Unexpected Obstacles—New Beginnings

Hello Again Dear Friends! I’ve been away for a lengthy time due to some unexpected obstacles. I took a nasty fall down a flight of stairs in 2008 and have suffered tremendously. My injuries resulted in the need for neck fusion at several levels; which I’ve had done in three stages over the past several years. So far, I’m feeling pretty darn good and look forward to what this New Year will bring with it into my life.

I’m saddened to realize it’s been two long years since my last post; but I’m excited at the opportunity to re-connect with each of you.

Life often delivers unforeseen obstacle’s and places them at our feet; sort of the way a cat brings us their “gift” of the mouse or bird they’ve killed as a token of their love and gratitude for us. Similar to the offerings our precious feline drops on our stoop, the unwanted obstacles of life can shock us with disgust. However, if we take a closer look at what our cat is telling us with their benevolent gift we’d be honored rather than repulsed. Because of their deep love for us they do what they know best; they stalk, hunt and kill their prize. And they bring that trophy and lay it at our feet as a gift for us.

When life lays obstacles at our feet it’s sometimes easy for us to recoil in repugnance. Often our first thought of the impediment isn’t of it being any sort of ‘gift’ at all. Our first feelings are usually that the deterrent is an intruder trying to extinguish us out of existence; whether physical, financial or spiritual. During the past few years that I’ve been away and recovering from my injuries, my sister and several of my friends have experienced various female cancers, other friends; as-well-as my father, my son and myself, have experienced various heart conditions. All of which have threatened each person’s very survival.

They say hind-sight gives you perfect vision, and I believe that when I recall the events of these past several years. When I was going through the problems my injuries caused with constant and excruciating pain, migraines and physical limitations no one could’ve ever convinced me that each day during that time was a gift of any sort. But looking back now I see that it was, because it was during this time that I really got to know myself and what I really want out of life. I got the chance to realize what is most important to me; to the well-being of my soul.

Looking back at this time with all of its problems, hurdles and health scares, I’m happy to realize that life did indeed lay a very precious gift at my feet.


What precious gifts from life have you experienced in the past? Don’t be shy; leave a reply!

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Thanksgiving was drawing near and I had agreed to make one of the pies my mother usually made for our family gathering. My beloved grandmother had recently moved back to town after living in the Ozarks for several years. This was a special event for me since she would join us, and I was excited! The matriarch of our family would be with us this happy season—truly an occasion to give thanks.

The only problem was I had never actually made a pie of any sort in my entire life. I felt up to the challenge though and decided to create as my debut into the pie making world of the women in my family, the very pie my grandmother had always been the one to make for past gatherings—Minced Meat Pie.

I had absolutely no idea what minced meat pie even was, or even tasted like, since I’d never had a piece before (my favorite holiday pie is good ‘ol pumpkin with whipped cream of course).

I decided to scour the internet for a trusted recipe, and sadly learned that the entire process of mincing meat for a pie took a grueling seven days… Thanksgiving was the next day.

So, I changed my plan and decided to create something more unassuming. While standing in the grocery isle searching the shelves for the ingredients for my new pie project I noticed there on the shelf behind me a beautiful jar of “Minced Meat Pie filling”. Who knew?! I felt like I’d died and gone to Heaven. I wondered if this jar of goodies was really any good, or if I’d be sorry for trying it.

I was also elated at the thought that I could now bring a slightly different version of my grandmother’s famous pie, and hopefully impress her.

The next evening after everyone had eaten slices of the various pies, I shared with my grandmother the journey I’d traveled in constructing this very special pie. When I was done, she looked at me and said; “Oh, I’ve always only used the jarred pie filling, it’s so much easier.”

I almost fell over—I had just assumed my grandmother made her pie from scratch… the old fashioned way.

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Stories Are Everywhere

I lived in Germany during the time the Berlin Wall was dismantled. Out of that experience came an interesting novel Idea I have recently been developing.

A few months ago I stumbled across a reward ad in a local small-town newspaper that spawned yet another story idea.

Story ideas are everywhere; you simply have to be open to seeing them.

One good practice is to carry your digital camera everywhere you go. Take lots and lots of photos; you can always delete the ones you no longer wish to keep.

Take a good, hard look at the photos you take and ask yourself what inspired your interest in the first place? Then begin to play the “What If…?” game.

It’s very possible your next great novel idea will come out of something in which you were originally inspired by.

If you don’t have a digital camera, take heart, you can also either talk into a mini-tape recorder or hand write your idea on paper.

No matter which way you choose to record you can be certain your next story idea isn’t far away.  

Leave a comment and let me know where you have found your own writing ideas. Or leave a comment and let me know you’d like a few more ideas on just where to dredge up some great ideas.

Happy writing~ Dina

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I once read a cute little poem on a friend’s refrigerator magnet that made grandiose statements in a simplistic verse about the various people who enter and leave our lives. The poem discussed the idea that each person holds a significant purpose to aide our journey in some form or another and that once their purpose has been served they often exit our lives—some might re-enter, but others may never. The poem also made the distinction that some of the people in our lives will never leave until death separates us.

My life personally has been marked by many who enter and leave again; in my opinion far too soon. My father and first husband both were military men who moved to new duty locations whenever Uncle Sam decided they were needed elsewhere. As a result I gained friends and lost them again more than I care to recall. Although I have loved every location I’ve lived, loosing friends has never settled well with me since I am a person who tends to friend for life.

Today I had the joyous opportunity to re-unite with a friend who has been a very dear part of my life. It was a privilege for me to re-connect with her and share a discussion of the paths our lives have taken during these past six years.

She is someone with whom I felt a very real and deep fondness for almost as soon as I met her, and I am so excited about the renewed opportunity of our awakened friendship and am eager to watch our journey unfold within our lives and hearts.

I am certain that our talks during the near future will un-earth many new insights for us both, but I couldn’t help thinking during the course of our five hour telephone visit about how happy I am to have found her again, and about how proud of her I am for the road she has taken as she walks her journey through life.

We laughed with each other as we reminisced about some of our good old times, our crazy antics, and even the men we dated. We cried with each other over having lost contact and shed happy tears over regaining it again.

The years during our close friendship have been some of my fondest memories, and one of my deepest heartaches has been losing contact with her. I thought she was gone forever, but still she had remained a very real part of my heart, my thoughts, and my life. I am so very grateful to have her with me again.

I had felt during our time apart that our journey together as friends had not concluded, and I was grieved for our premature loss. After finding her now I finally see the wisdom in that little poem I read on that refrigerator magnet so many years ago.

Dear One, I raise my glass to you and offer this toast… “Welcome home my friend, welcome home.”


The Dictionary defines friendship as: An attachment between people who share an intimate association with each other through a deep and genuine fondness of one another.

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Great Date Ideas

Creativity is a continual surprise.   __ Ray Bradbury

While Ray Bradbury was most certainly speaking of theatrical creativity his statement holds true in other realms as well—especially in the Romance department.

Give the Girl her Chocolate

Let’s face it, everyone sends flowers and chocolates for Valentine’s Day—not that chocolates are evil, a girl can’t live without her chocolate; but we need to heighten the creativity, so we create surprises and generate the “WOW” factor. I know money is tight these days for people so let’s get creative. There are many things we can do on a “shoestring budget” or even for free that are fun and out of the norm.

Here are a few ideas to get your creative Valentine Date juices pumping:

  • Go on a “Video Scavenger Hunt” with friends

Directions: Each team has a video camera and a list of scenarios to get footage of — Here are a few possible ideas: Interview a complete stranger about something random, find a random stranger and greet them like an old friend, pretend to know them from somewhere, stage a “break up”, yell at each other and draw lots of attention, try on clothing for the opposite sex. As you can tell, this can be a ton of fun, especially when you go back and watch your footage. Make up a complete list of scenarios and make copies for all teams. Each team must then seek out to complete all the scenarios on the list before the end of the allotted time. Meet back up to watch the videos and have a great laugh!

  • Play the game “Bigger or Better” with a group of friends (this can be done in groups of “couples” or just split up into groups if you have friends present without a date.)

Directions: Each couple starts with something small—go door to door in your neighborhood asking people to trade you for something bigger or better than your item. At the end of a specified amount of time, gather together as a group and vote on who got the biggest and best item.

  • Have a progressive meal either privately or with friends or family

Directions: Either select different restaurants around town and go to each one. Order drinks at one, appetizers at another, go somewhere new for the main course, and top it off with your favorite desert in town. Or you can have each “course of dinner” at a different person’s home instead if you choose to have dinner with friends and family.

  • Make Tee Shirts – start with some blank white or collared tees, and then get creative with colored sharpies and paint.
  • Story time—take turns recording pieces of a story

Directions: The story is completely made up and no-one knows what the others will say until the story is listened to at the very end. One person starts recording a story while the other leaves the room ending their segment with “and then…” the other person picks up telling the next part of the story, and ends their segment with “and then…” this continues until all participants have had a chance to tell their segment and someone decides to tell “The end” of the story.

  • Set up a tent in your living room, sit in the tent and eat dinner on a blanket–roast marshmallows over a candle. Tell stories. Even sleep in the tent over night for a change of pace.
  • Make a time capsule to put in a park or just your own backyard full of pictures and objects that represent your relationship and then dig it up years later for a big anniversary (if you put it in the park, be sure to get permission first).
  • Have a dance party in your living room and dance to your favorite songs from high school
  • Plan a picnic—if you are fortunate to live in warmer climate region great have fun outdoors. However, if you live in colder regions have an “indoor” picnic. Plan it to take place somewhere meaningful to your sweetheart. Be sure to have everything you need with you so that your picnic will run smoothly—don’t forget a few “baby wipes” for cleanup afterward. They’re great for washing hands and other things.
  • Visit a few local Art Galleries to view artwork of local artists.
  • Go “pretend furniture shopping” (if you are not married)—

But the clincher is this is NOT for household furniture, it’s for OFFICE furniture. Pretend you have an entire office to fill full of furniture and go pick out what you would purchase if you had all the money in the world to spend. This allows you to get a feel for each other’s personal style and tastes, without making anyone uncomfortable about how intimate home shopping can be.

  • Host a Game Night with all of your friends, both “His and Hers”

If you’re just dating this is a great way blend both sets of the friends in a fun, easy-going night that is sure to bring on the bonding between you and your sweetheart. Be sure to choose games that will encourage participation from all members of the party group.

A few good ones are: Quelf, Apples to Apples, Head Bands, Pictionary, and Outburst

Those should get you started.

  •  Create a “private” scavenger hunt for your sweetheart

Place clues around in strategic spots for him/her to find based off of clues from the previous clue. Start with placing clue #1 where you know your sweetheart will find it, on the paper write a riddle that your sweetheart must de-code in order to determine where to find the next clue will be. If they are correct they will be lead to the next clue, and so on.

    You can also leave small presents along the way as well to keep it interesting and keep them excited.

At the end of the scavenger hunt the final clue will lead then to whatever the “Big Prize” is; be it you, or something else.


Well, I do hope these idea’s help you have a wonderful Valentine’s Day experience. Hang on to the list for future reference, and of course let us know if you try any of these out or if you have any unusual date night ideas of your own!

Have a Happy Day! ~Dina

Happy Valentine's Day

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Changing an Old Product to Create a New Look

I am undeniably euphoric about shopping yard sales, thrift stores, consignment shops and the like. It’s such a thrill to find other peoples unwanted items and transform the pieces into new treasures.

My favorite things to find are old dressers, desks, or end tables. I absolutely love refinishing them with a personalized spin to mimic the décor and personality of the person I am making the item for. It’s so fulfilling to see the delighted look on the faces of the receiver when they see how the piece matches their décor or fits some aspect of their personality.

They usually become a bit overwhelmed with gratitude when the see the detail in the piece and realize how much energy must’ve gone into creating this unique treasure that now belongs to them.

These are some photos of some of my recent pieces.

My all-time favorite piece was a sweet little dresser I made for a newborn boy. I painted “Cat in the Hat’s” all over it in various places, doing various activities. It turned out so amazingly adorable! Sadly, I never got any photos of it, and his family moved away before I got a new camera. I guess I’ll just have to make another one.

I’m really anxious to tackle my next project which will be a bedside end-table personalized for a young guitarist dear to my heart. I’m searching right now for just the right furniture piece, but as soon as I find it I’ll jump right in and get to these ideas flowing from my imagination to reality.

This one will be fun because it’ll be the first one I’ve done using actual parts of something else to create it. My plan? I’m going to use real guitar parts in various, strategic places on the furniture piece—even the actual strings! I cannot wait to see the finished product!

Of course there will photo’s when I get it complete… now if I could only find the perfect end-table!

I hope these photos encourage you to try your hand at creating something special for yourself or someone you love. Post a comment and let us know about your endeavors.

Have a Happy Day! –Dina

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Fall Romance

This year I’ve decided to host a Couples Valentine’s dinner~ the clincher is I will host it in late summer or early fall. Everyone does something special on or near the real Valentine’s Day, but toward the end of the year husbands aren’t thinking so much about romance anymore. So I thought I’d help them out just a tad.

If you’ve been to a Romantic venue of any kind and would like to share some thoughts on what made the occasion special, or if you have an idea of what you’d like to do for a special romantic evening of your own~ Please feel free to share your idea’s with me.

I’ll share updates with you as the event nears closer, and post photos of the evening when it arrives.

*** Here’s a fun party game:

Write a ‘weird’ sentence that most people would never say on card stock and place them under each place setting. At the start of dinner each person must read (silently) their sentence, and then they must work that ‘weird sentence’ somewhere into the evening’s conversation.

Whoever does it best, will win the evening’s prize.

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Camping on Memorial Weekend 2009

We went camping and fishing over Memorial Weekend and had such a great time! We even got to take our boat out for the first time in 2 summers. The reverse in Eddie’s truck decided to go out, so we haven’t been able to drive it anywhere we cannot pull directly through. Hopefully he’ll have the time to get it to the transmission shop soon.

We borrowed a friend’s SUV to pull it and left Saturday morning, camped Saturday night and fished on the lake literally all day Saturday and Sunday, then drove home Sunday night.

This particular lake is about 2 hours from us. It’s called “Hellhole”… and now I see why! It has a constant wind that recklessly blows and chills you to the bone. Bundled up in sweats and a coat it wasn’t that bad and was at least tolerable.

The sun even came out and warmed things up enough for us to peel off the layers and I even got to ‘lay out’ and tan on the nose of the boat for the first time since moving to sunny California. There isn’t a single lake near us that’s warm enough to actually swim in… oh how I miss swimming!!!

We caught several fish and then had a fish fry right on the shore for lunch. The entire week-end was so relaxing… We needed to get away and have some time to just ‘be in love and enjoy each other’s company’. It was perfect.

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Weight Loss Journey Begins

Well friends spring is finally here, summer is just around the corner and I am no-where near ready to put on a bathing suit of any style or size.

I have gained a whopping forty pounds over the course of the past two years. Now I know many of you may read this and think to yourselves that forty pounds is not much weight gain at all. But I assure you that any weight gain IS weight gain no matter how small.

 The truth of the matter is that I’m only five foot tall, so an extra few pounds of any amount is simply too much for my small bones to carry. The result: My body hurts, I feel awful all the time and I’m too fat to look good in anything I put on no matter how adorable the outfit (even though others will never tell me that).

I was injured two years ago after a nasty fall down a flight of stairs which resulted in my inability to engage in any serious exercise for the time being. So not only have I gained unwanted weight, but what muscle I did have has long since turned into annoying, unappealing flab.

I’m finally feeling well enough to possibly walk on my treadmill a few minutes each day. My neck surgeon has not cleared me at this time to engage in any other form of exercise… so, the treadmill for a limited daily stint it is!

My surgeon wants me to begin with five to ten minutes daily and increase as I gain the strength. So that’s just what I plan to do, beginning tomorrow morning.

I also visited with a registered dietician who assisted me in designing a meal plan to fit a 1400 daily caloric intake. With the diet and exercise facets in line I feel armed to begin my road to health and hopefully full post-surgical (and post-injury) recovery.

I hope I inspire each of you to join me on the way to a thinner and healthier you. Because I love food, I will seek out recipes which are delightful to the eyes, nose and taste buds to share with you. If you have any favorite recipes, please do share them as well.

During the coming week I will walk on my treadmill five to ten minutes daily. I will also cut out chips, soda and processed snacks, and replace them with more fruits and vegetables.

That should get me started until I locate some delicious recipes to fit into my 1400 caloric daily allowance.

Leave me a comment and let me know what your weight loss struggle is and how you plan to overcome it. Let me know if you’ll join me on this journey.

Posted in Goals / or / Why Am I Lost? | Leave a comment

Boredom Might Be the True Mother of Invention

I once was asked if I could invent something what it would be. I gave it some thought and then realized I may have actually already invented something even though someone else was wise enough to patent and market it—I was, after all, only nine years old.

I grew up on an island; Okinawa, Japan, from age four. The island was a vast playground for my imagination. The kids I played with joined me and my older sister in many mischiefs which none of our parents knew of. We climbed the rocky terrain that formed the cliffs near our home. We flattened cardboard boxes and slid down an enormous grassy hillside that lead to the neighborhood park. We roamed through a massive underground cave system formed by volcanoes which ran the span of the entire island. We played hide-and-seek in the “Booney Weeds” which were large fields of tall thick wild grasses that grew six feet high or better. The Booney’s, as we lovingly called them, were so dense that two people could stand three inches apart and never know they had company.

Just before the monsoon’s hit the island we experienced intense winds and rain. I remember grabbing my stylish “Bubble Umbrella”(do you remember those?) and playing in those winds. My friend Jackie and I played Mary Poppins by running as fast as we could with the wind and allowing it to gush up underneath my bubble umbrella and lift us off the ground. Both of us were very light weight, so the wind gushes usually carried us five to ten feet distance before landing us delicately onto the road again. We really did feel as though we were flying.

One of my favorite memories was during a massive rain we joined many of the other neighborhood kids in clogging up the cul-de-sac drain. From the road to the curb top was about three feet deep, so by clogging the drain we were able to form a mini wading pool which in diameter fit about ten kids. Of course that one didn’t last long since our parents could see what we were up to and had us remove the cardboard to allow the rain water to drain. It was fun while it lasted though.

We used to purchase “pencil Boxes” from the Japanese stores which had secret compartments to stash things. Once my sister decided to catch some June bugs (which of course I was deathly afraid of handling). And using our resourcefulness, we opened all our pencil boxes, formed them into a circle and played House and school with our newly acquired June Bugs. My imagination never tired. Even on those days when I played alone, for the most part, I never seemed to have “nothing to do”, and I don’t ever remember being bored while on the island.

I have very fond memories of playing in the front yard one day alone. I’m not really sure why none of the other kids were outside, but there I was for the very first time faced with nothing to do. I remember looking around and noticing all sorts of rocks lying around. So, being the imaginative soul that I am, I grabbed a few of those rocks and played house with them! I had a Poppa, a Momma, and several children. When the day was done, I took my new little family inside with me so I could put them to bed. I kept my rock family for a very long time before outgrowing them.

That’s right; I am the original inventor of the Pet Rock.

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