Friday, July 30, 2010

War! Huh! What is it Good For!

It started out as what I thought was going to be a standard Thursday night dinner date out with Steve. I got home, pulled into the driveway, and went into the house. We gathered our Outback Steakhouse gift card and coupon, grabbed our phones & headed to the car.

We happened to look over at the front stairs and didn't quite know what to make of what we saw. Crawling - no - swarming all over the stairs were hundreds of ants. Red ones and black ones, some of them fighting with each other, some of them carrying larvae out on their backs. Steve went into the garage and got the bug stop spectracide so that the battling ants would not swarm their way into the house. As he sprayed, I stood in the middle of this swarm of ants - they were even spread down to the driveway, running away - and solidly decided that I had never seen anything like this in my life. We continued to stand there in awe of what was happening, watching as beetles, spiders, and centipedes came out of the rock wall and ran away from whatever was going on between the ants.

It was hands down one of the strangest things I had ever witnessed in nature.

We pondered what we should do about our bizarre ant problem while we enjoyed our dinner. Steve looked up "swarming ants" on his iPhone to see about what could be going on. When we got home it was too dark to see what was going on, so we trusted the fighting would stay outside and not make its way into the house and called it a night.

This morning we woke up to find at least a hundred dead ant carcasses spread across our walkway. When Steve got to work he called Bain Pest Control who advised him to get a sample of the ants and stop on in. He did, and their verdict was that we... witnessed...


I did a bit of research on this after Steve told me this, and I was fascinated to find out that other than humans - ants are the only other animal to wage organized war. In fact - sometimes when ants take over a colony, they will keep some of the other ants as SLAVES! This is incredibly fascinating to me. Here are these small creatures that I once saw in a documentary have a population of 4 quadrillion worldwide - waging territorial war on each other and enslaving their captors to do their bidding. Probably it's mostly consistent of building tunnels & gathering food - BUT STILL. We don't give ants much credit for anything other than being a nuisance at our picnics and in our cabinets. Yet, here they are able to organize platoons and gather in such a fashion to conquer another colony and claim it as their own.

Can't you just picture a little ant sticking a flag at the top of an anthill? Imagine a picture like that famous picture from World War 2, only with ants on an anthill in the middle of your yard.

I think about this amazing intelligence and am amazed that God - who loves us as his precious children - took the time to put that much care into His design of these tiny creatures. They have the ability to communicate and organize and work and work and work and out number us by insane proportions. What we witnessed last night was God's creation interacting in ways that are just... well... unimaginable. I never would have thought that ANTS would be engaging in wars and that their women and children (as witnessed by the carrying of larvae) would be running away in terror.

Crazy. Crazy awesome.

"Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise!" - Proverbs 6:6

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Today I got a warning that my code from The Cutest Blog on the Block was about to expire. I also got a warning that the site might be slow; in fact, it was so overloaded that I couldn't even get on the site at all.

So I found another site - Final Sense - that also has free Blogger templates. Quite a selection and easy to use/install on to the blog.

I have some tweaking to do to get it where I want it to be - but for now it's in progress.

Bear with me for a few days while I finish updating the look.

Update: I think I've got it where I want it for now. In a few weeks I may tweak Cutest Blog again. We'll see. What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Danielle's Top 5 -- Stress Relievers

Today's one of those days at work where the tension levels are high. I've found myself a few times dreaming of the things I do to help relieve stress and recenter. I decided that a great way for me to take a quick brain break would be to share with you my...

Top 5 Stress Relievers

1. Praying: I've found that when I recenter and ask God to take whatever it is that's weighing on me, I immediately feel better. After venting to a co-worker today about something that happened, I realized that I was losing control of my stress level. I bowed my head at my desk and said a silent prayer - with a deep breath and a few moments passed, I immediately felt better. It's amazing what opening yourself up to God can do in even an instant.

“Prayer is not asking. It is a longing of the soul. It is daily admission of one's weakness. It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart.”  - Mahatma Gandhi

2. Crocheting: About 6 years ago or so I decided to teach myself to crochet. Since then I've expanded my skills and while I'm not quite at sweater-making status yet, I find something incredibly therapeutic about taking a pile of yarn and creating it into something. I actually feel that way about most things crafty, but crocheting is repetative, full of patterns, and allows me to make beautiful things without thinking about it all that much. After a long day, I have been known to able to be found on a couch, next to Steve, with a hook in my hand while we watch a movie.

This scarf is the only thing I've ever made for myself. I love it!

3. Reading: I have been a bookworm for as long as I can remember. I have memories of it being a beautiful summer day, curled in a chair in front of a window reading a good book right around age 11 or so - and my mom asking why I was sitting inside reading instead of being outside playing with my friends. My response - because the book was too good to put down. Today I still love reading, though I don't get to do as much of it as I used to like to. Last year when we went to Jamaica, I just sat in my chair reading for the better part of the week (the ocean - one of my favorite places to be - and a good book... heck YES!). A few years ago I discovered this website called GoodReads that allows you to keep track of books you want to read and have read - it's great. My GoodReads profile is here - I don't have nearly as many books as some of my friends, but I do have 113 so far between to-read, currently reading, and already read.

"Books can be dangerous.  The best ones should be labeled 'This could change your life.'"  - Helen Exley

4. Exercising: Once I lost weight and started to become more active, I found that a good jogging session on the treadmill or a nice long walk/jog session through my neighborhood would re the perfect remedy to bring my blood pressure and mind back down to a normal level. Earlier today I thought back to my morning exercise on the treadmill at our new gym, and it made me long to do a bit more jogging. Of course - I can't, so I opted to pray instead (see #1 above).

5. Spending time in our yard: This one is a recent addition to the list, but quickly became one of my favorite ways to relieve stress. Whether it's sitting on our porch staring off into the distance, spending time with Steve on our deck eating dinner, walking around in the grass barefoot, or pulling pesky weeds out of our gardens - our yard has become a place of respite. Our neighborhood is relatively quiet, our next-door neighbor is a really sweet guy who comes and says hi, and it's just a peaceful place to be. In fact - I can't wait to go home tonight and spend some time in our garden getting more weeds out and pruning our flowers.

Our backyard (The hammock & chair are no longer there - they belonged to the previous owner.)

There are lots of other ways to relieve stress that I have in my back pocket, but these are the ones I prefer the most. Just thinking of these is already making me feel less stressed and ready to tackle the rest of the workday. 

What things do you do to relieve stress?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Looking for Help - Table Runner!

I am posting an absolute shameless cry for assistance.

I own a sewing machine. I recently only found out I own a sewing machine, and I have never used it. My specialty is crocheting with cooking at a tie - I don't sew (yet), which means I'm probably not terribly good at it. Certainly not good enough to be decorating my house, that's for sure.

Here's where I'm sending out the shameless cry for assistance.

I'm hoping that by the time my mom comes to visit in October, I can have our dining room finished. This means that I'll have our chairs reupholstered, curtain tie backs up, and table/china cabinet decorated by October 7th (she comes on the 8th). My problem? Since I don't yet know how to sew with a machine, I don't trust my undeveloped skills to create what will end up being the centerpiece for my dining room - a table runner.

I am asking - if there's anyone at all out there who knows how to sew that would be interested in performing this task for me - please let me know. Or refer someone. Either way. I would be extremely appreciative!!!

**Update - Kimberly from Kimberblog! has offered to do this. YAY for having crafty friends!!**

I'll buy the fabric, I'll pay for your labor. I'm even willing to barter with any non-crocheters out there for a scarf - winter IS right around the corner, you know.

Here's what I'm looking for. I want the runner to have this sort of basic pattern (two lines of trim with a center fabric, no tassles):

But using these two fabrics in place of what you see in the picture:

Tommy Bahama Cat Island Surf - this would be the two edges in the picture above

European Linen Cream - This would be the center fabric

If this is something you can do OR if you know someone who can do it - I would be incredibly appreciative.

Thanks in advance!!!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Coming Soon...

We are all moved.

We are in absolute AWE of how God provided for us as we prepared our new home and moved all of our belongings from our old apartment/storage unit to our house. We knew that we were taking a big risk in trying to do so much prep work (painting, flooring install) in a short period of time, and we also knew we were taking a risk in moving over a holiday weekend.

But we trusted that God would guide our hands and that He would provide. We had a TON of help and we are so grateful to our friends that were able to move our stuff, help paint, help clean, and provide support in lots of different ways as we moved into our home. I cannot stress enough how amazing the process has been as we've gotten settled and nested. We are incredibly grateful to God for His love & provision.

That said - we still don't have internet, so the blog will be better updated relatively soon after we do. I've got a few entries mulling around in my brain - and there might even be a guest appearance this summer from Steve and his grill in "Mission: Cookbook". That Bobby Flay book he's had collecting dust might actually get some use.

Hope that my handful of readers out there are enjoying their summers!!!