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Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Place to Gather goes to Alabama- The Prelude

Hey ya'll!!  I can't help but say that after being in the south for almost a week! I really thought that I would post daily about our time here in Montgomery, but our days have been fuller than I expected and  we've been exhausted by the end of the day.  Sunday night we were in bed at six o'clock!   Bill was fast asleep and I was not too far behind him!

There are some pars of this trip that I'm not quite ready to share yet, like what God has been impressing on our hearts, but that day will come sooner than later I believe.  In the mean time, I'm going to need a bit of time to process all that this week has been for us.  In short, it's been fabulous! We've gotten to meet online friends  who are now face to face friends and have seen some of the beauty of the south, in its nature and it's people.

Here are just a few shots that I can share with ya'll.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Happy Birthday!!!!

Today happens to be Maggie's birthday!!  If you follow me on Instagram, you'll know that Maggie is a little girl that my daughter, Jessica, babysits three days a week at our home.  #maggiedays are our #favoritedays for sure!  This little girl is as sweet as sweet can be and today she's turning 2!!



HAPPY BIRTHDAY MAGGIE!!!!!

Speaking of birthdays, I had the cutest set this week for a little girl turning ONE!!  Her name is Sloan Piper -how cute is that name??  Her momma sent me an invite and that was the inspiration for the cookie set.  







I'm finishing up some last minute details on a set for the governors' holiday tour in Alabama and then I'm on to finishing up some personal baking and decorating.  I can't believe that we leave tomorrow for Alabama.  This is such a needed and anticipated trip for a number of reasons.

My hubby, Bill, is on his last day of a crazy work hours, six 12-13 hour days for the past 4 weeks.  He is beyond is exhausted and ready for a break.  I've been shipping cookies to the sweet people of Alabama for quite a few months now and I'm looking forward to meeting some of them, not to mention finally meeting Evan.  We've never been to Alabama and are ready to do some exploring while we are there and are in need of some serious time together.  Life is crazy busy and we don't take the time to slow down and enjoy ourselves enough at all.

Although we'll be gone for Thanksgiving and away from our children and family, there will be much that we are giving thanks for! This creative outlet being one of them and all of the great people who continue to ask for cookies from me!  Some days I can't even believe that any of this is real!

God is good and I can't wait to soak in His goodness on the streets and in the towns of Alabama!!  Tomorrow we have soccer and then have to get to packing.  Should be fun -I hope that I don't over pack -I have a feeling that's inevitable!!

I'll keep you posted!!  

God bless,

Lorraine


Monday, November 17, 2014

Let's talk turkey, shall we?

So Thanksgiving is just a little over a week away and we are typically in a last minute frenzy over here prepping to host our family Thanksgiving dinner - but not this year!! 



 This was from a few years ago, before we knocked that wall down behind Bill and removed that tacky plastic, printed paneling!

While the battle blazes on for the case of Christmas prep before Thanksgiving, we have our own battle here on the home front.  It's not a deadly battle, thank God, or even one to merit a meme, but it is a battle none-the-less.

Here are some whimsical and fun little turkeys that are heading south for the holiday!

You see for years and years, my husband, children and I have hosted our Family Thanksgiving dinner.  We've enjoyed preparing all of the food, a large turkey, sometimes two, cutting, boiling and mashing the potatoes, providing veggies from our garden, warm rolls and cornbread, homemade pie crusts and pies, and of course plenty of cookies.  While Bill would man the kitchen and handle all food planning and prep (with the help of little hands), I was in charge of cookies and table setting!.  On the day of, my job was to keep everyone out of the kitchen and make the place look pretty. Check!!  I've got this!! In fact, I would look for new ways to set the table each year.  We didn't have tons of room on the table for centerpieces and whatnot, but I did what I could to provide a different atmosphere year after year.

 our "kids" table one year

This year will look a little different for us and the rest of the family.  While we have experienced some change in the past few years, with families growing and doing their own thing and watching loved ones pass into eternity, we are familiar with change and the fact that nothing stays the same.  But sometimes, whether you choose the change or not, it's hard to let go of what once used to be.

If you don't already know this about me, I change around rooms like it's going out of style!!  This room is now our office but then was our dining room.

God has been teaching me how to be brave over the past five years or so.  Especially so over the last three years, I have heard His nudging and calling to let go and let Him navigate and orchestrate.  So with anticipation we've decided to take a break from what used to be, and my hubby and I are embracing change and taking a trip to Alabama!!  The kids are not happy at all about us leaving them on Thanksgiving and I'll admit, it feels a wee bit selfish.  But we feel that it's something that we have to do and that week just made sense for a number of reasons.

We always filled up on appetizers right before the meal was served.  What were we thinking?

So I guess the point of my post really is this......This is our first Thanksgiving without our children, our parents, aunts, uncles and cousins.  We'll be in a different state, where we have some contacts but no one that we "know" or "knows" us.  What do we do?  Turkey sandwiches from WaWa?  Wait, they don't have WaWa there.  Could we find a restaurant that isn't already booked up?  Should we make a mini Thanksgiving meal in our hotel suite?  I don't know.

 Bill makes a mean Pumpkin Pie!! 

We would love to experience a true Southern Thanksgiving.....but where do we start?  Alabama friends, what are your typical Thanksgiving dishes??  What should we know about Thanksgiving in the South?  What are your traditions?  We'd love to know!!


Can't wait to see Alabama and the sweet people there!!!  God bless, Lorraine

Monday, November 10, 2014

Who doesn't love a good tea party??

I LOVE tea parties!!  One of my best friends, Kathleen used to host a group of us at Christmas for a tea.  It was such a special time of fun and fellowship, especially when you're used to running around rushed and crazy, it's nice to slow down, breathe deeply and act "like a lady". There's just something about holding a dainty tea cup, sipping sweet, savory tea and nibbling on pretty little pastries and tea sandwiches......aaaaahhhhhhh! 


Oh sorry, I'm back with ya now.  A few weeks ago I was asked to create custom decorated sugar cookies for a special little girl turning 8!!!  Her party theme has to be one of the most popular tea parties ever. Are you a fan of "Alice in Wonderland"?  I am!!  I loved the original when I was little and I love the new version with Johnny Depp even more.  He is such a fabulous actor and does an incredible "Mad Hatter".  Anyway, the tea party scene is a classic and I couldn't wait to jump in and start designing and creating.


Thanks to Kara Anne from Kara Anne Custom Paper & Lettering, I knew exactly where to start.  She created an amazing custom invite and it provided me with so much inspiration I couldn't wait to have these cookies come to life.
 
 
I decided half way in that I was going to try my hand at hand painting some of the details, especially the ones that I took directly from the invitation.  I know, not the best time to try something new, but if not now, then when?  This cookie adventure has pushed me beyond my cramped little comfort zone and I couldn't be happier! 
 
 
I decided to try it out first on some of the smaller cookies, like Rabbit's stopwatch.
We're late! We're late! For a very important date!!!!! 

 I also painted the lettering on the potion bottle.  I liked how they turned out and felt confident that I could move on to the bigger cookie design!  No problem!!

You have a beautiful smile Chesh!!  Ever notice how contagious a smile is?  Especially a great, big genuine smile?  If not, try it out! Notice who's smiling and smile back!!
 

 
I don't know that I did the invitation any justice but I sure tried!!  Hand painting on a cookie is time and labor intensive, but soothing and rewarding at the same time!!  I hope that the birthday girl loves these cookies as much as I loved creating them for her!!  Happy Birthday Nikki!!!  Hope you have a magical celebration!!  8 is a pretty big deal!!!  You're just two years away from double digits!!!!!  But remember, just because you're getting older, don't ever lose the child inside!! Slow down, have tea parties, play with dolls, laugh - a lot!!!!!!  Birthdays are great but it's the inbetween moments that make up a magical life!!
 
God Bless
Lorraine

 




Friday, November 7, 2014

Why I love Fall!! {warning: lots of fall photos}


Let's be clear, I love every season for different reasons, but it happens to be fall, so fall is what I'm focused on.  Plus, it seems that it could very well be gone tomorrow, no matter what the calendar says!  The weather has been unpredictable to say the least, so I'm learning to look for the gifts and capture them when I can! 

Today, Jessica, my daughter, asked me if I could take some pictures for her blog. She really isn't very fond of taking pictures and says that she's just not able to think of creative settings for the things that she wants photographed.  I literally jumped at the offer!!!!!  As soon as I asked her what the content of her post was going to be, the ideas just started coming to mind!  I couldn't wait!



I have these great adirondack chairs that I literally just look at through the window (how sad) and I knew that this was where I needed to start!!  The yard already provided a perfect backdrop, I just had to gather some of it together and get to work!  As I was on my way out the door I thought about a basket or some sort container, so I diverted and went to my garage!!  Old metal picnic basket, check!!  Back to the yard, I took three steps outside and thought "plaid blanket, burlap pillow"!!  Got it!!  I passed by the stump sitting on my patio although I was pretty sure that I'd be back for him!

 
I moved the chair over to the birch trees and started setting up!  Jessica came out and I mentioned that I should have grabbed a coffee mug -so she brought me one!  :) For me, this is such a great picture of a perfect fall moment.  It's chilly but not too chilly, the leaves are leisurely falling from their high perches, big cup of coffee or hot cocoa, warm blanket and a good book!!
 
 
I don't have any pictures of the books with chair and the birch tree, you're gonna have to go check out her blog to see them!!  But after staging under the tree I moved over to the picnic table, that happens to be under our other birch tree.  These are her recent book finds.  I just found a really neat editing app on my phone so I had even more fun changing the pics up a bit!
 

 
I spotted this little nook at the base of the birch tree that was covered with moss and surrounded by leaves, I grabbed my picnic basket and headed there next!



 
We are still getting roses from our rose bushes and even though the hydrangeas are dying out, they are still incredibly beautiful with their ombre color.  I love flowers and this home came with over 50 rose bushes and we promptly added plenty of other flowering bushes to the mix!  It's so nice to be able to step outside and have a fresh bouquet of flowers in your hand in a matter of minutes!  Such a gift!
 
 
Later in the day Jessica had commented that she felt that this had been the perfect fall week.  The weather has been a mix of chilly and warmish, the leaves continue to fall and we've seen our fair share of clouds, rain and sunshine.  Then in a matter of moments it started pouring and the wind wipped up out of nowhere!  It had been raining off and on throughout the morning but we had hit a dry spot.  In the next few minutes the sun was shining brightly and the sky was blue!  So crazy!! 

 
Our back yard is one of my favorite places to be.  I don't get to spend the kind of time that I'd like to out there, but I sure do spend my fair amount of time gazing out the windows and just taking it all in.  In every season this home and yard has been a gift, save for a few weeks in the spring/summer when the horse flies are as big as a hummingbird!!  {yes, we were warned!}  This last shot is my absolute favorite spot in the yard.  As the sun sets it falls perfectly into frame inside a cut out area between our evergreen trees!  I love to run out and capture that shot all of the time.  I don't think I can have to many copies of it!!
 
 
In two short weeks, the hubs and I will be heading south for a little vacation in Sweet Home Alabama!!  I've already started to think about what to pack!!  Do they have a fall?  Is it anything like ours? (I'm thinking not) What's the weather like?  Should I bring my boots and cardi's?  I really don't know what to expect but I can't wait to find out!!  I may have to ask my friend, Evan what he thinks I should pack!!
 
Have a blessed weekend friends!!  Go out and enjoy all of the gifts that Fall has to offer!!
 
God bless,
Lorraine

 
 
 


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Road Trip Time!!!!!

Okay, so here's the deal!!  We're headed to Alabama!!!!!!!!!



WHEN:  Saturday, November 22nd - Friday, November 29th
(I know, Thanksgiving??  We picked this week because it was less vacation days for my hubs to take!)

WHERE:  Montgomery, AL

WHY:  We've been dreaming BIG and praying HARD for a while now, dream chasing if you will and we feel that Alabama may be a part of that dream!!!  This is a great time for us to come down, explore the area(s), meet some of you and have some fun!!!!!

We'll be having a fun give away or two, so stay tuned for details on that!  If you've ordered from me in the past, I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to meet ya!!!!!  Also looking for the best places to visit, things to do, places to see, etc.  So any favorites you have, I'd love for you to share them with me!!!

On another note, we are looking to make things a bit easier for you to find us, figure things out and so on, so Sweets for your Sweet will be merging with my blog and IG, A Place to Gather!!  Facebook, IG and my blog will be one cohesive place.......to gather!!!!  We'll talk life, family, God, Cookies (of course) and plenty of other things!!!!

Would you keep this dream of ours in your prayers?  I don't know how or when it will all play out, but God has been orchestrating this for quite some time now and I'm super excited about this next phase and the opportunity to meet some of you!!!! 

Please feel free to message me here, on facebook or IG to let me know if you'll be around that week and when and if we can meet up!!!!  I'll be bringing some sweets with me and plus don't forget about the give away!!  More details on that to come in the next few days!!!!

God bless,
Lorraine

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

What's Love got to do with it?

I've been thinking a lot about love lately.  Not the mushy romantic kind though.  I've been thinking about the selfless, sacrificial kind.  The kind that Jesus gives and asks us to give to others. Agape Love.  Sure it sounds easy enough until you come across someone who seems unworthy of such love.  Suddenly we're very willing to walk away and forget love altogether.  I've recently been watching my children interact with one another and I've come to notice how little of that kind of love is present in my home.  Don't get me wrong, there's a lot of love here, just not the selfless, sacrificial love that Jesus demonstrates.  I find that to be a real problem.  Not only because we are a family who carries the name Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, but also because God Himself has asked us (you too) to show that kind of love to the world.  If it's not in our homes, how is it going to be in our world?  Turn on any news channel and you'll see that the exact opposite is happening today, all around our world and our country.  We are all so consumed with our rights and with "justice", with someone "getting what's coming to them".  All of that is the exact opposite of how God asks us to live.



Let's bring it in a little closer shall we, let's get back into our homes and our families, because that is where it has to begin.  We all know families who are hurting and broken. (maybe that's you) Parents and children who are holding onto past wrongs with both hands proclaiming that they get their way or else.  Families who want one thing but do the very thing that drives loved ones away.  Days, months even years of separation and no contact.  You see, if we keep holding on to the worlds ideas on love we will end up empty and alone.  BUT, if we ever could be so bold and so brave to throw that false love out the window and grab on to God's love with both hands, I believe that a radical change would take place inside of our homes, our churches, our communities and even the world!!!



I've had the chance to practice this kind of love with one of my own (note that I said practice - it's hard and I don't always get it right, but I'm trying) and I truly believe that when the time is right and the field has been properly tended to, a new crop will burst forth!  God promises it and I'm holding onto it with both hands.  I can't continue to hold every wrong thing done against me out in front of me like a banner or like its some right I have so that others know I've been wronged.  I don't want to hold things over someone elses head!  There's no reward in that, anywhere!  I have tasted God's grace and forgiveness and I want to give it to others!!  It is way more satisfying.....even when it isn't given in return.

This kind of love requires a complete trust and faith in Jesus.  Without that, this kind of love cannot be attained.  So, you may need to start there! How?  Well, first you admit that you are a sinner, that you need a Savior!  You acknowledge that Jesus Christ came to earth, died a gruesome death for you and for I.  He rose from the grave three days later and now sits at the right hand of His Father; God. His death on the cross represents the payment for our sins, payment that we could never pay!  Now because of the cross we have a chance at eternal life with Jesus Christ!!! At that point, search out other Christians, a church that teaches the TRUTH!  Dive in and get to know Him.  He's worth it!!



 If you've got that or are working toward that - great!  Let's continue!  I want to look at two verses that come to mind when thinking about Jesus' love.  The first is:

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

I've grown up hearing that verse.  I don't know that I knew it was scripture for a long time but it still made sense to me.  I always thought of it in that mushy, romantic love that I mentioned earlier.  But now that I'm older I realize that that's not the kind of love that it's referring to at all!!  The love that I am capable of clearly demonstrates it's lack of sin covering all of the time!  I'm prone to hold accounts of wrongs, to stand my ground and demand my rights, remain unmovable until I get my way.  But this love, this Agape love, Jesus' love.....is an entirely different story!  Let's look at another verse that breaks it down a bit more!


1 Corinthians 13 * Otherwise known as the Love Chapter starting at verse number four:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (bold added)

I think that about covers it!  Patient......willing to wait.  No room for pride.  No dishonoring others, no self-seeking, not easily angered (yikes), it keeps no records of wrongs!  None?  How about a few, the most recent ones?  No?  Okay.  I think we have some work to do friends.



If we want to see a revolution here on earth, in our hearts and in our homes, we must be sooooooo crazy that we are willing to lay everything that we think we know aside and jump on board with this kind of Love!

I want to leave you with a portion of my devotional this morning.  It comes from the book My Utmost for His Highest from Oswald Chambers.  September 2 the last paragraph says this, "He who believes in Me....out of his heart will flow rivers of living water" -and hundreds of other lives will be continually refreshed.  Now is the time for us to break "the flask" of our lives, to stop seeking our own satisfaction, and to pour out our lives before Him.  Our Lord is asking who of us will do it for Him?"

Another book that highly recommend on the subject of crazy love is by Francis Chan and its called "Crazy Love".




Who will be so bold, so brave and so crazy with me?  Who is willing to lay themselves down and pour all that God has given them out to those around them?  I do hope and pray that you will join me!  I promise the journey, the struggle, and even the pain will be worth it!!

God bless!  Lorraine


Saturday, March 22, 2014

goats and a movie by Julia

We got goats!!
this is tank!
this is blue!
this is my favorite bitsy!
they LOVE to be with people and LOVE to be pet!
They are so nice and I can speak to them. Of course I
don't know what I'm saying to them but they
respond so......yeah.
 
Well tonight we are going to see the movie "Gods Not Dead"!! I'm super excited!
Here is the link to watch the trailer:
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bMjo5f9eiX8

I hope you can see it
soon :):):):):):):)<3

Friday, March 21, 2014

Spring Fling

Happy Spring Friends!!  I don't know about you, but I am so ready for spring to begin!  Although there is more snow in our forecast, I'm looking forward to warmer temps, new life sprouting all around, the promise and hope of new beginnings and so much more!  

Since I can't depend on the seasonal change to take place and stay put, I've decided to have a Spring Fling inside my home!  The heavy, darker elements of winter have been packed away and the bright, refreshing colors of spring are making their appearance!

Being a part of the Ladies Tea Ministry at my church has helped with this endeavor.  We celebrated the first day of Spring yesterday and I wanted to make sure that Spring was felt in that room!  In my mind, I ran through the props that I have from previous tea's and decided that I wanted a clean, fresh look this time around.  Fresh flowers was the way to go and I knew that I wanted to use my blue Ball Mason jars to hold them.  .


After that, I decided to bring in my white pitcher collection and some of my antique glass cake plates.
I saw a theme developing before my eyes and I knew that blue and white was the base color palate with pinks and yellows coming in from the flowers.  I immediately began to gather items from around my home to see how they all worked together. It was so much fun!!!  I seriously could create and decorate every day of my life!! 


 The nest print came from whatever, the candle is Spring from Bath & Body Works
 





The tea came together beautifully and it's always a treat for me to spend the morning with my church staff , the girls who help put this together, and these wonderful ladies.  The women always have such wonderful stories to share from their childhood and I love how it keeps me connected to the past.

The next time I'm bringing something to create a backdrop.  The dry erase board and tv hanging aren't very pretty! lol


Blackberry, Strawberry and Apricot Thumbprints





As I was setting up for the tea I realized that I could use these elements on my mantle at home.  I always struggle to find something fresh for the mantle and now that our television is up there, it seems to be more of a struggle!  Obviously I couldn't set my mantle the exact same way as the tea, but I could use some of the same pieces to create the same overall feel!  I figured I had to unpack when I got home anyway, so I might as well change up the mantle.....it was about time!

I like to create interest by grouping similar things and using various heights.  Also by making sure that both ends of the mantle tie into one another, not that it has to be exact, but there has to be a common thread. 

I'm not sure about the hoop that is hanging.  There is only one screw in the brick so I can't hang more easily.  But when I take it down, it seems like something is missing.  I don't know, still need to tweak things a bit!  It's always a work in progress!!


The "Choose Happy" print is from Pinterest


I'm not a professional by any means nor do I claim to know all of the "rules" but I know what works for me and I know where to find inspiration.  If I were to offer a few starting points for you this is what I would say:

1. know what you like - who wants to surround themselves with things that they don't like -I know, that seems like a no brainer, but trust me, I'm sure someone out there either has things that they don't particularly care for or they've settled for nothing at all.

2. know the first rule of decorating - there really are no rules- I'm sure that you can find plenty who disagree but toss them aside and do what you love!  Does it make you smile, come to life, bring memories and positive feelings flooding in?  Then do it!

3.  have fun - if its not fun, don't do it!  Maybe you need to wait until you're "feeling" it.  I know I do.  If my creative mojo isn't flowing, I leave it alone.  When it hits, I know it and I move on it!!

4. find inspiration - inspiration is not seeing something and feeling like you have to have everything exactly the same.  It's not feeling overwhelmed and unable to attain.  Inspiration is something that moves you in a certain direction.

5. don't feel like you have to go out and spend money - you don't!  Shop your house first!  Then maybe shop your friends homes. (okay, just window shop there, but it's a good place to start!!)  I used to feel that way, and if I'm being honest, there are times that I do still feel that way.  I try to curb that desire but if I can't, I try to shop clearance or thrift stores and I always use nature -its free!

If you don't know where to look for inspiration check Pinterest or check out some bloggers!  For decorating inspiration I go to Lemonade Makin' Mama, Flower Patch Farmgirl, Meg Deurkson at whatever and quite a few more!! (side note: you get so much more than decorating with these gals, part of why I love them so much!!) 

The three of these ladies cover simplicity, quirkiness and color in their design.  It's fun trying to infuse each of their styles into one that I can call my own.  I'm not there yet and I may never be, but it sure is fun trying!!  Another one of my inspirations is my dear friend Shawn.  She has a beautifully restored farmhouse around the corner from me and I pull the beauty of the past from her.  Her home is warm, inviting and full of wonderful collections.