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August 2017
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October 2017

52 Gratitudes 2017 | 35


This boy is amazing! And, we adore our front porch for quiet, easy living and conversation. Ian joined Jeff and I out on the porch and he was his communicative self navigating his Grandpa into one of his varied, intuitive, informative, absolutely delightful conversations. 

First, because of Ian's autism he is introvert and prefers playing on his own. He does his own thing. But, when he is comfortable with you, when he knows you adore him, he has no problem communicating his heart out.

stories 2017 | we can do hard things


Things are almost back to normal, for us, after the storm, Hurricane Irma, past through to our west. We had time to prepare.

Thankfully, Jeff's company gave him the time he needed to tend to our home. We boarded up the house. Jeff and the boys hung the thick boards carefully, preparing the house, in case we have to do this again (and looking at long range forecast models we just might have to). The boys helped me inside too. We moved things we didn't want to get flooded to the second floor. We packed important papers, and scrapbooks, of course, in tubs ready for transport should we need to evacuate.

The plan was to evacuate. The storm was headed for us.

Then, the storm wasn't heading our way anymore.

We finally decided not to evacuate for two reasons: 1) we agreed the eyewall of the storm would be far enough west and it would be tropical storm strength as well, and 2) I was going to have to work (Monday) even as the storm was passing southwest through west at its strongest impact over us and evacuating would mean driving two and a half hours through tropical storm weather.

A cold front had recently passed through and we had such beautiful weather affording us the opportunity to get things done. Then, we road out the storm.

#100 days | 46


Obviously I am sorely behind in my #100days project. Again obviously, this is supposed to be 100 straight days. Yeah. That didn't happen.

I'm currently reading a book about writing memoirs and it inspired me to pick back up this #100days where I left off. It also challenged me to tell more than present day stories, to tell my story whenever that might have been - or is.

52 Weeks of Giving | 33


The heart of this ministry is inspiring. I love everything they are doing for the under privileged youth in our city. When they wanted to help those in Houston, where she is from and her sending church, for Hurricane Harvey Relief, I jumped at the chance to partner with them in providing relief to those impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Morgan makes it super simple to provided financial support in various ways.

what I've been reading | September


Good Evening. I love this time of the month when I link up with Modern Mrs Darcy for her monthly Quick Lit round up. Besides what I am reading there are many, many other readers sharing their latest good reads. I have found there, and you will too, a veritable wealth of reading reviews which have led [me] to numerous hours of enjoyment. 

511pyvWg3YLInto Thin Air by Jon Krakauer. Reminiscent of Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage, this beautifully written, sensational piece of non-fiction narrates the harrowing, yet riveting tale, of the expeditionary climb to Mt. Everest in the mid-90's that turned into the deadliest season in the history of Mt. Everest. Enthralled from beginning to end, and left stupefied by the pure guts, over the top insanity, unwavering drive, swanky bravado yet ingenuity. I recently watched the movie, Everest based loosely on the book that, of course, did not do the book justice. There is just something about these books that are so exceptionally - inspiring. 63/100 books read.



51NzjhIhK0LThe Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. A fascinating and empowering look at habits, why they exist and the potential of habits, whether negative or positive. I couldn't stop talking about this book, story after story, and sharing with my husband. Very inspiring. 64/100 books read. 





51WDAYsMQ7LA Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner. A hint of Providence threaded throughout this exquisite and fascinating tale of love and loss - and loss and love, intricately weaved through three settings in time and centered around a brightly colored scarf of marigolds. I loved this book where the premise of the story begins as far back as 1911, weaves in September 11, 2001 beautifully, and the 10 year anniversary - she takes us through time. Such a wonderful story that brought the tears flowing. 65/100 books read. 





41Zmzl0dznLA Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by W. Phillip Keller. Having been a real life shepherd Keller has amazing insight into the character and traits of sheep and their insatiable need for a shepherd. With this knowledge and understanding Keller looks at Psalm 23, the Shepherd's Song and casts similarities between sheep and shepherd and Sheep, that's us, and our Shepherd, Christ Jesus. 66/100 books read.





519oCt+o7TLFalling Free by Shannan Martin. The author of the blog Shannan Martin Writes wrote this book that was supposed to be about how her and her husband followed God's call to something radically different for their life than what they'd always dreamed. I know I am supposed to like this book and I do believe that the Martin's were changed by the move they made to an inner city neighborhood and I applaud them for listening to the call of God but the writing left much to be desired. She tried to write cleverly but good writing was lost in blog-ease with lines like 'we were complete strangers without a single degree of Kevin Bacon between us...' What the heck does that mean? Plus, I just felt this book might be meant for those immature in their faith, or who sit in church oblivious to the needs around them and need a wake-up call or for those afraid of doing the hard things, or for those who have already read the story through her blog. 67/100 books read.


51N6fKTFY4LSecrets in Death by J.D. Robb. Always anticipated, the next in the long-running series by Nora Roberts' pseudonym, and always a welcomed easy-to-read in one sitting, I read this through our recent storm, Hurricane Irma, thankfully, not by candlelight. Robb stuck to the story rather than re-capping relations so if you've never read a book in the In Death series you might be confused, but I appreciated not having to read through the muck, so to speak, because I'm already well-versed in Dallas and Roarke history. I think we're nearing the end of this series as it didn't have it's usual umph. I wasn't so much disappointed as resigned to the realization that Robb may have rung this series out dry. This book was comfortable (which isn't so much bad as the characters were familiar and still loveable) rather than intriguing and exciting (nothing new in character development), and danged if I didn't figure out the killer. 68/100 books read.

currently | September


recovering from Hurricane Irma. We live with marshland in our backyard that is off the Forrest River and as the waters rose from the storm surge from the Hurricane the tides, then, brought in the surging waters and, then, hiding the marsh grass that normally blankets the area just beyond our tree line. The water rose into our yard, into the barn built by Jeff and the boys, covered the legs of the picnic table raised on slab pavers. Jeff walked into the waters with hip waders until he could walk no more without the water getting into the waders. This was our backyard after the brunt of the storm was well to our west, although we were still gusting, winds into the 40's.

repopulating our home back to status quo after the storm. We hadn't decided not to evacuate yet so we packed up everything we were planning on taking with us, which included safes, important papers, and our scrapbook albums, into bins. We transported things we didn't want to get wet that might be irreplaceable or simply painful, difficult, or expensive to replace and moved them to our second floor room away from potential flood waters rising. These included quilts and books. Once we decided to ride out the storm (mostly because I had to work during the storm), we left things - just in case - but now we are repopulating book shelves with books and quilt racks with my beloved blue and white quilts. Getting rugs put back down and finding some semblance of order again.

reading, slowly, The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis. Slowly because it is C.S. Lewis and I have never known anyone who could read anything by C.S. Lewis anything but slowly. Except maybe, and I stress maybe, The Chronicles of Narnia. Even then one reads The Chronicles of Narnia slowly in order to savor every word. But, I am reading The Four Loves. Therefore, slowly is imperative to glean any understanding of his lofty yet wealthy insight.

drinking water. Occasionally, coffee. No sugar. Plus, creamer. No sugar is a grand endeavor and I have succeeded since July 10, 2017. I am consuming water insatiably, unreservedly. And, I love it. Just water. Plain, water. Of course, the drawbacks for someone my age drinking pretty much non-stop throughout the day, especially when I wake up and before bed, is that I drag myself out of bed in a deep stupor multiple times a night to use the bathroom. On the plus side I stay hydrated and can quickly tell when I am de-hydrated.

studying the book of Esther with Ashley. When Ashley was last here she asked if we could do a Bible study together. In particular, a Beth Moore study. Of course, I jumped at the opportunity to do a Beth Moore study and a study with Ashley. We'll individually watch the videos and individually complete the weeks homework then we'll face time our discussion of the lessons. I'm totally siked! I'm going to try and continue my study of Genesis on my own as I'm not ready to abandon it.

hanging the last three pieces of artwork I have recently acquired onto the walls of our bedroom. I am almost done decorating our room, yet, they say a well-decorated room is never truly finished. This wood sign is one of the pieces. I also picked up two pieces from Hobby Lobby, both made of wood, too.

planning a bit of craftiness this weekend. I haven't crafted in quite awhile but since I'm visiting Jeff this weekend - so, while he is at work I will play. I have two projects planned, one pretty simple and quick, and the other might take a couple hours - of fun.

binge-watching The Blacklist. I haven't seen Season 4 and it has been so long since I've seen Season 3 I decided to start at the beginning. I was watching Grey's Anatomy and got through half of season 2 and decided it was bad for my mental and emotional health. Years and years ago I purged books from my shelves for the same reason - they were bad for my mental and emotional health. It is just the way it has to be.





i love | september edition


I haven't done a collage of things I love in a couple of years so I thought it would be fun. When I say love I mean like with pleasure. Pleasing to my eyes. Things I own that make me smile or things I would like to have because they are pleasing to my eyes.

1) Ali Edwards' new December Daily journals. I have one of these clever tools for documenting your December stories on pre-order. Every year for the past couple of years I have documented our Decembers - partly. I'm hoping this journal will spark. Inspire. Encourage me to document December completely.

2) Rise and Shine Sweetly Stated mug by Anthropologie. I'm hoping this will be my next mug acquisition to add to my collection.

3) Large Initial Gold Necklace. These oversized tilting letter necklaces make me smile. I'd love an S.

4) Cross boots by Born. I'm on the lookout for a pair of flat ankle boots for fall (and winter). I really like the tied fringe look of these.

5) Vintage Leather Messenger/Laptop Bag. I have been carry this gorgeous leather messenger bag around for a couple weeks. Leather. Deep, burnished caramel. Love the smell and the feel of leather. I am enjoying carrying this beautiful bag to work and I have received some serious compliments.

6) Noonday Collection Anchor Earrings. Recently, I went to a Fair Trade Noonday Collection party at the home of a Noonday Ambassador's home. I happened to be chosen as the host which meant I received numerous deals in free product and huge discounts. These anchor earrings were the first item on my list of hopefuls and one I received for free.

7) Turner Roll Arm Leather Sofa in Burnished Saddle by Pottery Barn. It's gorgeous. Isn't it? I have a line item in our savings budget for this beautiful leather sofa. Jeff and I agreed completely on the burnished saddle. I can't wait until I have enough saved to place the order.

8) I have had my eye on this 16 x 20 letter board called The Writer by Letterfolk because I like the idea of little messages and words of encouragement or Bible verses up for display. 

stories 2017 | shoot and splash


A simple design, 12 x 12 digital scrapbooking page to add to our Stories 2017 album. I used a mix of One Little Bird Designs and Ali Edwards Design, both are favorite product designers and scrapbookers.

When I knew my grandkids would be moving closer I began researching things for the boys, Ian and Wyatt, to do when they come to visit. So, I perused Pinterest (for the best ideas). I searched under Camp Grandma's and found a slew of ideas. There was a Shoot & Splash Backyard Target Practice which I translated to our front porch.

John and Jarrod, though 20 years old, still have an arsenal of nerf guns in every size, shape, and power. The boys ran the show setting up flimsy cups of water for targets on the porch railings ledge. Everyone had as many turns as they wanted to take aim, hitting the cups of water and watching them splash as they flew over the porch ledge.

Then they would refill the cups of water using the water hose, set them up along the ledge and do it all over again. Not sure how long they spent outside in the hot summer sun having target practice but both Ian and Wyatt and well, John and Jarrod too, had a great time.


Whole 30 Recap


I finished Whole 30 the early part of August and I wanted to share a recap, and some pros and cons as I worked through the 30 days.

I stayed the course and didn't cheat (that I know of). I was most careful with removing sugar from my diet as it was the hardest to remove because it is often hidden in foods. Although I love cheese, the no dairy and no grain of any kind was easier than I imagined. But, surprisingly, I craved things like milk on a bowl of cereal or a dessert, more than cheese. Well, except for pizza. I craved pizza.

Date nights with Jeff were challenging as we were severely limited in our restaurant choices. But, here is what I did when we went out on our dates, or other times we ate out as a family.

1. Five Guys. Yes, Five Guys. Their burgers are Whole 30 compliant. I ate 2 burgers with pickles, raw onions, tomatoes and mustard all wrapped in lettuce. It was messy but it was really good! They will put it in a bowl for you, too. I did not miss the bun at all. But, I did miss the bacon as that is not Whole 30 compliant.

2. Steakhouses (like TBonz, Longhorns, and Texas Roadhouse) are your friend. Definitely, I ate the steak and most often had grilled vegetables or a baked potato (if I brought my jar of Ghee with me). If I brought my Whole 30 compliant salad dressing I could have a side salad minus cheese and croutons. Do not hesitate bringing along that Ghee (clarified butter; no dairy) or a container of Whole30 compliant dressing. I put them in a plastic bag in my purse (I carry a large purse so this was not a problem). When we went to the movies I brought bottled water in my purse as well.

3. Ruby Tuesday's for their salad bar - and for the win. You have to be careful not to put any of their diced cold cuts, like the ham, because of the sugar content. But I piled on the greens, tomatoes, green peppers, beets, onions, broccoli, hardboiled egg, and finished it off with vinegar and olive oil. I ordered a side of grilled chicken for the protein. I always walked away full.

The key to completing a Whole30 is preparation. I researched what I could eat and what I couldn't. I read the book It Starts With Food, which was the best preparation, as the author gives the reminder that it is only 30 days so we shouldn't have to cheat; because we're adults, right? I couldn't shake that comment  - so I didn't cheat. I also prepared food ahead of time.

On Sunday afternoons I prepared Salads in a Jar for my lunches which I alternated with Lettuce Wraps made of sugar free bacon, sliced hard boiled egg, tomato slices, and Whole 30 compliant Chipotle mayonnaise. I could just grab a jar of salad from the refrigerator in the morning, tuck it into my cooler, with a bowl, grab the Whole 30 compliant Tessamae's dressing (Greek was my go-to), and I was set for lunch at work.

Breakfasts were almost exclusively eggs and sugar free bacon. But, hey, I was eating breakfast, it was filling and would hold me over until lunch time. Except for a piece of fruit mid-morning I never felt hungry. Sometimes I would include tomatoes to my breakfast, or sausage patties, or a hash but my favorite breakfast was plain 'ole eggs and bacon.

I learned hash browns in olive oil taste just as good, if not better, than hash browns in canola oil.

I learned how to spiralize zucchini which I made with a yummy roasted red pepper and garlic sauce.

I learned I don't need a Sprite. Water is just fine, and which I continue to drink exclusively (except for an occasional cup of coffee). Although, I missed coffee with French Vanilla Creamer and have returned to a regular cup of coffee with French Vanilla Creamer, now, I don't add sugar, nor do I drink 30+ ounces of coffee like I used to.

I learned I could do it. It may seem, 'Well, it is only 30 days. Anyone can do that!' I disagree. After reading the struggles everyone has I think it takes preparation and mindset and commitment and discipline. Life interrupts and one has to be disciplined and committed to not cheating. If you modify a Whole30 you're not doing Whole30. If you cheat, you have to start over.

I found having a cheerleading team helps. I found a local Facebook group with people I knew already. I am sure this accountability was essential to my success. While Jeff appropriately cheered my successes he definitely wasn't that accountability - except that last week when I was so ready to quit and he talked me through why I shouldn't. 

As I said I struggled most the last week and was so ready for it to be over with. But, every day I got on the scale, the scale told me it was all worth it because in 30 days I lost 23 pounds.

Now, weeks after finishing Whole30 I am realizing my body does not like sugar and grains. I think dairy is okay but, definitely, sugar, in larger quantities, as I've returned to eating non-compliant I have noticed a return of inflammation in my knees and hips and back which in turn causes pain into my lower extremities.

While I don't expect to return anytime soon to a strict Whole30 compliant, although I will complete a 30 day regimen again at some point, I am, however, returning to about a 80/20 compliant. For my body's sake.