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.



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.

...an 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