Winter Wonderland



Cute, little birdhouse on our front porch


That first significant snow of the year is always exciting.   For us it was even more wonderful since were able to get away to our little cottage in the woods.  We arrived just as the snow stopped falling.  It was so beautiful to pull in the drive and see everything covered in a blanket of beautiful, white snow.  


Fern Gully

First snowfall of the year at Fern Gully


As soon as we got unpacked and had a bite of lunch, we headed out for a walk in the woods.  Our dog, Denver, was THRILLED.


Denver in the snow

Happy Denver


We passed several neighboring cabins along they way and they all looked warm and inviting nestled in their new covering of snow, although they were probably all freezing inside since many of the cabins do not have heat.   I couldn’t resist pulling my phone out to snap a few pictures.


Cabin 1

Cabin in the woods

Cabin 2

Don’t you just want to drive down that lane?

Cabin 3

Beautiful cabin surrounded by pines

Osaga Lodge

Osaga Lodge


After passing several cabins we took a trail through the woods.  There is nothing like walking through virgin snow in the forest.  (Michaux State Forest)


Path in the woods

Into the woods


I’m sure that by February I won’t be quite as thrilled by the snow, but for today it was absolutely breathtaking and I enjoyed it thoroughly!  🙂  It’s a beautiful day in the Michaux State Forest.


Gone in a Flash



I would have never thought that keys could disappear so quickly.  Warning – if you are squeamish this post might not be for you.  So, back to the story….I’ll bet you’ll never guess how/where they disappeared?   Yes, I flushed my keys down the WC.  Let me explain:


Years ago I learned the lesson of not placing valuables in the back pocket of my jeans as my phone took a dive in the potty ….and it never recovered.  I thought things were safe in the front pocket, but I was WRONG.  This particular day, I used the ‘facility’ and midway through the reassembly process I turned around to flush.  At the very instant that I pushed the lever, my keys fell out of the front pocket of my jeans into the swirling water.  In a flash (or should I say flush) they were gone.  Crap.


I began yelling, “MY KEYS, MY KEYS, MY KEYS” and my husband came running to see what was wrong – he just shook his head.  Soon he began to try to retrieve the lost keys.  No matter how much ‘snaking’ or ‘fishing’ we tried,  we could not locate the keys.  At that point I began to worry that they had traveled into the pipes and that would result in a huge plumbing repair.


We weren’t about to give up that easily.  We didn’t use that toilet or flush any more and the next day my son came over to give it one last try.  He pulled the toilet up from the floor and discovered a round metal object at the bottom of the seal…it was the aromatherapy ball that was attached to my keys! He was able to pull the entire set of keys out completely intact.




The fact that we were actually able to find the keys was the first bit of good luck, but the news gets better.   The key to my car is one of the electronic variety that is very expensive to replace.  My husband took the key fob apart and laid it out in the sun to dry.  Well, we were ecstatic when we put it back together and it worked!


Of course the rest of the other keys were scrubbed clean and obviously I replaced the aromatherapy ball with a new one.  Miraculously I had my keys back after having flushed them down the toilet.  Yes, this was one of my more humbling moments in life, but maybe you will learn from my mistake.  Empty ALL of your jean pockets before using the restroom.



I recently went for a beautiful hike in the Michaux State Forest.  As always I was surrounded by beauty, but this time I noticed something different on the floor of the forest– a wide variety of Fungi.  I don’t think I had realized until that day how many various shapes and colors of mushrooms were in the forest.  I soon began to see a different mushroom around every turn.  Here are just a few:



Unbelievalbe color!!!


This is more a ‘typical’ color




These little fellas were almost glowing.


Loving the purple!


Just plain cute 🙂



I wish the picture was clearer…it was a very ‘fancy’ mushroom.

As I walked along taking pictures of a variety of fungi, I caught sight of my husband ahead of me on the trail and began to chuckle as I thought of the pun…a hike with fungi and a fun guy.  (ok, I’m easily amused. 😉 )


The ‘fun guy’, my husband 🙂

I guess to be accurate I should say I was hiking with 2 fun guys…one who walked on two legs and one who walked on 4 legs.  Our faithful dog, Denver, was along for the enjoyment.


It was a day where I was able to appreciate many types of beauty in nature.  Along with the fungi and the fun guys, there were also many other beautiful sights.  I took ALL of them in.


Just one of the streams we crossed

I LOVE hiking!

Easter Sunrise

It’s the practice of many churches to have a sunrise service on Easter morning.  There is something symbolic and meaningful to see the dawning of a new day and know that it is the day we are celebrating the resurrection of Christ.


The sun is just rising above the trees.

This year I had a different type of sunrise service.  It was held on the back porch of our cottage and instead of sitting in a pew I was sitting in a rocking chair.  Instead of being all dressed up I was in my pajamas.  🙂 The porch faces South-East and I was able to enjoy a beautiful view of the sun coming up through the trees.


It’s now daylight.

I sat quietly listening to the birds singing for a while and then decided to listen to a song that seemed appropriate,  Allegri Misere.   I played it on my laptop so I could see the pictures and the words.  It is sung in Latin, but this particular video shows the words in English as well.


Getting Brighter

For me there are two things which touch my soul and cause me to worship the Creator  –  the sounds of nature and certain music.  As I listened to this worshipful song which was accompanied by the chirping birds I realized that I was hearing two beautiful things which can help my heart and soul to worship God at the same time.

IMG_20170416_072905 (1)

My Cathedral in the Forest

There are also two places that I feel closest to the creator–in the woods and in a Cathedral.  ( I know, they are vastly different, but they both have a profound affect on me. ) As I was watching the words on the video and the stunning pictures of cathedrals, I realized I was also seeing two things that bring me into a worshipful place.  I literally had my Cathedral in the middle of a forest.

I may not have gone to any ‘official’ sunrise service, but I was able to worship the risen King in a very real way  –  possibly more than if I’d been in an organized service.


Can’t you FEEL the emotion on her face?

Plan “B”


Leaf Trail (aptly named) 


Often in life our plans change due to unforeseen circumstances.  It can be difficult to adjust to the new directions we are forced to follow, but once in a while Plan “B” isn’t a bad direction at all.  This past weekend we finally had a spring-like day and my husband and I were anxious to spend time on our mountain bikes on a local trail.  There are a TON of trails near our cottage and we are just beginning to explore them.  While I still prefer road biking, I’m quickly developing a love for riding through the mountain trails.  For me it combines two great loves – hiking and biking.  It’s like hiking on wheels.



Ready to hit the trail



We rode up a big hill just to get to the trail head and we excitedly started down the trail.  Some of the trail was a very smooth mountain path and other sections were more technical.  (I tend to walk the more difficult sections. – yes, I’m a wimp.  )  We were riding for about 10 minutes and we suddenly found ourselves faced with needing a plan “B”  While going over a large group of rocks my husband’s derailleur completely snapped in half and the bike could no longer be ridden.



The derailleur is the piece that shifts the chain between gears.  (this one is not broken)


We then had a decision to make—just walk the bikes back to the cottage or park them by a tree and continue on the path by foot.  We, of course, chose the latter option.  Since we love to hike it was a great alternative.


White I was disappointed that our original plans got derailed, (pun intended 🙂 )I realized as I walked that I was able to see things from a totally different perspective on foot than on the bike.  On the bike most of my concentration goes to avoiding obstacles – trees, rocks, roots…..  Much of the surrounding beauty is overlooked due to the necessity of needing to watch the trail directly in front of you.



Ready to enjoy Plan “B”


I began to take pictures of things I would have missed if I was still on my bike.  The first was a moss-covered rock.  The bright green just jumped out at me.  With spring just now beginning here in South-Central PA nature is just now starting to sprout green around us.



Gorgeous shad of green


At one point I stopped and looked up at the sky.  It was so beautiful to see the sky surrounded by various tree tops.  This was something I definitely couldn’t have done on a bike.  (Try looking up at the sky while riding a bike – not a good idea)



Beautiful spring sky as seen through tree tops


We hiked to the end of the trail and began the trek back to pick up our bikes and head to the cottage.  I had passed by this tree going the first direction, but it was an entirely different view from this side.



One funky tree 


We eventually reached the spot where our bikes were leaning against a tree and began the process of walking them back.  While it was definitely not fun walking a heavy mountain bike over all of the obstacles on the trail I wouldn’t have given up the chance to simply be out in nature.  All in all it was a wonderful day.



Bikes are a lot more fun to ride than to walk. 😦 


Enjoy the Journey



Quite often in life, I get so focused on where I’m going that I forget to enjoy the beauty along the way.  I become so absorbed with finishing everything on my to-do list that I miss the special moments that occur along the way.


Earlier this week I had to make a trip to our cottage for a small task that needed to be done.  I awoke thinking of all the things I needed do as I’m preparing for my Holiday Home Show and had a ton of tasks on my to-do list.  I wasn’t looking forward to taking 1 1/2 hours out of my already busy day to drive the whole way there and back for an errand that would take only 5 minutes to accomplish.


That morning as I took my dog out for his morning ‘constitutional’ I was greeted with the sight of a gorgeous morning sky. As I stood looking at it I was reminded that even when life is harried that there are gifts of beauty along the way that are easily overlooked.




As I  drove up the mountain to the cottage I began to notice just how beautiful the scenery was along way.  It’s late-Autumn here in central PA and the leaves are turning amazing colors.  Both sides of the road are lined with trees and it seemed as though each time I drove around a curve in the road the colors were more amazing than the the last.





One section is lined by pine trees.  Even though the bright colors of the deciduous trees are extremely beautiful, the line of green pines has it’s own charm.




As I turned onto a gravel road the scenery changed, but still had a special kind of beauty.




Entering the driveway I felt a sense of peace (as I often do).  This time of year when it’s completely covered by pine needles and leaves even the car was quiet.




Even though the cottage is nothing fancy, to me it’s a beautiful sight.  It’s my ‘piece of heaven on earth’ – a place I can relax and experience a sense of peace that I don’t always feel at our home.  On this day, as I got out of the car and headed to the door, this is what I saw:



My Happy Place 🙂 


I couldn’t help but smile as I imagined the sound effect you hear in movies when something has a bright light shining on it – like an angelic chorus. (Click here to hear the sound I heard in my head)  I know that may sound a bit dramatic and a little silly, but in a real way, this little place has been a heavenly gift to me.  It’s where I can slow down enough to focus on the truly important things in life and be able to appreciate all of the beauty that is around me.  On this day, even though I wasn’t able to spend much time there, I did take time to notice the beauty on drive.  I wish I could always have the mind-set to be more aware of special moments along this journey called ‘life’.  I hate to think that I am missing any heavenly gifts along the way.


I can’t remember if I finished everything on my list that day, but I do remember feeling grateful for all the beauty around me.

Considering that my last blog post was about an ornate, massive cathedral, this one is going in a slightly different direction.  While the grandeur of a cathedral can lead me to worship, much simpler churches can do the same.




We had the opportunity to attend a very old and tiny church near our cottage this past summer.  It was built in the 1800’s and has been preserved and kept as it was in the past.  There are old, wooden pews, oil lamps, and no heat or air conditioning.  The first time I walked into the church many things took me back to the church I attended as a young girl  (especially the hand-held fans with the picture of Jesus.)




Everything from the picture of Jesus in the front of the church to the board with the attendance numbers felt very nostalgic to me.  On the back of the pew in front of me were old hymnals and a bible. As I pulled out the hymn book and began to leaf through it, I found this taped in the front.  The words to this song captures what I was feeling at that moment.



If you like old-time music, here’s a link to the song.  

Church in the Valley by the Wild Wood

My eyes filled with tears as I though about how much my Dad would have loved this little church.  He would have enjoyed the old hymns as well as the speakers who really taught scripture.  My Dad passed away shortly after we bought the cottage last year so was never able to attend this little church with us.  Even though I know he is in a place that is better than any cathedral or old brick church, I still miss him.

Feeling nostalgic was touching, but then the service started.  A sweet, older man led us in singing hymns.  He wasn’t as refined and polished as most of the worship leaders are in many modern churches, but you could tell he LOVED singing those old songs an meant every single word–it was a beautiful thing.   As I sang the alto part to hymns that I had sung as a teenager it affected me in a way that it didn’t when I was young.  Having experienced 40+ years of life since singing them, the words had a much deeper meaning.

We actually helped to set a record attendance of 39 one week and as a person who usually attends a VERY large church, it was moving to be a part of such a small congregation.  People had either come because they have a cabin in the area or they were camping at the nearby campground.  Even though we were all strangers, we were united in our faith.

The church is only open from Memorial Day through Labor Day so I will miss that little church until next spring.  😦


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