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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

BookSneeze.com Review: Daddy Dates

"Daddy Dates" by Greg Wright is a plain-spoken, neatly laid out plan for dads to stay involved in their daughters' lives by spending one-on-one time with them on "daddy dates", tailored outings where dad and daughter can connect and grow their relationship. Greg speaks plainly to fathers in a language that is easy to read, practical and enjoyable. When he decided he needed to have a mission when it came to raising his girls, he came back with "Don't screw up!" He lays out some practical steps dads can take to initiate "daddy dates" and get to know their daughter(s), build trust with them and stay involved and engaged in a world that often encourages the opposite. He uses his own life experiences and calls upon dads to remember their own experience when they started wooing their wife in order to better win their daughters' hearts. At the end of the book, he even gets dads off on the right foot with a personality test for dad and daughter to take and some suggested date ideas.

I know it may seem strange for a married woman with no children to be reading this book but as Greg puts it in the afterword: "All women are daughters. Just sayin'." And I loved this book. One of the things I really appreciated about his book was that, while he was advocating for dads to spend special one-on-one time with their daughters getting to know them, he was not advocating that dads try to be their child's friend instead of the parent as so many try to do nowadays. In fact, he gives examples from his own life of the exact opposite, where he definitely had to be the parent. However, he also demonstrated how spending time on "daddy dates" with his girls and being invested in their lives earned him the respect and authority necessary to speak effectively into their lives. Overall, a wonderful, simple, straightforward example of how important dads are in a daughter's life and how to nurture that special relationship.

Rating: 5/5 stars!!!

With Father's Day around the corner, might be something to consider for the dads in your life! ;)

Soli Deo Gloria,
Meghan


Disclaimer of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com program. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations. If you would like to receive books for free in exchange for honest reviews, visit BookSneeze.com.

Monday, April 25, 2011

URL Change

So excited to announce this! Continuing the makeover of my blog, the web address will be changing this afternoon. If you follow me using Blogger's "Follow" feature, the link will be automatically updated. This will also complete the blog's removal from Facebook. If you wish to continue following my adventures, you will be able to find them at http://faithforwings.blogspot.com starting this afternoon. Happy Reading!

Soli Deo Gloria,
Meghan

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Making Home By Hand

I love being crafty and not just in the sense of pulling off surprise plans and such (which I do love and have some in the works). I love creating things with my own hands. I really enjoyed making recycled heart-shaped swirled crayons and coloring books for the kids at our wedding. I am nowhere near close to being as crafty as some women I know though I hope to be like them some day (I'm looking at you, Stringer Zoo!). However, occasionally I get the opportunity to try my hand at something and this was one such case.

One of the things I've done to spruce up our apartment d├ęcor-wise is using seasonal wreaths on our front door. For the fall, I had a basket with fall colored leaves, berries, flowers and pine cones that I found at Wal-Mart and supplemented with some additional flowers to fill it out a little more. Then for the winter, I found a wreath with a cute little snowman (we named him "Bob") sitting in the middle with a welcome banner over his head. But I was having trouble finding something for the spring. Most of what I saw were twig wreaths covered in colorful Easter eggs, something that's not really my style. So I decided to create my own! :)


Thanks to Jaden over at the Steamy Kitchen, I found an article on making yarn wreaths. She had several links to different people's blogs with detailed instructions on how to make these lovely, whimsical wreaths. I chose to go with Danielle's version over at her blog, Take Heart. You can click on the links there for either blog or just keep reading as I take you on the journey I went on in my quest for a beautiful door decoration.

Yarn Wreath with Handmade Felt Roses

What you need:
*Wreath form (Either styrafoam or straw can be used. I like how easily the yarn slid on with the plastic wrap on the straw wreath)
*Skein of yarn in your favorite color
*Sheets of felt in complementary colors
*Piece of ribbon, twine, etc. with which to hang the wreath

As for tools:
*Scissors
*Hot glue gun (or strong craft glue)

Before you start, I would suggest taking your yarn and turning into an easier-to-handle ball. Many of my knitting/crocheting friends may already know this but I learned the hard way.

Yeah, the knot took both of us over an hour and a half to untangle.
You may consider yourself duly warned. :)

The Steps:
Step 1. Wrap the wreath form in yarn. Tie a knot to start and keep the yarn taut. Keep in mind that you will not be able to keep the yarn perfectly aligned and cover the wreath in a single, neatly lined up layer of yarn. But in this case the imperfections are what make these wreaths so perfect. Simply tie a knot to finish it off when it's covered to your satisfaction.


So much neater with a ball!

Ta-da!

Step 2. Make your felt flowers. Choose a sheet of felt and cut out a circle. The bigger you cut your circle, the bigger the final flower will be. Then cut around the circle to give it a wavy look (this is important to give your flower a more varied/real look and the "petals" different heights).


Then choose a spot on the circle and start cutting a spiral from your felt circle. You will end up with a small oval at the end of a long strip of felt. Leave this as-is since it will create the back/base of your flower.




Starting with the tip where you began cutting, roll the felt. Keep it tight in the beginning so everything stays together and then you can loosen the roll as you go, which will serve to create a more open flower. I also used a little drop of hot glue when needed to hold the rolled felt together. More than once I dropped the roll and had to start over.


When you get to the end, use some hot glue or strong craft glue to attach the bottom (the oval from the spiral) to your flower.

With the bottom attached


First finished flower!
Feel free to make as many flowers as you like. I made a few different sizes and 3 different colors. You can also make leaves from your felt if you so wish (I chose to make two).

Step 3: Assemble your wreath. This is where you really get to personalize. You can arrange your flowers in a line going up your wreath, in a grouping, or however you want. You could add any little knick-knacks that you like as well. I chose to go with a simple line up the side of the wreath and added a couple of leaves. Again you can use strong craft glue or the hot glue gun (my method).


In the process of attaching...

For the final touch, add a ribbon, raffia, twine or other means of hanging your wreath and ENJOY!

Ta-da!

Thank you so much for indulging my creative bent :) I absolutely loved making this wreath (minus the huge knot I put in the yarn, of course) and I'm really enjoying having it welcome us and our friends to our home. Maybe someday I'll get the chance to perfect my skills and sell some wreaths a la Etsy? :) Who knows?! But for now, I had a lot of fun making and now enjoying  this labor of love. I'd love to see yours if you make one! Please feel free to share in the comments section.

Happy crafting!

Soli Deo Gloria!
Meghan

P.S. The transformation of the blog has commenced! The new colors and header are in place! New web address will take effect Monday so keep an eye out for the new URL! :) I'm so excited about this new phase for the blog and hope you get a chance to check it out!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tending the Soil

Look who showed up this weekend!


First tomato sprouts!

One night I checked the pot and there was nothing and the next day I look again and POOF! There they are! These two came up over the weekend and a third sprout showed up on Monday. Only the strongest/best of the seedlings will be used for the topsy turvy planter but I wanted to make sure I had choices and backups in case something happened so I planted 5 seeds. They spend most of their days outside and then get brought in overnight to prevent them from getting too cold or being harassed by the local squirrels. :p

Those pesky squirrels already dug through my basil box so I had to cover it in mesh to prevent further damage. I'm hoping I'll still get a couple of seedlings out of that. Not sure how many of the seeds were damaged by the wildlife attack. If nothing else, I do have some more seeds so I can always replant those and keep them covered as long as possible.

Here's to adventures in gardening! :) Looking forward to seeing these little ones continue to grow and flourish.

Grow, baby, grow!
Soli Deo Gloria,
Meghan

Monday, April 18, 2011

Books, books and more books!

It's that time again! I recently posted my BookSneeze.com review of "The Band That Played On" so I was free to choose the next book that I wanted to review. Thankfully, BookSneeze has started consistently sending out e-mails near the beginning of the month letting us know which books they plan on releasing that month, so I had a preview of my choices. There were several fiction books coming out and since I've yet to review one I looked into them but none were really of interest to me. So once again, I have chosen a non-fiction book and it might surprise you.


Yep, that's right. "Daddy Dates: Four Daughters, One Clueless Dad, and His Quest to Win Their Hearts: The Road Map for Any Dad to Raise a Strong and Confident Daughter" by Greg Wright is on its way to my home as we speak. I am not a parent, let alone a father, but I am a daughter and I do have a husband that I look forward to seeing become a dad someday. And he's already claimed the book after I'm done reading it. :)


UPDATE: The book actually arrived in the mail this past Saturday and I'm already over halfway done! :) Looking forward to posting my review, probably next week sometime. In fact, it will probably take me longer to write the review than it has to read the book!


Soli Deo Gloria,
Meghan




P.S. Just a reminder! With Lent almost at a conclusion, I will be logging back onto Facebook next Monday. At that point, I will announce the blog's new URL, which will take effect Monday afternoon, and will then be unlinking my blog from Facebook. Make sure to follow me at the new URL when it's announced on Monday! :)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Sound of Music

They may find it odd but I'm the only one in my family that loves country music (though my husband does enjoy it some too). :) I have a lot of artists that I love and since he's turned country I have absolutely enjoyed Darius Rucker's music. I just had to share his most recent radio single with you, friends. Every time I've heard it tears have sprung to my eyes as I thank God for leading me to where I am now. I just saw the music video for it and thought it was cute. :) I hope enjoy "This" as much as I do!

Soli Deo Gloria,
Meghan


"This" by Darius Rucker
Got a baby girl sleeping in my bedroom
And her mama laughing in my arms
There's the sound of rain on the rooftop
And the game's about to start

I don't really know how I got here
But I'm sure glad that I did
And it's crazy to think that one little thing
Could've changed all of it

Maybe it didn't turn out like I planned
Maybe that's why I'm such, such a lucky man

[Chorus]
For every stoplight I didn't make
Every chance I did or I didn't take
All the nights I went too far
All the girls that broke my heart
All the doors that I had to close
All the things I knew but I didn't know
Thank God for all I missed
Cause it led me here to
This

Like the girl that I loved in high school
Who said she could do better
Or that college I wanted to go to
'Til I got that letter

All the fights and the tears and the heartache
I thought I'd never get through
And the moment I almost gave up
All lead me here to you

I didn't understand it way back when
But sitting here right now it all makes perfect sense

[Repeat Chorus]

How I cried when my mama passed away
But now I've got an angel looking out for me today
So nothing's a mistake

[Repeat Chorus]

It led me here to
This 


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sunshine, water, soil....GROW!

The apartment is pretty lonely this week. The husband left for Toronto on business Sunday afternoon so I have some time to myself. I'm trying to stay occupied and thankfully we went to Lowe's on Saturday and picked up some patio gardening items. :)

A couple of years ago, I planted carrots, cucumbers and basil on my parents' deck in window boxes. This year, I decided to do basil again but then I wanted to try one of those upside down tomato growers so I picked a small grape-type variety of tomato to try first. I am actually kind of excited about that. :) Looking forward to some tomato, basil and mozzarella salads.


Above is a photo of my new plant stand that I absolutely love along with the window box with basil seeds. The small pot to the right has the tomato seeds in it. They'll start in there mostly indoors until I have a couple of good seedlings, then I will pick one to transfer to the hanging planter outside.


My husband's one request is that I have some flowers as well. There were already some hooks installed on our patio so I decided I would do a hanging basket. I wanted something that would trail and grow and spread out since it would be the only hanging basket. We found this lovely planter of a light purple flower called Bacopa. They seem to be thriving out on the patio and I love the beauty and spark of color they add to our home. :) I look forward to many spring and summer evenings enjoying our glider and flowers out on the patio.


There's a lot of hope inherent in that little pot. :) Can't wait to post pictures of the progress!

Soli Deo Gloria,
Meghan

Friday, April 8, 2011

BookSneeze.com Book Review: The Band That Played On

"The Band That Played On" by Steve Turner is a wonderful historical account of the lives of the members of the Titanic's band and their families. The author delves into the personal and professional lives of each man before they boarded the Titanic, including family history, musical training and experience, love life, social endeavors and more. Since the focus is the men and not the sinking, little time is spent discussing that event except to present the debate as to what their final tune may have actually been. The research here is exhaustive with occasionally more detail than expected (or necessarily needed) but it all serves to flesh out the stories of these men that not many people knew much about.

I was entirely enthralled by Turner's book. This actually surprised my husband since I'm not really a history book type person but since I'm intrigued by the events surrounding the Titanic, this book sucked me in. Turner does a wonderful job of fleshing out the lives of these men and how their story spread through the survivors of the Titanic. I found the ending a little open-ended but felt it fit with the events he was discussing. There are still several mysteries surrounding some of the musicians and one of them (Hartley's missing violin) might be solved before the centennial of the sinking next year. It was quite exciting news and a fitting end to the book. If you're interested in the Titanic specifically or history in general this is an informative, engaging read that gives you a glimpse into the lives of the heroic men of the Titanic's band.

Standard Disclaimer: I received this book for free from BookSneeze.com in return for my honest review of the material. If you are interested in receiving materials in exchange for honest reviews, please check out BookSneeze.com (click on the box in the right hand column of my blog).

Thursday, April 7, 2011

100th Post! :D

WOOHOO!! :D The time has arrived!


So I promised that when I reached my 100th post I would post a blog that contained 100 things about me :) Let me just say that it's harder than you may think! I started keeping a draft a few weeks ago so that I could have some time to compile a list and even then I found myself stretching to come up with enough. There's also a fine line between fun little facts and TMI which I tried to balance (something I hope I achieved). So without further ado, here is the promised list!

1. Favorite color: Purple.
2. Married on September 4, 2010
3. I'm the oldest of 4 children in my family.
4. I have one brother and two sisters.
5. In my husband's family, I'm the youngest.
6. I graduated high school the same year my husband graduated from college.
7. I graduated from college the same year my husband got his M.B.A.
8. I attended the University of Maryland. (GO TERPS!)
9. I became a Christian in first grade, around the age of 8.
10. I started this list on March 8, 2011 to give myself time to come up with all these little facts.
11. My very first blog post on this blog was back on June 13, 2007.
12. I had at least one other blog before this one over on LiveJournal.
13. I love to ring English handbells in my chruch's adult group.
14. I ring upper bass bells currently, though I've played in several different positions.
15. I'm a first-generation college graduate.
16. I attended the Focus Leadership Institute in the Fall of 2007 (find out more here).
17.  My birthday is in August.
18. When I was young, I wanted to be an astronaut.
19. I've been fascinated by the weather for a long time and love meteorology.
20. I'm a huge fan of Star Wars. :)
21. One of my best friends, K, introduced me to Star Wars in 6th grade.
22. I've had one job in retail at DressBarn as a part-time associate for one summer.
23. I love candles. There are about 20 alone in our living room and at least 20 more elsewhere.
24. Connected to 23, Yankee Candle is one of my favorite stores.
25. I love Chai Tea.
26. I have never traveled off the North American continent (the Carribbean doesn't count).
27. I've been on 3 cruises, all with Disney Cruise Lines and have loved each one! :)
28. I'd love to travel to Europe someday and visit several countries.
29. My husband calls me the "paparazzi" because I take so many pictures.
30. I took over 1,700 photos on our honeymoon in Hawai'i.
31. I love old black and white Astaire/Rogers films.
32. Also a big Bing Crosby fan.
33. I love being crafty and the satisfaction that comes with creating something.
34. My latest project was creating a spring yarn wreath for our front door.
35. I love scrapbooking but have trouble finding the time and space to do so.
36. I love collecting cookbooks.
37. I like to have fun trying new recipes and experimenting.
38. Thankfully, so far, none of the cooking experiments have been total duds (they've all been edible at least).
39. My two favorite kitchen appliances are my crock-pot and stand mixer.
40. My middle name is Averil.
41. I'm the fourth generation, first-born daughter to carry that middle name. :)
42. I plan to pass my middle name onto my first-born daughter.
43. 1+1=3 (for large values of 1)...when I told Dan that for the first time, he cracked up :)
44. I love watching "Dancing with the Stars" and "Wipeout".
45. We don't have cable TV.
46. We do have an antenna and lots of movies :) I don't really miss cable.
47. Hulu is my friend. Not only can I catch TV shows I miss but I get to discover movies I may never have heard of otherwise.
48. One of my favorite TV shows I watch on Hulu is Iron Chef America.
49. I didn't make this list entirely in order, but rather skipped about, putting facts where I wanted them in the list.
50. Coming up with 100 little facts is a lot harder than it looks!
51. I reached 50 facts by March 16, 8 days after starting to write them down.
52. My husband is 5 years older than I am.
53. His very first gift to me was the 6-hour BBC version of "Pride and Prejudice".
54. My very first gift to him was a book of music for Handel's "Messiah".
55. I just recently finished my first Beth Moore study, "Esther", with the Women's Bible study I'm in.
56. I love the Pixar movie, "The Incredibles".
57. My husband bought it ("The Incredibles") for me for my birthday.
58. My brother used to tease me because I would watch it whenever it was on TV while I was watching. :)
59. I love Pixar movies in general :) Looking forward to Cars 2 this summer.
60. The only movie Dan and I saw in theaters while we were dating (before getting engaged) was "Up".
61. I've worked for Booz Allen Hamilton for over 2 years now.
62. This is the longest I've had any one job. (I'm young, I know.)
63. I hope someday to open my own Etsy shop. :)
64. I want to be a better blogger and hope to continue posting more frequently.
65. I have on tap a blog about the wreath I made for our front door for spring (with instructions).
66. I belong to BookSneeze.com where I receive new books or DVDs in return for an honest review on my blog and a commercial website (i.e. Amazon.com).
67. So far I have reviewed 3 books (all non-fiction) and 1 DVD for BookSneeze.
68. I am working on writing my 4th book review for BookSneeze, "The Band That Played On". It should be posted soon.
69. I graduated Valedictorian of my high school class.
70. I have a Bachelor of Science in Physics.
71. I still own and watch VHS tapes.
72. My favorite Disney movie as a kid was "The Little Mermaid".
73. We took my little sister to see "Toy Story 3" and "Tangled"...mostly so that I could see them :)
74. I love Sudoku puzzles.
75. I've been dancing since I was young (six-ish).
76. I've done tap, ballet, pointe, jazz, lyrical, modern and, most recently, ballroom.
77. I get excited about using coupons at the grocery store.
78. The only plant I've been able to keep alive long-term is a piece of bamboo I've had for a few years now.
79. Even though I have issues keeping stuff alive, I've loved the little bit of gardening I've experiemented with.
80. In 2009, I planted cucumbers, carrots and basil in window boxes. Yum homemade pesto!
81. I'm still deciding what to plant this year, but it's been requested that I plant some flowers :)
82. I hit the 75% completion mark for this list on March 31st...23 days after starting!
83. One of my favorite new married traditions has been meeting my husband for lunch on Fridays.
84. For several weeks now, after lunch on Fridays, I go to the animal shelter and look at the puppies.
85. I hope we can get a dog someday once we're a little more settled into our apartment :)
86. My last pet (that was solely mine, not family) was a Betta fish named Caspian.
87. I was a competitive ballroom dancer in college.
88. I earned one first place in all my competitions (Sophmore year, Baby BAM Jam).
89. I love that my husband is willing to learn to dance and I love going out dancing with him.
90. So glad I'm almost done with this list!
91. When I was younger, I attend a Western-themed horseback riding camp called River Valley Ranch.
92. The best horse I ever rode was a co-worker's Tennesee Walking Horse. Loved it! Wish I could ride more often.
93. I finished this list on April 6, a total of 30 days, and posted one day later after my husband had a chance to preview it.
94. I gave up Facebook for Lent this year.
95. While I miss some things (mostly pictures!), staying off Facebook hasn't been as hard as I thought.
96. I will be unlinking my blog from Facebook after Lent, when I log back on.
97. When the new blog name goes into effect, I will be allowing my husband to post if he so chooses :)
98. So glad I'm almost done with this list!
99. If you're still reading this, you are a truly dedicated friend! Thank you!
100. The new name of my blog will be Faith for Wings. I will begin the transition and remodel of the blog soon. I will post the new URL before I change it when it is verified as available.

Well, there you have it! I am so excited to have reached 100 blog posts. Thank you for taking this journey and I hope we have many more adventures together. I look forward to continuing to blog and interact with you here, my friends. Thank you so much again for making this such a fun outlet for me. Here's to the future!

Soli Deo Gloria,
Meghan

Monday, April 4, 2011

Cherry Blossoms!

This weekend, Dan and I celebrated a few special anniversaries. As of today, we've been married for seven months.
Also, two years (730 days) ago today we started officially dating with an outing to the cherry blossoms and our now favorite Thai restuarant. 
The now infamous unicorn picture
In addition, a year ago, we met our wedding photographer in DC to do our engagement photos while the cherry blossoms were in bloom.
So what better way to celebrate all of these special occasions than to go visit the DC cherry blossoms! :) I know, such an origianl idea but we totally love seeing these gorgeous trees each year and reminiscing about our previous visits, each of which has been totally unique.

This year, we visited several of the places from the past two years as we recalled previous years and reminisced about our relationship and how things have changed. We even recreated the infamous unicorn pictures!
We wandered around the Tidal Basin and my wonderful husband let me stop frequently and take tons of photos. Here is a sampling.


 










 

To top off the night, we had dinner at our favorite Thai restaurant, the same place that we went after our first date and discussed what we wanted our relationship to become. In honor of my friend, H, I had a Thai iced coffee (she's the one that introduced me to them).


It was an absolutely amazing time spent with the man I love, celebrating our relationship by visiting places special to us and enjoying the beauty of God's creation and His blessings. I look forward to many more months and years of celebrations to come. Love you, sweetheart!

Soli Deo Gloria,
Meghan

P.S. This is my 99th blog entry. As promised, my 100th post will be 100 facts. I'm still compiling the list but hope to have it completed soon! :)