2017 Reading Challenge | a book you were excited to buy but haven't read yet


I believe I'm off to great beginnings on this 2017 Reading Challenge. I have only read a couple other books outside of the challenge. Realizing this, though, means I will need to get my reading butt in gear if I want to read 100 New Books in 2017along with completing this challenge.

41DNuJfahyLMy selection for the Reading For Fun category a book you were excited to buy but haven't read yet: The Martian by Andy Wier. I guess in a way this could have been many of the titles on my bookshelf as I'm usually very excited when I put a book in my Amazon cart and then receive it. Inevitably, it is within a stack of books purchased and if they all get me excited I just have to pick one, right?

But, having recently watched the movie...

I know, right? I watched the movie first. Highly taboo! A disgrace. Watching the movie before reading the movie.

But, you guys, the movie was really good.

I'd heard, through blog reviews of The Martian that many people actually enjoyed the book way more once they watched the movie. After flying through the book in a day and a half, because of the visuals the movie afforded me, I can totally see how they came to that conclusion. I loved this book!  I'm not sure I would have liked it half as much if I'd read the book first. The science, the chemistry, I think, would have become overwhelming and instead of plowing through the science I might have put the book down. But, the movie! The movie made the science so much more interesting - exciting even!

And the humor - I laughed out loud on a number of occasions. Worth it! As a Star Trek fan (the newer Star Trek's) a favorite line when Mark writes in his SOL journal, "Damn it Jim, I'm a botanist, not a chemist!" Laughed. Out. Loud! 

While I understand this was completely fiction, it made me wonder that if this were to happen in real life, an astronaut getting stranded on the moon and needing to survive, what type of person would they need to be - to survive. I mean, this guy Mark had a sense of humor. I'm curious if that would be helpful, a certain outlook on life. Just wondering.

Anyways, if you're wondering about the book. Read it. And, if you're wondering about the movie - fabulous, too.

Again, this is where I stand with the 2017 Reading Challenge:


Moving right along in this challenge. I have several books in my bag for work, on my nightstand, in my purse: Zero Day by David Baldacci, Veronica Mars, The Thousand Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas, A Million Little Ways by Emily P Freeman, Isaac's Storm by Erik Larson, and More to Your Story by Max Lucado.


ON SAVANNAH | on an early morning adventure



The idea of an early morning adventure makes the sound of the alarm clock going off at 5:00 am (5:30 at the latest; if no shower is required) palatable. Before hitting the road, pour that first cup of freshly brewed coffee into a Yeti (because 5:00 am on a Saturday is just insanity without coffee for the road), throw two portable chairs into the bed of the truck, and grab the big Canon camera with tripod.


Drive 40 miles to watch the sun rise above the horizon on the cool Tybee Island beach. It is above all - breathtaking. There is something exhilarating about being one of the few cars on the road heading on an excursion eastward along Georgia highway 80 knowing the destination will begin with a sunrise and end with food - a hearty breakfast, sustenance for the weekend's activities. Setting up camera and tripod on the sandy beach we chat quietly with an occasional uninhibited chuckle that resonates above the waves breaking with the early morning tides. It is breathtaking - yes. And, unmistakably peaceful. Capture on camera, for posterity, those first glimpses of the sun peeking over the horizon. Take in the brilliant colors. Thank God for the new in every morning.


Quickly pack it up and head over to The Breakfast Club, one of Tybee Island's privately-owned, unique restaurants catering solely to grilled-top breakfast and brunch fare where the line waiting to get in is filled with locals and guests to the island, that starts early, and is always long. Read the Club's cheeky, window-front door signs while you're waiting your turn to be tapped by the waitress on the door. When she lets you in the door, one at a time, definitely request seating at the counter; it's an experience worth taking in.

Order anything and it will be good. Watching the grill guys working together to prepare your fare, even better! Chat with the cooks, sip a great cup of coffee, listen to Pandora and the best 70's music has to offer, and chow down on some really good food. The hash browns - amazing. The eggs, perfection. The homemade sausage, hearty and well-flavored. Sure, they have healthier options - with spinach - but, why?

This early morning excursion is worth every mile and every minute. It is a total delight to the senses: the sight of the sun rising on the eastern horizon, the smell of the salty ocean air, the sound of squawking seagulls, and the mouth-watering taste of really good breakfast fare.

P.S. Stories 2017

As part of my scrapbooking goals for 2017, I'm using Ali Edwards' Story kits in my pages, several pages per kit. As a digital scrapbooker using digital product is not quite the same as physical product in that I can use the product pieces over and over again. But, my goal is to use more of each kit, making it worth the money of a monthly subscription. For the page above, telling the story of an early morning adventure I used the DRIVE, NUMBERS, and AM/PM Story kits. I kept developing the page piece by piece but first beginning simply using an Ali Edwards template I found in my stash. I did modify the template from an 8.5 x 11 to a 12 x 12 canvas page. 


one thousand gifts | reconnecting


In my pursuit to give thanks for one thousand gifts, to replace discontentment with contentment, and trials to considering it pure joy, writing down the bones - the gifts that can turn a frown upside down, change a heart...

0151. reconnecting with dear, sweet-spirit, classy, sarcastic, honest, loving, faithful Melanie. I've missed her beautiful soul! This in itself would be 1000 gifts.

0152. the new lamp next to my bedside table

0153. coffee brewed in the morning

0154. that video Brad sent of Samuel crying, crying and then he heard the Gilmore Girls theme song and stopped crying. So funny!

0155. realizing at the end of the day that it had been a really awesome day just because of giving to others and connecting with people

0156. opening up my email to find a post from Focus on the Family breaking down nourishing your spouse - my One Little Word for 2017. How cool is that!

0157. holding a preemie but gorgeous baby and delivering a meal to the family with two sets of twins

0158. a delicious handmade salad

0159. re-arranging furniture and giving a living room new life - in time for small group to regather

0160. Jeff coming home today at a decent hour.

0161. a couple texting conversations that made my day

0162. cool nights for some really good sleeping weather

0163. being struck at the heart after this Sunday's sermon how very much we are blessed as a couple and a family and as a country even, and mostly, that we are on the right track - but we can always do more.

0164. some really good conversation in small group that carried over after they went home into our own conversation.

0165. connected with Stacia

0166. connected with Amy

0167. connected with Jessie

0168. finishing a really good book

0169. uploaded the first video to a new Bible study. Lately, I've been bombarded with the idea - well, truth, in fact - that growth in Christ just doesn't happen with a fresh studying of His Word. One has nothing, absolutely nothing to stand on with His Word.

0170. the fire-roasted marshmallow scent wafting in the room

0171. rejoicing with friends when 3 of their kids (adult kids) are part of the worship team that day

0172. the answer to anxiety, worry, uncertainty, discontent is always exalt Christ. Give Him your gratitude. Give Him your praise. Bless Him.


Friday, with a cup of coffee | 19


Photo Source

Seriously, how one woman read 313 books in one year! Truly inspiring. It will never happen to me - but inspiring nonetheless, especially the one where she read instead of binge watched Netflix - how innovating...

Peruse some of Dirk Dallas' Drone Photography - breathtaking!

Choose kindness  - over meanness.

I would so love these kind of friends. Speaking of friends...


Bring tissues. Kindness is still alive.

12 Things Happy People Do Differently.


2017 Reading Challenge | a Pulitzer Prize or National Book Award winner


Following Modern Mrs. Darcy's 2017 Reading Challenge my selection for the reading for growth category (and my 5th selection of the 24-book challenge): a Pulitzer Prize or National Book Award winner is

510mwjJ6sELThe Penderwicks, a Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy.

I loved the magical ambiance of this heartwarming and charming modern children's classic of a summer vacation filled with adventure - and mayhem. I adore the children's brilliant and gentle widower father who is absentminded yet attentive, and aware of his daughters' ramblings and trampling's at the same time. He understands his children something awesome.

Although this might be considered a children's book it's appeal will reach all ages and gender. And, I kept thinking while I was reading, "I think Ella would love this book!" But, I also thought, my boys (my 19 year old sons) would love me to read this aloud. I definitely want to get the next books in the series.

The four sisters are delightful and endearing. The boy - I just wanted to reach in and pull him close, with his preening peacock mother Mrs. Tifton to contend with. Thank God for the precious and understanding housekeeper and the hardworking teenager and father-trained gardener.

I used to shy away from children's books believing they were beneath me, although beneath me is not really what I mean, maybe not literary enough. But, not any longer!

This is 6  |  100 New Books in 2017

P.S. I created a new 12 x 12 template for the remainder of this reading challenge. I will use it for updates to the challenge, as well.

And lastly, where I stand with the reading challenge:


Project Life 2017 | plus my scrapbooking 'goals' for the year


I truly was not sure (and I'm still not 100%) if I want to come back to Project Life for this 2017 year. But, the other day I was perusing my stash of digital products by Paislee Press and stumbled on one of her 12 x 12 Project Life (pocket page type) digital templates and thought to myself: that would be pretty easy to just add photos, maybe use some of her other 4 x 6 or 3 x 4 templates, and just begin. The design was already there. It is the reason I love pre-fashioned templates, design is done for you and as design and embellishments are not my forte - win, win. 

Thus, here is week one's page for 2017. It is, as you can see, one page. I expect one page spreads to be a normal occurrence for 2017, with 2-page thrown in occasionally, as I've been hopeless this past year (using that as a guide) about taking regular pictures. Maybe that will change this year, thus, the occasional 2-page versus 1-page spreads.  I'm certainly okay with this and it does not stress me out in the least.

So, one of my scrapbooking goals for 2017 is Project Life: weekly pages of our life with the caveat that if I miss a week here or there or only get a monthly page in, "it's all good."

I've been mulling over other potential goals and I'm positive a big one will be to use my Ali Edwards' Story Kits. I subscribe monthly to Ali's digital Story kit and I have accumulated a plethora of digital kits for telling stories. I need to tell those stories and use those kits!!! My second scrapbooking goal for 2017 is to scrap at least 2 (but preferably more) pages using product from each kit. I have in mind to even incorporate this into my blogging: receive my kit, make pages using the latest kit, and blog the kit plus the pages.

My third scrapbooking goal is to document each month What I've Been Reading lately. Last year I documented 52 New Books in 2016  with a 4 x 4 album, but finished off the last few months (because I had read my 52 New Books in September 2016) making 12 x 12 pages of what I'd read that month and also participating in Modern Mrs. Darcy's QuickLit, What I've Been Reading Lately by linking to her monthly post. My plan is to continue linking up with MMD and continue making a 12 x 12 page of what I've been reading each month by the 15th.

A fourth mini album is my 52 Weeks of Giving. This is a clean and simple album photo + giving story. It is part of my One Little Word for 2017 NOURISH a heart of giving. A fifth mini album; another clean and simple album is 52 Gratitudes 2017. I missed this exercise in 2016, tremendously. I saw a difference in my hearts contentment so I had to bring it back in 2017 and nourish a heart of gratitude.

A sixth goal is to continue making pages for the Adkinson's (who have added another set of twins to their family recently) and for the Trumps. I'm not sure how much nor how much longer I'll continue these gifts but I enjoy telling their stories, putting photos and words to pages.

This may seem like an overwhelming amount of scrapbooking but for much of it I already have a rhythm going and for others, especially the mini albums, are clean and simple, photo + words - getting the story told.

That is the overlying goal for my year as well. Clean and Simple. Use pre-made templates, scraplift, use the product I have...and definitely do not stress over pages.

Some other thoughts I've had for scrapbooking projects are 1) create a date night album. I started a 6 x 8 album but realized I have a ton of pages I've made over the years that are 12 x 12. So, my thought was to designate a 12 x 12 album for our dates, chronologically, and the 12 x 12 size will accommodate ALL sizes of pages - even 6 x 8. Plus, I love inserting varied size pages into a 12 x 12 album. Also, 2) I seriously need to finish my meteorology, memoir, cloud book, album (which DID NOT happen in 2016) and 3) document 31 Things and 31 More Things - classes by Ali Edwards that take a word, 31 different words, and document/journal with a photo + words - about that word. It is totally a self-introspection type of journaling and scrapbooking. It gets my story told through words. It, invariably, falls under that Clean and Simple umbrella.

ON SAVANNAH | on a surprise outdoor date adventure



For a sensational surprise outdoor date adventure, cleverly and cunningly arranged by your date (aka, my hubby), enjoy a dolphin boating tour, relax dockside for a meal at one of Tybee's most popular restaurant, and finish off the evening with a leisurely stroll hand in hand on the lush, sandy beach of Tybee Island - Savannah's eastward isle.

Do not pass up this terrific trifecta of an afternoon and well-into-the-evening engagement perfectly designed for two; enjoy the sun’s warmth on your faces, and the salt-water spray on your arms and wafting through your nostrils; allow the silky sand between your toes and the sea-foam and crashing waves at your feet. Come on, let's get started!


The excitement mounts as you climb onto the touring trawler at Captain Mike's Dolphin Tours , voted best adventure tour nine years straight, and depart Lazaretto Creek Marina heading up the channel and out into the gently breaking open waters towards the Atlantic Ocean. Every heart aboard is pounding with expectation as you pass shrimp boats and docks portraying the charm of an old fishing village hoping to be the first to sight a dolphin. 

Every eye is peeled, even as the Cockspur Lighthouse passes by and anticipating that first glimpse of a school of friendly, bottle-nosed dolphin to happenstance alongside the boat. The Cockspur Lighthouse, built in 1855, withstood a direct line of fire, 30-hour raging battle when the Confederate armies fell to the Union during the Civil War. The tour guide deftly maneuvers the boat by Cockspur Island for a panoramic view of  another historic monument and favored touring site, Fort Pulaski, that fell to the Union during the same 30-hour conflict. Then, approaching the North Beach of Tybee, the tour meets its half-way point with a scenic view of one of America's most intact lighthouses, the Tybee Lighthouse that has been guiding mariners with its nine-foot tall First Order Fresnel lens safely into the Savannah River for 270 years.


After an hour and a half in open waters your face is toasty warm from the sun and yet, a bit chilled from the cool waters spry, head onto Tybee Island proper to AJ’s Dockside restaurant tucked in off the beaten path, juxtaposed to the island's Back River where avid boaters park – well - dockside, and head along the pier and onto the dock to enjoy AJ’s highly rated seafood fare. First things first: You do not want to miss the simply southern appetizer of blackened shrimp and grits with just a touch of Cajun flare.

Following your leisurely, and truly delightful meal, head down to the beach where Tybee beach is a pay-to-park community accepting cash or credit cards and parking is free after 8 pm. Cross one of the many public wooden boardwalks, passing by the sea grass-laden sand dunes, take a stroll down to the western shore of the Atlantic Ocean hand in hand. Kick off your shoes, and enjoy a peaceful ramble along the gentle seashelled shore with waves lapping against your ankles and watch the final farewell to the day’s sun as you pass under the Tybee pier. Perfect ending to a perfect day. 

Currently | January


needing more book shelves for my home. I have acquired so many books and still more are on my wish list in Amazon that I am...no, I have run out of room on our bookshelves. Considering some wall shelving above our dresser in our bedroom.

eyeballing some art work to add to our bedroom and get me closer to a design finish. This one definitely has my eye. But, still contemplating others from my Pinterest Bedroom board. Can you guess what color our bedroom is?

participating in Ali Edwards' One Little Word class and loving it. Rather than stressing over the class I'm truly taking it in, taking my time, and internalizing my word, Nourish, for 2017. Attempting to make my word alive and active in my life.

nourishing a heart of gratitude and giving, sometimes daily, oftentimes daily, but at least weekly. I've prepared meals, gifted homemade cinnamon rolls, a special gift to my husband, handmade a blanket, put together a couple bags of food for those in need (and the month isn't over yet)...and the gratitude...it's keeping me grounded in contentment and joy.

swimming. Yep, I made it to the pool last week and I'm heading to the pool on Friday. Beyond excited to be back in the pool.

reading The Martian by Andy Weir

anticipating J.D. Robb's latest In Death novel coming out in February.

writing a new blog series titled ON SAVANNAH. Each short (some, very short) essay will be on Savannah; what to see, what to do, where to eat, what to visit, and why, etc...It is my perspective, what I have enjoyed about Savannah. The first post should be up sometime this month.

finishing up the last week of my current Bible study by Beth Moore, Entrusted. While I have enjoyed the study and have applied several actions to my life it hasn't been as good as some of her other studies. There are a couple of her studies I've missed taking as I consider what's next. Such as Believing God - or maybe this time around I'll try someone else altogether. Dallas Williard writes in The Spirit of the Disciplines that  Bible study (and other disciplines) have little effect for soul transformation without it being accompanied by lengthy solitude, silence, and rest [for listening for God to speak, for reflection, for application], we must choose this discipline in the first place for there to be any chance at having God's attention (all paraphrased and my understanding).

starting a 2017 Our Life album. I thought I would be able to combine 2016 and 2017 together as I had significantly changed how I was documenting our lives in 2016. But as I was putting the last pages in our album from my recent Persnickety Prints order, I found I would not have room for 2017 pages. I already have an album(s) on hand, another teal/turquoise We R Memories 12 x 12 album, but I have very few page protectors, so I will need to stock up.

watching the last seasons of The West Wing (loving it so) and re-watching Stargate: Atlantis. Castle, the last season, is in there too - but we rarely have time to watch it (as Jeff and I are watching this together). Not sure what I'm going to watch next. I tried the first Episode of Mad Men and - blah - even though it had rave reviews. I've never watched Friends, or The Sopranos but not sure they're worth my time. I'm waiting on the next seasons of The Blacklist, Madam Secretary, Blue Bloods, and Longmire to come to Netflix or DVD.

loving my new do.

hoping to formulate a formal list of what I'm hoping to read this year. I have so many books on my bookshelves and desire so many more as I regularly add books to my beautiful - evil - Amazon cart. 


52 Gratitudes 2017 | 3


One of my 100's list (1000 days 100 list) is finish decorating our bedroom. I am grateful for any opportunity to do just that. I recently acquired this beautiful indigo and white lamp and a large professional photo of my amazing servant-hearted husband doing what he does best - serving. As a Roman Calvary for the Journey (Compassion Christian Church's huge Christmas production).

The lamp has been in my bedroom Pinterest board for quite sometime now and I finally made it happen as a belated Christmas present - to myself!

what I've been reading lately | january edition


Crafting a page every month of what I've read for our family scrapbook album. Besides reading...and swimming... scrapbooking is my other love and keeping a record of everything I've been reading is inspiring me to read more.

Slim readings this month...only six books read...but almost all of them were winners. I would never have reckoned my heart around some of these titles if not for the countless other readers willing to share their reviews - well, and my desire to read new books.

81jQzNuvy4LA Man Called Ove by Fredrick Brackman. A beautiful book full of laughter and tears, love and friendship, and connections(ing). And leaving a legacy. This was my first book of the new year and a 2017 Reading Challenge selection reading for growth: a book in translation. You can see my thoughts on A Man Called Ove here.





51Q+CphZ7rLBread & Wine by Shauna Niequist. Shauna's collection of essays are intimately personal and inspiring. In the least, I can't wait to make some of the recipes she's shared. At the most I am looking forward to how my One Little Word for 2017, NOURISH, will work itself out in my life with Shauna's book as part of the backdrop of the story. I have no doubt this will be tucked into a favorite's list for the year and one I will revisit again - soon. This book is for my 2017 Reading Challenge also: a book of poetry, a play, or an essay collection.




71MT0ceUanLThe Westing Game by Ellen Raskin. Um, not so much...I could probably count on both hands paragraphs - yes, paragraphs - I liked and the remainder of the book - um, not so much. This book, however, fulfilled a reading challenge (insert smiley face): a Newberry Award Winner or Honor Book for my 2017 Reading Challenge. We were talking at church, a couple of us ladies who serve together, all pretty heavy readers, plus homeschooling moms, when we had some downtown and I mentioned The Westing Game. Had anyone read it? Did they like it? When I shared my experience one mom said emphatically, "listen to the audio!!" I'm going to do just that and see how I like The Westing Game after listening to it read aloud.


51PTExXeL7LEndurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing. Un-put-down-able! From the first page to the last this brilliant account of Sir Ernest Shackleton's incredible voyage to Antarctica where he planned to cross the last uncharted continent and how his plans failed and yet, Shackleton and his crew endured the unstoppable elements of nature to return home. This will surely be at the top of my list of favorite books in 2017. Beyond amazing!




81ghwLdY9LLThe Defector by Daniel Silva. I have enjoyed Daniel Silva's Gabriel Allon series immensely. This one is definitely not my favorite but the parts that held my attention (most attentively), far outweighed those that were ho-hum. As this is book 9 in the series of 16 I've come too far to allow minor ho-hum to stop my forward momentum. The main protagonist(s) have certainly evolved, with increasing depth and character through the series' progression.






510mwjJ6sELThe Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall. Superb! And I'm planning on buying a second copy to send to my granddaughter Ella who is in the 4th grade. I think she'll adore this book, too! This is also a 2017 Reading Challenge selection: a Pulitzer Prize or National Book Award Winner and book 6  |  100 New Books in 2017.