A whimsical Wednesday

What do you do to get into the Christmas spirit? I usually just ease right into it after Thanksgiving, but this year feels different. You know that warm, glowing, fuzzy feeling- I love that feeling! But it's been hiding from me. Maybe it's the abundance of gray and rain in Pennsylvania, OR my nonexistent Christmas decor (haven't gotten around to that yet), OR the fact that my belly still feels like it's full of turkey.

It's been making me kind of sad, so shortly after I strolled into the office this morning, I turned to a certain social-media outlet to tweet of my Christmas 'spirit(less)ness'... perhaps others were feeling the same way.

But I think I vented too soon, because when I checked the mailbox at lunch time I found an amazing Christmasy surprise from my cousin, Melanie, that gave me the nudge I needed in the right direction.
So simple. So special. So sweet.
Isn't it adorable?! Melanie is the creative mind behind Whimsical Creations. Everything she creates is made from polymer clay... all of her stuff is so stinkin' cute!

Here are the other Christmas ornaments she gifted to us for our wedding in May- I immediately got them out of storage, so that our new one wouldn't be lonely.
This one might be my favorite.
It's a mini replica of the cake topper she made for our wedding.
Three words- MUST. GET. TREE. It's going to look wayyy awesome with all of these whimsical cuties on it.

Suddenly feeling excited about our first Fabin family Christmas. : ) Thanks, Melanie.


{this moment}

Inspired by SouleMama 
A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.


inspi*ring sparkles

I've been yearning for an opportunity to share a certain story on this blog for some time now. My extreme sorrow-to-elation tale is one you may have heard before, as it comes from our wedding website. But I've decided that now is that just-right time to share 'THE story' on my blog. Here is why...

I think that everyone needs original artwork displayed in their home. What do you think? There's just something really special about a piece that...
makes you smile
instills a feeling
and inspires you
That is what "Quickly now, quickly"^, or as I like to call him, 'roosty love', does for me. He's vibrant, cheery and proud, and has recently found a forever home on one of our kitchen walls. I'm happy to say that he's settling in quite nicely.

So what does this rooster painting have to do with 'THE story' you ask?! Well, let me explain...

My long-time friend (soul sistah, really), Kiele, is the talented freelance artist and graphic designer behind this awesome watercolor design. Working, inspiring and enjoying life from her beautiful home in New Hampshire, she sparks 99.9% of her creative flame from her 'wicked' love of the ocean. She also blogs about her journey as kiele of.the.sea.

So, after my mom discovered the beauty of my new favorite fowl, she too wanted to call one of Kiele's originals 'her own'. She scrolled through her Etsy shop, but after careful consideration, decided to custom order. When I asked what she would have my dear friend create for her, she reminded me (not that I needed reminding) of sparkles...

'THE story'
In August 2010, my mom and I went to Massachusetts for Kiele's bachelorette party. The girls' weekend promised fun in the sun, relaxation and lots of laughs at her parents' gorgeous beach house on the New England coast. And it delivered just that, up until our last day.

We decided to soak up some last-minute sun on the beach before our flight back home later that afternoon. As the sun rose higher in the sky, the heat forced Kiele and I into the water. Before we ran in, Kiele gave her engagement ring to her mum, Verne, for safekeeping. Following her lead, I too removed my ring, and handed it to my mom.

So we splashed around on (her now hubby), Jay's, rented paddle board for a while until we decided that the water was much too cold for us. As we began to paddle back to shore, Kiele noticed both of our blonde madres frantically crawling around in the sand on their hands and knees. Bad feelings.

Jay met us in the water on his surf board to help us get back in, and assured that nothing was wrong.

We quickly learned otherwise.

As we approached the scene, my mom looked up at me with tears in her eyes and said, "I'm so sorry, Keri"... NO (yes).

My stomach shot up into my throat and my heart sank like a cement block. This was actually happening. I could barely look at her.

And so, with rage and sadness restrained, Kiele and I joined the search. The minutes felt like years. Everytime I looked at my left hand, I suffered from a kind of mini phantom-limb syndrome. I could feel the ring on my finger, but it wasn't there.

We darted over to every gleam, shimmer and shine in the sand in hopes that it was a diamond. None of them were, but those little sparkles, like small glimmers of hope, kept us going.

As time quickly passed with no sign of my heart's desire, we sent Jay out to rent a metal detector. And upon his return, our spirits lifted, and we began to re-search the area.

Still nothing.

I tried to justify the situation with, "at least my ring is lost in a beautiful place" and "I'll just get a new one." Nope, wasn't happening. Pessimism came over me suddenly. I doubted that we'd ever find it, and there was no way that I could ever be OK with that. But I couldn't search anymore. I was drained and decided to take a break, to break the new to Chris. Gulp.

Luckily, he kept his cool, and encouraged me to keep up the search with the others. He even offered to re-propose with a new ring if we didn't find it (so sweet). At that point we were going to miss our flight, so I sucked it up and took Chris' advice.

Back down to the tragic, archeological dig I went.

Soon after my return to the beach, Kiele's sister, Jaimie, got home from work and joined in- I felt relieved to have a fresh pair of eyes on our side. But those hopeful feelings soon vanished when we still hadn't discovered anything.

Four hours had passed. So, Kiele suggested taking a different route by placing ads in the local papers. I reluctatntly agreed. As I poured a much-needed glass of red wine while helping her word a "Lost Engagement Ring" ad in the kitchen, we heard THE scream of all screams.

That bloodcurdling shriek was the most beautiful sound.

Our faces lit up with elation, and we dashed outside to discover my dream come true. My mom yelled as she ran up the stairs, "KERI, I FOUND IT! I FOUND IT! I FOUND IT!!".

Yes, she found it. Thank goodness.

I have never felt such relief and lack of emotional control in my entire life. Words can not explain. Onlookers cheered when we embraced, laughed and sobbed as she returned the diamond to my lonely finger.

It was (and is) one of my most favorite moments.
This was taken the following morning on the plane ride back to Pittsburgh.
 Notice our tired, swollen eyes, but more importantly, my ring... and our smiles!!
I still, to this day, can hardly believe she discovered MY sparkle* in that vast sparkley sea of New England sand. Miracle or persistnece?- probably a little of both.

And so, here it is. The painting for my determined, hopeful, loving momma, via kiele of.the.sea.
"heart's desire"
She could not have captured the forces behind and emotions of our experience more brilliantly. It's perfection, and will forever remind and inspire me to keep on hoping, trusting, searching.

... and finding my sparkle*


{this moment}

Inspired by SouleMama 
A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.


Soup & Co.

My mom and her long-time friend, Kelly, came for a visit to our home last Sunday afternoon. My family knows Kelly and her family from our oh-so beautiful days in the Florida sunshine. I have so many fond memories from that time in my life: Pool/beach-side fun; choreographed dances to the Grease soundtrack; Season passes to Disney World; delicious messes with my Easy Bake Oven; round-the-clock Barbie playing; Mariah Carey karaoke. And most of these memories included the company of my sister and Kelly's two daughters, Miranda and Lindsey. Yes, I might be biased, but I think we had the best childhood(s) of anyone I know.

Anyway, Kelly now lives in Wisconsin, and after 13 years she decided that enough was enough. She was coming to Pennsylvania to catch up with her very dear friend! And I am so glad she did. It was great seeing her again. She is just how I remembered her, and not much changed between her and my mom either. 

Once neighbors, they are still the 'peas-and-carrots' Kelly and Cheryl from Florida all those years ago. In fact, their bond seemed to only strengthen after all that time apart. Which is an incredibly heartwarming and amazing thing to witness/experience. But that's just how true, 'soul sistah' friendship roles...you can go a decade or so, and it's still just so effortless and fun and awesome (hoping for a 2012 reunion with a few extra familiar faces).

So, obviously when my mom said she wanted to bring Kelly out to the Fabin home, I was ecstatic. I wanted to give her a yummy, homey, countrified experience, minus the dirt. So I decided to take advantage of my recent soup kick and well, make us some soup! It's true, there's really nothing like the warmth felt from good company and a bowl full of soup...we had a wonderful afternoon.
Lentil Sausage Soup
The following is Ina Garten's recipe, with ground sausage instead of kielbasa. I saw her make this delicious, soupy creation on her show, Barefoot Contessa, last month, and it was a 'bowl' I knew I had to make. This is definitely some hearty soup- good for the soul. 

1 pound lentils
1/4 cup olive oil
3 large yellow onions, diced
2 leeks, chopped (white and light green parts only)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
8 stalks celery, medium diced
5 medium carrots, diced
3 quarts chicken stock
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 pound ground Italian sausage (I used hot)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Parmesan cheese 

In a large bowl, cover lentils with boiling water and allow to sit for 15 minutes, then drain.
Brown sausage in a medium-sized saute pan, drain the fat, and set aside.
In a large stockpot, over medium heat, heat the olive oil and saute the onions, leeks, garlic, salt, pepper, thyme and cumin for 20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
Add the celery and carrots and saute for another 10 minutes.
Add the stock, tomato paste and drained lentils, then cover, and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 1 hour, until the lentils are cooked through.
Add the vinegar and sausage, and simmer until the sausage is hot.
Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil, parmesan cheese and thyme leaves.
Enjoy with good company!


{this moment}

Inspired by SouleMama 
A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.


Ruby Red

For those of you who know me (it doesn't have to be well), know that I'm a head-over-heels dog lady. But Rocco and Callie aren't the only two fur balls living under our roof. I realized that I've published around five posts about/including my two mutts' precious mugs, and even one about the bunny, Durdy. But I've never mentioned our sassy orange tabby cat. So, I think I'll start today. Here it goes...
Name: Ruby
Age: 2 years
Background: She was found in a barn on the farm as a teeny, tiny kitten... her eyes were barely open (insanely adorable). We had just lost our first kitty, Nittany, so Chris and I decided to take her in, and make her a part of our family.
Baby Ru and Callie
Raising little Ruby was hard work for the first few weeks. She was constantly on my mind. I got up every couple of hours at night to bottle feed her, drove home during my lunch breaks to check on her, and even helped her 'go potty' (don't ask, it's gross). She was my baby. So at the time, my thought was, "she is going to grow up to be a wonderful, sweet, lovable, grateful-for-saving-her-life, lazy house cat". Well, turns out, she's not really any of those things, at all.

Ruby is mischievous, unsocial and borderline ferocious. She hisses at house guests and would rather roam the cornfields alone than sit in a lap to cuddle. She's pretty much fit for a straight jacket, especially at the vet's office. So much so that she has a 'beware/dangerous animal/handle with caution/potential bloodbath/save yourself' label tagged to her file.
Speaking of the vet, I took her in for shots last Friday, and she was indeed out for blood. Which is nothing new, but this time I wasn't even allowed to be in the room while they examined her. Well, I say examined, but they can't even do that. They have to take the top off of her crate, violently pin her down, and just give her the shot. That's it.

That's what we pay $56 a visit for. Then again, maybe that's a good deal- I'm pretty sure there should be a special 'handling fee' too. Hmm.

Anyway, as Ruby and I anxiously waited in the exam room, I could hear the vet technicians behind the back door plotting their elaborate strategy to vaccinate my devilish feline. I listened to about 25 minutes of this until the doctor finally walked into the room. And as soon as she put her hands near the crate, Ruby began to claw, sass and hiss. She even directed some of it towards me. Yikes!

And so, I was then summoned to the hallway- pretty ridiculous and embarrassing. As I stood outside the door, like an idiot, I watched a pair of friendly, crated cats go by, and an obedient dog step gently onto the scale to be weighed. Their owners seemed so proud. I felt envious for a second. But then, I smiled.

The chaos of my cat's hell raising overcame the peace and silence throughout the building. It was scary, and laughable at the same time. There were vicious growling, hissing, snarling, screeching, scratching and banging noises coming from behind the door. It sounded like something out of one of those crazy animal hoarding shows where all of the cats are untamed, and viciously attack the rescuers attempting to save them.

While I did feel sorry for the poor two souls in there dealing with her, that's MY little hell raiser, and I love her no matter how much she hates the vet. 

Some people might wonder why we'd keep such a feisty creature in our home, but if we didn't, who else would? Yes, she's got big attitude, but Ruby does have an affectionate side too. Although, she only ever shows it to the members of our immediate household... and she definitely only expresses her love behind the privacy of closed doors. Just not the ones at the vet's office. :)


{this moment}

Inspired by SouleMama (& kiele of.the.sea
A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.


A couple of weeks ago I came upon my latest inspiration/role model (turned slight obsession) in an article from the October issue of Drovers CattleNetwork magazine. Her name is Ree Drummond. She is an "accidental country girl", rancher's wife, mother, blogger, photographer, author, cook and dog lover. Home grown in Oklahoma, she moved to Los Angeles to attend college, and soon after "got a job and wore black pumps to work everyday". Then, everything changed. On a visit back home, she met a real-life, 4th-generation cowboy. They fell in love. She moved back to Oklahoma. They married. Oh, yes. True story. Now her days are spent on the ranch "wrangling children, chipping dried manure from boots, washing jeans, and making gravy". I want to be her.
Ree launched her award-winning blog, The Pioneer Woman, five years ago to share/document her life with family and friends, and eventually became a celebrity with two best-selling books. The cook book inspired her show Food Network, and her non-fiction best seller, Black Heels to Tractor Wheels -- A Love Story (inspired by her own romance), is being made into a movie, in which Reese Witherspoon will play the lead (!!!). So awesome.
Her blog is considered one of the most influential in the world, and I can totally see why. I just love it. I find all of her posts (recipes, photos and stories) to be beautiful, mouthwatering, relate-able, witty, enlightening and heart warming. Naturally, one of her most recent posts is my favorite.. about her lovable basset hound, Charlie. P.s. she wrote a book about him too. It's called, Charlie the Ranch Dog. :)
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