Sunday, December 29, 2013

Searching...No Service

The skies were cloudy and rain was falling. I looked toward the hills and fog was setting in. I found myself in the middle of the cemetery wet, upset and frustrated. How did I get here? 

It started the day before when we started on our journey down to Ohio to see family for a Christmas gathering. There have been many reasons that the past few years we haven't been able to make it. My husband works for the Detroit Auto Show and work is always abundant this time of year. Sometimes it's the weather or illness that doesn't allow us to make it. This time there was no excuse.  The skies were bright and sunny with a chill in the air. Yes, we were late leaving and getting on the road but when you're driving at least four hours and it's an overnight trip, you're bound to get out slowly. 

We were on the way and the part of Ohio where we are going to is kind of in the middle of nowhere. I don't remember driving on all of these back roads and two lane highways. I get anxious and I ask my husband to get to an interstate and he does and we end up out of the way making the trip take longer than necessary but I am happy when he obliges my request to stop at Chick Fil A. We don't have any of these in Michigan and knowing that they are closed on Sunday, I really wanted to stop for a quick bite. I call them morsels from Heaven and I am hoping that the family waiting for us understands the need to stop. 

Of course we get to the celebration late and everyone is waiting on us to exchange gifts. If you're reading this, I hope you forgive our tardiness. You see, I was kind of dreading the trip there since it is where my mom is buried and this is the first time back in 10 years since we buried her there. I am happy to see my family but delaying the trip somehow made it easier on me. 

We have a great time seeing everyone and exchanging gifts and laughing and catching up. Life here is so different than our life at home. On the way, we saw a car and tractor dealership with 4 cars in the lot. It's not all like that, but it's a different way of life than ours. It's simpler and people live on farms and there are a lot of factories and things like that. There's also a lot of Amish around here. We don't even have cell service here. I understand why my mom wanted to be buried here since all of our family is here but I still wish she were by me. 

We checked into the hotel and then decided to go for dinner. The local supermarket Buehlers has a restaurant in it called The Mill. My cousin's friend used to manage it. Everyone knows everyone in these small towns. We get to the restaurant and I have a mini meltdown. The time is finally here to visit the grave. It's right down the street but it is dark so we have to wait until tomorrow. I can't believe I am here and it's this close. The anticipation is killing me and I am anxious and afraid to go. She isn't there in the grave- I know that but I also feel like I need some closure since it's been 10 years. 

We are sitting there at the table and my aunt and uncle show up. I don't need to explain the tears and she doesn't ask. I love that about my aunt. She has always been someone who I have admired and looked to for advice. She tells me I don't have to go if I don't want to and I say yes I do. That settles it. 

We get up for breakfast after a restless night and meet them downstairs. She asks what we are going to do and I say go to the cemetery and then head home. She doesn't question me or ask if I want company. They tell us good bye and we are on our way. 

It's raining out and it's not a great day to be in a cemetery. It's wet and muddy and just gross. We get there and drive to where we remember the grave being. It's not there. We proceed to drive around the cemetery for an hour and a half looking for my mom's grave. By this time, I am so irritated and upset that I start crying. Why can't I even get this right? It's the one thing I came here to do and I can't even find it! Mom! Why are you doing this to me? I look down at my phone to place a call and I see searching...no service. Ugh! We keep driving around searching for it. I might add that it's Sunday so the office is closed and no one is around to help us. My husband and I both get out and are walking through the graves in the rain looking for it. I remember it's by the road and I can see the soybean factory and the smoke. He remembers it's by a big tree. No luck. I say Mom send me a sign! Help me find you! 

We decide to go back over to Buehlers and use the wi-fi( this works on the phone) to see if it's on the internet somewhere. We are in the parking lot and I am searching my phone trying to hold back the tears when I see a car pull up beside us. It's my cousin and his wife! They roll down the window and my husband asks him if he knows where the grave is. He says follow me back to the cemetery. Sometimes the most important calls that you make aren't with a phone. 

We drive in and he makes the same turns as we did before. He stops and gets out and sure enough, it's not where we thought it was. Barb, my cousin's wife, calls my aunt and asks her if she can help us. Ronnie finds it and waves us over. 

There's the headstone-  just like it looked in the sketch that the monument man sent to me 10 years ago. We stop and stare. There are no words that can be spoken. There is peace. My son stands next to me who never got to meet her. He asks about it and hugs me. I think he almost started to cry. I shed a few tears- tears of joy, tears of peace, tears of frustration. My mom always making me wait for her! My mom always helping me and sending me that sign- my cousin! 

With peace and love and joy, we headed back out on the road towards home. With a grateful heart and the feeling of closure, I look at the photo and tell my husband next time, we will clean the grave so it's shinier. Next time, we will know where it is. There will be a next time. 

Here are a few pictures highlighting our trip. Enjoy! 

Thanks for reading and following along with me. 

Sandae

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Style Me December: Week Three

Well it's hard to believe that the third week of December has already come and gone but it has. This week continued to be cold and dreary and dumping snow and slush on us. A typical December in Michigan! 

I started the week off with an outfit that I absolutely loved! I bought this Joe Fresh taffeta skirt a while back and decided to pair it with a chambray shirt. Day 15 was Winter Fur and I was super excited to wear this black faux fur vest over this outfit. I wore black tights and booties and finished it off with a belt that I have had for ages. The faux fur trend is one of my faves that is happening now and I lucked out and found this vest online at Kohls! 


Day 16 was Merry Mixing Prints and I think if you follow me on Instagram or regularly read my blog, you know I love mixing patterns! This one wasn't hard and I chose pink as my go-to color for the day. Pink and yellow are favorite bright colors of mine that seem to make me happy! This Old Navy sweater is one I found last year on clearance for about $5. I wore this gingham shirt from Joe Fresh that I also found early this year on clearance. The necklace is from Groopdealz and is one of my favorites! 



Day 17 was Put a Bow on it. I could have worn something with the infamous gold bow belt but I decided instead to wear my favorite navy blue bow sweater from J Crew Factory. I made this look extremely holidayish by pairing it with a plaid from J Crew Factory and some green jeans. I also love love love these green smoking flats with the black bows on them! Thank you, Vera Wang and Kohls for such lovely shoes! 


Day 18 was Buttoned Nutcracker. I have to admit that I don't really have anything that would classify as nutcracker-ish so I went with wearing a buttoned up shirt. I think the whole idea of this styling is just to have fun and have a theme for the day. It makes choosing outfits fun and enjoyable too! I paired a red plaid flannel from Old Navy with this embellished sweatshirt from Kohls. I also wore the beautiful necklace from Very Jane. 


Day 19 was An Icy Blue Winter. I chose a floral shirt from Old Navy, a light cream and blue sweater from Anthropologie and some teal cords. I also chose yellow shoes to wear and a tassel necklace from Purple Peridot via Groopdealz. This outfit is very cozy and also pretty at the same time. I love all of the shades of blues! 


Day 20 was Christmas Jumper. Now I know that people call sweaters jumpers as well but I took the interpretation a little differently and wore a dress as a jumper! I think that I still love this J Crew Factory dress a lot and probably love it as a jumper more than as an actual dress! I wore a bright green blouse under it from Old Navy from a couple of years ago and went with more pattern mixing- a pretty gold polka dot scarf from Target, the tassel necklace and some leopard pumps. I think this was one of my favorite looks from the week! 


Day 21 was Naughty or Nice. Say what you want, but I generally wear clothes that make me look nice...that being said, it was difficult to really find an outfit to match this description. Instead I wore an outfit that I wore a while back but layered the sweater from Loft with a polka dot shirt and wore the tassel necklace (again!). 


Overall this week was really fun! I had a great time shopping in my closet and coming up with looks to match the different days. I love having this guideline to come up with something as it makes choosing looks a little easier and more fun for me. 

Have a great rest of your weekend! The countdown to Christmas is on! 

Sandae

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Christmas with Jesus


 

Warning: Get your tissues before you read this.


I wrote a post back in October about how my mother had a Halloween birthday.  I have to tell you all that I find having a blog is really a creative outlet and is also very therapeutic when I am writing.  I find that sometimes I am unaware of how someone feels or what they are going through, but they could be in a situation just like mine. You might be reading this now and have recently lost a loved one. If I can help one person, then I am blessed.

This is one of those times that I look at my blog as therapy.  I mentioned in my earlier post that this year, it will be ten years since my mother passed away.  Life goes by in the blink of an eye.  It was on December 19th and it was a Friday night when I got the call to come to the hospital.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  The nurse called me and told me that I had better come down to the hospital.  It was cold and snowy and I remember my sister was in from Florida and had a rented mini-van.  We drove about a mile over to pick up my mom’s best friend, Kathy, on the way out to Ann Arbor. 

I remember it was so dark and cold and parking in the parking garage on that Friday night.  Even that my sister asked if it would be okay if she used the restroom before we got to the room.  I somehow already knew that my mother was gone.  I remember telling my sister that I thought it wouldn’t matter, that she would be okay. (She is probably saying right now that she can’t believe I put that in here!).

We got to the room and it was dark and the tiny Christmas tree that my mom loved so much was lighting up the room.  It was quiet and the breathing machine was turned off. She was gone. The room was so peaceful and serene with the light reflecting off.  I remember crying but I remember how at the same time I was relieved. When you have a sick parent, it is so difficult to see them suffering. 

My mom was fun loving and was a very courageous woman even while suffering.  I remember never leaving the hospital without hugging and kissing her and telling her that I loved her.  I remember the last thing that she said to be was that she was not scared about dying; she was ready to go but she was going to miss us here on earth so much.  (Yes, I am crying as I write this now).

I often say that my mom was a diva.  She had two funeral services (yes, two, and they were both packed) in two different states.  She passed around Christmas though and so both of my sisters and their spouses were able to get here.  She also passed right before I started with the bank that I am currently working for.  So while I think she loved the attention (it’s okay for me to say that-I’m joking!) she was also so considerate of us and looked out for us until the end.  The church that we attended was also so beautifully decorated as though it were just for her.

So around the time of her funeral, I was handed a copy of this poem and I read it.  It really hit me hard and struck home.  I am blessed to know that I will see her again someday.  Enjoy this poem.

I see the countless Christmas trees
around the world below
with tiny lights like heaven stars
reflecting on the snow

The sight is so spectacular
Please wipe away that that tear
For I'm spending Christmas
with Jesus Christ this year

I hear the many Christmas songs
That people hold so dear
O', the sounds of music can't compare
with the Christmas choir up here.

For I have no words to tell you
of the joy their voices bring
for it's beyond description
to hear the angels sing.

I know how much you miss me,
I see the pain inside your heart.
but, through our memories so dear..
We're never far apart.

I can't tell you of the splendor
or the peace here in this place
Can you just imagine Christmas
with Our Savior.......face-to-face.

I'll ask him to light your spirit
As I tell him of your Love.
Then I'll pray for 'One another'
As you lift your eyes above.

So please let your heart be joyful
and let your spirit sing
for I'm spending Christmas in heaven
and I'm walking with the king.

 
Thank you for reading and following along. Enjoy this Christmas season!

Sandae

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Style Me December: Week Two

Well this week has been fun but very challenging since it was so cold! I didn't take many pictures of me outside since it was below freezing most days. 

Day 8 (Sunday) was probably my most favorite day as it was Sugarplum Pinks. I used the Eva Mendes for New York and Company dress that I wore earlier in the year as a jumper and layered it adding a Gap long sleeve button down shirt and an Old Navy heart sweater over top. I also wore these pink shoes from Crocs that I bought in Vegas at the outlet mall a couple of years ago. 

Here's a picture of the dress back in October:


Here's a picture of the entire outfit and some of the details:

Day 9 was Charming Coats. Coincidentally, it was freezing here! I wore a warm and cozy outfit and managed to get a picture outside quickly! I am wearing one of my favorite coats that I bought a couple of years ago from JC Penney and my favorite Zara blanket scarf. 


Day 10 was Pudding So Plum. Well, I went with the plum color for a cardigan from Loft and added some sparkles with a tee from Old Navy and a scarf from Target. Adding some pattern to the mix, I wore a leopard belt over top. I also wore my regular old riding boots from DSW. These have gotten some major wear since I bought them! 


Day 11 was arguably another favorite in my book! It was Stockings With Care so I decided to wear a dress with some "stockings". I wore the dress that I wore for the post One Dress, Three Ways and guess what? Now there's a fourth way! I wore the dress from Target with a polka dot chambray from Old Navy, the leopard belt for even more pattern mixing, navy tights and booties from Charming Charlie. Perhaps the favorite part of all was this beautiful new necklace from J Crew that I got on major sale! 

Here's a reminder of the dress from the original post:


Here's a picture of the outfit for this day:


And here's just me being me with this beautiful necklace! 


Day 12 was Classic Black and White. I chose to wear this knit blazer from Target over top of a flannel from Old Navy and a tee from J Crew Factory. This was fun to do as layering is becoming more and more necessary in this weather! 


Day 13 was Clara Ballerina. Full disclosure that I totally would have worn a beautiful tulle skirt but I has the day off of work and did shopping all day for Christmas and groceries! So I took a picture of the clothes that I was wearing and paired it with the beautiful Alice and Olivia ballerina mug from Starbucks. I wore a flannel from Old Navy and paired it with a bright yellow sweater from aloft last year. I also wore the very first statement necklace that I ever purchased! I love these colors together! 


Day 14 was Rockin' Around. I had every intention on wearing the first outfit but it decided to snow inches and well, that made it totally impractical! This outfit is a tweed moto jacket from Banana Republic (old) a lace top from Loft from last year and a fun metal necklace and earrings from Premier Designs jewelry. It is really more of an edgy rockin' look. 



Sadly, I had to trade this look for something more realistic since we did have to be outside in all of the snow. This Old Navy sweater is cute with an Old Navy plaid and a pretty technicolorfloral statement necklace. Of course comfy boots were a necessity! 


I hope you enjoyed all of the looks from this past week! I'm so glad to participate in this fun challenge! It helps to keep me motivated and mixing up my clothes! Would you have worn anything differently? 

Thanks for reading and following along! Enjoy the rest of your weekend! 

Sandae

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Style Me December: Week One

Thanks in advance to @hilaryrushford on Instgram for coming up with this idea that I am about to talk about. She made a list on Instagram of the entire month of December for different things to do and/or style. I have seen all of the other pictures a day things that people do and this month, I chose to do hers. Don't get me wrong; there's nothing wrong with taking a picture of "tiny" or a shadow. I just thought Hilary's was more for me since it gave me more ideas for styling outfits this month. 

So, I thought this month, I would show you the day and the description along with what I did for the day but I'll recap only once a week. 


Day One: Deck Your Neck

I love this beautiful necklace that I got from Buffalo Lane through jane.com. It is JCrew-inspired, meaning it's a dupe but for a fraction of the price. I already wrote about the rest of this outfit in last week's Sunday Style blog post. 



Day Two: Pear Tree Greens

I really felt like mixing it up and wearing all kinds of patterns on Monday. I also took advantage of having green pants and green shoes to wear. The shoes are a newer purchase from Kohls. Notice I am wearing the necklace again too! Love it! 


Day Three: Candy Cane Stripes

I didn't really feel that I had traditional candy cane stripes of red and white to wear so I decided to wear a favorite of mine from last year that my husband bought me for Christmas. The girl in this shirt is wearing stripes too! I love these tees from Loft as they have so much character in them! Yellow is a great way too to brighten up any mood! 



Day Four: Mistletoe-Ready Lips

I felt like going with a lot of neutrals and mixing patterns again. I went with mostly black and white but also put in some browns with the leopard shoes and scarf. Olive jeans go nicely with this as well! I had to take one of myself for this challenge even though maybe it's not a close up of my lips! 



Day Five: Gingerbread Neutrals 

I don't really wear a lot of brown so I looked for what I could find that might pass. I like brown as a color and it looks great on me because of my coloring but I actually don't really like to wear it a whole lot because I find it kind of boring. I love this sweater my husband bought for me last year! It is so warm and cozy and I put a fun blue leopard print tee under it from last summer and some Emu boots. I was warm and comfortable all day! Bonus: this necklace really looks spectacular with anything! 


Day Six: (wo)Man with the Bag

So I decided to be bold and get some yellow pants! Yes, these are bright yellow pants! And I love them! I noticed that I was a little happier too wearing these. These are from Lands End and are super comfortable. I made an easy outfit of a navy sweater from Loft and a chambray from Old Navy. Throw on a pair of boots and a scarf and you're done! Notice it's supposed to be about the bag and not my pants, so I took a pic with one of the hottest bags of the year from Phillip Lim for Target. 



Day Seven: French Hen

I'm pretty proud of myself for coming up with this outfit and layering so well! I used a tee from summer from JCrew Factory, a flannel shirt from Old Navy and this Loft sweater that I bought almost two years ago. I threw on pearls and boots and called it a day. I think I'll be trying this more! Remember I blogged about this earlier too and transitioning your pieces into different seasons! 



So this was week one and it was a lot of fun! I'm looking forward to creating this next weeks outfits too! If you're on Instagram, did you participate? I try to look through pics that people have tagged and see what ideas they came up with. How else would you have styled anything for these days? 

Thanks for reading and following along! Have a great rest of your weekend! 

Sandae

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Yum! You Brought Eclair Cake!

Tis the season for holiday parties and potlucks! I wanted to share a quick and easy dessert that my family loves as well as anyone who gets to eat it when I bring it!

This recipe is a Kraft Foods recipe and can be found also at kraftfoods.com. I first had a version of this dessert when I was in college. They served it in big pans and gave us a slice for dessert at the Sunday meal after church. Years later my sister in law found it and gave it to me. I just made this for dessert a couple of weeks ago to take to a friend's house and decided I should share the recipe with all of you! 

Graham Cracker Eclair "Cake":

Here are the ingredients that you need:


15 Graham crackers, Broken in half (30 crackers), divided- eyeball it if you need more, you can use more 
1 1/2 cups milk
1 pkg (4 oz serving size) Jello Vanilla flavor instant pudding and pie mix
1 tub (8 oz) Cool Whip whipped topping, thawed
1 cup chocolate ready to spread frosting

Arrange ten of the graham cracker squares, overlapping slightly, in bottom of 8 inch square baking pan; set aside. ( Notice I used a bigger pan, more graham crackers and more pudding for a larger cake). 


Pour milk into a large bowl. Add dry pudding mix. Beat with wire whisk 2 mins or until well blended. Let stand 5 minutes or until thickened. Gently stir in whipped topping with wire whisk until well blended.

Spread half of the pudding mixture over graham cracker squares in pan. Top with 10 of the graham cracker squares and remaining pudding mixture. Cover with remaining 10 graham squares. 


Refrigerate at least 3 hours. Spread with chocolate frosting just before serving. 


Enjoy! This is such a simple and easy dessert that tastes so good! 


What's your favorite easy dessert to take? 

Thanks for reading and following along! 

Sandae

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Sunday Style: Holiday Style

This year I have been inspired by my friends on Instagram who love the holiday season and are beginning to dress for it. I found this sweater in late October when I visited the Loft store in Briarwood Mall. They were having a big 50% off everything sale and something about this sweater spoke to me. I like that it is light-weight and the sparkle in it goes well with silver or gold. I wore a statement necklace from veryjane that I got a couple of weeks ago with it and it's a perfect start to the holiday dressing season! 


Here's a picture of the whole outfit- purse is Phillip Lim for Target and boots from DSW are last year. 


I also took the opportunity to take my new coat out for a spin that I bought on Black Friday from JC Penney. It's the perfect coat for wearing with pants or dresses when a puffer coat just won't cut it and you need something nicer. Seriously though, I love the cut and color and the price was right at 70% off!
 


How else would you wear this sweater? I've got a couple of other ideas for it as well but thought the red pants made it festive. 

What good deals did you get on Black Friday? Care to share with me? 

Thanks for reading and following along with me! Hope you're having a fantastic weekend! 

Sandae