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September 2017

7 things I learned in August


Pistol shooting is the bomb! I made the opportunity to go pistol shooting with Jeff, John, and Jarrod (it was John and Jarrod's birthday present) and after 3 hours of safety training a target shooting I learned I love this sport. My body held up well over the course of shooting, although I did get a bit dehydrated and my hips were screaming at the end of the night but, man, I did good!

So good, in fact, we've already scheduled our next shoot, the second week in September. I'm thinking this might be, at the very least, a once a month excursion.

I learned I need a small pistol because, 1) my hands are weak and holding a larger caliber weapon causes cramping and pain in my hands and wrists, and 2) I can get both hands around a smaller weapon and thus, more accuracy.


Eating whole makes the pounds fall off. I completed Whole30, mid August, and after 30 days of whole eating 23 pounds fell off. Glorious, I tell ya! I also learned I can complete a Whole30 without cheating. But, I also learned, it is tough.

The best part is I felt so much better. After a couple weeks of non-whole eating my bodies aches and pains have crept back in and its time to get back on track to, at a minimum, 80/20 whole eating. I'm talking, picking up sugar free bacon, eating lettuce wraps and salad bowls, having a protein for dinner with a big side of vegetables, beginning my day with water - and breakfast. I learned breakfast is the best thing I can do for my body.

While I was on Whole30 I didn't notice the subtle changes my body was experiencing but off Whole30 those changes are screaming at me in a piercing, blaring, thundering voice. EAT WHOLE. It does my body good.


I miss Jeff - and I can do this! For several months Jeff has been working out of town and was just coming home on weekends. Now, he only gets to come home every other weekend. It is excruciatingly hard. It's not like we haven't done hard before; deployments, temporary duties, you name it we've done it. Granted, being two and a half hours apart isn't grand and I miss Jeff terribly but I can do this!

I've stayed busy. I've binge watched shows: Agents of Shield and Flash Point come to mind. I've cooked less dinners. I've binge watched shows. I've decorated our bedroom. I've binge watched shows. I've cleaned and organized the pantry. I've binge watched shows. Oops. I said that already.


Giving is becoming apart of who I am. I had hoped. When I began this journey, this nourish a heart of giving, 52 Weeks of Giving, I'd hoped giving would become a part of who I am. Over the course of these 8 months I learned, like other journey's we walk, if you do something long enough it becomes a habit. One of those seriously rockin' habits you don't want to break.

I learned I cannot out give God. But, there is always a need. He has, over and over again, placed on my heart a way to meet a need, a place to give, a meal to share, a care bag to make, a ministry to bolster. Amazing God!


I can never have enough mugs. Okay. Maybe, there will come a time when enough is enough. But, that time is not now. My collection of mugs is still growing after finding two indigo blue (they're different) mugs at Home Goods in Augusta while I was visiting Jeff, and an Ali Edwards' I Am a Storyteller mug when she came out with her home collection. The two mug trees sitting on our kitchen counter are almost, but not quite, full.

It has been a long time since I collected anything. I didn't set out to collect mugs but as I picked up a practical mug here and a commemorative mug there I realized mugs are practical. The mugs get used every. single. day. They aren't mugs to sit on a shelf and gather dust. They are to be used and enjoyed.


A finished, decorated, clean, organized bedroom makes my heart sing. It has been forever in a disheveled, just about stage of completion but recently Jeff hung the last two prints, one very large one for over our bed and between the maple pencil posts, and another to balance the arrangement on the wall on the other side. Then, I read a room should never be in a design stage of finished.

What did that say?

Upon reading further the article was inferring that changing up bedding, adding a photograph here, replacing a lamp shade with new, throwing a quilt over the bed all can be applied to a room, in my case, a bedroom, to keep it fresh, in a design-flux, yet, - finished. It is the best of both realms.


The new Beauty and the Beast movie is wonderful. When Ashley, Brad, and crew were visiting they brought their DVD copy of the Beauty and the Beast and surprisingly -  I loved it. It is a great story of redemption and acceptance. Even when my kids were - kids, and they watched Disney or Pixar movies it was rare I sat through an entire movie (unlike many other moms who adore their kids and would watch the movies with them and know all the songs and all the lines) and I didn't know the words to the songs or movie lines, either. Except Mulan. For some reason I loved Mulan. A woman hero in a man's world, I guess. Not surprising I adored the movie Wonder Woman.

Back to Beauty - it was good.

2017 Reading Challenge | where I stand


At the beginning of the year, I decided to participate in Modern Mrs. Darcy's 2017 Reading Challenge (found here). She designed a two-track challenge giving her readers an opportunity to read for fun or read for growth with 12 challenges in each category.

Because I am reading 100 New Books in 2017 I thought it would be interesting to see if I could complete MMD's reading challenge for fun and for growth. I have been gradually "checking the boxes" in this challenge since its inception and I'm loving every minute of it. It truly is a challenge to stretch my literary repertoire through many of the titles I have selected for this challenge or even through the 100 new books I am reading.

It is the end of August and I firmly believe I will be able to meet this challenge even though I have one of the toughest in the challenge left still to read, a book that is more than 600 pages. I have completed 18 of the 24 book challenge, thus far. This is where I stand in the 2017 Reading Challenge:

In the reading for growth category, a book in any genre that addresses current events , I read the YA novel by Angie Thomas.

71pwDMHjXiLThe Hate U Give. Other than reading the back cover and seeing the unbelievably well-received reviews by all walks of life I read without bias (except, I was hopeful for some insight on the subject matter) and with an open mind. It is possible. Truly.

I was blown - away.

While the Black Lives Matter movement inspired this novel, it is more about black lives living and loving and pursuing a good life. I loved the dialogue and felt it was true to life. I felt I was a part of the story, following along with Starr, the main character, and seeing black lives through her eyes. As I shared previously, my favorite, of so many great lines, "He was more than any bad decision he made," Bam! If you want to get an inkling of understanding out of Black Lives Matter, how black lives live, and racial tensions then read this book.

In the reading for growth category, a book recommended by someone with great taste, I read the Leif Enger novel,

711WBU9Yz1LPeace Like a River. Recommended to me by a friend and 30 year high school English Literature teacher in our local school system. Peace Like a River is her all-time favorite book and she uses it every year in her literature classes. From page one there is so much to pay attention to as Enger brings the fictional life of the scarred but breathlessly endearing Land family to life; and, compelling the reader to believe in miracles in the everyday just by being compassionate. Narrated by the middle child, Reuben Land, who has no trouble carrying the story to a crescendo so intense it too leaves you breathless. Loved this book from start to finish. My favorite character was Swede and her beloved poems. Definitely will hold a top spot in favorite books of the year.


In the reading for fun category, a juicy memoir, I read Rob Lowe's memoir

61dAlLVm3yLStories I Only Tell My Friends. It was an engaging memoir of Lowe's life before and during his life as an actor. I particularly enjoyed those times he encountered stars, and how he encountered them, and the lessons he learned from them - before they were stars; some truly big name entertainment people. He's done some pretty stupid stuff in his life but he really grew up and is someone his mom could be proud of. Because I know he is a liberal and he is influenced heavily, by many I have little respect for, yet, I was pleasantly surprised at his respect for bi-partisan politics and politicians, truly inspiring that he appreciates hearing the messages from both party sides.



In the reading for fun category, a book in a genre you usually avoid, I read a YA dystopian-type novel by Marie Lu,

61+oJZSrGxLLegend. Actually first in a trilogy, I enjoyed the book immensely. It was fast-paced and intriguing, holding my attention; different from the Hunger Game series which I read aloud to my sons several years ago, and the Divergent series, but definitely within the YA genre I usually avoid because authors have the tendency to make 'kids' older than they are, or should be. In fact, after reading this book it spurred me on to give YA novels another chance.




In the reading for growth category, a Pulitzer Prize or National Book Award, I read the Pulitzer Prize winning, brilliantly-crafted, astounding bestseller by Anthony Doerr

51wG7x-S+0LAll the Light We Cannot See. Gorgeous! Exquisite! I adored every page from beginning to end of this skillfully written and truly believable literary masterpiece that primarily takes place in Nazi-occupied France during WWII. I loved the short chapters told in alternating character voices that swiftly moved the story through time rather than laboriously moving through the 500+ pages. As I read I kept saying to myself, "the words Doerr crafted together are so beautiful! Every word is perfectly placed, perfectly stated." I felt like I was experiencing first hand, walking beside the characters, being drawn in to their experiences.



 In the reading for fun category, a book about books or reading, I read The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan. While I enjoyed the book pairings throughout the novel and the concept of a bookshop on wheels (like a food truck going from place to place or at a Farmer's Market offering) the unrealistic telling of what this book mobile looked like is hard to comprehend or believe.

In the reading for growth category, read three books by the same author, I read a new favorite author this year, David Balducci's, The Last Mile, The Innocent, and Zero Day. The Last Mile is the second book in the Memory Man, Amos Decker series which is a brilliant character and probably my favorite series of Balducci's.

Again, in the reading for growth category, a book in translation, at the beginning of the year and the first category fulfilled, I read Fredrick Brackman's, A Man Called Ove. 

In the reading for growth category, a book of poetry, a play, or an essay collection, I read Shauna Niequist's Bread & Wine. I also read Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner that would have most definitely fallen under an essay collection and truly worth your while. immigrant story, I read A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner. This was on MMD 25 great stories about the immigrant experience and I had already picked it up from Smile Amazon over a year ago, plus, it sounded wonderful. I was not disappointed!!!

...a Newbury Award winner or Honor Book, I read The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin. I read the book and was disappointed but I heard it is best in audio.

In the reading for fun category, a book about a topic you already love, I read Erik Larsen's, Isaac's Storm. What can I say? I'm a meteorologist who loves meteorology.

Again, in the reading for fun category, a book you were excited to buy but haven't read yet, I read Andy Weir's, The Martian. I had this on my shelf for quit some time before reading. Shame on me I even watched the movie before I read the book. But I'm glad I did because I was able to see the story and I think they did a good job on creating the movie.

...a book with a reputation for being un-put-down-able, I read Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing. Very, very good read.

...a book you have been dying to read, it is no surprise I read the latest in the J. D. Robb In Death series, Echoes in Death. Robb's next book is out September 5 and I'll be at Walmart on September 5. I don't wait anymore for the paperbacks. I just don't. This past weekend I counted my In Death hardbacks, a total of 14 which means I've been reading the hardback books for 7 years versus waiting for the paperback.

...a book you have already read, I have actually read a couple: J.D. Robb's Naked in Death, the first in the In Death series with the idea I would start from the beginning, and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis because I'm reading through the entire series.

...a book published before you were born I read Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie, originally published in 1934, almost 30 years before I was born. I pulled this title out because I saw the previews of the new Murder on the Orient Express movie coming out in November and I wanted to go see it - but not before I read the book.

...a book set somewhere you've never been but would visit I read Still Life by Louise Penny, set in the quaint town of Three Pines, Quebec. While I'm not headed to Quebec I am, however, taking a trip to Niagara Falls, Canada in November.

This leaves me with the remaining selections in the challenge that I have not read yet:

...a book you chose for the cover - TBD (because I'm still looking, although I've seen some great book covers)

...a book in the backlist of a new favorite author. Most likely I will read an older David Balducci book.

...a book that is more than 600 pages. Potential books in this category are Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth, Team of Rivals: the Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, Stephen King's, 11/22/63, or Lonesome Dove. I already have the last three on my bookshelves so that said, I better get started if I have any hope of finishing before the end of the year.

...a book by an #ownvoice or #diversebooks author. Most likely I will read Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson, The Kite Runner by Khalid Hosseini, or One In a Million Boy by Monica Wood.

...a book with an unreliable narrator or ambiguous ending - probably, Code Name Verity.


...a book nominated for an award in 2017 - TBD







stories 2017 | metro diner


Today I'm sharing a 12 x 12 clean and simple page using 4 x 4 squares as the places to tell the story and

share the photos of our recent breakfast we shared and enjoyed, immensely, at the Metro Diner in Pooler,

Georgia. Digitally, I used Ali Edwards Designs Story kit EAT and One Little Word Designs from her #Hangry

and Nosh digital collections. Love the way this turned out. Plus, it only took me about a half hour to throw


We enjoyed a great breakfast Saturday morning at Metro Diner in Pooler. Normally, our breakfasts out are just

Jeff and I but the boys were home, both with days off on the same day, and we so rarely get to enjoy a meal

with both of them at the same time we decided we needed to take them along. So glad we did.

It was neat listening to the boys interact with the waitress when she complimented them on their Percy

Jackson t-shirts, and then John proceeded to 'interrogate' her on her favorite character - and whatnot.

Breakfast was amazing as usual. Way to much food but that means take home and a second yummy


stories 2017 | I want to remember


I did a blog post back in July titled, "I want to remember  |  Hanging out with Mom". I wanted to make sure I put the story into our Stories 2017 album. It is something I want to remember after all. I kept the page super simple using 2 - 6 x 8 pages and an Ali Edwards brush from her Prompts collection. Because Mom is holding her youngest great grandSON I kept the colors blue. 


I copied and pasted the journaling from the blog post directly onto my the right page and into a text box. I 'stamped' (because it is digital, it's a digital stamp) the I want to remember before each paragraph of story to remember. Easy peasy and quick!

52 Gratitudes 2017 | 31


I did so well on Whole 30. After this past weekend and the bout of aching pains I wonder if the Whole30 didn't

just help me to lose 23 pounds but kept my pain levels at bay, or at least to manageable levels. I made some

simple, yet flavorful meals while on the healthy jumpstart, flushing and detoxing of my systems. One of the

best, simple, meals was this zesty Italian marinated pork chop recipe - so flavorful!! And, Jarrod did a great

job of grillin'!

currents | august 2017


reminiscing of a weekend trip and stay with Jeff in Augusta

enjoyed scoping out restaurants for our dinners.

reading Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction by Eugene Peterson, The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis, and the Power of Habit.

searching for a crafty type project to make; maybe, cards; maybe, not; but, something to get my creative juices flowing - and for a sense of accomplishment.

finishing up decorating our master bedroom. Final touches and calling it good. It has been a long time coming. The joy has been in the details - the personal.

binge-watching Agents of Shield, Season 2. So far, so good. I did pick up Season 4 of the Blacklist but I'll probably need to re-watch before I begin the newest season on DVD. I succumbed to pressure from my sub-conscious and bought the complete set of Flashpoint - an oldie but goodie!

loving the visits from Ashley and Brad and the kids, regularly, every couple of weeks (instead of once or twice a year) now that they live within hours from home.

frustrating that people have to rob other people. Someone broke into our vehicles. Some items were stolen from Jeff's work truck. Why do people take what is not theirs? Police called. Fingerprints taken. Lessons learned.

rejoicing with Ashley and Brad that they found a school for Ian, in a classroom built just for him.

celebrating John's accomplishment! He fixed my toilet all by himself.

drinking coffee, with no sugar, out of a new mug I picked up at Home Goods in Augusta while I was visiting Jeff and he was at work.

catching up with digital scrapbooking projects: 52 Gratitudes in 2017 and 52 Weeks of Giving. Plus, working on some digital scrapbooking pages, too.

eyeballing (and saving for) this leather sofa for our living room in Burnished Saddle leather.