August 29, 2012

Give-away winners...

Yay! Today is an exciting day, and I am happy to announce that the winners of the graphic design give-away, as chosen by random draw are...

Congratulations to Mrs. Mike and Little House on the Prairie!! I can't wait to get started on your designs! If you lovelies could both could drop an e-mail to takejoy {at} rocketmail {dot} com, we can consult on your style/design preferences (pics, no pics, colours etc) and I can get your brand-new blog headers on their merry way to you.

Thank you all for entering and have a great week! More graphic design news is in the works - stay tuned for details...

*a little update* Little House on the Prairie is already sporting her new look - stop on by and check it out! Be sure to say 'Hi' when you do!

August 27, 2012

Kitten Sittin'

I have been looking forward to this week all month. Not because I'm anxious to get into the swing of back-to-school, nor I am overly excited about the changing season. Nope, I've simply been looking forward to babysitting two fluffy fur-balls as friends of ours steal away for a holiday.

How I love having a cat in the house again, and two is just twice the fun. The little one, Maverick, is still adjusting to our space. He has taken to wandering down hallways and then yowling like he is 'lost'. Bubbles, the older cat, is a dear and patient soul, graciously putting up with all of Mavvy's rambunctious kitten-ness. You can often find her curled up on a windowsill, but if she hears Maverick yowling she'll get up, s-t-r-e-t-c-h, and saunter off with this attitude of 'what's he gotten into now?'. They wrestle, plot sneak attacks, chase string, jingle balls and each other, and go ballistic on their carpet cat-tree. They are hilarious and endlessly entertaining. Especially when you've only had fish to look at...

*melt my heart - Mavvy just curled up in my lap and started his big gravelly purr... feed him once and he's your friend for life...*

Here is a little photo-montage of their cuteness,

"I will get this big string - and chew it - and then - run away with it!!"

Bubbles plots against her mortal enemy (and best friend, hmm... her mortal frenemy?)

and then it's time for a nap...

Both of these beautiful cats came from our local animal rescue. If you are thinking of adding a pet to your household - these shelter pets are a wonderful choice. It is certainly where Neal and I will be looking once we are able to have a cat again.

Oh, and I can't wait to announce two winners for the graphic design give-away. Thanks to all who have entered so far - just two more days to enter if you haven't yet!

See you on Wednesday... I'm off to snuggle the kitties...

August 21, 2012

the promised give-away

In the last few months a good deal of time has been spent learning photoshop tips and tricks and developing an understanding of the wonderful world of graphic design. I am yet very much a dabbler as there is sooo much to know! Yet the more I learn, the more interested I become and I just have to create. It definitely appeals to my artistic and organizational side. 

I have found, in searching for graphics and such for my printables, a wide variety of terms of use. I deeply desire to respect the creativity and work of others. Some sites, like Pixel Scrapper have amazing free resources for personal and commercial use, but most resources out there are fairly restricted. So, out of respect for the creativity of others, and this growing desire to create, I decided to invest in my very own printer/scanner;

Originally coined 'Big Bertha', but Neal thought 'Big Brother' was more appropriate (as she is a Brother printer)... I agree.

Ideas are literally exploding; I can scan fabric, embroidery I have made, and little bits and bobs like kraft paper bags and paper clips. The options are endless! 

As you know, by the sheer number of times my own blog design has changed, I am slightly addicted to designing banners and buttons for blogs. In that vein, I would like to offer a give-away! Leave a comment on this post and you will be entered to win a personalized blog header which I will design for you! 

I know this involves a certain level of trust, but I would love it if you would invest in my little graphic design adventure. You can use it for as little or as long as you like, no obligations. Your header will be delivered as a high-quality JPEG via e-mail and we can consult on your design, colour, and style preferences. Blog headers can be made for either Blogger or Wordpress blogs. If you are a Face-booker and not a blogger I can design a custom cover-picture for you! The only requirement is that you (pretty please) follow my blog either through Google Friend Connect or by e-mail (see links under "Follow" on the right). If you are neither a blogger nor a face-booker, I would be happy to consult on some other design project for you!

This give-away will be open for one week, and two winners will be drawn and announced in a blog post next Wednesday, August 29th.

Best of luck and thanks for indulging this passion of mine! 

August 13, 2012

Yep, I'm at it again. What's a girl to do with so many pretty things at her creative disposal? Well, I think I may have found at least one answer to that perplexing question, and I'll have an exciting announcement for you all within the next couple weeks. Perhaps earlier if I can get my act together!

For now, I hope you enjoy the new view (and if you have any feedback it would be greatly appreciated). We shall spend this week designing a kitchen for our re-build house and tidying up some loose ends there. But when we're back - be on the lookout for a special give-away!

Have a wonderful week!

August 9, 2012

Sweet Summer

After a particularly hot, hazy afternoon, Neal and I decided to hit up number eleven on the date list; find the most tourist-y thing in your town and have an unabashedly good time. We needed a good time after struggling through many frustrating phone calls and e-mail's with our bank regarding our re-build. It seems in the war of re-building, if we are not at odds with our insurance company, we are fighting bank policies (policies no other banks happen to have). Oh, the lessons in patience and when to assert yourself. After watching some Olympic coverage, I thought perhaps taking up javelin would be the perfect catharsis. You get to yell and throw sharp objects and it's okay! We chose to visit our local Farmer's Market instead...

Cheery sunflowers greeted us at the market, as did the smell of kettle corn and a colourful array of fresh garden vegetables. I hadn't seen a purple pepper before - have you?

Now you have... hehe...

Fresh lavender bundles in wooden crates, handmade jewelry and homemade baked goods were a feast for the eyes.

These bundled flowers brought my heart right out of it's former funk as the day melted away in the heat and colour of a summer's eve market.

We are lucky enough to have some of our own garden produce to enjoy this summer, thanks to mom sharing a plot of garden space and some of her own bounty with us! Raspberries in particular are having an amazing year - the freezer bag count is up to seven so far. So although the produce was amazing, we did not walk away with any. 

One thing we did walk away with was a 400g brick of dark chocolate, thanks to a hubby who felt I could use it after the day we had. I love him.

I am ceremoniously breaking off a piece for each of you... 

Ah, sweet summer indeed.

August 5, 2012

On hope...

More than a decade ago I was given a wonderful gift. It was my twentieth birthday and on that day, I opened an envelope containing lovingly made plans for a hope chest crafted by my Grandpa and designed by my dad. My Grandpa enjoys all sorts of woodworking and makes everything from beautiful wooden bowls and vases to large, gorgeous pieces of furniture. My hope chest was one of those gorgeous pieces of furniture; a stately cedar-lined rectangle of oak, with softly curved bottom edges and a flat, heavy lid, locking with an old fashioned golden-toned key. Treasures grew over the years. At first the chest contained bits from my childhood, little journals, handmade lace doilies and tablecloths made by my Oma; all hoping for use in a future married life. Then, it held slippers and outfits knitted by my Grandma and little clothes and books for future little ones. Some treasures changed as my life circumstances changed. The chest followed me through every move and stage of my twenties. I think I've avoided feeling the deeper impact of the loss of this piece of my life, a symbolic loss of hope.

Hope since the fire has been a journey. First, and most basic, I hoped to survive. Then we hoped our home was not lost. Later on we hoped for new things; new jobs, a new home, all the while deeply impacted by Who our hope was in. It began a deep longing to refresh a relationship with God that, though still alive, was dry and parched.

A pastor at our church put an understanding of hope this way; "Hoping is more than just looking forward to something. It is more than just looking forward to a meal because you are hungry, or looking forward to a visit because you are lonely. It is another thing to hope. Hoping seeks to find eternal rest, unending comfort, everlasting unbroken love in relationship with God, and eternal significance" ~ Gord Schultz - Finding God in Dark Times.

It has taken time, yet slowly but sure as His love, I have learned Psalm 39:7, "But now Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you." Not in circumstances, dreams or pleasures, my hope is in You.

Little did I know the way these glimmers of true hope would shine, not just in my heart as I hope in the Lord, but in the real, true way He can love us at times through others.

Last week Neal and I celebrated our third anniversary, with a crazy bike ride adventure in a thunderstorm. Here we are, soaked to the skin and taking refuge from the rumbling downpour, having a blast!

Later that week we headed out to the farm to spend an evening with my grandparents, as we often do, to play Canasta and enjoy a visit. Our conversation usually includes asking grandpa about his recent projects in the shop, as we are eager to see what he continues to create. He talked about a new kitchen shelf being made for an uncle and mentioned he had another big project on the go. We were invited out to the shop to see both projects. Nothing unusual here. Grandpa showed us the shelf, his 'little' project and motioned his hand towards a blue-blanket covered object, his 'big' project. Well weathered hands carefully slid the blanket off his project, revealing what was underneath. I took a sharp breath in, "It's my hope chest!" Not fully realizing what was happening, I then exclaimed, "Who did you make my hope chest for?". Neal and Grandpa exchanged knowing smiles, "For you of course!"
And there it was, as if it had always been. A gift of hope, planned for many months by my loving husband and grandfather, unveiled at just this moment in our journey.

Upon arriving home again, in all bewilderment and happy surprise, I read a letter lovingly written. A letter of love and hope. And with his permission, I just have to share this important little piece in his own words, 

"I think hope is such an interesting word. Hope typically lends itself to the future... 'For i know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future' (God). 'We have within ourselves enough to fill the present day with joy, and overspread the future years with hope' (William Wordsworth). But hope also believes that the past, and past events, all have a greater purpose and meaning than what is apparent in the present. Together you and I hope that God will use the events and traumas of our past to enrich the future and to bless those around us... 'There is no great loss without some small gain' (Laura Ingalls Wilder) 'Nothing is lost to us so long as we remember it' (L.M. Montgomery). Crafted by your grandfather's hands, it is already filled with a rich history of your heritage and I hope we can fill it with a memorable legacy of our own."

I continue to swoon every time I read it...

Some may look at this life; crazy events, heartbreak and loss, and wonder how we could still believe and trust in God. This is why. He loves us, oh, how he loves us. I can not doubt his love, for I see and feel it too clearly. He has loved us through it all, and we trust in his love; knowing he has filtered all that has and could and will happen to us on this earth through his hands. Knowing this time on earth is fleeting, and one day we will live in eternity with him. Knowing him is the greatest aim and greatest gift. 

So I can say, in sincerity and truth;

"the Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him" (Lamentations 3:25).