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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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blue girl presents
blue girl presents: praise report
blue girl presents
Hello darlings. I hope you have found ways to be thankful this week. Hubby and I took another lovely walk on another perfect day. It is so nice to see everything so lush and green. Soon it will be fun to see the leaves changing colors!

In my Raspberry Short Whips post I mentioned attending a BBQ over the weekend and hanging out with some ladies at the beginning of the week. It is always a treat to spend time with people I may not see often. I really appreciate those who make get-togethers happen. I enjoy time with friends, but I am not usually good at initiating those times.

We had a dinner outing with my brother-in-law, sister-in-law, and their kids. Even though we see each other often, we don't always have time to just relax and hang out. It is a gift to live close to them and enjoy their company.

Our dear friends are getting married tomorrow. This means seeing lots of people I love and getting pretty. Hooray! The bride and groom are so special to us and we have created some pretty fun memories. Once, we were attending the same wedding. At some point, they said, "we're going to Disneyland the week of 4th of July! Hey, you should come!" We laughed the way people laugh at ridiculous invitations. Then Hubby was curious and discovered he had time off that week, and we had enough frequent flier miles to cover the trip. At the reception, we leaned over and asked our friends, "soooooo...were you serious when you asked us to go to Disneyland with you?" And just like that, we planned our next vacation...while on vacation. (Not usually how we do things, but we like to pretend!)

Thanks for visiting. I super appreciate my readers. You are so sweet.

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blue girl presents: nature
What a beautiful week.  Aside from a crazy downpour on Tuesday morning, the weather has been amazing.  Another week with plenty to be thankful for.

* We visited Uncle last weekend to celebrate his 91st birthday.  We had good weather, good food, and good company.

* While visiting Uncle, we were able to pick fresh blueberries!  Apparently, he has always had the blueberry bushes (trees?), but the birds always got to the berries first.  It was my first time picking fresh blueberries, and hopefully not my last.  It was so much fun!
blue girl presents: fresh blueberries
* I super duper like kielbasa, and Hubby's family likes to tease me about it.  But I know they love me, because they planned a dinner with burgers and KIELBASA at Uncle's, and didn't tell me so that I would be surprised.  Hooray!

* It is pretty common knowledge that I super duper like striped socks.  They make my feet happy.  That's a fact.  I hadn't realized how much I like stripes in general until this week.  I went on a spontaneous shopping trip, and everything I brought into the dressing room had stripes!  Nice to know that something that makes me happy is so popular right now.  As I was folding clean laundry this week, I realized that I have several striped pieces in my current wardrobe.  Yay for stripes!

* On Hubby's day off this week, the weather was so lovely we were able to take a leisurely walk.  We were adventurous and walked a part of our neighborhood we hadn't walked to before. 

Have a wonderful weekend.  Thank you so much for visiting!
blue girl presents: bridge at sunset
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Hello! Our power went out today. It eventually came back on, but I never turned my computer back on, so no photo today. I have a lot of praises though!

* I play piano in church a couple times each month. This past Sunday, I was going through my music before the service started, when my niece and the Pastor's daughter came prancing down the aisle to visit with me. Hugs from a five year old and a four year old are a definite praise!

My niece told me that she likes the LOW notes on the piano. The Pastor's daughter told me she likes the twinkly notes. Then the organist sat down to practice some of the hymns. For one of the hymns, I decided to play along. When I did, my niece turned to her friend and said, "listen to my Aunt Karen! She's the best pianist!" So cute. Those little girls are such a blessing in my life.

* I made it through all four shows of South Pacific and had an absolute blast! I still can't stop humming the music.

* Monday, my little brother came to visit. We ate yummy stinky Asian food. We made dumplings from scratch. It was my first time dumplings completely from scratch (bad Asian!), and we totally winged it. They didn't turn out too bad though.

We played music together too. My brother is better at piano, and I'm better at violin, so he always accompanies me. But at some point when we play, we like to switch instruments. Then we laugh our socks off because we sound so awful. I love that!

* Tuesday I got to hang out with a bunch ladies from church. One of the members of our ladies bible study owns a lake house (although we learned that the "lake" is actually a pond). She graciously invites our group over each year. We had a lovely time enjoying the beauty of the pond, good fellowship, and yummy food.

* In two weeks I get to be a bridesmaid. I took my dress to be altered and it is finished. Woohoooo! I am so excited.

* This weekend we get to celebrate another family birthday. This one means a mini road trip and lots of good food. Hooray!

Hope you are having an amazing weekend.

Happy Friday!  Do you have any fun plans for the weekend?  Did you have a good week?  I have so much to be thankful for this week.

*  I visited the preschool where I will running a couple music groups in the fall.  It reminded me how much I enjoyed working with little kids in the past.  The kids warmed up to me very quickly which was exciting.  I am so thankful to my friend for offering me this opportunity.  My friend also spoiled me with a delicious lunch afterwards which was a nice surprise.

* Two of my dear Cousins have been in the states for the past few years doing dental fellowships.  One of them left to return to Taiwan yesterday.  :(  Before he left, Hubby, "baby" Brother, and I were able to enjoy dinner and dessert with him.  It was a really great time.  We saw each other far too little while my Cousin was in the states, but I'm thankful for the times we did see each other. 

* My Hubby has been asked to be an usher for two weddings in the next few months.  I told him that it was because he is so tall and handsome.  (Go ahead and roll your eyes, but I know what's true!)  He has been needing a new suit, and this was the perfect excuse to get one.  I was going nuts while we were shopping because he just looked so handsome in everything.  We were good and only chose one suit, but it was a good one!

*  Last night I had my first of four performances of "South Pacific".  I had such a blast playing in the pit with the rest of the orchestra.  It is a small group with only one of each instrument, but it's a really fun and friendly group.  I'm super thankful to Hubby's friend for giving me the chance to sub for him.  Hooray!

I hope that you have a wonderful weekend.  No matter what you may be going through, I hope that you feel loved and blessed.
Hello there!  Can you believe it's Friday again?  I hope that you had a wonderful week. 

*  This week, I was able to spend some time with my five year old niece and my one year old nephew.  They only live five minutes away, but I hadn't really spent time with them in a few weeks.  They are the cutest, and I always cherish the time that I have with them.  We sang songs, had an ukulele dance party, read a bunch of fun books, and made some art. 
For the picture above, my niece asked me to draw a table with cups and jars, a baker, and an oven.  She had some special candy stickers she wanted to use.  She also asked me to draw the baker with short hair, "like my Mom!"  Sweet girl. 

* I had pizza this week.  I REALLY like pizza.  So any week with pizza is a praise.  Hooray for a husband who brings home pizza!  Hooray for an awesome pizza shop super close to our home!

* One of my dearest friends from college called me this week.  We call each other "Cousin" but we're not really related.  We actually try to connect every Monday.  However, the past few weeks have been a bit crazy with vacations or house guests on either end.  Cousin is great though and she managed to sneak in a quick call last week and a longer call this week on a non-Monday.  That was a sweet surprise.

* Another friend called me up this week and gave me an opportunity to lead a music group at a daycare in the fall.  In a past life, I was a music therapist.  I attended school with this friend, and we worked together for a year.  Life happened, and I eventually stopped doing music therapy.  I really appreciate this friend for letting me dip my toe back into the field.

* Attending the 70th birthday party last weekend gave me extra time to spend with my Mother-in-Law.  She is such a blessing in my life.  Sometimes, I tell Hubby I married him for his Mother.  She is so wonderful, he's never entirely sure if I'm telling the truth or not.  He is so wonderful, it doesn't really matter.  :)

Have a super spectacular weekend!!!!!

Happy Friday!!!

I had a lovely week, and I hope that you did too.
Here are a few of my praises for the week.

* One of Hubby's friends is a violinist.  He's playing in the pit orchestra for a community theater that is performing South Pacific.  They have a total of twelve shows, but he is unable to play the last four shows.  He asked me to be a substitute.  This took a LOT of trust on his part, because he had never heard me play...and I had never heard his play either!  This week I was able to rehearse with the group on Tuesday.  On Wednesday, Hubby and I were able to attend the dress rehearsal.  It was so much fun!  (My secret dream job is to play in the pit of a Broadway show.)  I have been singing songs from the show all week with no signs of stopping.  Good thing Hubby is patient and kind.

* I have the opposite of a green thumb, but we have beautiful flowers that appear around our house each year.  It's so fun to see them.

* In a few weeks, I get to be bridesmaid.  I am SO excited.  My dress arrived this week.  It came in a plastic envelope which seemed strange.  However, it had been placed in a garment bag and included a handwritten note.  Hooray!

I hope that you have a spectacular weekend.  I made a new card today with NO animals.  It was a bit of an experiment, but it was great fun.  You'll have to come back on Monday to see it!


It can be fun to complain, don't you think?  Sitting around and swapping "woe is me" stories gives us a weird sense of pride and accomplishment.  Or maybe I'm just weird.  That's possible too.

It doesn't always happen naturally, but I try my best to overflow with optimism and positivity.  I realize that this can backfire and be terribly annoying for the people around me.  But each day I'm learning how very loved I am.  God has blessed me way more than I deserve.  He has carried me through joys and trials and plateaus.  Because of this, it is important for me to remember to be thankful each day for even the silliest things.  Here are a few of my praises for this week.

blue girl presents: McDonald's Chocolate Dipped Cone
Dipped Cone from McDonald's

* Hubby and I did an informal research study.  The results of our study are as follows:

  • Dairy Queen has the best chocolate dipped cones. 
  • McDonald's has the best non-dipped vanilla soft serve.
  • Burger King soft serve is only worth getting when it is the closest place open - and on sale for 50 cents. 
  • McDonald's uses the tastiest and crispiest cones!  They may be laced with crack, but this hasn't been confirmed.
  • Ice cream is yummy!

* Apparently, Hubby has been secretly reading my blog.  After sharing my Mini Notecards, I was surprised with some extra cute little love notes.  (It might be nice for Hubby if I started reading my own blog...)  I am blessed.

* Last weekend, my Mother-In-Law said she was hosting a little dinner party at the end of the week and requested my Patriotic Berry Appetizer recipe.  A few days later, she called Hubby and invited the two of us to come to her dinner party.  Guess who will be bringing brie and berries?  We all got a kick out of that.  Dinner is tonight, and I just know it will be fun and yummy.  I am insanely blessed with the most amazing In-laws. 

Those are some of my praises for the week. What are some of yours?

Hope you have a spectacular weekend!