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 😊

Friday Favorites ~ Emily & Hays

15 days to go!

We are so excited for Em and Hays’ big day but it seems a bit surreal to be staring down the barrel of barely two weeks until the wedding. I have people asking me frequently how I am handling everything and if it’s all crazy stressful. Honestly, that stressed me out more because I wasn’t and it made me wonder if I was supposed to only I wasn’t because I wasn’t doing something I was supposed to be doing.

I’m sure the next two weeks will get a bit chaotic as we finish up some last minute little things but it has been a fairly easy process. Partly due to Emily not being anything other than a laid back low maintenance bride and partly because of our wonderful friend who is the creative talent behind Soiree by AJ who is our wedding planner and coordinator. I just know that everything is going to be beautiful.

Sweet Em is a bit exhausted from all of the running back and forth and she is completely over wedding planning. We laughed because when they got engaged we thought 6 months was so quick but goodness, people who take longer are either completely crazy or something. Enough already, let’s have a wedding instead of just endless conversations and decisions!

We were originally going to do Emily’s bridal portraits this weekend while I am in Monroe for a bridal shower given by Hays’ church but the weather has not cooperated and there was a snafu with her bridal veil not arriving. But talking about it did remind me that I shared very few of the engagement pictures I did for them back in November. So today’s Friday favorites are a few of my faves from that day. In no particular order…

I love getting shots like this when a couple is really laughing. Add to it being black and white and I am in love with the final result.

If I had had any doubt about the beauty of the state of Louisiana it was put to rest the afternoon we did their pictures. The bayous are simply gorgeous and Hays & his mama knew exactly where the best spots were for pictures. Especially that time of year with the gorgeous colors.

My girl seems to have a wee bit of sass going…

And thank you to whomever lives on the other side of the bayou and thought it was a good idea to put those little lights along your decking. It was and I love this picture the most I think.

We are so excited for Emily and Hays and we are looking forward to celebrating God’s kindness in leading them to each other with the ones we love. See y’all in a couple of weeks!

Marty and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day

Sometimes, you just have a bad day, ya know?

And it turns out that the exploded can of soda you found in your freezer on Tuesday was just the little tut tut, looks like rain cloud on the horizon because Friday the deluge hit.

You get up at 6:30 to start cooking for a luncheon and everything seems fine.

Until you realize, after you have put the batter into the little silicon mini cake thingie mind you, that you forgot a rather important ingredient. And if you have never tried to remove uncooked batter from one of those silicon thingies you haven’t really lived.

But you persevere and fix the batter and get it into the oven. And when it finishes cooking you take it out and you really think you’ve let it cool long enough only you’re all thumbs and drop it. Now the good news is that those silicon thingies won’t break when they hit the floor. But flourless chocolate cake? That stuff splatters absolutely everywhere.

So you clean it all up and don’t panic because hey, the luncheon is not until noon and you have plenty of time. You start over and it is all moving along just fine and you’ve got everything under control until you get a reminder text that there is actually a meeting an hour before the luncheon. So you have a minor melt down. But then remember that your kids are watching and you really want them to learn how to handle pressure better than you so you take a deep breathe, apologize to the kids for the minor melt down and enlist some help.

Lo and behold it all gets done and you’re ready to leave, not just on time but a few minutes early even. The meeting goes fine and the luncheon is great and by the time you get everything cleaned up you realize you better hustle because you are also committed to cooking some chicken legs for another gathering happening in a few hours.

You run to the store on your way home to pick up some chips and dip that you also need to send with the chicken legs and while you’re there you get on the phone to make arrangements for the two children who are not playing in volleyball games and now you really better hustle if those legs are gonna get cooked in time. Because you’re pretty smart you call ahead to the house and have the oven preheated. You get home and toss those chicken legs with olive oil and Italian season and pop them in the oven. You’re cutting it close time wise but you’ll make it.

The chicken gets done and because you’re in a hurry you try to cover it with aluminum foil only you’re all thumbs again and the pan slips off the counter and the bad news is that 9×13 glass pans
don’t bounce the same way those silicon thingies do. And hot 9×13 glass dishes shatter into all the pieces and chicken legs and glass and olive oil make one heck of a mess.

But you get it cleaned up, toss some of the luncheon leftovers together, put it into another 9×13 pan and sprinkle it with cheese. Because you have a really great friend she meets you in the driveway and takes the casserole and gets it to where it needs to go.

You get to where you need to go only a little bit late but things seem to be settling back down and all is well. You get done and pop the address of the girls volleyball game into your phone gps and head over to watch the rest of their game. On the way there there is so much construction on the interstate that you miss your exit and have to cross over the bridge, get off the interstate in order to turn around and get back on in the opposite direction. You make the last game and a half and there is much rejoicing as both girls win their matches.

Life is sweet and on the way home you’re relaying the story of your day and in the midst of telling it you remember that you didn’t send the chips and dip. Which isn’t a big deal really except that when you get home you can’t find the chips and dip. Like anywhere.

And that’s when you decide to pick up a five dollar pizza and call it a day.

Saturday morning life stays interesting

when a brand new bottle of soy sauce gets knocked off its place in the pantry and hits the floor. You might not be the one responsible for breaking it but at this point it’s just guilt by association.

But it’s ok because while you’re cleaning out the pantry you find a bag from the grocery store where one of your kids, who shall remain nameless to protect their innocent laziness, had put it without removing the container of spinach dip and boy wouldn’t that have been a special smell if it had sat for a few more hours?

By Sunday everything seems fine but you still move with lots of extra caution as you chop veggies and prepare for lunch. You even manage a smallish nap.

And here you are greeting Monday with a tentative hello and a cup of tea.

Learning To Cope

Getting old is hard. I mean, it beats the alternative so I don’t regret doing it, but as a woman who has reached a certain age I can say it is really really hard.

Hot flashes…the worst. Feeling perfectly fine one minute and the next it’s like I feel my insides coming to a rolling boil and heat just radiates from the inside out. Drinking the coldest glass of water I can get hold of is the only way I have found to effectively cool off. 
Mood swings. Oh.My.Goodness. I can barely keep up with myself so I know I must be driving my family crazy. One morning I was on my usual walk and I don’t remember what I was thinking about but I was literally so darn angry about something, just furious. And by the time I was starting my second mile I was just in tears and almost sobbing. No rhyme, no reason, and zero rhythm…just a staggering yoyo ride of emotion. I’ve talked before about teaching young girls about their emotions by likening them to a horse ride. As long as you are in control they can take you on amazing adventures, but let them get control and you will quickly find yourself in the thicket and thorns and dangerous places. I have days where I wake up and feel like I have a burr under my saddle. 
Depression is also a new companion some days. It’s not something I have ever felt in my life, even going through some very difficult times. But there are some days when I feel like I am fighting for my sanity. I just want to hide myself away…not think or feel or do anything. I realized how serious it was when I had weeks where I didn’t even want to pick up my camera. That’s when I knew I needed to finally say something to Rob.
I’ve been to the lady doctor and had the blood work done but haven’t heard anything back yet as far as how unbalanced hormones may be. (I told Rob it will be horrible to have them come back and say that everything looks fine. Because that means I am just going crazy.) I’m not in a rush to pop a pill to fix something but I would like to feel a little more settled and in control. And I am learning things that I can do that help.
Diet and exercise. They do help. It can be a pain to feel like I must always pay attention to what I do or don’t eat and making time to exercise on a regular basis while the kids are out of school is harder than it should be but there you have it. 
Being thankful. That is another big help. I can resent all day long what my body is going through but the truth of the matter is that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I am doing what my body was designed to do at this season of life. To give reign to frustration and anger seems akin to shaking my fist at God. Instead I want to navigate this path in way that is honoring to Him.
The other thing that I have found that really helps is to do something for someone else. To focus on someone else and not my crazy self. So I make myself invite someone over, do something with the kids, or whatever. Yesterday I woke up with that familiar heaviness and I started cooking at 6:30 in the morning. I had chosen some of Rob’s favorite things to cook for our Sabbath meal at the church and a couple of other things that I hoped my church family would enjoy.
And I found a measure of peace as I cooked and boiled and prepared a main dish, mixed and kneaded homemade biscuits. I found my mind settling as I baked a cake from scratch and the wonderful aroma of a zested lemon soothed. 
God is gracious in the giving of good gifts that come wrapped in the mundane activities we have to do each day. And when we focus on who we are doing them for, the Gift Giver and the people we are blessed to be in community with, it changes us. It allows our lives to become about so much more than what ever we are experiencing and dealing with at the moment.
For this I am grateful.  

We Now Have a Microwave

I understand for most people that living without a microwave seems utterly barbaric but we’ve managed it for five years without much trouble. Although I think it has caused a little hiccup here and there when family and friends have come over for some gathering or other and they couldn’t just warm something up.

We also did fine for several months when the dishwasher died. I found washing dishes to be quite therapeutic but I also found that I must be a better parent than I thought and I haven’t messed my kids up to the point that they need therapy. At least they don’t think they need dish washing therapy.

I kept a pretty stiff upper lip when the oven died figuring I could make the grill and stove top work if I needed to. But thankfully Rob found a really great deal on a set of appliances and some friends had an extra stove that we could use until our new stuff arrived.

Much to the joy of our offspring the deal Rob found included a microwave that could be installed above the stove. Losing counter space was my main reason for not having one. Rob still isn’t sure that they don’t give off gama rays that can cause bodily mutations but sense just about everyone we know seems to have one with no lingering ill affects he got it.

The kids have microwaved everything they can. Even hot dogs. I’ve never seen them move so fast to get lunch. Really, boiling a little water for a hot dog takes too long? Can you see my eyes rolling?

Popcorn? They are blowing through the bags like they’ve been endlessly deprived of nourishment.

I’m pretty sure Emily has pinned a gazillion cake in a mug recipes and it won’t be long before that gets tested. Hmm, maybe a pinterest test kitchen blog post on the best ones?

I did enjoy being able to heat up Rob’s dinner the other night when he was out late with a board meeting.

And reheating that cup of tea I forgot about has been pretty nice as well.

It’s kind of nice joining the microwave club. But it’s not nearly as fun as seeing the looks on people’s faces whenever I told them we didn’t have one.

Barbaric, indeed.

(The dishwasher works fantastic, by the way. Unfortunately, the oven had a huge dent in the top at

delivery so we declined it. A new one should be delivered in a couple of weeks.)

Any tips and tricks for keeping stainless steel appliances clean and shiny is appreciated!

Our Weekend

Autumn is my most favorite time of the year but I do so enjoy days like this…

With treasures from the sea…

Along shores that look like this…

After exercise on beautiful days on sidewalks…

And getting to meet pen pals in person…

We even had a surprise half birthday party for a sweet friend and ended it all with a peaceful evening at home. Which enabled me to get this week’s picture in time to actually be current in the weekly photography group I participate in.

All in all it was a really nice weekend.

I hope yours was as well.

What Am I Going To Do?

It’s the second day of school and my Mother asked me that question.

What am I going to do with my day?

I am going to sip on a cup of hot tea.

I am going to blog  a little so I can get back into a regular habit of writing.

I’m going to mop my floors and clean bathrooms.

And if you don’t think the idea of those two things thrills my soul than you have obviously not had the pleasure of trying to do those two simple chores while children are in the house all day. Today I will do those two things and both will remain clean and shiny for longer than two seconds and something within me will sigh with peace as I look out over my domain and I will announce it to be good, very good.

I do this knowing full well that at around four-ish this afternoon an explosion of sorts will occur. Socks, shoes, lunch boxes, backpacks, textbooks, notebook paper, pencils and erasers will fly out like shrapnel from a gun and there will be an eruption of sound as stories are told and lessons are shared from today.

Dinner will have to be cooked and tomorrow’s lunch prep will need to be done along with the nightly task of getting uniforms ready.

It will be a noisy controlled chaos that will rush through the afternoon and evening like a wave crashing onto the shore. And then hugs and kisses will be given out with bedtime prayers and the waters will recede as lights go out.

And for a moment I will stand in the darkness and quiet of my living room and I will remember this moment, this cup of tea, and know that we’re back to normal.