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Liebster Award

A few weeks ago, the darling Candace from Healthy, Happy, Quirky, Sappy nominated me to receive the Liebster award.  Liebster means "sweetheart, beloved person, or darling" in German.  As far as I can tell, the award was started once upon a time to bring light to new or lesser known blogs.  It also seems the rules have evolved through time.  In any case, I am most flattered.  I secretly call Candace my biggest fan.  Honestly, I have no clue how she discovered my humble little site, but she is always full of encouragement and kindness.  And she works at Disneyworld, people.  She's coooooooool.

Here are the rules for receiving this award:
1. Answer the questions that the nominator sets for you, and then create 11 questions for the people you’ve tagged to answer.
2. Choose other bloggers & link them in your post (must have less than 200 followers).
3. Go to their page and tell them.

I am horrible at answering questions, but I promised Candace I would do my best.

1. Where are you from and do you still reside there?
* I am from Pennsylvania.  I grew up in Western Pennsylvania (Steelers Country!), but also spent many years in Eastern Pennsylvania.  Now I live in New Jersey.  Even though I miss Pennsylvania terribly, New Jersey has been very good to me.

2. Favorite food?
This is about one of the worst questions to ask me.  I.LOVE.TO.EAT.  Seriously.  When I was a kid, I used to flip through cookbooks and just dream about what each item would taste like.  I get teased because it is difficult for me to eat food I like without saying, "Mmmmmm."  (And I like a lot of food.)  There is absolutely no way I could choose just one favorite food.  Here is a sampling of favorite foods.

  • pizza
  • sushi
  • taiwanese beef noodle soup
  • japanese curry
  • kielbasa
  • ice cream sandwiches

P.S.  I do not like mushrooms.  That's an easy one.

3. What's your favorite hobby?
It seems that one of my favorite hobbies is picking up new hobbies!   I love the opportunity to learn a new instrument or a new craft.  The hobbies I turn to the most are knitting, card-making, and piano playing.

4. Favorite band or musician?
Apparently, I'm dreadful at this favorite stuff...
I am going to say the Beatles, Jack Johnson, and Bebo Norman. 
They consistently make me smile.

5. What's your favorite childhood memory?
I wanted to share something wildly incredible; however, some of the best childhood memories are so simple.  One of my favorite memories was the anticipation of cookies and punch after every piano and violin recital.  We didn't really bake cookies at home, so having access to trays of cookies was exciting every single time.
My other great memory was when my cousins would come to visit.  Before my baby brother was born, his room was my Dad's study.  (That sounds so weird.  Do people still have rooms called "the study?")  When my cousins were visiting, we would lay out our sleeping bags across the room and call it sleeping bag land!  Then my cousins would argue about who had the superior sleeping bag.  Fun times.

6. What is your favorite holiday of the year?
THIS question, I can answer!  I super, duper, triple heart, love Christmas.  I love the smells of Christmas.  I love the sounds of Christmas.  I love the meaning of Christmas.  I love the movies of Christmas.  I love the feeling of Christmas.  Christmas, Christmas, Christmas!

7. How long have you been blogging and why'd you start?
During my current run, I have been blogging for just over two months.  I really just wanted an outlet to document the things that I do.  Making it public motivates me to create more and document more.  Otherwise, it becomes easy for me to simply THINK about creating.  When I just THINK about creating, I get overwhelmed with ideas and forget how fun it is to just start making things.

My first blog was started in 2006.  That was for a very different reason, and it fulfilled a need for a different kind of outlet.  I'll explain a bit more below.

8. What's the best vacation you've ever taken?
I have been incredibly blessed to be able to travel quite a bit through the years.  Many of my relatives lived in Taiwan and Japan.  Many still do.  While my grandparents were alive, it was a priority for my family to see them as much as possible.  Those trips to Taiwan and Japan as a kid will always remain high on my list of best vacations.  I am incredibly grateful that my parents had the means to take me, and that they made it a priority.  As a result, I developed the closest relationship possible with relatives that live on the other side of the earth.  That is quite a feat under any circumstances - but I think it is especially amazing considering I grew up before the internet, skype, and smartphones.  Technology has come so far so quickly, that sometimes I feel like a super old person who grew up in the dark ages.

9. What's your most embarrassing moment?
As if I would tell you.  It's my most embarrassing moment for a reason!

Something that was embarrassing when I was a kid - I accidentally went to a recital wearing one sneaker and one dress shoe.  They were both pink, and we ran out of the house so quickly it went unnoticed.  It was a combined recital, so I played a violin piece and then a piano piece.  I didn't notice my shoes until my piano piece, when I was reaching for the pedals.  Little did I know, my Mother was holding back laughter as soon as I walked up to play violin.  She had tears streaming down her face because she was laughing so hard.  I ran to tell my parents after the recital was over, not realizing that everyone had noticed.  All the grown-ups kept asking if I was starting a new style.  My parents still enjoy reminding me about that day.  I was kind of cute back then though, so it's not embarrassing anymore.
  (Funny that it was embarrassing that my shoes didn't match each other, but not so embarrassing that they totally didn't match my outifit.)

blue girl presents: mismatched shoes

10. What accomplishment are you most proud of?
This one is a bit strange to answer, because my proudest accomplishment isn't really a personal accomplishment, and it wouldn't normally be classified as an accomplishment.  Here's the story...

In 2006, my first husband was diagnosed with
Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS).  He had a bone marrow transplant at the beginning of 2007 which went smoothly.  All seemed well, until it didn't.  My husband developed full blown leukemia and things went downhill.  We literally lived in the hospital for the last three months of his life.  He died almost exactly 6 years ago.

I blogged through the entirety of that experience.  It was extremely therapeutic, and it kept all of our friends and family up to date.

The experience gets put in the category of accomplishments I am most proud of, because I am so proud of how God used us in that journey.  People would tell me about how they rekindled their relationship with God, how they rekindled their relationship with their spouse, how they decided to start a family - all from our story.  None of that had to do with me, more of it had to do with my husband.  All of it had to do with God's hand at work.

I am proud of the marriage that I had, and how adversity only made our bond stronger.  We believed in extreme positivity, and that's how we lived each day.

I am proud that God surrounded us with family and friends who rallied around us and provided us with a constant stream of encouragement, support, and love.  Strangers, and people we had never met in person would send us cards.  Hundreds of people showed support by joining the
Bone Marrow Registry.  People ran marathons, organized walks, and climbed stairs to raise money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  It seemed as though we were going through the toughest challenge of our lives under the best possible circumstances.  Crazy, but true.

I am proud that even though my husband died entirely too soon, at too young of an age, he died with no regrets.  He felt he had lived a full life, and he gave me the blessing to continue living life and to find love again.

I am proud that the experience taught me to love more fully, to be more patient, to be more understanding, and to not sweat the small stuff.  I am still learning.  It's still a process, but I grew so much during that time.  Even now, I feel I am still growing and learning from my experience.  I experienced such grace from God and from other people.  I want to be able to extend that grace to those around me.  Everyone has a story.

That was a pretty long-winded answer... and that was the super condensed version. 
11. Who is your best friend?
My Hubby is definitely my best friend.  He puts up with me on a daily basis, which is no small feat.  He knew me before I met my first husband, he was an usher at my first wedding, and he knew me during my "year of super sad."  It takes a man with a heart of gold and supernatural patience to endure and LOVE me, having all knowledge of my history and all of my neuroses.  I am way thankful for him.

And my dear friend that I call "Cousin" is my best girl friend.  She is the girl I can talk to for ages about everything under the sun.  We will be laughing one minute, crying the next, and being super analytical after that.  Okay, she's the super analytical one.  I'm the dreamer.

Because I'm blessed, I also have a list of super duper amazing special people.  However, I feel that it is unfair to bore you any longer.

I am not smart enough to know if these gals have more than 200 followers or not.  I just know that their blogs are new to me and very special.  So my picks for the Liebster award are,
Rachel from Crafty Cucumber and Phyllis from The Napkin Hoarder Rachel is crafty, and does a little bit of everything.  I've been really loving the cute crochet creations she has been sharing.  She makes cards too, and you know how I love cards.  Phyllis and I were actually in the same college fellowship many, many, many moons ago.  She writes stories about life and family.  She is open and frank.  It's very refreshing.  Candace, you can answer my questions too!  (But no pressure.)

Here are my questions:

1. If you could have any superpower, what would it be, and what would you do with it?
2.  If you were to create a bucket list (or already have one), what are some things that would be on it?
3.  What can always put a smile on your face?
4.  If you were granted an all-expense paid trip anywhere in the world, where would you go?
5.  What is the weirdest thing you have eaten? 
6.  What is a strange habit or quirk of yours?
7.  What are some of your favorite scents?
8.  What do you consider comfort food?
9.  What has been one of your greatest challenges?
10.  What new skill would you love to learn?
11.  What is one book you loved as a child?

That's all folks!  Thank you again,
Candace for choosing me!  And thank you readers for visiting.

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I have been busy working on a number of projects for myself and for others.  However, I'm not quite ready to share any of them right now.  So instead, I will send you over to Christina Montemurro Photography to see what I got to be a part of over the weekend.  My dear friend, who was showered with an Up Theme party, got married.  From my vantage point, the day was perfect.  From Christina Montemurro's vantage point, it also seemed perfect. 

Rachel, was the complete opposite of a bridezilla.  Christina, was an extremely humble and unobtrusive photographer.  The wedding, was one of the best I have been to.

I woke up a bit to early to meet up with Rachel and the other ladies of the wedding party at 8am.  Three ladies with trunks and suitcases stuffed with make-up, beauty products, and tools spent the next 5 hours making two Moms, two bridesmaids, a matron of honor, a flower girl, and a bride look beautiful.  We got to wear fake eyelashes, and it was so much fun!  Of course, I decided that I wasn't hungry for the array of fruits and pastries provided until after I got my make-up done.  I'm pretty sure I managed to lose all the crumbs stuck to my lip gloss by the time the ceremony started.  Good thing the bride was the main attraction.

The ceremony was in a beautiful church with a high ceiling, beautiful stained glass windows, and an incredible pipe organ.  The bride and groom wrote their own vows.  I love that.  They were personal and sweet.

The reception was filled with personal touches.  The Father of the Bride is amongst the nicest people I know.  But at the reception, he was totally mean!  First, there was a traditional Father of the Bride toast.  Later, there was a slideshow of the Bride and Groom through the years.  Instead of just plugging any old song in, the Father, and the Bride's two Brothers put on hats and sang, "You've Got a Friend in Me" from Toy Story.  It was the sweetest thing, especially knowing that this is a Disney-loving family.  I do not mean Disney-loving in the way everybody loves Disney.  I mean, Disney loving, in that I suspect they were all born with Mickey ears.
In case that wasn't mean enough...before the Father-Daughter dance, Dad played this little tear-jerking gem from The Little Mermaid.

AND read a heartfelt letter he wrote shortly after Rachel was born.  AND broke out an ukulele and serenaded Rachel again.  See?  I told you he was mean.  They should have handed out tissues at the door.  But really, it was all so very beautiful.  Everything about the day felt personal and thoughtful, without being over-the-top or trying-too-hard.

What a privilege it was to be a part of such a truly special day.  Go look at photos and be blown away.
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blue girl presents
Roly Poly Me in an outfit made by my Dad!
Why, hello there!

i hope that you have been having a wonderful week.  I spent my week enjoying time with family and friends.  The weather has been so perfect for play and fun.

Today is Taiwanese Father's Day - the perfect opportunity to brag about my Dad for a little bit.

There is no doubt that I am my Mother's child, because I look just like her.  However, my personality and all of my craftiness comes from my Dad.  My Mom is a fierce cook, but crafting is just not her thing.  She has created lovely things in the past, but usually under coercion from a craft-loving friend.

My Dad is goofy, laughs a lot, and always has a camera with him.  That's me!  Friends who meet my Dad for the first time always say, "so that's where you get it from."

My Dad is crafty and talented.  When he was young he led a church youth group.  He has these memory books that he created for each member back when mimeographs were high tech.  Every page was handwritten and included his own illustrations.  It's pretty crazy. 

When I was in 7th grade, I had to make an Egyptian headdress and collar for school.  It was my Dad's idea to use a carpet-y toilet bowl cover as a base for the collar.  Are you old enough to remember when it was cool to decorate the toilet to match the floor mats?  Even though we bought a brand new cover from Hills, I was initially mortified by the idea.  But of course it was a genius idea, and I got an 'A' after adorning the cover with a bunch of gold trim.

One of my Dad's funniest creations was a window knocker.  While eating lunch, my Dad's seat offers a perfect view of a bird feeder he set up outside the large picture windows in an adjacent room.  One year, he was frustrated that squirrels and large black birds were eating up the seeds and scaring off the smaller birds.  My Dad set up other feeding areas for the larger birds and squirrels, but they loved the feeder right by the window.  My Dad created spiked rings from plastic containers to deter the squirrels.  But the squirrels loved the fancy new obstacle course they felt was created just for them.  He tried to create slippery covers for the bird feeder that would make it too difficult for the larger birds and squirrels to reach the food.  It only helped temporarily.  Finally, my Dad created a window knocker.  He had a pull string next to his seat that traveled up and across the ceilings over to a ball that would bang the window.  That worked.  It only stayed up for a month or two, but it sure gave us a laugh while it lasted.

My Dad also sews.  He doesn't sew regularly - only when inspiration strikes.  However, it makes me proud that he sewed me an outfit when I was a roly poly  baby.  It gives me hope that I will master a sewing machine one day! 

I could tell a gazillion other stories about my Dad's talents, craftiness, and goofiness, but with Father's Day twice a year it's best to share a few at a time.

I love you, Dad!  Happy Taiwanese Father's Day!

P.S.  My Dad's nickname is Blue.  That is part of the reason why I'm bluegirl.  :)