Thursday, March 31, 2011

"Random pictures to brighten my mood"

I had to start with this picture, literally it just cracked me up so much I couldn't resist..
For some reason I think of my brothers when I see this picture...something they would totally do..!



And now on to the more serious photos..

Pictures really do say absolutely MORE than a thousand words and I felt compelled to share some beautiful photograph's that my incredible daughter has taken..


I have always adored this picture...such a cutie pa-tootie!
So happy, the morning of her wedding..such a wonderful, beautiful day in every way..of course she didn't take this photo, but the rest are hers!


My spirits are lifted just in the viewing...may yours be as well..these are in no particular order, just some that I love..


My son Michael has always, always loved Giraffe's..in fact he had quite the collection when he was a young boy..they are such a wonderful animal..so regal in some ways, yet so whimsical in others..I absolutely love the way this windowed doorway frames his face..its amazing she happened to catch this photo just at the right moment...


My daughter's in-laws and now a part of our bigger family, have the most beautiful property in Colbert, WA and the most comfy, welcoming home. I have spent many a days and nights escaping to this beautiful place, for rest, the company of a wonderful family, wonderful food to feed the soul and very needed quiet peacefulness. My retreat..I call it "The Country House"..


A beautiful snowy country road as taken, I believe, on one of daughter and Dad's Saturday morning jaunts.


On a hike in Seattle..Dad, daughter and son..dare we call him "Monkey Boy"?


At the zoo in Seattle..this picture looks like it should be in a fantasy type movie..there is something so magical about it...! I half expect him to have a crown on and a princess lurking about in the background..




My guys at the zoo..I wonder what they were looking at?  I totally can't remember...but there was something so endearing about seeing them from behind and wondering..I totally love the tilt of my son's head..



Our incredibly smart Mar Mar!!!
My girlie grand-pup..


Such a face to love..our little Albus!!!
My very handsome Grand-boy..


"Through the Bridge"


"Under the Bridge"


I hope that you enjoyed these special photos as much as I do..

Blessings
Val














"One of those Days"




Some days basically are just better than others..bring you to your knees...

Some days all I merely want to do is feel good about who I am, I want to know deep down inside that I am..no pressure to be otherwise..the child inside hurts..

Seriously, what have I ever done to anyone?

Some days people lack of kindness seeps through to your insides and you doubt yourself..

Some days the world doesn't feel too friendly and you wonder if its you..is there something wrong with you? 

Some days your resolve crumbles, your weak self takes hold, sadness prevails...

Its just one of those days..
Alone with my thoughts and doubts
trying to do my best..

The actions of others, the words of others..affect you, challenge your resolve, do some damage...

and no matter how much you have learned, how far you have come, its your reality in that moment..

I would like to say that I can sit down, have a word with my savior, be renewed and go on, 
but somedays it just doesn't happen and I have to ride it out knowing that the next moment is a new moment, tomorrow is around the corner..hope..

Rest will renew and refresh...
will the doubts remain?

I remember how far I have come, most times left alone to weather it all..

and somedays it doesn't matter...
sadness needs to be felt..embraced for the lessons that might come..

So I sit with it, ponder it, wander through it..

and remind myself...
Am I really enough?
I am tired!

Monday, March 28, 2011

"Brave Girls Soul Restoration-What it has mean't to Me"

Brave Girls are having a contest for the very first online "Soul Restoration Class" graduates. In this contest you share through writing, directly or on your blog about the experience..I wonder if that is even possible?
What is in my heart..what the class mean't to me, what I learned, and finally, to share some of my work..so here goes..and thank you to those that have seen this work before, but might just see something different than before..
So what I am basically going to do is show all of my work in order and then finish up by writing what it has mean't to me and for me to have received the gift of "Soul Restoration" in my life.

First Project



I love to write, as everyone might have concluded by now, as well as create! Understandably there couldn't have been a more perfect first project for me..the class provides you with a wide range of journaling prompts weekly. All you then need to do, is select those that most speak to your heart in that moment, cut them out, write, design and create your page or pages. However your little heart desires, and then continue on, as often as you feel with this project throughout the duration of the class...won't be showing the actual pages, as of course, simply said, journaling is a quite personal undertaking...but here are a couple of pictures I took of the book cover I made..I find the finished cover to be quite pretty yet simple, rather my style!!...it is difficult to notice in the picture that the background paper is a beautiful shade of Robin's Egg Blue with a grid pattern and some pale vintage grey and black patterns..the pictures do not do this paper justice...simply lovely, I will definitely be ordering more ..I handmade the flowers and attached together with metal and epoxy brads, which actually have a very 50's old fashioned feel about them...and of course B&W polka dot ribbon..gotta have the polka dots, well either that or white stitching lines!!
The particular journaling prompts I chose to summarize what this actual journal already means to me are these:

"You have ALWAYS had the power, the ability and means."

"Trust that everything is just as it is meant to be."

"You are absolutely worth it."

"You are valuable and you have so much to offer"

"You matter in more ways than you know. You always have, and you always will."

"You are and always will be amazing.  Keep going. You are making a difference."

"Keep going....NEVER NEVER NEVER QUIT."

"You are more loved than you will ever know."

"Keep on being the real, unique and wonderful YOU. You are such a special gift to this world."

"Trust your heart, its telling you the Truth."

It actually took me a little time to pick out the journaling prompts that I wanted to represent me in this journaling journey, admittedly it was difficult for me..

Now on to my other projects throughout, although I am far from completing everything...I think that will be ongoing for me for some time to come...thankfully...I never truly want to let go of this experience....ever!

 "Closed For Restoration"


My Broken down, faded, in need of repair "HOUSE"





"Some of My Journal pages"












"A Couple pages from my Timeline"




And last but not least..not my completely RESTORED HOUSE..but its on its way..I did this one on canvas and it is hanging in a very special place in my little studio...






In order for me to even begin to describe what Brave Girls and Soul Restoration has mean't to me, let me begin by telling you a little piece of my story beginning on July 18, 2008..no need to go back to the very dark days of my childhood as there really is no point right now...but in order to offer a little insight into where I have been in the last few years, how far I have come, and how bright the light at the end of the tunnel looks to me after this experience!!

July 18th, 2008


The days leading up to that day were a fog...listening to all those around me, but not really hearing.  Things looked different through my eyes...surreal...somewhat like I was watching someone else's life through my eyes. So scary, I trembled ever so slightly and I knew that something was happening to me...
The day before, I remember hearing my closest friend at work describe to another, what I used to be like, how I used to look, dress, how bubbly & spunky I was. I started to cry, yearning for her, yet feeling she was gone.
We were split apart, a different me was now here in a new body, an impostor..
or..maybe the real me trying to get out, be heard, needing help...needing to be saved!

July 18th, 2008 changed my life as I knew it, forever...I would truly never be the same...I fell with only what could be described as a huge thud, face first, to the bottom of a monstrous  black pit.  So deep, only time, courage and determination would serve as a guide to finding my way out..

Darkness engulfed and I was ALONE...in a place I didn't recognize, a scary place surrounded by walls so steep I could but only see a trickle of light far, far above.
I could hear nothing but the sound of my heart beating and the quiet whispers of my own breath.
I tasted only salt as the tears began to streak my face, finding their way down my face, across my lips, falling beyond into the darkness.

Can anybody see me?
Does anyone know where I am?
This place...I don't recognize it...where am I?
I need to wake up..wake up...wake up!!!!
Closing my eyes to escape these unknown surroundings, to hide inside, to gather any, even if tiny, little glimpse of the familiar me...
and so the journey began..

It has been 2 years, 8 months, 10 days, 6 hours and 16 mins since that day..
I know those exact numbers and relish them...
I have climbed the largest rope ladder out of that dark place, and I remember every step in detail..every step towards the light...every breath towards the fresh air..
and it has been the hardest thing I have ever done..

I faced all the fears, even the ones I thought would certainly break me, the ropes of myself, for good...but they didn't..
I lifted one foot at a time, set it down and raised the other...
I never gave up, even with a bottle of pills in my hand and little hope, I cried out in pain, in sorrow, in aloneness...
And then peace...it came as a whisper..it engulfed my soul, it eased my breath, it lifted the weight..it embraced me, enveloped me..
The voice said "And Lo I Am With You Always"
I folded and started to release, unburden..
God was with me, he was real, he was there..I am not alone, he see's me..

There is no way to put into words what that night on my bathroom floor, huddled in the corner, feeling the only way to escape was a bottle of pills, was like..how it changed me..
no way to describe the hope I felt at that moment, knowing there was something so much greater than anything I had ever known..and that something found me alone in the dark and thought I was worthy of saving...

I Am not who I used to be, I have come so far...I am a girl that made her way through, with the help of a very special family, a very special Sweet Mama, a wonderful Dr and mostly, with the tremendous dedication and love of a very special therapist and her name is Michelle...

She escorted me, never leaving my side for even the briefest instant, through all of the dark, through all of the quicksand, through all of the doubts, the tears, the fears...to a place of celebration...a place of light, a place of strength, a place of joy...A PLACE OF PEACE!!!

And on the heals of 2+ years of very hard work I was given a quiet little gift on Christmas morning, by a very loving family that has seen me through..it was the gift of Melody and Kathy and "Brave Girls Soul Restoration"
It came to me at the perfect time..I was up to it, I was ready..I had come so far..in a place where fear did not rule, and courage is not something I once yearned for!
Not anymore!





Along with everything I have experienced that has brought me to this place of peace, I learned quickly that there are still mountains to climb, songs to sing, words to write, art to make...I am new, I am restoring, I am grateful..
I love you both, your vision, your gifts, more than you will ever know...
Please forgive me for there are no words...my hope is that you feel my heart in my words..

Lovingly and with Blessings
Valerie



"Monday Sharing"

Ok, this sharing may be somewhat redundant because seriously who hasn't heard of http://thepioneerwoman.com, but just in case:


I love her!! I love her website, her blog, her cooking, her animals, her life..but most of all I love her ability to tell the stories of her life. She writes with such a combination of endearment and comedy..so wonderful, so enjoyable...if someone asked me who I would most like to meet, it would be her!  Such an incredible soul, such an interesting and fun to read life!


Such a beautiful lady inside and out..
I love to open up her website each morning and it never fails to start my day off with such a warm heart, always putting a continuous smile on my face..
And this morning is no exception..here is the picture that looked me in the face upon opening her page..


First there was Charlie and now there is Walter!!!  Oh my gosh two Bassets..
Now if you have been following and reading my blog you know my love for all things Basset, so this picture made my day!!!!
Is he not the cutest darn thing you have ever seen..I mean really those ears are enough for me to want to hug and kiss his little self.

Enjoy and have a most precious day!

Val

Sunday, March 27, 2011

"Its Sunday..so whats for dinner"

Its that time again...time to cook, time to share, time to feed the tummies and the souls..

Family dinner at the Mom in-laws this afternoon...my contributions for today..

"Chicken Cacciatore w/Pasta"


Ingredients:

2 onions slices thinly
2 1/2 - 3 lbs chicken legs and thighs, or I also use chicken tenders, pretty much whatever is on sale or in my freezer...
2 garlic cloves, minced
I like to add zucchini and baby portabello mushrooms too..again, whatever is hanging around in my fridge..
16 oz can stewed tomatoes any kind you like, I like the one with green peppers 
8 oz can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon salt
A couple teaspoons of sugar (yes you read that right, sugar, for me really enhances the flavors and cuts the bitter taste that tomatoey stuff can have..
1/4 teaspoon pepper, (although I am totally a pepper girl and like way more)
1-2 teaspoons oregano (dried)
1 teaspoon basil (dried)
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup dry, good quality white wine (ya know, the kind you would actually drink, not the cooking stuff)

Directions:

Well first you need a crockpot, slow cooker, whatever you call it!!!!

Slightly brown chicken on all sides in olive oil
Place onions in the bottom of the slow cooker
Lay chicken over onions
Combine remaining ingredients, pour over chicken
Cover and cook on low 6-61/2 hours
Remove bay leaf..serve over hot buttered pasta..of course your favorite
or I actually love it over rice pilaf (recipe to follow) so yummy..but when I use pasta I prefer linguini..
Top with a obscene amount of parmesan cheese (I am also a total parm nut)
Thats it...no kidding...so yummy and so easy...


"Rice Pilaf"


Today I kind of cheated because I couldn't find
my sweet Mama's recipe, which is my favorite!!

So basically I bought 2 boxes of Rice Pilaf mix with rice and orzo
and to that I added
some sliced Baby Portabellos Mushrooms
1 large shallot diced and
1 small zucchini grated
I sauted those in a combination of butter and olive oil
added the rice and orzo mix and continued to saute until lightly browned,
then added the seasoning mixes and the water that was called for on the box.
Once it was finished I stirred in about 3 tablespoons of chopped Italian Parsley and a handful of parmesan cheese, for me that goes without saying..
That was pretty much it and it turned out sooo yummy..!

"Italian Salad"



I love the salad they serve at Olive Garden, so I honestly just pretty much copied it..

So thats about it for this Sunday's "Whats for Dinner"
Easy, not too time consuming, and so satisfying!
Well off to family dinner...with 28 people..where did all these people come from?

Blessings for your family dinner today and the love of sharing!!!

Val






Friday, March 25, 2011

"Some more random thoughts and things I love"

Silly me...I totally forgot to tell you about the newest class I signed up for..


Am I like so excited or what..
I just finished the "She Art Workshop"
and now Christy is starting 
"She had three hearts"
Here is her link so that if you are so inclined you can take a gander..

Trust me, should you decide to sign up for this next class of hers you will absolutely love every minute of it and if you sign up before May 2nd it is only 35.00 for 3 full weeks!

Next random thought..
I absolutely love "The Pioneer Woman"!!!
Ree is incredible..I mean incredible in every way..she makes me smile and laugh every single time I read anything she has written..
I totally dream of meeting her...and I so want to give her Charlie a huge hug!!!


Is that not a face to love or what..are you kidding me, such a cutie patutie..ok its decided, my next dog will be a Bassett..

I love eating leftover casseroles in the morning..a big bowl of um, topped with Kraft American Cheese, yes you heard me right, heated in the microwave and devoured while my beggar dog Maddie stares at me..


A cheesy mouthful of yumminess!!!

I would live in my jammies if I could get away with it..
And not the fruffy kind or the fancy kind, just the comfy kind..I think I want these..


In fact I know I want these..I mean why can't we all just run around in comfy jammies..who made that rule anyway...?

I love to do puzzles..but they take me a long time..I mean set up on the diningroom table for a year long time..every time my son in-law, who  helped me get the one I'm working on started, which is still just sitting there..anyway every time my son in-law stops by he always sees it still sitting on the table and says "still haven't done anything on that puzzle??"
But I do love them, or maybe I just love the idea of them..not so sure, since it is still sitting there...maybe its because it has a thousand pieces and they all look the same to me...eeeeekkkk!

I think I am done now with random thoughts..
Okie dokie, bye now..

Blessings,
Me