Sunday, May 25, 2014

What I've Been Up To: Concerts

In my last post I tried to get as much of what's been going on in my life as possible, but "life" gets in the way.  There's plenty to keep me busy, which is a good thing, but I still want to document a few more of the goings-on of the past few months.

A dear friend and I have been enjoying the concert circuit.  It wasn't not often that Christian bands made it all the way down to South Florida; it's a long way away from everything, and if there's only one venue to perform at, it might not be to their advantage.  Lately, though, we've seen more acts willing to make the trek, especially in the winter.  When everywhere else in the country is freezing or under a ton of snow, South Florida looks and sounds really appealing!

Back in January we had the Extreme Music Concert in South Florida, and thanks to my daughter's job at a church office, we got a couple of free tickets.  That concert was, in the words of our younger generation, off the chain!  The tickets were for one day, but we got to see multiple acts that day.

For one, we got to see Mandisa who is A-mazing in concert!  She is so full of energy!  And so inspiring!  Being on a show like American Idol could have given her a big ego, but instead she gives all the glory to God.  She was great to hear!

Switchfoot was incredible too!  They were the main band that night.  We also saw Israel and New Breed and Michael W. Smith.  It was a great night, but it got even better when we were told tickets to the next night's concert were selling for $20 for those who had tickets that day!  We rushed to get our tickets because we knew the bands for the next night were going to be worth hearing as well!

The night started off with a band I love, MikesChair.  They are from Central Florida and their music is great.  Then we got to hear Kutless.

They were amazing as well.  Unfortunately, by the time the last band came on, the band I wanted to see most, Hillsong United, I had a full-blown migraine and I could hardly think straight.  I'd prayed the headache would go away, but I felt God speak to me.  "Can you praise Me even in your pain?"  And I answered yes.  The headache was awful, but the worship was intense.  I tried taking pictures but none turned out right.  Once I closed my eyes and just let the Spirit take over, I was elevated to that sweet place that only worshiping God can get you to.  It was beautiful, and worth the pain.

In March we went to the Dade County Youth Fair where we got to enjoy another couple of concerts...sort of.

Two bands, free admission.  Couldn't get better, right?

SonicFlood went on first, singing lots of oldies-but-goodies.  Coming to the end of their set, their name became very appropriate:  we got hit with some monsoon-type rain, a real sonic flood!  Because there was lightning as well, we had to seek shelter quick and hope the rain would stop, otherwise Matthew West's concert would be cancelled.

Thankfully, the rain stopped and we were able to listen to Matthew West, which we were so excited for!

April came, and we were once again blessed.  My friend had given my daughter, son E and I tickets to ReachFest in Boca Raton for Christmas, and we were finally gonna be able to see 5 bands perform that night!

Citizen's Way started the night.  I'd heard a couple of their songs but I had no idea how they'd be in concert.  They did not disappoint!  We were so impressed by their music and love for God.

Colton Dixon was on next.  Whoa!  What's up with these American Idol alumni?  They are so high energy!  This guy was all over the place!  That's one way to do a concert!

Jamie Grace was sandwiched in between.  I love her music, but now I love her even more!  What a heart, what a sweetness to her, what a fun time listening to her speak as well as hearing her music.

We were really looking forward to hearing Britt Nicole, even though the boys weren't, LOL!!  She is wonderful!  The little girls were waving their Britt Nicole posters which was cute to watch.

The evening ended with MercyMe.  They need no explanation.  Every song they did was a great song.

I have to be honest, though.  If I were to pick my favorite act of the night, it would be Jamie Grace, hands down.  Not only was her music great, but everything about her was fantastic.  I'd see her again in a heartbeat.

If that weren't enough, we found out from our local radio station that a nearby church was hosting another concert at the end of April, so off we went.

Tim Timmons not only gave an amazing concert, his story is incredible.  You can read about him here.

When Group 1 Crew came on, I forgot I was a 50 year old woman.  I started jumping up and down and screaming like a teenager!  I typically don't like hip-hop music.  At.  All.  But there's something about this band that makes me wanna get up and worship!

If you don't recognize this gentleman, it's a native of our fair state of Florida:  Big Daddy Weave.  He was headlining that night and they did an awesome job, but once again, if I had to pick a favorite, it would have to be Group 1 Crew.  They were electric.

I'm sure our concert days are far from over.  As a matter of fact, my daughter and I will be attending the Women of Faith conference next month, and we'll get to hear Matthew West again.  Music is just one form of worship, but for us, it's one of our favorites!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Has It Been That Long?!

I knew it had been a long time since I'd posted anything on my blog.  But I didn't realize just HOW long it had been!  I wish I'd come on just to add a few little tidbits here and there of what's been going on - remembering everything will be a task! Let's see what I come up with...

Since September of last year, I've been very busy - too busy to sit down and get things put in writing.  October is, of course, Halloween.  My son and his best friend dressed up for our church's Harvest festival.  My son was dressed as Robin, again.  His best friend made a Minecraft costume that was the hit of the festival.  What an original idea!

November was busy because it's when I finish my Christmas shopping, and it's also Thanksgiving.  We were blessed with my sister and brother-in-law spending Thanksgiving with us for the first time.  It made the holiday less lonely having them with us.  Of course it made the thought of Christmas even lonelier.  God knew how I was feeling, so He surprised me:  my sister and brother-in-law came back down for Christmas as well!  It made for a very busy but very joyful time for us.

December also marked a huge milestone for me.  I've now officially lived on this earth for half a century.  Ugh.  It doesn't sound very glamorous, does it?  I didn't have a party (too close to every other holiday), but I chose to do something different, and that was in my home.  I love decorating, moving furniture, choosing new things and shaking old things up.  My choice for my home's new look:  something with a Northern feel.

I'd always wanted one of those media fireplaces!  I thought they looked so cool, giving the home that warm, cozy feeling, even though we rarely need a fireplace in South Florida.  However, when I saw this media fireplace by Better Homes and Gardens at Walmart for $249, I didn't care what the weather was like - it was just what I was looking for!  Add 2 matching bookcases at $60 each, and I was able to give my living room a newer, more contemporary-while-still-traditional look for under $500.  It made turning 50 a little more tolerable ;-).

That was completed in January, after all the Christmas decorations were put away.  February brought new decorating challenges, this time in the form of the outside of the house.  Our house was in desperate need of a paint job.  Before that could be done, however, the roof tiles needed to be cleaned.  I hired someone to do that - no way was I climbing up on the roof with a pressure cleaner! - and not a moment too soon.  Our town was sending letters out to all the residents who hadn't cleaned their roofs, giving them a deadline to get it done.  I was glad I didn't have to be told my roof was disgusting!  Once the roof was nicely scrubbed (it turned out even better than I'd expected), the painting began.  I started with the dividing wall in my backyard.  It's a cement wall that our old neighbors behind us had put it.  At one point it'd gotten full of ivy which peeled the paint off.  The difference after painting was night and day.

That's a glimpse of the before and after, after being on the left.  It looked like a brand new wall!  After that was done (it took a total of 4 days), painting the actual house was next.  Yes, I painted it.  Me.  Why yes, I am insane.  Why do you ask?

The color on the house had faded to the point that it was peach colored - not what I wanted at all.  Besides, our dog Molly had gotten into the habit of rubbing herself against the wall, leaving a long dirty mark all along the back of the house.  I went with a brown color, Country something-or-other, to create contrast with the roof which is lighter and has terracotta and light grey tiles.  The difficult part of painting the back and sides of the house was 1) the sun burning down and roasting me, and 2) getting up and down the ladder.  This was a piece of cake, though, compared to doing the front of the house.



Getting good pictures of the front of the house is hard due to some trees that block the view.  Still, I think the contrast is noticeable.  The trim went much lighter - the color is called Milk Toast - and it set off the color of the house and garage/front doors beautifully.  The garage door was originally white.  It was painted some 7 years ago in a brown color that, like the walls, had faded to peach.  It was hideous.  Now the doors are dark chocolate brown and they look clean and sophisticated.  I'm very pleased with the results.

Of course, getting that done made the area next to the front door stand out in a bad way.  Because of the way the roof pitches, the area in front of the living room window would get flooded, causing mud and dirt instead of a nice planting area.  Anything I planted there died or was stunted because of the excess water during the rainy season.  There was only one way to fix it.  Get rid of it.  How?  Pavers, that's how.

And once again, I did it myself.

 I had to start with clearing the area, laying down sand, then installing Brock Paver Base.  The hardest part was working in a tightly confined area - just 9' by 6'.  It made putting everything down level a challenge.  In the end it did work out very nicely.  My daughter helped me with the design.  There are some pipes that stick out of the ground that had to be left that way, and getting around them was yet another challenge, but she did a great job.

The end result is neater, cleaner, drains well and No More Mud!!!  It looks great, and the feeling of accomplishment at having done it myself (another project costing about $450) is beyond words.  I'm thrilled with the look!

So, what have I been up to lately?  Gardening.  I've started a veggie garden in my backyard - small, just a little corner by the patio.  I've planted butter crunch lettuce, spring mix lettuces, bell peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, cilantro, basil, and oregano.  Along the edge of the house we have blueberries, strawberries and raspberries.  For the kids, of course.  I'm allergic to berries.

I started my cucumbers from seed.  They sprouted in less than a week.

I saw how my cousin was growing lettuces in bags, and decided to give it a try.  They are progressing nicely.

This is my green bean plant the day it sprouted. Just barely noticeable.

And here it is, the very next day.  I was so excited!  It's continuing to grow and thrive.

Well, that's my recap.  I hope I'll be more diligent in keeping my blog up, especially now as I become Arlene the Gardener.  Thanks for sticking around, if you have.  More fun to come!