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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, 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'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.

52 Weeks of Giving | 4


The Trumps and the Adkinsons' in their own way captured something wonderful inside of me. As a thank you for sharing their life with me I've been creating scrapbook pages of their little (big) families. This also gives me a rush of joy in the making, joy in the giving. It's truly amazing how God does that! Giving, the sacrificial kind, whether physically or financially, is always the best kind of giving. Others are blessed, yes, but the neatest thing - I AM BLESSED!

I think if everyone could, first hand, experience blessing from giving, that rush, that overwhelming sense of gratitude and joy just because one gives, there would be more of it happening in our world.

2017 Reading Challenge | a book with a reputation for being un-put-down-able


51PTExXeL7LFor Modern Mrs. Darcy's 2017 Reading Challenge my selection for the reading for fun category: a book with a reputation for being un-put-down-able is Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing and is book 4 | 100 New Books in 2017.

Hitting my list hard this is my fourth selection of the 24 book challenge and it was fabulous! I genuinely attest to Endurance as an un-put-down-able book! Amazon perfectly describes this gripping testament, "In August 1914, polar explorer Ernest Shackleton boarded the Endurance and set sail for Antarctica, where he planned to cross the last uncharted continent on foot. In January 1915, after battling its way through a thousand miles of pack ice and only a day's sail short of its destination, the Endurance became locked in an island of ice. Thus began the legendary ordeal of Shackleton and his crew of twenty-seven men.
For ten months the ice-moored Endurance drifted northwest before it was finally crushed between two ice floes. With no options left, Shackleton and a skeleton crew attempted a near-impossible journey over 850 miles of the South Atlantic's heaviest seas to the closest outpost of civilization. Their survival, and the survival of the men they left behind, depended on their small lifeboat successfully finding the island of South Georgia—a tiny dot of land in a vast and hostile ocean.
In Endurance, the definitive account of Ernest Shackleton's fateful trip, Alfred Lansing brilliantly narrates the harrowing and miraculous voyage that has defined heroism for the modern age."

I derived great pleasure and appreciated every cleverly crafted narration Alfred Lansing wrote, leaving no stone unturned, leaving nothing for the imagination except what we must imagine Shackleton and his crew endured.

This is a novel I know my husband would enjoy...if he had time to read. The plethora of information Lansing affords his reader, in his brilliant prose and nail-biting scenes and sequences - this is a great adventure!

one thousand gifts | welcoming a new year


0125. a new year welcomed

0126. a new tradition began. We took the lead from this post and began another new year's eve tradition. At midnight we woke Jarrod (he went to bed early because he had to work New Year's Day) and we gathered around the table for bread and wine (sparkling grape juice) and gave thanks for 2016, remembered Jesus' sacrifice, and prayed for 2017. What a lovely tradition to begin.

0127. a new year's eve tradition kept. We made appetizers to share on New Year's eve and spent the entire evening playing games: Yahtzee, Scrabble, and Monopoly for a wonderful ringing in of the new year.

0128. abundant gifts around the tree

0129. mugs, and more mugs! Just a sweet little crazy collection

0130. a year of intentional gift giving

0131. Compassion International and sponsoring a child

0132. spending New Years morning in church hearing an amazing message grounded in the Word of God

0133. a bubbling pot of homemade venison chili

0134. successful tooth extractions

0135. nourishing learning: practicing Spanish using an online language tool

0136. many books to read

0137. the monthly habit of planning the next month's menu

0138. the bright sun bursting through the clouds

0139. moments of contentment to chase away discontentment

0140. the written word heard loud and clear: the answer to anxiety is the adoration of Christ - ann voskamp

0141. the return of cooler temperatures

0142. new beginnings

0143. the smell of lemon and garlic wafting through the kitchen

0144. the very act of preparing a meal

0145. packing that bag with swimsuit, goggles, and swim cap and the anticipation of dropping in the pool. Too giddy to comprehend

0146. glimpses of fearlessness and peace and the hope for  - less, and more.

0147. one little guiding word that bears repeating

0148. the simple act of service of prepping the coffee pot by my husband speaking volumes to my love language

0149. in reading Endurance the lines on page 94, "When it came Greenstreet's turn, he elected to read Sir Walter Scott's Marmion. And Macklin allowed as how "I must confess I find his reading an excellent soporific." - and when I looked up the word soporific because I did not know what it meant I had a hearty chuckle

0150. handling our finances stress-free 

52 Gratitudes 2017 | 2


I am so grateful for any time I get to swim, especially in a heated indoor pool. I would love it to be opened more often (during times I'm not working) but I choose to be grateful for the hours I am afforded in the pool. This first time swimming in 2017, after so long away, I only swam 800 yards - but I'll take it! 

It took me about 200 yards before I found my breathing rhythm, until I did I wanted to quit. But, I didn't and plowed through the water, albeit slowly. I am so grateful to God for this opportunity to swim.