Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Cleansing both mind and body

About 3 years ago Mark got a small sauna for us. I thought he was a little crazy because where we live you can sit outside and sweat at least 10 mths out of the year! LOL! Anytime we've travelled, he's always enjoyed using a sauna and I knew he'd get lots of use out of it, and he really has. When he's home he uses the sauna daily. As for me, I only used it when we had the occasional cold day and I wanted to warm up quickly! :) That is until recently. Mark had repeatedly told me the benefits of taking a sauna. Finally I gave in and decided to join him. Like with everything else, once I make my mind up and commit, I'm in it for the long run. For the last few weeks, around 6 each morning I go for my sauna. At first I had a hard time relaxing-my mind was racing with all the things I thought I should be doing instead of just lying there. I tried taking books in to read but the heat and steam rippled the pages; magazines would just fall apart. Then it hit me-this would be the perfect time to just sit and talk with God! I've really enjoyed being able to sit and pray without being rushed or interrupted. When I come out, not only has my body been cleansed but so has my mind and heart. I would encourage everyone to try the sauna. You may just be surprised at how much you enjoy it too.

For some of the physical benefits of the sauna, I found tons of information from this site.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Homemade Laundry Detergent

I never thought I would have any desire to make my own laundry detergent. That is until I read this book by Renee Loux. I've now started making my own cleaners, hand sanitizer and air freshener. I have to admit that I've had the most fun making the laundry detergent. I use this recipe with Ivory soap. I really love the nice fresh smell-no sweet perfume. Plus it only costs pennies a load. Did I mention that it cleans just as well as the other detergents? I'm definitely sold!

John Deere Road

On our last visit to Canada Mark took us to meet a couple he had met a few years ago. After spending the evening with them I wished he had introduced us sooner! Sharon was so beautiful and so very sweet! The girls fell in love with her immediately! As soon as we came in she pulled out tons of toys for them to play with. For us, she had boiled, peeled and deveined shrimp (can you believe it?) We had a fabulous time! They had a gorgeous house but my favorite part had to be outside. They had the most meticulously landscaped and "decorated" yard. I couldn't resist going from plant to plant taking in all the beauty. Sharon and Firmin were such a delightful couple. I look forward to spending much more time with them and getting to know them better.
Firmin's first tractor

Happy endings do come true...

"honest to God!" (guess who said this!)

The 23rd of August we were fortunate enough to be invited to our dear friend's, Mark and Cyndy's wedding in Shoal Lake, Canada. Boy were we in for a treat! They had a garden wedding on Saturday afternoon. We arrived in Manitoba on Thursday evening. I was a little worried on Friday b/c it was not only raining, but a little chilly for this southern girl! It wouldn't have been a problem but we had packed for 90 F weather. Let me tell you-it was no where near 90 F! Thankfully by Saturday afternoon the weather had cleared and it was actually a little warm in the sun.
(Their Ukrainian wedding cake. Isn't it gorgeous?)

I always thought we did things differently down here. We're a lot more like our northern neighbors than I ever imagined! The groom and his groom's men arrived on quads with elk horns (I think it was elk???) tied on the front! This just fit those 3 guys! It was in direct contrast to Cyndy and their daughter Samantha gracefully gliding to the front in gorgeous white beaded gowns with their hair piled high around sparkling crowns. They always say opposites attract! LOL!

(Sweet Carla the matron on honor)

That evening there was a feast (and I mean FEAST!) for family and friends(over 400 people). Did I mention that Mark is Ukrainian? Those guys know how to cook! I haven't found any Ukrainian food that I don't like. It was an all you can eat Ukrainian buffet! I was in heaven. I ate till I thought I'd be sick. But it felt so good! LOL! After the speeches, toasts and dinner the dancing started. There were different Ukrainian dances that were so fun to watch. If I had any rhythm it would have probably been fun to participate too! We stayed until about 10:30 and were so exhausted we had to leave. The festivities went on all night. In fact at 11pm they had "lunch". More eating! This time it was trays of cold cuts and cheese. I hate we had to miss it, but we just couldn't hang out that late! Guess I'm getting old.
(Emma and Samantha) (Mary and Julie) (Cheryl and I) (Natasha, Emma and Mary) (Jenna and Grace)

That wasn't the end. The next day their was a big lunch for family and close friends. More Ukrainian food! YUM! Oh yea, Mark did take a pile of shrimp up and boil those to add to the meal. I ate a few just to be nice to my husband, but I was honestly more interested in the cabbage rolls!
(Mark cooking the shrimp.)
(The incredible chefs behind all the food I love so much-Shirley, Shirley, Phyllis and Anne. Mark's wants to leave me with them until I can learn to cook like they do. I'm afraid there aren't enough hours in the day! LOL)

You would think that would be the end of the celebrating and we'd leave the newlyweds alone for a few minutes. Not gonna happen. That evening we went to Mark and Cyndy's home, along with 2 other families and sat outside around the fire-roasting marshmallows, eating sandwiches and chips and just visiting. This was such fun-I could hang out there every night (that is if it wasn't such a long drive/flight from AL).
This was such a beautiful celebration for 2 beautiful people. Mark and his family have always gone out of their way to reach out to our family and show us a good time in Canada. I'm so glad he and Cyndy have been blessed with each other. I pray they have many years of happiness!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Tennis anyone???

The girls have started tennis lessons this year. Mark and his siblings grew up playing and enjoying tennis. We're hoping the girls will have a passion for it too. So far, so good. 2 of their sweet friends are taking at the same time which makes it even more fun.

School Days

We've finally started school! Because of our long trip, we couldn't start the 1st of September when we normally do. Instead I waited till we got back home and were rested. I have to say that things are going really well. I always like to have our daily schedules completed for the whole first term before we actually start school. This helps me tremendously to be organized. I like to use the forms at Donna Young. She has a form for everything! Let's hope the rest of the year goes as smoothly as this first week.

Ghent, Belgium

This was the last stop on our trip before heading back to England and flying home. We couldn't have asked for a more beautiful place! Our hotel was right down town with a beautiful view of the canal and the old, gorgeous buildings. We were able to walk everywhere which is what we prefer to do. Who wants to be closed up in a car when you can be outside breathing the sweet, cool air (before going home to the hot, sticky humidity! LOL)
Here's where we stayed.The view from our window. The same buildings at night.The Castle of Counts-a 12th Century medieval fortress
Inside the castleThe view from the castleDinner at a traditional Belgium restaurant-The Palms-delicious!The city of Ghent is known for it's beauty-especially at night. The whole family had fun exploring and taking in everything in the evening.

New Wheels for Emma

This little girl is growing up so fast! She's been needing a new bike and we finally got around to getting her one. The big girls and I ride bikes everyday-now Emma can join us. As soon as we got it set up she was on it pedaling away. Every morning before she even gets dressed or eats she wants to go ride her princess bike.

New Castle, England

We went to New Castle in northeast England because Mark had business there. What a beautiful place-I'm so glad we got to visit. We actually stayed outside the city in Tynemouth-right on the North Sea. The view from our hotel (an old victorian home that's been converted into suites) was breathtaking! The girls and I spent one morning just climbing among the rocks, playing in the sand and dipping our toes (only our toes!) into the ice cold water.
Our hotel
Can you see Mary poking her head out of her bedroom window? (all the way up on the roof) Tynemouth Priory and Castle-ruins of the 13th century priory church set on a steep headland between the River Tyne and the North Sea.
This was a fabulous Indian restaurant in New Castle. Janet (Mark's business assoc) and her family were kind enough to take us there.