Friday Favorites

I love our sunrises. Maybe it’s because we have property here and don’t live in a neighborhood but it satisfies something in my soul when I see the early morning sun breaking through the trees.

Yesterday, Claire and I made a trip into Houston for a 4-H field trip. Yep, that’s right. I drove into the city, a major city, I might add. The interstate is an fascinating mess but people actually know how to drive it which means everything keeps moving even though there is a ton of traffic. And the skyline is so amazing.

We went to the museum of natural science for the Ramses exhibit. After all our years at Trinitas studying ancient Egypt is was really interesting to see all of the artifacts and mummies.

The museum is huge and after we finished up the planned portion of the visit a group of us did the butterfly center which was super fun. I love butterflies and the museum has created a really beautiful habitat to enjoy them in. I did hesitate going in because their sign said something about free roaming reptiles and I was not sure I was okay with that. Turns out they have an iguana that has free reign of the place so it was all good.

It had been a long day but we still wanted to take a turn through the dinosaur exhibit. Those creatures really were huge.

We thought we were done at this point but then a few of the kids came running up and said we just HAD to go see the hall of gems and minerals as well as the Everyday Faberge exhibit. They were so right and I was so happy we didn’t miss them. All the sparkle 🥰

I am always amazed more and more by God’s creation activity looking at what are basically rocks that He made. The myriad of colors and textures…it is mind boggling!

I do wish they had a before picture to accompany each one. I know they don’t come out of the ground looking like this and I bet it is fascinating to see the process.

Look at this chunk of opal! Isn’t it gorgeous?

And then you can see all the incredible ways man uses these stones to make beautiful and elaborate jewelry.

These are all rings. Aren’t they pretty?

Tiaras and necklaces too, oh my!

There were also some more delicate “everyday” pieces like some very lovely cigarette cases or calling card cases.

I loved this little broach watch made with rubies. The exhibit has a tiny mirror set up under it to reflect the watch on the back.

All in all it was a good trip but our timing was off a little bit. One, I think it is smarter to spend more than one day there and two, do not go at the end of the school year. There were gobs of schools there and it was crowded.

I definitely want to go back and visit the museum district as a whole and Houston in general. There just seems like there is so much to do!

Have a good weekend y’all!

Friday Favorites ~ My Week

It started on Sunday, really. I felt a bit spoiled. A dear friend at church blessed me with my second Willow Tree figurine.

Isn’t she lovely? I now have two pieces so I can officially say I have a collection.

Right after that lovely gift another sweet woman in our church gifted me with one of her beautiful hand made necklaces. She gets her glass mostly from Italy I believe and uses a blowtorch to shape and create her beads. I now have my very own bluebird of happiness. If you want to see more of Ms Helen’s delicate work you can visit her etsy shop. Such beautiful craftsmanship!

And then one of the sweet kids gave me a lovely coloring page. I told you I felt spoiled with all that love being shown to me!

This week I finally got my fat quarters unwrapped and washed. (Remember them? I shared them in a post at the end of February.) I’m not going to lie, looking at that pile of fabric makes me a little nervous but I figure since this is a just because quilt I can take my time and do it little steps at a time. The plan at the moment is to get them ironed and then cut into smaller squares. I will keep you posted on my progress with this particular favorite thing.

One favorite thing I did this week was spend some time with my camera and these really really cool flowers I got at the grocery store. I don’t know what kind they are but how cool are they?

Emily and Hays got back from their honeymoon on Monday. I already got a text asking for a recipe and that made this mama’s heart glad. It also makes me glad that they will come visit us next weekend. And my heart gets downright joyous thinking about Easter when they will come again and so will Sarah and Devon. All my people will be home!

Hays shared some of the pictures he took on their honeymoon and I am going to wrap us this week’s Friday favorites post with a couple that I really loved. Glacier National Park sure is a beautiful place, isn’t it?

How cute is Em in this picture?

Have a great weekend, y’all!

Come On Over

Sometimes I visit this space with a plethora of words and ideas that tumble over themselves as they escape my brain. Sometimes I sit down here to work through a knotty problem out loud. I talk to myself in real life too but there is something about being able to see my words and rearrange them, moving them to their proper place and finding the right order for my thoughts that satisfies.

Sometimes people read what I’ve written and agree or enjoy them and a conversation blooms. Other times a post I am particularly happy with does not get much traction. But the same thing happens with pictures so I don’t sweat it much. I realize I am not writing anything new or taking pictures of things that no one else has ever seen or taken a picture of before. There is a lack of pressure in that knowledge which allows me to slip in here as if we’re grabbing a cup of coffee and just visiting. Or maybe a better description in sitting down with a cup of coffee to read a letter from a friend.

The weather here this morning is pretty blah with a significant storm system moving through later. We took down my hanging plants and moved all my recently potted flowers onto the porch last night in preparation.

Did I tell you about my first experience with planting flowers here in my new lovely home state of Louisiana? About a month ago Rob and I took advantage of a local hardware store’s no tax weekend and bought lots of plants for me to put in the ground. Since my success with flowers and such last year I have been chomping at the bit for spring to arrive. Well, let me tell you…the ground here is nothing like the ground in Florida!

I dug and dug for about twenty minutes and barely scratched out three inches of earth. The ground is so hard here, especially it seems in the area of Carlyss where we live. I decided it would be messy to use the hose but I have rain boots so I could soften the ground with water and dig my holes.

😳

The ground is a dark hard clay that doesn’t absorb water the way the sandy soil in my old yard did. I ended up with a nice ol’ mud puddle for my trouble. Hence I now have about sixteen potted plants and Rob is going to have to get cracking on building me some raised beds.

The people we bought our home from are finally moving to Nashville and slowly but surely getting their stuff out of our pasture. Which means I am spending a lot of time day dreaming about the garden space Rob is letting me design and we are trying to figure out where to put the vegetable garden and a chicken house.

So many projects and plans! My beloved has to keep me reigned in because I can go shooting off in a dozen different directions at a time. My mind hops from flowers to looking at chicken coop plans to knocking down walls to reconfigure the apartment space for Sam now that Emily lives in Monroe. (That was a weird minute for me. Realizing that when she got back from her honeymoon she would not be coming here again. She doesn’t live with us anymore. I mean I was at the wedding. I knew this already. But it just sort of hit me.)

It’s been great having a space for friends to use when they’ve come to visit. I enjoy getting it ready and stocking the little mini fridge and having a tray of snacks ready.

We haven’t started renovating the space yet though so you can come for a visit if you like. We can sit down and have a cup of coffee and conversation in real life.

Of course my Louisiana people are welcome to stop by for a visit anytime. The door is open and the coffee is ready! Y’all can teach me how to grow things around here 😊

Throwback Thursday

I got my first real camera almost twenty years ago in 2001 and as best I can tell around 2007 friends started letting me take their pictures. It’s almost embarrassing to look back and see what I am sure, in that moment, I was so proud of. Almost but not really, because it’s really fun to see how I have grown in my skill but what I really love is looking back and seeing the people, my people, that we have walked a lot of life’s road with together. We’ve rejoiced, we’ve grieved, and done all of the mundane in between living alongside one another. Now, that is a blessing.

Not sure yet how my friends will enjoy seeing themselves immortalized through the years but…

This is not only one of my earliest efforts but it is also one of my first secretive sessions. I think I suggested we do it as a Mother’s Day surprise for my friend. The three girls are all grown with multiple children of their own and Jerry graduated from college this year. We should definitely recreate this is everyone if everybody is all home in Florida again!

 

StoutKids

More sweet friends from that same general time frame. This was right before they moved to Texas. They’re the kind of friends that stay with you when they come to town and it’s like you’ve never been a part.

AshleyDavid

Gaaaahhhh, this just makes me smile to consider how much their family has grown since we took family pictures for the first time. They’ve added two daughters-in-law, one son-in-law, and eight grandchildren!

img_6270_4977915496_o

I didn’t take this picture, obviously, but my dear friend Lori did. We look a bit of a mess but man, I love seeing my babies back when they were little people. Life was simpler then it seems, at least  in retrospect, but I am sure that, Lord willing, if I look back at pictures from today in twenty years I will probably feel the same.

Geez, there’s a crazy thought for you! It will be the year 2039. I cannot imagine that far ahead.

2002Family

Seriously

Do you ever feel like no one is really listening to you?

Maybe it’s your kids.

Or just people in general, like you’re talking but nobody is hearing what you’re saying?

I think it is a normal thing to feel this way sometimes in our lives but the other day it went next level on me.

I said, “Hey Siri, call Emmy Grace.”

I kid you not, she literally said, “Hang on a sec.”

Seriously.

My phone was not even listening to me.

Completely unrelated to that story but keeping up with the Throwback Thursday posts…this definitely goes way back. I cannot even remember when I took this of my son and the son of a friend, both named Sam. I just know that I thought I was hilarious for tagging the photo I and II Samuel. Still kind of makes me giggle.

i--ii-samuel_5078658554_o

 

 

 

 

I Did It

After almost two years I am back on Facebook.  It went away when I took a blogging hiatus. I picked up the blogging again a few months ago but didn’t think about going back to FB until after about a gazillion “Hey, did you see…Oh, never mind, you aren’t on facebook” conversations with my mother and sisters this weekend. I figured I better get back in the game so I can keep up with them. Apparently, I have been missing stuff.

The blog did play a part in the decision making too though. My little sister, along with a few other people, have mentioned how cumbersome it has been trying to see the blog through the Instagram posts. I guess it hasn’t been a good platform for that kind of thing and honestly it is a pain to post a link there so we’ll see if this makes it any easier for all of us.

It’s been kinda funny how many texts I received asking if the friend request was really from me. It’s a combination of my lack of online presence and some hacking activity I guess.

I’m happy to be keeping up with people but I am going to keep a tight circle I think. I don’t seem to struggle too much with wasting time on things like FB, Insta, and Pinterest. Okay, maybe occasionally some time is wasted on Pinterest but I figure if I actually make a recipe it’s okay to look at four or five, right? Or some early birthday and Christmas reconnaissance is okay. That’s my story and I am sticking to it.

We had a great long weekend. Rob and I actually went on a sushi date Friday night. It was kinda funny and really sweet because Abby and Claire were super excited to help me get ready. Abby did my hair and makeup and Claire chose my shoes and bracelets. We had a lovely time and it was really nice to get out alone together. It had been a hot minute.

It was a total bummer that one of my sisters didn’t get to come in for the weekend while the youngest sister, and the one who lives furtherest away, was here. Talk about a hot minute since we were all together! I’m looking forward to the day when my girls are plotting and planning how to get together when they’re grown and have their own families. It is such a precious time with my sisters any time we can make it happen.

9C0BDEBF-9C5F-4529-B80E-6FAB6A14CFB5

We still had a nice time at the beach and it was beautiful. It’s odd how something so destructive in one place can enhance the beauty of another place at the same time. I’m sure there is a spiritual lesson to ponder in there somewhere that needs teasing out.

5399090789_0af11a00d7_oSunday was as much of a feast and celebration as we anticipated.  And Monday was full of friends and grilled food. Oh, and a pretty delicious dessert. I will be sharing two versions of the recipe on She Feeds Her Family tomorrow. Opinions were pretty evenly split as to whether the chocolate cherry was better than the snickerdoodle caramel apple.

The girls are back in school full time now and we’ve already had to phone a friend about homework because a math book was left in someone’s locker. Starting off with a bang, aren’t we? (This morning’s update: Y’all, I went to bed at 8:30 last night and slept until my normal wake up time! I reckon the first day of school wore me out 😉)

I think we have a cross country race on Saturday and I feel sure that I am forgetting stuff that I really ought to be remembering for the rest of the week. I am sure it will come to me…

Hopefully before I am supposed to be somewhere!

Did you have a good long weekend?

 

Hello Monday

Well, last week went by rather quickly, didn’t it? It must have been the holiday which is funny to me because as a child the holidays seemed to make time slow down. Christmas break seemed to last forever but with my own kids it seems like we head back to school before I have really gotten settled into the break.

Of course this shift in my perspective on time could be because I might be getting old.

Regardless of how fast or slowly it went for you I hope it was a good day. We had friends over and an abundance of food. It was a laid back kind of day with some of us working in the kitchen and some of us outside keeping an eye on the kids in the pool. One family got here and their son was literally in the pool for less than three minutes before a back flip off the diving board went awry and there were some tears, blood and a big ol’ goose egg on his noggin.  Thankfully everyone stayed calm and he was pretty brave about the whole thing. (It totally helps that mom is a nurse and so is Sarah so he had more than enough medical professionals around to evaluate him.)  After sitting with some ice on his head for a while he was soon splashing around again and I am happy to report that subsequent back flips went much better.

As I already mentioned there were copious amounts of food. We’ve been grilling a lot lately and I was so over burgers and brats that I opted for chicken shish kabobs on the menu. Since we were doing those we of course had to make some lamb kabobs as well. We did make some burgers for the kids too but more about that in a minute. We noshed on chips and dips and salsa, and delicious cheeses. Oh and fruit! My goodness, the cherries were delicious and sweet! Blueberries, strawberries, pineapple, and watermelon. Don’t you just love the abundance of summer fruit goodness? And there is something so solidly celebratory found in simple uncomplicated foods with everyone gathered around munching. It was a feast to be sure.

Now about those burgers…

IMG-0125One of my besties was working with me in the kitchen assembling the kabobs when she glanced over and saw me patting out my burgers. She mentioned that she has the name of a good therapist should I need one for any other ocd-ish tendencies I might have but also said my method, if you will, of shaping my patties needed to make it to the blog. Honestly, I’ve been doing it this way for so long that I hadn’t given any thought to how it looks. Basically, I smoosh out all of the ground beef into a rimmed baking sheet and then use a margarita glass to cut out the patties. It ensures they’re all the same thickness and size and that means they cook evenly. My friend joked that she hadn’t put that much thought into her burger making but there you have it. My handy dandy if somewhat weird way of making burgers.

IMG-0124 (1)

In closing I will confess that I am a total firework curmudgeon. I find them to be magical and seeing them always delights my soul. I don’t really even mind the crowds when watching them. But, and I am pretty sure this circles back around and confirms how this post started, the older I get the less inclined I am to stay up late enough to be somewhere to watch them in person, and good gracious THE HEAT. I hate sticky humid heat and I live in Florida people, so that is the kind of heat we usually have. And while I don’t mind the crowd watching the show I do not care for trying to leave in that same crowd. Sitting in a car way after my bedtime stuck in bumper to bumper traffic after sitting in that wet Florida heat quickly kills any magic to be found in seeing sparkles in the sky for me, no matter how grand they may be. Thankfully, last week we had gone to the beach with some friends who just happened to have sparklers to share and the night before my husband and son had been at a baseball game that concluded with fireworks so Sam wasn’t overly disappointed by my curmudgeonly-ness.

All and all it was a good day and the feasting and celebrating continued with dinner with friends on Friday evening and celebrating Sarah’s birthday on Saturday. Two of her friends joined us and we were delighted to celebrate their engagement.

Which happened on July 4th.

Under the magical fireworks downtown.

There. Circle complete. I am definitely getting old.

IMG-0114

Repeating The Good Stuff

In the past ten years or so I have had Alice in front of my camera in family pictures multiple times (including the first time when she and her siblings agreed to sneak off with me to do pictures as a surprise Mother’s Day present.) She was also in the first class of senior pictures I ever did  and most notably as a bride when I photographed her wedding about a year and a half ago.

A couple of months ago I not only got to meet her sweet little baby boy while she was down visiting from Idaho but I also got to take his pictures. I love taking anybody’s pictures but there is something extra sweet about getting to record some of the biggest milestones in a person’s life.
Especially when they are as adorable as this little guy.
I mean just look at that face…is it cute or what? Even when he wasn’t real sure he liked the Florida heat, our humidity, the gnats, or my camera.

His expressions were all adorable but for some reason it’s his toes that I just love in this picture.

Sweet mama.

Beautiful mama.

I don’t know how often she’ll make the trip down here but over the next ten years I hope I can get her and hers in front of my camera again.

Throw Back Thursday

A few weeks ago we spent a Saturday morning downtown. I didn’t carry my big camera with me but when we walked past a place where I had taken the kids pictures before we did a sort of re-create picture. It didn’t turn out nearly as good as some other recreations we’ve done but it was still fun to try and squish them into the same little spot they had all fit into before.

I am going to assume by the lack of coordination in clothing that we hadn’t planned on taking pictures that day.

Obviously we hadn’t planned to do pictures this Saturday either.

My goodness, how they have grown! Pardon me while I go have a good cry.

Mercy Found

Death, no matter when it occurs, is a difficult thing for us. It is especially hard when the one no longer with us is young. Last week our community suffered a shocking loss that even now, almost a week later, we struggle to wrap our brains around. Sam told Sarah yesterday that he didn’t know what to do with these emotions he was feeling. When she asked him what he meant he explained that he felt loss and he never had before and he wasn’t sure what to do with it.

While it may not be the first time some of us have felt loss we are all struggling with it. The questions have flown fast and furious since the news broke last week. What happened? When did it happen? How did it happen? We want answers. We need to make sense of it and somehow if we ask the right questions and get all of the answers we can make sense out of the unthinkable, the unbelievable, the unbearable.

When I was praying for the family last week I asked God to be merciful. And as soon as the words left my mouth I stopped. In my mind being merciful meant that this father and mother would still have their son. That a boy would still have his big brother. That a girl would still have her boyfriend and people would still have their friend. It was a very harsh reminder that His ways are not our ways.

It was a stark remembrance of the sin that taints our world and the one who seeks to destroy. It was a reminder that death is always ugly and painful but is also a defeated foe. Somehow, out of this hideous sorrow God is working out His good and perfect will. On this side, for those of us left to grieve and search for understanding, we feel the heaviness of a precious life gone. But Grant David, he stands before his King, holy and without regret that his life seemingly ended too soon. He knows, in a way that we cannot yet know, that from his first breath to his last, his first step to his final one, that he did what God required of him. 

And God’s mercy? It is here, fully present, as we come together to weep with those who weep. His mercy shades our grief with the hope and truth that this separation is only temporary and that one day we will all stand before our King, knowing fully, finally,  just as we are fully known.
Later today many of us will gather for a memorial in honor of our young friend. Tears will fall and more than a little laughter will be heard as stories are told and memories are revisited. We will realize our questions don’t matter and we’ll realize the answers we have sought aren’t really the answer. Mercy will be found as we come together, one family, but truly one body, in His name sharing in a burden far too heavy for one or two or even three to hold.

“Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with you all.” 2 Thessalonians 3:16