Monday, February 4, 2008

In the spirit of Valentines Day we celebrate romance, marriage, chocolate, and feminine delicacies.

I love surprizing my family with cozy interludes filled with the unexpected. This is a photo from last year, now try to imagine the surprized look on their testosetone faces as I lead them to this pink feast. Thank goodness the way to a mans heart is through his stomach. Indulge your family with a cozy picnic by the fire. Picnics indoors are magical!

Soft Lighting sets the mood and makes dining feel cozy and very intimate.

The allure of lace has captivated the romantic at heart for centuries, whispering quietly to our softer feminine side.

An Antique wedding gown dressed up with my own wedding veil.

Mark and I on our Romantic day, October 18th 1991. Our wedding was everything I could have wished for and then some. As beautiful as it was my style has changed over the years. If I could do it all over again, It would have been much different. Simplicity! Im using this word in a big way (just look at those sleeves and that bufont veil. What was I thinking!

For most young brides its all about the details, the perfect dress, flowers, caterers and all the fussing. Remember your fairytales, It was the hopes and dreams of every little girl to be the princess. It was the way Cinderalla was portrayed in our childhood years.

Romance...With todays busy shedules and day to day stresses, romance can fall short of anything but, romantic...We start to lose who we are, and the very purpose to eachother, as God created deep in our core. Remembering our romantic hearts is key... It is the source of all our creativity, our courage and convictions.

On this special Valentines day, I want to share with you an insert of a book that was given to me by my dear friend Natalie, called ,Captivating, Unveiling the heart of a woman" by John & Stasi Eldredge. An inspirational tool I go back to day after day as a reminder of Gods love for us...Enjoy!

Captivating...A woman in the presense of a good man, a real man, loves being a woman. His strengths allows her feminine heart to flourish. His pursuit draws out her beauty. And a man in the presence of a real woman loves being a man. Her beauty arouses him to play the man, it draws out his strengths. She inspires him to be a hero. The longing God has written deep in your heart are telling you something essential about what it means to be a woman, and the life he meant for you to live. A journey of the heart. A woman who at her core was made for romance, made to play an irreplaceable role in a shared adventure, and who really does possess a beauty all her own to unveil, the woman God had in mind when he made Eve... and when he made you, Glorious, powerful, and captivating. The crown of creation...

A Womans Journey...
Then the time came when the risk it took
To remain tight in a bud was more painful
Than the risk it took to blossom.

by Anais Nin

A loving Valentine Devotional by my dear friend Natalie...Thank you dear friend for your grace and wisdom :)
With the Valentines Day holiday approaching I thought I would start this new column off with something very near and dear to my heart and that is the subject of marriage. Hi, my name is Natalie Stephens and I am the author of the Dear Natalie column. I am a wife to a wonderful man I have been married to for over 20+ years and the mother of two teenaged sons. I am also a free lance writer and Bible study leader. I have a heart for the Lord and for women. I have ministered to women in my writings and through my devotionals over the years and it is my pleasure to share wisdom with each one of you from my own life experiences in a honest and loving way.
Marriage,..that is a topic countless books have been written on, lol! All I can offer anyone is my experience in my own marriage and pray it helps another marriage out there. I have a very happy marriage, full of love and genuine respect. But it has not always been this way. Like most marriages we started off young and very naive. Two young people with different backgrounds, different views on life coming together and trying to mesh all our differences into a newly formed marriage.
We have had our ups and downs to say the least.. some real trials. I was not sure at times if we would survive. It was my faith in this loving, caring Savior that has brought us triumph in our marriage. Many times I cried to God and asked for His help for His peace and reassurance. God has been so good to us. There are a few thoughts from my heart today I want to share with each one of you these are from my own experiences that have helped me personally.. one is go to Christ in prayer and really pour out your heart to Him He loves you so much and does care about your marriage often we think we can handle all our problems and keep our thoughts bottled up inside without pouring our hearts out to Him. Maybe for some of you this is a new concept.. but I know it works above all else and believe me I have tried everything. God can change situations where we are not able to..please seek Gods guidance above all else! You will be surprised what forms of wisdom He will use to guide you in restoring your marriage including His Word!

Marriage is about commitment that is not a very romantic word but each one of us did marry for better or worse. Say this to yourself often that you are committed to stay in this marriage for the long journey no matter how tired you may feel at times! Commitment says to your spouse no matter what happens I am here. No matter how difficult it is to communicate at times I am not going anywhere. Commitment speaks of integrity.
Do not give your self the option to leave (unless abuse is involved then please leave precious friend!)..and I will tell you why my friends, the grass is not greener out there I have many friends in their second marriage that will attest to this. You married him because you saw something in him you loved and treasured.. I know life, children, trials, etc., can changes us but you can rekindle that love. I am living proof of that, I have seen what God has done in both my husbands heart and in my heart.

Compromise is another un-romantic word..but one issue in today's marriages that breaks up so many couples, no one seems willing to compromise any more, it was a hard lesson in my own marriage but we have had to learn to negotiate and respect our differences. Marriage is hard work and it still is hard work I have to make time to spend time alone with my husband and when I am feeling a disconnect now I voice this to him or vice versa. We did have to learn to communicate with one another it is the cornerstone of a good marriage. He is so good to me he will go antique shopping with me and I will sit in the garage on a lawn chair while he works on his car talking to him, it is not always what either of us wants to do but we know it makes us happy to do so. I had to change how I viewed him and I thank the Lord for having two sons I realized that we also have male/female differences.. & that is not personal just how men think and do things!.. believe me I am surrounded by men all the time now!LOL!

This marriage is a work in progress we still have our moments. But I take my concerns to Christ and ask for His help I talk to my spouse and tell him how I feel. There are good people that care out to there to talk to as well. Dear friends don't give up and please for your family do what ever it takes to bring the walls down. Your husband is not your enemy and you must stop seeing him as this.
I am praying for each one of you and cheering you on! Email me if you have a question at This column is about encouraging one another on, sharing our wisdom in life, praying for each other and bringing inspiration to your lives! We will post some of the questions on this site each month (anonymously if you like).

I would like to extend a special "Thanks" to my angel of a friend Jo-Anne Coletti, she is a true lady of grace and beauty, she has always seen something special in me and I love her dearly ..xoxox! Please know dear gentle friends that we both want this column to bless and inspire each one of you in your daily walk!
May God bless you and may you know just how special to God you truly are!
xo Natalie Stephens

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 1 John 4:16

Happy Valentines Day my sweet blog friends :)


My dear sweet friend Suzy from Suzy New Life awarded me with this sweet bloggin’ blessing. Thank you for sending your blessings to me, I really appreciate every single kind word, act and thought! Thank you for being so sweet!
Suzy wanted to see how far blessings can travel and this blessing traveled a long way - across the big ocean and two continents. Now I am sending this blessing to:
Rachel from Rachel Going
Sher from The Antique Paperie
Polly from Count Your Blessings
Sanya from In The Pink Antiques
Stacy from Stacy's Shabby Shoppe
Caroline from Vintage And Romantica
Tracie from My Petite Maison
Barbara from The Book Blog

Fifi from Fabulous Fifi

"You Make My Day" Award ~
A very special jewel of a lady, Tracie from My Petite Maison sent this
" You make my day award" to me today. Thank you for your bouquets of kindness, You've been an inspiration to know sweet dear friend :)


Tracie said...

Dear Jo,
Where do I begin (this time...)?

Feminine, beautiful, lovely, honest, faith filled words and such wonderful photos. The Nearer My God to Thee sign is so pretty, did you create that yourself? I love it!

Thank you for sharing Natalie's thoughts and inspiration. I will be back to read it again and again.

I love your wedding photo - I used to have hair like that and I'm proud of it - that took a lot of work.

I'm sure your family will love the St Valentine's plans you've got set in place for them. Lovely table, well everything~

Suzy said...

I love your post, so true, so sweet. Thanks for sharing these nice words it was “Captivating”.

Love, Suzy

Rachel said...

Sweet Sweet Jo-Ann, what a neat column today. Thank you and Natalie for sharing. You are a stunningly beautiful bride! Have a great day! Love,Rachel

Vintage and Romantica said...

Hi Jo!
I love you writings!
What a fine thing to do, a pic nic infront of a fireplace on the floor, like a romantic fairytale!!!
New beautiful pictures in your blog, as always....*Smile*

I had my wedding the summer of 2007. And I loved it. It was the best!
The day after I sat beside the "gifttable" and wept so many tears becouse it was done and that I never could do the same again.
I fact, my husband did the propusual (Maybe wrong spelled)
on the valentines day in the year2005. So for me it is a very special day in everyway!!!

Wish you a lovely valantines day with lots of love.

--<-@ Caroline

Antique Paperie said...

I always love Natalie's Inspirational blessings that she writes and sends to you for all of us to read. It is truly a priviledge each time I read them, and I take a special blessing away from each and every one.

You gorgeous bride you! What a perfectly matched couple you two are. Just gorgeous!!!

Valentines plans are so special - I love the photos you took - especially the Champagne glasses with Strawberries and Rose Petals - so very romantic!!! As always you take the most stunning layout photos.

And thank you my friend for including me in your Blessing, as you are one of mine - and I am so happy to know you. I will do mine tomorrow - I have so many lovely little "blessings" I have met online, how do I choose!
Thank you dearest - xo Sher

Stacy's Shabby Shoppe said...

Jo ~

What a lovely, romantic post! I enjoyed reading it so very much. Thank you for thinking of me with your "blessing" at the bottom of your post! May you continue to be blessed every day ~ you truly deserve it!



Tracie said...

Oh Jo,
Just when I think you've outdone yourself, like the post I read here last night - you go and do something so very sweet like this!

You know, I started this week off a little blue, and what happens? It totally turns around...

How blessed can a group of ladies be? You and Suzy both ~ so nice.

This little blessing candle means so much and I have to say, you added me to a list of a few other ladies I have been fortunate enough to get to know here in Blog Land. And the others I have not had the fortune of meeting as of yet, well I'm on my way!

Jo, I feel so fortunate and blessed to know you and feel this is a sweet safe haven here to come for inspiration.

Have a wonderful evening - you have made mine.

This brings to mind~
For he shall give his angels charge over thee to keep thee in all thy ways.
-Psalms 91:2

Vintage and Romantica said...

Hello sweet dear Jo!
I’m so happy!!!!! Thank you for the blessing. It makes my heart warm. You so sweet and generous =)
I will put it on my blog, so it went straight over the ocean all the way to Sweden. It will lighten up my day!!!!! Thank you so much!!!

Wish you a beautiful day, lovely Jo Ann!
--<-@ Caroline

Suzy said...

Hi Jo-Anne,
I am so glad you liked the world traveling blessing, you deserve it - really!!!
Glad you are a Meg Ryan fan too!

Sending smiles to you! Suzy

A Romantic Porch said...

Jo-Anne, You've touched my heart yet again, with your kindness and sending me a blessing. Thank you dear friend. I posted about you! You are amazing! Have a great day!

Sharon said...

Hi! I came over from Rachel's blog. You have a gorgeous blog! I love all your artwork too! You are so talented, your roses are fabulous!

Come by my blog for a visit!

Hugs, Sharon

Nancy Lee Malay said...

Very sweet, beautiful blog, Jo-Anne!

Thanks for leaving a comment to enter my "Easter Basket Giveaway" on my blog.

I've added your blogs to my links, and if you'd like to add mine to yours, that would be great!

Take care,


teacupsandpoodles said...

Wow!!! Your blog is fabulous! I truely mean it! Thank you for sharing thoughts, pictures and the essence of who you are. Are you an angel?
Mary Ann

Tracie said...

Hi Jo,
Please come see my blog!

Vanilla dreams and humblebees said...

What a lovely Valentine post!
I smile when I read about your picnic on the floor! :) What a romantic surprise for your husband!

You are amazing Jo! Your blog is the moste beautyful blog I have ever seen!

Thank you soo much!

Hugs from Jenny

Barbara Jacksier said...

Hi Jo

Thank you so much! And, what an utterly romantic post!


Tracie said...

Hi Sweet Jo,
The candle wants to come to this lovely place to see it's friend, if but for a moment and then move on it's way to bless another...

Suzy said...

Hi Jo-Anne,

I would like to thank you for your suggestion for my new name. I love the story of the first rose, sweet!!! I decided to be a wild rose like you suggested (since I feel that I am a little wild and different rose) and my blog will be a little Wild Rose Cottage. Thanks for your help.

Hugs, Suzy

Sweet Designs said...

Beautiful blog, I have really enjoyed it.

NAME: CIELO said...

What a lovely Valentine post!

...And when the future hinges on the next words that are said, don't let logic interfere, believe your heart instead. (Philip Robinson about love)



Suzy said...

Hi Jo-Anne
I am a person who needs change, years ago I always made changes on my hair, but I think this is much better - to change the look or something on my blog.
I liked that all the wonderful blog friends helped me to decide about the name. I am very pleased and the new banner is just few things that I like, cherry pie, hydrangeas, roses, to relax, cottages and nature. So this how I am - cozy! Thanks.
Have a great weekend, hope you have nice weather (we have boring winter rain)

Cathy said...

Jo-Ann, I absolutely adored reading each and every word of that post. Having a loving husband, as I do, makes me realize that I am not only lucky, I am blessed.

We celebrate our marriage each and every day. We remember to say "I love you" and to tell each other how much our lives have changed for the better since we met. Valentines Day is every day in our home.

Thank you for the sweet reminder to love, honor and respect the one you choose to cherish for life.


Alice W. said...

Fabulous post! Love the photos...and your emphasis on the importance of commitment...even though I have only been married a year and half...this was the thing we focused on the most before and after the wedding. So important to be reminded of!

Tracie said...

Happy New Week Jo,

Hope you're doing well! I met Suzy this weekend, what a sweetheart. Another Meg Ryan fan, I think we all like her houses in the movies too.


A Romantic Porch said...

I hope you have an absolutely romantic Valentines Day. xo Rachel

Counting Your Blessings said...

Joanne, thank you so much for your kind award! Natalie's words were so spot on. Thank you! Blessings... POlly

Loving Her Beautiful said...

Hello, Jo-Anne,
Wow! What a beautiful and inspiring site you have! I completely lost track of time reading through the marriage post! And the photos are breath-taking!
Thank you so much for visiting my site and for so kindly linking mine to yours! I've happily added yours to mine, as well.
Blessings to you and Mark always!

TiffanyJane said...

Hi JoAnne!
Love your beautiful blog, fabulous shabby pictures, just divine! :)
Love your wedding picture too!!