys, it was time for them to go to their dad's for his visitation time.  They will be back on Jan. 1st.
After they were gone, the house was too quiet.
After I had lunch and cleaned up the downstairs, I decided to go see Les Miserables.
After I sat down in the theater, someone I hadn't seen in a long time found me and invited me to sit with them.
After the opening overture, I didn't stop crying until the credits rolled.
After the movie, we went to get a bite to eat and catch up on each other's lives for a couple of hours.
After I got home the weather turned downright nasty.  Glad to be snug and safe.
After a good night's sleep, I spent the majority of today job searching and submitting online applications.
After some general blogging, I discovered that my ex married his mistress yesterday.  I thought I would feel something one way or another, or have some sort of response since our divorce was only final Nov 28th, but I didn't.  I don't really care.  Huh.
After I helped my Gran with some stuff she needed, I went back to my job search and was interrupted by 3 different instant messages from good friends wanting to chat.  Gal pal Nikki lives in Savannah and is always ready to tell me how the city looks and what's happening there. I felt loved and cared about. :)
After writing this, I'm ready to go to bed and have a busy, productive, and happy day tomorrow, spending time in prayer, getting caught up on housework, sewing work, more job searching, and writing some long overdue letters.

I'm going to leave you with a great song lyric about "after".  It's by Mumford and Sons.  (Here's the full song if you want to hear it.  I'll likely feature it on a MM sometime later.)

And after the storm
I run and run as the rains come
and I look up, I look up
On my knees and out of luck
I look up...

There will come a time, you'll see, with no more tears
when love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears
Get over your hill and see what you find there
with grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve Blessings

It's been a lovely Christmas Eve!  I spent the morning making a special breakfast for the Cute Gremlins.  We'd found this marvelous book at the library:

which, at the end of the story, gives the recipe for the traditional British meal of Toad-In-A-Hole (which I first ever heard of in the movie "Bedknobs and Broomsticks" when I was a little girl, but had never actually tried.)  So we gave it a go and it was quite tasty!

Then we played board games and did some laundry/general hanging around the house stuff.  Friend Christina came by for a few minutes and dropped off some presents around the tree.  (She will come back over tomorrow before the CGs leave for their week at their dad's.)  She's only home 40 more days before a return deployment to Afghanistan.  Please, pleasepleaseplease keep her in your prayers!  She left to run errands before church, and we went into town and grabbed a bite of lunch, CG the Elder got a haircut, and we returned home to play more games and watch Christmas movies.  At 5:30 was the candlelight service at church, which was just lovely and filled my heart with such peace.  I do love my church family so much!  Home once again, we helped Gran fix a nice dinner and just enjoy the evening.

The CGs went to bed, "Santa" finished up by bringing the rest of the presents out of hiding and filling the stockings, and now I'm blogging to you, my wonderful friends- wishing you every wonderful Christmas happiness as I head off to bed.  (But not before, in my notoriously creative and last minute flash of artist personality, I finish making a few gifts for friends!!!)

Happy Christmas to you all!!!

Christmas Eve Music

I know I already featured Christmas music played on piano in last week's MM post, HOWEVER,  this post is dedicated to my top 3 favorite versions of Christmas songs and two of them are performed by The Piano Guys.  Have you seen their brand of awesome???  It is mind-blowing.  (The Piano Guys are actually a Piano Guy and a Cello Guy.  The first one is the cello piece.  Don't get confuzzled!)  Check these out and then follow them on YouTube/Facebook/Social media/whatever.  The third piece is "Christmas Eve in Sarajevo" and has been at the top of my "music to blast whilst I wrap gifts/decorate the house/bake cookies/fight traffic/live the month of December" list since it came out.  Enjoy!  And Happy Christmas Eve!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Best Internet Christmas Present EVER.

I'm still (as always) pining away for SPG and all of their brand of awesome.  I live on the opposite side of the country, so making it to any of their shows between Thanksgiving and next May is not logistically feasible.  A harsh reality, but anyway, there it is.  However, I'm a true blue fan- if a long distance one- and I am always playing their music in a variety of formats whilst going about my daily life.  Their song "Honeybee" on YouTube is about to hit a million views.  (See below). It was put up by David Michael Bennett in February.  I don't know that much about YouTube traffic in general, but it seems to me that a million views in less than a year is pretty amazing!

Anyway, another fan took the song "Honeybee" and flipping turned it into a music box version!  I think my heart just esploded with all the fuzzy, melty, happy feelings.  :)  Happy Christmas to me! (And now you!!!) :) :) :)


(The above-mentioned almost-to-a-million-views-and-they-absolutely-deserve-it-and-more official Honeybee video...)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Dear Santa: I STILL want piano lessons...

I love piano music.  Christmas music that's heavy on the piano is good too.  Here is a hodge podge of some of the stuff rotating through my iTunes/YouTube this month...

I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day

Kyle Landry and Frank Tedesco tickle the ivories

George Winston's arrangement of Carol of the Bells

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Happy Birthday, Jane Austen!

Jane Austen (had she possessed some secret to endless longevity and not died in 1817) would have been 237 years old today!  To celebrate her birthday, I'm having a good cup of tea, a slice of angel food cake, and am cozied up watching the 2005 Kiera Knightly version of Pride and Prejudice.

I'm also posting conversations on the Facebook group I recently created to kick off a project called "A Year With Jane Austen".  A group of friends, who are fellow Janeites, and I are going to season each month of 2013 with reading her works together and discussing them, watching the movie adaptations and discussing/comparing them, sharing recipes and swapping baked goodies like scones and tea recommendations, discussing and sharing stuff on the culture and fashion of the Regency Era, and all sorts of other things related to Jane.  (If you are a fellow Janeite and want to join in the fun, friend request me on Facebook (Jenny Wallace Ray) with a message, and I will add you to the group!  Our "event" for January will be reading "Emma" and discussing it.  I've never facilitated a group or a book club or anything like that before, so I'm sure I won't be perfect, but it's nothing "official".  Just a bunch of Jane Austen fans letting our geek show. :)

I'm going to get back to my movie, but before I do, I thought I would share 10 of my favorite character quotes from film versions of her works with you.  (These are in no particular order, as the movies rotate through my DVD player as though it had a revolving door on it.  I love the books in their entireties far too much to pull any one quote from them.)  Enjoy!

1.  Knightly: "You didn't ask me to contribute a riddle, Emma."
     Emma: "Your entire personality is a riddle, Mr. Knightly; I thought you overqualified."
     (From Emma)

2.  Mrs. Bennett: "He danced the fourth with a Miss King, of little standing, and the fifth again with Jane."
    Mr. Bennett:  "If he'd had any compassion for me, he would have sprained his ankle in the first set."
     (From Pride and Prejudice)

3.  Charlotte Lucas: "Count your blessings, Lizzie!  If he liked you, you'd have to talk to him."
     Elizabeth: "Precisely.  As it is, I would not dance with him for all of Darbyshire, let alone the miserable half."
     (From Pride and Prejudice)

4.  Elinor: "Thank you for your help with Margaret.  She's much changed since you've arrived."
     Edward Ferrars: "Not at all; I enjoy her company.  She's planning an expedition to China shortly, and I'm to go along as her servant.  But only on the understanding that I'm to be very badly treated."
     (Elinor laughs) "And what will your duties be?"
     Edward: "Sword-fighting, obviously; administering rum, and swabbing."
     (From Sense and Sensibility)

5.   Sir Walter Elliot: "I must say, though, the worst of Bath is the number of plain women.  I frequently observe that one pretty face would be followed by five and thirty frights."
     (From Persuasion)

6.  Marianne: "When is a man to be safe from such wit, if age and infirmity do not protect him?"
     Elinor and Mrs. Dashwood together: "Infirmity?!"
     Marianne: "Did you not hear him complain of rheumatism in his shoulder?"
     Elinor: "'A slight ache' I believe was his phrase."
     Mrs. Dashwood: "If Colonel Brandon is infirm, then I am at death's door!"
     Elinor: "It is a miracle your life has extended this far."
     (From Sense and Sensibility)

7.  Fanny Price: "Run mad as often as you choose, but do not faint!"
    (From Mansfield Park)*

8.  Knightly: "I have some news. (slyly) And I know how you like news!"
     Emma (conspiratorially): "Oh, yes, I always like news!"
     (From Emma)

9.   Edmund: "Oh, don't be an imbecile."
      Fanny: "Oh, but imbecility in women is a great enhancement to their personal charms."
      Edmund: "Fanny, you're being irrational!"
      Fanny: "Yet another adornment!  I must be ravishing."
     (From Mansfield Park)

10.  Elizabeth: "Shall I call for some tea?"
       Darcy: "No, thank you."
       (incredibly awkward silence as neither one knows what to say next)
       Darcy (finally rushing out the door): "Good day, Miss Elizabeth.  It's been a pleasure."
       Charlotte (coming in): "What on earth have you done to poor Mr. Darcy?!"
       Elizabeth: "... I have no idea!"
      (From Pride and Prejudice)

*This quote was used in the film version of Mansfield Park, but is actually from a piece of Jane's Juvenilia work called Love and Friendship, written in 1790.

PS- I am (distantly) genealogically related to Jane Austen!  I should find that chart I finally finished that shows the connection and post it soon.... :)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

National Soundcheck Day

This day, 12-12-12, won't come around for another 100 years.  The next repeated date day won't come around for another 89 years, on 01-01-2101.  So unless I live to be 120 years old, I shan't be around to see one.  We will be doing some 12 Days of Christmas themed stuff this afternoon to celebrate the fun of 12-12-12 while it's here. :)  But an added element of fun was shown to me this morning on my Facebook feed- broken down to single digits, this turns into:

Very clever. :)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Breaking the Silence

Hello, my loves.

Many of my regular readers have noticed that I have been "quiet" in the last 6 months, not posting much of anything personal, and mainly only loosely sticking to my blogging schedule by providing stuff I find on the interwebs that I know you'll love.  I stopped doing a daily "Attitude of Gratitude" list back in July, NOT because I wasn't counting my blessings, but because if I posted even a tiny percentage of what I was thankful for each day, in the face of all that's happened here recently, I'd have been a continual, blubbering, emotional wreck.  (That sentence seems to have entirely more commas than it ought, but I can't articulate it any better at the moment.  Bear with me.)

My blog is not a rant.  It is not a public journal where I vent whatever emotion is running high at the moment and then wait til later to think about how it came across.  I have striven to keep it a cheerful, beautiful place where there is always something to make my readers smile.  Some of my posts from last year are of a more serious and personal nature, but the majority since have been reigned in to be of a positive and happy persuasion.  I want to thank you all for the continued love you have shown.  My followers count is growing, which is thrilling!  I will be joining in with a "Grow Your Blog" fest in January (separate post about that, with all kind of links, to follow shortly).  I am humbled to have had nearly 70,000 pageviews on my sidebar counter.  Wow!  Your comments and letters (though I am WAY behind in replies again!) and virtual hugs have encouraged me and kept me pushing through the tough times- and there have been many tough times of late, to be sure.

So by now you are wondering what has kept me so distant.  Well, the biggest thing is that my divorce is now finally final.  He left us ("officially") this summer.  I fought so hard to save the marriage, spending more time than I can even recall literally on my face at the Lord's feet, begging for a miracle.  But both people have to want it, and according to him the entire marriage was a lie on his side.  Yes, there are sordid details.  Yes, he cheated.  There were lies on top of lies, on top of more lies, until things finally caught up with him.  But that's all I'm going to tell you about it.  The details are really no one else's business, and I'd just as soon bury the past as much as I can, as quickly as I can.  The end result and bottom line is that I am now a single mom of 2, starting my life completely over.

Where I had been raising his two children from his first marriage, as well as our two, and had referred to them all in my posts as "Cute Gremlins 1-4", with 1 being the oldest, etc., now he has taken 1 and 2 to Alabama with him (I never had ANY legal rights to them whatsoever.  Motherhood is, in itself, a thankless job.  This has turned out even more so.) and I am the primary physical custodial parent of our two.  Therefore, from here on out, anything related to the children is simply "Cute Gremlin the Elder" and "Cute Gremlin the Younger".  As above, that's the only explanation and insight you're going to get.

I will say this for the Year of Infomercials From Hell that 2012 has been: when stuff like this happens, you find out who your friends are.  And aren't.  When things are stripped down to the bone, you see who is true blue and who only pretended to give a crap about you.  You discover just how fragile and precious every moment of happiness, security (though admittedly, mine was a false sense of), and normality really is.  You either run to God, or from Him.  I am utterly dependent on Him, and though my faith was tested with the hottest fire I have yet encountered in this life, it held and I seek His face moment by moment.
How great is my comfort, to be hidden in the shadow of His wings! (Ps. 17:8 and 57:1)

I have many major choices ahead of me, including finishing school (Where?  What degree major? How to pay for it?  I don't fancy getting into massive debt...), getting a job (have been trying for 8 months- nothing yet.  Having been a SAHM for 8 years, and no degree, I have no marketable skills that will translate to a full time job that will support myself and 2 children.  But I'm trying.), what to do with Lucy Jane... the Etsy shop is growing, and I'm grateful for that.  But how to take it to the next level (so it becomes a viable source of income) and be worth the time investment? A lot of questions.  Some of them that raise more questions instead of answers.  However.  I know Who has ALL the answers, even when I feel like I can't even breathe.

So that's it.  That's the long and the short.  It hasn't been 100% heartache- there are several things that I have found happiness and worth in that I can't wait to share with you!  The personal growth has been a painful process, but it has happened, and continues to happen, and I have discovered more about my identity as a human being in the past 3 years than perhaps in the whole of my life prior to that!  I will share those joyful things with you, very soon!  But for right now, I feel like this post is long enough and complete in itself.

I'm back from hovering on the "edges".  This is my blog, my personal space, and I am ready to live in it fully again.  I will be posting personal triumphs and trials in the future, inviting you to come along for the journey.  I will keep this blog a beautiful and cheerful place and I hope anything it contains blesses someone's heart.  So many of you fellow bloggers have blessed mine.  Thank you so much for that.
Until later, my dears.  Thank you again for sticking with me.  It promises to be an amazing life from this point forward! :)


PS- I will be starting the Gratitudes list on the sidebar again in the New Year!! :)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Seasons Greetings Sung by Sinatra

Time for more of my favorite holiday songs!  You know by now that I love any song that Frank Sinatra sang.  Ever.  So, YAY Sinatra Christmas songs! :)

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

The Christmas Waltz

I'll Be Home For Christmas

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

We Like To Hike!

I used to watch this movie with my Grandmother when I was around 10 or 12.  The whole thing is funny, but this (starting at 3:40 on the YouTube video below) was my absolute favorite scene! I'm both grateful and disappointed that I never had a choir conductor quite like him.  :)  Enjoy!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Christmas music!!!

All of this month's Music Mondays will be my favorite Christmas songs! :D :D :D

First up, who doesn't love the Muppets?  Muppets at Christmas is just the glaze on the figgy pudding (so to speak)! 

And if that version of The 12 Days of Christmas isn't your style, try this one from the a capella group Straight No Chaser.  (I like the Oberlin Obertones version better, but couldn't find any sharable audio.  Drat it.)