Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Time For The "MY HOW A YEAR HAS FLOWN BY" Giveaway!

Sometime last February I started blogging -- I don't really remember what even got me considering doing it... Maybe it was all the time I spent looking at other blogs (once I even figured out what a BLOG was).
But whatever the motivation, it has been such a fun year and I just want to say thanks to all who have joined me along the way, read by lengthy philosophical posts, my excited 'we have new things in the shop!' posts, and my pretty-much-about-nothing posts.
I am always so surprised (and flattered) when someone will either email me or write note on an order with the store placed online, mentioning to me that they've followed my blog for months and was finally popping in to say "hi".
Its funny, as a blogger you can often wonder "sheesh, is anyone even reading this stuff??" Then I get one of those wonderful emails or notes on an order and I feel so good. Thanks for that.
In my blog-browsing I'm floored by the number of comments some blogs' posts routinely get. The average number of comments being maybe 30 to 60. Wow. I often wonder how that happens. But does it really matter? I suppose its akin to taking a drive through the other parts of town and gazing longingly at homes that make you feel like yours is a shack.
And if the truth be told, I don't always leave comments as I blog-surf. I'm the queen of blog "hit & run" -- I read, browse and cruise. Bad, Ruth! :)
If you're a blogger then you obviously have something you want to say it. At the end of the day, it really doesn't matter if a post gets 1 comment or 100, some post, some time, will be JUST THE WORDS some woman needed to read.
So I say, write-on, ladies. Let's not do the comment-number comparison game with ourselves. Allow your thoughts to flow and write them down. I know I enjoy reading all your posts. I may not always stop and take the time to comment (SHAME ON ME!) and I really, really want to get better about that, but your posts are always fun, refreshing and inspiring.
Okay....I hear all of you out there saying "Alright already! Enough with the philosophical dissertation on blogging! Let's hear about the giveaway!!"
Well, I have spent the last few days trying to think of just the right giveaway goodie "basket" to come up with. What kind of "theme" could I do? Hmmm... did French or Parisenne. Been there done that (last year). Spring/Garden theme? Well, possibly, but its technically still February and though I sit here in Florida where temps will reach 80 degrees by Saturday, much of the country still has some cold ahead of it. On an on it went with the whole "theme thing"...
Then I spent about half an hour browsing my site to gather things to give away and before I knew it, I practically had MY ENTIRE STORE as the giveaway prize. So....since "corporate" (aka hubby) probably won't approve that, I finally concluded that I would give the gift that puts YOU in the driver's seat -- a
$100.00 spending spree at The Beautiful Life.
I'll get with the lucky winner once the drawing is over and you can let me know what you'd like and within a few days your goodies will arrive all prettily packaged up just for you. How's that sound to ya?
Just leave a comment on THIS blog post, and that gets you entered to win!
Now, one thing... As I recall from my last giveaway, there were some who commented anonymously and I had no way to contact them...If you must comment anonymously, I just ask that you also shoot me an email, too, leaving me your name and then I'll have both name and email address in case you're the winner!
Details, details.
Well, what do you say we wrap up the giveaway on Monday, March 2nd? That way you don't have to wait too long to see if you won and it should give plenty of time for entries. Okeedokee?
On your mark, get set, COMMENT!
Okay, now GO!

Monday, February 23, 2009

MUSIC MONDAY -- Life's "Growing Pains" (When your old life just no longer fits...)

There are TWO videos here -- one above, and one all the way at the bottom. They are the same song, just two different presentations. They're both so good, I had to show them both!

You have a dream. You hold it in your heart, your hands -- you nurture it, take it out now and then and look at it, turn it over in your hands, you can feel it, then you place it back on the shelf to "grow" a bit more until it - and you - are ready....

The next thing you know, almost when you weren't looking, the dream is HERE... It's time...

Now you're scared.

You want it. You've dreamed of this time for years. But the changes it now requires of you are scary. Not bad. Just scary. And a little uncomfortable. And new. And scary....

You don't want to go back to the "old" (or do you?) but the new, the dreamed-of, seems unfamiliar and unknown.

What to do?

Today's song takes its reference from the story of the Israelites being led out of Egypt by Moses -- something they had longed to have happen for generations. Funny thing is, once they were freed from their bondage in Egypt, they did nothing but complain and murmur amongst themselves about their current circumstances as they made their way through the desert on their way to the Promised Land. Before long, in their minds, Egypt sounded pretty good again and all they could talk about was how at least there they had better food and a form of "security" (even though they had actually been horribly treated and even killed). Oh how we paint pictures of our past or our current "comfortable" state to make it seem much better than it really was/is.

Anything to avoid the uncomfortable, the unfamiliar, the hard....

Truth is, we're probably going to murmur and complain no matter where we are in life. That's not great. But that's us as humans a lot of the time.

Do you have a situation in your life now that you know in your heart isn't where you should be or want to be? But to go through the growth process of changing out of it seems just way more pain and trouble than you can stand??

Don't look back. "Back" is Egypt -- the desert land. You've been (finally) brought out of Egypt into the dream (the Promised Land) and although it will take some new getting-used-to, this is it - -this is finally the dream, and the land IS flowing with milk & honey. Its just all new.

Remember that old pair of jeans you had that got broken in perfectly? You hated to have to discard them, but they no longer fit or no longer were wearable. New ones will be broken in, too. It just takes time. Just like the new circumstances you find yourself in.

Can you think of a relationship that you've "outgrown" -- it was comfortable and safe. But one day you open your eyes and realize you've grown -- a lot -- but they haven't. You try to "fit" but you just don't anymore. Or your old life and ways just don't fit, can't contain all you now realize you know and have learned.

Sometimes life allows "doors" to be closed off behind us without us even knowing it. When we want to run back to escape to the "safe", we can't even if we wanted to. So we must go forward. And after the pinching and pain of the transition, we see that we would never, ever go back.

Even if we could.

You have to change. You know you can't stay where you are -- its too cramped and doesn't fit. But to move forward also feels awkward and not a "good fit". Yet.

This song is for you. For those who can't deny the undeniable any longer. You know a change is eminent. A change in you. A change in life. Perhaps this change isn't even something you wanted or dreamed of, but its standing before you anyway, requiring you go through it.

You may be being moved out of your comfort zone now for reasons you'll only know way, way down the road. Maybe never. But if you're alive, you really should be growing, shouldn't you? And sometimes growing is painful.

The old, deadwood must be lopped off to make way for new, stronger branches that will one day bloom or bear beautiful fruit. The pruning is painful. But the result is worth it.

Leaving your "Egypt" may be painful, but if you think about it, it isn't "right" for you anymore anyway, so onward you go. Your "Promised Land" is there before you...can you see it?

The journey, no matter how hard, will be worth it. Its what you always dreamed of and wanted, and though its approach may be somewhat scary and uncertain, you'll grow "into" it and before you know it, what seems too big for you now will be too small and you'll be being moved forward again -- it's called life and growing and building character. And the opposite of these is simply called being stagnant.

I love this saying and refer to it often in my own life: God is more interested in our character, than our comfort.... Sometimes character-building is painful, but never a waste. Who of us, given the chance, would really go back to who we were (knowledge & character-wise) years ago? We all know people who never do seem to change, or grow, or have their character tested/strengthened. They are not people of true depth.

You're a beautiful sculpture whose extraneous parts are being carefully chipped away. The end result will be uniquely you -- and beautiful.

I found two versions of this song and since I couldn't decide which I like better, well -- why not? I'm posting both. Which do you like better?

I hope this encourages you. I hope that this song and these words touch even one woman out there who needs that "atta-girl" push to go forward and not be afraid of the temporary hard work that is before you. Just remember, the birthing process is not meant to be easy and pain-free -- but oh the rewards...

From one out-of -her-comfort-zone gal to another, enjoy...


Saturday, February 21, 2009


In my extreme busy-ness, I've completely neglected SOMETHING FABULOUS!!

Its been a year now since I started this blog and the best way to celebrate is to give YOU a gift!

I'll be more forthcoming with details in the couple of days, but I wanted to give you the heads-up about the giveaway so you can keep checking back here for the next post which will announce what the giveaway will GIVE AWAY!

I was thinking about it and I CANNOT BELIEVE that in an entire year, I've only had ONE giveaway -- my "April In Paris" giveaway last year.

Now that is a just not right! I really MUST do better this year and in fact you guys can even "nudge" me a little throughout the year if you want! :)

I get so busy week-to-week that soon it becomes month-to-month and the next thing you know, its been a year!

Anyway, thanks so much for all who have stopped by faithfully (and even not-so-faithfully) throughout 2008. Isn't this blogging community amazing.

I really, honestly feel like I have made TRUE FRIENDS out there -- whom I've never even met!

Only on the web. Only on the web... And if I haven't said so often enough or lately...
Thank you for taking time out of your busy day/schedule just to pop in and read whatever my blog post of the moment is saying. It really means an awful lot to me.
Stay tuned! Details in the next few days!

Join Me On Facebook?

I admit, I'm still pretty new to Facebook and I was apparently late to the game, since most people I know have had Facebook accounts for years.

When I would think of Facebook (or Myspace for that matter) I'd conjure up images of mainly teens conversing about school and boyfriends/girlfriends.
This picture pretty much sums up my response to thoughts of ME joining either online "community"! :)
(Lorelei Gilmore with one of her trademark goofy looks)
But now that I'm on, oh can be addicting! And, what better thing to do than solicit others to join me in my new-found addiction! :)
It occured to me to let you know that if you're a fellow Facebook-er, you can 'become a fan of' The Beautiful Life... And I hope you will!

CLICK HERE to go to our page on Facebook!

Maybe the more "fans" I gather, the more it will compel me to keep that page continually updated! A girl needs all the "push" she can garner!

Just wanted to mention it in the hopes you'll 'jump on the bandwagon' with me!


Friday, February 20, 2009

Trying to look Spanish on Fashion Friday...

So, we've all been enjoying "Fashion Fridays" over at Kasey's blog,

LolaB's, and even though today is the end of it being a weekly thing, I thought I'd take advantage of having taken some pics of my daughter today and post them as my "contribution" to Fashion Friday.

Olivia, below, with our cat Bugsy...yeah, like Bugsy Malone. He is the "ganster cat" around her for sure. Cute, but lots of attitude!

Olivia's Global Issues class at college had their Global Village Fair today and her class was assigned to represent Spain. All the competing classes have been planning for weeks, knowing their booths would be judged and count for a LARGE portion of their overall grade in that class (which seems kinda weird to me, but I digress...).

ANYHOO.... The students had to go out and buy clothing to represent Spain (her class's country) and the girls had to wear a black skirt & red top and a red flower in their hair (awww...cute...).

Boy did she luck out in WalMart!!! Not wanting to spend much at all on this (figuring she'd probably never wear this stuff again) she found the CUTEST black voile skirt with great flounces and a really great, comfortable top with ruched detailing along the shoulders and sleeves.

Let me tell you! The entire outfit was less than $30 BUCKS! HELLO!!!
So, though this may not be "her style" typically, I think she looks awesome in the outfit and I think she actually likes it, too, so maybe she will get some mileage out of this purchase after all!

When she got home from the Global Village Fair today I snapped some pics of her before she changed into her jeans again. I thought I'd share them with you!

Of course, in our yard and on our porch, you're never alone -- the cats and our dog immediately show up and it was only fair to include them in the pics.

This is sweet little Annabelle -- oh what a little princess she is! She carries herself differently than any of our boy cats and she has the most beautiful "swish" of her fluffy tail! Just beautiful!

Below, we took the crown off the cast iron cherub statue that usually "wears" it and let her borrow it for the picture -- I think we may have created a monster! :)

Thanks so much for looking...its been so CRAZY BUSY lately (okay, crazy busy since last year!) and I don't blog nearly as much as I'd like, so today, in the midst of all the office work and bookkeeping I've been doing since this morning, I thought I'd stop and jot out this quick post for you!

Looking forward to "MUSIC MONDAY" again after the weekend...TUNE IN!!! :)



Monday, February 16, 2009

Music Monday -- This Could Be The Only Song I Ever Need To Hear Again. And That's Saying Something...

If you've read much of this blog at all, you know that music is pretty much everything to me.

I don't watch much tv and I could easily give it up totally in favor of a stereo/ipod/cd-player, etc. My life is all but defined by music and whatever song(s) of the moment are touching my life at the time.

In view of that, I thought I'd call today (and maybe other Mondays to follow) "MUSIC MONDAY" -- just to share with you a song that you might enjoy.

This Monday's song is one that I've loved for years and I am STILL NOT TIRED OF IT. How could I ever be?

Some may think this morbid, but if I had one song sung during my celebration of life ceremony, this would be it. It sums my life, my love for the Lord and my amazement at His love for me.


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Saying What Isn't Said Enough...."Thank you." "I Love You."

Doug & I have been married almost 25 years now .

It never occurs to him that I can't do something or won't succeed at something. This is big, because I am the one who typically is the self-nay-sayer. When I'm sure I can't do something, he's the one pushing me out there.

He immediately backs whatever cockamamey ideas I have. :) He's "on-board" from the start and if one of my big ideas falls flat, he doesn't sweat it.

He comes across at first as somewhat stern and deadpan and serious. But then you get to know him...He still surprises friends who have known us for years with things that he says....How's this one: Just last weekend, during the women's show I was in, a woman from another booth comes over to preview our things for sale during some down time before the show. She says something like " Oh, I see a lot of things I want! I want to just touch everything!" So my otherwise serious and all-business husband Doug pipes in and says "So long as you don't lick it, it"s okay." My head swung around so quick, as I heard those words falling from his lips...OY! So much for my image as one of this year's top "romantics!" Ahh...the beautiful life... Of course, everyone else around us just died laughing, so its all good.

Doug is a simple guy married to a very complex gal. He's used the same deodorant, toothpaste and shampoo for as long as I've known him. I, on the other hand, try a new brand weekly it seems. I can change paint colors in a room several times a year -- he would have the same scheme from now to eternity if he weren't married to me. And on it goes...He is very, very, very patient. When I get a new idea for the house and ask him what he thinks, his standard response is "I know nothing about that stuff. You're the decorator. You do what you want." that music to our ears or what??? :)

He is always the one who gets stuck with the dirty jobs without complaining: removal of whatever the cats have brought to us on our front door mat (YUCK!), trash duty twice a week at 6:30 AM, upkeep of our property (2 acres of which needs to be mowed).

When I on impulse wanted to purchase an entire lot of about a dozen old, broken down, chippy window frames at a flea market, he just shook his head and said "at least let ME do the negotiating" -- he knew I'd just step up and pay the asking price, and if we WERE going to buy this bunch of worthless things, he at least wanted to pay the least amount possible. Well, fast-forward almost a year and just a couple of weeks ago he was outside hinging them together to make me a floor screen to display my aprons and dishtowels and other things on. I had finally found a use for them and there he was, again, stepping in to help. :)

He offers to bring dinner in or take us out just about every night of the week. More and more often I'm taking him up on it! :)

Since we've been married he's offered to get me a housekeeper but I've never taken him up on that one. Yet. I feel I may be getting closer to caving in on this one, though! But seriously, I fret all the time about the house being "just so" and he has never, ever complained about anything. He's just always glad to just be home after a long, grueling day at work and the last thing he cares about is whether or not our bed is made or if the tabletops are dust-free. He's just glad to be home. Even in that, he is communicating to me that there is nowhere else he'd rather be than here at home, with us.

He buys me and our daughter Godiva chocolates throughout the year and hates it when I balk at the cost (vs. our usual stuff like Milk Duds and M&Ms).

He's never been one to worry about what things cost -- I guess in his own way that's how he "lives in the moment". If we take a trip, he will not even hear of staying anywhere but the best of places. I guess you could say, when he does something, he does it right (or at least to the very best that we can at the time).

In what's often referred to as the "love chapter" in the Bible (1 Corinthians), it says "love is not boastful, nor does it seek it's own; it looks out for the good of the other...." This is Doug. It occurs to me that over the years, he has made it a point to always have me in the "nice" car while he drives the "practical" car. He always says it's because he has such a long commute everyday, that it doesn't make sense for him to put a ton of miles on the car, yada yada yada....I suspect it's really just him being him. Stepping back and letting his wife be indulged even in the simplest thing like having a fabulous ride while he drives his "practical" car. My man....

In 25+ years together, lets face it, ladies -- we change physically. We change our hairstyles, hair colors, then there is the "toll" pregnancy has on you. Unfortunately for him, when we met I was at probably my lowest weight ever and in the most optimum shape of my life. I say "unfortunately for him" because it didn't get better from there.... :) Still, not once has he EVER -- never -- mentioned a thing, not ONE thing about my appearance in a negative way. All I've heard from him for 25+ years has been totally positive. Again, I refer to the "love" chapter in 1 Corinthians in the Bible..."love covers another's weaknesses...". Doug has truly given me the gift of his seeing past the outer me and right through to my heart -- to the real woman he married. For a woman, this says "love" more than anything, I think. For as we all know, as our bodies change through the years, we crave knowing that we are loved not because of our looks but regardless of them.

He makes it evident by how he conducts himself and the way he lives that our marriage, our relationship is a "closed corporation" -- we operate as one unit, not two people doing their own thing. He never allows for anything that would even hint at anything other than that. He has eyes for only me when we're out and about and he is always, always a gentleman in conduct, speech and intentions.

Years ago, all on his own, he started sponsoring a little girl in India named Kalpana through Compassion International. This was his thing alone. He writes to her and she writes back. Its their sweet relationship and its something he initiated all on his own. I hope they meet one day -- if not here, then in heaven.

He began years ago volunteering on Sundays at our church as one of the ushers. Now he's in charge of all the ushers during one of our services on Sunday and I often just stare at him from my perch up in our church balcony where I usually sit, watching him go about his duties there, seeing that side of him -- a side not many, if anyone, at places like his office are aware of. Come what may, he takes his place of service there, week in and week out.

He truly spoils me. When we bought this house we're in now, he did so almost solely on my recommendation. He came to look it over ONE time -- by himself one night on his way home from work. That was it. The next time he saw it was when we held the keys to it after closing on it. (And the one time he did see it, he was NOT impressed!) He allowed us to buy this house strictly on my instinct that we could make something out of it. NOW THAT IS TRUST, ladies!

He's backed me totally throughout the almost 10 years I've had my store The Beautiful Life. He's encouraged me during the down times and celebrated with me with "atta-girl's" during the up times. When I recently was featured as one of 2009's top "Romantics" in Romantic Homes magazines, no one was more hot on the trail of laying hands on a copy the minute it hit the racks. He was out on Christmas day looking for one! What a sweetheart.

He was encouraging and understanding and wonderful during the trials we faced trying to have a child. With the loss of each child, he grieved as I grieved -- deeply. When we threatened to lose our Olivia (now 18!) he had a real sense that we would have her and that all would be well this time. It was during those horribly trying times that he became the pillar of strength and faith -- when my own faith very honestly was waivering. And, sure enough, our Olivia was born, beautiful & healthy (10 lbs. 13 oz!). His strength during that time was monumental and I will never forget it. A young man, so strong and believing. Truly beautiful.

I truly believe that Doug would do anything for me. You cannot ask more than that from another. I don't ask it of him. He simply gives that of himself.

Happy Valentine's Day, and "thank you".

And for another 25 years, I thank you in advance, Mr. Harsham.

~~Mrs. Harsham ~~

Friday, February 13, 2009

CH-CH-CH-CH-CHANGES....A Story In Pictures...

So the thought of making a fairly drastic change in my appearance (okay, I know - "define drastic") has been on my mind a lot lately and after a really, really busy time lately and neglecting myself totally for -- well, I don't know how long -- I decided to take the plunge and make a change that, for ME at least, was really BIG...
Since I'm a visual person, I'll "tell you " the story in pictures...

I think I'm really going to like the "new me" and I've already made a follow-up appt. with the gal who gave me this fab color. Since I can never leave well-enough alone, I'm already planning some burgundy touches to be added in here & there next week.
Now I know that for you gals who switch hair colors like some of us switch nail polish colors, this "big" event for me may seem a trifle silly. But believe me...this was, GINORMOUS for me!
This is the color (well, slightly lighter maybe) that I am by birth. Seems that for all my "straying" from it, my return to it is telling me that God knew what He was doing in the first place (insert the obvious "DUH!" here...) and the color He gave me at birth turns out to be the color that best suits me afterall.
For years for me, the "hair was blonder on the other side of the stylist chair", but I'm back where I belong and loving it!
How about YOU? Had any fashion or image-related "eureka moments" lately?
Thanks for letting me share. This was really big for me. :)